Cigar Review: Alec Bradley Harvest Selection 1997

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Size: 5×50, Robusto

Wrapper: Nicaraguan habano

Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano (‘97), Mexican Ligero (‘97), Nicaraguan Criollo (‘98)

Strength: Medium

Price: Box of 20, $59.95

Grade: 7.4

Alan Rubin cracked open the cigar industry’s door in 1997, leaving a lucrative career as an importer of screws and bolts. The company name is a combination of his two son’s first names, Alec and Bradley. Alan’s first hit was the Occidental Reserve, named from one of Hendrik Kelner of Davidoff’s factories, who helped with the blend. Since the OR, Alan has been very successful with his blends over the years. Alec Bradley has been receiving more attention lately due to the success of his highly rated Tempus and Prensado cigars.

The Harvest Selection that I am reviewing today is also available in a Habano and is made exclusively for Cigars International; in fact, the HS’s are not even mentioned on the Alec Bradley website in their product lineup.

I can’t remember where I picked up the Robusto, but I ordered a 5 pack of the Corona from Cigarbid.com. For this review, I smoked both the Robusto and the Corona and saw no real change in any of the categories; my review is of the Robusto. So, without a ton of information on this stick, other than an overemphasis of the fact that it is comprised of 10 year old filler, let’s toast the foot!

Pre-light, 1.7:
The Harvest Selection is another good looking smoke from Alec Bradley; in my opinion, they produce some of the best looking bands around. The construction is firm with no soft spots whatsoever. There were however two raised spots that were very rigid; it almost seemed that a group of stalks gathered to have a party. The wrapper had a very nice sheen to it and was medium-dark brown and very rustic. The head was double capped and the foot was well rounded and packed. The aroma was of sweet tobacco with some hints of bitter chocolate and caramel. The draw was tight and the flavor was sweet, with a slight bit of that Nicaraguan spice. As I mentioned, the label was very sharp looking and ornate; it was over an inch tall and dominated the exterior appearance.

Burn, 1.0:
I smoked two different sizes for the sole purpose of making sure the burn really was this bad; I haven’t heard many other comments on this so I wanted to be doubly-sure. And yes, it was a terrible draw. The foot lit stubbornly, the draw was slow with small clouds of smoke produced, and after the first third it was just about completely plugged. The Harvest Selection required constant attention and I can’t remember how many times I was forced to re-light, but well over 5 times.

Flavor, 2.7:
The flavor was the highlight (in between re-light and hard tugs to produce smoke). Up front, the Harvest Selection produced a shot of sweet pepper that served as a very nice introduction. There was also a pallet filling creaminess that remained for the entire first third. The second third morphed into all out earth flavors with some nice consistency and bits of cedar. There was a slight harshness that never seemed to go away but it wasn’t a huge distraction. Though slated as a medium-bodied cigar, I never noticed any force to this smoke at all. I could feel its presence, but only subtly.

Overall, 2.0:
If you were able to have Alec Bradley and Cigars International guarantee you that 70% of your box purchase would burn with only 10% issues, I’d say grab a box. But it seems a bit risky to me. The flavor on this stick is very enjoyable, which makes the burn issues so unfortunate. I’ll continue to give these a try, hoping to find a winner. If I do, I’ll let you know.

(Total: 7.4)