There’s not much in the way of innovation when talking about cigar vitolas. The reality is, there’s only so much you can do to a cylinder of dried tobacco leaves, particularly before it becomes a detriment. And given that cigars have been commercially produced for hundreds of years, most of the ideas—particularly the good ones—have been tried.
If there’s a factory that has been pushing the limits of late, it’s Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. Most of that has been with its own brands like Alma Fuerte, but six years ago one of the innovations was an Alec Bradley product made by Plasencia. The Plasencia Nica Puro Diamond Rough Cut was a 6 1/4 x 54 box-pressed toro, but rather than having a rectangular box-press, the shape of the cigar is a rhombus, hence the Diamond part of the name.
Last month, Alec Bradley added another version of this shape to its Black Market Estelí Diamond line, albeit with a slight blend tweak. It still uses a Nicaraguan wrapper over binders from both Honduras and Nicaragua, and fillers from Nicaragua. The one change is an extra leaf of ligero in the filler.
It’s limited to 1,500 boxes of 16 cigars, priced at $9.85 per cigar.
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Churchill (7 x 50) — $8.75 (Boxes of 22, $192.50)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Gordo (6 x 60) — $9.20 (Boxes of 22, $202.40)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Robusto (5 x 52) — $7.55 (Boxes of 22, $166.10)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Toro (6 x 52) — $8.50 (Boxes of 22, $187)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52) — $8.75 (Boxes of 22, $192.50)
- Black Market Estelí Punk (4 1/4 x 42) — $5.99 (Box of 22, $131.80)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Diamond (6 1/4 x 54) — $9.85 (Box of 16, $157.60)
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Diamond
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $9.85 (Box of 16, $157.60)
- Release Date: Oct. 1, 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 16 Cigars (24,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
This is obviously a very unique shape, something I don’t think I’ve ever encountered outside of Alec Bradley. Even the cellophane is weird with it taking on the very sharp edges from the cigar. Half of the cigar is covered in paper—perhaps the least unique part of the cigar—and the dark wrapper has some very sharp angles. The unique shape and paper are helpful because the actual wrapper itself isn’t particularly attractive. It’s got quite a few veins and two of the cigars have tears on the angles. There’s not much aroma from the wrapper, it’s got a mild-medium profile led by woodiness over some cocoa, leather and a touch of nuttiness. The aroma from the foot is quite full with a dominant chocolate ice cream flavor over leather, raspberry and some hints of paint. There’s more of that chocolate on the cold draw over some white pepper, oranges and oatmeal.
The Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Diamond begins with earthiness and sweet maple syrup over some oatmeal, leather and a bit of black pepper. Unfortunately, the maple syrup flavor disappears quickly, leaving behind an earthy profile. There’s also some nuttiness, sunflower seeds, black pepper and a bit of chalkiness. It finishes with meatiness, grains, black pepper and Ritz crackers. Retrohales are interesting with flavors of key limes, sunflower seeds and leather. It too has Ritz cracker on the finish over some juniper and poultry-like meatiness. Flavor is medium-full, body is closer to full and strength is medium-plus. Construction is great, though the pace the cigar is burning is very inconsistent.
Roasted flavors begin to accent the profile, which changes things quite a bit. The individual flavors aren’t that different, but there’s an underlying roasted flavor that makes it seem quite a bit different. Earthiness remains the leading flavor of the Black Market Estelí Diamond. Behind it are wet leaves, a charred earth flavor, black pepper, leather and minerals. Two cigars have a citrus flavor that does a great job helping to add some contrast. The finish has an herbal tone—something that normally isn’t my favorite—joined by black pepper, orange rinds and toastiness. It reminds me a lot of tequila. Retrohales are earthy with black pepper and butterscotch candy. While the main flavor flirts with tasting like tequila, the finish of the retrohale is like drinking tequila. It’s got the toastiness, sweetness, some black pepper and grassiness. One cigar needs a touch-up to help with smoke production, which remains a bit inconsistent.
If you are hoping for something other than earthiness in the final third of the Black Market Estelí Diamond, it’s not going to happen. The chalkiness from early on makes a triumphant return, which makes for another pretty dramatic change in profile. Beyond that, there are sunflower seeds and nuttiness. Retrohales make an even more dramatic shift compared to the second third. There’s a bold jalapeño pepper flavor over some earthiness and burnt coffee. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-plus. Construction has some issues in the final third, mainly related to the band. I don’t think this has anything to do with the size, probably more the tobaccos, but the smoke production declines dramatically and needs some help to keep each cigar lit until the end.
- The first cigar I smoked had a wrapper tear upon cutting, the first time I can recall a torn wrapper after using the Fox Knives 749 Cigar Cutter for over six months.
- I would recommend that you take both the paper and the band off the cigar. The issue is that when I kept the band on the cigar seemed to contract towards the middle. I don’t recall ever seeing this happen on a cigar before, even when I’ve smoked a cigar with a singular band on the middle. I suspect the extreme box-press—specifically how the cigar is bunched—is part of why this happens.
- I was not a fan of the original cigar to use this shape, the Alec Bradley Nica Puro Diamond Rough Cut. I thought that cigar was very overfilled, something that wasn’t the case here.
- I’m guessing the reason why we haven’t seen more manufacturers release cigars in this style is because of the packaging. I don’t think you could efficiently pack this in a traditional layout and, as such, I’m just not sure it’s worth all the trouble.
- Alec Bradley advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was a lengthy two hours and 40 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carry the Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Diamond.
I’ve long known that Alec Bradley’s Black Market brand has been amongst its most popular, particularly with the types of consumers who might read a website like ours. That being said, I’m not sure I’ve ever found a go-to size, until now. Yes, it’s a bit large; yes, it’s very weird; yes, it’s limited—but the Black Market Estelí Diamond delivered on the bold profile the company promises in the line. This is a rich cigar that has some very distinct accents in each third. Unfortunately, the unique size has its drawbacks when it comes to construction. It’s not that bad, but there’s just a number of things—a bit more care when cutting, touch ups and making sure to remove the band—that you should pay more attention to in order to maximize the cigar.