Cigar Review: The Alec & Bradley Kintsugi Robusto is a Work of Art

The Kintsugi was announced by second generation cigar makers Alec and Bradley Rubin, back in March of 2020. The global pandemic changed those plans and their third full-scale production line had to be put on hold until December of 2020. The name of the line, “Kintsugi,” has a special meaning to Alec & Bradley. For reference, the Japanese art of kintsugi is repairing broken pottery by using gold, silver, or platinum lacquer in the affected areas. According to their initial press release, brothers Alec and Bradley are ” relaying an allegory- applying it to the current state of the Premium Cigar Industry.” Bradley Rubin goes on to say, “Unfortunately, the cigar industry seems to be a bit fractured right now. We are all fighting to reduce or eliminate regulation, but there is little consensus on how to achieve this. We can all learn from the Kintsugi story. We are all better together. The passion behind premium cigars is the gold lacquer that binds.”

I have not usually found myself reaching for Alec & Bradley cigars. For whatever reason, they don’t usually hit my palate in the way that other cigar brands do. That’s not to say that Alec Bradley doesn’t make good cigars. They absolutely do; they’re just not something I usually reach for. As most of my friends and acquaintances know, I’m more of a boutique cigar guy. I must, however, admit that when I first tried the Kintsugi that I liked it. It was the first Alec & Bradley cigar that wasn’t a Fine and Rare that hit my palate just they way I like it. I bought a 5 pack and smoked two for this review.

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Robusto
SIZE:   5″ x 50

ORIGIN:   Honduras
FACTORY:   Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.

WRAPPER:   Honduran Habano
BINDER:   Honduran and Nicaraguan
FILLER:   Honduran and Nicaraguan

STRENGTH:   Medium

SOURCE:   
Alec & Bradley

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
Poolside in Georgia

WHEN:   
May 5 at !0:30AM 

DRINKS:   
Coffee

WEATHER:   
77°

WHAT’S ON:   
The sounds of spring in the South.

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  December 2020

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 24
Production Totals:  Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  Robusto  (5″ x 50)
Corona Gordo  (5-5/8″ x 46)
Toro  (6″ x 52)
Gordo  (6″ x 60)

BAND DESIGN

The band is eye-catching! A beautiful blue and white with gold accents. They did a wonderful job paying homage to the art of kintsugi by using the gold accent to appear as cracks in the white and blue areas on the back of the band. It is accompanied by a gorgeous “A&B” in gold and some Japanese writing. My lone complaint is the size of the band, especially on the robusto. While beautiful and a work of art itself, it is too large for this vitola. It takes up the majority of the cigar.

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
The wrapper is light and has very little oil. It’s toothy Honduran wrapper is stunning.  There are some visible veins and one seam that runs around the cigar. The cap appears to be applied with care. In fact, the Kintsugi is one of the most visually appealing cigars that I have tried in recent memory.

AROMA
The smell of the Kintsugi is of barnyard and a hint chocolate. The barnyard a very strong hay/straw/grass smell. It is not off-putting but it is very strong.

COLD DRAW
The cold draw reveals a little but hides away its secrets from me. A hint of nut with a very dominant note of sweet tobacco.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Straight cut
Fire:  Xikar Tactical 1
The draw is almost perfect for me. It has just the right amount of resistance that makes each draw a pleasure to take. The Kintsugi lights without issue. 

SMOKE
The smoke production of the Alec & Bradley Kintsugi is the definition of creamy. It coats my palate and serves up a good amount that is satisfying with each puff. The Kintsugi will not smoke you out of an indoor space but will also not leave you wanting for more.

FIRST THIRD
>> Red Pepper, Nuts, Leather

There is a blast of pepper on the first retrohale, followed immediately by salted nuts and an unmistakable sweetness. The red pepper on the retrohale is the perfect juxtaposition to the sweetness. The smoke is creamy and leaves a pleasant coating on my palate. The burn line isn’t the straightest but nothing concerning at this point. The ash is compact and dark. I admit that I am pleasantly surprised. The Kintsugi pairs well with the cheap coffee I’m drinking. The taste of leather and a richness of coffee join the party. The Kintsugi is definitely helping the cheap,  store bought coffee. The burn line continues to be less than razor sharp, but I don’t mind. I’m enjoying the journey that the Kintsugi is taking me on. The nutty note morphs into a bread with hints of semi-sweet chocolate weaving through it. Getting the band off without knocking the ash off is going to be almost impossible. I succeed. The ash is gorgeous! Grey with streaks of black flying through it, and tightly compact with not a flake to be seen. 
 

SECOND THIRD
>> Coffee, White Pepper, Honey Roasted Peanuts

The coffee note becomes the dominant flavor. Spice begins to tickle the back of my throat. The ash finally falls in my lap and on my phone; the fault lies with the smoker and not with the Kintsugi. Burnt wood, roasted nuts, pepper, and a little spice are an amazing combination. My coffee, cooling in the morning breeze, tones down the spice of the Kintsugi. Since the ash fell, the burn line has become uneven. I silently curse my clumsiness. The retrohale is now a mild white pepper. Honestly, it may be the star of the second third. A little bit of sweetness starts to cut through the bitterness of burnt wood. The flavor is not unlike a slightly sweet honey roasted peanuts.

FINAL THIRD
>> Espresso, Charred Wood, Bread

The retrohale has become light, if that makes any sense. There may be a hint of spice, but it is not a powerhouse of flavor. The majority of tasting notes are coming directly from my palate. Leather, wood, bread are all there now. A hint of black pepper starts scratching at the back of my throat. A little bit of chocolate mingles with the dominant note of cedar. The Kintsugi has been a medium cigar until this final third. The subtleness has been left behind and it has become a medium+ profile. It doesn’t overpower my morning coffee, but rather compliments it. This is the perfect morning cigar for me. The burn line has corrected itself. Espresso becomes the dominant flavor as I nub the Kintsugi before setting it down.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
The flavors of the Kintsugi are perfect for a morning coffee or first cigar of the day. In fact, I could see the Kintsugi pairing well with a nice glass of whiskey, too. The first two thirds of the Kintsugi are more mild than the final third, but don’t seem out of place. The ramping up of flavors never becomes “too much” or get in the way of what the Kintsugi delivers. What it delivers is a flavor progression that is very, very good.

BURN EXPERIENCE
Here is where the Kintsugi falters just a bit. While the burn was not razor sharp the majority of the time, the Kintsugi never needed touched up or relit. I’m leaning towards “user error” for some of the wonky burn throughout, and the Kintsugi rebounding in the final third makes suspect that I’m on the right track. However, I have to call it like I see it and the burn experience, while not bad, was less than perfect.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.75 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.49 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.00 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

ALEC & BRADLEY’S KINTSUGI IS A WORK OF ART.

I love why Alec & Bradley named this cigar the Kintsugi. I’ve said many times in the past year that the cigar industry is broken. Old traditions and rivalries are hindering its growth. For an industry built around coming together in celebration, it is terrible at actually doing that. While the Kintsugi probably won’t make any headway in fixing the industry, it is certainly a cigar that is worthy of celebration. From the first puff to the last, the Kintsugi delivers a fantastic cigar experience that even the greenest of novices can appreciate. Medium, but never lacking in flavor, the Kintsugi is a work of art that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.24 / 10.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *