As I was in the kitchen, I had a choice--beckon him to me or head in his direction. I decided on the latter, but we wound up meeting in the middle.* He held out this cigar:
|Without the lovely background beverage. |
That came later.
"CI," I said, reminding him of their location within the Cigars International Hamburg (PA) Superstore,** where we stopped on the way to visit my boy in West Virginia before Christmas. We'd bought it more for novelty purposes than anything else. Let's give this a shot and if we liked it, we'd get more from our lovely neighborhood Alec Bradley rep.
He lit it up this evening at Habanos and said, "This is fucking good." He posted this picture on facebook:
|Know why this is a good picture? He took it.|
Know why this is a good cigar? Keep reading.
"Very interesting!" said the Friendly Neighborhood Alec Bradley rep. (Hi Drinnan!) "Haven't yet had it: I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how it compares to the classic Black Market."
Valentino read that to me and we both made the "What the what?" face.
He took to his phone, for typing purposes only, naturally. "What? I'm smoking an AB that you haven't tried yet? It's marketed as full but it's smoother than the classic. If that's possible. Actually, it's quite good and even box worthy. You NEED to try it ASAP!!"
He hadn't tried it?? We panicked. How could he not have tried it? Were they not available? Would we have to get them from the literal black market? "How many did you get?" I asked Valentino, taking in the second hand smoke and loving the familiar yet different taste--kind of like when someone makes your favorite dish but adds something just a little more special.
(This actually happened as I worried where the next Black Market Vandal would come from--the folks at Habanos are working on a new menu and they sent out some hummus --which I LOVE-- but with pomegranate arils peeking out from the chickpea and eggplant paste. I loved the hummus' smoothness [and the deep-fried pita chips didn't hurt either]--but that kick of sweetness added something really special to an established favorite. Serendipity*** that they occurred simultaneously.)
|You can be jealous of my hummus and pita chips. And those delicious chocolatey cookies, too.|
Before Valentino could even try to answer my rhetorical question, we saw the light, which came shining through a Facebook notification: "It's a CI exclusive. Which means it's not in my portfolio."
Now what were we going to do? We'd planned on hitting up aforementioned rep if we liked them. Yes, we know about the mighty, mighty internets and all they can bring us.**** Naturally, we prefer to purchase from B&Ms whenever possible--especially at events, when additional goodies can be had with specific purchases!
Usually when we purchase single sticks, we get at least two--one to smoke and one for the humidor.***** Sometimes, three--those other two, and another for Cabellero #2. But this time? This time we bought one. One mere Alec Bradley Black Market Vandal cigar. One.
As he hit the cigar's halfway point, I had the sad upon that realization. One. Know why? Because it's So. Damn. Good.
About their cigar, CI says, "The components may look familiar [to the original Black Market we've all come to know and love] – 4-country blend of long-fillers, stimulating Sumatra binder, and hearty Nicaraguan wrapper leaf. This is all carried over from the original version. But here’s where things get interesting: included in that long-filler mix is a super-charged, super-secret, extra special tobacco leaf that ratchets up the intensity big time. Tremendous notes of spice and pepper explode on the palate, and culminate in a long, lingering finish."
|The original. [source]|
We've been long-time fans (well, since the release in 2011) of the AB Black Market. (I'm afraid to see how few are left from the last box we purchased.) In fact, upon our first Black Market smoke, I believe we bowed in Alan Rubin's direction--or what we imagined to be his direction.
|The man himself. Thanks, Alan, |
for another thing to spend money on!
(You're welcome.) [source]
During the Great Vandal Facebook Discussion, our friend Jake, Hanley's Ale House Humidor Maestro (Hi Jake!) said, "I love the smoothness of the regular Black Market so if it's smoother, it's awesome." That seemed to be the consensus from folks in our general smoking vicinity.******
Because this is a CI exclusive, you won't find a plethora of reviews from reliable, established sources. You already know what a crazy mad researcher I am, so don't get all, "Penny's slipping--she barely has any sources on the Vandal here" because I totally searched.
So you're going to have to take our word for it: Dudes, the Alec Bradley Black Market Vandal is the bomb-diggity.
**I'm a shopping savant. Or a visual learner. Or both.
***One of my most favorite words.
****After all, that's how we found each other! (Hi, match.com!)
*****What I usually say is "One to smoke and one for the monster."
******This makes me wonder: If you're smoking an amazing cigar, should you charge for the second hand smoke, or is it considered a community service?