When Steven Umbrello finally exhausted his extensive appetite for his impressive, and well-chosen cigar collection, I knew that if I were doing my duty to the magazine I could no longer hold back on my Big Brand Showstopper Full-Bodied Sampler from Pipes and Cigars.com. The next cigar in the collection that I chose to explore was the La Cohiba Extra Vigoroso Red Dot Gran Corona.
The first thing I discovered when I did my online research is that there are, in effect, two Cohiba brands! The first, with a white-and-black chequed label, is the original, Cuban state-owned brand. The second is the “red dot” variety which was trademarked by General Cigar Company in the US and it contains no Cuban tobacco at all; hence, making it legal to sell in the United States. As a Canadian, I might end up with either variety so I thought this was good to know!
This cigar uses a blend of Nicaraguan and Piloto Cubano ligero fillers and a USA Connecticut broadleaf binder, with a dark and oily Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper that, we are assured, has been aged three years. It is almost certainly an Oscuro; it is very dark, almost black, with a promisingly veiny texture. I love a good rich, dark smoke, and eagerly unwrapped it. The wrapper note was a delicious blend of steak and dark cocoa; very exciting! I noticed that the pack was exceptionally hard however.
It punched perfectly and the pre-light draw was strongly reminiscent of rich cocoa with the slightly sharp undertone that marks many American cigars; not at all unpleasant, but distinctly there for those who know the difference. I lightly toasted the foot as instructed in Steven’s video. It toasted nicely and filled the room with that rich, chocolate smoke.
The first draw was, again, very chocolatey. It lit easily but slightly off-kilter. As the smoke progressed, it appeared to be self-correcting and the light leveled out. The flavour? Rich chocolate cocoa, full bodied; an excellent prime maduro. I thought instantly “black velvet” for its darkness, its richness, and its smoothness. I set in to enjoy what I quickly felt would be my new favourite cigar, especially since I would have a whole Gran Corona almost to myself!
However, I was sorely disappointed! I must have gotten a bad pack; it was a very very very hard draw! It took me forty minutes to smoke maybe a third and after that it simply would not draw at all; even for the veteran smokers with whom I live. Eventually I had to accept the inevitable; there simply was no more that I was going to get out of this stick! I offered the remainder of it to Erzulie in my goddess temple because it is said that She likes dark, rich tobaccos; and certainly the Extra Vigoroso met that description!
I was distinctly reminded of a phrase from a song made popular in the late eighties by Canadian singer Alannah Myles:
Always wanting more, he’ll leave you longing for
Black velvet in that little boy smile
Black velvet in that slow, southern style
A new religion that’ll bring ya to your knees
Black velvet if you please!
Due to the crushing disappointment of near-gasm, I have to give the XV:
But I am certainly going to try it again and hope for a better pack next time! I’ll let you know.
Accompaniment suggestions: coffee, dark chocolate, truffle or nougat; anything that could go well with chocolate. If you could smoke it long enough to enjoy the snack, that is.
You can get this black beauty at CoronaCigar.com, and Pipes & Cigars.com as well, starting at $11.24 US a stick but averaging about $16.50 US. If it weren’t impossible to smoke after the first third, I’d have said it was worth it.
That, my friends, is a lady’s perspective.