For the fourth year in a row, Alec Bradley is releasing the Black Market Filthy Hooligan for Saint Patrick’s Day. This year however, sees the first major change to the release by going with a barber pole wrapper that uses Honduran Candela alongside a dark Nicaraguan Jalapa to create the contrasting green and brown spiral design. Alan Rubin, president of Alec Bradley, had this to say about the wrapper change:
The unique flavor of a candela wrapper is something that every cigar smoker should experience at least once. Add the dark Jalapa wrapper, and it’s not only more flavorful, but the barber pole form can also be very appealing, visually. When it comes to just a green cigar, we’ve been there, done that.
Lining up the previous releases together, you do see that there is lots of “been there, done that” with this release, with the only noticeable changes being release numbers up until this year.
- Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan 2013 (6 x 50) — $8 (Boxes of 22, $176) — 2,000 Boxes of 22 Cigars (44,000 Total Cigars)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan 2014 (6 x 50) — $8 (Boxes of 22, $176) — 3,000 Boxes of 22 Cigars (66,000 Total Cigars)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan 2015 (6 x 50) — $8 (Boxes of 22, $176) — 500 Boxes of 22 Cigars (11,000 Total Cigars)
- Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan 2016 (6 x 50) — $8.50 (Boxes of 22, $187) — 2,000 Boxes of 22 Cigars (44,000 Total Cigars)
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan (2016)
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Tabacos de Oriente
- Wrapper: Honduran Candela & Nicaraguan Jalapa
- Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Filler: Honduras & Panama
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 22, $187)
- Release Date: Feb. 10, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 22 Cigars (44,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The soft green candela wrapper contrasts visually and in a tactile sense with the rougher, dark brown Jalapa wrapper. There is a softer spot in the middle of the cigar that I notice, but otherwise has some give without being too firm or too soft. As expected there are huge alfalfa notes coming off the wrappers, almost singular in nature. The cold draw however, is much different and deep with a fascinating mix of graham crackers, fresh cut grass, vanilla, more bright alfalfa and some chocolate pudding. The interesting thing to me though was the progression of these notes, with each taking its moment on the stage before fading and allowing the next flavor to come forward, as opposed to all mixing together and needing to be picked apart.
Starting into the first third, grassy vanilla notes burst up front, with hints of pepper, earth and wood trailing behind. For having a fairly complex profile in the cold draw, the cigar definitely starts out in a more reduced state. The burn is mostly good, however as I’ve come to expect with barberpole cigars it’s obviously not the most perfect with the contrasting wrappers sometimes fighting to stay even. Though the ash is a little flaky, it does hold well enough to just under the inch mark. An inch in and the pepper has become stronger, a spice note has appeared alongside the grassy vanilla and the earth and wood notes continue to trail in the background.
The second third continues to see the grassy note lead, with vanilla fading slightly along with the pepper, which has slid towards the background again. Spice, wood and earth intermingle in the middle, complementing the grassy note nicely. The burn still continues to be a little wonky, requiring a touch up, but it’s nothing overly offensive or crooked. The draw is quite nice, right in the ideal range and producing plenty of aromatic smoke with each draw.
As the cigar shifts into the final third, the grass note that has dominated so much seems to fade slightly, allowing spice, wood and earth to shine a little brighter, while the pepper continues to stay mostly in the background. A retrohale brings the pepper foward significantly, while it also brings out some nice nutty, grassy notes as well. The burn continues to confound me, though not as much as the second third. As I finish up, the cigar continues smoothly without getting harsh or bitter towards the end.
- With the change in the wrapper, Alec Bradley also changed the bands on the cigar, getting rid of the comically large Black Market bands from before, and instead opting instead for some normal size bands. Not only does this allow you to see more of the striking barber pole design, but when you start looking closely at the artwork, it’s quite a neat looking band.
- Previous year’s releases used a Nicaraguan candela, while this year they used a Honduran candela.
- While the original release date for this was said to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th, a correction was sent that stores were free to start selling them as soon as they arrived, which would’ve been soon after they shipped on Feb. 10.
- I think that the change was not only a good one to keep the release from stagnating, but it seems to have been a good one as far as improving the flavor as well.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged right around two hours.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar.com, Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar all list the Filthy Hooligan in stock.
I enjoy candela wrapped cigars, but the Filthy Hooligan never really hit home for me. The blend change is a welcome one, giving us not only a new candela wrapper, but an additional traditionally cured wrapper to give the cigar more depth than just a grassy blast of candela. The mix works well, really giving the cigar a pleasant profile with the bright grassy notes complemented by earthy pepper and wood. The only downside is the burn, that was less than ideal, though on the flip side it is something I’ve come to expect with barber pole wrappers. While these are still looking like they’re available at various stores, the bad news is unless it’s a local store you’ll have trouble getting them to you before tomorrow. The good news is though, these smoke just as good on days that aren’t the 17th of March, so go grab them while they’re available and have a mini celebration of Saint Patrick on whatever day you’d like.