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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stogie Guys Review: Bolivar Royal Corona (Cuban)

Call it quality or call it hype, but I’m never surprised when I see Cubans rated highly in mainstream cigar publications. I think the greater stogie community, however, was caught off guard when a Bolivar—not considered one of Habanos SA’s flagship brands—was named Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado in 2006.

The four and 7/8 inch by 50 ring gauge Royal Corona earned that title, along with a rating of 94, for its “sophisticated flavor bomb of smoke with an array of rich character, including touches of chocolate, coffee, and leather.” You can watch Gordon Mott and James Suckling of CA profess their admiration in this video.

Produced at the H. Upmann factory in relatively limited quantities (only 300,000 were made in 2006), this cigar has been hailed as symbolic of Cuba’s return to glory and reminiscent of Habanos from the golden ’80s and ’90s. Textured, clean, and firm, a slight box press and a beautifully adhered flat cap add to its character and mystique.

I’ve had the good fortune to smoke six Royal Coronas over the past few months, and I’m happy to report all the accolades and rave reviews are well deserved. This is simply one of the most satisfying cigars around, and the price—about $10 for a single or $215 for a box of 25—is very fair for the tremendous, full-bodied experience.

If the radiant prelight aromas of nuts and milk chocolate don’t make you salivate, toasting the foot certainly will. From there, you’ll find a dry, woody spice with hints of cocoa sweetness. Other tastes also pop in and out, including leather, coffee, and plenty of floral notes.

Aside from being extremely well-balanced and complex, this exquisite smoke doesn’t fall into the same construction traps with which many of its Cuban cousins grapple. The ash holds well, the draw is clear and deliberate, and the burn, albeit imperfect, self-corrects its own missteps. Expect the slow smoke time to be closer to a toro than a robusto.

Awards and ratings aside, this is the sort of creation that makes me proud to be a cigar enthusiast. I’m simply infatuated with the Bolivar Royal Corona, and I have no qualms about adding a rating of five out of five stogies to its growing trophy case.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

-Patrick A