Alec Bradley Black Market Estelí Diamond L.E. 2020 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.25 X 54 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $9.85 (Can be had for a dollar less online)





The cigar shape was introduced in 2020. Look around, and while it was an extremely limited release, it is still available online. Same thing goes for the 2021 release. Reviews are sparse. Halfwheel gave the 2020 version an 89 and found problems with the shape morphing, but not in a good way.

I’ve had my cigars for 2-1/2 months. Should be enough to get an idea where the blend is going.

Alec Bradley didn’t see smokers go wild over this cigar as the 2020 is still available online. So, since the 2021 is the same blend as the 2020, I chose to go with the 2020 version that has an extra year of aging on it.

And many thanks to my good friend (Fill in the blank). He would rather that I did not mention his name. I get it. Being associated with me is no holiday.

BACKGROUND:
Released October 2020
Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
From Halfwheel.com (3-25-2021):
“The cigar (2021 version) is a unique 6 1/4 x 54 box-pressed shape that has a shape that forms a rhombus instead of the traditional rectangular shape that most box-pressed cigars form. It uses a tweaked version of the regular Black Market Estelí blend: a Nicaraguan wrapper over binders from both Honduras and Nicaragua, and fillers from Nicaragua. The one change compared to the regular blend is an extra leaf of ligero in the filler.

“Like the October 2020 release, it will be limited to 1,500 boxes of 16 cigars.

“The one change is that the MSRP has increased from $9.85 per to $10.15 per cigar.

“The 2020 Black Market Esteli Diamond cigars were an immediate success,” said Jonathan Lipson, director of sales and marketing for Alec Bradley, in a press release. “Covid19 disruptions changed the game for us in 2020, but consumer demand for the limited-edition cigars and the ability to slot production in 2021 happily allows us to target a June release. We are elated that we are able to provide this treat to our partners and advocates.”

Cigar Aficionado rated the original (Not the Diamond shape) a 93 and placed #9 cigar of 2018. “A rich combination of savory and sweet, this oily torpedo is loaded with earthy, leathery notes balanced by undercurrents of raisin and cocoa. Delicious and satisfying.”
Atlantic Cigar still has the 2020 version for $8.81. It has an extra year of aging on it.

APPEARANCE:
In my research, I could not find the reason that Alec Bradley decided to come up with this rhomboid shape…which is proprietary. Does it change the flavor that much? Or at all? Maybe just a gimmick for collectors? Halfwheel provides some strong persuasion to the smoker that the cigar band be removed before lighting up. Why? Apparently, Halfwheel did not remove it and the shape went to hell…sort of like having a tourniquet on the cigar that reacted to the heat of the burn. I will remove the cigar band. Do you care? No.

Veins here, there, and everywhere. Seams are nearly invisible. The wrapper is the star of the show…Oily as hell. I can even feel the oiliness when I hold it. It is mottled with shades of espresso to copper penny to cherry wood. It is impressive close up. Smooth as glass.

If you’ve never held a rhomboid cigar in your hand, it is quite the odd experience. I keep rolling it over and over in my hand admiring the crispness of the lines. And the triple cap is perfect.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are super faint. I must squinch my eyes to eliminate distractions and force my brain to snare a rabbit like a good hunting dog. As this is nearly a Nic puro, we are going to smell the usual suspects: chocolate, floral notes, black pepper, spicy cinnamon, black raisins, cedar, caramel, barnyard, and freshly cut pine.

The cold draw presents flavors of black pepper, dark chocolate, caramel, malt, raisins, licorice, cinnamon, cedar, and espresso.

The draw is a bit tight, so I grab my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool and fix the issue. I’ve recently read various random reviews and found several that complained constantly how the draw was ruining their experience. And hence, gave the cigar a low rating.

FIRST THIRD:
I hope I do this right. If normal box pressed sticks wreak havoc with my char line…no idea what this baby will do.

It starts sweet with notes of caramel, sugar coated breakfast cereal, raisins, and black pepper, cinnamon, espresso, malt, and cedar. This is a good start as with those flavors there is a nice tease of complexity I didn’t expect.

The spiciness is holding court but between black pepper and cinnamon, it is a nice complement to the burgeoning character.
Always a good sign when complexity hits you in the nads during light up.

I’m sure the extra year of aging compared to the new 2021 version makes a big difference in how pleasant the start is. Plus, it’s cheaper than the new one. Using conventional thinking, one would think that a limited edition still around over a year later would see a jacked-up price, but no. Don’t get the 2021. I will provide a link to the Atlantic Cigar page.

I am shocked at the very tasty balance of flavors. They are spread out evenly and contribute to the complexity.

I’m smacking my lips already. Another good sign. No transitions yet but the finish is redolent with buttery oiliness, strong malt, and raisins. This is nice.

I really don’t expect to see a lot of differences between Nic puros anymore. It became the rage several years ago and now it feels like half the cigars coming out are Nic heavy.

The added wisp of ligero in the filler is going to make a difference between the Diamond and the original Black Market. I liked the Black Market and maybe I should return to snagging some for everyday smokes. The difference being is that it will be up to me to humidor age them. The 2020’s Diamond reacted very nicely to that year asleep.

The cigar is packed like a Milwaukee brat. I’ve been on it for 5 minutes and I’ve barely burned half an inch.

Each subsequent puff brings more depth to my palate. I dare to hope that this turns out to be a great cigar. All it needed was a year of hibernation.

The burn is behaving nicely.

I swear I can taste a spicy BBQ sauce just below the surface of more dominant flavors.
I am a bit anxious after reading the Halfwheel review. A photo was shown with the cigar band still on the cigar…and the bottom half of the stick looked like a zeppelin as it magically lost its shape. If this is a real issue, it might be one of the reasons the 2020’s are still available. Also, no one wants to upset the Alec Bradley organization which might explain why I found only one review of this cigar. One. Everyone was afraid to piss off Mr. Rubin. I’m not, but then I don’t think this is where it is going…

Besides, I’m a Kohain (A male Jew belonging to a patrilineal line claiming descent from Aaron. Kohanim served as priests in ancient Judaism, and present-day Kohanim are accorded special status in Orthodox Judaism.) That’s right. I’m at the top of the pyramid. Only a few percent of The Tribe are actual Kohains. Surprisingly, the greatest concentration of Kohains are Ethiopian Jews.

There is a citrus element…a little lemon and a little lime. I tasted cheese pizza…the crust, tomato sauce and the creaminess of melted cheese. I must be having a palate dysfunction as that is one flavor I’ve never experienced before.

“Stormy Monday” by The Allmans. You players out there…have you ever been in a band that didn’t play this song? I haven’t.

This cigar is moving slowly…like dinosaurs turning into black oil. The rhomboid must be the culprit. I would have to run the physics numbers on this because, off hand, I have no idea why this shape would cause the cigar to burn at a glacial speed.

A round Toro can take two hours. I’m going to be here all day.
The savory v. sweet balance is right on.
The shape seems to encourage taking one’s time. Slow and easy going.
Strength is still a solid medium but that is going to change soon.

SECOND THIRD:
45 minutes and I’m eye to eye with the second third.

The nuances are so subtle that I can’t define them. This baby will not become a flavor bomb. But it will have the entire cigar experience that tells you it is just plain good.

No new flavors. The cigar holds on to its initial profile. So far, this is an excellent cigar, and the price point is impressive for this level of quality.

Only needed one burn line touch up. The construction is hanging tough. Fingers crossed that Halfwheel’s suggestion to remove the cigar band allows the burn to remain steady…no hot air balloons please.

The cigar makes its first leap forward. The subtleties are coming into their own.

There are worse things than sitting, listening to music, and smoking a good cigar on a Saturday morning.

Because of the lack of reviews, I got a couple sticks blind. I fully expected to eviscerate this blend. I was wrong. I’m having more fun than I deserve.

The profile is now dominated by sweet elements. Graham cracker, buttery Ritz Crackers, gold raisins, café au lait, and chocolate cake.

The blend begins to open up. Transitions are taking their time…none are whizzing by. Just a slow roll that enhances the flavor. Every now and again, the complexity reaches a new level.

You don’t need a reviewer’s palate to enjoy this stick. In fact, I’d rather not dissect it and just enjoy it in totum.

Strength has not made its leap yet. Still a slightly potent medium with no sign of it becoming a bunker buster. I’m sure that extra year of aging is the culprit.

A few sips of water and the flavor points are sharply noted. I still taste pizza.

The spiciness is black pepper, but it holds up in the furthest corner of the blend. Just enough to make Goldilocks happy.

Due to the lack of spice, flavors are free to roam as they please.
I know I’m going to be eating my words in the last third.

Reviewers always take a chance in the timing of their review. When a new cigar comes out, you don’t want to wait 6 months. Hence, a lot of cigars are reviewed too soon which isn’t fair to the manufacturer. It’s just the way things are. I am guilty of this as well.

This is going to be at least a 2-1/2 hour journey.
The halfway point arrives. The cigar is earning its cred. It is legit.

I get the same online store emails as you do. All the new stuff is in the $13-$17 range…and in some cases, the sticks start at $20 or more.

I was on the toilet reading a cigar catalog. What? You don’t do this? Anyway, I saw an El Septimo Bomba Orange that goes for $64 per stick. Wow. There better be a tiny hooker that jumps out near the end. OK. Commonwealth readers, take a deep breath.

The Diamond hits the enviable well-rounded status. The cigar is working hard at being a showoff.

My friend, Alex Madorsky, told me yesterday they are going to have a baby. This is the exhilarating part…then comes the no sleep for two years. It’s amazing how a new baby can age you by 10 years. The constant bags underneath your eyes and people snapping their fingers in your face to bring you out of your stupor.
Of course, the same thing happens when you’re my age. Charlotte likes to smack me with a whoopie cushion to bring me around.

No zeppelin issues. Thanks to Halfwheel for the good advice.

As it is the sabbath for me, I decided to marinate some pork loins for dinner. I have a Hebrew prayer that eliminates my crime.

And now we have medium/full which will soon become full tilt. Nicotine arrives in spades. That came out of nowhere.

I have a friend, who I stay in touch with, that played bass in The Strawberry Alarm Clock. Their original bassist couldn’t play for shit, but the band came up together and were loyal to a fault. Instead of kicking him out, they added my buddy so two bassists always appeared on stage. Pretty much like the sound people turning down McCartney’s wife Linda’s mic when they were on stage because she couldn’t sing for shit.

I wouldn’t be embarrassed handing this stick to any cigar snob. It is a good blend.
Yeah, forget buying the 2021 version. But the nicely aged 2020 Diamond.

LAST THIRD:
I’m well over two hours into this cigar. The Bradley folks took great care in producing this stick.

The blend has stayed with all the aforementioned flavors. All huddled into one kit bag.

The overall flavor status is leading the charge. Ancillary flavor points come and go but never disappear for good. They just become bolder as the cigar disappears.

Full tilt strength has landed. Thank goodness I chose the 2020 cigar. I bet that the 2021 stick is lighting in a bottle. I’ve found that when smoking with friends, a very strong cigar is the last thing you want to smoke. I’ve made that mistake. Friends would put a mirror underneath my nose to see if I was breathing.

Everything about this blend is following the path of least resistance which enhances every puff. Deep intensity. If I wasn’t reviewing this cigar, and I was casually smoking it, I would put it down by now. The inability to stand or walk has hip replacement written all over it.

I saw on the news that Phoenix is having a horrifying number of Fentanyl overdoses. I know I write about doing drugs when I was younger. But my middle-class Hippie friends only smoked weed and do the occasional hallucinogens. No one took pills. We were all scared of not knowing what it might really be. A different time.

Although, when I was 30, a good friend had a supply of pharmaceutical Quaaludes. I was told it really enhances sex. Wrong. I had a chick over and we took one before we planned to get down and dirty. And then it was lights out for both of us. Woke up groggy the next morning. Never did another one again.

The strength seems to calm down. Totally unexpected. My vision returns.
The last 1-1/2” is smooth and balanced. No heat or harshness.

Again, throw away your worries about tasting specific flavors. The entire character of its parts makes the cigar something you know you like…regardless of your cigar sophistication.

If you decide to grab some, try Atlantic Cigar. They are less than $9 each. In today’s market, an excellent blend is far and away much more expensive. The Diamond dwells in the category of high premium.

With an inch to go, I call it.
Total smoke time is just shy of three hours. What a journey.

RATING: 94



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

5 replies

  1. And……Where’s that interview you said was coming, katman do?

    • Hey Lara,
      My interview on Cigar Talk was scheduled for last Friday, Nov. 5.
      But Rob called me 15 minutes before it was a go to tell me his internet was out.
      It has been rescheduled for this Friday the 12th.
      It will air on Nov. 22…Monday.
      I will alert everyone, whether I do well or make a complete asshole of myself, to confirm the time and channel. And then I will probably post it. And after that, anyone who wants to see it anytime they want, Cigar Talk keeps all their interviews online and available 24/7.
      I better do well…no one in 10 years of doing these reviews has ever seen me in a video. Just my photo.
      I’m fully prepared to become a laughing stock…in a good way, I hope.
      Phil

  2. Yay! Thanks for the updates. Squeeee! I love the sound of your talking voice, with Zeke-the-dog.
    Looking forward with antsinmypants!! (anticipation) to hear more of you. Excited! =)

  3. Yes. I love that video. So adorable.
    Awwwww. – Lara

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