Tale and Mystery of Atatbey, Bandolero and Byron Cigars - The Nelson Alfonso Story
Posted on July 02 2020
Have you ever smoked a cigar and thought to yourself, “Wow! I need to shake hands with the person responsible for creating this beauty.”? Those were my exact thoughts while puffing on an Atabey few weeks back. And who would have guessed, my very next assignment would be on the legend himself?
Not only known for the recent success of Atabey, Bandolero and Byron cigars, Nelson Alfonso is also a visionary with a long list of achievements in the cigar world. From publishing “Puros Habanos” which won the best multimedia publication of Cuban cigar by Habanos SA, to branding some of the most known cigar manufactures around the world, such as Coheba, Montecristo, Partagas, Romeo & Julieta, Hoyo de Monterrey. He also took first place for Innovative Packaging Design and Products at TFWA in Cannes, France for four straight years. In 2010, he successfully rebranded the famed Cohiba Behike, which became one of the most recognizable luxury cigar brands in the world.
In 2012, Nelson launched Selected Tobacco out of Costa Rica, and revealed Atabey and Bandolero cigars. He also reintroduced the Byron cigar at the IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. Unlike the majority cigar manufacturer, the blend for these cigars are fully undisclosed except for parts of the Byron line. Due to its enigma, there are many speculations as to what type of tobaccos are used within each blend. The consensus of the majority has been that these are some “damn good smoke”.
Here are the tales behind each cigar:
The name Atabey came from the Taino Indians who occupied the majority part of the Caribbean Islands. Atabey is the supreme deity, mother goddess who birthed Yucahu, the male diety of the Tainos. She represents divinity of the moon, Sea of Fertility and Birth. The official Atabey website offers a much depth into the name and background.
Since the blend of the cigar is undisclosed, there is no way for any one to determine if the blend is the same for all vitolas. However, from what I experienced, and others have agreed on is the tasting note of maple sweetness, nutty, creamy and coffee.
The name of the vitolas are associated with the spiritual ceremonies the Tainos performed on different occasions: Idolos, Divinos, Brujos, Sabios, Delirios and Ritos.
Bandolero was dedicated to the tobacco during the 1700s by the Spaniards. The Spaniards forbade cigar production in the Caribbean Islands and the American colonies. To make the product even more exclusive, cigar production could only be achieved at the Sevilla Royal Factory. Feel free to click on the link to the official website for Bandolero to get the full back story with some amazing depiction for some visual aid.
I was able to enjoy a Bandolero not too long ago. Comparing my tasting notes to the majority, I experienced spice, leather, citrus and hints of chocolate in the background. I thoroughly enjoyed it and burned my fingers and lips a couple of times.
Byron was the original cigar line produced by Nelson’s family in the mid-19th Century. The cigar was named after a world renowned English poet George Gordon Byron, whom was known as Lord Byron. By the end of 19th century, the Alfonso family encountered some major financial distress and reluctantly sold the brand to a neighboring cigar manufacturer. After almost a century, Alfonso family was able to reclaim the Byron brand. Click on the Byron link for a complete history of the Alfonso family and the Byron cigar line.
Unlike the other two brands, majority of the tobaccos used for Byron XIX Grand Poemas 2013 are revealed minus the binder, while other lines remain a mystery. Since we know that different tobaccos are used in the Byron lines, I refrain myself disclosing tasting notes but still want to emphasize the fact that it is a “damn good smoke”.
If there was a biography on Nelson Alfonso, I would without a doubt be reading it. The list of his accomplishment goes on including him patenting the “Double Chamber humitube” which will be another topic for another time. Lastly, I would urge everyone to seek out any one of his brands and experience his cigars. You can also contact their US exclusive reseller United Cigar Retailers to find out where to purchase them.
- Kevin Sun