Cohiba Behike - The pinnacle of regular production Cuban cigars

Cohiba Behike - The pinnacle of regular production Cuban cigars

by Nick Hendry

Collectors of Cuban Cigars will often rush to buy boxes which, by their very nature, are intended to be rare.  These could be the Limited Edition releases each year, whose numbers are restricted but can occasionally increase based on popularity, or Regional Editions presented in numbered boxes which cannot be recreated once they are all gone.  Cigars which are by design limited in supply pit aficionados against each other in auction rooms and online retailers, with each devotee determined to get their share before the well runs dry.  It can become a lifelong search, and battles over those produced in lowest quantities can be intense.

Despite technically being classed as regular production, the Cohiba Behike line finds itself in the same bracket as these ultra-rare cigars.  The reason is simple – the insistence on using only the finest tobacco for its construction.  It’s a well-known fact that Cohiba cigars use only tobacco fermented a third time in barrels, and only the finest leaves of each harvest.  The blend for Behike also uses medio tiempo – small, dark leaves which grow on the top of some, but not all, Cuban tobacco plants.  Their appearance is not guaranteed, and their quality being up to brand standard rarer still, so the glorious pigtailed sticks they are used to create have become hard to find.

A beautiful box of Cohiba Behike Cuban cigars.

A beautiful box of Behike is a wonderful sight in any humidor

These leaves are so prized because of the depth of flavour they add to each cigar.  Official classification of Behike cigars is medium-full, like the Linea Clasica, but is often considered more closer to full than others in the Cohiba family.  Warm and powerful notes of leather and dark-roast coffee combine with hints of earth and wood to create a flavour profile like no other.

The name given to this line on its release in 2010 now feels rather fitting to its current exclusive and elusive nature.  Where the name of the brand was chosen as the ancient Taino word for early cigars, the Behike was the tribal shaman chosen to receive the honour of lighting and smoking them.  As they once were the holders of the highest rank in the community, so the cigars that now bear their name are intended to be the zenith of the Cuban craft.  While their creation will not be limited by pre-determined numbers, it will be by their exacting standards of quality.

Behike are available today in 3 sizes: BHK 52, BHK54 and BHK56.  Their factory name derives from the place of their birth – the famous old mansion in Havana now known as El Laguito.  Each size will bring the trademark flavours and astounding quality associated with the line, and smoking times ranging from 45 minutes for the petit robusto-sized BHK52 to almost 2 hours for the statuesque BHK56.  Their release in 2010 was greeted with much fanfare, high-scoring reviews from around the world and instant adoration from cigar fans.  As the low availability of tobacco good enough for the blend became apparent, savvy smokers began laying down boxes almost straight away, with some still available now.  More recently, harvests have been of a standard that fresh Behike have been produced and released to the market, where they will likely not remain for long.

El Laguito, the famous birthplace of Cohiba cigars

El Laguito, the famous birthplace of Cohiba cigars

The depth of flavour and quality of the Behike may well be unique, but the phenomenon of a vitola being regular production by intention but limited by practicality is not.  The Montecristo A is a cigar known by aficionados for its sheer size – the vitola measures 47 ring gauge by an astonishing 9 ¼ inches.  This will allow fans of the most popular brand in the world to enjoy the flavours for well over 2 hours, but comes at a price.  Leaves large enough to create such a cigar are few and far between, meaning they are constructed only when possible.  The cigars are presented in their own individual cedar sleeve and packaged in boxes of 5 – ideal to be placed in your humidor to age and savour sparingly, if you can get your hands on them in the first place.

The Montecristo A in a box of 5 cigars

The Montecristo A is another regular production cigar made rare by the lack of availability of special tobacco leaves

Both the Montecristo A and the Cohiba Behike line are investments in quality and rarity, sure to delight anyone lucky enough to find some.  There is potential there for investment, to turn a profit from Behike stored for 5 years or more.  That said, their purpose is enjoyment – choose an occasion to celebrate, light one up and remind yourself what smoking the best available feels like. 

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