First Smoke is a new series of Quick Smoke reviews, each evaluating a single pre-release cigar. Like the Quick Smokes we publish each Saturday and Sunday, each First Smoke is not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.
It was about 10 years ago, I think, when General Cigar’s Bolivar line underwent a transformation to a bolder, stronger cigar. I remember being impressed at the time and smoking quite a few until they gradually moved to the back of the box. I can’t remember when I last had one. Until now, that is. I was excited to try the new incarnation, with its “classic taste reimagined” by General’s skunkworks, Foundry Tobacco Co. Though I wasn’t able to attend the past summer’s IPCPR Trade Show, General kindly sent me samples of Bolivar and several other new releases. (Don’t pay much attention to the band; General says the sticks were rolled for the Trade Show and the bands don’t represent the final product.)
It’s a nice-looking, dark, oily stick with a pigtail cap and an unfinished foot. According to General, the wrapper is Havano Connecticut, the binder Ecuadorian Sumatra, and the filler from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. List price on the robusto-sized 550 (5 x 50) is $6.49, lowest of the three sizes. Construction and performance were excellent, with a near-perfect draw.
I found the new Bolivar rich but a bit harsh. That diminished somewhat after the first third but picked up again towards the end. There is some nice tobacco sweetness as well as notes of chocolate and coffee, particularly in the middle. Overall, though, for me the bite was a drawback. While I’d definitely recommend trying it, you might be better served by first letting your tobacconist age them a bit on their shelves.
Verdict = Hold.
photo credit: Stogie Guys