Earlier this month, Binny’s Beverage Depot, the Illinois-based chain of liquor and tobacco shops, announced that it had received a store-exclusive release from Curivari’s Buenaventura line.

The cigar was announced in early September, a somewhat surprising bit of news given the Curivari is a very under-the-radar company when it comes to news and projects such as this.

The Buenaventura line was launched in 2012 as a value-oriented option in the Curivari portfolio, as each of the three core sizes—the 6 x 60 BV600, 5 1/2 x 56 BV560 and 5 1/4 x 50 BV500–-all retail for under $6 per cigar, before taxes. Despite having been on the market for more than two years now, the Buenaventura line remains absent from the Curivari website, and there’s little information about its backstory available online, other that brand owner Andreas Throuvalas, himself a former cigar retailer, wanted to deliver a flavorful yet still wallet-friendly cigar.

Buenaventura BV654 Box 1

Buenaventura BV654 Box 2

Buenaventura BV654 Box 3

While both the Buenaventura line and Curivari may be unfamiliar to many American cigar smokers, it launched in Europe back in 2003 before crossing the ocean to domestic humidors in 2010. It has grown to an impressive number of facings, including Seleccion Privdada, Gloria de Leon, El Gran Rey, Achilles and Reserva Limitada, which features the Classica, Cafe and 1000 Series under that header.

Buenaventura BV654 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Buenaventura BV654
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Gordo
  • MSRP: $5.95 (Boxes of 10, $53.95)
  • Release Date: Nov. 5, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The Buenaventura BV654 is a sizable cigar, though as I have mentioned in reviews of other similar vitolas, now seems to the midpoint size that will appeal to as many cigar smokers as possible. A very subtle box-press takes a bit of the girth off of the cigar and makes it feel closer to a standard size toro, though not by much. The wrapper is a thin leaf with a very tanned brown color, by no means dark brown but skewing that way out of the middle shades. There are a few very small and flat veins on the leaf, with no tooth, overt oils or visual distractions present, and its smooth the touch, with the cigar offering a bit of give when squeezed. The pre-light aroma is stingy with any aromas, so much so as calling it neutral would be giving it too much credit. There are very subtle notes of graham cracker and peanut that come out with repeated inspections, and once the nose is able to latch onto them are both quite enjoyable. The cold draw is firm, taking a little bit more effort than normal to move the air through the cigar. It too offers very faint flavors, this time dry pretzel and cookie dough as the standouts.

The first few puffs aren’t terribly full but pack a bit of pepper, something enhanced by a retrohale or two to help wake up the palate and help the pepper stand out from the thick, doughy smoke that also offers the occasional neutral wood note. The burn line begins to race up the front of one cigar, creating a cove of ash while the other three sides show varying amounts of burn; fortunately, it was an issue with just that one stick. The first clump of ash begins a slow break from the rest of the cigar about an inch in as the burn progresses fairly rapidly, leaning pretty significantly before finally crashing into the ashtray. There isn’t much change with the first bit of ash gone, as the flavors seem a bit fuzzy and out of focus, resulting in any specific notes getting lost in the blur, and a short finish not giving the chance for further examination. The overall flavor remains thick and chewy and leaning towards the mild side until a bright pepper note starts to emerge in the nose and eyes; an acute suggestion that the first third is over.

Buenaventura BV654 2

Pepper starts to come out more in the nose in the second third and begins a steady build through the midpoint, which is when it becomes a bit more prominent in the overall equation and particularly dominant in a retrohale. Along the way, the aroma develops more than the flavor, with the peanut and graham cracker note found on the pre-light aroma showing up there for the first time since the cigar was lit. With their arrival comes an underlying creaminess that the BV654 has developed; a fairly quick transition in the texture of the smoke that for my palate is preferable to the doughy texture it had at the start. The build of pepper seems to stop around the midway point, then it begins a period of holding steady before dropping back a bit, though occasional puffs deliver a good bit to the nose.

Buenaventura BV654 3

The final third begins by continuing to be marked by creaminess and touches of pepper that are more pronounced in the nose than they are on the tongue. It’s a very easy smoke before picking up a bit of robustness and for the first time shows small amounts of earth and wood, with the smoke’s texture losing most of the smooth creaminess in favor of a somewhat rougher, more textured feel in the mouth. The final third also burns much, much slower than the previous two, slowing to a near crawl and pushing my estimated smoking time up by at least 30 minutes. The smoke gets just the slightest bit hot at times, but otherwise remains enjoyable with a good bit of pronounced pepper closing out the cigar.

Buenaventura BV654 4

Final Notes

  • The wrapper leaf on the first cigar smoked developed a crack and started to peel away from the cigar prior to it being lit, as I could hear it start to separate while it rested in the ashtray on a fairly cool Phoenix afternoon.
  • Most of Binny’s 31 locations are in the greater Chicago area, though they also have stores in Bloomington and Champaign.
  • Google Translate tells me that buena ventura translates as good fortune. 
  • On the left side of the band is the phrase Semilla Cubana, which means Cuban seed
  • When I went to grab the first BV654 for this review, I accidentally selected a similarly sized Fume D’Amour from Illusione. While they aren’t that similar under close examination, if rushed the bands do look just similar enough to be confusing.
  • I am a fan of the ten-count boxes, not just for this size but all the Buenaventura releases but seemingly the entire Curivari line.
  • This seems likely to be the first time Curivari has made a single store release.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
  • The Buenaventura BV654 is available exclusively from Binny’s Beverage Depot.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Binny’s Beverage Depot.
85 Overall Score

There's no doubt the Buenaventura line is an affordable, value-oriented option from Curivari. It's certainly not the most complex cigar in the line, let alone in most humidors, but it does show a mellower side of Nicaraguan tobacco and is unassuming enough to work for the majority of cigar smokers but with points of having enough flavor and pepper to keep the palate engaged. Yes, I'd rather this have been a 44 ring gauge than a 54, if for no other reason than to give the wrapper a more prominent role. I can't say it fills a noticeable hole in the lineup of regular production Buenaventura vitolas, but for what it is, the Buenaventura BV654 is a respectable option at a very nice price.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.