In 2018, Alec and Bradley Rubin—both of whom work for the cigar company named after them—launched a new series of cigars called Alec & Bradley with Blind Faith. In 2019, the pair released their sophomore release under the Alec & Bradley moniker, Gatekeeper, and in 2020, the third release was announced: Kintsugi.
Outside of the Alec & Bradley name, it’s not as if the cigars have all that much in common: the packaging and branding is pretty different, the cigars are made at different factories, and the inspirations for the names are pretty different.
For example, Kintsugi is a Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery by using gold and lacquer to reattach the pieces together. The end result is that the fractures in the pottery are now gold, which seemed to be part of the inspiration.
“Unfortunately, the cigar industry seems to be a bit fractured right now,” said Bradley Rubin in a press release in 2020. “We are all fighting to reduce or eliminate regulation, but there is little consensus on how to achieve this. We can all learn from the Kintsugi story. We are all better together. The passion behind premium cigars is the gold lacquer that binds.”
As for the blend, it’s made at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras using a habano wrapper from the Trojes region of Honduras over dual binders—from Honduras and Nicaragua—and fillers from both Honduras and Nicaragua. It debuted in four sizes in late 2020.
In May, Alec Bradley released the Taste of the World Chunk sampler ahead of Father’s Day. Inside are four different blends—Alec Bradley Black Market, Alec Bradley Magic Toast, Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper and Alec & Bradley Kintsugi—all in a 4 1/4 x 60 size. For the two Alec Bradley lines, the size—referred to as Chunk by Alec Bradley—is not new, but it is new for the two Alec & Bradley lines.
Each sampler had an MSRP of $74.95 and contained eight cigars, two of each blend. The samplers were limited to 2,000 units.
- Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Robusto (5 x 50) — December 2020 — Regular Production
- Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — December 2020 — Regular Production
- Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Toro (6 x 52) — December 2020 — Regular Production
- Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Gordo (6 x 60) — December 2020 — Regular Production
- Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Chunk (4 1/4 x 60) — May 2022 — 2,000 Total Cigars
- Cigar Reviewed: Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Chunk
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Honduras (Habano)
- Binder: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 4 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Short Gordo
- MSRP: $9.37 (Sampler of 8, $74.95)
- Release Date: May 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (4,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Even though dimensions-wise, it’s similar to Oliva’s popular NUb line of cigars, this doesn’t really look like a NUb. To be clear, NUbs tend to have a fatter appearance because of their proportions, but at 4 1/4 x 60, it’s well within the NUb family. Because of the length, there’s very little of the cigar’s wrapper that isn’t covered by a band, or at least the front-facing part of the cigar. I’d say there’s a bit more than an inch of uncovered space up top and then less than a half-inch on the bottom. As such, I end up smelling the area around the cap to get notes about the aroma from the wrapper: manure over sunflower seed shells and something that reminds me of fire-cured tobaccos. The foot’s aroma is a bit closer to full than the wrapper’s aroma, it’s also much sweeter and a touch more acidic. Flavor-wise, I can smell hickory, some of the fire-cured scents from the wrapper and a sweetness that reminds me a bit of Honey Nut Cheerios. Cold draws have yellow mustard, acidity, bread and something that reminds me a bit of rubber.
While enjoyable, the first puff of the Kintsugi Chunk is one of the more generic flavor profiles I find from a cigar: nuttiness, earthiness, some black pepper and sweetness. One cigar has a bit more bread and meaty flavors, but the main takeaway is that the start is not very unique. While a generic nut mixture is the strongest flavor in the first third, there’s plenty of uniqueness thanks to a salty pretzel flavor and touches of peach sweetness. Additional secondary flavors include leather and a soft vanilla flavor. The finish is drier, though nuttiness sticks around in part, now joined by a lamb-like meatiness and some chalkiness. I also find the finish to be consistently more acidic and sharper than the main flavor. Retrohales have mustard greens, rye bread, herbal flavors and an artificial kiwi-like sweetness. What’s interesting is that the retrohales are both midler and softer than the main flavors. The retrohale’s finish has bread, saltiness, some of the hickory from before along with some herbal flavors. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. Construction is great during the first third of all three cigars.
After the halfway mark, I find that red pepper—on certain puffs—can overtake the nuttiness. Other times, creaminess tends to be the leading flavor and earthy flavors make a strong account of themselves as well. One cigar has something that reminds me of damp pizza crust, sort of like left-out pizza crust from an American chain like Domino’s or Papa Johns’s. It doesn’t have all of the flavors, particularly the seasonings, but it’s a bread flavor that really reminds me of the consistency of pizza crust that had been sitting at room temperature for whatever reason. The finish has creaminess over herbal flavors, a honey-like sweetness, mineral flavors and some touches of black pepper. Retrohales have toastiness, leather, burnt bread, herbal flavors and something that reminds me of unripe strawberries. The finish gets extremely toasty with some secondary notes of acidity and some herbal flavors. Flavor is full, body is close to medium-full and strength is medium. Construction is good, though one cigar needs a touch-up and the overall smoke production is slightly reduced compared to the first third, though not really an issue except during certain retrohales.
The Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Chunk gets a bit softer in the final third, probably in large part due to the fact that the red pepper has completely disappeared. The profile is an enjoyable and familiar mixture of peanuts, earthiness, leather and some popcorn. Once again, there are some touches of acidity, though it’s not consistent from puff to puff. The finish has herbal flavors, salty pretzels, earthiness, black pepper and some bitter fruitiness. Retrohales continue to be led by toastiness, but it’s not the dominant force that it was during the first third. In addition, there’s some dry bread and white pepper. The finish is dry and toasty with additional flavors of leather, white pepper and some sweetness that seems to be coming from red grapes. Flavor is full, though increasingly closer to medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. One cigar needs a touch-up, but the other two cigars avoid any issues in the final third. Smoke production continues to predictably wane as I get closer to the burning my fingers or lips level, but it does a good job of continuing to provide enough smoke.
- If I was forced to guess, I probably would have thought this was a 56 or 58 ring gauge size. It was thick, but it didn’t seem like a 60 ring gauge cigar.
- While I’d still rather smoke a smaller ring gauge cigar most days of the week, there are some benefits of smoking larger ring gauge cigars, particularly construction-wise. The temperature of the smoke never got much past a warm level and I was also able to go many minutes in between puffs if I wanted to.
- The other benefit is that some blends do better in a large ring gauge. Based on my past experiences with Kintsugi, I don’t think that’s the case here, but it’s still a good cigar.
- One tricky thing for me when reviewing shorter cigars like this is paying attention to what really counts as the first and second thirds. All it takes is about a dozen puffs and the cigar goes from the heart of the first third to definitely in the second third.
- I definitely would agree with those—Steve Saka—that would suggest that reviewing this cigar in something other than thirds would make sense. We keep with the thirds approach for consistency.
- This seemed like a cigar that was front-loaded in many ways. The flavor intensity seemed to slowly wane, the body certainly dropped off after the first third and even the smoke production waned as the cigar got closer to the end. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s rare to have it be as obvious and linear as I felt the Kintsugi Chunks were.
- I wasn’t trying to specifically pay attention to acidity levels while smoking this cigar, but I feel like the acidity changed so much I kept noticing it, hence why it’s mentioned in this review a lot more than I typically would.
- Alec Bradley advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was a pretty quick one hour and 35 minutes on average. I have no doubt I could comfortably smoke this cigar in less than an hour.
While I haven’t ever done an Alec Bradley brand vertical—and certainly not recently—I am pretty sure the Alec & Bradley Kintsugi is my favorite blend within the company’s large portfolio of cigars. This is not the best Kintsugi I’ve smoked, but it’s a good cigar. The Kintsugi Corona Gorda finished #8 on halfwheel’s Top 25 last year, a spot that was not only well-deserved but I personally find very impressive given both the seven cigars that finished in front of it and the two dozen cigars that finished behind it. The Chunk seems to soften the profile a bit and completely reduced the chocolate flavors that Brooks mentioned in his review of the Corona Gorda. While I wouldn’t reach for this size first, I’d have zero issues smoking many more of them.