Staff Reviews
Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Alec Bradley Prensado

Alec Bradley brand founder Alan Rubin is a sincere fella. I’ve met him a handful of times over the years and it’s always a pleasure to hang out with him, as well as the personable crew that manages his brand. Prior to getting into the cigar industry, Rubin worked in his father’s hardware-importing business which he sold in the mid-1990s. He discovered a real passion for premium cigars in his early twenties that he ardently channeled into a family business of his own. The Alec Bradley brand is actually named for Rubin’s sons, Alec and Bradley.

In his roughly 20 years as a cigar-maker, Rubin has come to embody persistence with remarkable authenticity. His first brand was a golf-themed cigar released with limited distribution. The project didn’t take off and generated substantial debts that left Rubin questioning his chances of success. However, it proved to be an invaluable learning experience and led Rubin to Ralph Montero whose expertise and relationships in the cigar-making world would fortify a partnership between the two that thrives to this day. Rubin’s business savvy and Montero’s cigar knowledge would propel the pair from initially distributing a handful of small-batch, inexpensive bundle brands to the zenith of cigar accolades: Cigar Aficionado’s ‘#1 Cigar of the Year,’ which was awarded in 2011 to Alec Bradley Prensado in a Churchill shape, the cigar I’m reviewing today. Their journey from a young and hungry cigar upstart to an acclaimed national brand spanned slightly more than a decade.

Having achieved a notable degree of recognition and demand for Alec Bradley Tempus by the mid-2000s, Rubin and Montero set their sights on releasing a new cigar that would express another level of refinement and taste. When Alec Bradley Prensado debuted, it’s safe to say they succeeded. Key to Prensado’s appeal is its supremely aged Honduran Corojo wrapper leaf, which Rubin and Montero deliberately kept in an extended fermentation (despite their temptation to use it for an earlier project) at the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras where many Alec Bradley cigars are produced. Under Prensado’s hood is a complex core of Honduran and Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos. At the time of its release, the blend seamlessly matched up with a number of consumers’ shifting tastes for heartier, spicier flavors and a relentless bit of kick. I remember smoking Alec Bradley Prensado when it first came out. The cigar definitely left an indulgent impression. I recall smoking it regularly for a few months and marveled at its intensity and balance for roughly $11 per cigar.

Today, I am revisiting this former champion with a fresh perspective – and in the context of a growing landscape of benchmark smokes that also satisfy the medium to full-bodied tenacity many cigar lovers now crave. Alec Bradley Prensado is drafted in a sturdy box-pressed format with slightly rounded corners and is adorned with a relatively intricate cigar band that beams with turquoise accents and lifted, gold type. The Corojo wrapper exhibits a dark walnut and espresso bean hue through which a deep shade of reddish-mahogany is filtered. Earth, spice, pine needles and fireplace notes permeate the unlit foot as well as the cold draw.

Upon ignition, Alec Bradley Prensado quickly shows off its potency. The spices are sharper and somewhat more astringent than I recall in the past. The draw is clear and effortless, while an intense aroma of black pepper singes the nostrils a bit with a horseradish sting. Prensado certainly furnishes a wake-up call for the senses. As I power through the first third, the cigar’s intensity lies down a touch. Notes of minerals and mushrooms emerge with a slightly chalky texture. If were imbibing in a beverage, I would likely order a gutsier, peaty scotch like Talisker to temper the Prensado’s volcanic nature. Its edginess is hard to deny.

By the middle, the burn had tapered unevenly, but was amenable to some fast handiwork with my lighter, and straightened out. Although Alec Bradley Prensado delivers a polarizing flare with accomplishment, I find myself anticipating a transition that may be delayed, or simply isn’t on the same train. As I recollect past times when I enjoyed this cigar, I detect the absence of the blend’s caramel-like sweetness, which provided a welcome contrast to its spicier side. Vigorous notes of cayenne and Szechuan peppers amplify with a punchy zest that make for an overbearing finish. Although I’m hesitant to relay Alec Bradley Prensado is a lackluster cigar by any stretch, it’s original potential may surface courtesy of an extended stay in my humidor. I guess I miss the sweeter, coffee bean aromas in the context of a more relaxed spice, as I harken back to first time I enjoyed the blend.

In a candid interview in 2016, Alan Rubin attested to a handful of production issues in the year or so following Prensado’s ‘#1 Cigar of the Year’ glory. Tremendous pressure on the rollers and the factory to ramp up output and meet demand led to some inconsistencies that had to be ironed out. Rubin addressed any concerns with his cigars and the rapid success of his brand with the same conviction and stick-to-itiveness that has made Alec Bradley a popular line. Nonetheless, Alec Bradley Prensado is an assertive pepper bomb nowadays and a great candidate to add to your collection if you’re a fan of cigars like Cain, Camacho Corojo, or Rocky Patel The Edge Corojo. Don’t overlook it.

88rated

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