Alec Bradley Fine and Rare Torpedo (2012)

Last year Alec Bradley released the first edition of their ultra-premium limited edition cigar called “Fine and Rare”. Not realizing how popular or fast selling they’d be, I missed out. So when they released a second edition this year, I picked up the phone and called a retailer that I knew them in stock.

The blend of the Fine and Rare 2012 consists of an impressive ten different tobaccos, with all but the Honduran Trojes wrapper kept secret. The indications are that there are still two binders, but I can’t confirm that it’s Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco like the original release. (Even if that’s still the case, it’s likely that it’s not the same tobacco, as the blend is said to have been “tweaked” from the original.) What I can confirm is that it comes in a single torpedo vitola, in boxes of ten and retails for $16.50 a stick, plus applicable taxes, and mark-ups due to rareness.

That covers the basics. Now all that remains is to find out if it lives up to the hype, and if my box buy was a good call. Let’s find out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Unspecified (possibly Honduras and Nicaragua)
Filler: Unspecified (7 tobaccos)
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $16.50

The Pre-Smoke
Everything about the Fine and Rare 2012 looks top notch, from the impressive lacquered wood box with rounded edges to the massive band that looks more like a certificate of authenticity than a traditional cigar band. Once the cigar’s documentation has been removed, you can see the lighter brown wrapper underneath it has fine veins, in some cases sporadic tooth and a nice sheen.

The cigar also feels a little heavy for its size, and is very solidly packed. The wrapper’s aroma had the pronounced sweet raisin and dark fruit scent I often pick up at the foot of a cigar. The cold draw was on the tight side, but offered up similar raisin and dark fruit flavors.

The Burn
The burn was decidedly the least impressive part of the Fine and Rare experience. While I generally appreciate a slower burn, that appreciation fades when it seems to contribute to burn problems, as it appeared to do in this case. Somewhat irregular burn lines and intermittent relights made me wish it would pick up the pace a bit. Of course, attempts to smoke it faster resulted in less enjoyable flavors. Several sticks were marred by badly cracking wrappers, which in one case made last couple inches basically unsmokeable. They also had a tighter draw than I prefer, probably accentuated by the tapered head. In all the burn was decidedly less than ideal.

(Note: When I mention significant burn problems in my reviews, I frequently get comments about inadequate storage. These cigars were kept in a trusted humidor for about a month prior to this review. I smoked other cigars from this humidor during this time to test for possible issues and found none. Of course, I can’t speak to the storage conditions prior to my ownership. This isn’t my first rodeo.)

The Flavor
The first third had an impressive array of rich flavor, nuts, caramel, figs and spices dominated early. A little later, wood notes, paper and a rich sweet cream appeared.

The creaminess transitioned into butteriness early in the second third, and the spice component grew. As the cigar burned on, the fig element gave way to sweeter flavors of caramel and a candy sweetness that reminded me a little of butterscotch. Nuts and wood continued to be present, and pepper became more noticeable as it neared the final third.

The final third saw a brief return of the creaminess that appeared earlier. The profile of nuts, wood and pepper had savory and aromatic qualities that weren’t present before.

The Price
The price is outside my comfort zone, but it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable considering all the tobacco and effort that went into making the cigar. The price of last year’s Fine and Rare seems more ideal.

The Verdict
With the griping about the burn and the price, you might think the stage is set for a negative verdict. On the contrary. While it’s hard to to wholeheartedly endorse the cigar considering these factors, the rich complex flavors were delightful. (“Man this is really good” won out over “jeez, this is annoying.”) If I had to do all over again, I’m not sure I would have sprung for the box, but at the same time, I like the thought of having a few left for later. I’m not going to call this one box-worthy, but it’s not a cigar you should pass up given the opportunity. I don’t plan to buy more of this batch, but will seriously consider it next year if they release an easier-drawing parejo.

Liked It: Quite a bit, surprisingly.
Buy It Again: Maybe again next year.
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.