Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva/Causes & Cures Semi-Dry White Vermouth; Glenfarclas 1971
Onward with the two drinks/one cigar experiment. And hard to think of two more completely different drinks.
But first, the cigar. And what a cigar. If ever there was a ‘last request on death row’ cigar, this is it. Should I find myself thinking of giving a cigar 100 points, sadly an all-too-rare occurrence, I do try and think if it could be improved in any way, is there the tiniest flaw, any reason at all not to give 100? This time, no. All as near perfect as one could wish. I’ve read on various sites where some have described this as the greatest cigar they have ever tried. Fully understand, as it is breathtaking.
Briefly, the Reserva and Gran Reserva program has been underway since early this century, with the release of 30 mixed cigars under the Cohiba label in the Cohiba Selección Reserva, rolled from tobacco harvested in 1999. Since then, there have been a series of Reservas and Gran Reservas. Reservas are made with tobacco aged three years, while Gran Reservas see five years. The next release was the Partagás D4 Reservas, in 2005. Two years later, Montecristo No 4 Reservas.
In 2009, the first of the Gran Reservas, these spectacular cigars, the Cohiba Siglo VI Gran Reserva. The next GRs were the Monte 2 Gran Reservas, in 2011. Then something every year – either Reserva or GR. The subsequent Gran Reservas we’ve seen have been the Partagás Lusitanias in 2013, Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills in 2015 and H Upmann Sir Winstons in 2017. The cigars are double banded and presented in exquisitely prepared wooden boxes. Only 5,000 boxes of fifteen cigars each were made of the Cohiba GR, but it is still possible, though difficult, to find them.
Impossible to discuss without touching on price. And the prices have been eye-popping. But if these really are the very best you can find, then perhaps it is appropriate, although sad, as so few of us will ever get to smoke them. I must confess that I had an idea that they were seriously expensive when I looked at one for Kenfessions, but I had absolutely no idea of the actual prices these are bringing – both by way of the secondary market or for any retailer clever enough to have stocked a few in the vault.
On release in 2009, a box was around GBP£1,300. Today, closer to GBP£10,000 a box. That means around an unthinkable US$900 per cigar. Go further. US$6/millimetre. Puff carefully!
The specs are 150mm (5 7/8ths inches) in length and a ring gauge of 52mm (Cañonazo), rolled at the El Laguito factory on the edge of Havana. The tobacco was harvested in the illustrious San Juan y Martínez and San Luis regions.
The cigar was in perfect condition with a dark chocolatey, oily wrapper, the merest hint of russet detectable. The draw was immaculate. From the very first puff, it was obvious that these were richly flavoured, finely balanced, extremely long and yet, despite all that, almost ethereal. To adequately describe this cigar is almost like trying to catch the velvety smoke it produces in your hand. And it really is dense, velvety smoke. The texture is as soft as cotton bud clouds. Plush and cushiony. The flavours are wonderfully complex and they move gently through an entrancing array of options – dark chocolate, campfire notes, creamy coffee, vanilla, honey, spices, cinnamon, new leather and more. As I smoked it, the chocolate notes became darker and richer. Overall, the cigar took nearly two and a half hours to smoke. Not the slightest sign of a harsh note to be found. A spellbinding cigar and worth all of 100 points and more. If I smoke a better cigar this year, I’ll be a happy man.
The first drink to match was something I noticed that was currently hugely popular in Europe, especially Spain, on a recent trip – vermouth. This one was the Causes & Cures Semi-Dry White Vermouth from the Yarra Valley. Served with a crushed bay leaf, over ice, as recommended. There was a bitterness on the finish following a long palate and a lovely array of cold tea notes, herbs, juniper and citrus. Very pleasant and an ideal summer afternoon drink.
As a match for a cigar, this cigar, any cigar, not so much. The bitterness was simply too jarring with this cigar. A match to be avoided. Neither worked. I moved on very quickly.
The second attempt struck gold, but I doubt it will be one seen often, given that the cost of the drink left the price of the cigar in the dust. The drink was the Glenfarclas 1971 Malt whisky. Around $5,000 a bottle, I believe.
A stunning whisky, wonderfully complex. Deep colour with a powerful, slightly spirity nose. Raisins and cinnamon, dry honey, a smoky honeycomb note. Supple texture, with flavours moving into walnuts, white chocolate and spices. Dense with great concentration.
A fantastic match. Both were seriously complex and both offered a wonderful array of flavours. If there was any issue, perhaps the whisky was marginally too spirity for the subtlety of the cigar, but a minor quibble.
One out of two, but what a brilliant success that one was.