Date Reviewed: March 12th, 2011
Cigar Date: July 2007
Bolivar Gold Medals have had a crazy history… sometimes, there are even disputes surrounding it’s special re-release (and the supply thereof) just over 6 years ago now. By all accounts, however, HSA started regularly producing them in 2007. As I was digging around for some fun gift-sticks for a buddy that makes regular visits from Canada, I pulled out a box (from July, 2007) that I had completely forgotten about! Knowing his tastes, I specifically wanted to smoke an Edmundo Dantes Conde 109 with him, but set this box aside to break into and smoke after breakfast the next morning.
The presentation of the Gold Medals always make them pleasing to look at. Accompanying the regular Bolivar label is an extra La Casa del Habano band and over half of it is encased in some shiny gold foil!
Often, you can slip the cigar right out of the foil without doing any damage and, in this case, I was able to do just that… and get a good look at the wrapper, head and foot without tearing the foil. It’s a little silly that I alway try this first, instead of just tearing open the foil, at the head, and slant-spiral-ripping toward the foot… but it’s become a sort of ritual whenever I smoke one. It’s a goofy sense of accomplishment when you perfectly slip one all the way out; haha! In any case, the wrapper looks pretty rich and free from any rough veins… while the foot shows some contrasting colors indicative of some complexity to the blend.
Before lighting, the wrapper had that “barnyard” aroma with a hint of leather. As a former land owner with horses, goats, chickens, etc… I don’t mean that in a bad way… but the earthiness truly smells particularly like a farm… a very different aroma from, say, the signature Cohiba earth. The draw seemed a tad bit tight but it left a very leathery taste in my mouth and some actual sweetness on my lips… maybe honey-ish… maybe cedary… I wasn’t really sure…… just some mild sweetness.
As soon as I lit up, a real cedary earthy taste came through… but that sweetness was nowhere to be found…… and…… did someone order the LEATHER?! This smoke probably slapped my senses with more leather than any other stick in recent memory! Only when retrohaling is where that sweetness came into play… and I attributed it more to a honey taste than cedar but it’s still extremely mild. I also tasted some muted floral notes and just a tiny bit of spice, on the tongue, during the first inch or so.
The draw was still just a tad tight but still smoking fairly smoothly… and producing at ash that had a toothy characteristic. My fairly standard breakfast drink of freshly squeezed oranje juice (no filtering out the pulp), with a single ice cube, turned out to compliment this BGM fairly well… try that, instead of coffee, with your morning smoke one of these days!
About half way into the second inch, some more of that spice started to creep in and drown out those sweeter tastes, even on the retrohale. This is right where I also started to experience some smaller burn issues and made a tiny torch correction. At the midway point on the whole cigar, though, the draw just all-of-a-sudden opened up to produce a huge volume of smoke and that leather just overpowered everything around it. If you like a leathery smoke… you’d have wanted to steal this from me right at the center!
Just past that point, an earthy and floral taste sent the leather to the background… and the aromas really started blending well into leather and earth in the air! I did fight a pretty uneven burn, again, in the back third… and the draw got tighter there as well…… but that sweetness crept back in just as the cigar was getting warm on my lips and I couldn’t take her any farther without burning my fingers.
Final Notes: This particular specimen was extremely complex. It went from sweetness… to spiciness… to earthiness… and back to sweetness again…… all with an ever-present leatheriness that varies in strength throughout the whole stick. The draw was also inconsistent… tight to looser to tight again… and the burn was a two-time battle royale! I definitely enjoyed it as a morning cigar… but “unrefined” was what stuck out the most. Tasty for SURE…… but didn’t seem to know where it wanted to go on my palate.
Aging Notes: I think these cigars have some serious aging potential… and I recommend laying them down for a couple more years to see what happens to them. I’m not sure the draw and burn problem will be corrected with more age… but the flavor consistency certainly seems like it has potential to mellow into a smoother overall experience. I’ll revisit these in the months/years to come and see how they progress!