Reviewed by Stuart Dixon (December 2003)
The Boli No 1 Tubed is a corona, 51/2" x 42, and I noted this example displayed a little bloom on inspection in the store, brushed away by the assistant. With a smooth, milk-chocolate wrapper, the cigar was firm to the touch and gave off distinct leather and earth aromas.
It was placed into a humidor for two weeks before I finally picked it out, after a long, hot sunny day. Taking it out onto the patio with a glass of port, the evening was quiet and tranquil, not too warm after the day's blazing heat, but not cold either. It sliced nicely with a double-bladed cutter and the cap popped away, leaving a good piece of binder in place, ensuring that it would not unwrap.
The pre-light draw, and my heart sank. It was hard. Very hard. Plugged, or simply tightly-packed? It was certainly a well-packed cigar, looking at both ends of it, but this is a Cuban after all and is to be expected.
I pressed on and toasted the foot before striking a second match to light the cigar proper. The first draw signified trouble ahead. I really had to suck hard in order to get the meanest amount of smoke through - a light, wispy, disappointing effort, suggesting that putting this cigar down for more than a minute would result in a re-light. As for taste? Leather and earth tones for certain in the first few draws.
No discernible spices or nutty flavours.
Not really enjoying the hard work that I was having to put in here, I felt that Bolivar deserved my best efforts and pushed onward. The flavours in the first ¾" were consistent and medium and I noted that the ash was holding nicely - dark, showing the classic concentric circles and with just a trace of a vein or two from the wrapper. I also noted the first faint stirrings of a headache!
At an inch down, all hell broke loose. There was now a distinct hotness on the tongue, probably brought on by the amount of effort necessarily expended to draw. The smoke continued to be wispy, mean and ungiving - and then it went out altogether.
As the cigar had been pretty much a disaster from the start, I toyed with the idea of not relighting but my natural frugality came to the fore, so I ashed for the first time and re-lit...
There was an immediate burst of bitterness to the tongue initially, but it settled down and I noted that the flavours had moved from medium to medium-strong.
The burn, even at first, now began to lose its way somewhat and, towards the end of the second inch, was looking decidedly ragged.
At this point, I tasted some serious bitterness and thought that enough was enough.
With 3½" remaining, I finally put this highly unsatisfying cigar to rest.
The corona never has been my favourite vitola - I purchased it in the store simply because they had no attractive robusto's - and it will be some time before I deviate again!
As for Bolivar - well, this was my first, and unless anyone can reassure me that they have a decent robusto, it will be my last.