Among the brands in the General Cigar Co. portfolio, Cohiba has certainly gotten more than its share of attention in recent years.
While it has long been considered the flagship brand of the company and arguably the most recognized cigar brand in the world, General started a big push for its American market presence back in May 2017, when Sean Williams was named the brand’s ambassador. Since that time, the brand has added a number of even more premium offerings than the Cohiba brand has generally had.
After going after a bit more of a value-oriented release with the Cohiba Blue in the spring of 2017, the brand started adding some notable cigars. The event-only Silencio came out in the summer of 2018, followed by the Cohiba Spectre, best known as being “the $90 Cohiba” and winner of halfwheel’s Packaging Award for 2018.
The next year opened up with Cohiba teasing a Connecticut version that was not only a new blend, but came with MSRPs between $21 and $23. Then it was announced that the Spectre would be returning in 2019, though in a new blend, one that would go on to take the #2 spot on the halfwheel Top 25 of 2019 and tie for the top spot on our Packaging Awards.
The fall of 2019 would see the arrival of the Silencio as a retail offering, though as a limited edition release packed in four-count boxes with built-in ashtrays and cigar rests that would also take home earn votes in our packaging awards. It also cost $150, which is a pretty decent price tag in its own right.
In April 2020, that group of premium Cohibas added another new release, the Cohiba Royale.
The Royale features what General Cigar Co. describes as being Cohiba’s fullest-bodied expression to date. To do that, the company selected a Nicaraguan broadleaf wrapper from the country’s Jalapa valley, a Dominican piloto cubano binder and fillers from the Jamastran region of Honduras and Nicaragua’s Jalapa and Estelí regions. Additionally, each leaf has been aged for five to six years.
The cigar is also notable for being the first Cohiba to come out of General Cigar Co.’s STG Danlí factory in Honduras. The line has generally been made at General Cigar Dominicana in Santiago, though the Silencio came from STG Estelí in Nicaragua.
It’s offered in three sizes.
- Cohiba Royale Gran Royale (4 1/2 x 52) — $23.99 (Box of 10, $239.90)
- Cohiba Royale Royale (5 1/2 x 54) — $25.99 (Box of 10, $259.90)
- Cohiba Royale Toro (6 x 50) — $28.99 (Box of 10, $289.90)
The 10-count boxes also get a unique and notable feature, an arched display tray that makes the cigars appear to be floating, a style that was also seen on Habanos S.A.’s Romeo y Julieta Grand Churchills humidor.
“Cohiba Royale was created with the cigar connoisseur in mind, bringing to life the microclimates and fertile soils of the Caribbean and Central America in a way that is unique to the brand,” said Williams via a press release. “All of the tobaccos that comprise Cohiba Royale are hand-selected and deeply aged, representing the best of the best tobacco growing regions in the world. The result is a cigar that is as bold as it is refined, befitting of the Cohiba name.”
- Cigar Reviewed: Cohiba Royale Toro
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: STG Danlí
- Wrapper: NIcaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano)
- Filler: Honduras (Jamastran) & Nicaragua (Jalapa and Estelí)
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $28.99 (Box of 10, $289.90)
- Release Date: April 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The first thing that catches me about the Cohiba Royale Toro is its band; the ruby red trim has a shiny glitter, but it’s the attempt at a carbon fiber design that I’m fixated on. It’s ultimately just a matter of printing different colored gray squares in a certain pattern. but from arm’s length away it looks pretty legitimate. The dark brown wrapper is a very oily and toothy leaf with some decently sized veins, but nothing off-putting. While some of the veins of the wrapper and binder are causing a bit of unevenness, it looks well-rolled otherwise. It has a bit more give than I would expect yet I wouldn’t call it soft or underfilled, with some spots the slightest bit softer than average. The foot offers both a syrupy sweetness and a good amount of black pepper, the former making me think of a Sauternes while the latter a peppery Gewürztraminer in two samples. Both have a bit of thick fruit sweetness, drawing on apples, tangerines and green grapes. The third sample is meatier, like a peppered sausage with no sweetness whatsoever. The cold draw is much more of a grape jelly flavor with a toasty and woody background, yet there is hardly any pepper to be found. Air moves well with some natural resistance but no obstructions.
Much like it was present on the aroma, there is an abundant amount of dry black pepper in the smoke of the Cohiba Royale Toro, enough that I’m rethinking my approach to retrohales in the first few puffs. The palate gets an equally bold flavor to start, with more of the black pepper and an earthiness that is rich with terroir and unfortunately a bit of irritation for the throat. There’s also a funky flavor that is showing up that I can’t quite name, particularly in one cigar, and it leads me to think about some comments about the packaging that were shared with me that I’ll touch on in the notes. Touches of concentrated chocolate accent the flavor, though they seem occasional occurrences; I’m inclined to think of the chocolate chips in a Jimmy John’s cookie as a comparable example. Smoke billows off the cigar immediately following each puff, thick and almost moving in slow-motion, something I notice even more when I snap the first photograph. A bit of chili pepper heat accents the nose and palate for a distinctive heat and physical sensation. Technical performance has been problem-free, though the draw feels a bit firm at times and the burn line isn’t always perfectly even. The first third checks-in at full flavor, medium-full body and medium-full to full strength, depending on the sample and my tolerance for nicotine at the moment.
Pepper is still quite prominent at the start of the Cohiba Royale’s second third, though thankfully it is dialed back just enough to make for a more pleasant retrohale. The palate still gets a somewhat rough physical sensation, though this is due to a rockier base of earth. It’s less irritating than what I picked up earlier, though I still wouldn’t call this a smooth cigar. There are some flirts with coffee but the flavor stays pretty consistent through this portion of the cigar, meaning not a lot of sweetness or creaminess. Pepper has also backed off the palate just a touch on the palate, giving the cigar a flavor profile closer to medium, body is still medium-plus, and strength has backed down to medium as well. However, white pepper flexes its muscle more through the nose, giving retrohales a clean and bright sensation. The technical performance is still very good, though one cigar struggles a bit with smoke production.
A bit of back-of-the-throat irritation returns to the profile as the Cohiba Royale gets into its final third, a development that isn’t ideal as the rest of the flavors continue to mellow. There’s still plenty of earth forming the base of the profile, now dusted with just a bit of cocoa powder for another hint of sweetness. The sample that showed the most funkiness in the first half has lost all of that by now, and probably has the smoothest final third, though again that is a bit relative to the rockiness in the earth. Black pepper is starting to make a return, though I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m getting a bit of a pinch in my throat from the smoke. The technical performance remains very good but just a bit shy of what I would call perfect, while flavor and body finish near the medium-full mark and strength not far off but a cumulative effect of just shy of full.
- When this cigar landed on my schedule, Charlie Minato noted that, “This box smelled of paint bad enough that I removed the cigars from being stored in there.” The inside of the box is painted black. I can’t say I got any of that aroma from the cigars, though I do wonder if some of that might have transferred over to the flavor once lit.
- Looking over the marketing material that accompanied this cigar, General Cigar Co. called it “the most profound smoking experience of the renowned Cohiba brand,” as well as calling it balanced and sublime. Profound is a big claim, and I can’t say the Royale delivered on that promise.
- This has the kind of leaf that gets me thinking of the before picture in an acne treatment commercial.
- Given the oils on the wrapper leaf, I’d be interested to see what the cellophane looks like in five years.
- The Royale name has been used General’s Macanudo brand, as well as by Rocky Patel, Serino and Arturo Fuente for cigar lines, while Habanos S.A. and its distributors have used the word for cigars as well.
- I don’t know if I’m just on a run of smoking stronger cigars, but I could definitely feel the nicotine strength in the Cohiba Royale. White sugar, here I come.
- General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. General Cigar Co. also sent samples, but they were not smoked for this review.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Cohiba Royale Toro.
The Cohiba Royale comes with a few promises, some of which it does a better job at delivering than others. In terms of boldness, it certainly makes a run at it, though I can't say I haven't smoked the entire portfolio recently enough to lay the superlative on it. But is it a profound smoke? For my palate, no. It has enough points of roughness that overshadow whatever else it might be trying to offer, and when the irritation isn't there, I can't say that the core flavors earn the descriptor. While I'm not quite as enamored with big and bold profiles as I might have once been, I still enjoy them when done right. Unfortunately, the Cohiba Royale doesn't seem to be that cigar.