The Cohiba Mágicos is my least favourite in the Cohiba Maduro 5 Line, although if I’m honest I can’t say I’ve ever given them much of a chance.
When the Maduro’s first came out, I smoked a lot of the other two – between 2007 and 2009 I sucked down at least a few boxes each of the Genios the Secretos. Aside from their stupid names (a top end luxury line in 2007 called “Genies”, “Magical”, and “Secrets”, come on), I loved them. I wasn’t much of a Limited Edition smoker at the time, and the maduros had a chocolaty richness that was new to me in cigars. I’m sure the Mágicos had it too, but I never could find a place in my heart for the size. The Secretos was a fun little firecracker you could smoke in mixed company without being too obnoxious. The Genios was a big luxurious smoke to enjoy around other cigar smokers. The Mágicos was an early starter in the trend of short fat cigars that try and cram all punch of a big robusto into something you can smoke in under an hour. They weren’t for me. I need some length before I can enjoy the girth.
After those first few years of heavy Maduro smoking, I more or less moved on from the line. My cigar budget has only increased in the intervening decade, but the prices of Cohiba have increased faster. By all accounts, the glory days of the Maduro line have long passed, with Cohiba shifting their best people onto the BHKs or the old classics, and the Maduros languish today as the black sheep of the El Laguito flock. If I’m going to spend Cohiba money, I only want the best.
Once lit, the Mágicos begins pretty well. Smooth and earthy, with a little sourness. Musty wood, slowly dissolving in the underbrush.
There was a summer at the very start of our twenties that the folklore remembers as The Summer of Buckley, for what seemed like an epic sexual rampage that our least-assuming friend embarked upon. Up until then (and for the most part, ever since), Buckley had been a very nice boy; the kind of kid that a mother could be proud of. He didn’t drink, and certainly didn’t smoke or drug. His romantic history consisted of three teenage relationships, each lasting more than a year and separated by only a week or so of ‘single life.’ He remained on good terms with all of them. Two of them had left him with their virginity intact.
At the start of the summer, Buckley’s incumbent girlfriend was getting ready for a trip abroad on the classic European student vacation. She would be seeing the continental sights by day, before spending late nights in backpacker bars, and sleeping in dirty hostel beds. Imagining that at some point along the Costa del Sol a handsome Spaniard tight pants and a heavy tan might find his way into one of those beds, the night before she departed, she took Buckley aside for a serious talk.
“I’ve been thinking” she said, “and I want to go on a break this summer. I really love you and I want to be with you, but I don’t want to ruin my holiday wishing you were with me. Let’s take a few months off and have fun. We’ll get back together when I come back. Enjoy your summer!”
Buckley was devastated. For a week, he moped around his share house, picturing his girlfriend dancing the salsa under the stars, with Mediterranean hands low on her waist. At the end of the week he came up angry. “Fine” he thought. “If she wants to just have fun this summer, let’s have some fun.”
He called me wanting to know if I had a party for us to go to, and as it happened, I did. Nice had invited me to a poker night.
Nice (pronounced like the city) was in a group of friends that intersected with mine, but she was way cooler than any of my set. I found her very intimidating, but super sexy. She was Ukrainian, and had that Eastern European sneer. She didn’t mind telling you exactly what she thought of you. She chain-smoked hand rolled cigarettes, and you could hear it in her voice. It was always unsettling talking to her. I was never sure if she was flirting with me or mocking me, and I felt like she wanted me to feel that way.
The door to her house was ajar when Buckley and I arrived. We wandered in, and found the party gathered in the kitchen. Nice was leaning against the doorframe, smoking.
“Hello boys,” she said, in her husky whisper. “Welcome.”
We had bought drinks with us to split: a pair of Stones Ginger Beers, and a bottle of 100 Pipers Scotch, which was the cheapest available at the time. The idea was that we would take a swig from the bottle of ginger beer and then top it off with the whisky, with the logic being that the mix would progressively get stronger and by the time we were down to straight scotch, we would be drunk enough not to notice the flavour. I also had a couple of Montecristo No.4s.
The game began. Besides Buckley and myself, the players were Nice, her housemate Sarah, another girlfriend and two other guys I knew vaguely from school. Everyone was smoking. I lit my cigar, and the other got passed around, becoming soggy from many wet lips. The bottle of whisky began to empty.
Sarah was the first to run out of chips. Without discussion, she took off her top and dealt herself into the next hand.
I have only been involved in a few games of strip-poker, and in none of the others has any female ever taken off anything significant. In most cases they’re coyly removing an earing or a sock while I’m down to my briefs. Not this one.
The game continued, and Nice began to lose hand after hand. I was still mostly fully clothed, as were Buckley and Sarah. It was coming up to midnight, and the others had departed not long after the clothes started to go. Nice had lost her shoes and socks and jacket and earrings and hair-ties. When all that had gone, she took off her jeans, keeping her legs under the table while she did it. Things got more serious when she lost her top, and we got to enjoy her red lacy bra for a few hands before that too was removed. Finally, she lost her last pot. She stood up, removed her panties and tossed them on the table.
“Game over” she declared. “Let’s go to the park.”
By the midpoint the Mágicos is showing up with some strength and a bit more tar than I’d really like. There is definitely the sweetness of the other maduros, but it doesn’t quite come to chocolate. A charitable man might call it spicy. At least I can’t fault the construction – the burn is razor sharp and the draw is perfect.
By the time we arrived at the park, the fog of whisky was intense. Nice and I sat down on one of those log fences that surround all Australian playgrounds of a certain era, and began making out without much discussion. Buckley and Sarah had climbed into the playground tower, and the sound of their giggles belayed a similar occupation.
I had a foul taste in my mouth from the tar of the cigar and the cheap whisky, which was almost strong enough that I couldn’t taste Nice’s musty cigarette smoker’s breath. After a few minutes of entwined tongues, she withdrew a moment and considered me.
“Too much cheese, perhaps?”
“Sorry” I stammered. “I think it’s the cigar”
It didn’t deter her. After the poker game, she had never properly dressed herself, just pulling a windbreaker on over her bare torso. I unzipped it and slipped my hand inside.
We went back to the house, and Nice disappeared. Sarah was making up a bed for Buckley on the loungeroom floor, while I stood awkwardly in the hallway. When she passed me on a trip to the linen closet, I asked her where I should sleep.
“You’re in there” she said, pointing at the closed door of Nice’s room.
I timidly knocked and let myself in. Nice was in the bathroom, and when she came back I mumbled that Sarah had told me I was sleeping in here. Nice threw me a sneer, but didn’t throw me out. Fully dressed, I climbed into her bed. She joined me in a t-shirt and lacy red underwear. We made out for a while, our hands roaming unhindered under inside each other’s shirts, and mine briefly inside her panties. Coital love making did not occur, although not because either party rejected the idea. We were just a bit too drunk and tired to go through the motions. At some point I passed out.
A scant few hours later I was jolted awake by her alarm.
“I’ve got to go to work” she hissed, getting dressed in the dark. “You can stay here.”
I went back to sleep, and once the sun was high in the sky I got up and poked my head into the loungeroom. Buckley was still unconscious, with Sarah naked beside him.
Later, on the tram home I asked him how he did.
“Yeah, I fucked her” he replied. “How’d you go?”
“Yeah, me too.”
As the coal of the Mágicos reaches the band, things are much unchanged. The tar is still present, but it hasn’t grown stronger and isn’t causing an issue. The earthiness is rich and muddy. The tobacco strength at this point is full, leaving a nicotine tingle on the lips.
I don’t know why I never called Nice after that night. I definitely should have. I liked her, and she seemed to like me. Even having necked with her, I couldn’t get passed the intimidation. I guess I kind of hoped that I’d run into her at a party again some day and it could be “one of those things.”
Even without seeing her, six months later I managed to blow up whatever chance I had.
I was sitting in a beer garden in Brunswick at one of my friend’s birthdays, and got chatting to his older brother and his older brother’s girlfriend. It eventuated that she’d been to the same school as a few of my female friends. She started rattling of names.
“Do you know Victoria Sargent?”
“Yeah! The ballerina? Of course.”
“How about Minh Nguyen?”
“I dated her for a while in year 10!”
“Wait, you don’t know Nice do you?”
“Only in the biblical sense! I slept with her at a party one time!”
The girlfriend looked delighted at the gossip.
“Oh wow… we’re pretty good friends, and she definitely never mentioned that.”
I tried to backpedal, but the damage was done. About a week later I got a scathing email from Nice that began “it’s not nice to kiss and tell, especially when it’s not even true” and continued apace for several paragraphs. She used the word “liar” repeatedly, and insinuated that the only reason she hadn’t had sex with me that night was because I was impotent. She still would have done it later, though, if I wasn’t too much of a coward to give her a call. She concluded that it probably worked out for the best. She doubted she’d even be able to feel my tiny dick inside her.
I tried to smooth things over, with a jokey mae culpa. I offered to buy her a steak dinner to make up for smear on her reputation. Her response email was less verbose.
“No chance, loser.”
In the end, the Mágicos is not such a bad cigar. It never made me want to spit, which I feel couldn’t be said of the same size from a lesser marque, although I certainly did feel the need to wash it down with a few slugs of Mornington Porter.
As for where it sits in the ranking? Well, if you ground up the tobacco and put it gram-for-gram against the leaf in the Siglo II, the Mágicos would probably come up on top. That isn’t how these things work though. If I had both cigars in my humidor, there is almost no occasion where the Mágicos would be the one I reached for.