Fit Fine, Fit Rare!
Fit Fine, Fit Rare!
For the inaugural pairing blog of 2019, I knew I had to pick some special items to speak about to kick the year off right. As luck would have it, I’d had my eye on a certain item I was particularly keen on trying, and I had a hunch I knew ahead of time what would pair particularly well with it. I am of course speaking about the Alec Bradley Fine & Rare, a shapeshifter of a cigar that never shows its face in the same form from year to year.
For the uninitiated, tackling the Alec Bradley Fine & Rare 2018 may seem like a daunting prospect, only 2000 boxes are produced every year and there is a particularly stringent element of quality control appended to it, as only two torcedores (people specifically trained and skilled in the art of rolling cigars) in the world are authorised to construct the Fine & Rare line. Furthermore, the band of each cigar is then signed off by the roller, supervisor and then passed on to the company owner, Alan Rubin and his Operations Director, Ralph Montero for final approval before release. A high accolade to append to but one cigar vitola in the considerably large Alec Bradley range indeed!
The iteration of the Fine & Rare I chose to sample was the 2018 edition, and as previously mentioned, every year throws up a totally new form. The 2018 edition, in particular being a Grand Toro; boasting a formidable 56 ring gauge and clocking in at 6 and a half inches in length.
As much as I am an aficionado of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, I do still hold a lesser-known love for whiskeys of the worldly variety, and in particular, I hold American rye whiskeys in particularly high regard. The most notable of which being Hudson Manhattan Rye; a product of Tuthilltown Spirits, hailing from Gardiner, New York State. A product that in the coming months may well be more elusive to acquire, following an ill-fated fire at the distillery site. However, whichever Hudson expression you may encounter in the wild will be a top-notch dram. Hudson were a staple of the American East-Coast distilling scene pre-prohibition, and became the first to resume production post-prohibition, and their distillation prowess has showed no signs of stopping despite their brief period of dormancy. This particular tipple makes for a fine base for the classic Manhattan cocktail, while holding its own, quite stalwartly, as a spirit in its own right, what with its honeyed cereal backbone and robust wafts of strawberry and cinnamon. Truly a masterclass in what rye whiskey has to offer!
Admittedly, the Fine & Rare was quite a hard draw for the first quarter of the cigar, perhaps due to the rolling of the particular cigar I’d selected but providing great flavour from what I could reap. Once past that initial offering however, the Fine & Rare opened up to a realm of flavour I’ve been seldom treated to. Deep, rich, pleasantly acrid and sooty, with a full body and robust depth of scope I’ve seen most very seldomly. I knew it’d take a tour de force of flavour to rail against the atmospheric pressure of flavour the Fine & Rare was pressing upon me, and the Hudson delivered in spades. Lurching between deep tones of cedar, vanilla pods and a rich core of stone fruit-esque apricot deliciousness, I was bowled over by the ability of the Hudson to compensate for the sheer richness the Fine & Rare was throwing at me. This pairing was an unprecedented success for my palate, and I look forward to seeing what vitola Alec Bradley throw into the fray for 2019. Salute!
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