I want to thank Jason Harding of Best Cigar Prices for sending me some samples for review. I met Jason during a bizarre weekend in Thailand. But that’s another story.
This cigar, the Star Insignia, by Alec Bradley, is made exclusively for BCP. It was released close to two years ago. You may not have heard of it unless you are a BCP regular because they never strangled it with the PR machine. Word of mouth made it a successful in house cigar. Very popular with the customers.
But now, we unveil the cigar to a larger market. With me reviewing it, there is an absolute guarantee of adding 23 new people to the arena of new Star Insignia smokers.
I don’t have much info on it. I do know that the Nicaraguan leaves come from the Jalapa region. Plus I also know that this robusto size is, bar none, the most popular size in the cigar biz, especially when it is box pressed.
Construction is quite striking. A very dark coffee bean wrapper. A very well done double cap. Seams are beautiful. The veins are close to non-existent. The box press is very consistent from one cigar to another. And there is a nice mottling. It reminds me of our brindle colored boxer dog.
I clip the cap and search for aromas…The clipped cap sends out reams of dark cocoa and spice. The spice makes my eyes water. I smell some coffee, earth, fruit, leather, and cinnamon. Very nice.
Time to light it up.
The first puffs are redolent with baking cocoa. It matches the smell inch for inch. The draw is great. And the char line is close to perfect.
A pepper shows itself, but as raw jalapeno. It has that distinct green taste. Creaminess joins the fray right away. More flavors begin to display themselves. I can taste a dark espresso.
A lot of flavor so early on.
At the one inch mark, natural sweet tobacco arrives in conjunction with sweet raisin. And now leather with a touch of nuts; burnt almond. Almost marzipan because of all the sweetness occurring in this stick.
The earthiness is the bedrock of the cigar’s flavor profile. With the creaminess on top, it becomes a sandwich of flavors. There is a bourbon-like component. This is all brought on by the earthiness and sweetness of the tobacco. It is certainly an interesting mixture.
The flavors whizz by like a laser show at the L.A. Planetarium during a Pink Floyd show.
I gotta’ tell you….for a $6 cigar; it is pumping out flavors like a Saudi oil well. This is the perfect example of what I’ve said all along. Price does not dictate quality. And this cigar belies the misnomer that Bradley cigars need a lot of humidor aging before being ready to smoke.
The raisin reaches out to the cocoa and we have Raisinets. The cigar leaves the first third and all of the flavors expose themselves; legally of course, and becomes very close to a bona fide flavor bomb.
I should add that the cigar band is very ornate and beautiful. Honestly, house cigars normally have very basic bands, but the Bradley and BCP folks worked together to bring a stunning band with this special cigar. BCP doesn’t do many house cigars. A handful. That’s a good policy. It allows them to release, now and then, a house cigar that is very special and not just lumped in with a few dozen more house cigars. So clearly, quality is very important to BCP. Their name is not on the cigar but they take pride in it as if it were. Most cigar stores would insist that there would be an allusion to them somewhere on the band. Pretty classy, if you ask me.
The body has been a classic medium to this point. It will get fuller but it is allowing the flavors to make a statement first. The double cap is doing a great job. No detritus or loose leaves or shredding of the cap. For a $6 stick, this is very rare.
The halfway point sees a rise in the spiciness. The jalapeno taste has changed to red pepper. I liked that jalapeno. I could almost taste the biting into a fresh, green pepper. I’m from Southern California so I grew up on really good Mexican food. I miss that in Milwaukee…where culture comes to die.
The final third is upon me. The coffee component returns in style along with a strong dose of creaminess and spice. The cocoa remains the most important flavor but circles itself around the almond (marzipan), raisin, and sweetness.
The cigar isn’t terribly complex but makes up for in style. I’m sure months of humidor time will change that. I’m sure if I told the good folks at BCP that I will get back to you in three months with a review, they would all plotz and get a contract on me.
The last third sees the strength increase. Yet, not much nicotine is present. The draw gets even better. The cigar is breathing. The red pepper is very strong now. And barely tamed by the creaminess.
The aforementioned flavors are pushing forward trying to give this a candy bar-type profile.
The raisin moves over the top. This is a first for me. The raisin is so potent it tamps down the other flavors.
This is a very good cigar. I’m glad I had this opportunity to try it thanks to Jason and Best Cigar Prices. I’ve seen them in their mailed catalog but could never make my mind up. Jason did it for me. Thanks, Jason.
The cigar finishes with the strength reaching full bodied. The Star Insignia remains cool and not a harsh tone looming.
This Alec Bradley could easily compete with the top 10% of their blends. But much less expensive. So this is not only a wonderful cigar, but a great deal on top of that.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS