On Nov. 11, 2011, Alec Bradley began shipping the first in an ambitious series of cigars named Fine & Rare which was notable for the fact that it incorporated 10 different tobaccos in the overall blend: one wrapper, two binders and seven fillers. Over the years, each of the cigars in the series has featured different blends—the one exception being the 2020 release, which was made up of five previous Fine & Rare cigars—although the name of each has always been made up of a distinctive code system and the packaging has been relatively similar.
That packaging has also included a unique band that is printed with an enormous amount of information, including:
- The code of the cigar (BC-(13)4EV)
- The date the cigars were originally rolled (Between Aug. 2 and Aug. 8, 2020)
- The release date (Nov. 18, 2021)
- The weekly quantity of cigars that were produced (778)
- The names and signatures of the factory supervisor and two rollers
- The names and signatures of Ralph Montero, vice-president of Alec Bradley and Alan Rubin, president and founder of Alec Bradley
After giving an original release date of November 2021, the company announced that the newest addition to the Fine & Rare Series would ship approximately six months later than anticipated in April 2022. Or rather, the two newest additions, because instead of a singular release, the 2022 incarnation includes two different cigars packaged in the same box: each 11-count box contains 10 of the main cigar name Fine and Rare BC-(13)4EV as well as a single cigar named BC-(13)4EV-B that is packaged in its own coffin. That single cigar is included to commemorate the 11th year of Fine & Rare being released, but Its blend and dimensions have not yet been disclosed.
My review today concerns the BC-(13)4EV, a 7 x 50 Churchill that is made with a Honduran criollo 98 wrapper grown in the Trojes region as well as dual binders sourced from Honduras and Nicaragua and seven different filler tobaccos grown in Honduras and Nicaragua. As is the case with all of the previous releases in the Fine and Rare line, it was rolled at the Raíces Cubanas factory located in Honduras.
Each 11-count box has an MSRP of $260, or about $23.64 per cigar and there were a total of 2,500 boxes produced. Although those boxes were originally supposed to ship in November 2021, the release was pushed back to April 2022 due to supply chain issues before finally shipping a bit early in late March.
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Fine & Rare BC-(13)4EV
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Honduras (Criollo 98)
- Binder: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $23.64 (Box of 11, $260)
- Release Date: March 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The large band is easily the first third I notice when I pick up the Alec Bradley Fine and Rare BC-(13)4EV, but the gorgeous and rustic looking dark chocolate brown wrapper is not far behind. That wrapper is parchment dry to the touch, but there are some issues with two of the three samples: one has a soft spot on the back of cigar between the main band and the foot, while the other is rock hard when squeezed, with virtually no give whatsoever. Strong aromas of dry tea leaves and cloves emanate from the wrapper of all three cigars, along with much more restrained notes of earth, generic wood, black pepper and light candy sweetness. The foot is similar but more aggressive, with cloves, tea leaves, dark chocolate, sweet hay and espresso beans all noticeable. After a straight cut, the cold draw is full with the same dry tea leaf flavor dominant, followed by black pepper, baker’s spices, cloves, sweet cedar, gritty earth, sourdough bread and leather.
A massive amount of both spice and pepper almost obliterates my palate during the first few puffs of the cigar, but both recede quickly—almost shockingly quickly—leaving behind an intense combination of tea leaves and cloves as the top flavors, both of which almost seem to be pulled directly from the aroma and cold draw. Secondary notes include creamy cedar, bitter espresso beans, leather tack, hay, toasted bread and slight soap, and there is plenty of spice left on my tongue that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. In addition, the retrohale features not only plenty of black pepper but also plenty of a toasted marshmallow sweetness that is as distinct as it is enjoyable. Flavor starts off with a bang at medium plus, while both body and strength levels are just under medium. In terms of construction, the smoke production and burn lines give me no issues with all three cigars, although the draw is another matter: while two samples feature excellent draws, the last one is a bit more tight than I would like.
Everything seems to be clicking for the Fine and Rare BC-(13)4EV as the second third begins: the combination of cloves and dry tea leaves easily remain at the top of the profile, while flavors of creamy cedar, gritty earth, leather, cocoa nibs, almonds and citrus peel follow close behind. The retrohale sees some changes, with less black pepper and more of the amazing toasted marshmallow sweetness, both of which help to bump up the other all complexity of the profile. Flavor increases to full and the body remains just under medium while the strength has increased enough to hit the solid medium mark. Unfortunately, there are some issues with construction, as all three of the samples need a couple of corrections with my lighter, but the smoke production and draw presents me with no problems.
The Alec Bradley seems like a broken record in the final third, but the profile is so enjoyable that I don’t really care. As as been the case since virtually the first puff, flavors of cloves and dry tea leaves easily lead the way with cedar, roasted coffee beans, hay, leather, flour and citrus peel all making themselves known at various points. In addition, the black pepper and marshmallow sweetness—more of a raw marshmallow than toasted at this point—continue to reign supreme on the retrohale until the end of the cigar. Flavor ends at full, body ends at a solid medium and the strength increases enough in the final third to hit a point firmly between the medium and full marks. Construction-wise, the draw and smoke production remain excellent and only one sample needs any attention from my lighter before I put the nubs down with about an inch remaining on each.
- When it was released, Alec Bradley indicated that it was “urging” tobacconists to sell the box as a single unit and not offer single cigars, which is why there is no single cigar MSRP being disclosed by the company.
- While I do love the idea of including a single special cigar in a box like this release does, it would annoy me as a consumer if I enjoyed that cigar more than the normal release and had to purchase multiple boxes priced at more than $250 just to get more of them.
- Contrast the above with a release like the Joya de Nicaragua Dos Cientos, which included one cigar—albeit the same as the rest of the cigars in the box—specially wrapped in tissue paper.
- I can appreciate how Alec Bradley wanted to protect the cigars in transit. Unfortunately, at least in our case, the company’s efforts were somewhat in vain, as the rails glued to the inside of the box used to suspend the cigars had been knocked loose at some point before we opened the box, meaning that two of the cigars on the right side of our box were rolling around loose.
- I honestly can’t imagine there will be many people referring to this cigar as the Fine and Rare BC-(13)4EV due to its convoluted nature; most will most likely use the much easier to remember—and pronounce—Fine and Rare 2021.
- The Alec Bradley Fine & Rare Ten Year Anniversary Set took tenth place in halfwheel’s 2020 Packaging Awards.
- Construction was quite impressive on two of the samples, including copious smoke production, excellent draws after straight cuts and a burn that only needed correcting once. My final sample featured a noticeably tighter draw and needed a couple more corrections with its burn, and while there were some minor differences, the flavor profile of that cigar did not suffer in any major way.
- Alec Bradley advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged a surprisingly quick one hour and 49 minutes.
- If you are looking to purchase any of the Alec Bradley Fine and Rare BC-(13)4EV cigars, site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. has them in stock on its website here.
If there was one word that kept popping into my mind as I was smoking these cigars, it is “intense.” The profile does not lack in flavors and includes notes of cloves, dried tea leaves and cedar that combine effortlessly with a massive amount of spice and black pepper mix, the latter of which recede a bit as the cigar burns down but never come close to disappearing completely. Throw in some marvelous toasted marshmallow sweetness on the retrohale—which is strong enough to be noticed over the black pepper that is also present, which is saying something—and you are left with not only a great cigar, but also the best Fine and Rare blend I have smoked in a very long time.