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Alec Bradley Medalist Toro

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There’s almost always some story behind a cigar, and the Alec Bradley Medalist is no exception.

For a company that has had more than its share of success over the past decade, it was presented with an appeal to both the company’s past while acknowledging that the cigars that helped it achieve such accolades may have turned some people off to the company.

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“With Medalist we are looking to remind people of our company’s past,” said Alan Rubin, Alec Bradley’s founder, in a press release. “We are also asking milder cigar smokers who have shied away from us to give us a chance. Medalist is smooth and complex with a light natural sweetness. Medalist hits a presentation, flavor and price point that is attractive to many smokers that we haven’t spoken to in a while.”

To achieve the milder profile, the company used a shade grown Honduran wrapper along with a Honduran binder and a blend of Honduran and Nicaragua tobaccos for the filler.

The Alec Bradley Medalist is available in four sizes that are produced at Tabacos de Oriente in Honduras.

  • Alec Bradley Medalist Robusto (5 x 52) — $6 (Boxes of 10, $60)
  • Alec Bradley Medalist Toro (6 x 54) — $6.50 (Boxes of 10, $65)
  • Alec Bradley Medalist Churchill (7 x 50) — $7 (Boxes of 10, $70)
  • Alec Bradley Medalist Gordo (6 x 60) — $7 (Boxes of 10, $70)

It began shipping in April.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Medalist Toro
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Tabacos de Oriente
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: Honduras
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $6.50 (Boxes of 10, $65)
  • Release Date: April 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Alec Bradley Medalist wears a nicely tanned Honduran shade grown wrapper, and while it may look like a Connecticut, it’s slightly darker than that particular varietal. It has a slightly dry texture but there is some oil to be found, while veins are small and generally few and far between, though a close inspection of the leaf reveals a network of minuscule veins as well. The roll is firm and consistent, with visible seams and caps that are generally well-applied if not the most decorative or elaborate. The foot offers a seeming plethora of aromas to dissect, from buttered popcorn to a bit of tangerine, cereal grains to vanilla ice cream, all accented by just a bit of pepper. The cold draw is firm but not challenging, with a base note of dinner rolls and fewer accents than that of the aroma, with a bit of wood, cream and just a pinch of pepper being most notable.

The Alec Bradley Medalist Toro opens on a relatively milder but flavorful note, revisiting the bread and popcorn notes that I picked up prior to lighting the cigar, while a bit of pepper just barely tingles the tongue. One of the three samples is decidedly more forward with toast and pepper, with the result being a much more medium-bodied opening. While I don’t get the outright sweetness of cream on the palate, the smoke has what could be called a smooth, creamy draw, with a touch of the French vanilla ice cream beginning to emerge not long after lighting. The burn line seems to move fairly quickly through the first inch or so, and I’m amazed how quickly the smoke dissipates, though it’s certainly aided by an evaporative cooler nearby. Once the first clump of ash gets knocked off, the cigar picks up a bit more black pepper both on the palate and through the nose, with retrohales well out of the mild category that the rest of the cigar seems to be staying within. The draw and burn have both been quite good, while smoke production as noted before is decent but quickly dissipates.

Had I started the Alec Bradley Medalist Toro around the beginning of the second third, I would have immediately thought the company crazy for calling this a milder cigar, and even now I’m wondering if our definitions truly are relative as the pepper has picked up noticeably. There hasn’t been much in the way of nicotine strength yet, though the flavor and texture of the smoke have both been diligent about capturing my attention. The French vanilla ice cream sweetness returns near the midpoint, and while it can be hit-and-miss and occasionally easy to overlook, when it is on it provides an enjoyable boost of complexity and flavor. The strength begins to taper off past the midpoint, though it’s not lacking in any flavor or body, as both are comfortably a bit under medium, now with a bit of cedar and ballpark pretzels leading the descriptors.

The start of the final third sees the introduction of some genuine creaminess into the profile, and while the Alec Bradley Medalist Toro has flirted with complexity earlier, it really nails it at the start of this section. Retrohales are still deceptively peppery, and if I had to ratio the strength between the two, the nose gets about 80 percent of what the cigar has to offer. It’s not all perfect, however, as each sample starts to get a bit sharper and rougher, and as such less palate-friendly than it had been earlier, though the onset comes at different points. The cigar is now squarely medium-plus in flavor intensity and the lingering finish compounds what problems the cigar shows as the tongue begs for a rinsing with water or other beverage. The cigar turns a bit rough in the final inch or so as heat adversely affects the flavor, but overall the cigar finishes well and on a flavor and strength level just under medium.

Final Notes

  • The fairly delicate wrapper on the Alec Bradley Medalist Toro held up well before cracking a bit in the final third; needless to say this is a cigar that should be enjoyed in milder conditions that won’t add any stress to the leaf.
  • I’m a bit fascinated by how the term mild has evolved, as it seems like five years ago this would be described as a solid medium-bodied profile. If anything, it’s stronger than what comes to mind with the term mild.
  • The young men behind the Alec Bradley name will be getting their own cigar shortly, as Alec and Bradley Rubin’s Blind Faith was recently announced.
  • There’s just a bit of nicotine strength to be found, but this is one area where the cigar lives up to its billing.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Cigars.com, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and Thompson Cigar Co. carry the Alec Bradley Medalist line.
86 Overall Score

I commend Alec Bradley for attempting a return to the milder end of the spectrum, though I'm not sure the goal was quite achieved, at least not without some adjustment for the new definition of mild. The first half of the cigar certainly does a better job flirting with the idea than the back half, where the profile gets a bit more aggressive, but when it hits the mark, the Alec Bradley Medalist does an impressive job delivering complexity without overly relying on pepper to grab the smoker's attention. The other goal of this project—delivering a cigar at a lower cost—certainly was achieved, and helps make the case to give the Medalist a try.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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