Ramon Allones and Bolivar are legacy brand names that were founded in Cuba well before the revolution. In the case of Ramon Allones, even before the American Civil War. They are still regular production Habanos, but one of the consequences of the American trade embargo was that several well-known brand names were liberated from the clutches of the Cuban tobacco monopoly, allowing non-Cuban blends to be sold under the Allones and Bolivar brands.
In the past, both of these “domestic” brands were marketed primarily to catalog customers, sometimes packaged in unique ways. An edition of Bolivar was released in the shape of a book, complete with raised bands and deckled edges. It was Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, if memory serves. I still have the Flor de A. Allones entry. But as much as I hate to say it, the boxes were more interesting than the cigars.
To spice things up a bit, General Cigar turned to their innovative Foundry Tobacco subsidiary. Both heritage brands received a makeover: the Ramon Allones is now a Nicaraguan blend with an oscuro Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and Bolivar now hosts filler from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico, held together by a Dominican binder, all topped with a dark Habano wrapper grown in Connecticut. Three sizes with are in production. See if you can guess how the frontmarks were derived:
- 550 – 5 x 50
- 652 – 6 x 52
- 660 – 6 x 60
Both cigars pictured here have big ugly bands which have been justly criticized and subsequently updated. The best thing I can say about them is that they were easy to remove.
Bolivar Heritage 550
First impressions matter, which is the problem with the band. But hidden beneath this is a nice looking Connecticut Habano leaf — dark and oily, even if a bit bumpy. The pig-tail triple cap is a nice touch. The foot is flagged and folded over, which makes a pre-light draw difficult, but it takes off after a quick blast from the torch. The cigar gets a tad soft, but it draws well and burns evenly.
Overall construction: Very good.
The 550 opens up with bittersweet chocolate accompanied by a cedary undertone. It’s medium-bodied, slightly dry, and after an inch or two it develops a pretty good bite. In the mid-section earthy flavors predominate on the palate as well as the aftertaste. The chocolate darkens into coffee, and the cedar wanes as the pepper grinder goes to work. In the last couple of inches the Bolivar Heritage becomes a medium-plus cigar with a full-bodied flavor profile.
Ramon Allones Heritage 550
The dimensions, pig-tail cap and unfinished foot are exactly the same as the Bolivar Heritage, but the wrapper is drier and lighter in appearance and the roll is tighter. One cigar was a bit too tight to smoke comfortably and the flavors were sharp and unbalanced. I discounted that one, but the line seems to run a bit tight in general, certainly more so than the Bolivar.
Overall construction: Fair to Good.
The RA 550 starts off with some fairly bland vegetal flavors but quickly finds the a more distinctive character: woody with a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg on the nose, while the tea-like zing typical of Nicaraguan tobacco hums along beneath.
About half-way through the Ramon Allones 550 I began to wonder if anyone has ever attempted to blend a curry flavored cigar… the RA is not it, Deo gratias, but the thought occurred to me…
I hasten to add: this is a horrible idea.
Both of these new Foundry blends are nice looking cigars that smoke well, but for me the Bolivar Heritage stands out. I really like the Bolivar’s balance of chocolate and cedar in the first half and the way it slides into pepper and earth in the second, and I’m betting that the bite will mellow with a few months in the humidor.
The Ramon Allones is an interesting smoke as well, but the cigar was hampered by a tight draw. I’d try it again in a few months and see if that wrinkle has been ironed out.
And I’ve saved the best news for last: each of these robustos are in the $4 USD range.
Bolivar Heritage Final Score: 90
Ramon Allones Heritage Final Score: 85
A special thanks to General Cigar for the review samples.