That’s crucial to this review. In Chinese culture, the number eight, 八 pronounced ba, is considered lucky because it sounds similar to 發 pronounced fa, which is used in combination with other words to describe prosperity. As such, eight is lucky. In 2008, Habanos S.A. created the Bolívar Armonías as part of its Edición Regional program for mainland China.
For those unfamiliar with Edición Regionals, the basics are as follows:
The Edición Regional program sees Habanos S.A., the marketing and distribution company behind Cuban cigars, create unique, limited vitolas for its distributors around the world. Sizes must be those that are in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, but not amongst the regular production offerings for the brand, although some discontinued regular sizes can be created. New vitolas created for a certain brand are also not eligible to be used. In addition, the “global” brands—i.e. Cohiba, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, José L. Piedra, Montecristo, Partagás and Romeo y Julieta—are not eligible to be made into an Edición Regional.
Since 2012, distributors have been limited to a single release per year, a change from prior years when some distributors would receive multiple releases per year. Distributors are the ones to initiate the idea of a new release, and the cost for any new Edición Regional must be underwritten by the distributor. There is no guarantee that any particular region will get a new release in a given year.
The Armonías are a massive 7 1/4 (184mm) x 57 salomón vitola, but that’s really not the intriguing part. The cigar was limited to 2,008 boxes of eight with pricing set at 8,888 CNY, about $1,300 USD in July 2008. But those boxes aren’t your typical cigar box.
It’s a massive circular box in high gloss red with gold lettering. Red and gold are also common colors in Chinese culture because red is believed to be good luck. The boxes came with a red and gold protective bag and were placed inside a larger cardboard box. In addition, a special book was made to commemorate the release.
- Cigar Reviewed: Bolívar Armonía Edición Regional China (2008)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Length: 7 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 57
- Vitola: Salomón
- MSRP: 8,888 CNY ($162.50)
- Release Date: 2008
- Number of Cigars Released: 2008 Boxes of 8 Cigars (16,064 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
I’m a fan of the salomón vitola and this is one of the prettiest examples I’ve seen. It’s rolled flawlessly and that shows not only in its visible appearance, but also when I take my first cold draw. It’s as great as I’ve had since the Davidoff Oro Blanco. There’s bubble gum, twang, orange Jello, strawberries and some saltiness to cut through it. The resistance, which is oftentimes naturally a bit tight given the vitola, is actually perfect, which to be quite honest, may not be a good thing once the cigar gets going as the shape means most salomóns naturally open up.
The Armonía tightens up as soon as it is lit. There’s a little bit of brisket on top of a sweet cedar and some saltiness similar to the end. As the Bolívar gets going there’s some cedar, some candied oranges and French bread. There’s two different citrus notes at play: a candied one in the nose and a more natural flavor in the mouth. As great as the flavors are, they are definitely muted and it seems like a case where more time could help. The cigar doesn’t burn particularly even and I eventually need to touch it up about an inch in. Strength is non-existent and the body is just a touch over medium.
That touch-up solves the burn issues and it stays even for the remainder of the second third. On the mouth peanuts dominate alongside some generic fruit and the aforementioned saltiness. There’s burnt hickory on the nose and some walnut as well, a very complementary flavor to the Bolívar Armonía’s mouth. As for the finish, it’s salty with some Ritz crackers and white pepper. Once the cigar crosses the halfway mark, there’s some milk chocolate, but it fails to really establish itself as a consistent flavor. Despite the gigantic cigar, strength is relatively minor. Fortunately, the draw remains as good as it was for the cold draw.
The sweetness finally breaks through in the final third of the Bolívar, something I was waiting for since it disappeared early into the first third. There’s lots of candied oranges and a touch of oregano on the nose. In the mouth, there’s a harshness developing in the middle of the gone with barnyard and some pink salt flavors joining the mixture. Eventually, the harshness becomes more of a cinnamon flavor, which is a nice transition let in the cigar. I do need to touch-up the cigar in the final two inches and despite that, the final third is easily the most complex of the bunch. Towards the final inch the heat of the cigar begins to destroy the flavors and I decide to put the Armonía down.
- We are in the process of trying to acquire at least one of every Edición Regional ever released so we can add it to the Collections. I had identified the Armonía as one of the more problematic releases for us to find given they just don’t seem to show up in the secondary market at all. Early last year, I saw some pop up and the seller was nice enough to send the box so long as we took the remaining cigars from the box.
- Last September, I saw these for sale at the La Casa del Habano in Antwerp at an absolutely outrageous mark-up. I can’t remember if it was €4,000 or €5,000 for the box, but it’s somewhat irrelevant to the point. We paid essentially SRP for the cigars.
- On that note, there’s not a ton of Edición Regionals that command a 5x mark-up on the secondary market. Perhaps in another decade or so some of the more noted cigars like the original Edmundo Dantes, La Gloria Cubana Deliciosos, Por Larrañaga Magnificos and La Escepción Selectos Finos, but for the most part the market for Edición Regionals just isn’t like what we see on Gran Reservas and Reservas.
- If you’d like to learn more about Chinese numbers, click here.
- This past year saw two different round boxes released in the U.S. market: the AVO Classic Covers Volume 2 and La Flor Dominicana La Nox. While I liked the packaging for both—they were both top 10 in my packaging award voting—neither have the sheer presence the Armonía box has.
- Three years later, Habanos S.A.released another Bolívar for China in non-traditional packaging, the Distinguidos, which came in jars. Those are the only two Edición Regionals for China.
- The distributor for mainland china is Infifon HK Ltd. Despite the name and the fact its based in Hong Kong, it actually doesn’t distribute there. That is Pacific Cigar Co., which has partnerships with both Infifon HK Ltd. and Havana House in Canada.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was a relatively quick two hours.
The Bolívar Armonía is a good cigar, but I wouldn’t put it into the upper echelon of Edición Regional releases from Habanos S.A. The flavors indicated that there was both plenty of life left, but that perhaps even more time was needed for the seven-year-old cigar to shine. As is so often the case, the cold draw was incredible, but the cigar just couldn’t live up to it once lit. I’m glad I got to smoke one, but I most certainly wouldn’t put the effort or money into buying another one.