During the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Alec Bradley teased a new regular production cigar still in progress that was being blended by Ralph Montero, the company’s executive vice-president. Named Sanctum, the new release was finally shipped this month, albeit in one less vitola than was shown on the trade show floor a year ago.

The finished blend of the Sanctum consists of tobacco from four different countries: a Honduran corojo wrapper covering a Costa Rican binder along with filler tobaccos originating from Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Instead of the five different sizes that were shown at the IPCPR show last year, the initial launch of Sanctum included just four vitolas, all of which are sold in boxes of 20: a Robusto (5 x 52, $7.25), a Toro (6 x 52, $7.75), a Gordo (6 x 60, $8.50) and a Double Gordo (8 1/2 x 60, $9.99).

The size that was expected to be included, but did not ship was a 7 x 70.

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Honduran Corojo
  • Binder: Costa Rica
  • Filler: Colombia, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $7.25 (Boxes of 20, $145)
  • Date Released: June 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Covered in a milk chocolate wrapper, the Alec Bradley Sanctum is silky smooth to the touch, with almost no tooth at all, and a touch of oil visible. There are some veins visible running up and down the length, but they are far from distracting, and the cigar is quite spongy when squeezed. There is a huge stem visible in the foot of this sample and I briefly consider trying to pull it out before disregarding the idea. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet chocolate, oak, leather, earth, manure and grass, while the cold draw brings flavors of barnyard, espresso, powdery cocoa and hay.

Starting out the first third, the Sanctum exhibits some very overt flavors of gritty earth, creamy leather, anise, dark chocolate, with no flavor really dominant over the others, at least at this point. However, there is a very noticeable sourness that is quite strong on the finish that remains underneath the rest of the notes for the entirety of the first third, along with some very aggressive black pepper on the retrohale that does not seem to be dissipating any time soon. There is no sweetness that I can detect on either the finish or the retrohale, but a very small amount of spice makes itself known in the back of the through every once in a while. While the draw is excellent, the burn is a touch wavy, albeit well within normal limits, and the smoke production is quite high. Strength-wise, the Sanctum starts strong out of the gate, and easily hits a point close to medium by the end of the first third.

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto 2

The sourness that was so obvious in the first third of the Alec Bradley Sanctum is almost totally gone a few puffs into the second third, replaced by other flavors of baker’s chocolate, bitter espresso, hay, barnyard and oak. There is still almost no sweetness at all that I can detect, but I begin to recognize a very interesting red pepper note on the retrohale that only gets stronger as the second third continues. Construction-wise, the burn has evened up nicely, while the draw continues to impress, and the smoke production is still well above average. The overall strength continues to rise, and is at a point slightly above medium by the time the second third comes to an end.

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto 3

The final third of the Sanctum shows quite a bit of a change compared to the second third, with the red pepper note fading even as an indeterminate sweetness increases in strength. A combination of cedar and earth is dominant in the profile, with other notes of anise, dark chocolate, coffee beans, creamy nuts and hay flit in and out. The black pepper on the retrohale continues to fade, while the spice from the second third is long gone. Both the burn and draw are good enough to not give me any issues, and the smoke production remains high as well. The strength stalls out at a point halfway between medium and full, and remains there until I put the cigar down with a little less than an inch left.

Alec Bradley Sanctum Robusto 4

Final Notes

  • Sanctum has Latin origins, and means a sacred or holy place or a room or place of total privacy or inviolability.
  • The sourness on the finish in the first third was not overly strong on any of the samples, but it consistently ended right around the start of the second third, never to return. It was not bad enough on any of the cigars to ruin the experience, but it was disconcerting.
  • I find the double band this cigar features is interesting, with a normal Alec Bradley band  on over a longer bottom band that is slick and black. This does cause the main band to slide around a bit while smoking, but not as much as you would think.
  • The ash is quite flaky, with bits falling despite a lack of provocation during the whole cigar.
  • The final smoking time for the there samples smoked for this review averaged one hour and 20 minutes.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Alec Bradley.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Alec Bradley Sanctum cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar has them in stock.
83 Overall Score

While there were some interesting flavors in the Alec Bradley Sanctum—especially the red pepper note that came out of nowhere during the second third—I just could not get over the sourness that the blend exhibited on the finish during the first third of each of the samples I smoked. While it was not strong enough to make me stop smoking, the note was obvious enough to affect the overall profile, at least in the first third. Thankfully, the final two thirds were not as problematic, and I enjoyed each of them quite a bit after that point, especially with the overall excellent construction. In the end, the Alec Bradley Sanctum is a decent enough cigar, but not one that I will be seeking out anytime in the future, at least not in the robusto vitola.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.