Discover the Bold Flavors: Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan Review

Discover the Bold Flavors: Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan Review

Posted by Ana Cuenca on Feb 21, 2024

Curious about what makes Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan a must-try cigar? This annual release stands out with its distinctive barber pole wrapper and a blend that offers a complex flavor journey. With only a limited number of boxes available each St. Patrick’s Day, this cigar has become a collector’s item and a favorite among enthusiasts for its bold tasting notes and the craft behind its creation. In this article, we explore the distinctiveness of the Filthy Hooligan, its taste profile, and how to enhance your smoking experience.

Key Takeaways

  • The Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan is a limited St. Patrick’s Day release cigar with a dual candela and Maduro barber pole wrapper, creating a unique flavor profile.
  • With only 5,000 boxes produced annually, including a variant with a third Nicaraguan Habano claro wrapper, the cigar is a collectible for enthusiasts known as Alec Bradley Black Market Filthy Hooligan Shamrock.
  • The Filthy Hooligan offers a medium-bodied flavor with Panamanian fillers for sweetness and Honduran fillers for complexity, suitable to pair with medium-bodied coffee or stout beer.

A Unique St. Patrick's Day Tradition: The Filthy Hooligan

Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan SHAMROCK cigar

St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Irish culture, has a unique tradition in the cigar world - the release of Alec Bradley’s Filthy Hooligan. This limited-edition cigar has gained significant attention and cultivated a loyal fan base in its short annual appearance. With only 5,000 boxes released each year, the Black Market Filthy Hooligan has become a sought-after collectible among cigar aficionados and St. Patrick’s Day enthusiasts alike.

The Filthy Hooligan transcends being just a cigar; its presentation signals the beginning of an immersive experience. The cigar comes in an iconic emerald green box, reflecting its Irish heritage. The name itself has a story; due to trademark issues with Drew Estate’s Dirty Rat, the cigar was rebranded from A/B Black Market Dirty Hooligan to Filthy Hooligan, adding to its distinctive nature within the market. This unique cigar has gained a loyal following among aficionados who appreciate the bold flavors and the legend behind the filthy hooligans.

Barber Pole Wrapper: A Beautiful Fusion

Barber pole wrapper

The Filthy Hooligan captivates attention with its filthy hooligan barber pole wrapper, ingeniously marrying candela and maduro wrappers. This dual-wrapper design introduces a unique, nuanced flavor profile, avoiding the typically grassy taste of candelas. As you smoke the cigar, you’ll notice subtle shifts in flavor, particularly influenced by the Jalapa wrapper.

In the final third of the cigar, the flavors become more pronounced, with a distinctive mix of grass and pepper - a signature characteristic of the Filthy Hooligan.

Candela Wrapper

The candela wrapper significantly shapes the distinctive flavor profile of the Filthy Hooligan. Known for its distinctive green color, the candela wrapper undergoes a rapid heat-curing process that preserves the chlorophyll in the leaves. This curing period is much shorter than that of other tobacco leaves, lasting only about three days.

Candela cigars were once the most popular in America, known as American Market Selection, thanks to their unique green hue. This popularity began to wane in the early 1980s with the rise of Connecticut-shade wrappers. Despite this, the production of candela wrappers remains preferred by many farmers due to the rapid curing process, allowing for quicker sales and a faster return on investment.

Maduro Wrapper

Adding to the Filthy Hooligan’s allure, the Maduro wrapper of its barber pole imparts its distinct character to the cigar. The term ‘Maduro,’ meaning ‘mature’ or ‘ripe’ in Spanish, reflects the extensive fermentation process these leaves undergo. To withstand the high temperatures of up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit during fermentation, Maduro wrappers are notably thicker and stronger.

Maduro wrappers originate from the top leaves of the tobacco plant. They are characterized by their resilience and higher concentrations of natural oils and sugars, which enrich the flavor profile of the cigar. Maduro wrappers can be crafted from various types of tobacco leaves, such as:

  • Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Mexican San Andres
  • Brazilian
  • Habano

Each contributing to a unique great smoke experience.

Filthy Hooligan Shamrock, including third wrapper.

Filthy Hooligan Shamrock

Beyond the Filthy Hooligan, Alec Bradley offers other cigars such as Alec Bradley’s Filthy Hooligan Shamrock. This special variant features not just two, but three wrappers - the candela, Maduro, and a third Nicaraguan habano claro shade wrapper.

This year marks the sixth release of the Filthy Hooligan Shamrock, a testament to its popularity among cigar enthusiasts.

The Blend: A Symphony of Flavors

The appeal of the Filthy Hooligan extends beyond its distinctive wrappers. It boasts a unique blend of Honduran and Panamanian long-fillers and an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, contributing significantly to its flavor profile. The blend results in a harmonious symphony of flavors, offering cigar lovers a truly unique smoking experience.

The Panamanian fillers bring a distinct sweetness into the cigar’s flavor, a hallmark of the Filthy Hooligan’s taste experience. Meanwhile, the Honduran fillers add an extra layer of complexity to the blend, enhancing the overall flavor profile. As you smoke the Filthy Hooligan, you’ll discover how these elements come together to create a taste experience that is truly one of a kind.

Tasting Notes: A Journey for Your Palate

Having examined the components of the Filthy Hooligan, we can now venture into its tasting notes. The Filthy Hooligan offers a medium-bodied flavor profile, featuring a harmonious blend of spice, pepper, and coffee notes.

The Panamanian fillers emit tasting notes of spice, sweetness, earthiness, and hints of vanilla, offering a complex and satisfying flavor journey for your palate.

Cold Draw

The cold draw, an initial step in cigar smoking, facilitates flavor assessment before lighting the cigar. It sets the stage for the smoking experience, giving you a preview of the flavors to come.

During the cold draw of the Filthy Hooligan, you can expect to detect flavors of grass, nuts, and coffee. There are also additional flavors present, including chocolate, cedar, and a subtle note of licorice. This combination of flavors hints at the complexity of the Filthy Hooligan and primes your palate for the smoking experience to come.

First Third

Upon lighting the Filthy Hooligan and drawing the initial few puffs, flavors from the cigar’s first third start to unfold. This stage of the smoking experience is where the flavors introduced in the cold draw start to develop and evolve. You’ll begin to notice new flavors emerging, adding to the complexity of the smoking experience.

The flavors present in the first third of the Filthy Hooligan are characterized by a harmonious interplay of the unique blend of Honduran and Panamanian long-fillers, the Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and the distinctive barber pole wrapper. The result is a rich and robust flavor profile that sets the stage for the rest of the smoking experience.

Second Third

Transitioning into the second third of the Filthy Hooligan uncovers a medley of complex flavors. This stage of the smoking experience is where the cigar’s flavor profile really starts to shine, with the blend of the cigar and the unique barber pole wrapper working in harmony to produce a rich and satisfying smoke.

Savory notes of charred steak and the richness of salted caramel are prominent in this stage. The complex mix of espresso, malt, and a creamy texture emerges, with black pepper providing a spicy counterpoint. The finish in the second third is characterized by a balanced spice, with persistent notes of lemon wedges and dark chocolate that linger on the palate.

Final Third

Approaching the halfway point of the Filthy Hooligan leads to the climax of the cigar’s flavor journey. This stage of the smoking experience is where the flavors from the first two thirds come together and reach their peak.

In the final stretch, the Filthy Hooligan cigar offers a flavor profile that includes:

  • A fading sweetness at the start
  • A peppery woody note, especially on the retrohale
  • Traditional flavors of nuts and mocha resurfacing towards the end
  • An earthy finish

The overall flavor progression in the final third is less pronounced compared to the earlier stages, with a mixed reaction among enthusiasts. The interplay of earth, grass, and leather flavors is not as prominent in this stage.

Pairing Suggestions: Enhancing the Filthy Hooligan Experience

Pairing the Filthy Hooligan cigar

Similar to a fine wine, a good cigar is optimally savored with an appropriate pairing. The Filthy Hooligan, with its rich flavor profile, pairs well with a variety of beverages that can enhance your smoking experience. Whether you’re a coffee lover or a beer enthusiast, we have some pairing suggestions that will take your Filthy Hooligan experience to the next level.

For coffee lovers, a medium-bodied coffee with hints of vanilla or spice can complement the Filthy Hooligan’s flavor spectrum. The toasty and nutty flavors in the coffee can harmonize with the Filthy Hooligan’s similar notes, providing a coherent tasting experience. Alternatively, a robust espresso can balance the rich blend of the Filthy Hooligan, creating an indulgent experience for your palate.

If you’re more of a beer enthusiast, stout beers, with their inherent chocolate and espresso notes, offer a suitable companion to the Filthy Hooligan’s bold flavors. The creamy and smooth characteristics of a milk stout could mirror the richness of the Filthy Hooligan, resulting in a pleasant and well-rounded pairing. Additionally, stouts featuring flavors of caramel, raisins, and charred fruit might add an extra dimension to your cigar smoking experience, enhancing your overall enjoyment.

Limited Edition: Get Them While They Last

Released as a limited edition, only 5,000 boxes of the Filthy Hooligan are produced each time. This applies to both the Filthy Hooligan and the Filthy Hooligan Shamrock variant. Due to the limited production, cigar enthusiasts are encouraged to secure their box promptly to ensure they don’t miss out on this unique smoking experience.

And remember, collectors and aficionados should store these cigars in a humidor to maintain their quality.

Comparing the Filthy Hooligan to Other Alec Bradley Offerings

Comparing the Filthy Hooligan to other cigars

The Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan distinguishes itself with its uniqueness, even amidst other Alec Bradley offerings. Take, for example, the Alec Bradley Black Market cigar. This cigar features a Nicaraguan Jalapa Colorado Maduro wrapper, complemented by a filler blend from the Honduran Jamastran Valley and Panama, and an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder. It offers a medium body and a rich aesthetic, with a dark, shimmering patina.

The flavor notes detected in the Black Market include cedar, earthiness, spice, mint, cocoa, coffee, and clove, with an initial natural sweetness and a hint of red pepper on the tongue. As the smoke develops, the Black Market reveals pronounced cocoa and buttery creaminess, along with a lingering earthiness and a sweet harmony akin to honeysuckle and spicy cinnamon candy. In terms of complexity, the Black Market maintains a relatively consistent taste, with the predominant earthiness and sweetness prevailing throughout the cigar smoking experience.

Expert Tips for Smoking the Filthy Hooligan

Enjoying the Filthy Hooligan is an immersive experience that can be elevated with some expert advice. Starting with the cut, it’s important to cut the cap at the head without going past the cap line. A sharp double-blade guillotine cutter is recommended to achieve a clean and straight cut. For a different smoking experience, you can choose the V-cut for a more focused flavor draw or a punch cut for round-capped cigars, being cautious not to tighten the draw which can affect the taste.

When it comes to lighting the Filthy Hooligan, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat the cigar by holding it above the flame and rotating it.
  2. Light it at a 30-degree angle while drawing air gently to achieve an even burn.
  3. Use a torch lighter with enough flames to suit the cigar’s size.
  4. Take your time and don’t rush through things. Proceed at your own pace.
  5. Take puffs approximately once per minute to maximize flavor without overheating the cigar.
  6. If parts of the cigar are burning unevenly, use touch-up lighting.

With the Maduro leaf affecting the burn rate, be prepared to relight the cigar as needed and blow out to purge gas build-up and eliminate bitterness.


The Alec Bradley Filthy Hooligan is a cigar that offers a unique smoking experience. With its distinctive barber pole wrapper, unique blend, and complex flavor profile, it’s no wonder that this limited-edition cigar has carved out a unique niche in the cigar world. Whether you’re a seasoned cigar aficionado or a beginner looking to explore the world of cigars, the Filthy Hooligan offers an experience that’s sure to delight your senses.

What makes the Filthy Hooligan unique?

The allure of the Filthy Hooligan lies in its annual St. Patrick's Day release and the striking visual appeal of its barber pole wrapper, which weaves together candela and maduro leaves. The cigar's distinctive combination of fillers and binder further enhances its uniqueness. With the introduction of the Filthy Hooligan Shamrock, the complexity is elevated by the addition of a third wrapper, the Nicaraguan habano claro, making it a standout choice among cigar connoisseurs.

What flavors can I expect from the Filthy Hooligan?

You can expect flavors of spice, pepper, and coffee from the Filthy Hooligan, with tasting notes of spice, sweetness, earthiness, and hints of vanilla from the Panamanian fillers. Enjoy!

How is the Filthy Hooligan different from the Alec Bradley Black Market cigar?

The Filthy Hooligan and the Alec Bradley Black Market cigar differ in their wrappers, blends, and flavor profiles. The Black Market cigar features a Nicaraguan Jalapa Colorado Maduro wrapper, a blend of fillers from the Honduran Jamastran Valley and Panama, and an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder.

What should I pair with the Filthy Hooligan?

You should pair the Filthy Hooligan with medium-bodied coffees or stout beers that have chocolate and espresso notes. Enjoy!

Any tips for smoking the Filthy Hooligan?

Sure! Use a sharp guillotine cutter to cut the cap, preheat the cigar by rotating it above the flame, and then light it at a 30-degree angle while drawing air gently. To maximize flavor without overheating, take puffs once per minute.