When Alec Bradley founder, Alan Rubin, first told his two boys that they could have their own line of cigars, it came with one hell of a hefty stipulation.
Alec and Bradly Rubin not only had to concoct their own premium cigar blends, but they also had to bankroll the entire operation and oversee its development from start to finish. Just the way that dear old dad did way back in the day.
And by golly they did it... and then some!
Take the Alec & Bradley "Kintsugi" in toro form for instance. Not only is it a very well-balanced cigar, but it also secured a top spot in Cigar Aficionado's coveted "Top 25" back in 2021. Thus making it one of the best stogies on the market today...
All of those golden cracks across the bold white and cobalt blue band make for a very impressive conversation piece. The boys even went as far as outlining the word "Kintsugi" in raised gold ridges, and then had their names inscribed on the back of the band in Japanese katakana characters: "アレックとブラッドリー"
Beauty of a band aside, the toro-sized parejo packs aromas of freshly cracked clove, wildflower honey, and toasty cedar. There's also that familiar scent of Honduran Habano earthiness.
This is mimicked by the same flavors upon the unlit cold pull side, but with a dry woodsy aftertaste that reminds me of the smell you get inside of a lumber mill.
The particular stick that I chose to puff on did have some soft spots here and there, and the cap on it definitely had some rough seams on one side. But outside of that, the construction of the milk chocolate-colored Habano appeared passable as a solid smoke.
Things started off with a surprisingly peppery kick with the "Kintsugi" by Alec & Bradley.
A mixed peppercorn punch of spice, accompanied by a strong cedar presence and a distinctly Habano-forward cigar flavor profile was all that I could detect at first.
But as the stick simmered down, so too did the intensity, and with it came flavors of milky cocoa, toasted almonds, cashews, and a fun little transition from cedar to sandalwood.
The aroma at this point spiked to a near-salivating level, with whiffs of clove and that tart wildflower honey appearing here and there.
The second half began with even more milky nuttiness and a move toward a more Habano earthen taste than before. Spice died back almost entirely unless retrohaled, where it was detectable but not nose hair singeing strong.
Still dry and woodsy, the sandalwood stampede of smoke shifted toward more of a lingering aftertaste than a frontrunner, and with it came the slightest hint of bitter orange peel. Not enough to be cloying or unpleasant. But just enough tang to make me smack my lips and take another pull.
Winding down, "Kintsugi" fell back on familiar Habano flavors like earthy Honduran spice and milk chocolate.
Fortunately, the cashew milk and toasted almond flavors from previously were still strong enough to carry over into the parting puffs of the final third.
The result? A premium cigar blend that finished up with a flavor profile that was subtly complex, and familiar enough that it could be deemed approachable by many a fan of medium-strength stogies.
Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw
My biggest gripes with this cigar were with its construction. While it did not require a single touch-up throughout its nearly two-hour duration, and kept a nice ash throughout, its soft spots and mottling hidden beneath the band were a bit unexpected.
Flat spots, bulging seams from the double binder poking out of the wrapper, and the coarsely finished side of the cap all added up to some point deductions when factored together. The soft spots also caused some accelerated burn issues to occur, along with a far too loose of a draw during their duration.
To find all of these things on one stick shows that there was a definite oversight on the floor that day down in Honduras.
However, despite these construction complaints, I found "Kintsugi" to be an extremely pleasing cigar.
Not only was it a stellar burner, but it also provided a balance between Habano spice and earthiness, and all of those milky, nutty chocolate nougat tastes we tend to enjoy.
Could it have been a little more complex for my personal preferences? Sure. Was it unpleasant in any form? Nope!
I'll be smoking another one of these sticks here later this year to see how it tastes, smells, burns, and feels. Judging by my first encounter with this premium cigar blend I'm going to enjoy it all the more when that time comes...
Alec & Bradley
Honduras & Nicaragua
Honduras & Nicaragua
6" x 52 "Toro"
Dydo Japanese Ginger Ale