At a two-cigar lunch on a bar-and-grille patio with a buddy (Ken), I started off with a Bolivar Belicoso Fino from 2008 that he gave me in exchange for a Vegas Robaina Familiar from 2001! We smoked our first cigars right along with our meals and first drink, so it was a really fun experimentation of palate senses adding such a deep, rich cigar into the mixture. It was a Sunday afternoon, so we were drinking bloody marys (maries? mary’s?) and eating grilled cheese sanwiches with tomato soup… all very different flavors across the board!
It’s never hard to NOTICE when someone’s got a Bolivar Belicoso Fino in their hand. Consistently over the years, their wrappers are rich and chocolaty and the yellow of the band is unmistakeable from as far away as you can see it. This particular specimen was no different… thick and tough looking enough to chew on it! The head was just a bit rough and had a wrapper vein thickly present near the tip, as you can see in the picture above, but it was very well constructed otherwise… and I love how pronounce the vueltas always are on wrappers this oily.
Pre-light aroma and draw brought on some very obvious spiciness mixed with leather and that raw earthy tobacco flavor. Before I even set fire to the thing, I know it’s going to be a man’s-man type of smoke… knowutimean Vern? As I squeezed and rotated it a bit, I did feel like it might be a little bit underfilled toward the foot… but the draw seemed tight enough, so I’d just have to find out as I smoked it down.
As I fired her up, that spiciness was immediately there… and not just at the back of the throat, but right on my lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, etc… It was almost like the cigar had been deliberately seasoned with some crushed black pepper! The aromas were very leathery, but that initial spice pretty much overpowered a lot of what I expected to taste along the way. The burn was pretty uneven, but the draw was fantastic! I dunno… maybe it was just a little underfilled, helping cause an uneven burn… or maybe I was just smoking it down a little fast because of the spiciness that kept me coming back for more and dragging to see what flavors I could detect behind it all…
Getting into the middle of the cigar, some toatiness and chocolate began to come through the spice that was still hanging on, albeit more mildly. I’d say she really hit her sweet-spot a little lat in the game at the beginning of the back third or so. Right there, the spice was very mild but the toast, cocoa and some new cedar flavors all exploded into my mouth and were perfectly delectable!
The pairing with some home-made thicker tomato soup, buttery grilled cheese sandwich and a bloody mary made for some definite palate cleansing! Every time I tasted the food and/or drink, it was like the first time I took a bite…… and every time I went back to the cigar, the flavors were all brand new again! I doubt it’s a pairing you’ll find anyone recommending in a book somewhere… but I would definitely have a BBF over a flavorful meal anytime!
The back end of the smoke went back into some more bold spiciness and the other flavors gave way to the overpowering spice and leather again. Reading my own words as I type, this cigar doesn’t sound like what I would describe as a perfect Cuban specimen… but on the contrary… I was really loving it and eating it up! I smoked it down to where my fingers were burning and my beard was in danger of losing some thickness in the goatee area (see the nub to the right in the ashtray).
Final Notes: If you enjoy a spicy cigar from time to time, this would have been your lucky day! I don’t typically enjoy a TON of spice in my cigars… but this one was an exception, I guess. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and I was very close to just smoking another one as my second cigar at the meal! The toasted, cocoa covered cedar flavors at the start of the first third were very tasty and lingered… at least in my memory… until the nub. If the whole thing tasted like that inch or so…… I might have left my buddy at the bar to walk home while I raced over to raid his stash!
Aging Notes: On aging advice…… this one’s really hard for me… If you like that bold spiciness on your palate, I’d say to go ahead and burn through these right NOW! No matter what, I DID really enjoy it ALREADY! That noted, if you prefer a more refined flavor balance with your spiciness in the background or coming and going (as I typically do), then yes…… these cigars will certainly benefit greatly from an extra few years. I could see this particular smoke being the PERFECT smoke somewhere between another 3 to 6 years…… and I’m left truly wanting to hunt down a box or two of BBFs from 2008 to lay down in an aging humidor! You should too!