The Cohiba Talisman is a Cuban cigar legend of mythic proportions, which is a stunning feat considering the cigar was only launched just a few short years ago as part of the Edición Limitada line-up for 2017. The Cohiba Talisman Edición Limitada 2017 is the seventh Cohiba to wear the Edición Limitada band and has proven to be the most sought-after Edición Limitada cigar to date.
As announced by Cigar Journal, the Talisman arrived in Switzerland following the official UK launch in slide-top boxes of ten cigars. Each is a 154mm x 54 or Canonazo Doble size, a first of its kind for the brand. The wrapper is a dark and oily leaf crowned by a short pigtail. The cigar has a more substantial weight than any other Cohiba cigar I’ve come across. The familiar Cohiba cigar band is joined by a secondary “Edición Limitada 2017” band, completing what looks every bit the part of an exclusive limited-edition cigar.
The Edición Limitada program emerged in 2000 to showcase exceptional tobaccos in one-off limited production cigars released under only a few select brands each year. All tobaccos destined for the series must be aged a minimum of two years, ensuring a fully developed, connoisseur-worthy smoke. Let’s find out how well this translates to the Cohiba Talisman Edición Limitada 2017 and if it is worthy of being the new torchbearer for the most prestigious line in the cigar world today.
Construction seems solid and consistent from head to foot, as would be expected from such a high-profile release from Havana’s famed El Laguito factory. The well-aged Cuban tobaccos under the upper priming shade-grown wrapper offer up hints of leather, cocoa and wood aromas. A carefully placed snip of the guillotine unveils a firm, yet free-flowing draw with teasing pre-light tastes to match the aroma, as well as hints of honey-roasted nuts and exotic spice.
The Talisman takes a bit more effort to light than others in Cuba’s 2017 collection, due perhaps to the densely packed filler blend, but the extra time is well worth it as it explodes with flavor right from the get-go. The Talisman wastes little time in building into the medium-plus range, unleashing thick notes of wood, cocoa and spice. A hint of cream is detectable as splashes of leather and coffee hide in the background.
The draw is good, if somewhat tight, making for a slightly laborsome effort to propel the cigar smoking experience. This seems but only a minor inconvenience at this point, as the onslaught of body and taste is simply too prominent to ignore. The burn is even with tightly woven ash exuding tremendous amounts of smoke. Renowned wine and cigar critic James Suckling suggested the Talisman offers the classic Cohiba “character,” and to this point, it does. The taste indeed intensifies as the enjoyable first third morphs into the second.
Bursts of cinnamon and almond flavors join in the mix, as the coffee and leather notes from the first third become more prominent. Strength continues to grow into the medium-to-full bodied range, while subtle anise, cardamom and dried fruit nuances appear. While still as enjoyable as the first third, this portion of the smoke brings more flavors to the experience that are working independently rather than complementing one another. Quite a few have noted this issue, including the folks at halfwheel.com who singled out the lack of balance in their initial review of the cigar.
Additional aging might bring greater harmony, yet the individual flavors form just enough of a cohesive unit to register as a positive experience for the taste buds. Even with this slight issue, the smoke is at this juncture still equal to Cuba’s other top offerings and is holding interest with each puff. Aromas have taken on a distinctly more earthy tone with hints of coffee and wood wafting through the thick clouds of smoke emanating from the beefy cigar.
Cocoa, spice, almond, earth, and cedar have become the dominant flavors, while splashes of coffee, sweet cream, citrus, and leather drift into a supporting role. These flavors have happily slid into lockstep with each other to create a delightfully complex character that should only grow deeper with extra aging. The draw has not flowered open quite as much as I would prefer but maintains a steady course even after the removal of the primary and secondary cigar bands.
The richness and texture of the Cohiba Talisman have hit capacity as most of the flavors have given way to a sweet and sour earthiness mixed with a chocolaty essence. The result is a lively push towards a robust finish. The ash clings to what has become a somewhat erratic draw and burn as the full-flavored smoke picks up hints of mesquite at the crescendo of the robustly satisfying grand finale.
The wildly anticipated release of the Cohiba Talisman does not disappoint, delivering an experience that is at once smooth, profoundly flavorful and complex. While the cigar was kept from truly spreading its wings by construction issues and lack of cohesion at times, these were of only minor hindrances to the full enjoyment of the smoke. Further aging, however, will perhaps nudge the Talisman closer to the exceedingly high expectations that preceded its release and prove it a masterful pairing choice to the extremely rare Cohiba Cognac.
Those enamored with the Cohiba Behike and Siglo lines will also want to make this smoke a priority, yet with the expectation that the Talisman is an entirely different experience. While the high price tag might be a deterrent, the cigar is sure to go down as one of the most legendary of Cuba’s offerings over the past few decades and, as Luca Cominelli of Cigars Lover Magazine suggests, quite possibly as one of the best ever limited editions.
Final Rating: 94
Overall the Cohiba Talisman Edición Limitada 2017 is stunning if a bit underachieving and worthy of the buzz surrounding it. Whether it matches the hype or is worth the asking price is perhaps best left to each cigar enthusiast to decide, yet there is no question that the Talisman takes its rightful place amongst the best of Cuba’s most recent releases and, after a little more aging, as arguably one of the best Cohiba cigars of all-time.