|Bandolero Bravos – Humitube packaging|
Bandolero is one of three brands produced by Selected Tobacco. Selected Tobacco is run by Nelson Alfonso. Alfonso is a graphic artist who is most famous for doing the artwork and packaging of the Cohiba Behike. In 2012, he launched Selected Tobacco and has now launched three brands – Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero. These cigars have previously been limited in distribution due to tobacco constraints, but recently Selected Tobacco’s U.S. Distributor United Cigar Retailers announced the produce would be more widespread available. Today we look at one of the cigars in the Bandolero line, the Bandolero Bravo. Recently Cigar Coop named Selected Tobacco one of our 2014 “Five Boutiques to Watch”. This is with good reason – Alfonso’s company is doing some great work and they might be the best secret in the cigar business. Bandolero is another excellent release by the company.
As with each of Alfonso’s lines, there is a story and Bandolero is now exception. Between 1717 and 1817, the Spanish monarchy did not allow cigar production in its American / Caribbean colonies. While leaves would grow in these areas, cigar production could only be done at the Sevilla Royal Factory in Spain. This lead to a tobacco price increase and the genesis of the “Bandolero”. The bandolero was someone during this period who bootlegged tobacco leaves and had rolled them in other countries. This lead to better priced products that also had the “charm of being forbidden”. Selected Tobacco says that “Bandolero cigars we offer here today know the secrets of those mystic Bandoleros, from places where tobacco plantations are still a long tradition, thru countries where wise hands shaped them, until its final destination, where a cigar expert recognizes its aroma and flavor – the quality of a unique product”
Selected Tobacco is an ultra-premium brand of cigars. While Atabey and Byron are lines that start at $20.00 and above, the Bandolero is a little moderately priced starting out $12.00. Today’s cigar is part of a gift pack where the cigars are packaged in re-usable humidified tubes, so will fall into a higher range ($160.00 for a gift pack of 5)
Today, we take a look at one of the cigars in this brand – the Bandolero Bravos – part of the Bandolero Premium Pack.
Blend Profile and Vitolas Available
As with all of Alfonso’s blends, the blend is a close guarded secret and not disclosed. Bandolero is available in three “packs” as well a gift set- each of which is supposedly different blend. The Bandolero, like Atabey is made in Costa Rica.
Bandolero Pack I (Only available in Europe sold in humidified canisters)
Salvajes: 4 x 50
Audaces: 4 3/4 x 54
Osados: 4 3/4 x 60
Sagaces: 4 7/8 x 42
Bandolero Pack II (Sold in humidified canisters)
Barbaros: 4 3/8 x 60 (20 cigars per jar)
Traviesos: 5 x 50 (Torpedo – 30 per jar)
Sorberios: 5 1/2 x 50 (30 cigars per jar)
Colosales: 6 x 54 (25 cigars per jar)
Bandolero Pack III (Sold in humidified canisters)
Tremendos: 5 x 50 (30 cigars per cigar)
Picaros: 5 1/2 x 54 (25 cigars per cigar)
Vanidosos: 6 x 54 (Torpedo – 25 cigars per cigar)
Pretenciosos: 6 1/2 x 60
Bandolero Premium Pack
This is the gift pack consisting of these five cigars with each in a “humitube” (humidified tube). This is the pack where the Bravos is a part of)
Magnificos: 5 3/4 x 55
Bravos: 5 1/4 x 52
Atrevidos: 4 7/8 x 52
Ironicos: 4 2/5” x 50
Intrepidos: 4” x 50
The Bandolero has a chocolate colored wrapper to it. There is a light amount of oil on the surface of the wrapper. There are also some visible veins and visible wrapper seams on the wrapper.
The primary band has a black and wood grain color to it with gold trim across the top and bottom of the band. The upper part of the band has a black background with with the text “BANDOLERO” in large gold font. Above that text is the text “TABACOS” in small red font. Below that text it says “Seleccion Especial” in cursive white font. On the lower portion of the band is the wood grain brown background. There is a gold “52” on that wood grain background indicating the ring gauge of the Bandolero Bravos. The far left and far right of the band form an silver oval design that seems Mayan in nature. There is a ring surrounded the oval with a brown gradient effect on the ring.
Below the primary band is a secondary band. It is a combination of light copper and a gold chain link pattern with some white on it. There is a black and gold stripe across the top and bottom. In the middle is a wood grain marquis-like design with a gradient effect. On that stripe is the text “PREMIUM” in gold font.
The lower portion of the cigar features a cedar sheath covering the lower half of the cigar. Over the sheath is a black band with the text “Selected Tobacco” in large gold font. Below that is the text “Totally Handmade Cigars” in white. There is gold and red prinstriping across the top and bottom.
|Bandolero Bravos with cedar sheath.|
The humidified tube is clear plastic at the top. The lower portion has a similar design to the primary band above, but with a larger percentage of space having the black background. There is a light copper separator between the clear plastic and lower part of the tube. The top and bottom of the tube also have light copper caps. The lower cap opens the humidification chamber.
|Humitibe of the Bandolero Bravos|
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my Bandolero Bravos, I removed the cedar sleeve from the lower part of the cigar. I then placed a straight cut into the cap and moved on to the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw provided a mix of chocolate, wood, and some cedar spice. Overall I considered the pre-light draw of the Bandolero Bravos to be satisfactory. At this point I was ready to light up my cigar and see what the smoking phase would have in store. Meanwhile the retro-hale had a citrus spice.
The start to the Bandolero Bravos kicked off with something that closely resembled an exotic spice with some notes of leather in the background. The leather notes moved into the forefront and were joined by natural tobacco flavors. The retro-hale has a combination of citrus and pepper spice.
The spice continued to be a primary note throughout the first third. I found the leather notes moved back into the background joining the natural tobacco and citrus. At times I also detected a citrus note.
As the Bandolero moved into the second third, the citrus notes moved into the forefront. I found the spices now developed a bit of a “tangy” taste. The leather and natural tobacco notes remained secondary. The chocolate notes were more distant. Meanwhile the retro-hale now was more of a classic pepper flavor.
In the last third, I found the tangy spice of the Bandolero take center stage and most of the other notes along the way were now more subtle. The spices remained right until the end. At the smoking experience of the Bandolero Bravos came to a close, the resulting nub was ideal – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Across all of Alfonso’s lines in Selected Tobacco, his cigars are consistently well constructed and the Bandolero is no exception. This excellent construction is also reflected in the burn and draw. The burn line remained relatively straight. There was a little bit of curviness to the burn line, but the cigar was never in danger of canoeing or tunneling. The ash was mostly white with some dark spots. I found the ash to be on the firm side – coming off in nice firm chunks. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Bandolero Bravos|
The draw of the Bandolero Bravos could not have been better. It had that touch of resistance which is my personal preference. This made the Bandolero a real pleasure to smoke.
Strength and Body
While there is no doubt, the Bandolero produced a lot of spice, when it came to the attributes of both strength and body, this was not a cigar that was over-powering in either area. Still I found this to offer just enough strength and body to satisfy. I assessed this cigar as starting out medium strength and by the second half, it had crossed over into medium to full territory. I found the body to remain medium to full throughout the cigar experience. I found the body to have a slight edge over the strength throughout the smoking experience.
My first experience with Selected Tobacco was almost a year ago to the date and it was with the Atabey. The Atabey is one very special cigar that in my opinion might be one of the all-time milder cigars to have been released in recent years. The Bandolero is a completely different cigar. In fact the only common denominators I identified were the innovative packaging – and that Alfonso also keeps these tobaccos a secret. In a way it’s a little unfair to compare this to Atabey. Bandolero delivers a totally different profile and if you like spice on a cigar, this one is for you. Because of the spice, I lean toward recommending to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. This cigar is going to be a little more pricier because of the humitube packaging, but keep in mind the tube can be re-used. As for myself, I periodically do enjoy a cigar like this and normalizing this to a box purchase, this is a cigar worthy of a box split.
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
News: Selected Tobacco’s Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero to be Opened for Wider Distribution
Price: $160.00 for Gift Pack
Source: Sample Provided by Manufacturer (*)
Stogie Geeks Episode: n/a
Stogie Feed: n/a
* The cigars for this assessment were given to Cigar Coop by United Cigar Retailers. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but this does not influence this assessment.