My next foray into the Alec Bradley lineup is the American Classic Blend, which is a Nicaraguan-made cigar meant to be reminiscent of the milder blends that used to be made in Tampa. The first thing that struck me was the overall appearance- a nice, satiny mousy-tan wrapper with a very attractive band. The wrapper, which is a Connecticut-seed leaf grown in Honduras, is almost veinless, and at first glance doesn’t even appear to have seams.
The rest of the cigar consists of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos, specially selected and aged for mildness and light body.
The construction, from a superficial viewpoint, is excellent. The wrapper looks so smooth, and the cigar is so uniformly firm, with a very nicely finished cap, that based upon appearance, this cigar, which should retail from about $5 upward (depending upon state and local tobacco taxes), looks much more expensive than it is.
The pre-light aroma is what I would expect from a cigar of this type- a combination of hay and a hint of compost. For many people, that may be somewhat unappealing, but to me, it’s a good sign of properly fermented tobacco. The pre-light draw shows sweet tobacco flavor with some nuttiness.
On initial light, the flavors, though subtle, come rushing out with decent complexity, incorporating leather, oak, sweet grass and herbs. The flavors were very well balanced, with minimal spice. The spice that I could detect was more like a whisper of allspice than any kind of pepper.
During the first inch, the burn became slightly crooked, but that’s not uncommon in the early stages of many cigars; it evened out very quickly, and remained razor-sharp for the rest of the stick.
The early flavor was mild to medium, but approached a more solid medium after the midway point, with the woodiness becoming more like cedar than oak. At the same time an herbal, dry mint undertone creeps in, making for a very pleasant natural transition into the last third or so. As the cigar goes into that homestretch, the woodiness becomes more intense while still maintaining a nice balance with the sweeter notes. At this stage, a bit of anise cropped up, which melded well with both the core woodiness and the sweet herbal character, making this a very harmonious flavor profile.
Although room note (aroma) with cigars tends to be a bit more subjective than even the taste, I found it to be mild and pleasant, without any evidence of harshness.
Another item of note is the really firm, light grey ash. It clung on tenaciously for well over an inch. While the length of the ash isn’t necessarily an indication of how well a cigar is made, a long, firm ash does speak well for the quality of construction.
It’s intriguing to see the evolution of Alec Bradley. They started with fairly priced cigars and some innovative ideas while producing decent smokes. As time progressed, they have really taken the steps necessary to make high quality blends that have truly memorable flavor profiles, all the while keeping the prices in the affordable range. For all the startups that have gone bust, there are only a handful of the boutique manufacturers who steered the ship well enough to bring their products into the mainstream, and Alec Bradley is a shining example of just that.
I rate the appearance at 13 out of 15 for its smooth and silky look, and the construction was so solid that it deserves 32 out of 35. The flavor and aroma were pleasant, woody and sweet and they built nicely all the way through to a very enjoyable, clean finish that I’m giving it a 43 out of 50. With an aggregate total of 88, and such an agreeable price, the Alec Bradley American Classic Blend is a superb value.
Overall rating: 88
6 x 50
Wrapper: Honduras Connecticut
Filler: Esteli, Condega
Made in: Nicaragua
The following 2-minute video clip has Alan Rubin telling us the story behind the American Classic Cigar.
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|