Ah, the Cohiba. Other than perhaps the specialty cigars that graced the lips of Churchill which so many connoisseurs fret and fawn over even the remnants of, no other cigar has as much lore and misguided mythology behind it. Born of the Cuban cigar making tradition and identifiable by the exquisite taste of the well fermented tobacco grown there, the Cohiba is as much celebrity as it is stogie. But what about that other Cohiba? You know, the one a younger generation of smokers are quick to judge as too expensive or overrated? 

The battle between Cubatabaco and General Cigar is a well worn story that won't be repeated here. But needless to say, most seasoned aficionados consider the Cuban Cohibos to the be the one and true Cohibo. “Oh, the red dot may be a fine cigar,” they posture, “but at the end of the day, it's still an imitation born of trademark.” And indeed, General Cigar had no evident affiliation with the growers and wrappers of what would eventually charm the cigar smoking world in the form of Robusto, Espléndido and other sizes of Cubatabaco's Clásica series. 

These General Cigar forgeries, as many would anxiously tell you, are a close-but-not-quite entry from the Dominican Republic. They are what Lamborghini is to Ferrari. Nice, but only if you can't drive the real thing. The only problem with this line of elitist thinking and cigar snobbery is that predisposition to paint the red dot as “lesser” can mean missing out on what is unarguably one of the world's best cigars. 

To understand this, one needs to understand that while the Red Dot has no direct connection to Cuba, the over 100 year old Dominican tradition of cigar making does. Producing a fine hand rolled cigar is equal parts ingredient and technique, and General Cigar's Dominican artisans are steeped in the same tradition that defines Cuban Cohibas. After all, this isn't craft that was perfected in a vacuum across multiple regions of the Americas. And under the umbrella of that tradition, a good maker of cigars is a good maker of cigars, period. 

Which brings us to the Red Dot. From the Corona to the Churchill, there's an earthy elegance to the flavor of a Red Dot. “Peppery” is an oft overused adjective when describing them but they do have a spiced quality that sits on the tip of the tongue after each draw. And yes, the flavor is a little milder than some aficionados appreciate but combined with the first sip of a quality glass of red or a snifter of brandy or Cognac, one begins to understand what makes this cigar so special. 

It's truly one of the most balanced cigars ever made. That was noticed upon introduction in the late 70's and is still the case today. Some may call that quality boring but to a cigar smoker who appreciates a flavor that gently teases its delights instead of overpowering the senses, there's no substitute. So if you've never tried a Red Dot, I encourage you to do so. And if you haven't tried one in a while, I promise you they're worth a revisit. Of course, taste is entirely subjective but if you get it, you'll really get it. And if you don't, well...there's always Cubatabaco.