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 – 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
The acronym TAA conjured up images of groping and pointless delays in airports for me but then I looked again and realized that this isn’t the acronym for the much-maligned Transportation Security Administration folks but for the Tobacconist Association of America (I’m going to assume there’s less groping required in this organization). Actually, it’s a pretty cool idea because it provides B&Ms with something special for their clientele which can’t easily be found online.
This cigar is a box pressed torpedo with what I believe to be basically the same blend as the original Jamie Garcia Reserva Especial (for more info go to Tiki Bar or Halfwheel). I liked the normal line cigar a lot, giving it 91 points, and have bought more over the last few months since I published my review of the normal line. It’s a really good cigar and, to tell you the truth, I’d probably bump up that score a little now that I’ve smoked around a box more of those cigars.
This TAA Edition cigar is slightly longer than the one I did a review on previously and it has a slight box press. The wrapper is rough to the touch and is slick with oils. The construction looks perfect and I can’t find any imperfections with it. It is consistently packed and gives slightly when pinched.
Length: 6 ¼″
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Price: $150.00/Box of 16 | $10.00/Single
Hell on Wheels Conflagration!
With a slightly tight draw this cigar is starting off with a good deal of spice and some dark wood notes. The spice’s intensity is really strong, especially during the very beginning, and that might overwhelm some smokers or, if failing that, might be unpleasant. Personally, I like the initial spicy intensity of this cigar.
After the howitzer of spiciness subsides, which is about a quarter of the way through the first third, a tableau of habanero heat, chocolate and some woody notes becomes clear. It continues on like this through the beginning of the second third.
Near the end of the second third this gingerbread flavor starts coming through and you can really smell it in the smoke as well. It’s a cool flavor and works well with the spice and woody notes. That chocolate kind of disappears, but not completely.
Somewhere during the second third or the beginning of the final third the spice quiets down and becomes more sweet and floral. While I do like the hard charging spice more this does show a bit of evolution in the flavor profile and keeps my interest going.
Full bodied with a good draw and burn, this is a great cigar. There are a lot of flavors going on in this cigar and the extra bit of length and/or a change of blend (which I don’t know is the case in this situation) did make the flavor profile a little bit different from the conventional line. All in all, I think this is just as good as the regular line, which I love and I think most everyone would find something to like about it.
If you get a chance you should try this cigar. It costs a little more but you can only find it at B&Ms, which means it has a bit of exclusivity. There’s that but the most important thing is that it tastes good.
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.
It’s a quirky looking cigar. Both ends are closed with the only difference between the ends being that the good torcedores who make Viaje cigars poked a hole in the “foot.” That hole does serve a purpose, though, and that purpose is that the hole allows more moisture to escape from the innards of this cigar. What gets me, though, is that this cigar looks a lot more like a candy bar than a brick of C-4 (it is true that I have a lot of experience with candy bars and none with plastic explosives so this thing may actually look like C-4 but after perusing some pictures online of C-4 I’m not so sure).
A minimal amount of veins with a slight box press, this cigar has a dark brown wrapper. The feel is slightly waxy with a decent amount of oils. It looks very well made and I do appreciate the minimalist “C-4″ band on this cigar; kind of refreshing.
Ring Gauge: 56
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
Price: $780.00/Box of 75 | $10.40/Single
Slow Mo Explosion Incineration!
If you were thinking that it would be hard to get a draw from this cigar in the beginning you are sort of wrong. What I mean is that maybe for the first puff or two you don’t get much but, once the foot cap becomes ignited, the draw is effortless. Good start on that regard.
As for the flavor experience: it’s pretty intense, especially during the retrohale. The leading flavor here is this habanero-like spice that has this amazing ability to worm its way into the essence of everything it touches (more on that in next paragraph). There’s also some sweetness, close to floral, and some woody flavors as well. Not a cornucopia of flavors but still enjoyable.
I do have to mention something before progressing on into a description of the second third. How should I put this? Well, do you know what it feels like to have water go in your mouth and then out through your nose? That’s how my nasal cavity feels but with a little more burning from the habanero-like spice. Not horrible but it’s a little much.
During the second third that feeling of shooting habanero smoke through my nose subsides, which is definitely an improvement. Overall, the flavors are still there but they have become smoother, which is nice. Not a lot of evolution from the first to the second third.
The final third is mainly sweet spice. For what it is it’s pretty good. The flavor is crisp and enjoyable.
Full bodied, which lessens as the cigar progresses, with a decent burn and good draw, this cigar has some good moments. But not enough for me. It’s fairly one dimensional (what’s there is good) without a lot of complexity. If you’re just looking for strength this cigar has a good amount of that but that would be the only major upside for you guys.