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 a couple of these cigars from Smoke Inn for this review; as always, all reviews are my own.
Just by looking at it you can tell that at least half of the name is true as this is a fairly large cigar. At a little over six inches with a variable ring gauge from 42 to 52, this torpedo has a slight box press to it and a lot of oils on the dark brown wrapper. Oh, and the foot is closed (the wrapper overhangs the end and covers up the opening in the foot that is normally there). It’s an interesting cigar to look at due to these aforementioned attributes but the band, something I detest talking about, is unique.
With demented, Alice in Wonderland-esque artistic renderings of Abe Dababneh (retailer), Matt Booth (cigar maker) and Matt’s beloved dog the band is very different from all the other cigar bands that I can think of. Add to that the font used for “Big Delicious”, which reminds me of some of the fonts that Quentin Tarantino has used, and I have a cigar band that I won’t soon forget. It’s not elegant like an Opus X band but it is definitely eye catching.
The Big Delicious is part of a line of Smoke Inn exlusive that includes: Tatuaje Apocalypse, Tatuaje Anarchy, Arturo Fuente Solaris, Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15 Maduro, Padron 1964 Anniversary SI-15 Natural and the My Father El Hijo. All of these releases have been enjoyable smokes and if there are still any around you should give them a shot.
Now it’s time for the cigar.
Length: 6 ¼”
Ring Gauge: 42-52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Binder: Honduran Corojo Seco
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic Piloto Ligero, Honduran Corojo & Nicaragua
Price: $134.25/Box of 15 | $44.75/5 Pack
Big Delicious Special Site Flame!
Supposedly, the blend for the Big Delicious is based off of another blend from the Room 101 stable. What blend? Is this even an important bit of information? That last question teeters over to the “bullshit” spectrum of question asking as, even though it is a legitimate question to ask, it’s too philosophical. The former question, “What blend?” has more import to it as it makes us (at least me) think about the cigar’s flavor profile a bit more.
As luck would have it (or maybe not), I smoked one of the new Namakubi Ecuadors earlier today (I absolutely love that cigar) and the first few puffs of the Big Delicious remind me of it. I reviewed the original Namakubi earlier this year and thought it was a good cigar and my first couple impressions of the Namakubi Ecuador have me thinking that the Ecuador is a better version. So to with the Big Delicious.
Soft spice, floral notes, some oak and some other flavors in the light flavor spectrum. Clean, crisp flavors throughout this first third.
During the second third the spice/floral nexus becomes more acute and enjoyable. There are also wheat and nut flavors during the middle third as well. It’s an interesting flavor profile that has so far kept me interested.
It ends with a lot of wheat and nuts with some spice mixed in but, alas, it gets overwhelmed by the other flavors. This doesn’t mean the end wasn’t enjoyable, it just means that it wasn’t as good as the second or first thirds (in that order).
Medium bodied with an excellent draw and burn; this cigar started out well, got better and then it sort of lagged at the end. Is this cigar worth smoking? Yes, it is, but it isn’t as good as the other Smoke Inn exclusives that have come out over the last year-and-a-half. It is on preorder right now and they will ship at the end of April and, if you purchase a box, the whole order will ship for free.
Perhaps, my negativity stems from the fact that this is a larger cigar. The maximum 52 ring gauge isn’t that big in today’s cigar world but there was something about it that made it perform like a bigger cigar. And I usually don’t like bigger cigars as my enjoyment tends to flag after a while. Too much of a good thing and all that.
PS: I stated earlier in this review that the beginning of this cigar reminded me of the Namakubi Ecuador but, after finishing it, I don’t think I was right. At least completely. Parts of this cigar’s flavor profile reminded me of the Daruma but, then again….
I received this cigar from the maker. All reviews are my own.
A closed foot and a pigtail; what more could you want? The pigtail actually looks more like a fan – no, wait, it looks more like a very small guitar pick. The closed foot looks like what you would think it would look like with the extra tobacco from the wrapper draped over the foot protecting the filler and binder tobaccos from the elements.
It is a bit soft to the touch, which I would think would mean that this cigar is going to have at least a somewhat loose draw. Somewhat oily to the touch, the wrapper does not have much in the way of imperfections save for a little bit of bumpiness near the head.
From Table 36:
Constructed at the famed Raices Cubanas factory [which is known for making Alec Bradley cigars], the filler is a mix of Honduran leaf grown on Raices own farm in Trojes and Nicaraguan leaf from the Jalapa valley. These long filler tobaccos are all tied together with a Honduran Criollo 98 binder and wrapped in a rich Honduran Habano “Colorado Subido” leaf. The result is exactly cigar we intended: a medium-bodied cigar (OK, so it might cheat a little on the fuller side…) that connoisseurs and occasional smokers alike can appreciate.
Vitola: corona gorda
Length: 5 ½”
Ring Gauge: 46
Wrapper: Honduran Habano
Binder: Honduran Criollo 98
Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Price: ~ $7.00/Single MSRP
Jiro Dreams of Sushi Laser Burn!
Initially it is dull and bland, the flavors tasting like aged wet paper. Fortunately, that passes and I am left with something really enjoyable. There’s a definite heaviness to the flavor profile and even though it’s been a while since I last smoked an Alec Bradley cigar this heaviness seems to ring a bell.
Heaviness can definitely get bad if the flavors aren’t that enjoyable but they are enjoyable in this case. Spice (understated but powerful especially since it’s lingering in my nostrils for quite some time), earth and this rich, doughy bread. It’s an interesting mixture.
The second third is nice as well. Soft spice with a tinge of sweetness added in for balance is the major force in the flavor profile. Earth (that dry, clay kind of dirt that has some character) is the other dominant flavor. Bread is out.
Going into the final third and the spice is still present. It has never been strong but, rather, pleasant and flavorful. Oak seems to be peaking through the fog and making its presence known. I was able to pick up hints of it throughout but it has become a player during this final third.
Medium bodied with a good draw (requires just a bit of effort to get a good draw, which is more effort than I expected) and burn; this cigar was very good. There was some evolution to the flavors from beginning to end and it was always enjoyable. Good mix of flavors and it’s probably a cigar that will appeal to most everyone.
The band features a… oh, that’s what a Merlion is. This is a line extension to the La Sirena (which I loved, giving it 95 points and the #2 spot on my 2011 Top 10 list) stables and is made by La Aurora. I love La Aurora cigars and I toured their factory a couple of years ago. The La Sirena blend, on the other hand, is made by My Father Cigars.
It’s a very average looking cigar with the brown being on the lighter side and there being a few decent sized veins sticking out here and there. I will say that this cigar does have a fairly robust tobacco and spice smell coming from it. The construction is solid; evenly packed, very consistent shape, no stretch marks on the wrapper and those sorts of things. It also has a decent amount of oils on the wrapper.
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo
Binder: Brazilian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Corojo & Criollo, Nicaraguan Ligero & Brazilian Mata Fina
Price: $158.00/Box of 20
Watch Firefly… Fire!
Before I start the actual review I have to note that it’s pretty damn cool seeing a former cigar blogger and friend, Barry Stein in this case, being cited on Cigar Aficionado’s website. As many of you know, Barry is the Assistant Director of Marketing for Miami Cigar, which distributes La Sirena cigars.
[Now back to the review.]
Sweet spice and oats make up the two main flavors for me during the first third. Good mix, a little unusual, but definitely interesting.
During the second third the sweet spice adds on a dark fruit sweetness to it as well, which is nice. The oats are still there. There’s also a bit of maple in the background. So, this cigar is partly sweet and partly oat flavored with some rough leather mixed in as well.
Near the end of the second third and throughout the remainder of the cigar the sweet spice fades but does not disappear. In it’s place is a combination of oats and nuts. While not my favorite mixture of flavors it does seem to be working well in this cigar.
Medium bodied with a good draw and burn, the La Sirena Merlion is a good cigar. Even though it does not have the flavors that I enjoy the most the flavors that are here work together very well. This is the kind of cigar that will appeal to a lot of people because of the sweetness mixed with the savory flavors. Personally, I like the La Sirena line better, but that’s just me.
When I picked up this cigar in late July I was hoping to be able to make some allusions to the Angels then-dynamic duo of Trout and Trumbo, affectionately known as “TNT.” They were dynamite and then they weren’t. And now the team is out of the playoffs for a third straight year and my interesting introduction has been all shot to shit. #FirstWorldProblem
But now I’m going to smoke the most recent Viaje TNT, which is short for “boom.” But does this cigar really go boom? Well, that’s for me to know and you to find out. What I will tell you right now is that this toro has a “fuse” that tops off the cap and the general construction of this cigar looks good. It’s tightly packed, more oily than the average cigar, pretty much devoid of veins and imperfections and it has a closed foot. I’ve smoked one previously and am honestly looking forward to smoking this one.
Length: 6 ¼”
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
Price: $780.00/Box of 75 | $10.40/Single
Where’s the Beef? Incineration!
It’s a simple cigar without much strength. There’s some floral flavors and soft spice. Also some washed out woody flavors as well.
Actually, this is a decent cigar. While the flavors are more subtle than I would like and the strength is right smack in the middle of the medium bodied range it is enjoyable. That sweet spice gets stronger while maintaining it’s reserved attitude and the floral notes are still present. The wood, light oak really, is also lurking in the background.
The spice lessens, hay comes on board and so does a bit of chocolate during the final third. It’s a different flavor profile but I do miss those floral notes and the oak.
Medium bodied with a good draw and burn, what I don’t like about this cigar doesn’t have anything to do with how it performs, which is good. What I don’t like is the name: TNT. Replete with fuse and menacing name I expected a powerhouse of a cigar, something with a good amount of flavor and a lot of strength. This cigar has some of the former and none of the latter.
But a name is just a name and you really can’t judge a cigar by something as unimportant as a name. After the final puff was retrohaled I found myself longing for something more. It’s a good cigar, pleasant really, but nothing special.