At the 2022 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show, Selected Tobacco launched a fourth brand in the portfolio known as Alfonso. Alfonso gets its name from Nelson Alfonso, who is the owner of Selected Tobacco. Selected Tobacco is known for its three other brands: Atabey, Bryon, and Bandoldero – all of which are distributed in the U.S. market by United Cigars. Alfonso is an ultra-premium brand that revolves around exquisite packaging and extra aging. The first line to be released under the Alfonso brand is known as the Alfonso Añejo. The name Añejo is appropriate because it means “aged” and it fits into Selected Tobacco’s mantra. Today we take a closer look at the Alfonso Añejo in the Alfonso Añejo No. 2.
In terms of the aging process, Alfonso did something different with the Alfonso Añejo line. Normally Alfonso has aged his cigars in cedar-lined rooms for two to five years. During that process, the humidity is raised and lowered throughout the aging period. With the Alfonso Añejo, the process also included aging the cigars in French Oak with a total aging process of five years. In addition, another line that was introduced at PCA 2022, the Byron 1850 also uses the process of adding a French Oak component to the aging process. The cigars that were used for this assessment were from the ones that started aging in 2017.
Finally, it is also worth noting the Alfonso Añejo is the first line to be released under Selected Tobacco’s Alfonso brand. Down the road, Selected Tobacco has another line planned called the Alfonso Gran Selección.
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the Alfonso Añejo No. 2 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
In the past, Nelson Alfonso has been tight-lipped on disclosing his blends, but in the case of the Alfonso Añejo he has released details. The Alfonso Añejo utilizes Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf for the wrapper and binder. The filler is a combination of Peruvian and Nicaraguan tobaccos. As with all Selected Tobacco products, production comes from Tabacos de Costa Rica in the Puriscal region of Costa Rica.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Peruvian & Nicaraguan Ligero
Country of Origin: Costa Rica
Factory: Tabacos De Costa Rica
The Alfonso Añejo has been released in six sizes. There are a variety of packaging options in terms of boxes, packs, tubes, and jars. We will focus on the 25-box options that have been announced. The 25-count boxes have two options: a dress box and a rustic box. Retailers will be purchasing both box options when ordering, so they will carry each. Selected Tobacco says a total of 200 boxes per size were produced for 2022 and these were allocated to the top-tier retailers.
The following are the six vitola options:
No. 1: 4 x 50
No. 2: 5 x 52
No. 3: 6 x 54
No. 4: 6 3/4 x 56
No. 5: 7 1/2 x 58
No. 6: 9 x 50
The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper of the Alfonso Añejo No. 2 is absolutely pristine looking. This is the nicest Connecticut Shade wrapper that I have ever seen. The wrapper has a golden-brown color with some oil on it. The wrapper itself is smooth. There are some thin seams on the surface of the wrapper. The wrapper itself is void of significant visible veins.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Alfonso Añejo No.2. Once the cap was detached, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered notes of sweet cream and wood. The sweet notes surrounding the cream seemed very natural. The sweetness was also not overpowering and in the end, this preamble made for an excellent experience. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band of the Alfonso Añejo No.2, toast up the footer of the cigar and move on to the smoking phase.
There was a mild shot of black pepper that opened up the Alfonso Añejo No.2. This quickly gave way to notes of natural tobacco, cream, a slight peanut note, and of course the black pepper. The natural tobacco and cream notes became primary. The peanut and black pepper were joined by a subtle berry note and some notes of cedar. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, there were mild layers of cedar and berry present.
Toward the end of the first third of the Alfonso Añejo No. 2, the peanut notes dissipated. The natural tobacco and cream notes remained grounded in the forefront. The berry and cedar notes increased in intensity. Meanwhile, the pepper notes remained relatively constant throughout this phase of the smoking experience.
The final third saw the natural tobacco notes remain in the forefront. The cream notes joined the berry, cedar, and pepper notes. During this phase, there was a slight increase in the black pepper notes. This is the way the Alfonso Añejo No. 2 came to a close. The cigar closed with a cool and firm nub.
Overall the burn for the Alfonso Añejo No. 2 performed excellently. This was a cigar that needed minimal touch-ups to maintain a straight burn path and a straight burn line. The resulting ash was on the firmer side. This was very much an ash with a salt-and-pepper complexion in terms of color. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw was equally impressive on the Alfonso Añejo No. 2. This cigar had a touch of resistance, and probably hit the limit in terms of the level of resistance I like on the pre-light draw. At the same time, this was still very much a cigar where it was easy to derive the flavor.
Strength and Body
The Alfonso Añejo No. 2 started out with mild to medium strength and medium-bodied notes. There wasn’t much increase in the strength level of this cigar. There was a slight increase in the body, but in the end, the cigar remained mild to medium in strength and medium in body.
When it came to strength versus body, the body maintained the edge here.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
While we don’t score banding and packaging, it is worth noting that Nelson Alfonso knocks out of the park with the Alfonso Añejo.
When it comes to the bands, they absolutely look ultra-premium. The white, blue, gold, and red color scheme of the primary band pops very nicely. The primary band gives the illusion it is actually two bands, but the band is actually one that is connected on the sides of the cigar. I also like the secondary “Selected Tobacco” band around the footer. It isn’t too busy and it doesn’t distract from the primary band.
As for the boxes, both have their strengths. The rustic box has some charm while the dress boxes have an elegance to them.
The Alfonso Añejo No. 2 delivered on all fronts: Flavor, Construction, and just enough complexity to satisfy. The medium-bodied notes were the right intensity level for this cigar. I was also quite pleased how the cigar maintained its smoothness right down to the nub. This cigar comes in at 92 points. That is a score that exceeds our Standard of Excellence . On some review sites, a 92 might be a low score, but in the universe known as Cigar Coop, this is a cigar we will most likely be talking about toward the upper part of our Countdown when it commences in December. At $35.00, it is not an inexpensive cigar – and it’s hard to recommend a box purchase at that price. However, this is very much a special occasion cigar, and it’s worth picking up more than one.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Cream, Cedar, Peanut, Berry Black Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Value: Buy Multiples
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop