Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit TAA Exclusive

The Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit TAA Exclusive is a part of several new exclusive releases that have been made available to the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) by several manufacturers for 2017. It is the second time Alec Bradley has done an exclusive release for the TAA. Back in 2013, Alec Bradley unveiled an exclusive figurado-shaped line extension to its Prensado line. With the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit, the company delivers an all-new blend to the TAA retailers. TAA Exclusive releases take on two flavors – either its a one time release or an on-going release. The Illicit falls into the latter category. Today, we take a closer look at the Alec Bradley Black Market TAA Exclusive

The TAA organization is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80.  The TAA has defined their mission statement as follows:

The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, the TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.

This year, the following new cigars have been released for the 2017 TAA Exclusive Series (displayed from left to right in the photo that follows):


TAA Exclusive Series 2017

New releases for the 2017 TAA Exclusive Series

As mentioned, the Illicit is Alec Bradley’s second release for the TAA.  As for Alec Bradley’s Black Market brand, the initial release under the Black Market brand has been highly successful. Since then, Black Market has evolved into a successful brand. The Illicit is one of several blends under this brand. The brand includes the following releases:

Without further ado, let’s break down the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

The Illicit features a Nicaraguan wrapper, Honduran and Nicaraguan binders, and fillers described as from “small yield farms” in Nicaragua.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Not Disclosed

Vitolas Available

The Black Market Illicit is available in one size – a 6 x 50 Toro. The cigars are packaged in 22-count boxes. The cigars are packaged in the “crate” style packaging similar to what is seen for other blends in the line, but the packaging for the Illicit is red in color.

Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit - Packaging

Packaging of the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit (Photo Credit: Alec Bradley)



The Nicaraguan wrapper for the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit features a dark cinnamon colored wrapper. Upon closer examination, some mottling can be seen on the surface. There was a coating of oil on the surface of the wrapper. This was a wrapper that was on the smooth side with any visible veins and visible seams on the thin side.

Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit (Outer sleeve removed)

The banding of the Alec Bradley Illicit is similar to the core Black Market line consisting of an outer wrap and inner band. The outer wrap covers slightly more than 50 percent of the cigar from the footer upward. This wrap is designed to look like “confidential” paper.  It is highlighted by the text “BLACK MARKET” in large black “confidential typewriter” font. There is also the text “ILLICIT” in a reverse “red stamp” style. Toward the top of the band is a black “Alec Bradley badge” logo.  The lower part of the band has a black stripe with a white TAA logo.

The inner band is positioned toward the center of the cigar. The inner band features two stripes.  The top stripe is black in color and has the text “ALEC BRADLEY” on it.   The lower stripe has a “confidential paper” background color similar to the outer wrap. It has the text “BLACK MARKET” and “ILLICIT” in the same font as each was on the outer wrap.  The top of the inner band protrudes the top of the outer wrap exposing the black stripe section.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Commencing the cigar experience of the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit, I used a straight cut. Once I removed the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw experience.  On the dry draw, I got a note that I could best describe as “slightly burnt cherry”. It’s a note that actually worked well with this blend and for all practical purposes is a signature note for the cigar. I also detected notes of dusty earth and leather. While an odd combination of flavors, I still considered this to be a very good pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start of the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit continued with the notes of dusty earth and slightly burnt cherry that were present on the pre-light draw. While these were the primary notes, both the earth and cherry varied in intensity. There was a combination of both classic wood and cedar present in the background. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, I detected a mix of both cedar and black pepper.

Toward the end of the first third, some natural tobacco elements were mixed in with the dusty earth and cherry in the forefront. The dusty earth and cherry continued to vary in intensity. The classic wood and cedar remained in the background. Some of the black pepper also was now present on the tongue.

During the second third of the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit, the classic wood notes increased and toward the midway point began to surface in the forefront. Like the cherry, natural tobacco and earth present in the forefront, the wood notes varied in intensity. Meanwhile, the pepper and cedar notes continued to add complementary flavors.

The last third saw the classic wood notes take over as the primary flavor. The cherry and earth notes were close secondary notes. There also was an increase in spice at the end.  The natural tobacco notes were no longer much of a factor. At times, I found the lingering effect of the flavors on the tongue to be a little more than I could handle. This was the way the Black Market Illicit came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

Overall, I found the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit to be a well-made cigar and this reflected nicely with the scores it earned for burn and draw. The Illicit maintained both a straight burn path and sharp burn line. There were some touch-ups along the way, but they were far from excessive in frequency. The resulting ash was silver-gray and was skewed toward the firmer side. The burn temperature was ideal. I found this to be a slow burning cigar, but there were no adverse effects that resulted from this.

Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit - Burn

Burn of the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit

The draw to the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit had a touch of resistance to it. This made it ideal in my book. This was also a cigar that produced a nice amount of smoke.

Strength and Body

In terms of strength and body, I found the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit started out medium. During the smoking experience, there was a slight increase in the intensity levels of the strength and body – however by the close of the smoking experience, I still assessed both attributes in the medium range of the spectrum.

Both the strength and body balanced each other very nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

While the Illicit is branded under the Black Market brand, it doesn’t smoke anything like the original. The Illicit is a cigar that tells its own story and delivers its own flavor profile. I found the flavors produced meshed perfectly with the cigar’s medium strength, medium-bodied profile. I did find the first two-thirds of the cigar to be more enjoyable than the last third as I didn’t like the lingering effect of the flavors on the palate toward the end.  At the same time, the Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit is a cigar where the positives outweigh the minuses.

I’ve been critical of the TAA releases in recent years as I feel they fall short of what I would expect from an exclusive cigar carried at some of the best retailers around. While not the best TAA cigar to come out in the past few years, it’s still one of the better ones I’ve had recently.

The Illicit is a cigar I would recommend to either a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s one I would smoke again – and I’d buy multiples to put in my humidor.


Key Flavors: Dusty Earth, (Slightly) Burnt Cherry, Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Classic Wood
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Good


Value: Buy Multiples
Score: 90


News: Alec Bradley Black Market Illicit TAA Exclusive Now Available
Price: $8.75
Source: Purchased
Brand Reference: Alec Bradley

Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.