Man O’ War is a very solid line of cigars from A.J. Fernandez. In fact, Mr. Fernandez makes quite a few good cigars including the San Lotano Oval Maduro, which I recently reviewed. Man O’ War is an interesting line in that I think it started solely as an online brand (I have seen it at brick and mortars also, so that may be wrong) but it’s also interesting in that there are about half a dozen different variations on the line, including each of the Side Projects.
(Wait, what? A lot of original cigar lines end up branching out into a number of variations? Oh, alright then, discount most of that first paragraph then.)
The Side Projects each feature a purportedly unique blend and that’s probably true. Although, meh, you can decide for yourself – that’s part of the fun, right? The one that I’m smoking for this review is the Man O’ War Side Project Skull Crusher. (When they were coming up with the name for this particular cigar I sincerely believe someone in the room must have been thinking “Are you not entertained?!?!” when this name was agreed upon.)
The Skull Crusher has something to live up to because I liked the Man O’ War Side Project 52-C. The Skull Crusher is a perfecto (both ends are tapered) and there’s absolutely no opening as the foot is completely covered by the wrapper. Nope, not a closed foot with the extra length of the wrapper folded over the foot but with the wrapper just never ending. Look at the picture.
It’s more bulbous near the foot and there are some veins on the wrapper. Very little oil on the wrapper and the wrapper has a bit of roughness to it.
Ring Gauge: 56
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
Price: $80.00/Box of 12 | $40.00/Five Pack
Cinema Sins Torch!
It’s a bit slow before the burn line traverses the shoulder and then it does pick up a good deal. Bright spice that does have a decent amount of strength to it. What’s great about the flavors early on (at least) is that this bright spice is deftly cut by a sharp but fleeting candied, fruity sweetness. The juxtaposition between the spice and the sweetness works well here. There’s also some oak in the background and the sweetness has a close relative in a nice burgundy flavor.
Flavors do take a step back during the second third. The spice is pretty much gone and the candied sweetness has significantly dissipated. That burgundy flavor is still kicking around with the oak however. Basically, the flavors just seem to have been washed out a bit.
Sweetness morphs into floral and the oak flavor has transitioned into a more general woody flavor. It’s still a respectable cigar.
Medium-full bodied with a good draw and burn; the Man O’ War Side Project Skull Crusher is anything but what it’s name would indicate. That’s fine and all but when I purchased these cigars I was expecting a wild, extremely robust cigar. But what I got was something different and enjoyable.
It was actually very enjoyable during the first third when the flavors were alive but then – during the second third and especially during the final third – it faded out like a child actor’s promising career. This wasn’t a total burnout like Haley Joel Osment’s but rather like Drew Barrymore’s where some of her career as an adult showed some of her promise.
Perhaps, the cigar took a turn for the worse after the burn line crossed the bulbous part. After all, when the ring gauge changes the blend has to change some as well. Maybe if this cigar maintained a constant ring gauge equal to its thickest point then it would have been much better.
I received this cigar from Cigars Direct; as always, all reviews are my own.
Wrapper: Maduro Especial | Binder: Nicaraguan | Filler: Nicaraguan & Honduras | Box of 20: $139.00; Single: $8.20 | Robusto | 5″ x 52
0/3: It’s a pretty flat looking cigar with bowed out sides (hence, the “oval”) with a smooth and oily dark wrapper. I have previously reviewed the San Lotano Oval and the San Lotano Maduro; both were good cigars.
1/3: Wonderfully dark flavor profile in the beginning. Earth, dark sweetness and general goodness.
2/3: Dirt, in a good way, plays a pretty big role during this third. Creamy texture. The dark sweetness takes a little step back.
3/3: The flavors coalesce into a good mixture of the flavors I’ve already mentioned. It’s still interesting.
4/3: Medium bodied with a good draw and burn; this cigar doesn’t really have any drawbacks but it’s not overly impressive either. All of the flavors were good but they didn’t pop either. It’s pleasant, which is a plus but it isn’t enough.
3.5 points – Solid cigar that most everyone will like but won’t love
A little less than a year ago I reviewed the Domus Magnus I and I liked it but I didn’t think it was anything earth shattering. That’s fine; few cigars (few things for that matter) are. But what about the second coming of the Domus Magnus?
According to SAG Imports, the company that distributes Casa Magna (and other) cigars, the same two sizes that were available in the original are available in the sequel. There’s the Optimus, which I am smoking, that is 5 ¾” x 52 and there’s also the Primus at 6 ½” x 55. These are Roman names and since I talked about this with my review of the original Domus Magnus, I won’t repeat myself here.
It’s a good looking, slightly box pressed Nicaraguan puro. According to Halfwheel, the main difference between this version and the previous Domus Magnus is that the wrapper is a different vintage this time around. Oh, and there’s that pigtail, which I twisted off and (surprisingly to me) it leaves a perfect hole in the cap and it actually is supplying me a pretty good draw. I will try it with this small little hole and if the draw starts to get tight I can always cut the head properly. I’ll tell you how it goes.
Length: 5 ¾”
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Sun Grown Jalapa 2007 (Nicaragua)
Price: $80.00/Box of 10 | $9.40/Single
Marble Hornets Torch!
Even though I was able to get a decent draw from the hole I got by twisting off the pig tail I quickly decided to cut the head to produce more air flow. I suppose it was worth the try to make it work but… oh well.
The flavors are amazing from the very first puff. Strong flavors circling around the sweet spice spectrum. Backing up these is wheat and some floral notes as well. Very dry flavor profile, which works wonderfully for these flavors.
Granular flavor bits are all about and they all taste good. It’s a very interesting cigar and even though the flavor profile is a bit on the dry side, which I don’t normally favor, it works for these flavors. Sweet spice, oak with a tinge of char and there’s a faint chocolate flavor hovering about.
There really isn’t that much of a difference between the final and the second third (and not that much of a difference between the final two thirds and the first third) but that is okay because the flavors are enjoyable.
Medium-full bodied with a good draw and burn; this cigar has much to recommend it. The flavor profile is very creamy and the flavors are pretty smooth; even in the final third. While there is some complexity in the overall flavor profile what I am liking about this cigar the most is the clarity of the flavors and how they mix well with each other. It’s an excellent cigar.
I received this cigar from La Palina; as always, all reviews are my own.
Over the last month or so I have watched the whole White Collar series, which is mainly about this FBI agent and conman extraordinaire who bust white collar criminals. If you don’t think about it too much it’s a fun show to watch. But there’s something interesting about cons in general, especially cons of the counterfeiting variety. If you want to counterfeit something done by a person (i.e. a painting) or something else natural then it’s best not to be perfect.
Perfection is a clear sign that there is something unnatural about an object. Straight lines? Unnatural. Perfectly proportioned body? Unnatural. Uniformly colored wrapper (especially one that is very dark)? Probably unnatural.
With, say, a painting, you would have to be perfect in mimicking the imperfections of the original. With a natural product it’s better to not try mimickery.
Basically, all the preceding was a setup to say that this wrapper is definitely natural (no dyes and the such); and, truthfully, I never really questioned this wrapper’s authenticity. It was just one of those times that something popped into my head – counterfeiting in this instance – and I needed to indulge myself a bit. Thanks for sticking with me.
Not only is there some variation in the color of the wrapper, from blackish areas to chocolaty browns but there are also some bumps, a small tear near the foot (maybe my fault) and there is a network of small to medium sized veins crisscrossing the surface of the cigar like all those aqueducts on Mars. There’s a certain amount of oiliness on the wrapper (not a lot but it’s there) and the cigar smells nice.
One last thing: I have liked all the La Palina cigars I have smoked in the past; click the link to check them out
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Mexican Maduro
Binder: Honduran (x2)
Price: $171.00/Box of 20 | $47.50/5 Pack
Detecting Antifragility Flame!
Slow burning cigar with a core group of rich flavors including earth, dark sweetness and oats. The juxtaposition of the earth and the dark sweetness is very nice. There is some complexity early on.
Dark sweetness is still hanging around during the second third with some earth popping up every once in a while. The other major flavor is oats and there is a toasted quality that is permeating the whole flavor profile now.
Charred meat comes on during the final third and that earthiness comes back. It’s a good mixture but not as good as the first third was.
Medium bodied with a good draw and a decent burn; this cigar starts off with a mixture of intense flavors and evolves into a toasty stew of flavors that are mostly enjoyable. The major drawback of this cigar, something I touched on earlier in this review, is that it burns slowly; too slowly at times. If you don’t keep at it then this cigar is liable to burn out.
I smoked two cigars for this review and the one that I kept on top of burned well. My suggestion would be to smoke this cigar when you have the ability to dedicate some time to it because it is worth the effort.
Some of you may have noticed that there is a new sponsor on the site (yeah, that one in the right sidebar). It’s called Operation Smokescreen and it looks like a pretty cool thing. Why? Well, you can win one of five prize packages (each valued at over $1,500) and you can read their description of the rest.
If you play with fire…you’re bound to get burned.DescriptionOperation Smokescreen – an independent film. Starring the biggest names in the cigar business: Jonathan Drew, Nick Perdomo, Rocky Patel, Matt Booth, Christian Eiroa, Charlie Toraño, Ernesto Padilla & Kurt van Keppel.Plot Outline
A never-before seen bug has taken root in the Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic…at the same time a shadowy figure has emerged with a potent biological weapon that has the power to decimate the fields in just days. It seems that the DR is just the start – the virus has crossed the water to the west, and infected the Nicaraguan mainland growing areas…there have been scattered reports, now by Honduran farmers, of a group of outsiders coming and going by small airplane to and from a hard-to-reach region at the edge of the valley.
There have been no official communications from Cuba. Rumors have surfaced that the Castro regime paid off these eco-terrorists to leave their state industry alone, while others tell of Raul & Fidel sponsoring them as a leverage point to hasten the repeal of the US embargo.
Stories and theories aside, the Mosaic supervirus is now out – and the race is on for a handful of powerful tobacco growers to keep their farms alive. They realize that as long as their fields stay viable, they are in business – and their business is healthier when their competitors’ is not. Some have agreed to work together; others, however, have decided at the same time that it’s in their best interest to cut a deal to win. One has even resorted to killing to keep his secret, along with access to the virus. What none of them had counted on, is that along with creating the virus – an agent at that lab had also created a treatment…that will go to the highest bidder. The growers now know this, and make a push to secure it before they’re ruined as well.
Only one person has the power to stop it – the Middleman. And he has his own plans to let the growers sort it out among themselves, and for him to control the world’s tobacco growing economy after the dust has settled.
Kind of sounds crazy. But is it the kind of crazy that is fun to watch or the other kind where it’s just insane? I have no clue. But the prize packages – headlined by Liga Privada, Perdomo 20th Anniversary, Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary, Room 101 Namakubi, CLE, Padilla 8 & 11, Torano Loyal and Xikar – are reason enough to look into it.
(Cue movie poster)