Alec Bradley Harvest Selection ’97

A few months ago I finally polished off a box of Alec Bradley Trilogy Cameroons. That box lasted over a year, and while it wasn’t quite up there with Torano’s 1916 cameroon, it was still a good smoke for a reasonable price. I have yet to smoke an Alec Bradley cigar I didn’t like (though I don’t care much for the proportions of the stump sized Maxx.)

Lately AB’s new Tempus brand is hogging the spotlight, and rightly so since the reviews that I’ve seen are almost uniformly favorable. But at nearly the same time that Tempus debuted, Cigars International unleashed an AB exclusive called Harvest Selection ‘97. I haven’t had a chance to smoke the Tempus, but when I saw CI running a Harvest Selection special for two bucks a stick, I jumped on them.

Since these appear to be made exclusively for CI, there isn’t much information about them aside from what CI generously extends to us: a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper (from 1997), plus filler leaf from the DR (1997 piloto cubano), Mexico (1997 ligero), and Nicaragua (criollo, class of 1998.) The description doesn’t specify a binder type, but it does supply lavish praise for the ample oils and medium bodied bouquet, etc. etc.

Which at least simplifies the research part of this review, so thank you CI.

The band on this cigar is just as large and ornate as the one on the Tempus. I’m hard pressed to think of another three-dollar cigar with a band this attractive — all that embossed red, yellow and gold detail is pretty impressive.

Setting off the brilliancy of the band is a golden colorado wrapper that appears almost semi-glossy. There are a few fine veins, but again, for a three-dollar smoke this one’s a looker. The roll is solid and the cap is firmly fixed. No triple wrap, but decent enough.

The draw is initially very good and it stays that way. The first flavors are earthy with a mildly peppery finish. It starts off fairly mild and slowly amps up to about a medium in body. The aroma is excellent, adding a sweet and fragrant element to the earth on the palate. The earthiness here reminds me of a milder version of the Gran Habano No. 5, with maybe a little more pepper (but less strength) than what the Gran Habano provides.

There aren’t any profound transitions in the second half, just a little more peppery intensity with maybe a touch of leather thrown in for good measure. Ironmeden from the Velvet Cigar thought this cigar bottomed out half-way through, but I didn’t find that the flavor vanished as much as it just coasted on. The last third seemed to get fairly dry, so having a neutral-flavored beverage on hand would be a good idea. (I was swilling some cheap light-bodied beer from El Salvador called Taurino.) The aroma from the Harvest Selection remains sweet to the end, but by the final stage the fragrance notes seem woodier and not as earthy as they were at the starting line.

I have noticed no construction issues with these cigars — so far all of them have burned evenly (with a little waver here and there) and have drawn very well.

The Alec Bradly Harvest Selection is not going to blow anyone’s socks off, but it’s a fantastic value. I managed to snag these for well under three dollars shipped, and I’m completely satisfied with them as an everyday casual walk-the-dog kind of cigar.

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8 thoughts on “Alec Bradley Harvest Selection ’97

  1. Hmm… interesting review.

    I’ve smoked a couple and both tasted fairly dry from the get go.

    If I may ask, do you recall the humidity level in your humidor at the time you smoked them?

  2. Christian — I could be wrong about this, but my guess is that dryness comes from the Mexican leaf in the blend. Mexican tobacco almost always tastes like that to me, but in this blend I didn’t find it overpowering.

    These have been lounging in the cheapodor at around 65% RH, give or take. The cheapodor isn’t the best at maintaining a consistent RH, but I use 65% beads and it stays in that vicinity.

  3. I found this to be cigar boring uneventful cigar.
    I tried then at lower humidity and at around 72.
    IMO this is just another CI exclusive that is some fancy banded substandard cigar.

  4. Yup, the “dryness” to the cigar is probably from the Mexican filler. I’ve smoked a handful of these guys, and that aspect of the flavor is always present. I scored these from CBid for 2 bucks/stick, and I guess you get what you pay for. I am happy with my purchase. Thanks for the review.

  5. I have had only one of the three I have in my humidor and I am hoping some sleep time will do that last two some good. I didn’t like anything about it. Dry and nothing to speak of in the flavor department. Kind of like dry cardboard with leaves mixed into it.

  6. Good enough for the price. It started out good, and finished good, no complaints. Better than any Ghurkas I’ve smoked, if that says anything.

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