I was having a chat with Marc of CigarOne.com fame recently, and we were talking about what cigar i should smoke. I’ve been smoking a lot of “regular rolls” lately: mainstays such as the HDM Epic #2, PSD4 and Cohiba Robusto. Nothing really interesting has come across my smoke palette recently, until Marc suggested the Bolivar Presidente Swiss Regional Production 2013. I said why not, always willing to take a punt on the recommendations of a fellow Brother of the Leaf.

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When it arrived, i was intimidated by the size of the thing. I’m no stranger to large cigars, of course, but it’s always striking to see one up close, especially from a brand like Bolivar that isn’t well known for its large vitolas. A robusto extra, 54 ring gauge, and 150mm long, that’s a huge amount of tobacco.

It’s easy to mess up the roll for a large cigar. I’ve seen my share of large Cuban cigars that were either underfilled, or not rolled tightly enough — both will cause problems for the burn and the draw of the cigar. But not the Presidente: it had the perfect amount of firmness, and just by touching the cigar, i knew that this was going to be a good smoke.

The wrapper itself is gloriously shiny, rich with oils. The tobacco that went into this cigar is top-notch. Just see for yourself from the photos. Not every cigar is built like this, and even those that try, not many will succeed.

The scent at cold is metallic; it wasn’t giving away any of its secrets unlit. So I quickly took my cutter to it, and torched it carefully for a light. A large cigar is going to take some cooking to get started, and so was the case here. After a few quick puffs, it was away!

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The first draws, two things struck me: (1) i love the draw. Perfect. Luxurious. Smooth. (2) the clean tobacco flavours has a dark caramel sweetness to it.

One of the problems with large ring gauge cigars always tend to be the draw. Its just so easy to make a mistake in the bunching, and mess up the volume of tobacco. This tends to lead to either easier draws than desired, or plugs. I smoked a couple of the Presidentes before writing this review, and i’ll say that the rollers who did this cigar nailed it with each cigar being consistently well constructed.

It’s a large cigar, well rolled with large amounts of quality tobacco ergo it’s going to take a while to smoke. I had 2hour+ experiences with the Presidente, it’s a cigar to be sipped slowly to enjoy. The first half was very even — the sweetness of the flavours almost honey-like, rolled into a earthy, mesmerizing concoction. Thick, swirls of smoke with every draw, scented wood chip aromas, ticklish to the nose.

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If there was a criticism of the cigar it would be that it’s pretty one dimensional — all these lovely flavours and aroma stays this way for a majority of the cigar. Only at the end, the last 2 inches does it take a sharp left turn. The flavour becomes pleasantly biting, the kind which just activate the taste buds and fill up the mouth with pepper and spice. Chilli spice bites the tongue and the lips, and the sweetness is replaced by a pleasant bitterness, like a dark aged rum. Quite a sudden shift in character, and had me wondering why i had to burn through nearly 5 inches of tobacco to find it!

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Verdict: 89/100. A lovely treat of a cigar, if you have the time to enjoy this monster smoke. It burns slow, draws perfectly, and tastes great throughout. However, like many other Regional Editions of recent years, i found it lacking that extra punch of complexity that will take it into the upper echelons of My Cigar Blog’s ratings. Takes too long to turn the corner, and when it does, goes quite suddenly, almost jarring. Having said that, it’s a fantastically tasty smoke before and after the turn.