November 25, 2011

Cigar Review: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare

The new Alec Bradley Logo
Blending a cigar is a difficult task, and when you begin to add more and more different types of tobacco to the blend it is even more difficult. On average, cigars have five to six different types of tobacco in the blend, but Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley took it to the limit and put in ten different types of tobacco. The cigar was originally blended in August of 2010 at the infamous Raices Cubanas Factory, and over the next year they worked on the production and marketing of the cigar for its eventual release. Alec Bradley Cigars has really come along way in its production of cigars in the past years, and there work at Raices Cubanas has shown some of their finest cigars, and cigars in general on the market. The Tempus  and Prensado lines have become staples in my humidor, and I often recommend them to other smokers. Anyways, when I first heard of the Fine & Rare concept I was very excited and eager to try it. The whole thing is a great idea for a limited and one time project, and fortunately I have had the opportunity to do so.



box within a box
While most of the tobacco in the Fine & Rare has not been disclosed, the company did say that the cigar had a double binder, consisting of a leaf from Nicaragua and Honduras, and was finished with a Honduran wrapper from the Trojes region. I have no idea on the filler tobacco, but I imagine there is tobacco from Nicaragua and Honduras in it. Now the Trojes region really became popular when it was disclosed that it was the main source of the tobacco in the Tempus blend, and since then Alec Bradley has been using the tobacco in its high end cigars such as the Prensado and Fine & Rare. The cigar comes in three different vitolas, two of which are very limited. For this review I smoked the Toro vitola, and it measures 6" with a 52 ring gauge.
Spectacular Presentation
The cigar was released in 1,111 boxes, and was released on November 11th of 2011. That is a lot of 11's! The breakdown for the release of the cigars is pretty sweet and it is broken down as such. 1,000 of those boxes are ten count boxes, and those are all in the Toro vitola. 100 boxes come with 20 cigars, and there are ten Toros and ten Torpedos in that box. The final 11 boxes are 30 count boxes, and have 10 of each size, Toro, Torpedo and Perfecto. I for one would love to get one of the 11 rare boxes, but I know that is not going to happen. The only way this cigar could have been more ridiculous with the number 11 is if they put 11 cigars in a box and used 11 different types of tobacco. I guess that would be Finer & Rarer.
Fine & Rare Toro
In terms of appearance the cigar has a nice and simple wrapper, but I imagine very flavorful. It has a nice reddish chocolate brown color to it, and it clearly is Colorado in coloring. As to be expected with any cigar from Raices Cubanas it has a great triple cap and the cigar is very firm in hand. There are some veins present in the wrapper, and it is slightly oily, but it has a distinct aroma to it. I am picking up lots of spice, leather, wood, earth and stone fruit. The aromas are very dark and bold, right up my alley.

Once I light up the cigar I am immediately greeted with notes of leather, and I wait some time before getting into the assessment. The cigar shows tons of flavors in the first third, and it is hard to pick up all of them. I am getting leather notes, dark cherries, oak, rich earth, coffee and spice, and they are all present at once. There is no certain finish to the cigar, but instead you are getting tons of flavors at once. In terms of construction the burn line is a little wavy, but nothing to major, and it is leaving a solid charcoal gray ash coloring on the foot. I would say the cigar is around a medium-full in terms of strength and very flavorful.

In the second third of the cigar I begin to see the improvement in the burn line, and it is now razor sharp. The ash is still holding on to the cigar from the beginning, and it is now showing darker colors in it. The flavor profile is very similar to that of the first third, but given all the flavors I had in the first third there really wasn't much room for improvement. It is a very complex and flavorful cigar, and so far very consistent in flavor. The strength is still staying at a solid medium-full, and it is a great afternoon and evening cigar. Besides picking up the same flavors from the first third, I have seen an emergence of plum and cedar notes in this third. There was a time when I was getting this wine flavor to it, and it was very enjoyable.

When I get to the final third of the cigar, it is still magnificent. I was not sure if I was going to have the opportunity to smoke this cigar, but thanks to grand friends, I have. In terms of flavor this cigar is everywhere. The balance of flavors is incredible, and they all fit with one another perfectly. There is an emergence of cocoa notes in this third, and the sweetness from that and the stone fruit and rich earth notes play off the spice, leather, coffee and wood notes well. The cigar burns perfectly all the way down to the nub, and I am left with a very strong and dark ash when there is nothing left of the cigar. The cigar finishes close to full in body, and even while I smoke what is left of the nub it is smoking cool and wonderfully. When I put it down the flavors from the cigar stay with me for some time, and what an enjoyment this cigar was.
Wrapper from the Trojes region of Honduras
It's not hard to find the Fine & Rare enjoyable and unique, and it's hard not to give it a good rating. I found that the cigar was overall pleasant, complex and enjoyable. With all the tobacco in this cigar it really had a lot of flavors and characteristics present. I don't think there was any one flavor that really stood out  throughout the whole smoke, and there was no major fluctuation in flavor as well. Instead I got a cigar that provided an equally powerful flavor profile from beginning to end that was always complex and diverse. I would give this cigar a 92 rating.  It is a great cigar overall, but I was just looking for a little more from it in the giant scheme of things. I think it is definitely in the top three for cigars by Alec Bradley, and I would love to see them release a blend similar to this in years to come on regular production. If that option is not available, I would love to have this cigar released once a year when tobacco is available. Limited cigars are really big right now, and I think it would be great if Alec Bradley got into that field of cigars. Something like an annual release of the Fine & Rare. Fine & Rare 2011, Fine & Rare 2012, etc.  Either way, if you have the opportunity to buy some of these cigars I strongly suggest you do, that is if they are still available. A lovely cigar with amazing packaging.
Fancy Cigar Band

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