An Extraordinary Tasting Menu
Amongst the outdoor cigar lounges that have opened in London since the smoking ban, the Garden Room at The Lanesborough Hotel stands out. Not only does it offer the club-like comfort of leather armchairs in front of an open fire (the floor is heated too) for the 30 guests it can accommodate, but it is also home to a remarkable collection of cigars including vintage pre-Castro Habanos let alone Cuban Davidoffs and Dunhills.
Pride of place amongst them is now reserved by 42 year-old Giuseppe Ruo, who presides over the Garden Room, for a Cohiba Behike Humidor. You may remember that in 2006 one hundred such humidors priced at 15,000 Euros each were made by Elie Bleu to house, forty at a time, the four thousand Behikes (7 ½ ins/192 mm x 52 ring gauge) that were made to mark the 40th Anniversary of Cohiba.
Today Giuseppe will offer you one Cohiba Behike for £1,500. Up to the time of writing he has sold twelve.
He has smoked one himself, which gave him the chance to select some drinks to accompany what has become the Koh-i-Noor diamond in the Crown Jewels of the cigar world.
I asked him to share his experience with us.
“I smoked the Cohiba Behike in the Garden Room on a memorable night last August when a very generous gentleman invited me to taste this magnificent cigar. Mine was number 3,564.
It had an almost perfume like aroma, not noted in any other Cohibas. Needless to say, the construction was simply magnificent. The draw was superb and effortless. The taste was awesome from the beginning until the end. It had the flavour of a well aged Siglo VI and a perfect Sublimes; the hallmark bean tastes were all there.
It took me almost two hours to smoke.
I began by pairing the Behike with Krug Clos D’ Ambonnay 1995 , blanc de noir (100% Pinot noir grapes). Secretly nurtured in the Krug cellars for a full 12 years, this is the rarest of all Krugs. For the first third the Behike was gentle and delicate with the unmistakable Cohiba grassy flavour with a hint of coffee coming out. It melted to perfection with the freshness and richness of the Krug Clos D’Ambonnay. The sweet spiciness and the berries finish along with a superb body was the right complement for the first third of the Behike.
The second third evolved in a different way. Some exotic flavours with a candied sweetness came through, so I decided to explore a very bizarre route and paired the cigar with Chateau Margaux 1982.
The Behike had become a little heavier and more creamy without losing its style, complexity and elegance; the Sublimes side came out with all the Siglo VI body. Combining with the Margaux 1982’s incredible complexity (berries on the nose, violets, spicy oak and cigar tobacco) there was an explosion of flavour on my palate with tobacco, chocolate, berries, vanilla all combined in an extraordinary sensation.
Finally, my dear friends, we arrived at the last third where I had no doubt about the pairing. It had to be Macallan 1953.
The Behike’s last third was all power and wonderful structure. A chocolate and coffee taste came out like a volcano and the Macallan 1953 with all it spice, sweet candy fruit, marzipan, wild cherry and an incredible body (52% alcohol) proved the perfect match for the end of the Behike; a marriage of two titanic flavours that gave birth to one of my deepest life experiences as a cigar lover.
At the end of this memorable journey I am more convinced that pleasure in life has no price and if you have the chance to smoke one Cohiba Behike, don’t miss it.”
Be warned that you should you choose explore the whole of Giuseppe’s tasting menu, you would not see much change out of ten grand subject to the number of friends you bring along to share the experience.
You can find Giuseppe Ruo, the Cohiba Behike and his complete tasting menu in the Garden Room at The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA. Tel: +44 (0)20 7259 5599,www.lanesborough.com.