I’ve found my tastes gravitating towards Bolivars and Punch recently, the former for their raw power and full flavours, and the latter for its refined elegance and occasional unpredictability. Of the two, i tend to turn more often to the Bolivars, and the Belicosos Finos (BBF) has played a large role in that favour — a recent box of KMM JUN 04 has embedded itself firmly into my weekly rotation.

The Bolivar brand has a colourful history, punctuated by its longevity and the revolutionary it was named after. By all accounts, its fame is well earned by the box of BBF i had in my hands.

I bought this box on the cheap, mostly because a majority of the cigars had damaged heads; cracked and split from the bumps received during their long journey from Cuba. This tends to be a plague that does appear more often among the figurados; their angled, pointed shape is more susceptible to transport damage. I don’t worry about it much, simply because the head, although damaged, is meant to be cut off anyway prior to smoking, and i reckon it in no way affects how the cigar will taste or smoke.

Rolling the cigar in my fingers, the wrapper felt very healthy; a nice little sheen of oils covered its slightly toothy appearance. Veining was minimal, and i anticipated no problems with the burn; no hard or soft spots along its length and breadth. Construction of this cigar was top notch, a trait i’ve noticed in just about every single ’04 Cuban cigar i’ve come across.

Sniffing its unlit foot, the tobacco gave off a very pleasantly pungent, mossy aroma — clove and burnt cinnammon with a dash of freshly crushed pepper. It tickled the senses and led to hearty sneeze. Outstandingly refreshing!

The BBF took the flame like a babe to his mother’s tit — a few patient seconds toasting the foot begant the ritual of flame, a few tiny puffs later and this cigar was well and truly lit. The burn was so consistent, it never needed a retouch, or a re-light. Another badge to its superb construction.

From the first draw onwards, the smoke volume was very satisfactory — large plumes of thick, creamy smoke clinged longingly to my high ceiling, dispersed gently by the twirling blades of the fan. The flavour in the first half invoked memories of sweet soya bean milk, stirred rigorously into a dark cup of double thick chocolate. Smooth as silk, sweetness touched with a blessing of caramelized brown sugar.

As often experienced with figurados, the flavour took a turn after about 3 inches in; the flavour became darker, more pronounced, bolder — without ever getting spicy or peppery, i could tell that this cigar had taken things up a notch. Some grassy notes began making their way into the equation, almost like dried moss. Fascinating. Towards the end, it delivered its nicotine payload, which was quite considerable, so newbies beware. This is a cigar to be smoked sitting down.

Verdict: In a word: delightful! Perhaps not the greatest cigar i’ve had in recent memory, but certainly dependable to deliver those special Cuban Bolivar flavours that have become so popular with so many aficionados, including myself. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull this one out of the humi if i had trouble deciding what i should smoke for the day. Recommended.