Foundry Bolivar 550 robusto

Punch and Draw liberate a Foundry Bolivar and fan the fires of tobacco freedom from all across Central America, and live to tell the tale.Foundry Bolivar 550 robusto cigar

Here is what a General Cigar press release says about the new Bolivar released September 2015 from Foundry Tobacco Company (FTC):

It starts with an optical lesson in history. Right on the box. Bolivar cigars are named for Simon Bolivar. The legendary liberator who led wars of independence in South America. The brand began in Cuba in the 1900s. Its classic taste reimagined by Foundry Tobacco Company. The new cigar is a bold tribute. Worthy of its pedigree. Tobaccos spanning six countries. Conventions broken with visos and ligeros. Its time has come.

Wrapper:  Havana Connecticut Maduro
Binder: Proprietary Ecuadoran Sumatra
Filler: Honduran single farm, Nicaraguan Esteli Ligero, Proprietary Nicaraguan Ligero

660 — 6 x 60, SRP per cigar $7.49
652 —  6 x 52, SRP per cigar $6.99
550 —  5 x 50, SRP per cigar $6.49

Draw: My cellophane was so tight… [How tight was it?] …My cellophane was so tight, that the band stayed in place, and I had to squeeze the cigar out through it from the bottom! This is a very dark, rugged robusto (5 x 50); darker toward the head. Smooth leaf, not toothy, and not oily feeling, but oily looking. Aroma is milk chocolate and vanilla bean.

Punch: My cellophane tail was stuck together and tore when I eventually tugged it open. Yes, this has a luscious dark wrapper. The band covers half the length. This fella has a pigtail and an unfinished foot. The pre-light is very meaty – beef roast with onions and potatoes. (Okay, I may have imagined the onions and potatoes.)

D: I get the beef roast and potatoes, but the onions are lost on me. Instead, I get a hint of vanilla on the cold draw. The draw is looser than I’d expect for an unfinished foot, but still tighter than loose. On my other two Foundry Bolivar, I got onions but no vanilla.

P: Lighting up starts off with a citrus tang. Flavor intensity is medium-plus with subtle cotton-candy dark-roast coffee with a mild pepper finish.

D: Lighting the foot-wrapper gives a lot of the beef roast flavor. A proper lighting is… ick. Very tart and sour, acrid, charred. Think lemon turnips burned to a crisp on the grill, juiced and marinated over a cigar. But, that’s just the initial flavor, and its intensity varied between sticks. Getting into it an inch the harshness fades, usually quite abruptly. What remains is a tart, almost lemony overtone with beefy leather and starch.

P: Thus far throughout the first third this has been a smooth ride for me, rich but not intense. Getting into the second third some depth is developing. Some botanicals are showing up – chlorophyll, but not green bean, yet. And I have a hiccup-y pepper ball in the back of my throat. Flavor intensity is up a bit to a mild-medium complexity, with that chlorophyll/vegetal richness growing – kinda like Brussels sprouts. After another half inch some slight menthol is coming in to balance that heaviness.

D: Yeah, it is like a progression of the tart overtone; it creeps along until it reaches the back. As it did that, it left the front of my mouth, so now I can actually taste the tartness on the attack; previously, it was just there, everywhere! On at least one of my Foundry Bolivar, the tartness came and went, but was always overbearing. As Punch indicated, there’s more depth forming, including some richness to the beef leather… black pepper in the middle, some salt. The “side dish” flavor is also expanding: the starch is sweet, like corn silk, or comprehending Punch’s botanicals: corn flower. The sourness is taking turns creeping around or landing front and center, but there are definitely some good flavors here if you can find them. I would point out that my ash finally dropped at about two inches. It remained in-tact: a soft ash outside a crunchy core.

P: In the last third the intensity has settled down to medium but the flavor is still there – mostly baby-powder florals and some menthol – a generally open character even though there is a mild, heaver baseline of leather. The tamer finish on this is very welcome since it is a much needed relief from the previous third’s bolder profile which was starting to wear on me. One of the three Foundry Bolivar I had didn’t show the menthol that the other ones did, and that allowed me to enjoy the basic flavors more.

D: I have to admit, I enjoy it more when this stick is less intense. The tartness is reduced, but unfortunately so are the other flavors. The roast beef leather has a definite charred flavor, like the bits at the top of the roast out of the broth. There’s an onion-like sweetness, and mostly onion hotness, and a pervasive mint. Also salty. The saltiness may be offsetting the sourness, which is also present in a sometimes pervasive, sometimes overwhelming, quantity. Frequent purging makes this – all of this discernible flavor – possible. Burn has been great: I’m sitting in the Kansas breeze, and the burn line has been less than razor sharp, but it has maintained itself without any outside influence, except maybe my rolling it and smoking it. I did have some tongue tingle, and perhaps I can feel it slightly (mild strength?).

Burn It or Spurn It?

Punch: Absolutely, try one. This Foundry Bolivar is a bold cigar with moderate complexity. The profile is good but is best near the end where it is more balanced and less in your face. One of my three started off rather intense and edgy; earthy and sharp. The other two started off smoother and at medium intensity. All of them made a rapid shift in the middle third to full intensity botanicals and then quickly dissipated in the last third to a pleasant, medium flavor intensity of florals blended with a mild leather baseline. I never got that sour characteristic which Draw mentions – I must have perceived that as part of the complex, over-the-top middle. The nicotine was negligible. My burn on all three was excellent. Compared to the Foundry Ramon Allones, which we just reviewed here, this Foundry Bolivar had greater variety throughout with higher highs and lower lows. I think one’s mood would dictate a preference at any given time.

Draw: Meh, unless you enjoy licking 9-volt batteries. For me, this stick features an ever-present, often overbearing, sour flavor without any redeeming citrus note. This is strongest in the first third, where the flavor intensity was maximum, but remained throughout the duration of the cigar. The other flavors, when you can get a good sampling, are outstanding, being a roast beef and onion (both savory and sweet) and a hint of mint in the finish. Complexity is medium-full, and intensity is medium-full overall. Strength is mild, from really feeling one of the three and the other two not so much. Burn quality is outstanding, with a generous smoke and an appropriately-bright mouth-feel. Construction is good, except for having cap issues whether I trimmed or punched. The Foundry Bolivar is overall a great cigar with the one (Major!) detraction being the sourness.

This full review is based on three sticks each, received with thanks, from General Cigar. Tune in for our follow up in six months and 18 months, to see how these age.

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