Size: 4.875 x 50 “Robusto”
Today we continue with Day 3 of Cuban Cigar Week with the Bolívar Royal Coronas Tubo (2014). This was a gift from Johnny Piette of Prime Cigar Co.
Bolívar Royal Coronas was named Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado in 2006. It received a 94 rating.
It first appeared in a Tubo in 2009. This cigar was released in 1973 and was previously named Prince Charles.
From Cigar Aficionado in 2006:
“Bolivar has always been a name close to the hearts of Cuban cigar lovers. Regardless of size, the brand offers rich, powerful cigars that often need a few years of aging to come into their best. At the moment, Bolivar Belicoso Finos from 1993 are smoking fabulously. They have loads of character still, but the almost heady nature of youth has evolved into something extremely complex and satisfying. That sort of special quality is why we chose the Bolivar Royal Corona as Cigar of the Year. The robusto, which measures 4 7/8 inches long by 50 ring gauge, delivers a sophisticated flavor bomb of a smoke with an array of rich character, including touches of chocolate, coffee and leather. The finish is long and it should only get better with age. This year’s production illustrates the better quality of the new generation of Habanos. Greater care in production, particularly in some of the new factories in Havana, is bringing the world better Habanos all the time. Current Bolivar RCs seem to take their inspiration from what we consider one of the golden ages for Cuban smokes, the late 1980s and early 1990s. That was when Cuban cigar makers created and made some of their best cigars. The Bolivar band is not a big one in the Cuban portfolio of cigars, and Royal Corona production is small: nearly all are produced at the H. Upmann factory.”
The Bolívar Royal Coronas is a funky looking stick. It looks like a cheap bundle cigar that couldn’t make the cut for a 2nds bundle. It is lumpy and bumpy. It just looks like shit. As if the roller picked a wrapper leaf and just had not pride in its appearance.
The wrapper is very smooth and it is a semi-solid stick. Several soft spots. It is extremely light in the hand like so many Cuban cigars.
The wrapper is a tawny, light brown.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
The shaft smells of milk and honey and chocolate.
The clipped cap and foot smell of spice, cocoa, cedar, black licorice, and barnyard.
There is also a rich earthiness that smells wonderful.
The first puffs slam dance me with a barrage of spiciness. The draw is flawless but a little too airy for my preferences. The foot has immediate burn issues which I correct.
The char line won’t settle down.
But the flavor profile is going crazy nuts. If it keeps it up at this level…well, I don’t know. I said I really loved yesterday’s RASS, but I may love the Bolivar more.
It is uber complex right this second with flavors of intense coffee, chocolate, cream, spice, floral notes, herbal notes, nuts, toasty, leather and on and on it goes.
This is going to end up being a 30 minute cigar due to two fronts: It isn’t packed well and my constant need for retouches.
Black licorice shows up. The similarity of the Bolívar Royal Coronas and the RASS is very close. In a neck and neck race, I’m going with the Bolívar. For the single reason that it hit the ground running so fast and so intensely, that it knocked my socks off.
So this, and the RASS, is what a good Cuban tastes like.
It took only 12 minutes to get to this point.
Of course, the burn issues didn’t help. But the char line has settled down and finds some normality. It’s pretty close to dead nuts at this point.
A very meaty component comes to the surface. Transitions are happening so fast that I can’t keep up with my typing.
I realize that I am rambling but I am so blown away by the flavor profile, in which I am certainly not used to, that it has turned me into a raving idiot.
The real high points are the chocolate, cream, coffee, meat, black licorice and leather. They are so in my face that I can’t believe a cigar could taste this good. I’m spoiled rotten now. Damn. God help me if I get a hold of a Partagas or a Behike.
Both the Bolívar Royal Coronas and the RASS looked like shit. It seems like a trademark for Cuban cigars. While non-Cuban cigars put the emphasis on a good looking cigar, the Cubans put the emphasis on stunning blends. Crazy.
Another touch up is needed. Something the RASS wasn’t plagued with.
The balance is perfect. Really perfect. The long chewy finish is outstanding. The complexity causes my brain to fire on all synapses.
Smoke time has been 17 minutes. It’s like a flash fire.
I’ve only got a handful of cigars left in my humidor. After this cigar, I’m going to look inside the deep, dark chasm of my humidor and cry.
I decided to do what I never do…Rate the Cuban cigars. The RASS got a 98. The Bolívar Royal Coronas is every bit in the same class and category.
My only disappointments are twofold: burn issues and not being packed properly causing a very quick smoke. This should be an hour smoke but instead will be half of that.
The flavor profile seems to be taking a break as its elements begin to flatten out some.
There is too much glue on the cigar band and I must gentle cut it off. Underneath, some wrapper comes loose that was stuck to the cigar band.
The spiciness ratchets up. It is now the strongest component in the flavor profile.
A bit of harshness enters. Ruins a perfectly great cigar blend.
The char line needs a major touch up. The rating is being decimated by construction issues, burn issues, and some harshness.
The first half of the Bolívar Royal Coronas was clean and refreshing. Now it’s something else. It was pristine. Now it is flawed.
A touch of bitterness shows up. As well as an off putting mineral element.
The rating I was going to give it just plummeted. Still, the first half was brilliant and because of that I am still going to give it a 91. A far cry from yesterday’s RASS.
The coffee becomes a slightly bitter espresso. The entire flavor profile diminishes to: Spice, espresso, cream, cocoa, leather, and black licorice.
The burn begins to slow down. Clearly, there is more tobacco near the top half of the cigar than the bottom half.
The other Cubans I have are petit coronas and will be quick reviews.
Smoke time is 32 minutes with an inch to go.
The harshness, bitterness, and mineral taste completely take over now. The fun is gone.
I decide not to attempt to smoke much more and just put it down.
This is a difficult topic when it comes to Cuban cigars. The forbidden fruit element creates supply and demand criteria that removes it from the usual non-Cuban cigar pricing.
Is it worth $14.00? Only having one stick, I can’t tell if the problems I faced were endemic of the blend.
The RASS is much cheaper and a better cigar.
The first half of the Bolívar Royal Coronas was brilliant. And then it turned upside down. It was like smoking two different cigars at the same time. This disappoints me.
Without being able to smoke several sticks, I can’t make an informed conclusion.
Still, it was a real treat for me as I rarely get to smoke Cuban cigars. So thank you Johnny for thinking of me. He is one of the most influential people to supply me with good cigars to review.
I’ve re-evaluated my rating to an 88.
The cigar goes out. A sign from the Cosmic Muffin it’s time to put it down.
We all did too much drugs back then. The early 1980’s was the heyday of cocaine use. Everyone was doing it. I don’t think I knew anyone that didn’t. But back then, I was immersed in the musical community.
We had released the 45 single of “Hound Dog.” And recorded a music video pre-MTV.
Our manager was this low life French man named Philippe Mogane who was a big shot in France due to the fact that he was a sought after professional photographer. He was also Iggy Pop’s first manager. He was heavily involved in the L.A. punk scene.
Mogane put out a CD called “The Godfathers of L.A. Punk” a few years ago and included “Hound Dog.” It didn’t exactly meet the criteria of punk. When Rick told me about it, I asked Mogane for a copy. He told me he couldn’t afford to give me one and made me pay for it. Slag. He cried poverty. Yeah, sure. We had two songs on that album and I not only didn’t get royalties, he couldn’t send me a copy gratis. The epitome of what the music business is like.
Mogane was our manager and he did things for us. He helped get us bookings and asked no commission in return. But he was no role model as he did more drugs than anyone I knew. And this affected his judgment.
He distributed our single, and the cassette recordings, to all of his contacts and scored with some movie production company looking for a band to do the soundtrack for a new film and play in a bar scene.
We had a gig at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip lined up. The production team was invited.
The movie people came in a large throng and sat up in the balcony. In those days, most Sunset Strip clubs only allowed a band 20 minutes. That way they could put 6-7 bands on in one night. It was up to the band to sell their own tickets. Last time I heard, that system changed and now the Sunset Strip clubs charge the bands to play. It’s called Pay to Play. If you sold enough tickets, you made some dough. Basically a rip off. Especially for new bands.
Rick was so nervous he made himself ill. He also did a bit too much marching powder. Of course, the band did some too.
We go on stage and Rick counts us in for our first song.
Then disaster hit.
He lost his balance in the middle of the song and tripped backwards into Reek Havok’s enormous drum set….sending drums and equipment flying all over the stage.
We helped him up. Reek was not happy.
We set the drum kit back up. And just as we were ready to play our second song, we watched the production group get up and leave. Never heard a word back from them.
Man, we were pissed off at Rick.
But it was Hollywood. We really never knew what chances we really had for being in the movie. We only got feedback from Mogane and he couldn’t be trusted.
We played out a lot. Almost every weekend. And Rick never pulled that stunt again. He learned his lesson the hard way. That occasion really surprised us as Rick was a consummate professional.
And as always happens with bands, dissension in the ranks started after a year together. Rick was the true leader of the band but he started it in partnership with our keys player, Mike Anthony. Rick sang “Hound Dog” and Mike sang “Condo Bondage.” Mike’s vocals were never stellar. Rick was the true vocalist of the band. He was also the glue that kept us together. You can get a taste of Mike’s vocals from the B side of Hound Dog called “Condo Bondage.”
Things got very uncomfortable. Mike approached me and told me that he wanted to break off with Rick and start his own band. I tried not to laugh.
There was no way. Rick had the X Factor. His writing was/is brilliant and he had showmanship. His vision for the band was way ahead of its time which eventually killed the band. We were recording totally unique rock music. Rick wrote everything. I just added my bass lines and made the occasional comments and suggestions.
Mike was floored that I wouldn’t go with him. He contacted me this year and something seemed very wrong. Almost as if he was a total burn out rambling and making no sense. He had put out his own CD. It was just plain horrible.
So now we were a trio. No keys. Yet, we still sounded like a big band. We had the perfect mix of two players that complemented each other so well that we had our own wall of sound.
We continued to play out with the same frequency that we had with Mike on keys.
And then I broke up the band. I had an opportunity to buy a recording studio and I went with it. This was the situation that propelled me into the Eddie Munster project.
My partner was the engineer. I was the producer and brains of the outfit.
We worked constantly. 3-5 sessions per day…7 days a week.
I learned a lot about producing from Rick. Without being under his tutelage, I would never have been so successful. We were only one of two studios in Long Beach and we got a lot of work due to word of mouth.
During my ownership of the studio, I produced thousands of acts. And I got plenty of bass work. Bands would come in looking for a bassist asking if I knew one? I raised my hand. But I couldn’t produce and play at the same time.
So the bands laid down their tracks and I would come back to the studio late at night and sit in the booth all by myself. I did my own engineering and would run the board and play the bass lines. Perfect way to play outstanding bass.
Rick and I continue our partnership to this day. He should be checked out on his FB page under Rick Tunstall. He has over 24,000 Likes. It appears he is extremely popular in China. Go figure.
I’m set up at home with my own recording studio software. It allows us to work on tunes while I am in Milwaukee and he is in Virginia.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS