Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alec Bradley Family Blend

Size: 5.5 X 50
Shape: Robusto, triple cap with pig tail
Origin: Honduras
Body: Medium
Wrapper: Honduran Criollo 98
Binder: Indonesian
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

Today was a mildly rainy day, excellent for reflection and a good cigar. I pulled out the Alex Bradley Family Blend from my queue of cigars to review, settled in my smoking chair next to a large open window, and set to it. Pre-light aroma hinted at sweet earth and cedar notes, the cut was smooth and devoid of crumbs, and the draw was open and hinted at a complex flavor profile.

When I put flame to the foot, I immediately tasted leather, pepper and cedar. The flavor quickly began to expand as sweet earth and rich compost flavors began to come into play. (The “compost” flavor is one I recently began to identify with the help of my buddy Buddha at Rocky’s. I’ve referred to this taste in the past as “mystery,” but am happy to have found an effective descriptive noun for this excellent flavor. Thanks Buddha!)

By the end of the first quarter, the rain had briefly abated, and the flavors had expanded further and mingled, incorporating the taste of coffee and toasted cream on the back of the tongue. The profile blended together so that each flavor was only barely discernable from the others as each took its subtle turn at the fore-front.

Throughout this experience, sweet earthen coffee and compost came forward most frequently. Gentle pepper notes drifted across my palate as the rain began to fall again, creating a soothing cacophony of sound while I experienced a delicious cacophony of taste.

Around the half way mark, the body and flavor of the cigar picked up in intensity as the rain on the trees outside did the same. It was like turning up the volume on my favorite music. This section of the smoke is what I would call the crescendo of the experience. Several minutes later, the cigar began to smooth into the finish and mellowed just slightly, splitting the difference between the intensity of the first half and the crescendo. The flavor profile of the cigar never really changed, only provided a shift in intensity which was extremely enjoyable.

As the cigar continued its long and satisfying finish, the rain petered out and left a quiet calm. Comfortable and dry inside, I continued to enjoy the flavor profile as it never let up or faltered until the very end when only the slightest hint of bitterness crept in.

I finally lay the nub to rest before it could burn my fingers, but found myself basking in the post rain atmosphere, enjoying the aroma left in the room, and wondering how many of these sticks I could fit into my humidor.

Presentation: 12/15 – An attractive black, red, and gold band. Simple and elegant.

Appearance: 10/15 – The smooth wrapper had an attractive dark brown color and an oily sheen. Two distinct veins were present and the seams of the wrapper were clearly visible. There was also a crack at the foot of the cigar before lighting.

Construction: 32/35 – The draw was excellent, the pack firm, and the burn consistent. This rating might have been slightly higher, except that the burn went from even to quite wavy at a few points during the smoke.

Flavor: 33/35 – Delicious and complex all the way through. The profile had a lot of depth to it that I really enjoyed. This didn’t warrant a higher rating because a slight bitter note crept in at the very end. It was, however, very slight.

Overall: 87/100 - The construction and flavor of the cigar carry a lot of weight with me, much more than the appearance and presentation, but the Alec Bradley Family Blend did lose some points in these two categories. If the appearance and presentation are everything to you, this may not be your smoke. If what you value is an incredible smoke at a steal of a price, this is your stick.

A note on the Family Blend by Alec Bradley:
Alec Bradley Family Blend cigars were created expressly for the fathers of the company's three principal executives, Alan Rubin (President), Ralph Montero (Vice President), and George Sosa (National Sales Director). Originally available in only one size, the cigars are rolled into a 50 x 5 ½ Robusto shape capped with a classic Cuban pigtail at the head. The cigars were presented in handsome chests of 50 cigars bearing the signatures of David Rubin, Miguel Montero and Reinaldo Sosa, respectively, but are now available in 5 packs and boxes of 20.

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