Cohiba is the flagship brand of Habanos. There are two distinct lines of the Cohiba – the medium to full flavored blend, Clasica, and the medium flavored line, 1492. The Clasica line was introduced between 1966 and 1989. The 1492 line was brought out in 1992 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the epic Columbus voyage of the discovery of the Americas. The Siglo VI was added to the 1492 line in 2002.
The cigar was basically created for President Fidel Castro in 1966. It was produced at what was at the time a top secret facility, known as the El Laguito factory. The factory has since become world famous for its original secrecy and ties with government conspiracies and assassination attempts. Cigars produced in those early days were often presented to heads of state and visiting diplomats as gifts.
The Cohiba brand has been available on the open market – except in the US, in limited quantities since 1982.
The name of the cigar comes from an ancient Taino Indian word which means “bunches of tobacco leaves.” That is how the original Cuban inhabitants described the earliest form of the cigar when Columbus first saw them smoking the rolled up leaves.
The leaves for today’s Cohiba are rolled from the premier selection of the five highest quality Vegas Finas de Primera in the region of San Juan y Martinez and the zones of San Luis located somewhere in the Vuelta Abajo region – the exact location of the tobacco fields is a carefully guarded trade secret, but it is a known fact that the fields are meticulously cared for so they won’t lose the required nutrients to produce the best tobacco in the world. It is said that a field will not be used for more than five years in row in order to allow the soil to replenish lost nutrients.
In order to preserve the high quality of the cigars and to create the fabulous tobacco blend, a unique technique is used amongst the Habanos cigar manufacturers. This involves the use of two filler leaves, called the seco and the ligero. In the Cohiba brand, these leaves undergo a third fermentation process at the factory in special tobacco barrels to add extra smoothness to the blend.
Almost all sizes of the Cohiba brand cigars are totally hand made, long filler types, with a flavor ranking of medium to full and medium. The unique blend has developed a type of “cult” status. Since the original cigars produced were reserved for the elite, today’s smokers still feel that special status of the old days.
US Sales of the Cohiba
The real Cohiba brand can not be legally sold in the United States. However, in 1978 the name was registered in the US by the General Cigar Company so that the trademark could be used to produce the brand for the American market – the brand already had an established cult following, but the real Cohibas were banned in the US.
The “fake” Cohiba cigars sold in the US have been produced on a large scale in the Dominican Republic since 1997 and do not contain any Cuban tobacco. The only similarities between the US version and the Cuban brand are the name.
The Story of the Cohiba
The history of the Cuban Cohiba can be traced back to the mid 60s. As the story goes, one of Fidel Castro’s bodyguards shared some his personal supply of cigars with the President, which the bodyguard said he had bought from a local skilled cigar maker friend of his named Eduardo Ribera. Castro was so pleased with the flavor that he commissioned a special production run of the unbranded blend. The cigars were made under tight security especially for Fidel and other top officials.
In 1994, Fidel Castro recalled the tale of how he became acquainted with his favorite cigar. According to the President, he had seen the man smoking a very nice, aromatic cigar, and asked what brand it was. The man told him that it was a special blend made by his friend, a professional cigar maker. Castro immediately set out to find the cigar maker and began construction of the secret facility known as the El Laguito factory.
The cigar maker, Ribera, explained in detail the special blend of tobaccos he choose, and which leaves he used and from which tobacco plantations, as well as details about the special wrappers and other things he used to create the cigar. Castro found skilled cigar makers and set them to work in the factory with the materials they needed to recreate the marvelous blend. And that is how the Cohiba cigar was born.
Only a few thousand boxes were produced per year during the early days. The majority of the cigars were reserved for high ranking government officials and as gifts for diplomats.
The Cuban Cohiba premium brand of cigars were launched internationally – except in the US, in 1982 to coincide with the 1982 World Cup hosted by Spain. At this time there were only three vitolas, the Lancero, the Corona Especial and the Panetela. Three more vitolas were added in 1989, the Esplendido, the Exquisito and the Robusto. Together, these six are now know as the company’s Classic Line.
Habanos SA began releasing its Linea 1492 in 1992, in commemoration of the Christopher Columbus voyage to the Americas. The company released six sizes named Siglo I, through to Siglo VI to mark each century since the historic voyage.
In addition to regular production, the cigar company regularly releases limited edition Cohiba cigars for special events such as the annual Habanos Festival, anniversaries of special brands and an annual limited edition of select brands wrapped in a dark colored vintage leaf. Habanos released three sizes of a new line of maduro-wrapped Cohiba cigars in 2007, called “Maduro 5.”
The Cuban Cohiba cigar is famous for being all hand rolled, however the brand also includes two machine made extension cigarillos known as the Mini and the Club.
Habanos SA produces other non-cigar products with the Cohiba brand name, as well. Since 1987, the company has manufactured Cohiba cigarettes and Extra Cohiba Cognac has been produced since 1999.
Cohiba Line of Vitolas
This is a list of the commercially sold vitolas under the Cohiba brand. The size of the cigar and the ring gauge is included in both Imperial and metric measurements.
The Classic Series Line:
- Corona Especial – measures 6 × 38 inches (152 × 15.08 mm), official name Laguito No. 2, commonly called a panetela by cigar aficionados
- Espléndido – measures 7 × 47 inches (178 × 18.65 mm), official name Julieta No. 2, and commonly known as a churchill by fans
- Exquisito – measures 4⅞ × 33 inches (124 × 13.10 mm), official name Seoane, common name a small panetela
- Robusto – measures 4⅞ × 50 inches (124 × 19.84 mm), officially Robusto, commonly a robusto
- Panetela – measures 4½ × 26 inches (114 × 10.32 mm), officially Laguito No. 3, commonly a small panetela
- Lancero – measures 7½ × 38 inches (191 × 15.08 mm), official name Laguito No. 1, slang name a long panetela
The 1492 Series:
- Siglo I – measures 4 × 40 inches (102 × 15.88 mm), officially the Perla, and commonly called a petit corona by fans
- Siglo II – measures 5⅛ × 42 inches (130 × 16.67 mm), official name Mareva, known to fans as a petit corona, as well
- Siglo III – measures 6⅛ × 42 inches (156 × 16.67 mm), officially the Corona Grande, known to fans as a long corona
- Siglo IV – measures 5⅝ × 46 inches (143 × 18.26 mm), official name Corona Gorda, known in slang as a grand corona
- Siglo V – measures 6¾ × 43 inches (171 × 17.07 mm), the official name is Dalia, but fans call it a lonsdale in slang
- Siglo VI – measures 5⅞ × 52 inches (149 × 20.64 mm), officially called Cañonazo, but known to cigar fans as a robusto extra in common circles
The Maduro 5 Line:
- Genios – measures 5½ × 52 inches (140 × 20.64 mm), officially the Estupendos, in slang a robusto extra, as well
- Magicos – measures 4½ × 52 inches (114 × 20.64 mm), officially the Magicos, in slang a petit robusto, like several others
- Secretos – measures 4⅜ × 40 inches (111 × 15.88 mm), known officially as the Reyes, in slong terms called a petit corona, like others
Habanos SA also releases several special edition and commemorative Cohibas, along with a special anniversary line. For your own personal pleasure or as a special gift for an important person in your life, you are sure to find the perfect Habanos Cohiba brand cigar for your needs.