When Alen Rubin set up Alec Bradley Cigars in 1996, no one knew what an impact he would have on the market.
A couple of decades later, and the Alec Bradley brand of cigars sits at the winners’ table with age-old masterpieces like Romeo Y Julieta and the Montecristos.
Alen Rubin is a master of invention. He likes to go where no other blender has gone by experimenting with little known tobaccos from obscure countries. Usually, his blends feature tobacco from upwards of 4 different countries; aged and cured to perfection.
As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of Alec Bradley Cigars.
I have quite a stack of them in my humidor; and this is not a vapid statement to brag.
Well, maybe just a little.
Rather, it’s a side note to emphasize the importance of allowing your AB smokes to age in the humidor for a while.
Much as we would all love to light up a cigar as soon as we get home from the store, it is always wise to let them age for a while. Some brands benefit from the aging more than others and Alec Bradley falls in the latter.
Today, I am all about one of Alec Bradley’s bad boys; the Black Market.
Even the name is dark and delicious.
Let’s see how this baby plays out.
The Black Market is a tantalizing little number released at the International Premium Cigars and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) Convention in 2011.
The AB Black Market is hand-made at Tabacos de Oriente in Danli, Honduras. What makes this blend special is the fact that the fillers are sourced from 4 different countries.
For this blend, Alen Rubin used only Viso and Ligero leaves. Viso and Ligero leaves are found at the top half of the tobacco plant and they pack more flavour and depth. Seco and Volado leaves (usually found at the mid to bottom of the tobacco plant) are mild. They do, however, smoke better and slower.
Black Market comes in 7 Vitolas.
One of Alen Rubin’s quirky habits is to come up with new cigar shapes and sizes.
The AB Black Market rocks premium long fillers from the Jamastran Valley in Honduras mixed with premium long filler tobacco from Panama. The binder is an iconic spicy Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf while the wrapper is a sweet, decadent Nicaraguan Jalapa.
The wrapper is a dark cocoa colour with a bit of tooth. It is oily evidenced by the velvety sheen and fatty feel on the lips. The foot is a Cuban-style triple-cap.
Some AB Black Market stogies enjoy a Colorado Maduro wrapper.
The AB Black Market is a scrumptious cigar; to say the least.
You can expect a cornucopia of flavour notes starting from blasts of red pepper, dark chocolate, rich creamy espresso, a pinch of spice (or what I deduced as cloves), cedar, earth, and underlying notes of leather.
Even though Black Market does not have much in the way of transitions, it manages to stay interesting enough throughout the smoke.
In my experience, sometimes, all you need is a delicate balance of flavours. Transitions can sometimes go horridly wrong. This baby is scrumptiously consistent in flavour, intensity, and complexity.
The burn line and smoke output are outstanding. You may experience a slight decrease in smoke output a few draws in. However, as the cigar settles into a luxurious cruise of flavours, your thick cottony billows of chewy smoke will return.
It wouldn’t be a proper AB Black Market review without touching on the packaging.
And boy, is it dramatic!
The Black Market comes in a carte-like miniature cargo crate. Just like the name, this prohibition-style crate is reminiscent of bootlegging and all those illegal “black market” trades.
Each box contains 22 decadent Black Markets with their dramatic bands. One band practically covers half of the cigar. I find this quite cute. Maybe it does something to protect the wrapper; I don’t know. It has “Black Market” written across it in military-style font.
The secondary band is standard size.
Why is the Alec Bradley Black Market Cigar Becoming More Popular on Store Shelves?
Black Market falls right in the sweet spot of all cigar enthusiasts.
For one, it is a delectable stogie with a calm consistent flavour profile. It will not overwhelm even a newbie since the strength remains medium. For this reason, it is the perfect cigar to have at the end of the day or while doing any mindless activity like mowing the lawn.
Two, the price point on these babies is great. At between $6 and $9, you can buy these by the box and enjoy them over time.
Third, you can’t argue with ratings. This stogie garnered a 90+ rating from Cigar Aficionado. In fact, the original Black Market did so well that Alen Rubin added Black Market Esteli and Black Market Vandal to the line.
Which is the Most Popular Size?
As earlier stated, Alen Rubin loves experimenting with new sizes and shapes.
And while Black Market features funky new sizes like the Chunk (4×60) and Punk (4.2×42), the most popular size remains the Gordo (6×60).
Well, I guess it’s just more cigar for you to enjoy!
Is Black Market One of the Best Cigars in the Alec Bradley Line?
And this is saying a lot considering Alec Bradley’s list of homeruns including the Tempus and Prensado lines.
In my humble opinion, the Black Market is often misunderstood. If you are looking for a complex cigar with a surprise waiting at every corner, this is the wrong cigar for you. But if all you want is a great, relaxing cigar experience, then you are in the right company.
How Does Black Market Compare to Other Medium Bodied Nicaraguan Cigars?
The AB Black Market would be formidable contender in the Nicaraguan Cigars wall of fame contest, if there ever was any.
Even though I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is the best Nicaraguan cigar ever. But it does offer enough depth and flavour to beat most of the other Nicaraguan Cigars in the market.
Alec Bradley Cigars never skimp on flavour or value and the Black Market is no exception.
The Alec Bradley Black Market should definitely be in your regular rotation. It does exceptionally well in the humidor. If you get a box, you will have a cute keepsake and delicious stogies to enjoy well into the foreseeable future.