I don’t have a whole lot of experience when it comes to Cubans cigars. I’ve had some Cohibas, Montecristos, Romeo y Julietas (most of which were likely counterfeit), and a few Bolivars. What piqued my interest about the Gold Medal was the description that it tasted very “non-cuban” by multiple smokers whose palates I respect. One of those same smokers, Hannibal from Stogiefriends.com, gifted CM this cigar for review. A big thanks to Hannibal.
Looking into the history of this cigar I found that on more than one occasion it has been discontinued only to be brought back from the dead years later. It’s latest resurrection came in 2007 and lasted a few short years where once more it was put to rest in 2011. During that time it was exclusive to Las Casa Del Habanos shops, hence the gold foil sheath and secondary band.
This is a unique looking cigar. Everything about it exemplifies class and refinement. From the gold foil sheath to the lightly oiled, light brown wrapper. The wrapper on this lonsdale has visible seams and minimal veins. From the foot I picked out notes of earth and red pepper. Off the wrapper I noticed hints of cocoa and mineral. After the punch, I only noticed a very faint tobacco note from the cold draw. The draw had a very slight amount of resistance.
The first puff offered a very chewy smoke characteristic. Although the flavors were subtle, they had a substantial amount of depth. Dark espresso, cocoa and oak led the pack during the entire first third. This was a total surprise to me since I’ve never had a Cuban with abundant espresso and cocoa. The spicy note came in the form of white pepper. This was more a sensation in the sinuses as opposed to a flavor. An underlying sweet note of caramel combined with the cocoa. Completing the flavor profile in the first third was a slight mixture of vegetal notes and mulling spice. Oak, cocoa and caramel were most apparent during the long finish. Med-full body, mild-medium strength.
In the second third, the caramel grew in depth, transforming to toffee while the oak gained intensity. The white pepper also picked up a bit of steam. A newly developed almond note hovered below the prime toffee and oak. The herbal note I mentioned before, began to take on more of a mulling spice character, specifically nutmeg. Oak, cocoa and toffee on another long finish, lasting between draws. Full body, medium strength.
The espresso notes that took a vacation during the second third came back in the final third. They didn’t return as a dominate flavor but were noticeable enough to mention. Cocoa and toffee took over as the chief flavors in the final third. With those flavors as main components it may sound too sweet but there were enough underlying notes to off-set the sweetness. One of those underlying notes was salt, which gave the Gold Medal a wonderful balance. Floral tones and peanut rounded out the remaining underlying flavors. One last flavor that made its premiere in the final third was raisin. The substantial finish in the final third was comprised of oak, toffee, cocoa and espresso. Full body, medium strength.
This cigar is simply “its own thing”. It has the robust espresso and cocoa that’s synonymous with Coal Miner, wood which is a main characteristic of Regal and salt/peanut notes which represent our Marquee class. This cigar is too perfect a collection of these three classes to be defined as one of them. Thus Wild Card.
The Bolivar Gold Medal is a must-try for any fan of cigars. Although it’s a Cuban, I must agree that it doesn’t have the standard Cuban profile. It was extremely close to becoming a II. Memorable, but it simply lacked that special something for me. The draw, construction and presentation were great and the flavors solid but I think with a little bit more distinction, I’d get more fulfillment from the smoking experience as a whole.