Monday, October 1, 2007

The Smoking Lounge Review: Bolivar Royal Corona

The latest addition to my ongoing series exploring the Cuban Robusto, The Bolivar Royal Coronas:
(Cigar Aficianado #1 Cigar of 2006)
Country: Cuba
Length: 4 7/8" (124 mm)
Gauge: 50
Weight: 11.66 gr.
Format: Robusto
Box Code: POS MAY 07
Tobacco Procedence: Vuelta Abajo
Factory: Partagas

The brand was founded (possibly in Great Britain) by José F. Rocha around 1901 or 1902, though the brand was not registered in Havana (Cuba) until 1921, under the ownership of Rocha's firm, J.F. Rocha y Cia.

During this time, the Bolívar brand produced the world's smallest cigar, the Delgado, measuring a mere 1 7/8 inches with a 20 ring gauge, and even had the honor of having a miniature box of its cigars featured in the royal nursery's dollhouse at Windsor Castle.

The brand was bought in 1954 by Cifuentes y Cia after Rocha's death and production was moved to the famous Partágas Factory in Havana (today known as the Francisco Pérez Germán factory), where many of its sizes are still produced today. During this time, under Cifuente's direction, Bolívar gained popularity in the world market and became a major export brand.

After tobacco was nationalized following the Cuban Revolution, the Cifuentes family fled to the Dominican Republic, where the patron of the family, Ramón Cifuentes, still produces Partágas and Bolívar cigars for General Cigar Company and the US market. Recently, the Dominican Bolívar brand was reblended to better match the strength of the Cuban-made brand.

The Cuban Bolívar has a reputation among cigar aficionados of being one of the strongest and most full-bodied cigars, with its Coronas Junior, Petit Coronas, and Belicosos Finos being famous examples of the marque. In 2002, when Altadis bought a controlling share in the Cuban government-owned cigar distributor, Habanos SA, a number of changes in cigar production were instituted. One of these changes was the decision to gradually turn the various brands of Cuban cigars to either all-handmade or all-machine-made lines. Bolívar, which has historically produced a variety of handmade and machine-made or machine-finished cigars, had severa of its vitolas cut from production, with only one remaining, the cigarillo-sized Chicos. It remains to be seen if this size will eventually cease to be produced as well.

In 2005, Wolters in Cologne, Germany, had a few thousand boxes of Bolívar Gold Medals produced by Habanos SA exclusively for their shop. The cigars are an older, discontinued Bolívar size in the Cervantes (lonsdale) format, wrapped in gold foil on one half with a special Bolívar band in the middle and come packaged in boxes of ten.

In 2006, Germany saw another special release, the Colosal, exclusive only to that country.

Appearance: Another beautiful example of Cuban cigar rolling. This is one fine example of a lightly box pressed vitola. Firm down the whole length of the stick, This cigar is graced with a beautiful milk chocolate wrapper that practically sparkled in my hand. Looked amazing and well constructed.

Pre-Light: Clipped easy with the Credo Synchro Cutter. The pre light draw was a bit tight (hopefully not a problem further down the line), and tasted of leather and sweet tobacco.

Burn/Draw:After an initial canoing very early in the burn, this cigar was not an issue. it self corrected, and after that it did not really wander that far again. This cigar had the mottled ash that most Cuban cigars I have smoked have, which was fairly firm and held for about an inch and a half, give or take. As for the draw, over the first third or so it was kind of tight Which initially worried me after the pre light concern), though not excessively so, but at around the halfway point if really opened up and produced massive volumes of flavorful smoke. This cigar took a little more than an hour to smoke.

Flavors: Before highlighting the flavors of this cigar, another piece of trivia that I was not sure where to fit in. This cigar was previously named the Charles and changed to Royal Coronas in 1973. Okay, now on to the cigar itself. This is kind of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of cigars! The first half of the cigar (despite the initially tight draw) was mild mannered and sweet, with rich round mellow smoke. Notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, honey and molasses abounded and it was a mild medium smoke in nature.

At about the halfway point (not surprisingly, concurring with the loosening of the draw on this cigar), BAM! We were in business. Whoa it was a whole new cigar. It became decidedly stronger and fuller, this cigar became a little bomb of flavor. Cedar notes and earthy undertones abounded with strong coffee flavors and wet leather offsetting the sweet notes that remained. It was fascinating and quite unexpected. Am I the only one this has happened to? This is a cigar for a time when you have the chance to quietly reflect on it, because though it is young, it seems to already be quite complex.



Charlene said...

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Ross Peterson said...

The picture of Bolivar Royal cigar and its cutter are clear and good. The cigar had a nice milk chocolate brown color ,with a beautiful oily shine. If there is a cigar that manages to deliver powerfully rich and dark flavors while still remaining smooth and creamy, this cigar is definitely it; a smoke that I have a hard time going without.I prefer to Buy Cigars online .