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What makes something a classic?

Many things can become classics. From movies, television, automobiles, clothing, music, video games, and of course foods and drinks. We search out a classic style when pursuing the good life. One of my favorite classics is the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich smothered with plenty of Cheese Whiz Olives Pickles Mushrooms and onions – NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A CLASSIC! I could create a couple of other websites that would only focus on reviewing the finer points of what defines something as an instant standard, but I choose to focus my reviews on cigars and how they can become overnight sensations.

When it comes to cigars, manufacturers really need to work hard to break the mold. Every cigar is compared with each and every other cigar that is produced. Then to top off all the rigorous examinations of the tasty leaf, there are the inevitable comparisons to the Cuban cigar. So to become a classic in the cigar world is a very daunting challenge, if somewhat impossible. However, I can say without a doubt that the very limited and highly sought after Habano, the “Fine & Rare” from Alec Bradley, is destined to become an instant classic.

The Fine & Rare Story –
Now that is a very bold statement – Fine & Rare = Classic. Many stogies can instantaneously become a flagship for a cigar company, and then the hype overtakes them. Not this beauty. Alan Rubin from Alec Bradley has brought together ten different tobaccos to make up this marvelous smoke: a Honduran wrapper, a double binder combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan leaf, and seven other undisclosed tobaccos that make up one very complex filler. The cornucopia of tobaccos that is used in this cigar is from very limited harvests and will probably never be seen or used again. Limiting the production to only 1,000 sticks and then releasing them on November 11, 2011,(11/11/11 Make a Wish)  adds to the impression that this is a truly rare find in the cigar world.

When Alec Bradley released the first edition of their ultra-premium limited edition cigar called “Fine and Rare”, they did not realize how popular or fast selling they’d be, I missed out. So when they released a second edition 2012 year, I picked up the phone and called a retailer that I knew would have them in stock.

This Year the blend of the Fine and Rare 2012 consists of an impressive ten different tobaccos, with all but the Honduran Trojes wrapper kept secret. The indications are that there are still two binders, but I can’t confirm that it’s Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco like the original release. (Even if that’s still the case, it’s likely that it’s not the same tobacco, as the blend is said to have been “tweaked” from the original.) What I can confirm is that it comes in a single torpedo vitola, in boxes of ten and retails for $16.50 a stick, plus applicable taxes, and mark-ups due to rareness.

That covers the basics. Now all that remains is to find out if it lives up to the hype, and if my box buy was a good call. Let’s find out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras and Nicaragua
Filler: Unspecified (7 tobaccos)
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Drink: Go Green mixed with Corona
Price: MSRP $16.50

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The Pre-Smoke
Everything about the Fine and Rare 2012 looks top notch, from the impressive lacquered wood box with rounded edges to the massive band that looks more like a certificate of authenticity than a traditional cigar band. Once the cigar’s documentation has been removed, you can see the lighter brown wrapper underneath it has fine veins, in some cases sporadic tooth and a nice sheen.

The cigar also feels a little heavy for its size, and is very solidly packed. The wrapper’s aroma had the pronounced sweet raisin and dark fruit scent I often pick up at the foot of a cigar. The cold draw was Perfect and offered up similar raisin and dark fruit flavors.

The Burn
The burn was impressive part of the experience. I appreciate a slower burn. They also had an excellent draw than I prefer, probably accentuated by the tapered head. In all the burn was decidedly PERFECT.

The Flavor
The first third had an impressive array of rich flavor, nuts, caramel, figs and spices dominated early. A little later, wood notes, paper and a rich sweet cream appeared. The creaminess transitioned early in the second third, and the spice component grew. As the cigar burned on, the fig element gave way to sweeter flavors of caramel and a candy sweetness that reminded me a little of butterscotch. Nuts and wood continued to be present, and pepper became more noticeable as it neared the final third. The final third saw a brief return of the creaminess that appeared earlier. The profile of nuts, wood and pepper had savory and aromatic qualities that weren’t present before.

The Price
So, what would you give a cigar that makes you think that makes you feel that makes you remember and feel alive. This is an INSTANT CLASSIC, the price is what you would expect from a cigar that’s released once a year, but it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable considering all the tobacco and effort that went into making the cigar. The price of the Fine and Rare is ideal.

The Verdict
Overall: 5 Stars

Appearance: 5 Stars

Construction: 5 Stars

Flavor: 5 Stars

Value: 5 Stars

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