Have to generally agree. Am a big fan of the prensado and the SCR is really good for the price. There are always plenty of AB sticks in my humidor. So I'm probably more inclined to view any release by that brand positively as i qualify as a solid fan/supporter. I have a box of F&Rs plus a few singles. Haven't touched the box, but have smoked a couple singles and basically concur with your assessments. No way is it a bad stick, but it's not exceptional especially when price is considered. Hopefully some age will help, but I'm not super confident.
Review: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Toro
Before the ratings that came in early 2012, Alec Bradley made quite a bit of noise for itself in 2011, just not for Presnado. At IPCPR 2011, one of the most talked about cigars was the Fine & Rare, a limited edition cigar that contained 10 different types of tobacco and was sold out rather quickly. In addition, Alan Rubin’s company showed off the Black Market, a regular production line that received quite a bit of attention.
Fine & Rare shipped on November 11, 2011 and was limited to 1,111 boxes, playing off the 11/11/11 theme. While the 6 x 52 Toro size was the main focus, there were two additional sizes that were released in smaller packaging options.
The Fine & Rare was released in three different manners:
- 1,000 Boxes of 10 Toros
- 100 Boxes of 10 Toros & 10 Torpedoes
- 11 Charity Boxes of 10 Toros, 10 Torpedoes & 10 Perfectos
In addition to the relatively large price tag ($14.00), mysterious filler and limited nature, Fine & Rare became known for the monstrous bands, which contained quite a bit of information, including:
- Roll Date
- Release Date
- Weekly Quantity Produced
- Factory Name
- Factory Supervisor
- Signatures of Roller & Buncher
- Signature of Ralph Montero, vice-president of Alec Bradley
- Signature of Alan Rubin, president & founder of Alec Bradley
And the particulars.
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Toro
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Honduran Trojes
- Binder: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Filler: n/a
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $14.00 (Boxes of 10, $140.00)
- Date Released: November 11, 2011
- Number of Cigars Released: See Above (1,111 Boxes of Various Quantities, 12,330 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
It’s a dark Honduran wrapper with an immense amount of reds, but the oils are noticeably absent. In terms of appearance, the veins are a bit rough, but you focus on the gigantic band. There’s not much aroma off the wrapper of the Fine & Rare, a bit of leather, peanut and some fruits. From the foot there’s a sharp contrast: a strong black pepper up front, lots of peanuts, leathers and a bit of orange. Cold draw produces an interesting mixture of earth, peanut, citrus, pepper and coffee. All in various capacities, all relatively present from start to finish. The Fine & Rare starts the first third impressive: a great sweet nut, cocoa and cedar. There’s a touch of sour lemon before the nutty finish takes over and carries out the aged medium beginning. For the first third of each one of the Fine & Rares I smoked, smoke production was on par with Liga Privada, absolutely unreal. Eventually, the Alec Bradley settles with cedar up front, a bit of a harsh sweet note, some fruits, leather and earth; full, but muddled.
Into the second third and the absolutely wide open draw is becoming a problem. In the first third it was crazy open, but now it’s uncontrollable. Unfortunately, it seems to have an effect on the smoke production, which begins to become inconsistent and settles down. Flavor-wise, the Fine & Rare continues much the same, which is unfortunate. It’s a pedestrian earth and cedar mixture, a decent black pepper and hints of cocoa and fruits. Perhaps more disappointing, the complexity and depth of those initial puffs are completely lost.
By the final third, my major complaint is that the clock reads two hours and 20 minutes, and the Fine & Rare just isn’t changing. Smoke production has settled, flavor has settled and it’s now become a question of when the cigar ends. There seems to be some complexities underneath the earth, a bit of a candy note and some of that peanut that I so hoped would make its way into the flavor profile, but they really aren’t coming through. For those wondering, from start to finish: medium-full to full in flavor, full in body, medium plus in strength.
- Strength is medium plus, although it’s a bit heavy by the time the cigar ends.
- While the Torpedo was presumably released, I’ve yet to see any in any stores.
- In this video, George Sosa, vice-president of sales for Alec Bradley, seems to indicate that there is a new limited edition that is the same blend as Fine & Rare slated for Spring of 2012. He also seems to say around the 3:15 mark that they need to dry out.
- A few of the retailers I’ve spoken with have complained that the boxes had a bit too much lacquer, I can’t say that I picked up any signs while smoking it. I do love the presentation, large and elegant.
- As much as I love the bands, they might be a bit much. Also, why wasn’t the size written on it?
- Smoke production starts great, but slowly falls off.
- The burn is unbelievably slow. This wouldn’t have been a glaring issue if I wasn’t bored with the flavor after minute 10.
- To smoke three Toros into the final third for this review, I spent a cumulative eight and a half hours. Final smoking time sits somewhere around two hours 40 minutes per cigar.
- The quiet story of the last half of 2011 through early 2012 is Raíces Cubanas. The factory that looked to be on the rise has seemingly had the wind knocked out of it. The reality is their cigars continue to taste more and more alike. Fine & Rare, which by my math was the most expensive cigar to come out of Raíces (ever), didn’t seem to buck this trend.
- These are pretty much long gone, but site sponsor Casa de Montecristo (708.352.6668) might have a few left. Tell them that halfwheel sent you and act fast if you want them.
The Bottom Line: Before we go any further, this isn’t a bad cigar. I find it to be average and perhaps most concerning for me, to be quite similar to the typical Alec Bradley profile. The flavor could have been more exciting, the cigar could have burned a bit quicker, but ultimately neither was problematic. Independent of price, I honestly don’t see myself picking Fine & Rare over Black Market, Family Blend or Prensado, because quite frankly, I find Fine & Rare just another Alec Bradley. For me, the term overhyped seems best applicable. The Fine & Rare started as something that was being promoted as something special, priced as something special and received as something special; for me, it’s everything but.
Final Score: 77