Kevin Godbee
In Part III and the conclusion of our interview with Alan Rubin, the President of Alec Bradley Cigars, we talked about industry challenges, such as the FDA threat and taxation.

We discussed the challenges that Alec Bradley faces as a company, and we learn about some of the real people, families and lives that are touched by this fast growing, popular boutique cigar company.

Alan describes an fascinating method on how to determine the amount of flavor a wrapper contributes to a cigar. It’s a trick question, but he got it right. You’ll hear some interesting information on the Maxx cigar, and find out what Alan’s favorite cigars is. Sort of. He had a great answer to the question, so watch for it near the end.

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By Kevin Godbee
Here’s Part 2 of the full interview with Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigars.
In this installment, we talk about the origins of the company during the cigar boom of the ’90′s, and how that was ironically more of a challenge than an opportunity.

Alan goes into the quite interesting detail on the Fine & Rare Cigar, which has 10 different tobaccos in it. It’s a great story and a great cigar. While talking about it, he mentions that the Fine & Rare has a nicotine-kick, and I reply that I am a nicotine light-weight. The cigar is amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed, but I did not get a nicotine-buzz, which is good for me.

Watch what happens as I try to get detailed information from Alan about the types of tobaccos and their origins in the Fine & Rare Cigar. We also talk about the evolution of the business and the challenges presented in today’s market environment.

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By Kevin Godbee
I first met Alan Rubin in June 2008 at a special event for the unveiling of the Tempus Cigar.
The affair took place at the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino’s shopping campus – specifically at the jazz club Jazziz in Hollywood, Florida. Jazz Artist Jesse J. performed at the soirĂ©e, there was food and drink, and of course, amazing Tempus cigars. My friend and business associate at the time, the late Gary J. Arzt conducted an impromptu video interview with Alan, which we published on the cigar e-zine I owned at the time. Three months later I was bought out and signed a 3-year non-compete.

Well … three years went by much faster than I thought and I am pleased to have our "Cigar Cool" interview column’s second feature focus on conversations with Alan Rubin. Alan is of course, the President and Founder of Alec Bradley Cigars. For those that may not know, the company is named for Alan’s two sons. When he started the company in 1996, they were approximately 3 and 1 years of age, or less. Now, they are 19 and 16 years old. How time flies when you’re having fun.

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By Kevin Godbee
Here’s another nice refreshing example of Alec Bradley Cigars being real, and not jumping on the "Hyperbole Bandwagon" of "Top Secret Triple, Quadruple, Quintuple, Sextuple, Septuple … Fermentation. The leaf in the Tempus Cigar does have a unique fermentation method applied to it, and the real story is interesting enough without adding layers of whimsy to it.

When it comes to fermentation of cigar tobacco, typically there are two fermentations done. These can vary in temperature ranges and lengths of time depending on the cigar maker. It is unusual to have a third fermentation, and many times when this is claimed, it is really more a start of the aging process that comes after fermentation, than an actual third fermentation.

Here’s a short 1:45 minute video clip of Alan Rubin describing how they developed a special, new, unique 2-stage fermentation that is exclusive to the Tempus Cigar. Below the video are links to related items.

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By Kevin Godbee
Yesterday we learned a neat trick from Alan Rubin on how to do a test to find out how much the wrapper leaf adds to the flavor of a cigar.
Today, we have a great industry-insider secret that the vast majority of cigar smokers probably do not know about.

First, a few obvious things. Cigars are all natural, handmade products, therefore, no two are exactly alike. While great care and expertise are utilized to produce consistent crops, it is usually not 100% possible. Each year, there will be variations in the leaf, even when it is the same seed grown in the same field. Because of changes in climate – temperature, humidity, rainfall, and the amount of sunlight, plus the evolution of the soil contents – the leaf will vary each year.

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By Kevin Godbee
An often debated topic amongst cigar enthusiasts is how much flavor the wrapper leaf contributes to a cigar’s overall flavor profile.
You can ask 10 different people and get 10 different answers.

During my interview with Alan Rubin, the President of Alec Bradley Cigars, Alan once again demonstrated his excellent knowledge and experience. I was actually leading into a question about how the Maxx Connecticut was different from the original Maxx, and mentioned this frequently argued topic, and that I was NOT going to ask him about it since it is really a trick question. That however, lead to Alan telling me about a neat trick that we’ll call "The Wrapper Test". Check it out in the 1:50 minute video outtake below. We’ll have the discussion on the two versions of the Maxx in the main interview next week, and a brief discussion of the Maxx Cigar in the next outtake.

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By Kevin Godbee
Have you heard about the Alec Bradley "Fine & Rare" Cigar?
It is certainly aptly named, and I was lucky enough to get to smoke one during my interview with Alan Rubin. I smoked a Black Market first, which I love, and we just rated a 92 – (Black Market Cigar Review). Then Alan generously presented me with a Fine & Rare. As you can imagine, there are times when extraordinary crops of tobacco are harvested, and they are so special that they cannot be re-produced, hence they will not become an ongoing readily available and widely distributed product. Couple this with extremely fine tobaccos that only produced a small yield, and then you definitely have something rare and special.

The Fine & Rare has 10 different tobaccos in it. There is a wrapper, a double binder and 7 filler tobaccos. The rest of the story on the tobaccos is a closely guarded secret. There are only two rollers making the Fine & Rare. They are segregated away from the rest of the production and the standards for finished product are resolute.

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By Kevin Godbee
One of the really cool things about Alan Rubin, the President of Alec Bradley Cigars,
is that he doesn’t have the "Rock Star" Affliction that some people in the cigar industry seem to have. I’m not going to name names, but you might know what I’m talking about. Some guys act like they think they’re Steven Tyler, Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg, or Eminem just because they work at a cigar company.

Here’s a secret they haven’t figured out – you are actually cooler when you don’t go overboard trying to act cool. During my interview with Alan, we had some very bright lights, almost right in his face. You can’t tell that from the video, but trust me, they were there.

I said to him; "I’m sorry about the bright lights, but that’s what happens when you’re a rock star." He immediately retorted; "I’m NOT a rock star. I have way more singles and doubles than homeruns, and that’s ok".

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By Kevin Godbee
The Alec Bradley Black Market Cigar is one of my favorite new cigars to come out in 2011. It has a nice rich flavor, but is not overpowering. From the moment you toast the foot, the aroma is so delicious that you know this is going to be a great smoke. The Black Market is one of those cigars that I can smoke until my fingers burn. While I was visiting with Alan Rubin at Alec Bradley Cigars recently, we talked about this cigar and I learned two interesting things … 1) It has Panamanian tobacco, which you don’t often find being used in most cigars, and 2) it was 5-years in the making.

Alan tells of how they had the tobacco years ago, but weren’t sure how best to blend with it. They didn’t want to just throw in some Panamanian tobacco for the heck of it. They wanted to understand the tobacco, and it also needed some time to age. Well, five years later, and we have what I feel is a masterpiece of a cigar, the Alec Bradley Black Market. Here’s a brief 48-second video clip where we talked about it. There’s a link below the video to our review where the Black Market scored a 92!

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By Kevin Godbee
In Part III and the conclusion of my interview with Christian Eiroa of Camacho Cigars,
I asked how things have changed since Davidoff bought the company in 2008. Davidoff is a large corporate entity and Camacho has always been a nimble entrepreneurial competitor. Just like in previous parts of the interview, Christian was quite frank about the situation.

The greatest threat to the cigar industry has always been the legislative landscape with taxes and smoking bans, with S-CHIP being one of the worst ever. You will hear Christian’s views in this area, and he gives his controversial opinion that so many cigars all taste the same because everyone is using the "Habano-type wrappers" these days. We discussed new Camacho cigars, smoked a couple of prototypes and  the Room 101 brand.

You will also find out the answer to the burning questions; 1) What’s your favorite cigar?  2) Cello on or off? and 3) Drink accompaniment?

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