One of my local liquor stores recently put in a proper, stand-in humidor. They had some problems initially that had to be repaired, so I stayed away for a while, avoiding cracked and peeling cigars (shudder!) They have repaired it now, however, so it was time to go back and see what they had on offer.
I guess they must have ordered in some Alec Bradley Black Market “Filthy Hooligans” for St. Patrick’s Day, and they had about half a box left. These looked distinctly different from the Filthy Hooligans that Steven Umbrello reviewed some time ago. It wasn’t entirely a green candela wrapper; it was a barber pole, alternating green Honduran candela and Nicarguan Jalapa Maduro wrappings, with an Ecuadoran Sumatran binder and long fillers from Honduras and Panama. It was rolled by Alan Rubin and only 2000 boxes were made. Visually interesting and inviting! Quite a pretty cigar, really. I smoked a Toro (6 inches by 50 ring gauge.)
Visuals aside, the question remained as to whether it was a gimmick, or whether that alternating striping that took advantage of the natural barber-pole wrap of a cigar had any real effect on flavour, or the experience of smoking the cigar.
The wrapper note, as I peeled it open, was distinctly of chocolate. Maybe even After Eights — a thin square mint and chocolate candy that Canadians often pick up for the winter holidays. It was like the depth of chocolate, except there was something light and fresh about it too.
The pack was about medium-firm, more pliable than a lot of what I’ve been smoking lately. I find that an easier draw, so I was looking forward to it.
That pretty green-and-brown double cap demanded a punch, as opposed to more aggressive forms of clipping. I think you can even see the punch-sized bevel that almost seemed to outline where I should cut. It punched evenly and cleanly, even with my sadly-dull punch that desperately needs to be replaced, leaving a pretty impression filled with brown fillers. So extra points for construction quality!
Toasting the foot produced a subtle scent, with little I could discern outside of the cedar spill I used to light it. This might be a good cigar for the mother-in-law’s house, because she’s unlikely to notice an overwhelming odour. I found this a bit off-putting myself; I’m a Maduro girl, because I like cigars that are toothy and flavourful. Kind of like my coffee and my scotch.
But the first draw put my fears to rest. It was creamy, astringent, and pleasantly green – fresh like green grass, perhaps a bit mossy, with a subtle coffee undertone. Probably this would make an excellent pairing for a mossy Isle scotch (just to thoroughly offend everybody!) I found it produced a lovely abundance of delicious smoke, so there was absolutely no shortage of flavour to sample. Frankly, delicious!
The first third continued in this pleasant vein for a consistent 45 minutes. I found the burn to be a little lopsided if I wasn’t careful, but I was able to mitigate that by turning the cigar frequently and not leaving it to sit, ignored, in the ashtray. It also ashed easily, so be warned if you’re smoking it on the go or in a flammable space.
I was surprised, based on the prolific smoke, that the second third lasted 50 minutes. It was not as overwhelmingly green. I began to taste the maduro wrapper, which was subtle and earthy. It made a great contrast!
The last third took about 45 minutes. As the smoke progressed, I could really taste the earthiness of that Jalapa Maduro and the Sumatran binder. This is a cigar for druids or elves; it’s all about earth and green growing things! It was fresh, light-tasting, and not overwhelming. I found it good with both tea and coffee, and also with smokey BBQ chips (this is probably more information than I ought to share about my morning habits, but it’s honest.)
The Filthy Hooligan blended nicely into a textured, earthy finish with lots of subtleties. I know that Steven wrote of construction problems near the end, but mine smoked down to an almost embarrassingly-small nub with no troubles.
I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a cigar so much in a long time! Visually striking, tasty and appealing at every level, and well-made, with an unusual flavour profile that keeps the discerning cigar aficionado guessing!
This is not a cheap cigar; you will have to pay for quality. However, I think it’s worth the investment! You can pick up a box of 22 at Cigars International for $179.99 USD, or $151.95 USD at Neptune Cigars (and you can get a single there for $7.65 USD.) Apparently they’re also available in a “Shamrock” version with three different wrappers!
And that’s a lady’s perspective!