The cigar market has always seen new blends pop up, some of them stick around, others disappear after a time. Alec Bradley has been one of many companies that have released quite some new blends in the last few years and retired a few too. Only in the last 3 to 4 years, we have seen the Mundial, Tempus Nicaragua, Nica Puro, Filthy Hooligan, Fine & Rare, Family Blend, Family Blend Lineage, Coyol, Texas Lancero, Post Embargo and the Sanctum show up plus a re-blended and rebranded Maxx. I probably missed some and since Alec Bradley hasn’t been on the Dutch market for so long, only a few years, I don’t know what blends they retired. Now new lines or brands, I have mixed emotions about that. As a cigar geek, I love it, because I always want to try new stuff. And as a cigar salesman I loved it, since its pretty easy to sell something new, easier than building a brand to stay in the market long term but on the other side I hated it too as a cigar salesman because you simply can’t carry all brands, customers request cigars that are not in your portfolio and as a consumer I sometimes got tired of it as well. For example, when Viaje was introduced I hunted down all new releases until there were so many small batches I couldn’t keep up and lost interest, same with a Tatuaje, too many special releases so I couldn’t bother anymore and even Rocky Patel overdid it with his seasonal ‘spring, summer, autumn & winter’ releases. It is a shame because all the mentioned brands I love.
Back to Alec Bradley, I worked for a cigar distributer and Alec Bradley didn’t have an importer when they were chosen to be the cigar of the year. The second that happened, I remember sitting at a parking lot refreshing my screen franticly as the #1 is announced late on the working day for us and close to the x-mas period where the company was closed, if one of our cigars was #1 I had a short time frame to push the sales up at the end of the year. Well, Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill, not one of ‘our’ cigars so no nice added turnover that week but we did reach out to them that afternoon and a few days later we were the official Alec Bradley distributer for The Netherlands and in the years after we built a good relationship. I always liked most Alec Bradley cigars but considered them to be a ‘middle of the road’ cigar, good but not fancy, except for the Mudial and the Tempus Nicaragua that I loved. I parted ways with my employer and decided to reboot my review blog, but reviewing demands a different approach to smoking, one with way more attention to the cigars than how I smoked for the past few years and when I did, it changed my mind on Alec Bradley a bit, the ‘middle of the road’ Black Market for example it a much better cigar than I always thought, but I only smoked it casual before. And that happened with more Alec Bradley sticks, so I can’t wait to try this Sanctum Robusto.
The Sanctum is made from Honduran, Colombian and Nicaraguan filler with a Costa Rican binder and a Honduran wrapper and its made at Raices Cubanas in Honduras. When I release the cigar from the cellophane jacket it feels silky. The wrapper looks good but has a long, thin vein, straight in the centre that I personally would have hidden on the back pure for the looks in a humidor. The construction feels good and the cigar is well finished. The cigar has an aroma that reminds me most of the kitchen when I’m boiling cauliflower and its quite strong. The ring is big, covers at least a third of the cigarand maybe even more. It’s black with white and a red Alec Bradley logo in the centre, surrounded by golden details and the test Sanctum in a beautiful font. At first glance the logo with the golden decoraction made me think of a fire department crest.
I punched the cigar and the predawn is a little tight on the good side. The flavor reminds me of old dark chocolate. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a nice coffee flavor with some cedar and far in the back even a little bit of dark chocolate. After a centimeter the cedar has completely taken over from the coffee, with some pepper and some milk chocolate with some vanilla. The overall flavors are creamy. Halfway I taste wood with a honey sweetness. Slowly the pepper gets stronger and I also taste a little nutmeg Abe cinnamon like spices. After two thirds I mainly taste the spices and some pepper.
The smoke is quite thick and the volume is fine. The ash is light gray. The draw is great, the little too much resistance I had in the cold draw isn’t noticeable after lighting the cigar. The ash is firm and the burn is pretty darn straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is and hour and fifteen minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good cigar but I prefer the Mundial, Coyol and Tempus Nicaragua over this blend.