Origin : Honduras
Format : Torpedo
Size : 6 1/8 x 54
Wrapper : Nicaragua Jalapa (Colorado Maduro)
Filler : Honduras and Panama grown Jamastran tobaccos
Binder : Sumatra (Grown in Equador)
Price : ~$8 each
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.
Appearance : Rating:
As is the trend lately with cigar companies, packaging and marketing seems to be the name of the game. It is often said we eat with our eyes first (all in the presentation) and today’s non-Cuban cigar market is infiltrated with sexy packaging in the hopes of luring buyers. While I am not a fan of over top packaging but care more for the product itself, I cannot utterly dismiss it when it comes to rating appearance. This cigar is packaged beautifully with a nice looking paper sheath around the cigar stamped with the manufacturer and the brand along with a matching band on the cigar. No glue is used on the sheath so it slides right off. The band also came off with relative ease so as not to damage the cigar. The cigar is made exceptionally well and it shows in its appearance. Boxes come in “wooden crates” that look like weapon crates. I have to admit they look cool. The cigar itself offers a very attractive Colorado maduro wrapper which is inviting. The cigar has a beautiful sheen to the wrapper, minimal veins and nice tight seams. It really does look outstanding as does the packaging.
Construction : Rating:
The cigar held up well to my straight cut. For the most part it burned well and provided thick smoke output but it did need more than a couple touch ups to correct the burn and one re-light just past the halfway point. Smoke diminished in the second half compared to the first half. The ash was firm but did flake more than usual. For the most part it would hold for about an inch before falling off. The draw started off fine but seemed to open up a tad too much in the final third. It was packed well, firm to the touch and without noticeable soft spots.
Flavor : Rating:
This review might be a tad controversial only in the sense that I know there are a lot of Alec Bradley fans out there. Keep in mind that taste and flavor is purely subjective and no two palates are alike. I would be lying if I simply wrote a respectable review and feel that it is important to at least get my impression of the cigar written in an honest manner. Good or bad, I encourage anyone interested in the cigar who hasn’t tried it to at least give it a try. Don’t let my review of the cigar put you off on trying one if it is truly what you want to do. This is what makes the hobby fun: comparing each other’s experiences.
The pre-light aroma provided some cedar, mint, tea and earthy aromas. The pre-light draw was good and offered up earthy notes with a touch of peppery mint and some mustiness.
The cigar lit well and gave off some thick clouds of smoke. The flavors were a tad muted on lighting which was surprising given the pleasant aromas the cigar had when unlit. There was some mild pepper on the tongue but this was very subtle. The first flavors that hit me, in order, were must, wood, earth and a faint hint of tea on the finish. It had a long woodsy/musty finish with barely any spice. As I reached the end of the first third a little more pepper came into the flavor profile and while no particular flavour changes caught my attention during the first third, the peppery finish got noticeably longer as I smoked it. The spice wasn’t really “peppery” but more of a subtle background “spice”.
The draw gained a little more resistance as I approached the second third. The smoke remained thick but the smoke’s texture was quite dry, leaving no flavourful residue on my palate. The primary flavors remained earthy and woody with hints of unsweetened coffee and cocoa entering the profile here and there along with some bitter citrus flavors. I also picked up the occasional but very brief toasted nuts and leather. I did pick up some semi-sweet chocolate in the smoke near the halfway point but this was not very long lasting at all. While the cigar’s smoke did leave a slight residue on my palate at this stage of the cigar, overall it was quite dry. It was also a tad on the bitter side.
As I reached the halfway point, the cigar offered up pretty much the same flavors noticed in the first half. The sweetness was gone from the smoke and other than the transition to a more neutral smoke texture, the overall flavor profile remained the same. Strength was definitely there and although this cigar is marketed as medium strength, I would tend to lean to the stronger end. All in all, the flavors, while noticeable, were not that really enjoyable with a very noticeable mustiness and earthy profile dominating the cigar.
The final third offered more of the same. The smoke output decreased and the draw opened up a bit too much. The cigar became even more bitter as I approached the band. For the most part the flavors had absolutely no transition at all. I don’t have any particular problem with a one dimensional smoke if the flavors I am getting from a cigar are enjoyable. I cannot say that for the Black Market Torpedo. Perhaps a little age might help this cigar sweeten up a bit but for what I got out of my tasting, I was rather unimpressed and would rather spend my money elsewhere.
Value : Rating:
This cigar’s MSRP is $7.90. It comes in boxes of 22 and buying by the box will make the per/cigar price a bit lower. I have seen these retail online for between $7.50 to $9.00 with discounts given if bought by the box. Value is always a tough thing to rate. It’s hard to find any value in a cigar that I did not find enjoyable. I could only guess how the advertising, packaging and glitz adds to the cost of the cigar but for my money, there are many better tasting cigars out there in this price range. With the price of cigars rising, it’s getting hard to justify paying $8.00 for a cigar when the overall experience was poor. As such, I was compelled to rate the value of the cigar as I rated the flavor experience.
Overall Rating : Rating: (3.25)
I was really looking forward to trying this cigar. The fact it is blended with tobacco from 4 countries intrigued me and really sparked my curiosity to see how the tobacco from those 4 countries would marry with each other. To be quite frank, I question how popular this cigar (which reportedly sold out on release) would have been if not preceded by the AB Prensado cigar of the year award that pre-dated this.
I’ve been smoking cigars for over 20 years. No more than over the past few years have I noticed cigars marketing become more prevalent than it has today. From fancy creative packaging to all kinds of promotional events attached to releases. This cigar, with its wooden crate style box and extra protective sleeve is a prime example of additional costs that are passed on to the consumer. Even if only minimal, they do add to the price. There is nothing wrong with simply packing cigars in a cigar box and letting the taste of the cigar speak for itself. These little things annoy me because they ultimately impact the cost of the cigar and as smokers will note, this is becoming a more expensive hobby by the day. As companies jump over each other to release the next “big thing”, far too much money is spent (in my opinion) on marketing and fancy packaging when really, all the cigar smoker wants is a fine tasting cigar. However, it is the glitz and glamour that usually attracts one’s eye at the cigar shop and unfortunately, this sometimes gives a cigar a reputation it doesn’t deserve.
Like I’ve written in my other reviews, the fact that a cigar doesn’t change flavors, or remains one dimensional is not something to get overly worked up over so long as the flavors are enjoyable during your smoking experience. Where this cigar fails in my view is that while it remains one dimensional, I did not actually find the cigar’s flavour profile to be overly appealing or enjoyable. In fact had I not been smoking the cigar for the purpose of a review and taking notes while smoking it, I would probably have put it to rest a lot sooner than I did. The mustiness and dry flavors dominated the cigar and were not particularly enjoyable.