Sometimes a cigar comes along that just stops you in your tracks. So completely unexpected, so brilliant, so flavoursome, so beautifully constructed that you can’t help by look at it and go, “Wow”. The Cohiba Pirámides Extra is one such cigar.

Click on any images in this post for the larger version in Flickr.

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I’ve had my feelers out for this cigar for a LONG time, and it’s been hard to come by. Rob over at Czar’s had them for a short while, but sold out before i could say Bob’s my uncle. Local retailers don’t have these in any way or form; i was told several boxes appeared on the radar, but were pre-reserved by big hitters. Then one day, Ravi from Cigars of Habanos sends me an email saying he has a few boxes. Outstanding! (the cigars aren’t listed on his site, but you might just want to email him in case he still has any left). In a few days, i had a box in hand, and i was very happy.

The cigars themselves are a sight to behold. Unveiled during the 14th Habanos Festival earlier this year, it’s the only regular production cigar besides the Cohiba Behikes that feature the medio tiempo leaf; the very rare top-shoot of a tobacco plant that sometimes appear. The addition of this leaf made the Behikes special (read my review of the Behike) and it was lovely that they are part of the blend for the Pirámides Extra as well.

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Cohiba has never had a regular production torpedo so the introduction of this cigar rounds up the classic vitola selection of the brand. I’ve wondered for years when this would happen — the torpedo is a classic Cuban cigar vitola, and widely enjoyed. The Montecristo #2, another torpedo, is one of the island’s iconic cigars. Torpedos are fun, not only for their shape and how this feels in the mouth, but also because the cone intensifies the flavours of the cigar by acting as a narrowing funnel.

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In terms of appearance, you can’t help but notice the new band. It’s lovely. If you collect baseball cards or comics (as i do), this band is the equivalent of the foil holographic cards. It’s there to defeat counterfeiters, but in itself, is quite pleasing to look at. I spent more than a few minutes looking at it as i was smoking the cigar.

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The cigar feels heavier in the hand than other torpedos or cigars of similar size. I would say quite a bit heavier; it’s noticeable. Perhaps the extra heft comes from the inclusion of the medio tiempo. Usually cigars that feel this “solid” tend to be stiff draws — the more tobacco the roller tries to fit into the tube, the tighter the fit, the fewer the airpassages, and the draw suffers as a result. But not this one. The draw is excellent, and perfect.

Lighting up the cigar, and after the first few draws, i knew that this was going to be special. I’ve always enjoyed the grassy flavour notes unique to the Cohiba, and this was there. There has been a trend lately of Cuban cigar brands abandoning their core flavour profiles in favour of a more generic taste, but i’m pleased to report this doesn’t apply to this cigar. Fans of Cohiba will love this. Mint, smooth light caramel and a tingle of cinnamon accompany the first half of the cigar.

It’s in the second half when the Pirámides Extra brings things up a notch or two. The light and easy nature made way for a much more robust chocolate musk sensation. It was tingly spicy, small pinpricks on the lips and palate. Delightful. And the flavour of the medio tiempo made a appearance as well — a rich spicy vanilla prominence that can hardly be ignored. Unlike the vanilla notes you’d find in other cigars, this one has a spicy base. You don’t just taste it, but you feel it as well as it plays on your tongue. Very very lovely.

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The cigar burns well all the way down to the nub, never getting hot, despite a period of heavy puffing on my part when my taste radar detected medio tiempo. I put this one to rest with a feeling of sadness that i only have 9 left, and also a feeling of happiness that i do have 9 left.

Verdict: 95/100. As we come to the end of the year, and awards need to be given out as is tradition on My Cigar Blog, it’s going to be a very hard toss-up between the Cohiba Pirámides Extra and the Cohiba 1966 EL 2011 for the Cigar of the Year. The fantastic construction and outstanding flavour profile made possible through the generous use of rare medio tiempo leaf has made this cigar a wonderful, almost blessed smoke. My Cigar Blog’s highest possible recommendation.