In 2010, Habanos S.A. released the Bolívar Gran Belicoso as part of the Colección Habanos series, a high-priced and highly sought-after limited edition series that sees the Cuban cigar monopoly release a size not regularly made for a particular brand.
Habanos S.A. of course has another series—two actually—that uses the same principle of creating a limited edition size for a brand that is not a regularly available item, the Edición Regional series. When Bolívar was selected for the 2010 Colección Habanos release, the new cigar came in the rodolfo vitola, a 7 1/11 x 54 double belicoso. Three years later, when Bolívar was selected for the 2013 version of the Edición Regional for the Belux region, the rodolfo vitola was once again selected.
For those unfamiliar with the Edición Regional series, 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.
In late 2013, the Belux region, which includes Belgium and Luxembourg, received the Bolívar Poderosos, limited to 2,000 boxes of 25 cigars.
- Cigar Reviewed: Bolívar Poderosos Edición Regional Belux 2013
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 7 1/11 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Rodolfo
- Est. Price: $23.60 (Boxes of 25, $590)
- Release Date: December 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 25 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The Bolívar Poderosos is a massive cigar and yet another rather large Cuban cigar I’m reviewing. It’s part of a trend, also somewhat coincidence as four out of the last five Cuban cigars I’ve reviewed have been larger than average. Also big is the aroma: lots of floral flavors and some pungent barnyard from the wrapper, which makes for a nice contrast. The foot sits a bit nicer with the familiar floral flavor, oak, sweet cinnamon and salty leather. The cold draw has a unique combination of a vanilla ice cream and the inside of a pretzel with some saltiness towards the back. While each sample was on the tighter side, the first cigar I smoked had a noticeable knot in it about two inches up from the foot.
Unfortunately, that knot makes an appearance once the cigar is lit. That cigar starts with anemic amounts of smoke, lots of cedar, some pretzel dough and citrus, but is all rather mild. As for the others, they start saltier with some creaminess and cedar—all of which are much richer and assisted by much better smoke production. From there, it’s a tale of two Poderosos. Without the draw issues, there’s a salty earthiness, some barnyard, sweet cedar and a sharp vanilla that cuts through the rest of the flavors like a warm knife through butter. As for the knotted cigar, there’s burnt butter, some saltiness, lemongrass and a sour funkiness that tastes like what I imagine I’d get if I mixed the soda Squirt with a gose-style beer. All three cigars burn fine, but all three also have draws that are too tight with the knot making things even worse.
The Bolívar shows a much more diverse profile in the second third with a big paprika flavor, an egg roll wrap, nuttiness and some herbal flavors. Towards the midway point, a rich oatmeal cookie overtakes the profile adding some much-needed sweetness. All three cigars have some bits of harshness, but the cigar with a knot in it—despite burning past it—sees its flavor profile quickly fall apart. In addition to an exaggerated harshness, the sourness increases dramatically which doesn’t particularly help any of the rest of the flavors. There is some nuttiness on that particular cigar that isn’t a factor on the other two, but it’s hardly enough to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The flavor on all three cigars increases a bit, up from medium-plus to medium-full, as does the strength, now medium-plus instead of medium. Construction-wise, all three cigars benefit from increased smoke production despite the draws not getting particularly better on any cigar.
For the sample with the major draw issues, the final third is harsh and acidic. Although even there, the flavors underneath the dominant mess are showing signs of improvement. There’s a big toastiness, particularly on the finish, and with the other two cigars, there’s even more to like. A large creamy oak flavor coats the tongue and there’s some rich cocoa through the nose. The Bolívar remains where it was construction-wise with a draw that is still a bit tight and decent smoke production and burn.
- Brooks Whittington reviewed the Bolívar Gran Belicoso and enjoyed it a ton more than I enjoyed the Poderosos, although he did note the tight draw. The Gran Belicoso will cost you around three times what the Poderosos is currently selling for.
- On that note, the extremely weak Euro (currently around $1.12) has made buying cigars from Eurozone countries a lot cheaper as of late. The Euro’s weakness has meant that prices in Germany are better than Switzerland, even with higher German taxes.
- This was one of the rare times that the Edición Regional release for the year actually was on shelves in the year it was supposed to be.
- The cigars were packed in 8-9-8 boxes, three rows featuring eight, then nine, then eight cigars. This is described as the first Edición Regional release to be offered in this format.
- The Belux region for releases was around for five years. Previously, the cigars were released under the Benelux region, which also included the Netherlands, but that stopped in 2011. For the 2014 program, the Benelux region returned for the Juan López Don Juan, although that cigar didn’t ship until 2015.
- Cubacigar Benelux b.v. is the distributor for the region.
- In 2009, a Swiss regional under the Punch brand was also named Poderosos. It was in the sublimes vitola, a 164mm (6 1/2 inches) x 54 parejo.
- I find it a bit odd that there are two different Edición Regionals with the same name, made for two regions in two different shapes.
- The Las Casa del Habano stores in Knokke and Ghent, Belgium commissioned 100 jars for the release. Pricing for the jar was €750, making for about a €200 jar tax over a standard box.
- Even without the knot, the other two samples featured tight draws even after a second cut.
- That being said, the burn was even throughout all three cigars.
- Strength-wise, this was bordering medium-full.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was around two hours on average.
There are a few lessons to be learned, or at least revisited, in regards to my experience with the Bolívar Poderosos. First, a bad draw can be more than just a bad draw. Sure, it wasn’t plugged, but the draw destroyed the flavor of the first sample I smoked. Second, cigars go through sick periods and it seems pretty clear that this is what’s happening here. There are some decent flavors, but they are almost exclusively found below a harsh, sour and sometimes acidic mess. I’m going to sit on my remaining cigars for a couple of years and look forward to a redux, but as far as the immediate future is concerned, I don’t think smoking any more is going to do me or the cigar any favors.