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This is the first Cuban cigar I have reviewed on this blog. I thought I would start with a bang and come out swinging with one of my favorite cigars. Recently, I was listening to an episode of What Embargo where Tuna was espousing the virtues of this cigar, which I totally have to agree with, and talked Catfish into reviewing it. So, this review goes out to you Big Tuna.

This is not just one of my favorite Cuban cigars, but one of my favorite cigars across the board. In fact, writing this brief introduction is making me want to light one up right now. I have had a number of these cigars and they seem to get better each time I smoke one. It was rated the cigar of the year in 2006 in Cigar Aficionado and it was worth that honor. In my opinion, this cigar gives you a great insight into what flavors and textures a well blended Cuban cigar brings to the table. Enough of my endless yammering about this cigar, let’s get into what makes this smoking experience so memorable.

The Basics:

  •  This cigar was Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year in 2006. It was rated 94/100.
  • The wrapper, filler and binder are all Cuban tobacco.
  • There is a slight box press on this cigar. You may even call it a “soft box press.” What I mean by that is that it is not as firm as a Padron or the Jericho Hill by Crowned Heads. There is enough of a box press that the cigar is not rounded; however, it does not have the angular lines of other box pressed cigars.
  • I smoked this at night after a meal.
  • The smoke itself lasted roughly 60 minutes; however, you could probably stretch this to 70. I have had this cigar 5 or 6 times and the smoke time is pretty consistent.
  • I bought this cigar from Cigar Hut here in Australia and most shops that specialize in Habanos will carry it.

Draw and Burn:

The draw and burn on this cigar is fantastic. Some cigars I have smoked recently have started out well, but the draw became too loose in the final third of the cigar. That is not a problem with the Royal Corona. The draw is just right and is consistent throughout the smoke.  The draw on this Royal Corona is not too loose and offers enough resistance to not have the cigar burn too quickly. I did not have to touch up the cigar once and any wayward burn line corrected itself over time. All and all there is nothing much else to say other than the draw and burn are perfect from beginning to end with only slight wavering in the burn.

Final Grade: A

Construction:

The cigar itself looks fantastic. The wrapper is a nice reddish brown color with a nice slight oily feeling on the wrapper. The cigar has a bit of give to it and a slight box pressing. The cigar just looks great and looks expertly rolled. On a side note, it is a great vitola as well. The 4 7/8″ x 50 is great for the blend and I really like the lower ring gauge. I think a larger ring gauge on this cigar would hinder some of the nuanced flavor…..but we will get to that later.

For me the key to construction is how it impacts combustion. The Bolivar smokes at a perfect rate, which allows the tobacco to burn evenly and have all the flavors come out in the finish. The cigar itself never burns hot and the cigar keeps its shape throughout the entire smoke. I think that combustion is an underrated component to cigars. it is one of those things that goes under the radar when it is really good; however, you definitely notice construction if it is poor. If the construction is right on, you can focus on the flavors and textures of the cigar and not have to worry about it getting too hot or falling apart. The Bolivar Royal Corona’s construction is impeccable and I have smoked a number of cigars and they have all been consistent. I would put the Royal Corona on the same level as Skip’s RoMa Craft cigars, which is really saying something.

Final Grade: A

Flavor:

Right off the bat the Royal Corona grabs you and gets you ready for a fantastic ride. There is a tremendous rich tobacco flavor. There is nice earthy richness on the finish with some pepper on the retrohale. However, it is that rich tobacco flavor that keeps me coming back for more. Right away the finish has a complex richness and depth that I think sets this cigar apart from most others. The only cigar that I think comes close to this richness and depth is the RoMa Craft Aquitaine Mode 5. For me, everything else in the cigar is great, but this initial tobacco richness is what has me hooked to this cigar.

The second third continues to build upon that rich / deep finish. Along with that nice aged tobacco flavor, there are hints of cedar and some sweetness. The finish at this point is amazing and very well balanced. Moreover, there is a great balance between flavor and strength. This is a cigar with a good strength kick to it with rich flavors to match. Both flavor and strength begin to amp up at the end of this third, but both are still well balanced. Also, the cigar is very light on the palate. Even though there are deep rich tobacco flavors, it does not weigh you down and smoking the cigar is very enjoyable.

The final third is where everything comes together. The tobacco flavors and richness remain consistent all the way through. There is a nice tea type of flavor, which is not sweet but a nice leathery mellow tobacco flavor…..which tastes like a nice black tea. It is a hard flavor to describe, but it tastes like fine well aged tobacco. Even though there are not major flavor transitions or layered complex flavors like a Padron or a CroMagnon, the tobacco flavors and balance between flavor and strength is so expertly done it doesn’t matter. The excellence of this cigar lies in how one simple flavor, well aged tobacco, can take you on an amazing journey.

Final Grade: Is there anything higher than an A+ ? Ok, A ++

Overall:

I love this cigar. To me, this, the H. Upmann Magnum 46 and the Partagas Serie D No. 5 are fantastic examples of what Cuban cigars have to offer. The richness and depth of the Royal Corona’s finish is unparalleled. That delicious tobacco flavor is one of the best flavors in a cigar I have ever had. If you think the whole Cuban cigar romance is overrated, you need to have this cigar. Smoking this cigar for the first time opened my eyes up to what cigars can be. The Bolivar Royal Corona illustrates how multiple flavors in a cigar is not the ultimate goal. Sometimes a lot of different flavors in the finish is an attempt to hide the cigar’s short comings. A true test of a blender is to take simple traditional tobacco flavors and use them to create a work of art. That my friends, is the Bolivar Royal Corona.

It goes without saying that this is a humidor necessity and a prime member of the Cigar Hall of Fame. In fact, this cigar (along with the H. Upmann Magnum 46 and the Aquitaine Mode 5) should be framed and hung next to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

Overall Grade: A+

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