Been a busy couple of weeks, as you might have noticed by the fact that I haven't gotten a review done in over a week and a half... But I'm getting back to it tonight. In fact, I've already started writing my intro section, even before busting open the humidor... I don't even know yet what I'm reviewing tonight.
Let's go and have a look at what I've got waiting...
I decided to go with something a bit longer tonight, since I've got time for it (and who knows when that will happen again?)... the Alec Bradley Tempus Natural, which has only recently become available at the Navy Exchange (not my favorite place to buy cigars by a longshot, but if I'm already there, I can't exactly help myself, either!).
Cigar: Alec Bradley Tempus Natural
Vitola: Centuria (Churchill; 7” x 49)
Price: About $7.75/stick
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Rating (out of 10):
8.6 (Weighted for flavor; current system)
8.7 (Weighted for burn and construction; new system)
The Tempus has a rich, dark chocolate color to it, with a light veininess and no visible imperfections. It is complemented nicely by the AB brand ring and foot band, which emphasize a gold and brown color motif. While I personally think foot bands on short sticks (particularly anything shorter than 5”) is a bit much, on something longer like a Churchill, they make for a quite elegant presentation.
The construction is absolutely perfect, and neatly capped. I got a perfect v-cut on this one; didn't even get any loose little flakes of filler!
The aroma is mostly wood and musk; quite earthy. Some definite chocolate at the foot.
The cold draw is distinctly chocolatey, with notes of dried fruit... raisin, I'm pretty sure.
After lighting, there's a bit of black pepper, bit the primary flavor is still chocolate and raisin. I'm getting intermittent notes of dried citrus, also.
One of the neighbors is cooking up a steak. I can smell it, and I want it. But that's a side note.
I'm not tasting any wood, but I'm picking up a distinctly cedary aroma on the smoke.
The burn is mostly even, producing a slightly flaky, but mostly solid, white ash column with some grey streaks.
The black pepper on the finish gives just the slightest little kick to each draw. It's just enough to lend a bit of spice to the sweet taste of chocolate and dried fruit.
The burn on this is surprisingly slow... good thing I have plenty of time! Also, good thing it's an enjoyable cigar!
Couple of touchups have been needed, but they've been pretty well spaced out.
I mentioned how slow this stick was burning... it's been about an hour, and we're just now getting to the second third. I don't know that I've ever seen a Churchill burn at such a slow rate. And it's not a matter of taking too much time on it; it has not burned itself out, nor even come close. The two touchups I've had to do up to this point have both been superficial; a small part of the wrapper leaf just needed to catch up to the rest of the burn line.
I could probably watch a feature-length film while smoking this.
The second third takes on a black coffee flavor. The chocolate and fruit are more subdued here, as is the black pepper finish.
A few more touchups are needed as the burn rate appears to pick up somewhat, albeit unevenly.
About an hour and forty minutes in, and we're still only slightly past halfway. I have smoked one of these before without reviewing it, and I don't remember it smoking so slowly.
In the last third, the chocolate and fruit pick back up, in balance with the coffee.
As it finally nears its end, the Tempus Natural takes on notes of sweet tobacco, and the peppery finish begins to pick back up, along with a slight saltiness.
It's a little over two hours by the time the Tempus reaches its finish.
This one was a bit of a puzzle to me. The slow burn was curious, but it wasn't disappointing. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of this cigar, and it remained extremely enjoyable the entire time. Even still, it scored higher (though only slightly) when weighted for burn quality than it did when weighted for flavor. Given the need for so many touchups in the second third, I don't see how it should have worked out that way.
I'll certainly smoke more of these in the future; Alec Bradleys continue to impress me in terms of both flavor and construction, but this one has shown me that my revised scoring system is still not what I expected it to be. I'm going to have to keep working on that, and at this point, I think it's going to mean starting fresh.
In the meantime, I'm going to score cigars using my new system, weighted in favor of burn and construction. There's not a significant difference in scores, but I think putting more emphasis on burn and construction is just a more objective way of scoring cigars, until I come up with something better.