Alec Bradley

Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli Robusto

Years ago, while working for my previous employer, we released the Alec Bradley Black Market in The Netherlands and we couldn’t keep up with the demand, it was insane. Of course the demand dropped a little after a few months but it was still a good selling cigar, nice priced and it scored a 90 when I reviewed it earlier this year. Now there is a new Black Market, the Black Market Esteli.


I got this cigar from George Sosa, VP of Sales for Alec Bradley during the Big Smoke Amsterdam weekend, George and I have worked well together and he always hooks me up with plenty of cigars. He gave me this Nicaraguan cigar with a Nicaraguan wrapper, a double binder, one from Nicaragua and one from Honduras and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar is made at the Plasencia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.


The packaging is similar to the regular Black Market, so with a three quarters long paper wrapping on the cigar. That was designed because Alan Rubin, the owner of the brand, didn’t want the cigars in cellophane yet still wanted to protect them from  damaging, hence the huge ring. Eventually the cigars were packed in cellophane too, but the big paper rings remained. The wrapper is smooth, oily, quite dark and pretty. The construction feels good, nice triple cap, evenly filled. The aroma is quite strong and smells like a sheep farm, but not in a filthy disgusting farm, a clean farm with healthy clean animals.


I cut the cigar with my xikar cutter. The cold draw is perfect with a mild minty and raisin flavor. After lighting the cigar with a soft flame I taste a sweet coffee and toast. The sweetness stands out, with an earthy undertone. After an inch I taste that earthy flavor with still a sweetness, a cake like sweetness but also a little black pepper in the aftertaste. Halfway I taste some milk chocolate too. Soon after I taste pepper with the earthy flavor and a little bit of a metallic taste. All of a sudden the cigar changed to earthy toast with some pepper.


The draw is perfect, just the right amount of resistance. The ash is white and layered. The burn is straight. The smoke is medium plus thick. I would say this cigar is medium plus bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Much to my surprise, considering my love for Nicaraguan cigars, I prefer the Honduran Black Market.

Score:  90
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your reviewer with George Sosa and Bradley Rubin (Alec Bradley Cigars)

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Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera del Oriente | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Torpedo (2012)

Because it’s George Sosa’s birthday today I’m publishing an Alec Bradley review.

In 2011 Alec Bradley released a limited edition cigar that was pretty rare, with only 1000 boxes of 10 Toro’s, 100 boxes of 10 Torpedo and 11 boxes with 10 Toro, 10 Torpedo and 10 Perfecto for charity events. Now the 10 and 11 theme might look confusing but the 10 makes sense because 10 different tobacco’s were used to blend this cigar and the 1111 boxes make sense because the cigar got released on 11/11/11. I think I smoked one or two of the cigars back in the day, but I can’t remember for sure.  But I do have some of the later years, and the oldest one I have is the torpedo that was released the next year.


The blend was changed a little bit to a Honduran wrapper, Honduran binder and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua but still 10 different tobaccos used. For the shape Alec Bradley went with a torpedo and the production was doubled from 1000 boxes of 10 to 2000 boxes of 10. The MSRP got raised to by $2.50 to $16.50. For Alec Bradley this cigar is what the Opus X is to Fuente, the Family Reserve is to Padron, the Cohiba is to Habanos and the Melanio is to Oliva, their masterpiece. Not I’m not comparing the cigar to those other brands, it’s just to reference how big of a deal this cigar is to Alec Bradley.


The wrapper, as far as I can see it because of the huge ring, is dark, oily, shiny and smooth. The ring is huge but also very detailed, its a beige color with black details and then a huge white label with a lot of information like the roll date, the release date, the signature of the roller team, the quality control supervisor, how many cigars were produced that week and how many boxes were released in total (2000 as I said before). It’s very nice that the rollers are included on the ring and get credit for their skills. The construction feels flawless and the tip of the cigar is beautiful and sharp. The aroma is stronger than I expected and reminds me of cacao, hay and a little bit of a barnyard too.


I cut the cigar with my Xikar xi2 cutter. The cold draw is perfect and I taste dry tobacco, raisin and pepper. I taste coffee with lime and pepper right after lighting it with my vintage Ronson. After a few puffs I also taste nutshell, chocolate and cedar, complicated straight from the start. After a quarter of an inch i taste cedar, oak and pepper, all the other flavors have disappeared. After an inch some chocolate shows up too. Slowly the chocolate grows in strength and a toasted flavor shows up too, with some lemon in the aftertaste.


The smoke is thick, full and white. The draw is great. The ash is salt & pepper colored but coarse. The burn is slow but I had to touch it up a few times. This cigar is medium bodied, medium full flavored, pretty  complex and very well balanced. The final third starts with hazelnut and walnut with caramel, a little salt and pepper. The nuts and pepper get stronger. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? For a special occasion. I can’t justify the price, there are cigars that give me the same level of enjoyment for less.

Score: 93
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Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova

Mid september 2015 George Sosa from Alec Bradley came to The Netherlands for the Dutch Big Smoke, which is not related to the American Big Smokes hosted by Cigar Aficionado due to our laws, but at the Dutch Big Smoke 10 cigars were introduced to the Dutch market. We as the Alec Bradley distributer decided to go for the Alec Bradley Tempus Nicaragua Terra Nova, a 5×50 Nicaraguan puro produced in Honduras. I picked George up from the airport and his first question was if I ever smoked the Tempus Nicaragua. My answer was no, he pulled one out of his bag and we lit up. Straight away I loved the cigar, without thinking twice I told George it was the best Alec Bradley I had ever smoked, it was a great fit for my palate.


The Big Smoke was very successful and the days after the event we drove around, visiting accounts and smoking nothing but the Tempus Nicaragua, even on the long drive to Dortmund, to the Intertabac trade show we lit those babies up.  So its safe to say that this isn’t a review where I don’t know what to expect, but more of a review where I wonder how high the score will be. The cigar has a nice dark and rustic looking wrapper, you know its not going to be a mild cigar just by looking at it. The construction feels good and the cigar has a beautiful triple cap. The ring is exactly the same as on the Tempus and the Tempus Maduro but in a different color, just like the Tempus and Tempus Maduro differ in color. The foot ring is brown with golden lining and white letters Nicaragua while the regular ring, which is quite big has the red & white Alec Bradley logo with crown surrounded by silver and golden circles, a black banner with the Alec Bradley name and a brown bottom with beautiful Roman style lettering saying Tempus. The gold and silver really pop, beautiful printing quality. The aroma is medium strong, but it has a deep and pleasant aroma of a barnyard, horses and a little bit of dark chocolate.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw, which is perfect, gives me a little spice and raisin. I used my Ronson varaflame to light the cigar. The first puffs are a full coffee, a little bitter, with some cocoa and spices. After an inch I taste spices, herb and a very mild citrus. Soon after I taste a spicy, pleasant bitterness with a little sugar like sweetness. Halfway it’s all spices and herbs with a little sweet chocolate. A few puffs later the cigar becomes meaty, not a meat flavor but a feeling. After two thirds it’s a beautiful mix of spices, sweetness, a little pepper, well balanced. Near the end I also taste nuts with the mentioned flavors and a mild acidic citrus flavor.


The draw is great, smooth and easy. The smoke is thick, luscious and abundant. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is a little bit crooked but it corrects itself quick. The strength I would call medium plus, both in body and in flavor.


Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, this was my last one, need to get a new box.

Score: 93

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Categories: 93, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto

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, Flithy 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 now 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. Its a shame because all 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.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Black Market Robusto

While I usually review cigars in the evening, after a good meal, sitting in my man cave with the TV on, this cigar I reviewed in the morning after a nice breakfast, an hour long workout and a shower. Right after Alec Bradley won the Cigar Aficionado Top 25 in 2011 the company I then worked for started to distribute the Alec Bradley brand in The Netherlands and much to our surprise our best seller wasn’t the blend that won the number #1 spot that was the best seller, but the Black Market was. We just couldn’t keep up with the demand, the cigars just flew of the shelves. And it still surprises me, I smoked quite a few of them and my impression was always that it was a good smoke but nothing spectacular. Now in the summer of 2014 we released a one time only business to business magazine for the Dutch retailers and we included a top 25 cigars from our portfolio, all tested blind by a panel of 10 cigar aficionados and the Alec Bradley Black Market came out as number one.


Last september at Intertabac 2016 I ran into George Sosa again, and I must say, over the last few years George and I formed a real friendship. As I had left the company George said “let me give you some cigars so you won’t be without” which is funny since my stash holds 5000+ cigars anyway. Including the hand full of cigars he gave me was this Black Market robusto and since I hadn’t smoked it in a long time (my go to Alec Bradley is the Tempus Nicaragua robusto) and never reviewed it before I decided not to smoke it on the spot but review it. The blend of this cigar consists of Honduran and Panamanian filler, a Sumatra binder and a Nicaraguan wrapper and the cigars are being produced by Raices Cubanas in Honduras. The size of the cigar is 5.2×52 and the wrapper is quite dark, like a 72% dark chocolate bar with some minor veins. The ring is huge, it covers the bottom half of the cigar but when you remove it you’ll find a small separate ring just past the midway point of the cigar. The construction feels good, the cigar is evenly filled and has a medium strong spicy barnyard aroma. The cold draw is fine and I taste a raisin flavor.


As you can see I used my trusted combination of a Xikar Xi2 butterfly cutter and my vintage Ronson varaflame to cut and light the cigar. Straight from the start I taste spice, some pepper and a mild coffee flavor with some sugar like sweetness. After a centimeter the flavor changed to wood with some spice on the back of my tongue and some sweetness too. After a thirds I taste some pepper again.


The flavor changes to wood with lemon, a nice and refreshing lemon. It changes quickly to a hickory wood without the lemon though but with sweetness again, a sugary sweetness. After two thirds I taste a mild milky chocolate with spices. Later the flavor changes to a mild peanut butter but still with the sugary sweetness. Near the end I taste a nice fresh aftertaste.


The ash is light colored, beautifully layered and firm. The smoke is light gray and nothing more than medium thick and medium in amount. The draw is fine, just a tiny bit on the tight side but still fine. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium bodied yet medium full flavored, it’s well balanced with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and fifty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, it’s been a while since I smoked it and it’s a nicer cigar than I remembered, combined with the price it’s a cigar I will buy more often.

Score: 90

90

Categories: 90, Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alec Bradley Maxx the Fixx

At the intertabac trade show i had the pleasure of hanging out with George Sosa and Alan Rubin and the latter gave me a wonderful gift and a few cigars including this Maxx the fixx, which was the line that put Alec Bradley on the map. The cigars are reblended and this is my first reblended Maxx.
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The cigar measures 5×58 and that’s usually a few sizes to thick for my taste. It looks very nice though, beautiful dark and oily wrapper and a very big, modern band which color makes the cigar shine even more. The construction feels flawless, and the cigar has a nice barnyard aroma. The predraw is fine and spicy.
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I taste a spicy and mildly bitter coffee and dark chocolate flavor. Soon I taste sugar with wood and moist leaves, but not in a bad way. The sugar is the domination flavor though. After an inch I also taste pepper.
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After a third it’s a nice mild pepper with a little bit of wood. The wood slowly gains strength. Halfway the cigar gains more power. After two thirds it’s more pepper, some wood and a sweet and mildly citrus background.
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I get a nice amount of medium thick smoke. The ash is white and firm but the burn is a little bit crooked, after a few touch ups it was corrected though. The draw was very good. The cigar lasted an hour and forty minutes.
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Would I buy this cigar again? I would love to try this in a thinner size. Although I must admit, even though this cigar it thick I quite enjoyed it.

Appearance: 9
Construction: 8
Draw: 9
Burn: 7
Smoke & ash: 8
Aroma first part: 7
Aroma second part: 8
Aroma third part: 7

Categories: Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Alec Bradley Family Blend T11

The Alec Bradley family blend was created to honor the fathers of president Alan Rubin, vice president Ralph Montero and sales director George Sosa. Originally the line consisted of a single vitola, but due to the success of the blend Alec Bradley cigars decided to release more vitolas including this 6×52 torpedo with the name T11. I got this cigar from a sales rep while I was enjoying a cigar at the La Gloria Cubana lounge in Miami. The cigar is made with Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco with an Indonesian binder and a Honduran wrapper.
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The cigar has a chocolate brown oily wrapper with a few veins. I don’t particularly like the band. The cigar has a nice barnyard smell but the construction seems a bit soft. The predraw is too easy and mild spicy.
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I taste coffee and earth and the bitterness of cacao. After half an inch I taste some chocolate with earth and some herbs. Another half inch later I also taste some nuts. After a third the flavors are wood with chocolate with a herbal aftertaste. Towards halfway the chocolate disappears ad I taste wood with herbs and a mild pepper.

After two thirds I taste wood again with chocolate and herbs in the aftertaste. The pepper has disappeared. A few puffs later I taste nut again with wood and a mild chocolate flavor. The last few puffs bring me a herbal flavor again.
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This cigar has a smoke time of ninety minutes. The draw is too loose. I got a lot of medium thick and gray smoke, the smoke gets white along the way though. The dark ash is firm. I had to correct the burn a few times. This cigar is medium to full flavored and medium bodied.
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Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, just to give it another try without the draw problems.

Appearance: 8 / 10
Construction: 8 / 10
Draw: 6 / 10
Burn: 7 / 10
Smoke & ash: 8 / 10
Aroma first part: 7 / 10
Aroma second part: 8 / 10
Aroma third part: 7 / 10

Categories: Alec Bradley, Honduran cigars, Raices Cubanas | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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