In 2016, Alpha Cigar Company launched a unique line of cigars known as Alpha Absinthe Infused. As the name indicates, this line is infused with a spirit known as absinthe. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage that is distilled with herbs and botanicals. The name “absinthe” comes from Artemisia absinthium, the scientific name for its key ingredient, wormwood. Absinthe has garnered popularity in France. In particular, the Alpha Absinthe Infused line utilizes a French absinthe known as La Maison Fontaine. Alpha Cigar Company describes its cigar infusion process as a light infusion. The Absinthe Infused line consists of three blends – a Connecticut Shade, San Andres Maduro, and a San Andres Claro. Today we take a look at the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro in the Robusto. Overall I found this to be a unique infused cigar and enjoyable smoke.
The La Maison Fontaine absinthe is produced at the Les Fils d’Emile Pernot distillery located in Pontarlier, France – a place considered the absinthe capital of the world. This absinthe uses 15 different herbs that are soaked into a neutral spirit before the distillation process begins. The Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro actually is infused with a chocolate absinthe. This is produced by mixing Creme de Cacao, a liquor produced from cocoa beans.
As mentioned, Alpha Cigar Company utilizes a light infusion process. In this process, only one leaf is re-humidified with the absinthe (while the remaining leaves are re-humified with water). In this case it is the binder that undergoes the infusion process. According to Alpha Cigar Company, the infusion process is done in a an off-site, specially designed misting room. There is no artificial flavoring or sugar is used anywhere in the cigar.
In addition to the Alpha Absinthe Infused line, there is a second line made by Alpha Cigar Company known as the Defuser. The Defuser is a non-infused (i.e. traditional) line that is also offered in the Connecticut, San Andres Maduro, and San Andres Claro options.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to San Andres Claro wrapper, there are Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos incorporated into the blend of the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro. The cigars are produced at the PDR Cigars factory located in Tamboril in the Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: San Andres Claro
Binder: Dominican Olor
Filler: Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan Ligero
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (PDR Cigars)
The three blends in the Alpha Absinthe Infused are each offered in the same four sizes and are each package in 24 count boxes.
Half Corona: 3 1/2 x 46
Robusto: 5 x 50
Box Press Belicoso: 6 1/2 x 52
Gordo: 6 x 60
The Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto had a medium to dark brown color with a rosado tint to it. This was definitely a “darker” claro wrapper. I didn’t find much in the way of oil on the wrapper of the cigar’s surface. I also found this wrapper to be somewhat bumpy. There were a few toothy visible veins and most of the wrapper seams visible.
The band is maroon colored with gold font. The center of the band contains the a pegasus-like logo with the text ALPHA in large font. This logo is surrounded by what I would term an urban-style sunburst like design. The lower part of the band has the text “ABSINTHE INFUSED”. The left side of the band has a “@” symbol while the right side has the text “HAND MADE” surrounded in a circular logo. The remainder of the band has various gold designs.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I typically do, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap of the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw phase. The dry draw delivered a mix of leather and unsweetened cocoa. As I proceeded with the pre-light draw, I detected a very subtle liquor note. I did wonder whether the power of suggestion played into my taste perception, but I feel confident these are the flavors I derived. Overall I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto.
Right out of the gate, I picked up some semi-sweet cocoa notes on the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto. While it might sound like dessert, these cocoa notes still had a “tobacco” quality to them. Meanwhile in the background I picked up subtle notes of leather, liquor, and spice. At times the liquor had some sweetness while at other times it had a slight bitterness. The spice component was mostly cedar, but also had a little white pepper quality to it. Meanwhile on the retro-hale, there was a combination of cocoa and cedar.
During the second third, I found the liquor notes made their way into the forefront and alternated with the cocoa notes in intensity. Meanwhile the leather and spice component remained in the background.
Toward the end of the second third of the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto, I still found the cocoa and liquor notes alternate in intensity in the forefront. There was a slight increase in spice in the background and the leather note became more earthy. This flavor profile continued through the last third. As the cigar experience came to a close, the cigar remained flavorful right until the end. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The burn of the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. Along the way, there was a slight amount of curvature on the burn line, but this did not warrant more frequent touch-ups. The resulting ash was tight and firm with a near white color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto also scored nicely. I found this cigar had the right amount of resistance to it. This made the cigar a low maintenance cigar to puff on.
Strength and Body
While this isn’t a cigar that hits you with a lot of infusion, it is also a cigar that is dialed back in terms of strength and body.
I found the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto to start out with mild strength. By the second third, the strength level moved into mild to medium territory where it remained for the duration of the smoking experience. Meanwhile I found this cigar started out mild to medium-bodied before progressing to medium. There was a slight increase in body for the remainder of the smoke, but overall I found the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto to remain medium until the end.
In terms of strength and body, I found the body to have the edge.
From a personal standpoint, I have been always open to smoking an infused cigar. Typically I usually am a little underwhelmed because the infused flavor tends to overpower the natural tobacco flavors – and it results in a more one dimensional smoke. With the Alpha Absinthe Infused Claro Robusto, I did not come up with that problem. The light infusion combined with the dialed back strength and body gave this cigar more complexity than I expected. Most importantly I think the flavors worked quite well on this cigar.
Overall this is a cigar I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. Even for someone who doesn’t smoke infused, it’s a cigar I’d encourage them try. Overall I found this to be an enjoyable cigar. It’s one I would smoke again – and it’s worthy of a box split.
Key Flavors: Cocoa, Liquor, Cedar, Leather, Earth
Strength: Mild (1st Third), Mild to Medium (Remainder)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Third), M (2nd Third)
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
Source: Alpha Cigar Company
Brand Reference: Alpha Cigar Company
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop
Alpha Cigar Company is a sponsor of Cigar Coop.