If you are a regular visitor of my blog, or if you know me personally and talked to me about cigars, you may have noticed that Cuban cigars aren’t my favorites. Now we are not talking vintage stuff, vintage Cubans are a world of difference with post 2001 production as its completely different tobacco and Cubatobacco has screwed up since, screwed up big time, under pressure of the Cuban government that needs money flowing in. For example, they lack quality control causing quality issues, there is a fertilizer problem so the soil isn’t replenished enough and there is a big monoculture problem where the soil doesn’t get any rest. Were Cubans the best before 2000, no doubt there, do they have the potential to be the best again? Yeah, but they need to change a few things and that will cause a temporary decline in turnover, but Cuba will benefit from it in the end.
Now enough with the criticism, I have to take my hat off for the Habanos marketing program. First of all, they don’t sell just a cigar, they sell the complete country, the vibe, the music, the rum instead of brand x or brand y, and they do an amazing job. Secondly they came up with the yearly limited edition, which was a huge success and is now widely copied by cigar manufacturers in Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and anywhere else they make cigars. Third best marketing idea was that whole Behike scam, I mean, after 2000 years of cultivating tobacco a new, very special leaf is discovered? And its used to make a new Cohiba. Everybody buys it, nobody thinks “hey but that leaf was used in the regular Cohiba before, they have taken it out now so my regular Cohiba is less”, I mean, brilliant marketing right? But their best idea was the Exclusivo series, a concept that has been tried by a few copycats, I know General Cigars tried it and Tatuaje, but not to much of a success. And the idea is so brilliantly simple, distributers can choose a brand, pick a vitola that is not made for that brand, have an x amount of boxes made, add a second ring saying “exclusivo” and the name of the country and boom: it’s a collectible cigar that people hunt for. It’s not even a new blend, its just a different vitola. Chapeau Habanos marketing department, you guys are genius, and if marketing was the deciding factor for my reviews this would be a 100 point cigar.
Now the marketing is so genius that I fell for it too and I hunted this Punch Platino Exclusivo India down. I wanted this 7.6×49 Double Corona and found an online vendor that could get me a box. I wasn’t sure if the vendor could be trusted, I had never done business with him in the past so to reduce the risk I turned it into a box split. The vendor was thrustworthy but Dutch customs was paying attention and refused the parcel, we were just lucky that they returned to sender and didn’t confiscate and destroy it. The vendor shipped it again and this time it got through. The ring of the cigar is somewhat different, the top three quarters of the cigars are wrapped in a silver colored foil with a five pointed star embossed in it, the classic Punch ring, golden outline with white surrounding a red circle with white letters saying Punch Habana Cuba. The classic burgundy ring with silver lining and white dots saying Exclusivo India is attached to the foil too, so you can only see a small part of the cigar. Somehow it all fits together though. Once unwrapped I see that the wrapper is quite dark for a Cuban but its beautiful, it feels silky and has a mild oily surface but on the backside it has a more rustic look, and close to the head of the cigar you can feel and see bumps, must be a vein in the binder. The aroma is pretty mild, milder than I expected, and its barnyard, no ammonia though but then again, the cigar is about 8 years old.
I punched the cigar and the cold draw is good, the flavor is medium strong and I taste raisin and some pepper. I used a soft flame to light the cigar and I taste a nice mix of chocolate and coffee. After a centimeter I also taste some citrus. The coffee disappears and I taste a mild chocolate with a little bit of leather. After a third I taste some wood with some spices but all very mellow, I can even taste some pepper on the back of my tongue. Halfway i taste a nutty flavor with a little pepper. The nuttiness gets more refined and it tastes like mildly salted peanuts now. I taste some chocolate too and the pepper slowly gets stronger. Near the two thirds mark the peanuts get stronger.
The draw is great, I’m always concerned about the draw when I smoke a Cuban cigar but this one is great. The ash is gray with black stripes between the layers and it’s reasonable firm. The smoke is medium thick at most and medium in volume. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and mild to medium flavored. The cigar has a very good finish. The smoke time is two hours and twenty five minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? Not falling for the whole marketing trick again, plus this specific cigar can only be bought from collectors for extremely high prices. But if this was a regular production cigar it would be a Cuban i would smoke more often.