That’s More Like It! (Alec Bradley Black Market Select Robusto)

2015-03-19 15.27.13As you know, a few days ago I had a misadventure with an Oliva Master Blend III.  I am sorry to say that the taste of the acrid oils did not leave my mouth for several minutes.  Finally I concluded that the only way I was going to get rid of it was to smoke another cigar.  So I went to the other stick I had in my portable leather cigar case: one of three Alec Bradley Black Market Selects we’d been saving.

I was really excited!  Alan Rubin is one of the most highly respected – and highly rated – cigar blenders working in today’s market.  I had not yet experienced an Alec Bradley cigar and was ready to give this highly-touted blend a whirl.

Said Cigars International:

The latest release from Alec Bradley cigars, Black Market, was launched at the 2011 IPCPR tradeshow (a festival for industry geeks). This 4-country blend is jam-packed with Jamastran, Honduras and Panamanian long-fillers, capped off by a lively Sumatra binder and powerful Nicaraguan wrapper leaf. Upon first lighting, plumes of smoke fill the air as the blend burns with purpose. Unique and satisfying arrays of flavors greet your palate, as spice, pepper, and peaty undertones finish the ensemble. With a long dry finish, and slow burn, the Black Market cigar is a finger burner.

Cigar Aficionado gave it a 90 rating, and said that it was:

A thick log of a cigar with a full, even draw. Herbal notes of juniper become sweet and cedary, taking on touches of nut and candied orange peel.

2015-03-19 15.30.49Well, that was a lot of hype.  Would the experience live up to it?

I would like to note that I was especially impressed with the presentation.  The Black Market outside label is composed of a thick scrapbooking style of matte finish paper.  It tears off in a satisfying way; which is good because the matte finish means it doesn’t slip off the cigar easily and you have to tear it.  This leaves a thin stylish strip with the essential information underneath.  It’s right in the middle of the cigar, where the top of the outside label would be, and it served as a good marker to gauge smoking time.

The Colorado maduro wrapper was a bit rough-looking, but I liked the unusual and stylish wrap.  It also had a triple cap, so I had to try punching it.  It punched as easily and cleanly as I could have hoped.  The wrapper note and the pre-light draw were earthy, with a touch of pepper.  I was concerned because it had aspects that were similar to the Oliva I’d been smoking just before. Was there something wrong with my leather cigar case?

2015-03-19 15.31.13The cigar lit easily and cleanly, and the initial draws were peaty and peppery, as suggested; and the smoke did indeed billow around the car as promised.  I was delighted; it seemed like this was what the Master Blend has been trying to do!  I was reminded of a good scotch.  There was also a pleasant clay element and a dash of something spicy that tingled on my lips.  It took about twenty-five minutes to get close enough to the small paper wrapper that I was afraid of it lighting on fire and I peeled it off.  I found it thoroughly delicious!

The second third did indeed engage a few citrus elements, and the clay element began leaving an oily residue on my lips.  Quite enjoyable, subtle and sophisticated, and none of that “second third bitterness.”  It lasted a little over half an hour.

2015-03-19 15.30.41The final third was marked by an easing-off of the clay and peat, and an increase of that spice element; nutmeg, perhaps?  The only drawback is that it went out once, and so I had to clip and relight.  I anticipated that this might be a problem, since it was a fairly firm pack and a thick cigar (52 ring gauge,) so I clipped the end with the single-guillotine cutter that came with my cigar case; so the final third only lasted until I got to my door, about fifteen minutes after that.  It wasn’t quite a stub yet, but it went out closely enough to the stub that there wasn’t room left to relight it, and I made offering to the land-wights by tossing it into my household fire-pit.

So, is it worth the hype?  If you like a strong peaty Colorado maduro type of cigar (like I do), it’s outstanding.  If that’s not your speed, you’ll hate it.  It’s kind of like scotch, really, or Guinness; if you’re not geared to love it, you won’t.

Everything I came to expect from the attention it got.  But, it did go out a couple of times, and thus it prevented me from enjoying the full extent of a cigar and offered me only a few minutes over an hour worth of smoke for its size.

So, in this lady’s perspective:

4 stars

You can get it at Cigars International for $33 USD for a five-back (not the best price point, but not a bad one) or $136.99 USD for a box of 22; and for a few cents more at Thompson Cigar.

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