It’s always interesting to see what articles generate higher-than-expected traffic on this site. There are the obvious ones that deal with new releases or sweeping legislation, but when we look back at the articles that did best in a given month, there is always one type of article that continues to impress me with how well it does: stories that have to do with spirits, particularly, a series of cigars that debuted in 2021, the Weller by Cohiba line.
Seemingly the result of two of the bigger names in their respective fields, the articles almost always outpace the traffic of similar articles published that month.
For that first cigar, General Cigar Co., which has claimed ownership of the Cohiba trademark in the United States, created a 5 1/2 x 50 robusto that used a Honduran wrapper, Connecticut habano binder, and fillers from Nicaragua’s Estelí and Ometepe regions. While the line’s name may imply that the tobacco was infused or otherwise co-mingled with the spirit, it was not. Rather, the cigars were designed to be “the ultimate cigar for spirits connoisseurs,” said Sean Williams, brand ambassador for Cohiba, at the time of the cigar’s release.
The second release came out in September 2022, this time in a 6 x 50 toro vitola that featured tobacco that had spent time in bourbon barrels. In this case, it was the Connecticut broadleaf binder that was aged in bourbon barrels sent from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ken., to General Cigar Dominicana in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The rest of the blend comprised an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, while the fillers came from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras.
For the third version, the barrel-aging process returned, and once again, it was a Connecticut-grown broadleaf binder that was aged in barrels that previously held Weller bourbon. However, the company called this newest blend a deeper exploration of the effects of barrel aging on tobacco.
The wrapper for the cigar comes from Nicaragua’s Jalapa region, while the fillers are a mix of tobaccos from Nicaragua’s Estelí and Jalapa regions, as well as Brazilian mata fina. A press release from General Cigar Co. describes the profile as having “rich notes of earth, oak, and black pepper abound, with an intriguing, soft burst of molasses.”
“For our third blend of Weller by Cohiba, we deepened the exploration of barrel aging on tobacco,” said Williams in a press release. “In calling upon Weller bourbon barrels to deepen the complexity of the binder leaf, we have added a layer of dimension that makes itself known not only on the palate but also through the aroma. This is a sophisticated cigar that pairs beautifully with bourbon or aged brown spirits and delivers a decadent smoking experience on its own.”
The cigar is a 6 x 50 toro that is priced at $24.99 per cigar, or $249.99 for a box of 10 cigars, each of which comes packed in metal tubes. It is also a limited edition release, though General Cigar Co. has not disclosed the number of cigars produced.
- Cigar Reviewed: Weller by Cohiba 2023
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Binder: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
- Filler: Brazil (Mata Fina) & Nicaragua (Estelí and Jalapa)
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $24.99 (Box of 10, $249.90)
- Release Date: August 2023
- Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While not particularly oily, there is a touch of oiliness to be found on the wrapper leaves, giving them a soft sheen and a softness on my fingers. There is some light mottling to the leaves, but on the whole, they are a consistent darker-than-average shade of brown. The cigars have just a bit of bumpiness, nothing I would call distracting, and possibly something resulting from some of the slightly larger than average veins. There is a touch of give in the density and an occasional spot that is soft enough to catch my attention, but on the whole, I would say the three cigars are in line with the current average. That said, there are also some spots that feel a bit firmer than average, particularly near the heads of the three cigars. The foot has a leading aroma of woodiness, specifically wood that has been through some processing and has time on it; not necessarily old wood, but certainly not fresh-cut firewood or lumber. Despite being woody, there is a softness to the aroma, even a touch of creaminess at times, highlighted by fleeting moments of brightness that remind me of the leaves on freshly cut tree branches. Air movement really varies, moving quite well on the first cigar but then feeling rather tight on the second cigar and then just a touch firm on the third. The flavor is dry and woody, with a bit of cereal grain, mixed nuts and black pepper across the three cigars, as well as varying amounts of lip tingle from where they make contact with the wrapper.
The first puffs have a surprising amount of wood and pepper to them, and a retrohale delivers a classic one-two punch of those flavors with a distinct brightness in the nose. The first appreciable change comes out around the one-inch mark, when I get a bit of thick, orange liqueur sweetness, followed by a sudden rush of creaminess. Given how much the pepper stands out on retrohales and establishes itself as the brightest individual component, I find myself passing a lot of smoke through my nose. Yet even when I don’t retrohale, I still get a decent tingle in my nostrils, almost as if the smoke was designed to primarily target my olfactory senses. A few puffs tickle the back of my throat with some pepper, though creaminess pulls my attention away from that sensation and into a layered profile of wood, mixed nuts, dry earth and black pepper. Flavor sits around medium-plus, body is medium, and strength is medium-minus. Other than one cigar having a draw that is a few ticks tighter than I would prefer, construction is very good.
As the second third of the Weller by Cohiba 2023 gets underway, I find myself focusing on the creaminess in the cigar, though more for how it affects the body of the cigar than the flavor, as the smoke seems a bit thinner than the flavor would suggest it should be. The aroma picks up a bit of campfire when I’m able to isolate it from the profile, which I do by taking a puff, then waving some of the smoke into my nose. It also reveals a very enjoyable aroma that is less peppery than the retrohales. After fading a bit, there’s some creaminess working its way back to the front of the profile as the burn line approaches the center of the cigar, along with a woody, spirituous undertone. The flavor loses a touch of its complexity at times, but the midway point shows a couple of moments of pretty remarkable brilliance, where the woods, pepper and creaminess come together in an impressive harmony that relies on the pepper staying in balance, which is a challenge in some of the cigars. Once that change happens, the woodiness is the next to drive the profile, then nuttiness takes the lead for a bit as the pepper falls into the background on puffs. Retrohales still have black pepper in the lead, though now a bit less bright and vibrant than in the first third. Flavor is medium-plus, body is medium, and strength is still medium-minus. Construction remains very good, with only the occasional relight needed as I figure out how often the cigar needs to be puffed on to stay lit.
After being a fairly pepper-dominant profile through the first two thirds, the final third sees a slight pivot that doesn’t take the pepper out of the equation but surrounds it with a softer profile that reminds me of a tres leches cake, minus an overt sweetness. The black pepper is still there, making itself known with an occasional small bite on the top of my throat, while its intensity in the retrohales is close to where it was in the first third. It also now stings my eyes a bit, something it didn’t do earlier. The dry wood brings about the closing of the cigar, and with it comes a touch more of a mixed nuts flavor, specifically making me think of lightly salted cashews. The final puffs remind me a bit of a band finishing up one of its big hits, where every musician seems to be playing with full energy, as the profile finishes full but without the definition of individual components that it showed earlier. Body ups to medium-full, while strength is now in the medium territory. Construction remains very good, with no notable issues across the three samples.
- During the post-purchase inspection process, Charlie Minato noted that the cellophane felt “a lot larger than it should be.” While I would agree that it’s too big, I don’t if I agree with “a lot.” That said, the cigar slides out of the cellophane with hardly any restriction.
- That said, the size issue is particularly noticeable if I grab a corner of the cellophane and pull it tight, much like how a tailor or salesperson might do to show you just how oversized the garment you’re trying on is.
- He also noted the bumpiness, which I didn’t really notice until I started photographing the cigars, and it caught my eye amidst the grid lines of my camera.
- It’s rare that I find a blend that truly matches the vitola, but this is one of them. In terms of what the Weller by Cohiba 2023 blend offered, the 6 x 50 toro vitola seems like a near-perfect vitola in which to do so. It left me satisfied but not necessarily wanting another cigar, at least not right away.
- Scandinavian Tobacco Group, parent company of General Cigar Co., has worked with Buffalo Trace/Sazerac, parent of the Weller brand, on other projects featuring some of Buffalo Trace/Sazerac brands. There was a Buffalo Trace cigar sold through Meier & Dutch, an Eagle Rare gift set sold through Cigars International, and a cinnamon-flavored Fireball cigar.
- I didn’t get much in the way of nicotine strength from the Weller by Cohiba 2023, and what I did get came at the very end of the cigar.
- General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 25 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigars Direct, Corona Cigar Co., and JR Cigar carry the Weller by Cohiba 2023.
If I'm being tasked with whether the Weller by Cohiba 2023 lives up to its billing of being a deeper exploration of the effects of barrel aging on tobacco, I'm not sure I could answer that fairly. This is one of those situations where the components really need to be tasted on their own as well as in combination to do what I would consider to be a fair comparison to the previous blend. What I can say is that on its own, the cigar has a number of impressive qualities. The opening notes are bright and attention-grabbing, and while the pepper can be a bit dominant, it is impressive to experience the progression to the zenith around the midpoint. Also, this was a blend that started to really grow on me with each subsequent cigar and the more attention I gave them, as the nuances of its changes entertain the senses and engage the mind in keeping track of them. While I would have liked a bit more complexity and balance in spots, the Weller by Cohiba 2023 is a solid cigar that I enjoyed smoking and would revisit again, hopefully this time with a pour of Weller as an accompaniment.