Updated: Mar 18
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As a child I recall driving past large barns of drying tobacco. My interest in cigars can certainly be attributed to the aroma of my first Tampa Sweet Cigar in my 20's. But cigars have come a long way over the past few decades and recent research indicates that their popularity is growing - especially in men in their 20's and 30's. Interestingly enough more African Americans smoke cigars than caucasian smokers.
If these statistics are anything to go on there is every indication that an African Cigar brand would do particularly well. Founder Kamal Moukheiber an ex London Banker turned Entrepreneur seized the opportunity to introduce Africa's first premium Cigar brand, Bongani.
Bongani means “Be Grateful”. Be grateful for life, family and friends. Be grateful for Africa, our people and Africa’s resources.
But more than that Kamal found a way to introduce skills and sustainability to an impoverished community. He brought in a team of experienced cigar rollers from the Dominican Republic to train his team of Mozambican cigar rollers to the same level of expertise as in the D.R. All the Bongani cigars are handmade in their factory in Maputo. Their tobacco is grown in Manica Province in Mozambique but they also make use of some of the best tobacco from around the world. The unique African scent in the cigars is complimented by ageing their cigars in Ghanian Cedar.
What We think about Bongani?
On first appearance the Bongani Robusto displays a nice oily Cameroon wrapper. In fact Cigar Aficionado magazine featured their best cigar of 2017, the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos which uses the same Cameroon wrapper as Bongani. The pre-light aroma for me was one of dark chocolate and a strong hint of Cedar wood.
The Mozambican cigar rollers do an impeccable job with the Robusto as its rolled without any soft spots.
The first puff is a little peppery with the dark chocolate flavor I first detected becoming a little more subtle. For me the flavor which seems to stick the whole cigar through to the final third was one of earth and minerals. Also a little leather and tobacco flavor on the retrohale. The Ghanian Cedar creates a nice spicy undertone which compliments the flavor lovely.
In the video review I say that its a Medium body cigar but after smoking a few more of these beauties I would actually now say that its on the higher end of medium body and sometimes full bodied with a bold strength.
The Bongani Robusto is a welcomed entry to my Humidor and at about R210 / $12 a cigar it really does compete very well with some of its Cuban and Nicaraguan counterparts. The smoke was pretty constant all the way through for me with no great changes in flavor or complexity. If this is Bongani's debut into the Cigar world I am super excited to see what they come up with next and will keep you all posted as well.
Learn More about Bongani: