27 May 2015
So far this year I’ve reviewed three interesting smokes from United Cigar: the Atabey Ritos, an expensive cigar that’s complex and nuanced; the Garofalo Robusto, a mild-mannered smoke that’s affordable, flavorful, and satisfying; and the Byron Serie Siglo XX Londinenses, a handsome $30 stick that’s memorable and harmonious.
All three creations are impressive, not only in their performance but also in their packaging. So I’ve made it a point to try and smoke my way through the rest of the United Cigar portfolio, which includes Fleur de la Reine, La Gianna, and Bandolero.
Here’s the origin of the Bandolero name from United Cigar: “Between 1717 and 1817, the Spanish Crown prohibited cigar production in the Caribbean and the rest of the American colonies, and although its precious leaves continued growing on the other side of the ocean, the ‘puro’ cigar rolling that we all know today could only be done at the Sevilla Royal Factory… [This] led to the rising prices of tobacco and the birth of the Bandolero, an intrepid figure that hid on mysterious roads with tobacco leaves rolled in other countries…”
The Bandolero Bravos is part of the so-called Premium selection of five vitolas that are packaged in humidified tubes (tubes that, by the way, make excellent reusable single-stick travel humidors). This size measures 5.25 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. It is only available in a special gift pack that includes five Bandolero cigars and costs $159.99. (A similar size, the Picaros (5.5 x 54), runs $12.79 for a single.) The Bandolero blend makeup is not disclosed.
Once out of the tube, the Bravos is certainly dressed like a super-premium with its banded cedar sleeve foot, and another two bands near the head with glossy, raised fonts and graphics of gold, silver, black, and red. Beneath is an oily, milk chocolate-colored cigar with thin veins, virtually invisible seams, and a well-executed cap. The feel is consistently spongy throughout, but the foot shows a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos. The cold draw has just a little resistance.
Once lit, pre-light notes of hay and coffee give way to a medium-bodied profile of coffee, leather, oak, and some faint citrus. The core is natural tobacco and the texture is bready. Spice and nicotine strength are both minimal. The resting smoke is an enticing blend of roasted nuts and cream.
Construction—as I’ve grown to expect from United Cigar—is consistent with the characteristics you should demand from a stick priced in the super-premium range. The burn is straight, the ash holds firm, the draw is smooth, and the smoke production is slightly higher than average. Put plainly, the Bravos is a beauty to watch burn.
Given the cost, I was hoping for a memorable, complex experience that would make me reach for this cigar to celebrate special occasions. The Bandolero Bravos falls a little short of those lofty expectations. While I enjoy the flavors, I think the complexity isn’t quite there, and that results in a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys