Unless you’re new to the world of cigars, you have definitely heard of the near-infamous Bolivar cigar. Bolivars are a quintessential Cuban cigar. Historically, they regarded as one of the strongest cigars made.
Habanos S.A. Cigar distributed Bolivar cigars produced under the name Bolivar. It experienced many changes since their foundation in 1902. But, each change has brought something new and special to the cigar.
Through this review, we hope to elaborate on the rich history of the Bolivar cigar. Then, connect that history to the smoking experience of a Bolivar cigar in 2018.
What Makes Bolivar Cigars Unique
Bolivar cigars were first produced and distributed in 1902 named after Simón Bolívar.
He is credited liberating Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from Spanish rule. On all Bolivar cigars, the brand markings even display his likeness.
These cigars were first produced by a man named José F. Rocha. Rocha, a Spaniard, registered the brand in Havana, Cuba nearly two decades later.
But, the real success of Bolivar cigars was not until after Rocha’s 1954 death.
Bolivar cigars were quite popular around their inception. But, their infamy spread after the brand was absorbed by Cifuentes y Cia.
Cifuentes y Cia is another popular family-based producer of cigars.
This acquisition took place after Rocha’s death. It included the infamous Partágas factory where Bolivar cigars are still produced.
Blend of Tobacco
Bolivar cigars are known for their blend of tobacco. According to many sources, Bolivar cigars often historically contained cannabis blended with the tobacco in small amounts.
Though, this is difficult to verify. Bolivar cigars’ tobacco blend is know to contain a high percentage of ligero.
Ligero is one of the three recognized types of leaf produced by a single tobacco plant. While the remaining, being seco and volado leaves.
Ligero leaves grow near the tops of tobacco plants. They are characteristically slow burning. These leaves produce potent and spicy smoke.
They are used in the center of filling-bundles for full-bodied or very strong cigars. Tobacco filler for Bolivar cigars is from the Vuelta Abajo, one of many tobacco regions in Cuba.
Depending on the age of production of a Bolivar cigar, there will be a varying amount of these ligero leaves. In 1961, the Cifuentes family of Cifuentes y Cia fled Cuba following the Cuban revolution.
Seventeen years later, a member of the Cifuentes family licensed both the Partágas and Bolívar brand names to General Cigar Company. This is now known for being the maker of White Owl cigarillos.
General Cigar originally used mild tobacco from the Dominican Republic. They have the Americanized version of the Bolivar cigar. But, reformulated in 2005. It included the Honduran San Agustin Ligero wrapper and Nicaraguan filler tobacco.
New Cigar Taste
Still, their standards did not meet the requirements to be a true, Havanna Bolivar cigar. The new taste more closely resembles an authentic Cuban cigar.
Bolivar cigars are still distributed by both Habanos and General Cigar Company. Though, the Habanos Bolivars are undoubtedly more authentic.
Habanos S.A. is the Cuban state cigar company. This means they own the trademarks of 100 percent of Cuban-made cigars and cigarettes.
They are the premier distributor of Cuban cigars. It because of their extensive inspection process and strict regulation.
"All Habanos are Cuban, but by no means all Cuban cigars are Habanos… reserved for a selection of the most outstanding brands whose cigars are manufactured to the most exacting standards from tobaccos grown only in particular areas, which are also protected as denominations of origin."
"All Habanos are crafted Totalmente a Mano – totally by hand – using methods that were pioneered in Havana two centuries ago and remain virtually unchanged to this day. "
"More than 500 manual tasks are performed in both the agricultural and manufacturing processes from the planting of the seeds to the Habanos’ final resting place in its box."
"Every cigar must pass through the most stringent quality control processes established by the Regulatory Council for the Protected Denomination of Origin (D.O.P.) Habanos before they can earn the precious title of Habano. A benchmark for excellence."
To maintain these standards worldwide, Habanos S.A. only sells to one retailer in each country. But, the U.S. is not included as it is illegal to sell Cuban cigars in the U.S.
However, American travelers can return to the country with up to $100 worth of cigars. This is fine as long as their intended use is personal consumption and not to be sold.
Pricing of Bolivar Cigars
Purchasing authentic Cuban cigars is not necessarily a straightforward process. Because the trade embargo was only recently lifted between the U.S. and Cuba, it is still illegal to sell Cuban cigars in the U.S.
Yet, it is not illegal to return to the United States with cigars purchased in another country. That includes Cuba.
For this reason, one of the easiest ways to understand the pricing of Cuban cigars is to examine what they are sold at from the source – Cuba.
You can buy Bolivar cigars at any government-owned cigar shop in Cuba. These stores are quite common, especially in Havana. Las Casas del Habanos, as they are called and located not just in Cuba either.
You can purchase Authentic and true Cuban cigars at La Casa del Habanos worldwide. You can find it in most major metropolitan areas but exclude the U.S.
Because of government regulations, all prices within the country of Cuba will be the same. Only if you tempt your luck on the black market.
On the black market for cigars, you can easily receive faux Cuban cigars. Even Dominican or Nicaraguan cigars are being passed off as Cubans.
Prices vary year to year. Yet, buying Cigars through licensed dealers at Las Casas del Habanos is by far the most affordable way.
You should also consider that the US required cigars to have a seal from the Cuban government. That is only for cigars that are to be returned. This can only be found on legally purchased cigars.
Bolivar cigars at La Casa del Habano will not be the most affordable cigar offered. But, depending on size will also most likely not be the most expensive.
The most recently available price update for Cuban cigars is current as of March 2018.
This update shows that the most affordable size and variation of a Bolivar cigar, the Bonita, is available for $3.20 per single cigar or for $80 for a box of 25.
The Libertador LCDH 2013 is the most expensive variant of a Bolivar. The priced is $11.00 per single cigar and $110 for a box of ten cigars.
Bolivar Libertador (LCDH) 2013
The most expensive variant of a Bolivar currently available is the Libertador LCDH 2013. The priced is $11.00 per single cigar and $110 for a box of ten cigars.
This cigar has the huge format Sublimes with 164 mm length and a ring gauge 54 (21.43 mm diameter).
It is therefore identical to the format of La Gloria Cubana Inmensos. Only 5,000 boxes of ten cigars each are offered per year.
The sale is reserved exclusively for La Casa del Habano. These cigars are made in the traditional Partagás factory in Havana.
The name of the format - Libertador - means "liberator" in German and refers to the namesake of the brand.
Other Available Variants
There are 15 other cigar variants currently available. They are both as singles and in boxes with prices that fall somewhere between the Bonitas and the Libertadors.
Consider that a box of 15 Cohiba Siglo VI Grand Reserva 2009s is priced at $900.
Bolivars are a premium cigar that is not outrageous to purchase.
Every year, Habanos S.A. modifies the offered cigars in each of their brands, Bolivar included.
While there are some variants that remain pretty consistent year over year, you never know when production will stop for certain variants.
Additionally, certain variants are released at Las Casa del Habanos only in specific countries. These special edition cigars are often pricier. Also, they are more coveted than the standard editions.
You should note that, as we mentioned before, Bolivar is a brand of cigars. Bolivar is produced and distributed by two completely different companies.
It is not uncommon to come across Bolivar cigars being sold in the U.S... But, they are almost certainly Bolivar cigars manufactured by General Cigar Company.
It is illegal to sell genuine Cuban-made cigars in the U.S... But, it is perfectly legal to sell “Bolivar” cigars that are Honduran or Nicaraguan.
Other Bolivar Cigar Reviews
Because of the prominence of Bolivar cigars both in history and modern Cuban cigar aficionado circles, there is no shortage of feedback on the smoking experience.
Of the Bolivar Belicoso Fino, one of the most popular and longstanding Bolivar cigars, Cigar Aficionado highlighted the potent, earthy flavors.
"The Belicoso Fino is the only figurado in the Bolivar line, which is probably why it registers as the strongest smoke across the brand."
The fairly heavy ring gauge provides an abundance of smoke while the tapered head concentrates it before it reaches the palate, resulting in an elementally earthy smoke, heavy in minerals, raw cocoa, and coffee bean.
But the tapered head also adds a piquancy to the already full-bodied cigar.”
On the more petite side of things is the Bolivar Petit Corona. Matt of Cigar Audit provided a review throughout the smoking of the cigar.
From first light to the very end, Matt gave the Petit Corona a 92/100 grade.
"I loved this cigar through the first two thirds, but the youth came out in the last third. It overperformed the first half but came back to earth, pun intended, in the last third. Providing milk coffee, vegetal sweetness, Cuban twang, rich tobacco and some black pepper."
"The blend is done very well - and for its price, you can't really beat it. (Hard to at least) This cigar is not all that complex - but is super enjoyable so it is worth a box purchase."
Noah from iRobusto reviewed the Libertador. It is currently the most expensive available cigar from Bolivar. We have mentioned it earlier.
In his review from 2015, Noah mentions that the price of each cigar is between $17-$25. However, we know that as of March, you can buy it for $11 each at Las Casa del Habanos.
"Overall, the Libertador is one for the record books. It quickly climbed into my list of favorites and is something I highly recommend to every seasoned cigar smoker."
They aren’t cheap, falling in the $17-$25 range, but they are one of those smokes that’s worth every penny. Age has treated the blend well, and it will continue to improve as the years go by.
Not often do you find a cigar with such complexity and balance. I can’t explain how creamy and thick the smoke was throughout, and construction was spot on, minus a wonky burn here and there.
"This cigar is a classic example of what Cuban cigars should be, and I absolutely loved it."
How Bolivar Cigars Compare
Bolivar cigars are regarded as some of the most impressive in the world. For many cigar aficionados, they are the gold standard for Cuban-made cigars.
Bolivar cigars are very strong and heavy-bodied. If you are new to cigar smoking as a hobby, especially to Cuban cigars, a Bolivar should not be your first cigar.
Compared to other cigars available from the same distributor, Bolivar cigars are some of the most potent available.
If you were to smoke a Bolivar and compare it to a milder Cuban cigar you would notice a significant difference both in flavor and effect.
For example, the mildest Cuban cigar brand is Fonseca. Cigars from the Fonseca brand are mild but complex according to Cigar Inspector.
"Milder than most Cuban cigars it is still full of refined, complex flavors and they are a joy to smoke,” said Matt of Cigar Inspector.
What We Think About Bolivar Cigars
It’s hard not to be impressed with the Bolivar brand of cigars. They’ve been distributed for over 100 years, so the technique has certainly been perfected.
Consider the very particular blend of tobacco used and the pre-inspection process.
So, you can count every true Bolivar cigar to provide an incredible smoking experience for the most refined palate.
Because of the rich history of these cigars, there are plenty of variants for all price points as well as taste profiles in Bolivar cigars.
Bolivar currently offers the tiny Bonita. There are several tube-contained “Tubo” variants for the lighter smoker. They also offer as well as several large versions that smoke for upwards of three hours.
If you’re looking to experience an authentic, rich Cuban-made cigar then you must smoke a Bolivar.
You can reap other benefits from other cigars. But for experience’s and reference’s sake, we recommend giving a Bolivar a taste.
And who knows, you may find a new favorite cigar to smoke.