Alec Bradley may be a household name in the cigar world after the success of their Tempus and Prensado cigars, but their journey to the top was anything but...
Alec Bradley may be a household name in the cigar world after the success of their Tempus and Prensado cigars, but their journey to the top was anything but easy. Alan Rubin started his career at his father's company and helped steer the family business to broader success and ultimately to a big payout when they sold the company. But his father wasn't a cigar blender from a Cuban family. No, he was a hardware wholesaler from Florida who specialized in selling screws to cabinet makers: Alan decided to focus on selling hurricane fasteners after Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida, greatly expanding the business. Alan used his proceeds from the sale to open up his own cigar business, having fallen in love with cigars over a decade earlier when he was in his early 20s. He named the company after his two sons, Alec and Bradley, hoping to make them proud. There was just one issue: he started selling cigars in 1996, at the height of the cigar boom and right before the bust.
Alan discovered that he had entered a glutted market filled with too many cigars and too few customers. It was difficult for him to even find a supplier to produce his cigars because there was so little room for a new blender in the market. His first cigars were mild-medium budget sticks meant for golfing, called Bogie Stogies. The other issue which quickly became apparent was that people outside Alan's native Florida didn't golf year-round. He found himself sinking into debt with little hope in sight.
Then in 2000, Alan's fortunes changed. He brought in Ralph Montero in as his business partner and Ralph helped the business broker a deal with the factory behind Davidoff cigars to produce a new line for Alec Bradley. Alan spent his remaining cash reserves on 500 samples of the new cigars, dubbed Occidental Reserve, which he sent out to retailers around the country. His gamble paid off: 300 of the retailers came back with an order for more cigars. Alec Bradley was finally on the map.
Four years later, Alec Bradley started making waves in the mainstream cigar industry with the triangle-pressed Trilogy and the Maxx, both of which were well received. They were on the verge of becoming a major player, they just needed the right cigar to push them into cigar fame. Alan had partnered with the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras to acquire Trojes tobacco for his Maxx cigars, but the tobacco wasn't ready in time for the release. So in 2007, he went to Honduras to finalize his next blend, taking Ralph with him. After one puff of a particular blend, Alan knew he had struck gold. The cigar was bolder than anything Alec Bradley had ever sold and wonderfully aromatic. And Alan's instincts were right: the Tempus, named in honor of how long Alan had waited for his big break and the Trojes tobacco, took the world by storm.
Two years later, Alec Bradley released another blend that used the remarkable Trojes leaves: the Prensado. The blend won Cigar of the Year in 2011 and cemented Alec Bradley's place as one of the greats. Rolled at Raices Cubanas on the Honduran side of the Jalapa Valley, just over the border from Nicaragua, the cigar is an ode to Central American tobacco. The wrapper is the signature Trojes Corojo leaf which is a rich brown and enticingly oily. Underneath lies a powerful Nicaraguan binder leaf. Then the two countries come together in the long-filler blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. This firm Churchill is box-pressed and superbly constructed. The draw is just right and the burn fairly even. Flavors are the real star of the show though. The cigar is a true full-bodied blend, thanks to its Nicaraguan binder and fillers, but the Honduran wrapper keeps the strength in control and delivers some truly delicious flavors. Leather, chocolate, and spice play equal parts in this classic cigar. The pepper, spice, and wood flavors dominate the first few puffs but the sweet notes build as you smoke, making for a truly satisfying experience. The Prensado shows just how great Honduran tobacco, and a premium Alec Bradley cigar, can be.