Bolivar Britanicas (2012 UK RE)

(Size: 5 3/8″ x 48  —  Time: 1hr 30mins)

Box Code: RUE DIC 11

IMG_0970

The Bolivar Britanicas was one of three UK Regional Edition cigars released in 2012 (the others being the Punch Medalla de Oro and Ramon Allones Petit Belicoso); though it was initially slated for a 2011 release, along with the aforementioned Punch. As it was, the much delayed 2010 UK RE, the La Flor de Cano Short Robusto was the only RE actually released in the UK during 2011.  Originally planned to be a 46RG cigar, it ended up as a 48RG, which feels good in the hands, and with its perfecto shape it looks a treat too.  The box harked back to the days of old, with a large seal displaying Simón Bolivar wrapped around the side.  Meanwhile, in a modernising twist, the Britanicas were the first UK RE to sport the new regional band, ‘Gran Bretaña’, replacing the previous ‘Reino Unido’.

I initially bought a box of Bolivar Britanicas when they were released around a year ago (April 2012).  There seemed to be quite a bit of hype around that time, and I was caught up in it when I tried my first one from the box.  As a result, I remember feeling it was a good cigar, but that it wasn’t quite all it had been cracked up to be. However, when I tried more, I came to conclude that I had probably over-reacted to the hype – these were, indeed, very good cigars.  So, how did this example fare?

IMG_0971Appearance /15

The cigar was very firm to the touch, offering little give when squeezed.  The shape looks amazing – why can’t we have more perfectos? The wrapper was a lovely mid-chocolate wrapper – a couple of shades darker than is traditional on a Bolivar.  This cigar had very few veins (none of any note), a very neat seam, and a well applied cap.  As with most Britanicas I have seen, this is a gorgeous stick.  14

Smoking Characteristics /25

The pre-light draw was excellent – perfect resistance with just a few millimetres clipped off the head.  The cigar lit incredibly easily – another reason I love perfectos – and the early burn was nice and even.  The cigar’s girth and shape ensures it feels excellent in the mouth, and the thick, voluminous smoke produced was delightful.  The cigar went out after about five minutes – which took me rather by surprise as I’d been paying it a lot of attention.  This one mishap aside (I actually wrote “pathetic” in my notes), the cigar burnt beautifully, and produced good smoke throughout.  23

Flavour /25

Upon lighting, this Britanicas provided meaty flavours – savoury and gamey, with just a slight mustiness.  This was quite a surprise given the straw and sweet cherries which had made up the pre-light flavours.  Soon the flavours developed, with slightly more mustiness coming through – altering towards a peppery creaminess – with the gamey flavours becoming richer, but more subdued.  Towards half-way, the cigar became a true Bolivar, with some warm spices adding a nice note as the peppery creaminess intensified.  Into the second half, as the cigar approached the final third, these flavours started to dissipate, whilst a tannic, yet smooth, profile took their place.  Hints of oaked Cabernet Sauvignon with leathery notes became predominant, but not especially strong. Just as the cigar made its way into the final ten minutes, the wine faded away and was replaced with the spicey, creamy, pepperiness of the middle.  Slightly tannic notes of leather remained however, making for a fairly complex, although slightly muddled finish.  22

Overall Impression /35

Whilst this probably wasn’t the best Bolivar Britanicas I’ve had since their release, it was still a damn good cigar – they are amazing on their day.  The flavour developed as the cigar progressed. It had enough Bolivar flavour traits to let you know that you were smoking a cigar from the top Cuban marque, but with a couple of twists – to my mind, a good thing for a special edition.  As these have aged, they have dropped to probably just above medium in strength, so not quite the powerhouse of standard release Bolivars.  Combined with an attractive look, special feel, and generally very good construction, this is definitely a cigar which needs to be sampled, even by those who might normally be put off by the traditional strength of Bolivar cigars.  32

Grand total… 91/100 (I have smoked these rating up to a 93 – so definitely worth a try).

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Bolivar Coronas Extra

bolivar(Size: 5 5/8″ x 44 — Time: 1hr 5mins)

Habanos SA, the Cuban state-enterprise responsible for the production and distribution of cigars from that fabled island, have been smoking something over the last few years.  Sadly, I don’t think that what they’ve been smoking comes from their own range of fine, tobacco filled, options…  I’ve already lamented the loss of classic cigars from the Cuban line-up, deleted from production by a faceless (and arguably moronic) bureaucrat.  Just a couple of cigars which have been lost to the smoking public are the Partagas Serie de Connaisseur No1 (along with many more slim and small cigars) and the Trinidad Robusto T.  Perhaps, to my mind, the greatest loss of all has been the cigar which I am reviewing here – the Bolivar Coronas Extra.  It was included on HSA’s 2012 deletions list, so they are still about.  Is it worth grabbing a couple of boxes before they’re all gone?  Read on to find out… (Apologies for the lack of pictures, this is a review from the ‘archive’ which is my old notebook, so there are no pretty photos to go with it).

Appearance /15

This Bolivar Coronas Extra was just a little hard to the touch – not the nice firm springiness one hopes for.  It wasn’t rock hard, but perhaps just a tad under-humidified.  The wrapper was a lovely milk chocolate colour with just a couple of small veins.  All in all, good looking cigar, but perhaps a slight suggestion that it was well packed. 13

Smoking Characteristics /25

Pre-light the draw was reasonable, if a little firm.  The cigar lit quite easily, and the burn was relatively even from the off.  As the cigar progressed the draw opened up a touch, making it more or less ideal.  The burn remained generally pretty good throughout the stick, though a couple of little touch-ups were required as we went along (nothing major).  The ash was a nice light grey, but never instilled terribly much confidence that it would hold on much beyond half an inch – it certainly seemed quite delicate. 22

Flavour /25

The pre-light draw was grassy with hints of liquorice.  This was in stark contrast to the quite intense roasted nut profile on lighting.  This nuttiness was tempered, very nicely, with a slight coffee-creaminess.  This was a Bolivar par excellence at the outset.  After about twenty minutes a slight grassiness did eventually develop, though hints of nut still remained alongside a touch of woodiness.  There remained a distinct nuttiness to the aroma.  The grass continued for a short while before giving way to almonds as the primary flavour (slight grassy notes remained at the back of the profile though).  Gradually the grass faded entirely, and the almonds became more subdued at the same time, with a lovely creamy flavour returning – this time highlighted with citrus notes.  As the cigar drew to a close, there were some more hints of coffee before some meaty flavours started to develop, alongside a slightly tannic mouth feel.  At this stage, as the cigar came to its conclusion, I decided to lay it down and relax contentedly. 23

Overall Impression /35

Habanos SA deleted the Bolivar Coronas Extra, eventually, in 2012.  They must have had their reasons, though clearly the quality of the product cannot have been one of them.  I found this cigar to be a delightful journey, and everything that a bolivar should be – rounded creaminess for the most part, with hints of nuts, wood, and citrus.  The CE hit the mark perfectly with a satisfying medium-full body and flavour.  It will be a very sad day when these are no longer available because they really are a perfect cigar.  Perfect size, well balanced flavours, and a Bolivar fan’s absolute dream.  RIP. 32

Grand total… 90/100

SO… Grab some boxes whilst they’re left!

Bolivar Tubos No3

(Size: 5″ x 34  —  Time: 45mins)

Bolivar, the brand founded in 1902, is a name steeped in Cuban history. The marque is named after Simon Bolivar, the South American revolutionary who helped liberate much of the continent from Spanish rule. The cigars have a similar reputation to their namesake – strong and never shy of imposing themselves. As with many others, I was perhaps a little apprehensive when I first partook of a Bolivar cigar – I needn’t have worried, the Boli RC being an exceptional and smooth beast. Since then, Bolivar has gained a bit of a soft spot for me, making it a no brainer for me to try one of their little known vitolas, the No3, when my local cigar store had no RyJ Wide Churchills for me to try.

The Tubos No3 is a small cigar with a narrow ring gauge – a small panatela. It’s best described as a morning espresso cigar – a short burst of power which works well with a strong coffee. And so it was that I gave this a run out with a strong coffee – Columbian, one sugar, a splash of milk.

Appearance /15

Okay, I’ll be honest, this is a bit of an ugly duckling. Small cigars are rarely particularly attractive, and this is no exception. Small veins, made to look bigger by the lack of wrapper on display, and a prominent seam didn’t help. The wrapper leaf itself was a little knobbly, but was a fairly standard Colorado Claro shade. The cap was functional, if not especially attractive. A couple of small green spots weren’t exactly the icing on the cake. I think the most euphemistic description I could use for the No3‘s appearance is ‘rustic’. It was good to the touch though. 10

Smoking Characteristics /25

The No3 lit first time, with considerable ease. You’d kind of hope so though, there’s not exactly much of a foot to get going… The draw was absolutely spot on from start to finish, and it produced very pleasing mouthfuls of full-bodied smoke. Unfortunately, it did go out at pretty much exactly half-way, this was the only issue of this type, though I did a preventative touch up a little later. It burned evenly for pretty much the whole cigar, going slightly off-true on the re-light; however, within literally seconds it had righted itself. Overall, pretty good construction. 23

Flavours /25

Small panatelas are small cigars, but Bolivars don’t do small taste – and the No3 is no exception to that hard-and-fast rule. Right from the first draw I got a strong, very nutty flavour. This very quickly gained that good bitterness of a strong espresso – this was like something you’d just ordered from an Italian cafe. Lovely. Around the half-way stage the nuttiness came back to the forefront, spearheaded by roasted almonds and cashews. Some more understated tones of coffee came back on occasion. Finally, the No3 gave some earthiness (accompanied by hints of leather), finishing with one more blast of coffee. The flavours perhaps lacked a little depth, and it wasn’t a complex development of flavours – more of a school band than the London Philharmonic – but it maintained my interest through a surprisingly lengthy 45 minutes. 21

Overall Impression /35

Bolivar have provided a lot of bang in a little stick with the Tubos No3. The flavours aren’t particularly rounded, and the development not particularly complex – but both are present none-the-less. This is certainly one of the more interesting small panatelas I have smoked, and perhaps with a few years of age on them they will be a little more stylish. If you want a full-bodied cigar to wake you up with a snappy hit in the morning, alongside a caffeine rich coffee, this will certainly do the trick. I’d personally still pick the medium-bodied Trini Reyes, but the No3 would make a nice change-up occasionally… 30

Grand total… 84/100

Bolivar Royal Corona

Major League Robustos(Size: 4 7/8″ x 50 — Time: 1hr 20mins)

Well, in the first of my ‘special’ series of reviews, I bring you the Bolivar Royal Corona. One of the world’s most revered robustos!

Yes, the Bolivar RC is the first robusto in our play-off championship to find an opening day robusto for the MLB season.

I decided that it was high time to light up another stogie – tonsillitis and dreadful weather would have to play second fiddle. So, I decided to light up at home for the first time in a number of months (bad memories of how long it had taken to get rid of the smell had previously stopped me – there were five of us last time though…)

Window open, anti-tobacco candle lit and a couple of episodes of House to catch up on was all I needed to get sorted. I really like the way that they’ve reinvented the House series – after a few series it was getting just a little repetitive (almost formulaic). In the more recent series, however, the way which they’ve started to have some interesting character-led storylines has really given it a new lease of life.

Anyway… for those less interested in the brilliance of Hugh Laurie and co… Here’s the review.

 

Appearance /15

The Bolivar Royal Corona has a quintessentially Cuban wrapper – a lovely colorado claro shade. There were only a few small veins – so overall a good looking wrapper.  The cigar was ever so slightly box-pressed (no bad thing in my book) and had a beautifully applied cap. Visible at the other end of the stick was some really quite nice bunching of filler leaves. The RC was firm to the touch and had just the right amount of springiness. Overall, pretty good effort by Bolivar’s rollers. 14

Smoking Characteristics /25

Pre-light aromas were quite quite subdued, they were slightly cedary with hints of nutty chocolate. The initial lighting was a little bit suspect – after a good toasting with the jet flame I took a couple of puffs, very little happened. The draw seemed very loose and there was no smoke. I blew on the end and it seemed lit… I grabbed a match and gave it another go. Bingo, it went off beautifully the second-time around – excellent draw (it had firmed up to just the right resistance) and the smoke was perfect in volume. The burn throughout the first half of the RC was exceptional, I was really quite please. However, at around half-way there was a bit of canoeing. This straightened up, but then happened again. For a second time it sorted itself out within a few minutes; unfortunately, shortly after it went out. I re-lit the stick and was happily on my way again. Finally, well into the last third of the cigar it went out again… this time I let it be. Strength wise, the RC started off relatively light (by that I mean medium, but this is a Boli), as it progressed so the strength of the cigar increased. By the end of the RC it had developed towards a good, full-bodied smoke. A couple of re-lights aside, and a touch of canoeing this cigar smoked really well – it burned nice and slowly (I mean, 1hr 20mins plus from a robusto!), the draw was spot on, the ash was strong and the strength developed nicely. 22

Flavour /25

On lighting the RC, you are immediately greeted with a nutty creaminess. I have to say that this wasn’t quite what I was expecting, though it was just a very smooth start to a serious cigar – consider it the concierge who is holding the door open to a rally car. As the first third developed the nuttiness caramelised somewhat, becoming almost popcorn-ish. This strengthened into a solid honey-roasted nut flavour after about twenty minutes. As we moved into the middle section of the cigar, these nutty flavours gave way to a leatheriness which is common to many Cuban cigars. The leather itself developed from a sweet and slightly fresh, ‘new’ leather towards slightly spicy and woody flavours which hinted at an older leather. As the RC enter it’s final stages, the roundness of the leather gave way to a punchy and spicy pepperiness; never harsh, but punchy none-the-less. I can happily say that the RC passed my ‘three-stage’ test very well. Whilst there were just a couple of short patches where it seemed to loose its way, it would quickly come back with its new flavour profile. 22

Overall Impression /35

The Bolivar Royal Corona is a cigar with a reputation for a reason. It develops in strength and flavour throughout the lengthy smoking experience. Whilst the burn was not flawless, it maintained a good level of smoke throughout and the draw was pretty much spot on. The cigar also did well to cope with my hashed first attempt at cutting the cap… All of that said, there was just a little something which was holding it back – the couple of re-lights that were required unfortunately came with baggage – the first couple of draws after both had that slightly stale-ish flavour that often accompanies such an action, and there were a couple of very short periods when the cigar couldn’t quite decide exactly what it wanted to be doing. Overall though, a damn fine smoke to enjoy with some ginger beer, cheese, biscuits and chutney (as I did). 32

Grand total… 90/100

This is definitely a cigar which could challenge for the top three robustos for opening day. We’ll just have to wait and see what the competition’s like…