Alec Bradleyâ€™s Fine and Rare has returned for its fourth consecutive year with a new 10 tobacco blend. Each blend has been classified by a short letter and number code, as follows:
-Alec Bradley Fine and Rare 2011: Hj10-i
-Alec Bradley Fine and Rare 2012: BR1213
-Alec Bradley Fine and Rare 2013: Hj10-I (Same blend as 2011)
-Alec Bradley Fine and Rare 2014: Ta-25A
The Fine and Rare was originally released on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11) with a total released production of 1,111 boxes in three vitolas. In 2012, it was released with a new blend but in only one vitola. Alec Bradleyâ€™s 2013 release used the same blend as their original Fine and Rare from 2011, but also in only one vitola. This year, Alec Bradley has kept with their pattern by creating a new blend and releasing it in one vitola. Luckily for fans of the Fine and Rare, this yearâ€™s released production is set at 3,250 boxes of 10, which makes this year Alec Bradleyâ€™s largest Fine and Rare release to date. In addition to the 3,250 boxes of Fine and Rare, Alec Bradley has also released 250 special release boxes named â€œThe Blenderâ€™s Box,â€ which includes 10 Fine and Rare Ta-25A alongside 10 cigarillo sized â€œpuritos,â€ each containing one component of the 10 different tobaccos used for the blend.
Vitola: 7×54 Diadema
Wrapper: Honduran Trojes
Binder: Honduran & Nicaraguan double binder
Filler: Seven different Nicaraguan and Honduran Long Fillers
Appearance: The first thing I notice about the Alec Bradley Fine and Rare Ta-25A is the unmistakable band. Unlike most cigar bands which typically only provide the name of the cigar, country of origin and whether its handmade, hand wrapped, etcâ€¦ the Fine and Rare offers a small wealth of information, including: Number of cigars released, original roll date, release date, weekly quantity produced, factory name, signatures of the factory supervisor and rollers, signature of Ralph Montero, vice-president of Alec Bradley and the signature of Alan Rubin, president & founder of Alec Bradley. Beyond the band, the brown leather colored wrapper presents minor veins and a very well constructed cap. The wrapper is slightly oily and has a bit of tooth to it.
Pre Light: The Alec Bradley Fine and Rare Ta-25A gives off a sweet and earthy aroma. The cold draw gives off a pleasant combination of holiday spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon along with some oatmeal.
First Third: Right off the bat, I get a few good mouthfuls of black pepper and vanilla with a very distinct oak note on the finish. After the first inch or so, the black pepper fades just enough to let some of the other flavors come to the forefront. Notes of pecan and leather accompany the black pepper throughout the first third with a custard like flavor on the finish along with the oak. The Fine and Rare Ta-25A has a fantastic draw and gives off some serious clouds of rich smoke. The cigar sits at a solid medium-full body in the first third.
Second Third: The second third of Alec Bradleyâ€™s 2014 Fine and Rare Ta-25A offers a nice change in pace. The black pepper has faded out to a mild nuance, as opposed to it being one of the prominent flavors during the first third. The vanilla and pecan notes become more prominent along with more oak but now on the forefront. Apricot and subtle toffee- like notes are left on the palate after each puff which bring a wonderful complexity and balance to the cigar. There is a slight bitterness that begins to present itself towards the end of the second third, however. The strength has gone down to a medium during the second third with the draw and smoke production remaining consistent with the first third.
Final Third: As my nearly two and a half hour long journey through Alec Bradleyâ€™s 2014 Fine and Rare Ta-25A comes to a finish, there is yet one final change in its profile. Many of the sweeter, more delicate notes fade away as the oak becomes even more prominent and red pepper enters the scene, leaving my lips tingling a bit. Once I reach the â€œnubâ€ of the cigar, it begins to become quite bitter as if to let you know that you need to wrap it up before burning your fingers! The cigar ramped back up to a solid medium-full in the final third and only required a couple touch-ups throughout.
Closing Thoughts: I am certainly pleased, overall, with this yearâ€™s release of the Fine and Rare. There were some fantastic flavors and quite a bit of complexity, to say the least; However, I do think they would greatly benefit from a little more age. The draw was very good throughout the majority of the cigar, only tightening up towards the very end. Each puff delivered a consistently large production of thick smoke and, although there was some bitterness towards the latter portion of the cigar, it was never overbearing. With an MSRP of $18.50, it is difficult to justify considering what else you can pick up at that price; however, it is definitely a unique smoking experience â€“ not for everyone, but those of you who have enjoyed the Alec Bradley Fine and Rare from previous years will absolutely love this yearâ€™s release. If you have not tried the Fine and Rare but have been interested, I would suggest at least picking up a couple Ta-25Aâ€™s if you get the chance and want to try something new.
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