One of my booth reviews for IPCPR, was the Atabey booth, and an interview I did with Nelson Alfonso. You can find that writeup HERE, and the Bandolero is mentioned as one of Alfonso’s releases. I find it worth noting before I get into the review, that Nelson employs cedar aging rooms that use several different breeds of cedar, to provide the ultimate cedar aroma. He ages the Bandolero cigars, along with his other releases, for three years before they hit the market in these unique cedar aging rooms. At the show Jerad and I obtained a couple samples, one that got smoked there, and one for home. Needless to say, given my experience with the Atabey, I was most excited to fire the Bandolero up and review it as soon as it got some rest in my humidor. The blend information is not disclosed, but they are made in Costa Rica. However, I was told no Costa Rican tobacco was used.
Dry Draw: Swiss chocolate
First Third: The intro of the Bandolero to my palate was a little heavy for my tastes, and I had a bit of dry mouth. Dry cocoa, heavy cedar through the nose, and hints of richness in the texture of the draw hit my note pad. As I progressed, rich nutty cocoa flavors began to stand out, but the dryness still lingered. The Bandolero was medium to full at times, due to the burn of the cedar on the palate via the retrohale.
Second Third: The dryness had all but left by the midpoint, and the richness took over. The Swiss chocolate flavors I originally detected showed up mid tongue, with the cedar on the roof. I began to wonder if the cedar aging rooms Nelson spoke of had an influence on how heavy the cedar note was. The Swiss chocolate note then moved out front of mouth, but not nearly as rich, more delicate and airy in nature like a custard. It actually reminded me of the dessert Jerad and I had at IPCPR… Ask anyone, it was unreal. The subtlety of the profile was right up my alley by now, and overall I would say the Bandolero was entering the mild-medium range.
Final Third: The rich nutty flavors were hitting on all cylinders now, draping my tongue with complexity. Hints of cocoa, spice, complex cedar, and a long finish that encompassed my entire mouth playing ping-pong with the nuts that were running the show. Nearing the nub, the body increased, and the cedar became very heavy again, similar to the initial third, and gaining a little more strength then I had hoped for.
Construction: The burn was a bit funky, required a recut, and probably needed a poker as the draw stayed tight. The wrapper tore a bit as well with the band, which always drives me nuts on an expensive cigar.
Final Thoughts and Rating, I’d buy a couple – 86: I am giving the Bandolero an 86 score, meaning, I would buy a couple if my local store had them. Do not get me wrong, the flavor is right up my alley, even if it was a bit strong. My guess is I would prefer a different vitola, but a Logan, Matt, or Surgeon may dig the strength of the cedar, as it is very unique in that regard. My main issue with the cigar is the price range, as these run upwards of $12-13 a stick. For that kind of money, I think there are several cigars on the boutique market that are as good, and better, for half the price, or in the $7-8 range like Elogio and Curivari. That being said, the price is indicative of the jar, and I love cool jars, so if I saw a good deal, I may jump, or split with a buddy and pay extra for a jar. As it stands, that is a long shot for me, which is why I rated it accordingly. But my lord, when I finish grad school, jars like that would look good on my desk, and if I found a size I liked, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger.