In the wake of critical hits like Prensado and the Family Blend, the folks at Alec Bradley might be expected to kick back and bask in the glow of their well-deserved success. But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re back at work, inventing new cigars like the Fine and Rare (a blend of 10 different tobacco leaves) and this one, the Black Market.
“New” is a relative term, of course. These cigars were released last year, before Prensado took home the gold in the Cigar Aficionado rankings at the beginning of this year. Even so, I don’t think these guys are going to be sitting around on their laurels too long.
The Black Market is an unusual looking cigar from the start: it doesn’t appear to have a band. A gray sleeve covers the lower part of the cigar. When removed it reveals a standard size cigar band positioned in the middle of the stick. This is distinctive and appealing, but it raises fears that it might not be easily removed. I was pleased to find that the wrapper is smooth enough and the band is glued with enough care that it slides easily toward the head of the cigar.
The Black Market is also a little unusual under the hood: this cigar is composed entirely of viso and ligero leaves. Usually a blend contains at least some seco leaf for balance and aroma, but not this one.
The wrapper is from the Jalapa Valley in Nicaragua, the binder is Sumatran, and the filler is from Panama and Honduras. The cigar is manufactured in Honduras in five sizes:
- Robusto 5 1/4 x 52
- Toro 6 x 50
- Churchill 7 x 50
- Torpedo 6 1/8 x 54
- Gordo 6 x 60
Slipping the sleeve from the shank of the cigar reveals a glossy dark colorado wrapper, so dark that it is almost maduro in shade. The leaf is a little veiny, but the oiliness of the leaf compensates for this minor detraction. The head is round and finished with a triple cap.
The roll is quite firm but the draw is good, and it burns evenly from first light to last ash. Which is smooth and solid, by the way.
Overall excellent construction.
The first flavors to emerge from the Black Market Robusto are the sweet woody notes of Aganorsa tobacco. I don’t know if that’s what this wrapper is, but if I had to guess, that’s what I’d say. What differentiates this cigar from the many other cigars utilizing this ever popular leaf is the lack of pepper. There is very little sharpness here. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the taste “round,” but the flavors are smooth, balanced, and distinguished enough that the pepper is not missed.
Mild coffee and chocolate flavors add to the mix after half an inch or so. The cigar’s body is decidedly in the medium range, remaining smooth and quite easy to smoke. The chocolate flavors are tempered a bit in the mid-section, leveling out to cocoa, with a touch of earthiness edging its way in. The aftertaste is clean and light.
The final section is a little more concentrated as the cocoa veers toward caramel and the earth becomes more pronounced. The aroma remains sweet and woody, and the cigar winds down with just a touch of char.
Alec Bradley’s Black Market Robusto is an unusual and intriguing blend because it offers many of the flavors associated with popular Nicaraguan-style cigars without the aggressive bite and acidity that affects so many of them. I’m curious if the seco-less composition has anything to do with this, or if it’s the Panamanian wild card. Whatever it is, this is a smooth and flavorful cigar.
The flavors don’t transition too much, but the cigar is perfectly charming the way it is. The complex blend of sweet wood, coffee, and earthiness is enough to sustain the medium-bodied cigar smoker’s interest for 45 to 60 very pleasurable minutes. The MSRP is around $6-7 USD for the robusto, a pretty reasonable deal all around.
Final Score: 91