Colombian Gold by Bravo Cigar

Before I had the experience of smoking one of Bravo Cigar’s new Colombian Gold blends I had never heard of Colombian puros. Sure, CAO uses some Colombian leaf in their cigar blends, as does Gurkha and a few others — but a Colombian puro? Never heard of it.

When Americans think of Colombia we don’t think of cigars as much as some of their “other” products: high on the list (so to speak) are coffee and cocaine. And it is the latter product which has substantially hindered the development of the Colombian cigar industry — narcotics and terrorism just aren’t good for international business. In recent years the Colombian government has made strides in curbing the drug trade and suppressing its violence, opening the country up for more legitimate trade. And I’m here to tell you — this is a good thing for cigar smokers.

Roberto Juarez is determined to introduce American smokers to the quality of Colombian tobacco with his new venture, Bravo Cigars. His first release is the Colombian Gold, a light and mild tasting cigar that offers plenty of complexity and an impressive aroma, as well as quality craftsmanship.

With the assistance of master blender Antonio de Jesus, Juarez has combined Colombian-grown tobaccos that descend from Ecuador, Connecticut, and Cuba for the Colombian Gold.

The wrapper on this cigar is especially exquisite — it smokes like Connecticut Shade, but with a uniquely sweet spiciness. I was surprised to learn that the wrapper comes from Ecuadoran seed, grown in Colombia of course. I asked Roberto to explain a little more about the history of this wrapper leaf:

The wrapper is an Ecuadorean seed that has deep rooted itself in Curiti, Santander Colombia. It is in fact a Connecticut seed descendant that has many years of successful crop production in Ecuador. For six years almost seven now it has been in production at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level on the “Loma Linda” farm and under the supervision of Luis Alberto Diaz. Alberto has been farming tobacco for over 40 years.

Beneath the wrapper lies a binder with Connecticut ancestry and two fillers with distant roots in Cuba. The debate continues concerning the relative importance of genetics and terroir in tobacco taste, but there is no doubt that the soil and conditions under which these plants are grown in Colombia is at least as important as the genetic history of the seeds. As Roberto writes,

Once a particular seed has been chosen for tobacco production in Colombia it will inevitably become distinct in its own rights. One attribute to becoming distinct are the many climates in Colombia. From coastal farm lands to the high altitudes snow capped peaks of the Andean Mountains and on down the Chicamocha River to the river valleys where the world’s best coffee beans are grown. And with these different climates come distinct weather patterns that will further play an important role in making a tobacco distinct. The one and only comparison I hear consistently about the Colombian Gold is Cuba, and I agree wholeheartedly. Its smooth tobacco notes and nice aromatic qualities along with the ever so slight hint of green in the wrapper has very similar qualities. It even produces the Cuban curl ash when allowed.

Colombian Gold cigars are available in five sizes:

  • Churchill (7 x 50)
  • Torpedo (6.5 x 52)
  • Toro (6 x 50)
  • Robusto (5 x 50)
  • Perfecto (4.5 x 50

The wrappers on all of these cigars are evenly colored and have a fine texture typical of shade grown leaf. Most of them have flat Cuban-style heads, (the churchill is an exception with its round “Cullman” style head) and the caps are a bit sloppy but still tightly fixed.

Construction values are uniformly very good. All of the samples I smoked had an even slow burn and a good draw. The roll is quite solid even though they feel a little light in the hand.

The Colombian Gold is an easy smoking mild to medium bodied cigar with a really expressive aroma. The overall flavors start out creamy, building slowly to a woody underpinning with some light tannins, later adding notes of coffee and cocoa. There is a subtle transition in the latter half of the cigar to an earthier profile, but what really stands out is a sweet woody aroma that at times reminded me of honey, at other times of sandalwood. The only other cigar that I can recall smoking recently that has a similar flavor profile is the Cuban El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme. Certainly there are differences, but the light earthy flavors combined with the complex honey inflected aroma of the Colombian Gold beg for that comparison.

I didn’t notice a big difference between the way the different sizes smoke. The churchill seemed a little bit earthier perhaps, a touch stronger, but for the most part they all smoke the same: smooth, balanced and highly aromatic.

For fans of more full-bodied cigars, Bravo Cigar has plans for a new blend called Sosegado that will feature a native Colombian wrapper:

There is however one very native tobacco called Chicamocha (seed is called “ICA Chicamocha”) This tobacco is very aromatic with a strong tobacco taste. This tobacco will premier in the Sosegado series, our second of five series. For those full bodied smokers who feel left out with the Colombian Gold blends will rejoice with this puro. The Sosegado will fulfill its mission to deliver a robust smoke.

In the meantime, we can all enjoy the Colombian Gold. As a morning cigar it goes perfectly with a cup of coffee (I recommend this Colombian companion while it is still available) and for smokers of milder cigars this will hit the spot any time. I think fans of Macanudo, Ashton Classic and Cabinet cigars, and Montecristo will find that the Colombian Gold is worthy of that class, and at around 6 to 7 USD it will certainly give them a run for their money.

Bravo Cigars are not yet widely available in stores, but I believe that will change soon. For now you can always go to the Bravo Cigar website and order directly from Señor Roberto. Pick up a sampler or two and let the Colombian revolution begin!