ALEC BRADLEY PRENSADO LOST ART ROBUSTO
Alec Bradley Cigar Co. has a well-deserved reputation for churning out hit after hit to satisfy their loyal fans. It’s due in no small part to the meticulous attention to detail of the brand’s founder, Alan Rubin. But it wasn’t a quick and easy journey. He joined the premium cigar industry in 1996 but stumbled to find his footing for a while. He had a line of bundle cigars made in the Dominican Republic by Henke Kelnrer of Davidoff that was good, and he introduced the industry’s first (and only) triangular pressed cigars. Around 2005, he was told of a great little factory in Honduras called Raices Cubanas and traveled to see what the hype was about. It was this trip that altered the course of his company and set them on the path towards greatness. In 2007, they launched the Tempus line and established themselves as a serious player in the game. Two years later, working with the same factory, Alec Bradley introduced Prensado. The cigar was named CA’s Cigar of the year, and their legacy had been cemented as a world class cigar maker. How do they follow up something like that? Very carefully. Which is why it took several years for the Prensado Lost Art to come to market.
The Alec Bradley Prensado Lost Art is Alan Rubin’s tribute to craftsmen and craftswomen in the premium cigar industry. While most industries have been taken over by automation and industrial technology, the premium cigar industry is different. Most premium cigars are made by hand, and about 300 hands touch the tobaccos from the time of planting the seeds until the finished products arrive in stores. It’s a decidedly analog industry and unique in the modern world. Following up the award winning Prensado line, the Prensado Lost Art follows a similar path and is made at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras using Nicaraguan and Honduran filler and double binder tobaccos. It is topped with an undisclosed but elegant Honduran-grown wrapper. Featuring flavors of cocoa, nuts, and dried fruits along with hints of cedar and citrus, the Prensado Lost Art is another excellent addition to the Alec Bradley portfolio.
ESPINOSA CREMA NO. 4
You could write volumes of prose on the long journey of what is now known as Espinosa Premium Cigars. None of it would be possible without the Alpha Dawg himself, Erik Espinosa. What a long, strange trip it’s been to get where he is today. To keep it short, he got his start in the industry as a cigar broker in southern Florida, and quickly developed a bug to become a brand owner. He first launched EO cigars with his close friend Eddie Ortega and had cigars made by Pepin Garcia in Nicaragua. When Garcia could no longer commit to producing their blends, the duo split. Erik formed Espinosa Premium Cigars and opened his own factory in Nicaragua called La Zona where many of his cigars are made today. There’s so much more to this story, but Erik is one of our favorite people in the industry- honest and trustworthy as the day is long. It’s one of the reasons his brand has developed a cult-like following. He says what he means and does what he promises.
The Espinosa Crema is an unusual cigar for the brand. While most of their portfolio consists of stronger cigars, the Crema is the first Espinosa with a Connecticut wrapper. Made in their La Zona factory located in the heart of Esteli, Nicaragua, the Espinosa Crema uses a blend of well-aged Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. It’s capped with a gorgeous, golden-colored Ecuadorian grown Connecticut wrapper. The blend is a solid mild-medium strength affair and features tasting notes of coffee, toasted almonds, and cream along with hints of delicate woods, black pepper, and orange citrus. It’s a stellar combination and a dynamite addition to the Espinosa Portfolio.
SOUTHERN DRAW KUDZU TORO
According to Southern Draw’s founder Robert Holt, It’s all about the people. Brand co-owner (and Robert’s lovely wife) Sharon extends the idea by highlighting the importance of cigar culture and its incredibly inclusive community. It’s like instant southern hospitality where people are accepting of just about anyone who sits down to enjoy a cigar beside them. As a fine “southern” lady and gentleman, this husband and wife team are always gracious, humble, and thankful to be part of a vibrant culture that takes its members from all walks of life and backgrounds. While Southern Draw is a relative newcomer to the premium cigar industry, they have quickly established themselves as a boutique producer with a focus on quality and flavor.
The Southern Draw Kudzu was the first blend they launched and quickly became a smash hit for the burgeoning company. It took time to develop and fine tune this blend with their manufacturing partner, AJ Fernandez. The Kudzu begins with choice Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos along with a Nicaraguan binder grown in Ometepe. Topping these tobaccos is a chocolate-brown Habano Oscuro wrapper from Ecuador.Medium to full in flavor, tasting notes include flavors of coffee, cocoa, toasted nuts with hints of brown sugar, pepper, and toffee. If you’ve been Southern Draw curious for a while, this is a great introduction to the line.
ROMEO Y JULIETA 1875 CONNECTICUT NICARAGUA TORO
One of the most recognized names in the cigar industry, Romeo y Julieta has a reputation to uphold. Typically, a Romeo y Julieta is a medium bodied experience that is always pleasant. When the brand decided to expand their portfolio with Connecticut Nicaragua, they decided to try something different, and a new chapter in the brand’s story began. To make this new Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua, the makers decided to use an all Nicaraguan blend to create a more richly flavored blend that stayed true to the brand’s identity while also appealing to a different base of aficionados. It was an instant success.
The Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua Toro is a different kind of Romeo y Julieta. The brand managers turned to the Plasencia family and their Nicaraguan factory to create this new generation of RyJ cigars. The Plasencias wasted no time and selected some stellar Nicaraguan filler and binder tobaccos. Here’s where things got interesting. They selected an unusual Connecticut seed tobacco shade-grown in Nicaragua for the wrapper. They nailed it, and the results speak for themselves. The blend features tasting notes of cedar and cream along with hints of vanilla, pepper, and citrus. The Romeo y Julieta 1875 Connecticut Nicaragua Toro is a solid medium-strength cigar with excellent construction and burns. If cigars like this are the future of Romeo y Julieta, count us in.
MONTECRISTO PLATINUM SERIES TORO
Montecristo is one of the most hallowed and recognized names in the world of premium cigars. With that kind of reputation and name recognition, introducing a new Montecristo requires not only careful planning, but a blend that continues to elevate the Montecristo brand to new heights. It’s this philosophy that drove Montecristo’s blenders to create the Montecristo Platinum Series. It is a cigar that honors the brand’s past triumphs and glory. How do they do this, you may ask? It’s no easy feat. In this case, they began searching their vast tobacco stores for leaves that are worthy to be included in the Montecristo Platinum Series of cigars.
The Montecristo Platinum Series is a surprisingly smooth and flavorful blend that delivers more than one would expect from this blend on paper. It begins with a blend of well-aged Dominican, Nicaraguan, and Peruvian fillers along with a Dominican binder. Topping this luxurious blend is a beautiful San Andrés Cubano wrapper. The Montecristo Platinum Series blend is exquisite and provides a rich, smooth, and sensual smoke. This special blend features tasting notes of cedar, leather, and nuts with hints of citrus, earth, and pepper.