January 24, 2012

Cigar Review: Alec Bradley Prensado Churchill

Prensado Churchill
When the cigar you are reviewing just received the title of "Number 1 Cigar of the Year" by Cigar Aficionado, then you really don't need to write up an introduction. Being honored with that ranking is always a challenge, but when the honor is given, the reward is great. I know that the Prensado Churchill's have been moving since the rating, and I am glad to see that. I have always enjoyed the line, actually loved the line, and I always thought that it was deserving of such a high rating. Since the lines release in 2009 I have found the line to be my favorite of the Alec Bradley brand, and the Gran Toro vitola, which I reviewed here, has always been a personal favorite. In 2010 the Gran Toro vitola came in at Number 20 in Cigar Aficionado's Top 25 Cigars of 2010, and as I said in my initial review I believe it deserved to be a little higher than that. Either way, the line has been in the Top 25 list by Cigar Aficionado for two years in a row, and I will now begin my review of Cigar Aficionado's Cigar of the Year.

 
With the Alec Bradley Prensado, you need to begin the journey in a small town in Honduras. The town is around 65 kilometers from the bustling cigar cigar of Danli, and it is called Las Trojes. The town lies on the Honduran Nicaraguan border and is surrounded with rich tobacco fields. Alan Rubin was visiting the village in 2006 and smoked a beautiful dark wrapper leaf from the region that was Corojo 2006 seed. He loved it so much that he acquired the tobacco, aged it for two years, and decided to build a cigar around it. He used a lot of tobacco from the region of the wrapper, Trojes, Honduras, but also used a Nicaraguan binder and some Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler. With the cigar he decided to have the cigar be box pressed, and that is where the Spanish word "Prensado" in the name comes from, to be pressed. The cigars for this line are made in Honduras at the ever popular Raices Cubanas Factory, and like all the cigars there it is made in the Cuban fashion. The Churchill vitola is your standard Churchill, and measures 7" with a 48 ring gauge.    
Beautiful Honduran Corojo 2006 Wrapper
The cigar is beautiful to look at, and the wrapper is simply amazing. It is a very dark wrapper that is toothy in parts, and there are lots of oils present from head to foot. Throughout the cigar there are veins present, and it has a lovely coloring of a dark chocolate bar. I would say the coloring of the wrapper falls between Colorado and Maduro in coloring, and you almost want to admire the cigar and not smoke it. Holding the wrapper and foot of the cigar to my nose I am getting lovely aromas of coffee, cocoa, barnyard and spices. As I cut the head I get a great cold draw that is showing the great flavors to come and a great draw as well.

From the second you light this cigar up you are greeted with the richest of flavors and the longest of finishes. The flavors of chocolate and coffee are right at the forefront, and I am also getting some rich earth and barnyard notes. There is some definite leather present, and there are hints of oak with the spicy finish the cigar has. The cigar is truly enjoyable and very flavorful. I would say the strength of the cigar is around medium-full for me, but it is really not the strength you notice but the rich and powerful flavors. In terms of construction the cigar is smoking very evenly and is producing a thick cloud of smoke. The ash is a dark gray in coloring, and every once in a while the oils from the wrapper put the cigar out. This is a great cigar now, and a great cigar that I think could perform miracles when aged.  
Prensado foot, Nicaraguan and Honduran tobacco
When I get into the second third of the cigar it is still kicking ass. This cigar is so rich and flavorful that if I am going to smoke another cigar after this it better be another Prensado otherwise I won't be able to pick up any of the flavors from a different cigar. It is a cigar that has a long finish, and you can taste the flavors long after you are done smoking, a final cigar of the day. The cigar smoked perfectly in this third, offering a dark ash that is razor sharp with the burn line and very sturdy. The cigar didn't put itself out in this third, and the smoke was thick and aromatic. The strength of the cigar in this third was still around medium-full, and as to be expected the flavors were intense. The flavors were very similar to that of the first third, but when you are picking up tons of rich earth, cocoa, coffee beans, leather, oak and spice in a cigar, do you really want or need anything else?

As the cigar comes to a close I find myself wondering why I did not have it in my Top 25 Cigars of 2011. I could list tons of answers, and I imagine you all could, but all I can say is that I am sorry Alan Rubin and Alec Bradley Cigars. The final third is very similar to what I was getting in the first two thirds in terms of flavor and strength, well actually every category, and that is a good thing. This is a cigar that is consistently great in terms of flavors, it has a consistent strength of being medium-full, and always smokes well. I really love all the rich, dark and complex flavors in the cigar, and they really play off one another so well. I will say that this third really showed a lot more coffee, cocoa, rich earth and oak notes rather then a lot of spice and leather notes and it had that long finish. When I smoked the cigar down to the nub it was still burning cool, and leaving a great dark gray ash, a terrific cigar.      
Prensado by Alec Bradley
It is hard not to really love the Prensado line by Alec Bradley Cigars, and I always recommend the smoke to guys looking around a humidor. I find it to be my personal favorite of all the Alec Bradley smokes, and one of my favorite cigars regardless of brands. The cigar is always made very well, and always provides great flavors. If you by some chance have not smoked this cigar then you need to buy some right away and experience what a great cigar is. The Churchill vitola is fabulous, but I prefer the Corona Gorda or Gran Toro vitola. I would give the Corona Gorda vitola a 96, the Gran Toro a 94, and I give this cigar a 93. All the vitolas in the line are very similar in terms of great flavors, but what it comes down to is personal preference in cigar size. This is a great cigar for the summertime on a warm evening. You can sit out on the porch drinking a nice red or mojito, and smoke a great cigar. Congratulations Alec Bradley Cigars on being the Number 1 Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado.