The Alec Bradley Sanctum uses tobacco from four different countries to deliver an experience which is fairly unique in the Alec Bradley catalogue. Whereas most cigars in the brand’s catalogue have an earthy flavor profile, this one is distinctly different. It was developed under the direct supervision of executive vice president Ralph Montero. The name “Sanctum” is meant to indicate that this is a cigar which is best enjoyed in solitude. An experience with Sanctum is a way of “getting away from it all.” Does it live up to its name? Let’s find out.
“Everything’s bigger in Texas.” So goes the saying, and it’s certainly what inspired Alec Bradley to name this massive 7 x 70 monster of a cigar the “Texas Lancero.” Why create such a huge cigar to begin with? According to sales representative Phil Kanaby, it’s what buyers were demanding. Let’s see what it’s like to smoke such a massive cigar.
The Alec Bradley Tempus Maduro utilizes the same delicious blend of fillers as the original Tempus and amps up the flavor with a San Andres Maduro wrapper. The wrapper leaf is the color of dark chocolate and flecked with a few veins. An ornate purple, silver, and gold band is the perfect accent to the stunning wrapper leaf. The length of the five-inch stick is mostly plump with a few noticeable soft spots. The cap is thick and neatly mounted. It cuts cleanly with my Colibri V Cutter.
Released in 2011, the Alec Bradley Black Market cigars use a blend of tobaccos from four different countries. However that’s not all… the cigars only contain visos and ligeros (no seco leaves are used in this blend). The Black Market cigars come in boxes of 22 that look like old cargo crates and are available in the following sizes:
Robusto 5 1/4 x 52; Toro 6 x 50; Churchill 7 x 50; Torpedo 6 1/8 x 54; and Gordo 6 x 60.
The new Alec Bradley Nica Puro cigars are the first Nicaraguan puros launched by the company. For the more novice smoker, as the name suggests, they are comprised completely of tobacco gown in Nicaragua.
Readers of my reviews might recall that I have not been a fan of Alec Bradley cigars. I wasn’t particularly fond of the Prensado where I completely disagreed with the “Cigar of the Year” distinction it had received from Cigar Aficionado magazine and I was just as unimpressed with the Black Market that I also reviewed for this site.
However, as a lover of cigars and always willing to try the latest product I decided to pick up a couple of the firm’s newest release, the Nica Puro. I decided to give it a whirl because as of late I have enjoyed the tobacco coming out of Nicaragua.
Given the high honor of Cigar Aficionado’s 2011 #1 Cigar of the Year, the Alec Bradley Prensado line could easily be considered an “overlooked” brand until the beginning of 2012. No, I certainly do not agree with most of the C.A. Top 25 choices however every now and then they do strike a gem (but don’t rate it high enough). However, I can actually say I was pretty excited to get this long Churchill lit up. Let’s see how she did…
A little back history on the Alec Bradley brand. Formed in 1996, the Alec Bradley Cigar Company is named after owner Alan Rubin’s two sons, Alec and Bradley. The Prensado brand hit the markets in 2009, just two years after the infamous Tempus line. The cigars are rolled at the Raices Cubanas Factory in Danlí, Honduras and are available in six different vitolas all packaged in boxes of 20.
Introduced in 2011, the Alec Bradley Black Market line is handmade in Danli, Honduras and sports a Jalapa-grown Nicaraguan wrapper "cured to a dark, shimmering patina". The cigar is a blend of Honduras and Panama-grown Jamastran tobaccos.
Any cigar enthusiast knows that Cigar Aficionado magazine has become the cigar industry’s standard when it comes to cigars. Cigar smokers and manufacturers alike refer to it as the bible when it comes to the cigar lover’s lifestyle and culture. A high rating in this publication can make your sales soar, while at the same time negative feedback can often leave your cigars collecting dust on the back shelf of the walk-in humidor.
Perhaps no list is as eagerly awaited each year than their list of the year’s best cigars. One cigar gets to be crowned “Cigar of the Year” and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been making it a point to ensure that I get my hands on the number one so that I can see for myself what the hype is about. On some occasions I had already smoked their top rated cigar while on others I hadn’t. The last cigar to be crowned Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year was the Alec Bradley Prensado. Many ‘aficionados’ found this selection surprising/controversial. In fact, I had never paid much attention to this cigar before, having tasted some of Alec Bradley’s other offerings and not being too pleased with them. However, because this cigar won 2011’s cigar of the year, I was compelled to give it a go. I often agree with the magazine’s overall impressions. While I may not think as highly or as lowly as they do in some of their ratings, usually, I can agree on a good smoke or a bad one only disagreeing with the rating itself. Can we really crown something “the best” given that taste is so subjective?
Needless to say, the winning cigar, especially if it is a non-Cuban, can pretty much be assured of selling out their supply in short order. Cuban cigars are different because they cannot be purchased in the United States, one of the biggest markets for the aforementioned publication.
Having set my eyes on the Prensado, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one during my frequent visits to the United States. Thankfully I live a short drive to the border and normally pick up a few non-Cuban cigars when I cross the bridge. Living in Canada, the demand for non-Cuban cigars is not that great but we also have to contend with some hefty tobacco taxes. I was uneasy about spending over $20.00 one of these cigars here in Canada so I waited until one of my trips to the U.S. to pick up a stick.
I picked one up in early February, paying $10.75 for it. Buying them by the box will save on the per-cigar price, a practise that is against the law here in Canada. That is, you cannot offer a discount if you buy the box but instead must pay the actual cigar price multiplied by the number of sticks.
With all that said and out of the way, the other night was a perfect mild evening with little to no humidity and no breeze. It was the perfect outdoor condition to enjoy a cigar, and a Churchill at best given that I would need some time to get through this 7 inch smoke. Therefore, enough rambling... time to dig into the review. Is the reigning champion worthy of the its title?