Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 5.125 x 42 Corona
Strength: Medium
Price: $8.75

Today we take a look at the Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper.
I’ve had it since it was released in September; or about 3 months.
A gift from Calvin Kush.
One thing I noticed is that almost every online store shows the corona size different in each case as far as its length. I measured it and it is 5-1/8” long. Some even show the ring gauge as 44. It is 42. Clearly, not a lot of checking of people’s copywriting goes on.

Factory: Tabacalera La Alianza S.A. (Dominican Republic)
Release Date: September 2019
Regular Production
Blender: Alec Rubin, Bradley Rubin and Ernesto Perez Carrillo
From Cigar Aficionado:
“Alec and Bradley Rubin, the namesake of father Alan Rubin’s Alec Bradley Cigar Co., are heading to the Dominican Republic for their next cigar project. The brothers have teamed up with legendary cigarmaker and Cigar Aficionado Hall of Famer Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, owner of EPC Cigar Co., on a new brand called Gatekeeper.

“The brothers’ follow-up to last year’s Blind Faith, Gatekeeper features an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper, binder from Nicaragua and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The new smoke debuted at the 2019 IPCPR trade show.

“Unlike Blind Faith, which was a limited edition, the new smoke is a regular-production cigar and will debut in four sizes: Corona, measuring 5 1/8 inches by 42 ring gauge; Robusto, 5 by 50; Toro, 6 by 52; and Gordo, 6 by 60. The line will retail from $8.75 to $12.25 and will be packed in 20-count boxes.
“Gatekeeper is being rolled at Tabacalera La Alianza, Perez-Carrillo’s cigar factory located in Santiago, Dominican Republic. It’s the factory where all EPC Cigar Co. brands are produced, including the E.P. Carrillo Encore Majestic, Cigar Aficionado’s reigning Cigar of the Year.

“According to the company, the bands and packaging are inspired by Gothic Era artwork such as the Medusa head above.

“According to the company, the bands and packaging are inspired by Gothic Era artwork such as the Medusa head.”

Corona: 5.125 x 42 $8.75
Robusto: 5 x 50 $10.50
Toro: 6 x 52 $11.50
Gordo: 6 x 60 $12.25

Under room light, the cigar’s wrapper is sort of a coppery brown. In sunlight, it shines with oils and emollients to become a reddish/orange brown.
The skin is super smooth. Seams are hidden. Lots of veins for your road map to Tijuana. And a mish mosh of what I assume is a triple cap.
The stick is evenly distributed without soft or hard spots.
It’s a little bitty cigar so this shouldn’t take long…

Aromas are very mild like a mild case of chlamydia. There are notes of milk chocolate. malt, white pepper, some espresso elements, earthy tobacco notes, and a touch of black licorice.
The cold draw presents flavors of white pepper, milk chocolate, malt, licorice, molasses, espresso, and cedar.

First thing I did was look for other reviews. Only found a couple…never a good sign after a new release 3 months into its little sausage bodies hitting the shelves. Not one Gigantor Reviewer has touched it yet (I’m in the middle like the purple onion on lox, cream cheese, and bagel sandwich) And stranger yet, the reviews I found went the gamut from ‘meh’ to ‘better than sliced bread.’ I tried one a month ago and said meh. But it wasn’t my first stick of the day and I was still suffering a little sinusitis.
So, either I’m going to fawn over this blend…or I’m going to take a total crap on it. I’m going to piss off some smokers no matter which way I go.

Let us see where this mental copulation leads…a huge boner? Or a worn out cantaloupe.

The draw is a little plugged so I grab my trusty PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool and snag the blockage right at the cigar band point and I’m good to go. Just had too much resistance.

Nice flavors to start: Generic sweetness, a good dose of white pepper, lots of cedar, earthy, unidentifiable savory notes…
But nothing special…like forcing down a box of mac and cheese for 29 cents. It works but does not gratify.

Strength is an immediate medium. Like the size of shirt I wore when I was 11.

The blend starts off very ordinary. It could be one of a million other Nic mixed blends. Bradley let the kids do the blending. What a nice dad. Schmuck. And you get to pay for their time in the sandbox.

The burn is fine. The flavors are akin to sucking on a tobacco flavored paint stick.

Now the corona, based on its size, should be extremely flavorful compared to bigger sized sticks. Uh oh for the Gordo. You may have to hire a Haitian caregiver to sit on this baby for 8 months before it’s ready to smoke.

Morons on Cbid are paying more than the cigar is worth. I don’t get the attraction to this cigar. It is plainly a broken dildo.

This is why no one is reviewing it…they don’t want to piss of Alan Rubin.

This little pisher is smoking quickly. I’m nearly 1-1/2” into it before it begins to show of some sort of personality. There is a little more depth but that is a piss poor recommendation.
Flavors are nearly mute…hovering around earth, wind, and leather.

I read Developing Palates review in which 4 guys go at it oiled up and in the ring. They are spot on. It’s a dog turd but they are much more polite than I. But their scores don’t lie.

Based on how I was wiped out a couple times on Cbid trying to snag a fiver, I figured they must be the latest rage. Boy, am I glad that Calvin bought these and not me. Thanks, bud.

The guys at DP struggled to find flavors. I give them props for that. But this is about as flavorless as a dead hooker’s pussy…don’t ask.

This actually may be the worst Alec Bradley release ever. And he has some real litter covered cat turds on the market. Yet, his Magic Toast appeared on my top 25 list this year. He should have bought his boys a new tobacco farm Lego set instead.

Man, this cigar just ain’t going to get any better. My fervent hope is that it doesn’t get worse. At this point, a good Rum Crook would go down well.

Zero complexity. No transitions on the horizon. And the finish is barely existent. I see no potential in extended humidor time. I see Alec Bradley Co. serving me with a cease and desist order and then a slander suit to follow. Go ahead…take away my Social Security…I can make a living on the streets giving BJ’s to truckers.

Every now and again, some creaminess appears giving the false positive of a decent blend. The spiciness is on its death bed. The chocolate and espresso took off for the closet to sniff my wife’s shoes.

I do love the mustiness now present. Gives a whole new meaning for fucked up.

Thank you, baby Jesus, for Calvin not sending me a bigger version of this stick. With the corona, we are talking maybe 35-45 minutes of smoke time. If I had a Toro to review, I would have done myself in the same way David Carradine did. But you gotta admit…going out with a spooge leap is better than your wife drowning you in a public bidet.

This is a regular production cigar…Ha. It won’t be around in 2020. And what’s left of it will hit the bargain racks soon. You will be able to buy a fiver of Alec & Bradley Gatekeepers for the same price as Avanti 2nds.

This is a great $2 stick.
I mean there is nothing going on here. It’s like the first time your mom caught you jerking off and tried to talk your way out of it. It never happened. That is my hope with this blend…it never happened. But mom had nothing to do with it.

I checked Cbid and none for auction. Halle-fucking-leujah. That’s right…save the lives of smokers who could have donated $50 to their favorite glue sniffer’s charity.

The second half is a little better for a $2 stick. There are a few flavors trying to sneak their way out of this tampon. Maltiness and white pepper return. The tiniest hint of espresso reappears. Some creaminess saves the day for a total loss.

For you guys who know what you like and what you don’t like…I just saved you from the stink eye emitted from your mean as a snake wife’s face.

I can’t believe I wasted my time taking the above photo.
The mustiness has gone away.
But now bitterness sinks in. Fuck me…

I’m smacking my lips like a dog that just ate its own turd…doesn’t taste as good as you though it would, did you Fido?

This is an illegal abortion. I’d give $4 for a wire hanger right now.

I decide to gouge my eyes out with a hot butter knife. Ahh…I feel better now…where was I?
Oh shit. The Gatekeeper. I think the little corona keeps growing back because it seems to never end.
The bitterness is now stronger. That’s nice.

Has anyone ever varied from the numerical ratings and given a dog turd a “Fuck You.”

Calvin Kush is now preparing a new package for me in which he stuffs lime and an M80 firecracker inside.

The bitterness stops. That was fun.
Now it’s just a soulless blend. Are the Rubin boys too old to spank?

If you’ve bought this stick, smoked it, and enjoyed it…you have a serious chemical imbalance.

Take my first sip of water and it miraculously erases all traces of the cigar’s taste. Fucking A.
I fondle the balance of the cigar in my hand. It whimpers, “I like you too, Father Kohn.”
I’m done. I need to look up the particulars on just how Carradine tied the rope.

RATING: Bullshit on a Stick

I’ve published this story more than a few times. But as I am always adding new readers and followers, I ask the permission of my regulars to forgive me for being redundant.
Carry on…

And now for something completely different:

We had decided to record our album in a high falutin’ recording studio: Sunset Gower in Hollywood. $250 an hour in 1981. Ouch.
Rick Tunstall, our band leader, composer, singer, and guitarist had managed to get hold of world famous, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine.

I had worshiped this man since I was 16. As a teen, in fact all teens, were fascinated by the liner notes on all albums.

Hal was part of the rhythm team (L.A. Wrecking Crew) that played on all the Simon & Garfunkel albums, all of the Mamas & Papas albums, the Beach Boys, and just about everyone in the music business. Hal is a brilliant drummer. If you look at a photo of Hal’s drum kit, it is the exact same as Ringo’s kit.

Ringo copied Hal’s set up…and in fact, Hal played on quite a few Beatles songs; especially on the White Album when everyone was mad at each other. Hal is loyal to a fault. I was never able to get him to tell me which Beatles songs he played on. But it was widely known in the music biz that he did do this.

So, Rick and I were already at the studio. The cartage company had arrived with Hal’s drum set. They worked like clockwork to assemble it properly….and then The Man showed up.

I had been in contact with all of my rock n roll heroes while I played in the English band, Curved Air in the mid 70’s so I knew how to keep my cool…but with Hal, this was different.

The man was not very tall and had a slim build. He is Jewish so I let him know I was, as well….what was I thinking? That he would fall in love with me?

We kibitzed for a while and we explained the original tunes we would be recording. The recording area was huge! Like a gymnasium.

Hal sat at his kit fine tuning it after being moved. He reached into his stick bag, hanging from the snare, and pulled out some sheet music. He motioned me over and showed it to me.
It was drum sheet music written by hand. By Paul Simon’s hand. It was “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I was in shock. Hal let me hold it. I stared at it like it was the Holy Grail.

We rehearsed our first song one time and Hal had it. Just before we hit the “record” button, Hal said to me, “Phil, you’re a pretty good bassist. Have you done session work?”
I gurgled something that basically meant no. Even though that wasn’t true. But not big time session work.
“I can get you some work if you want?”
I exploded with: #%^&&@D^@&(@!!!!!!
I think it meant, “Would I? Hell, yes”

We spent a month recording an album’s worth of material. And Hal was there for about 2 weeks to do the rhythm tracks.

Here I was, playing bass against Hal Blaine’s licks. Surreal doesn’t begin to explain the situation. I was sweating like crazy.

I gave Hal some suggestions and he gave me his suggestions. We worked as a team. And he “always” had great ideas to make things work better.

Between tracks, Hal and I would sit in the booth and kibitz. He told me stories as if he was Uncle Remus. He could drop names like no one I had ever met. I’ve always loved stories about rock. I’ve met numerous musicians that when you tell them stories, they become jealous and just turn you off. Not me. Anyone I meet that has stories to tell, I’m all in.

He told me inside stories that had me in rapture. Meanwhile, my partner Rick, took me into the lounge and proceeded to scream at me…”Do you know that the 15 minute story that Hal told cost us $85?”
I bowed my head in shame but I really didn’t care. If paying $250 an hour to listen to Hal was the price, it was well worth it.

Hal was true to his word getting me big session work in L.A. He later went on to become my mentor doing all sorts of things for me at my own recording studio in Long Beach. We became good friends. He took scale money from me for recordings that made me a big shot in my customer’s eyes. All of the Long Beach musician community found out that at Sound Sorcery Recording Studio, Hal Blaine was available to play on their songs. I was treated like the Godfather.

I have lots of Blaine stories because he was so important to me. I will sneak then in when appropriate.
Hal died this last March at age 90. The month before, a huge party was thrown for his birthday at a Hollywood club and every iconic drummer and musician showed up. Apparently, he played his ass off. A final performance. God speed, Harold Simon Belsky.

Photo: L-R: Rick Tunstall, radio DJ Marshal Thomas, Hal Blaine, & Me

At my Long Beach studio: Top is Hal and drummer Stephen Hodges. Bottom is me and Hal.


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12 replies

  1. I agree! Alec Bradley should be ashamed of themselves for releasing such a sucky blend. Even if a blend is not in my wheelhouse of preference I can appreciate when it’s high quality and the blender gave a damn. This gatekeeper was pure garbage for my palate. Nothing to appreciate but the enticing looking band.

  2. Alec Bradley should concentrate a bit more on making products that are worthwhile and less on massive runs on poorly made sticks. As , a rule , I don’t smoke them with the exception of a couple of their blends.

  3. #2 Dominican Cigar of the year in Cigar Lover magazine. WTF?

  4. Hey Max,
    This is Cigar Lover’s complete review, soup to nuts:
    “Wood, black pepper and spicy tips kick off the smoke. Then, a mix peanuts and walnuts is outlined, flanked by a vegetal nuance. The final part turns to intense earthy notes and balsamic herbs.”
    Not exactly an impressive review. In fact, I don’t find any of their reviews complete or informative. They look like they were written by the coffee boy at the office. They are short and uninteresting. I give them no credence.

    And…I said at the beginning of my review:
    “And stranger yet, the reviews I found went the gamut from ‘meh’ to ‘better than sliced bread.’”
    So, there is no accounting for the magical palate. It certainly does not belong in a top 25 cigar list.

  5. Holy shit, Katman! I certainly did not see this coming. Ernesto Carrillo worked on this project for god sakes. What the hell happened? I read a positive review on this cigar yesterday, but it was grossly obvious a hacked on piece of writing. I began to smell something rotten in the state of Denmark, and you confirmed my suspicions. Damn shame. Thanks for the heads up. We get enough of this fancy hollow band crap from Gurkha. Now the Rubins. Say it ain’t so, Katman. Off the subject, I scored a 10ct box of MOW Ruination 10th Anniversaries this weekend for $28.00. Has the world gone nuts or am I living right? Probably the former.

  6. Hi Darryl,
    Anytime I see such varied reviews of a blend, I know something is wrong. Add to that the Gigantor cigar industry reviewers aren’t touching it tells me the cigar needs to be investigated. The bullshit is usually revealed. I believe Rubin was asleep at the wheel on this one not wanting to upset his boys.
    Wow, you scored on those MOW’s.
    All the best,

  7. You are an inspiration to me every time I go to choose a particular cigar. You are straight forward with such compassion for your reviews. You have been spot on every time I try the cigars you review. Have a great holiday season and thanks again for making cigar smoking an art… and so much fun… Sincerely grateful, Jim

  8. Thank you, Jim. Such kind words. Bottom line is I write for my readers, not the cigar industry.
    Sometimes, I think I’m full of shit but it’s so natural that I can no longer tell.
    Have a great holiday season and all the best to you and yours,

  9. I didn’t like it either. It looked nice inside the cellophane wrapper and smelled okay but smoked worse than a Phillies Blunt. Ever roll a joint and sprinkle some rust powder on it, instead of hash? Me neither, but I bet it would taste very similar to the Gatekeeper. Good review, Mr K. I was laughing out loud. I haven’t done that in awhile and it actually made my heart feel good. So thank you for the entertainment!
    -Cal K.

  10. Hey Calvin,
    Glad you sent me this cigar saving me the trouble and cost of buying it myself.
    I owe you big daddy.

  11. Dojo just gave this a good review. I’m so confused.

  12. Me too.
    I have no reason to impugn the integrity of Cigar Dojo. They are a solid bunch.
    But based upon my experience and so many others I’ve heard from, the cigar just ain’t that good.
    I can’t explain…other to than to say it is good to read other reviewers. Buy a fiver and make your own decision.

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