Monday, July 6, 2009

My Weekend Cigar: Alec Bradley Select Cabinet Reserve Robusto

During the recent Famous Smoke Shop Cigar Expo 2009, I received a Robusto sample from Alec Bradley's new Select Cabinet Reserve cigars courtesy of Alec Bradley Cigars prez, Alan Rubin. Having spent the entire July 4th weekend down the shore, I don't usually like to smoke anything on the beach that I plan to review, since it's always blustery and I'm often distracted. So I waited until I got home last night when I could light-up my "SCR" in privacy out on my deck under an almost full moon without interruption.

Besides the elegant band at the head, plus a second band at the foot, the SCR dons a beautiful, dark Honduran Trojes wrapper, similar to that used on the award-winning Alec Bradley Tempus cigars line and several other cigars the company produces. (I'm really starting to appreciate the flavor properties of this wrapper leaf, too.) As for the cigar's construction, it was well-packed with an attractive cap that clipped off perfectly exposing just the right amount of tobacco at the head. I paired it with a glass of bitter lemon rather than my usual Port, which worked out quite well.

At first, I had some trouble lighting the cigar, since it appeared that there was a lot of ligero at the foot. So, short of scorching the poor thing to death, I let the cigar go as it was, and sure enough, all the tobacco took to an even burn within the first quarter inch forming a dark, firm gray ash. The first few puffs had a mellow, earthy, toffee-like flavor, and if I were to compare the smoke to real cream, it would be "heavy cream."

Based on my experience, the cigar falls into the medium to full range, with the needle pointing toward full. The smoke was predominantly earthy, woody, and in no way hot-peppery, with a "dark" sweetness throughout. Notes of coffee and sweet spices were whipped evenly into the mix making this one of the most well-balanced cigars I've smoked recently, too.

This is an very "full-flavored" cigar that's also extremely mellow. That seems hard to imagine, but the best way I can describe it is: you get all this dense flavor flowing into your mouth that melts like butter on the palate, leaving a long, chewy, and complex finish. This cigar was right in my wheelhouse. (I also found that letting this cigar rest a little longer between puffs made it that much more enjoyable.)

Due to a particularly stubborn ligero leaf in this particular sample, the cigar didn't burn as evenly as I expected. It wasn't off all that much to file a major complaint, but worth noting, and eventually it redeemed itself in the third act.

By comparison to other Alec Bradley cigars, the best way I could sum up the Select Cabinet Reserve would be: take the Alec Bradley Medalist, double the flavor and intensity of that cigar; toss in the best elements of Tempus, and you've got one helluva smoke. Comparisons aside, this new blend stands on its own, and I'm very curious to see how it will be received in a few weeks at IPCPR in New Orleans.

Here are my numbers:
Appearance: 10
Construction: 9
Burn: 7
Draw: 9
Aroma: 9
Flavor: 10
Final Score: 9.0

As always, your comments are welcome.

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