Review: Alec Bradley Black Market
Veteran’s Day. A time to celebrate our brave, our military. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a cigar that was a symbol of my burning patriotism (I really wanted a CAO America), but this Alec Bradley Black Market was burning a hole in my humidor and afterall, Alan Rubin is one helluva model ‘murican. I picked up the Black Market from a local humidor because it was on my “to smoke” list, but also because there was a vibe to it I liked. The Black Market received great reviews including a 90 from Cigar Aficionado and the buzz going around was a bit too much to ignore, and well, I just had to have it. Simple as that. So, on this Saturday I put up my feet, opened my journal and lit up this cigar I had heard much about. This is my second smoke from the Alec Bradley stable (you can read my review of the Prensado here) and look forward to many more.
Alan Rubin’s Alec Bradley cigars are one of the newer kids on the block kicking things off back in the mid 90s. His timing was awful as the cigar boom was in full bust mode by the end of the decade. But, like many he buckled down, remained true to his purpose and passion and in the end, persevered. That’s good news to us silly cigar smokers. In near ruin after his launch of “Bogie’s Stogies”, a niche brand sold through golf course pro shops, Rubin teamed up with Ralph Montero in 2000 and began to turn things around. Their first cigar, with the help of legendary Davidoff master, Henkie Kelner, was “Occidental Reserve.” The following project that deserves mention is the cigar called “Trilogy”. The Trilogy was a triangle-shaped cigar that Rubin thought would entice cigar smokers with a new, unique shape. Rubin also eschewed box press cigars, as do I, but he reasoned that by creating Trilogy in a 50 size ring gauge, he could replicate the popular 46 ring gauge selling at the time but with a little more weight. What many do not realize is the name ‘Alec Bradley’ didn’t become the official brand until 2007 with the launch of the highly acclaimed Tempus brand. After launching a number of successful additional brands, Rubin and Alec Bradley were finally rewarded with Prensado, Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the year for 2011.
Did you know: The name ‘Alec Bradley’ is coined after the names of Alan Rubin’s two sons.
- Profile: Medium-Full
- Vitola: Torpedo
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.1″/ 54
- Purchased: Local Humidor
- Origin: Honduras
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Sumatra
- Filler: Panama, Honduras
- Cutter: Xikar Xi1
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price Range: $8- $9
The band of the cigar is en vogue with the rest of the industry, utilizing long elaborate bands to emphasize branding along with more elaborate artwork. This is also practical because it also serves as additional protection along with the cellophane. The Black Market comes in 7 vitolas from the 42 ring gauge “Punk” to the lead pipe 60 of the Gordo and “Chunk.” The banding is simple with black and gray colors, stenciled lettering and a dingy background all eluding to the dark and mysterious nature of the black-market underworld. The cigar is nice and solid. The girth of the 54 ring gauge is uniformly very firm from head to foot. The seams are semi visible but do not detract, is a bit toothy and shows two major veins through its length. The Nicaraguan wrapper is a luscious reddish-brown, almost a burled, dark rust color. Nice. The head features a shallow-tapered torpedo cap.
The shaft offers mouth-watering caramel and raisin aromas and the foot is chocolatey with a whiff of mint. The cold draw is decent with just a ¼” cut and serves up a delicious cocktail of hay, chocolate and raisins. Man, I can’t wait to light this thing. The initial draws are awash with dark fruit, leather and hay against a nice earthy profile. The finish is on the nutty side. I notice a very light spice which adds to the deliciousness factor. As the first third rolls on, I begin to get some nice pepper but it’s very buttery. The initial hay becomes a little woody and there are distinct hints of caramel, particularly on the finish and retrohale. This is lip-smackin’ good. The burn so far is perfect and the char line remains even 360 degrees.
There is a definite transition into the middle third that offers an uptick in the spiciness. The nutty finish has become more woody and the Black Market comes at me with more strength and body. The earthiness has a toastyness to it now and on the retrohale there is a hint of raisins. The balance is nicer now. As she burns, the wood notes become more defined and an oakiness permeates the palate. This flavor palette along with the sweet taste of the wrapper makes this my favorite part of the Black Market.
The finale of the Black Market is highlighted by a very oaky profile. There is a sweetness to it as well as a hearty espresso finish. The pepper that disappeared in the middle third is back ringing in the full strength profile of this bad boy. Still there is this bready quality to the finish which is nice and does sweeten the mix just a tad. The burn is still awesome but the char line does seem to wanna dip in certain areas at times. It tries to correct but just doesn’t quite get it done requiring a touch up here and there. Overall, in this area, it does better than most.
Wow. This is a phenomenal cigar and one that I will definitely be smoking again. The two things I like right out of the box is 1) it’s a torpedo and 2) its a medium-full profile. The fact the Black Market torpedo price range is between $8 and $9 is also a plus. Just a solid, go-to cigar. Hidden beneath its rather basic, but nicely thematic, artwork is a real jewel. The 54 ring gauge is really a good size. Next time, I’ll trim a bit more off to improve the draw, but I’m afraid this may dilute the flavors. We’ll see. The quality is there and its a fine roll with superb construction. I think the Sumatra binder is a nice touch. It’s not going to make Cigar of the Year, but then again it wasn’t intended to. This is a solid go-to smoke and a good one to share, which I think would make Alan Rubin very happy – In Fumo Pax!