Up for review today is the Bandolero Seleccion Especial which I discovered through my friends at Luxury Cigar Club. They’re great in part because they introduce cigars in their monthly boxes that are a bit ‘off the grid’ but also exceptional from a quality standpoint.
In any case, Bandolero cigars are produced by Neslon Alfonso and Selected Tobacco. Alfonso is famous for his work developing the branding for the Cuban Cohiba “Behike” which is renowned as one of the most desirable (and expensive) cigars in the world. Selected Tobacco on the other hand is a company now famous for two ultra-premium (and similarly expensive) non-Cuban cigar brands: Atabey and Byron Cigars. The Bandolero Seleccion Especial is billed as a less wallet-crushing cigar from the same maker, but only tasting the product will determine if it lives up to the same standards as the other brands.
- Cigar Reviewed: Bandolero Seleccion Especial “Soberbios S”
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Peru
- Filler: Not disclosed
- Size: 5 1/2 x 50
- Retail price: ~$15
Appearance & Construction
Well, I can’t say I understand the branding on the band, especially given the branding mind behind this cigar. The mixture of black, gold and brown is not very appealing, and the brown portion of the band seems to be a printed wood texture (weren’t we done with that in the 70’s?).
Thankfully, the outer wrapper is a different story: pristine, with just one substantial vein and an otherwise smooth texture. The cigar is springy when squeezed, and as I squeeze along the length of it, it seems consistently packed.
Taking a whiff off of the foot I pick up predominantly sweet aromas of peanuts, granola, coffee bean, and earth. The cold draw is less interesting, with just a bit of sweet earth and a slight tingly spice.
Flavor & Smoke Characteristics
If the branding on this cigar is bad, the opening flavors are the exact opposite.
The Bandolero Selecccion Especial opens beautifully, with surprisingly mild, approachable smoke. The texture is extremely creamy, and the core notes of the profile at the start are peanuts and oak, with hints of floral and spice sometimes evident in the aroma. The retrohale is shockingly mild, with notes of warm bread and light baking spices. Construction wise, the draw is perfect, a 7/10 in terms of amount of restrictiveness, and the cigar produces ample smoke. The quality of the tobacco used in this cigar is unmistakable.
As the cigar develops more into the first inch, the texture and experience of the smoke starts to resemble my experiences smoking the Cuban Montecristo No. 2. That is to say, the draw is very smooth, the texture is silky, and the flavors are present and pronounced. Throughout the first half, construction is excellent, with the ash dropping in inch and a half increments and no issues with the burn.
The Bandolero Seleccion Especial smokes mostly the same all the way until the beginning of the final third. Definitely disappointing as the cigar started off great and I was hoping for a bit more flavor development in the second third.
In any case, the final third does have some significant changes. Although the body of the cigar never reaches medium, it does build a bit, with a noticeable increase in spiciness on the tongue and in the retrohale. The flavor palette as a whole also shifts, away from the creamy sweetness of the first two thirds and toward a more bitter base with notes of wood, fresh bread, paper, and nuts. The big negative though about the final third is that the smoke begins to heat up far too soon, with at least an inch and a half left before the cigar begins to be difficult to continue smoking.
After smoking the Bandolero Seleccion Especial, it’s obvious to me that it utilizes some very special tobacco. The first half of the cigar is close to sublime, with a very Cubanesque flavor profile that features prominent notes of nuts, cream, floral, and light spices. Unfortunately, the complexity and harmony falls off a bit, making the second half a lot less compelling overall.
Either way, I think this particular cigar would be a worthy investment for veteran cigar smokers looking to experience a Cubanesque non-Cuban cigar.