I like the size and shape but like you Bolivars just haven't been my cup of tea. For $23 these probably won't be either.
Review: Bolivar Británicas (ER UK 2011)
In spring, Hunters & Frankau, Habanos S.A.’s distributor in the United Kingdom, took shipment of the first of two expected Edición Regionals. The Bolivar Británicas arrived only a few months before the eventual arrival of the Punch Medalla d’Oro last month, although both were 2011 ER releases.
As Patrick explained in the Por Larrañaga Robusto review:
The Edición Regional program started in 2005 and utilizes the 17 local and multi-local brands for their releases exempting the ten worldwide premium global and niche brands. The cigars are limited production releases with a minimum run of 25,000 cigars and are made exclusively for a regional market, which can range from a specific country to a geographic region.
They are available for one to two years, after which time the cigar can be added to the line’s current production range. The vitolas used for Edición Regional releases must be selected from current production vitolas, but ones that are not already used by that line.
In addition, recent changes, as noted by Trevor Leask of CubanCigarWebsite.com, have included a lifespan of 12 months with release dates generally in August, September and October. In addition, while some regions have received multiple releases in a calendar year, it has been reported that starting in 2012 Edición Regional releases will be limited to one per distributor.
Finally, the cigars generally use the marca’s main band with a second red and silver band that indicates the region it was made for, in the format “Exclusivo ___” with the region’s name in Spanish.
Mitchell Orchant’s C.Gars Ltd actually provides a concise history of the history of ERs in the UK:
In 2005 Hunters & Frankau helped to pioneer the project with the Ramon Allones Belicoso Fino. However the Regional Edition concept has since been refined by the addition of numbers on all the boxes and a second band to identify the region for which the cigar has been made. In 2007 H&F was granted the Por Larrañaga Magnifico for which a special century-old cigar band was recreated.
For 2008 Hunters & Frankau was awarded two cigars. One was the Gloria Cubana Glorioso for which not only was a special vintage band re-created, but also an antique box label to be placed inside the lid. The other was the Punch Serie d’Oro No. 1 (Gold Series No. 1), which came in a style of box that had not been seen for over forty years.
The two 2009 UK Regional Editions were the Juan Lopez Seleccion Suprema, which had a special band made for it, and the El Rey del Mundo Choix de L’Epoque, a short, stubby size that is ideal when the time available to enjoy a cigar is limited.
2010 saw the release of the Por Larrañaga Regalías de Londres and the Flor de Cano Short Robusto which eventually arrived in 2011. Both had special bands printed for them.
Punch Medalla de Oro, or Gold Medal, will join the Bolivar Británicas in 2012 to complete the UK’s 2011 releases.
Only 3,000 individually numbered boxes of Bolivar Británicas were made with the cigars being offered for sale in mid-April. The cigars are a unique Perfecto shape at 5 3/8 x 48, although not a true Británicas vitola. As noted by CubanCigarWebsite, the cigars were originally planned as a 5 3/8 x 46, the true Británicas vitola, but instead became slightly larger. Cuba has released the Británicas size in three other forms, the discontinued Hoyo de Monterrey Obsequios and Romeo y Julieta Celestiales Finos, and the Ramón Allones Celestiales Finos which was an ER for Pacific Cigar’s Asian territories in 2009.
And the particulars.
Cigar Reviewed: Bolivar Británicas Edición Regional Gran Bretaña (2011)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: Francisco Pérez German
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 5 3/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Británicas Extra
- Est. Price: $23.00 (Boxes of 10, $235.00)
- Release Date: April 10, 2012
- Number of Cigars to be Released: 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
There’s no denying, the Británicas is a great looking cigar. The wrapper has a beautiful milk chocolate color, an obvious triple and there’s even some crisp and defined lines, something many would say is not so Cuban. There’s a deep nut note and a bit of grass off the wrapper, medium-full to full. From the foot, it’s a great candy sugar, touch of sweet citrus over smooth earth notes and a bit of that Cuban twang. Cold draw off the Bolivar is a bit tight and rather simplistic — a wonderful twang over some developed grassy notes at medium-full.
The first third of the Bolivar Británicas starts out with some rich Cuban nuttiness, it bitters, but comes back stronger and a bit more developed before a molasses enters on the finish. It’s three very segmented flavors, all greatly developed. The Bolivar settles to a pretty detailed sweet nuttiness with creaminess and hints of cocoa, earth and an acidic citrus. Through the nose it’s toastiness and grass. While the Británicas starts out a bit uneven, as the first inch of ash forms the cigar has fully corrected itself.
A bit into the second third and two and a half inches of ash fall off — a good indicator of the construction. The nuttiness still remains at the core of the Británicas, but it’s a bit spicier and now turned into a bittersweet flavor as opposed to the sweetness from the first third. Still present is the creaminess, now aided by an herbal finish. Construction remains much the same from the Bolivar: solid ash, a bit tight on the draw, but a great smoke production. Towards the end of the second third, there’s an extremely enjoyable saltiness that emerges.
The final third of the photographed example begins with a bit of a fiasco regarding the bands, which you can see below. Despite this, the flavor was relatively unchanged from my notes on the initial Británicas I smoked. The nuttiness is almost all but gone, replaced by a coffee note that mixes with the creaminess before cedar and barnyard begin the finish. Even through the wrapper disaster, the cigar burns well, although on both examples the Bolivar got a bit warm towards the end.
- Despite what is at its lightest a medium-full flavor profile, you are going to want to smoke the Británicas on a clean palate — the rich and developed flavors will be destroyed if this is your third cigar of the day.
- On the first cigar I smoke, I tore off the band, which required a bit of patience, but didn’t destroy the wrapper. For the second example, I took it off in a way that would allow me to get the traditional halfwheel final third shot. I’m not sure it would have mattered given the amount of glue, but here was the result:
- The shape is quite similar to Camacho’s 8/11 vitola and after looking at a few of the Honduran Perfectos, the renamed Partagás factory did a better job.
- Strength is mild-to-medium, rather close to the non-existent mark.
- It would seem I have a fondness for the Salomon shape that features a wide cut foot, earlier this year I reviewed the larger Montecristo Company 95 Aniversario Salomones II and enjoyed it quite a bit.
- The Bolivar has a few very well-developed flavors that transition wonderfully and do well together. It’s not a symphony, if you are expecting an onslaught of flavors, plural, look elsewhere.
- Prior to the Bolivar Británicas, the UK ERs were banded with secondary bands that read Reino Unido, United Kingdom. Both the Británicas and the Punch Medalla d’Oro are banded with ER bands that read Gran Bretaña, Great Britain.
- While the draw was tight, it was easily manageable and enjoyable. While this wouldn’t be my traditional stance, making this (slightly) larger was probably the right decision.
- The cigars were sent to halfwheel by Mitchell Orchant of C.Gars Ltd, who recently wrote he is almost sold out of these.
- Final smoking time was just under one hour and 30 minutes for both samples.
The Bottom Line: Bolívar is not one of my go-to brands, it just isn’t. The Británicas didn’t change that, but it definitely is going to aid in the encouragement of trying things that aren’t Royal Coronas, Belicosos Finos or Gold Medals. It’s somewhat frustrating though, because these are the types of cigars that show that there is some reason to try to the Edición Regional releases, even if the broad evidence suggests at least half, and that’s probably conservative, are absolute misses at extremely high prices. The Británicas are already nicely developed with just a hint of youth and a lot more evidence to suggests there’s plenty of improvement left, even if they are smoking rather well at the moment.
Final Score: 90