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The Cuban Bolívar Cigars has a reputation among cigar aficionados of being one of the strongest and most full-bodied cigars, with its Royal Corona, Coronas Junior, Petit Coronas, and Belicosos Finos being famous examples of the marque. In 2002, when Altadis bought a controlling share in the Cuban government-owned cigar distributor, Habanos SA, a number of changes in cigar production were instituted. One of these changes was the decision to gradually turn the various brands of Cuban cigars to either all-handmade or all-machine-made lines.
In 2005, General Cigar finally decided to utilize its long-standing U.S. rights to the venerable Bolivar brand. It took control of the brand’s distribution and changed the flavor, relying on several leaves proprietary to the company. The binder is a forgotten Connecticut leaf called Havana, the wrapper is from San Agustín, Honduras, and one of the filler tobaccos is grown on the volcanic Nicaraguan island of Ometepe. The changes have injected life into a oncesleepy brand. The 7 by 49 Churchill is flavorful yet easygoing, stronger than most of General’s cigars yet not overpowering. It smacks of the distinctive sweet earthiness that comes from Ometepe.