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
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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 the cigars used for this review from Emilio Cigars; as always, all reviews are my own.
The blackish-brown wrapper is almost completely devoid of any inconsistencies except for a smallish vein that runs the length of the cigar. It looks well made due to its uniformity of shape and the lack of any hard or soft spots.
“Who’s it made by?” you may be asking. Well, it’s made by the wunderkind A.J. Fernandez, that’s who. If you buy cigars online with any frequency then you are probably familiar with his other works (Man O’ War and Diesel he makes for others and San Lotano is his own, which you can find at many brick and mortar shops). Enjoyable cigars all.
I remember getting some of these AF1s about a couple of years ago and immensely enjoying them so I am hopeful for this go around. The vitola I’m using for this review is the ubiquitous robusto.
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: San Andres Maduro
Price: $120.00/Box of 20 | $6.00/Single
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It starts out strong with notes of cutting spice, chocolate and earth. Even though it’s still early in this cigar’s flavor evolution, the flavors I’m experiencing right now are pretty complex. And although there is a lot going on with the flavors and the strength in flavors (but not necessarily body) I can easily say that the flavor profile maintains an elegance to it; it’s reserved but not boring.
Chocolate, earth and a pervasive, yet restrained, sweetness are the main components of the flavor profile during the second third. Spice doesn’t play much of a part during this third except for during the actual process of retrohaling the smoke through my nose, where spice is evident for a brief moment. Normally, I would like more spice with chocolate and earth but the flavor profile is working well for me here.
Dry earth with spice is a good description of the final third’s flavor profile. Chocolate is still lurking around in the background and the overall strength of this cigar has increased to a point where it is now safely in the full bodied spectrum.
Full bodied with a great draw and burn; the Emilio AF1 has flavors that never flag and they are pretty tasty too. The main change in the flavor profile can be experienced during the transition into the final third with the darker chocolate and earth nexus giving way to a bolder dry earth and spice mixture. It’s an impressive cigar and I hope it sticks around for a long time in its current configuration.
PS: Right before hitting the publish button on this post it occurred to me that this cigar’s flavor arc is reminiscent of a lot of Western movie heroes. Take, for example, Shane. Shane, like this cigar, is a good guy trying to do right be his adopted family and town. Things go smoothly for a while but then, when the situation requires it, he goes off and saves the day.
While this cigar won’t save any days it does solidly go on in a pleasant fashion for the first two thirds or so. And then – BAM! – you are hit by an abrupt change that is impressive. If this cigar’s total flavor contribution had remained relatively constant throughout that would have been great. The fact that it had that extra element at the end is a bonus.
I received this cigar from Thompson Cigar; all reviews are my own.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Rosado | Binder: Dominican | Filler: Dominican | Box of 18: $118.23; Six Pack: $39.41 | Torpedo | 6″ x 55
0/3: I have had this cigar sitting in my humidor for about a year. Oily and slightly rough to the touch, the wrapper is marred by a couple of minor veins. These cigars come wrapped in a cedar sleeve with a black cloth band at the foot. It’s a beautiful cigar to look at and I’m hoping that the flavors are as good as the looks.
1/3: Spice, light cedar, nuts and some other nice flavors. The burn gets a little ragged but is quickly corrected. Medium bodied.
2/3: Sweetness starts coming through during this third. Cedar and nuts are still major factors.
3/3: Chocolate comes along during the final third. The flavors seem a bit washed out but, underneath that, there’s a decent amount of flavor variety.
4/3: Medium bodied with a good draw and a decent burn; this cigar wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It had breadth of flavor but those flavors were average. Decent cigar.
3 out of 5 points – Good cigar
I received this cigar from Cigars Direct – purveyors of premium cigars. As always, all reviews are my own.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano | Binder: Nicaraguan | Filler: Nicaraguan | Box of 20: $189.00; Single: $10.50 | Toro | 6 ½″ x 52
0/3: This cigar has received a number of accolades from a variety of different media outlets. Supposedly, it’s one of the better offerings from Rocky Patel. Let’s see.
The Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary is box pressed with the flat top and bottom being about 1.5 times as wide as the flat sides. The edges are a bit rounded, the wrapper has a bit of oil on it, the wrapper is a fairly dark brown and there is this network of superficial veins crisscrossing the wrapper.
1/3: It starts out very understated with flavors in the wood, mild cotton candy sweetness and some nutty flavors as well. Loose draw.
2/3: Sweetness is gone. Nuts and dry wood are the main flavors. The draw is better. Medium bodied.
3/3: Floral sweetness comes on during the final third. Wood and nuts are still present. Pleasant.
4/3: Medium bodied with a decent draw and a good burn; this cigar is good. None of the flavors were very strong but they were all good.
3 out of 5 points – If you are looking for a pleasant cigar with flavors that won’t overpower you then this is the cigar for you
Looking through my past reviews I was a little surprised to see that I have not posted a review of the Namakubi yet. I’m surprised because I really do like that cigar. Maybe I have another in a humidor and, if I’m lucky enough for that to be the case, I will get a review of that cigar up sooner or later.
I was, however, able to find a review I did on the original Room 101 line, which I didn’t love. They are good, quality cigars but it just didn’t fit into my preferred flavor profile. So, what about the Daruma?
First, there’s the name. I know that the word “namakubi” has something to do with beheading so, if Daruma follows in the same vein then its meaning is probably similarly unpleasant. On the other hand, Daruma could mean “puppy dogs” in Japanese (these words are Japanese, right?). [Go to the end of this review for some clarification.]
According to the Camacho website (Camacho makes Room 101 brand cigars and Camacho is owned by Davidoff – just fulfilling all possible fiduciary responsibilities and such) there are five different sizes. The cigar I am smoking for this review is the Roxxo, which measures in at 4″ x 48. The band is stylish and the cigar looks well made. Not very oily to the touch and this cigar is tightly packed.
Vitola: short robusto
Ring Gauge: 48
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Cuban Seed Brazilian
Filler: Dominican and Honduran
Price: $130.00/Box of 20 | $33.00/5 Pack
Very flavorful beginning to this cigar. There’s a rich sweetness that is buttressed by chocolate and some nice savory flavors. So far (first third = far), the flavor profile is complex and very enjoyable.
The second third’s flavor profile is pretty similar to the first third’s. The good thing about this cigar is that the flavor profile has taken on a granular feel to it. It’s going along at medium bodied.
Chocolate is gone during the final third but the savory and sweet flavors are still kicking around. The savory flavor is close to tasting like an aged steak and the sweetness is close to floral. Very good mixture of flavors and even though there isn’t a lot a change in the flavor profile from beginning to end there is a good amount of flavors going on throughout that I never got bored with this cigar.
Medium bodied with a good draw and burn; this cigar will probably have a certain amount of appeal to just about everyone. This isn’t a cigar that beats you over the head with very strong individual flavors but, taken in totality, it’s very pleasant and interesting.
PS: Here’s the explanation from the site as to what the name “Daruma” is all about. (And since it’s near the end of the year it’s actually pretty fitting.)
The single eye I have penciled in on my Daruma doll is my silent reminder that I have set a goal that is pending completion. My Daruma will become a bi-oculared character once my task is complete. I have one year in which to complete my task – and if one of my attempts should fall short of victory I will not quit, but rather try again. Because, I know that if I do not give up and my will does not falter it is never a question of “if,” but only a question of “when.” We have named our latest series after the Daruma as he symbolizes resilience – a key ingredient to our success. Use your Daruma to set a goal of your own.
Fill his left eye when you have decided what you will be committing yourself to, his right when your task is complete. As the tradition is to burn the Daruma at the end of the year, take a brief moment to ignite a fine cigar in celebration of your accomplishment.