Last year’s Alec Bradley Fine & Rare release was a serious highlight smoking experience for me, and I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be another version this year. I think Alec Bradley first announced it sometime in the spring, so it’s been a long wait but they are finally here. Our always-attentive and very friendly Alec Bradley rep is quite familiar with my affinity for the first edition of the Fine & Rare, and he was gracious enough to hook me up with one of his very limited supply of samples. I couldn’t get it out of the cellophane fast enough and I fired it up while we had a nice chat, switching back & forth effortlessly from business to personal stuff.
I’m not here to tell you about my chat with our Alec Bradley rep though, I know you want to read about the cigar! Pre-light, the appearance is impressive. The wrapper is a lighter color, like coffee with lots of cream, and the aroma is rich and earthy. The band is the same as last year’s, thick and reminding me of a postage stamp. The signatures, rolling dates, and production batch info is very cool. I struggled removing the band last year, this time before lighting I slid it off and it came off easily. I gave it a quick slice with my Xikar and fired it up.
Initial puffs delivered a light, airy smoke with a complex array of flavors. The smoke is thick and creamy, and fun to play with as you puff away. Most prominent flavors are cedar, earth, and leather, with a variety of other notes drifting around in the background. This cigar is comprised of 10 different tobaccos, 1 wrapper, 2 binders and 7 different filler leaves, so it’s no surprise that there is a whole lot of different stuff going on in the flavor department. Razor sharp burn and a clean, easy draw make this one a pleasure to smoke, and the decadent flavors exude an overall feeling of luxury. As I get into the 2nd third, the flavors are beginning to evolve. I’m getting a distinct note of sweetness, with a little chocolate and an almost buttery flavor in the background. This is where the cigar went from good to great for me, and I started to pay less attention to the business matters at hand and more attention to the Fine & Rare. The strength picked up just a bit here, initially I would have put it in the mild-medium category, but now it’s edging into medium-bodied territory. The initial dominant cedary earthy flavor is still very much in play, but the more subtle background compliments are ducking in and out, weaving around, and keeping me enthralled with each puff.
Business matters finished, our rep made his leave to continue his travels, but I stayed in the lounge to continue smoking. I enjoyed this one right down to the end, it burned cool and smooth to the nub and left a sublime aftertaste behind, reminding me of the wonderful smoke I’d just experienced. The complex variety of flavors continued to evolve and change right down until the end, which made this one an absolute pleasure for the entire duration of the smoke. Overall, last year’s Fine & Rare had a pretty tough act to follow, and I might say I preferred the 2011 version. However, this year’s Fine & Rare is certainly no slouch, and it stands on its own easily as one of the elite cigars released this year. I think this one is going to be enjoyed most by smokers who aren’t looking for a powerhouse blend, smokers who appreciate more subtle flavors and nuances that are generated by this complex blend of a variety of different and unique tobaccos.