Alec Bradley Select Cabinet Reserve (SCR)

SCR

The Trojes region of Honduras came to attention last year when Alec Bradley released the long-awaited Tempus cigar. Alan Rubin has gone back to Trojes again for the Select Cabinet Reserve, but this time for a more balanced and less powerful blend.

The SCR cigar is made in the same factory as the Tempus — Raices Cubanas in Honduras — and that is a very good thing. And of course the tobaccos themselves are very similar, relying heavily on leaf from Trojes but also employing an Indonesian binder and some filler from Nicaragua.

SCRFootNow, keeping in mind that this area is still in the rich area of Central America that includes both the Jalapa Valley of Nicaragua and the Jamastran of Honduras, the Nicaragua-Honduras distinction might be a little academic. Trojes is equidistant from both Esteli, the capital of Nicaraguan cigar production, and Danli, it’s Honduran equivalent. (More importantly, I wonder if people from Trojes call themselves “Trojens.” Try yelling that when USC comes to play.)

An odd thing about the SCR is its use of two binders: the expected one from Trojes, but also a leaf called “Indonesia Embetunada.” Embetunar means “to polish” or according to my somewhat wonky Diccionario, “to cover with gum-resin or bitumen.” Betún is a common word for shoe polish. What on earth are they doing to this binder?

SCR2

I haven’t been able to uncover an explanation, but in the cigar world betún is a sweet fermented concoction created from the immersion of tobacco stems and scraps in water or rum or god-knows-what-else to create a sticky black casing. This is then used to treat tobacco leaves for cigars. Sometimes this is a way to artificially darken or flavor maduro wrappers, but in this case it appears to serve a different purpose. Maybe it’s the secret ingredient?

The SCR was released earlier this year in five sizes:

  • Churchill – 7 x 48
  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Corona – 5 1/2 x 42
  • Gran Robusto – 5 1/2 x 60
  • Torpedo – 6 1/8 x 52

I smoked the corona and the robusto for this review and was surprised to find that these taste like radically different cigars.

Construction Notes

SCRFootbandsThe huge band on this cigar, accompanied by its smaller foot band, might lead one to believe that this cigar has something to hide. And while it’s true that the dusky colorado maduro wrapper is a bit rough and veiny, it’s not so unattractive that it must be veiled from sight. Sometimes the foot band would slip off easily; other times I had to peel it, and as usual this meant chipping the wrapper at the foot. That is why I hate foot bands.

The roll tended to be inconsistent, but in all cases fair enough with no draw problems. The SCR is topped with a nice triple-cap, which seems to be standard procedure at Raices Cubanas. They’re not the museum quality specimens that roll off Don Pepin’s tables, but they’re attractive nevertheless. Most of these burned a little off-kilter but never needed correction.

Overall very good construction.

Tasting Notes

Frequently a single blend will exhibit distinctive characteristics depending on the size of the cigar, but in this case the difference was extreme. Smaller ring gauges tend to highlight the wrapper, which is usually the most flavorful part of the cigar, and this proved to the corona’s advantage here.

SCR3

The corona starts up with a spicy sharp flavor that slowly gives rise to smoked meat with a paprika sting on the nose. There is a serious sneeze factor. Eventually the meaty notes mellow a little and turn to leather. The robusto by contrast is much mellower, focusing on wood and leather with none of the zing of the corona.

The mid-section of the corona continues to showcase sweet spicy pepper notes that really rock the sinuses. On the lower end of the scale there is leather and a touch of cinnamon. The spices kick in for the robusto at this point, but are subdued when compared to the corona. Some of the cinnamon shows up in the robusto, but it is dominated by soft woody flavors with a maple syrup-like top note.

The last third of the corona is biting with a long peppery finish and a noticeable nicotine kick. The robusto gets a little more serious, picking up some of the pepper and sneeziness of the corona, but stays pretty mellow for the most part.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed both of these cigars, but to me they seemed almost unrelated to each other. The SCR corona smokes a lot like the Tempus — it’s an expressive and fiery little guy with a lot of spice. The robusto, on the other hand, is more reticent. A little wood, a little leather, and its job is done. The corona shows up with a shot of tequila. The robusto brings a microbrew.

Both are great smokes. I just can’t believe how different they are. I probably liked the robusto a little more because it lives up to the SCR billing: a smoother and more balanced Tempus. And while the corona is a fine smoke as well, you could just as well pick up a Tempus Genesis if this is what you’re after.

I picked up the coronas for around 5 USD per stick. The robustos might run a dollar higher. In either case it’s money well spent.

SCR4

Final Scores:

Corona: 88

Robusto: 89

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6 thoughts on “Alec Bradley Select Cabinet Reserve (SCR)

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