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A Conversation with Alan Rubin

The founder of the Alec Bradley Cigar Co. talks about the reversal of fortune that put his smokes near the top.
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011

(continued from page 2)

Q: Describe Trojes tobacco.
A: Trojes is in the Jalapa Valley, on the Honduran side of the border [with Nicaragua].

Q: Does it have similarities to Jalapa, Nicaragua?
A: Correct. We knew that this tobacco was special, and we felt it was perfect for Maxx. We realized it just wasn't ready, and we knew that they weren't ready for us yet. The timing wasn't right. So we told them, "Keep putting the tobacco away. Use what you need to use, but take the best of the best and put that away."

Q: How did you meet up with Raices Cubanas?
A: We had been working with them for a few years on a less expensive line, Spirit of Cuba.

Q: Describe the factory.
A: It's a small, family-run factory. The lead guy is Romay Endemaño, and there's his wife, Maria Portao, and son Hugo.

Q: How small is it?
A: Back then, 40 or 50 pairs [of rollers]. Romay [pronounced Rome-EYE] grew up in the cigar business in Cuba, became an engineer, ultimately ended up back in the tobacco business. He brought a lot of the engineering mentality: consistency and ideas. He was very exacting in his standards. From the growing of tobacco to the fermentation to how they rolled.

Q: Today they're known for making Cuban-style cigars, with mounted heads. Were they rolling that way back then?
A: Yes, everything was tubed [entubado] and triple capped. Even on a sandwich filler cigar.

Q: Flash forward—the Trojes tobacco is ready. Now what happens?
A: We went down to blend. We didn't have a name, we didn't have a concept. Ralph and I worked with Romay, and a gentleman named Luis. We came in one morning, and all these blends we had been working on were on the table waiting for us. I lit up this cigar, first thing in the morning, and I said, "I need some air." I went to walk down the steps and I almost missed one.

I said, "I think we have something here—it has strength, it's well balanced. Tomorrow I'd like to smoke this again, but we need to smoke it outdoors—I need to breathe." We lit up the blend, and I had everyone light up before me, so I could smell the aroma in the air. I absolutely fell in love with the aroma of the cigar. I lit up my cigar, I didn't say a word, and I looked over at Ralph. I nodded my head, he nodded his head, and we knew we had it.

Q: Why the name Tempus?
A: Tempus is Latin for time. We knew about the tobacco many years before this. We waited, we were patient. We allowed the tobacco to be what it is. The whole line is about time.

Q: How was the reaction?
A: Absolutely over the top. The cigar smoking community was waiting for Alec Bradley to do something special.

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Comments   6 comment(s)

stantine972 May 2, 2011 9:19pm ET

I love those Alec Bradley's

Chris A May 2, 2011 11:00pm ET

surely miss the Trilogy triangle press

Matt Turner — Prince George, British Columbia, Canada,  —  May 15, 2011 7:55pm ET

Good interview. Makes me wish I could talk to Alan and let him know his company makes mostly great cigars, (particularly the family blend) but has terrible customer service. I run a well established cigar - review website and have attempted to contact Alec Bradley several times regarding their products. Sadly, I've never received a single response. Goes to show success and service don't always marry up.

Robert Martin — Flushing, New York, Queens,  —  September 30, 2011 5:46pm ET

you can never go wrong with a Alec Bradley cigar!!! November 10, 2011 10:17pm ET

So a slightly belated amendment is needed here. Be it through luck, or the magic of the Cigar Aficionado website, shortly after my last comment I was contacted by George Sosa from Alec Bradley. Not only did I receive an apology for the troubles I'd had contacting someone, but George provided outstanding service, answered all my questions, and ultimately helped me find the product I was looking for. Hats off to George and the rest of the team at Alec Bradley!

Christopher Hosford December 29, 2011 6:16pm ET

It's 12/19/11, and I'm vacationing in St. Augustine, Fla. I visited St. Jorge tobacco shop -- nice lady behind the counter along with her dog, Missy -- and naturally, my favorite cigar, Paul Garmirian, wasn't being carried so I bought 5 different ones -- some known, some unknown -- to do a taste test during my vacation. The sole AB was the company's "American" Classic Blend, which I don't see referenced in this story. Anyway, I rated it close to the PG ... a mild, natural smoke and at $5 a terrific smoke at a good price. It's a little loosely packed and thus burns a bit quickly, but evenly. I'll definitely buy more ABs in the future when I return home to the Bronx, NY.

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