Alec and Bradley Rubin on Alec Bradley and Alec & Bradley Cigars

In an industry where most manufacturers name their company/brand after themselves or a founding family member, Alan Rubin took a different approach. Founded in 1996, Rubin named the company after his two sons, Alec and Bradley, and it has caused and still causes confusion among both retailers and consumers. To set the record straight, there is no one at the Alec Bradley cigar company named “Alec Bradley.”

For many years, the Alec Bradley brand stood alone. Now (and adding to the confusion), there is the “Alec & Bradley” brand, which was founded by Rubin’s sons who themselves are cigar aficionados and wanted to start their own cigar line. The brand Alec Bradley is a reflection of Alan Rubin. Alec & Bradley is a reflection of the siblings and what they feel a cigar should be composed of. It is an expression of these two brothers who banded together to venture into the cigar business and follow in their father’s footsteps (but not too closely).

Alec & Bradley KintsugiIn 2020, they released the Alec & Bradley Kintsugi. Bradley came up with the name and the packaging for the Kintsugi cigar. It is based on a Japanese art form that goes by the same name. It consists of taking broken ceramic pottery and gluing it back together with gold lacquer. It is about the beauty in imperfections and making it more beautiful than it originally was. Bradley also came up with the blend. He wanted it to be mild to medium with a creaminess and sweetness, and something they have never done before.

Alec was given the task to develop the blend based on that criteria. He went to the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras to see what he could come up with. After several attempts, he found something that he really liked. It wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t perfect, but it was in the direction Bradley was looking for. It leaned more on the medium side than mild-to-medium. They agreed it wasn’t what they wanted. They adjusted the blend a couple of more times until they were able to get it right. The flavor profile was spot on. It was still a little too strong, but they were happy with the results.

The Kintsugi has a Honduran wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and filler. It is a great everyday cigar that has a wallet-friendly price. Its packaging does an excellent job of illustrating the concept of Kintsugi.

Alec & Bradley_GatekeeperOne of their more popular releases is the Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper (released in 2019). It has become a big hit among aficionados. According to Bradley, its success has a lot to do with the fact that they collaborated with Ernesto Perez-Carrillo (of EPC Cigars). He is a highly respected legend in the industry, and his cigars are amazing. In the last three years, Ernesto has had to two number one cigars.

The Gatekeeper does not fit the Alec Bradley profile nor does it fit EPC’s profile. However, it does fit into the Alec & Bradley portfolio while at the same time being an homage to Ernesto. They see Ernesto with all of his years in the business as Alec & Bradley’s “Gatekeeper.” They felt it opened up future opportunities. When the Gatekeeper Robusto received the #7 spot (with a 95-pt Rating) in Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Top 25 Cigars of the Year, they were beyond thrilled. It was the most exciting moment in their careers as cigar crafters.

Alec Bradley_Project 40The Alec Bradley Project 40 maduro (released in 2021) was the follow up to the original Project 40 (released in 2019). However, it was not planned that way. They just happen to have a maduro blend that worked within the Project 40 umbrella. It turned out to be a good follow up though. For now, they don’t have anything lined-up for the Project 40. They want to see how well these two blends play out.

A little-known fact about Alec Bradley cigars is that their Occidental Reserve (released circ. 1999) cigar got started with the help of Hendrik “Henke” Kelner of Davidoff Cigars. As a matter of fact, the cigar was named after Kelner’s factory in the Dominican Republic.

Alec Bradley_CoyolAs for a personal favorite cigar, Bradley used to like the Coyol Petite Lancero (released at the 2014 IPCPR trade show) but now his go to cigar is the Kintsugi Corona Gorda. It has become his all-time favorite cigar. Alec likes the Kintsugi Corona Gorda as well. According to him, it is a very enjoyable cigar.

Alec Bradley_Black MarketTheir best-selling cigar is the Alec Bradley Black Market (debuted at the 2011 IPCPR trade show). It has been their number one for many years. Bradley gets to travel internationally a lot. When he speaks to smokers in other countries about their favorite Alec Bradley cigar, they say it is the Black Market, which is hard to get overseas. When he asks them where they get it, they say they get it from Neptune Cigars because Neptune is the only one that ships internationally.

Another of their popular cigars, is the Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan (released in 2013), which was first offered with a candela wrapper. They realized they had to tweak the blend to appeal to smokers who like the creaminess it offered but are not fans of the candela wrapper because of its grassy notes. So, they created a barber pole wrapper to cut some of the grassy notes from the candela and allow the creaminess to shine. The artwork for the Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan Shamrock, a triple barber pole, was created by Bradley under a very tight deadline. It was his first major project. While some people see it as a gimmick cigar, the blend stands on itself, and it could easily be a regular release cigar.

As to opening an Alec Bradley factory in the foreseeable future, the brothers are not ruling it out. For now, they are content with the cigars that Raices Cubanas is crafting for them.

As for future releases, they might have something in-store for 2021 since it is Alec Bradley’s 25th Anniversary. However, they aren’t saying much other than “… it’s going to be new and exciting, and it’s going to be different and really, really good.” Stay tuned ...

Published on May 19, 2021.

By Luzzie Normand
Co-Founder & Editor; Neptune Cigars Inc.
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