Ok, let’s just get this out in the open now . When I first started getting into cigars I was strictly an infused guy. I really enjoyed the flavors of many Acid, Natural, Java, Isla Del Sol etc. Nothing wrong with them at all. There just came a point that I really made a transition over to non-infused traditional cigars and never looked back. Recently, I had a guest in our home that is following the same path and really enjoys Acid Toast cigars. As we sat outside, I can say that I really enjoyed the aroma of the infused tobacco from that blend. However, trying to smoke one was like licking a sugar cube and I just couldn’t do it. I do not judge or frown upon anyone that smokes them. You like what you like and that’s totally fine by me.
When I was contacted by Alpha Cigar Company asking if I would review an infused cigar, I was hesitant to do so but after reading about them, I was intrigued. They were generous enough to make this review possible and I sat down yesterday with the Absinthe Maduro for the review. Before we jump into that, let me give you a little backstory and some information.
What the hell is Absinthe? That was my first question also. I am not going to provide the entire history behind the mystery liquid but you can find great info here. http://www.absinthe101.com/history.html It is actually very interesting and very much demonized and misunderstood.
Absinthe is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (“grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs.
Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Recent studies have shown that absinthe’s psychoactive properties (apart from that of the alcohol) have been exaggerated. (Credit Wikipedia)
“Founded in 2014, Alpha Cigar Company is now one of the leading producers of premium, boutique Dominican Republic cigars. Leading the premium infused cigar category with its subtly aromatic Absinthe Infused cigar series, Alpha Cigar Company also offers traditional Cuban-style cigars of all shapes and sizes. Alpha Cigar company is dedicated to creating exciting cigars while respecting Cuban cigar making traditions.
To understand our philosophy better, we highly recommend you read The Alpha Cigar Journey Booklet.
Founders Timothy Cavenagh and Justin Gao Mathson Hansen have created a company run by people that are truly passionate about cigars and spirits, with cigar lines that are smoked by true cigar connoisseurs around the world.
Founded on integrity and a desire to create an esprit de corps among cigar smokers worldwide, we extend a welcome hand to all who are curious about the world of premium cigars.” (Taken from the Alpha website)
So now that you know a little bit about Absinthe, Alpha and the story behind it, much like I did preparing for this review, lets get into it.
The Alpha Absinthe Infused Maduro
Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro
Binder: Dominican Republic
Size: 6.5 x 52 Belicoso
Appearance: This is a nice looking box pressed cigar that is a medium brown, oily cigar with small veins and very tight seams. There is a large band that is white with gold and features a 3 headed dog (Cerberus). There is a story behind that as well. The cigar feels firm and well constructed.
Pre-Light: I pick up notes of wood, earth, and a slight sweetness. Not at all what I expect from a “infused cigar”. From the foot I get earth, cedar and floral notes. Using a guillotine cutter, the cold draw reveals a nice draw with a slight resistance. I am surprised that I am not flooded with sweetness or infusion. I do pick up a little oil from the cap. I get notes of cedar wood, floral notes, earth and just a touch of sweet. Not at all what I expected.
First Third: As I get things started with wooden matches and the foot is nice and toasted, the first draw reveals a very earthy, woodsy, barnyard profile. I am very surprised at how subtle the infusion is. As I make my way through the first few draws it is almost as if there is no infusion but rather a very nice blend of the above mentioned flavor profiles. The infusion works that well with the blend that unless you knew it was infused, you may not even notice. The draw is perfect and the burn is even. The ash holds tight through the entire first third. As I work more into the first third, I pick up spice notes that are more floral like a basil maybe. There is a little sweetness that is more of a semi-sweet chocolate than sugar. I have never had Absinthe so I am not 100% sure of what the infusion brings to the table. I will say that this is a good cigar with a lot of nice subtle flavors that work well together.
Second Third: As I move into the second third, I get a touch more of the floral, slight mint, and black liquorice notes. They are not overpowering and only stick around for a short period. I am getting a good amount of smoke and the flavors linger on the palate for a bit. The cedar wood works back into the mix and takes the forefront. Again, if I did not know this was an infused cigar, I would not be able to immediately say, this is an infused cigar. The subtle hints here and there remind you but overall it is very subdued and blending nicely into the profile.
Final Third: Draw and burn are both still excellent. Ash is holding tight throughout the entire cigar. I dropped the ash a couple of times but you can see from the photos that this is a very well constructed cigar. Moving into the last third, I get some earthy, woodsy notes mixed with some leather hints. There are still floral notes mixed in but nothing overpowering. I did not need any touch ups throughout this cigar. There were really no huge transitions to write about. The profile gave you subtle changes from time to time but the last third was slightly different from the first third but not drastically. I really anticipated a heavy infusion and huge shifts in flavors throughout and that never happened. Their goal was subtle infusion and they certainly hit the bulls eye on that one.
Overall thoughts: Totally not what I expected from an “Infused” cigar. I really had no gauge to compare as I have not had Absinthe before and I would really like to try another one of these in the future to compare it. They also make the Defuser series that uses the same blend without the Absinthe infusion and I would be very interested in comparing that to this one. I really enjoyed this cigar and the flavors I got from it. The performance was excellent from start to finish. I did have a small tear in the wrapper when I removed the band but nothing to really worry about.
If you want a great cigar that will prompt a lot of questions and conversations, this is a great one. The aroma is nice, the strength is a solid medium, and packed with flavor. I highly recommend trying this cigar. I would certainly pick these and the Defuser series to try. These would be a great addition to any rotation.
They are great for beginners and complex enough to hold the attention of an aficionado. Because the infusion is so well done and so subtle, I think everyone would enjoy trying this cigar. Very well done Alpha! Thanks for making this review possible.
Pairing and Time: I paired this cigar with water since I haven’t had it before. I did not make great note of the time as I should have but it was close to 2 hours for sure. I would think pairing this with Absinthe would work but since I never had it, don’t hold me to it. I could see myself pairing it with a nice red wine, or scotch. That’s the beauty of pairing spirits and cigars right? If you don’t like one, try something else.
So there you have it. The Alpha Cigar Company Absinthe Infused Maduro Belicoso. I hope you enjoyed the review and the information. This one was fun because it made me do some research and learn about something I had no idea about. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments or questions here. Check out Alpha Cigars at https://www.alphacigar.com/ Let them know you read about them here.
Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!