Cigars by brand

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Side Project Skull Crusher

One of the four side projects, next to the Phalanx, 52C and the Little Devil, yet the Skull Crusher was the latest to be released. Where the others saw daylight in march of 2012, this Skull Crusher was born on january 2013. I have smoked a few before and this is my favorite ‘after BBQ’ cigar, because it’s so strong and full flavored you can still taste the cigar even after all the spicy BBQ food and sauce.


The cigar, which is a figurado, 5 3/4×56 and ‘club shaped’ according to Meier & Dutch. I would call it a perfecto, but that’s just me. The cigar is packed with ligero tobacco, Nicaraguan in the filler and an Honduran Habano ligero as binder. The wrapper is Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro.


First of all, I love the shape, it reminds me a bit of a feral flying pig, yet a tad less fat and without the pigtail. The dry leathery toothy wrapper has a nice dark soil color with a few veins. The secondary ring, black with gray and golden letters, fits the regular Man O’ War ring. The cigar has the aroma of dark chocolate.


I cut the cigar, the tobacco is a bit salty. There is no cold draw because of the glued closed foot. It takes a few puffs to get passed the closed foot and get a draw. I taste some sweetness, a mild vinegar and some cedar with a hint of pepper. After a quarter of an inch I taste honey with cedar. An inch in I taste a little honey, oak and cedar plus a growing pepper. After a third pepper is the main flavor, with cedar and honey on the background. The changes are now subtle, the wood, honey and pepper constantly change in strength.


After the first quarter of an inch the draw is fantastic. The smoke is white, thick and full. The salt and pepper colored ash is dense and firm. The burn is straight. The evolution of this full bodied full flavored cigar is good. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes! Yes! Perfect as an after (vegetarian) barbecue smoke.

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Ruination Torpedo

Less than a year after the so successful release of the Man O’ War series, Meier & Dutch and A.J. Fernandez came with a new blend, even stronger and bolder than the original. A blend that would blow you away, kill you and leave you ruined so the name Ruination was picked for the second Man O’ War release.


The cigar, of which I’m smoking the 5.7×56 Belicoso featured in the Anthology Sampler, is made from Honduran and Nicaraguan ligero with a Nicaraguan Habano binder. The wrapper comes from Ecuador and is of a Habano ligero kind.


The cigar looks tough, the dark, bitter chocolate colored wrapper with a leathery touch, the Man O’ War wing in darker colors, the fat yet pointy shape, well finished, it all makes this cigar look bad ass yet cool. The aroma is medium strong, it smells like manure and wood.


I used my butterfly cutter to take the cap off. The cold draw is good, I taste a little pepper and well fermented tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee, mild spicy, with some acidity and pepper. After a centimeter I taste soil with some sweetness. The sweetness slowly grows. Halfway I taste wood, cinnamon, sweetness and soil. The sweetness is balanced perfectly with the other flavors. The final third starts with vegetable flavors, a strong flower flavor, some wood and soil, all balanced and very nice.


The draw is good. The smoke is medium thick and full. The light gray ash is dense, firm with nice rings. The burn is good, quite straight. The cigar is medium full bodied, full flavored. The flavors are well balanced. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes, loved it.

Score: 91
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Categories: 91, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Torpedo

In the first part of 2008 Meier & Dutch together with A.J. Fernandez released what would become one of their success stories, the Man O’ War line, that has sprouted in many more lines and side projects in the last decade, but this blend with Nicaraguan filler, Honduran Habano binder and Ecuadorian Habano wrapper started it all.


The cigar comes in six different vitolas, from a 6×44 corona to a 7.1×58 salomon with a 7 1/2×52 double corona 5 1/2×50 robusto, a 6 1/2×52 toro and a 6.1×54 torpedo. I’m smoking the torpedo as that was the one in the Man O’ War anthology sampler.


The wrapper is a nice, medium dark, brown, in between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. The ring is the regular Man O’ War ring like described two days ago. The cigar feels good and is well finished. It has a medium strong, deep, spicy and peppery aroma.


Due to the vitola I have no other option than to cut the cigar. The cold draw is fine and I taste a little peppery raising flavor. After lighting I taste wood, coffee and a little nutmeg. After a centimeter the basic flavor is wood, with nutmeg, cinnamon and ground black pepper. The pepper is getting stronger with a bit of vegetable flavor joining the wood as a base aroma. After a third I taste soil with some sweetness too. The cigar gets stronger, more woody, more peppery.


The draw is great. The smoke, with a little brown glow, is thick and full. The ash has that same brown tarnish as the smoke. The burn is straight, the cigar is full bodied and full flavored. I smoked slow and it took me two hours to finish the cigar.

Would I buy this cigar again? Maybe, if they are on sale.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Virtue Torpedo

Last year, in september, I reviewed the same cigar. I did that before I came up with the idea to review this complete sampler but I’m not going to change my plans because of that older review, let’s just call this a quick redux.


The Man O’ War Virtue line was releases only two years after the Man O’ War brand came to life, and it was the third blend that got released. The regular Man O’ War and the Man O’ War Ruination were strong cigars, this Man O’ War Virtue, with the Nicaraguan Habano filler and binder and the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper was in a different league, the league of mild to medium cigars.


The light colored, almost pale, wrapper looks dry and brittle. The ring is the same as the other Man O’ War rings but in white and silver, making it more difficult to see what the picture is. The cigar is well made, it feels good and looks good. It has a medium strong hay and ammonia aroma.


The cold draw is fine, I taste dry, mild sweet and mild acidic raisin and tobacco. After lighting I taste a metallic dirt aroma. There’s also that classic Connecticut Shade mustiness. After the metallic dirt disappears I taste cedar, mild sweet, with that classic mustiness and a bit of black pepper. The flavors remain practically the same all around, except for a little metallic flavor returning at the end and the pepper grew in strength. In the dying seconds I taste some nuts too.


The draw is a bit loose and the cigar produces a lot of smoke. The salt and peppered colored ash is firm and pretty. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Nah, it’s a classic Connecticut Shade, which I don’t appreciate

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Manowar Anthology Sampler: Manowar Side Project Phalanx

The next 9 days I will be working my way through the beautiful Man O’ war Anthology sampler, a 9 cigar sampler with several Man O’ War blends and vitolas, released by Meier & Dutch and made in Esteli, Nicaragua by the famous cigar blender and factory owner Abdel ‘A.J.’ Fernandez.


The first cigar is the 6 1/2×56 Man O’ War Side Project Phalanx, made with a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, an Habano binder from Honduras and Habano fillers from both Nicaragua and Honduras. The cigar was originally released early 2012, I have no idea what the box code of this sampler is, but it has aged for minimum of two years.


The cigar looks intimidating, a dark, almost black, dull, leathery wrapper, add the big ring gauge and the length, the ring with the warrior with the metal mask in a brushed golden color, the red mohawk and an additional ring in black with gray blue banner saying Phalanx. The construction feels good, the cigar is well finished. The aroma surprises me, the cigar smells the way it looks, like dry leather and it’s not that strong.


The cold draw is a bit tight after cutting the cigar. I taste some gingerbread in the cold draw. After lighting I taste soil with gingerbread. After three puffs that gingerbread is gone, I’m stuck with the muddy soil. After half a centimeter the gingerbread is back.  After a third I taste wood with some sweetness, aspertam like, and a little spice in the aftertaste. Halfway the flavors are a bit milder and there’s a bit of a low quality milk chocolate too. Slowly some spices show up, some pepper and cumin. The base flavor is woody. Near the end I taste licorice and some mint.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is medium thick but not exactly white.  The ash is though, and its firm too. The burn is amazing. The cigar is medium in both body and flavor. There isn’t enough evolution to satisfy me. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I like the cigar but dislike the vitola, it’s too thick for me.

Score: 90

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Categories: 90, Manowar, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ave Maria Divinia

Another Ave Maria, this time the DIvinia, that makes the third Ave Maria review this month and the final one but that doesn’t mean I reviewed all Ave Maria cigars, there are more out there still like the Argentum and the Immaculata that I still hope to try some day.


The Ave Maria Divinia has just one vitola, like the Reconquista but this time its a 6×54 toro. And just like the Reconquista, the cigars come individually packed in coffins and have a premium price tag compared to other cigars from A.J. Fernandez and Meier & Dutch. The cigar is made from Nicaraguan Cuban Seed tobacco topped with a Sun Grown Habano wrapper.


The coffin immediately catches your eye due to the deep blue color and the white logo. When you open the tube you will find a box pressed, cellophane wrapped cigar. The wrapper has a nice brown color, deep but not too dark, a leathery structure and touch. The ring is top notch, beautifully shaped, the Ave Maria knight and a nice secondary ring in blue but the outlines are fantastic, like a fading silver with a white undercoat, so much detail, amazing.  The construction is great and the cigar looks well finished. The aroma is pleasant, a rich barnyard smell.


After cutting I taste an citrus flavor with a perfect resistance in the draw. After lighting I taste a perfect mix of sweet, sour and spice, all coated in coffee. After half an inch I taste more of a mocha flavor than that sweet coffee. The flavors change to a spice sweetness with cedar. Halfway I also taste some chocolate, white pepper shows up in the aftertaste. The pepper slowly grows to the dominant flavor and is very strong near the end.


The burn is sharp, couldn’t be more straight. The light colored ash had thin rings, it’s firm. The draw has the perfect amount of resistance. The smoke has good volume but it’s thin. The cigar is smooth, medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No doubt

Score: 93
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San Lotano Maduro Lancero

A few days ago I reviewed the exact same blend, Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers, binder from Honduras with a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper so today I will smoke this lancero instead of the robusto and see what difference 7×38 makes compared to 5×52. As a lancero lover I’m expecting a lot.


I like the fact that this line has a name that goes back a few Fernandez generations, especially if you know that a few years later A.J.’s father joined him at the factory after his retirement from the Plasencia family, another big name in the Latin America cigar industry. Family is clearly very important, something we in the west sometimes forget, so stories like these make me value my family more.


When you put both the robusto and the lancero side to side you can see its the same wrapper. Same leathery look, same color, same everything. The rings are the same too. The construction on the lancero feels great and the pig tail finishes the cigar. he aroma is the same too, dark chocolate with pepper.


I used my xikar cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is perfect with a spicy dry tobacco and hay flavor.  After lighting I taste pepper, coffee, leather and chocolate. After almost an inch I taste a strong leather with some sweet dark chocolate and lemon on the background. After a third I taste wood, salty and spicy, peppery and earthy, very nice. Right before the halfway point a faint dark chocolate shows up too.  The cigar slowly gets stronger and more peppery, a strong Nicaraguan pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke could be a bit thicker but the volume is good. The burn is impeccable. The white ash is pretty but not too firm. The dynamic and evolution of this cigar is great. The cigar is full bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I want a box

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

San Lotano Habano Lancero

As I explained a few days ago, when I smokd the San Lotano Maduro Robusto, this cigar was named after the brand that A.J.’s grandfather created in Cuba and that is was the first cigar that A.J. Fernandez released by himself instead of making it as a private label. And it set off a lot, making him one of the hottest names in the industry.


Now the Habano, which is made from a Brazilian Habano wrapper, a Honduran binder and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua, originally didn’t come in a lancero shape, that vitola was added later and I googled, I can’t find any stock online so it might be out of production at all. That would not surprise me because a 7×38 cigar is hard to sell, only a small number of connaisseurs really know how to appreciate this vitola.


The cigar has a leathery wrapper, dark brown yet not maduro dark. The cigar feels well constructed and I always like a pig tail. The ring is quite simple, black and green with golden letters and a yellow banner with A.J.’s name. A secondary, small brown ring with golden outlines and letters saying Habano. The smell is strong, ammonia and barnyard is what I smell.


After cutting I tried the cold draw and it’s perfect. The cold draw has a nice spicy flavor. After lighting I got hit by a strong espresso. Soon I taste some cedar, leather and spice too. After a third I taste a smooth floral aroma with some white pepper. Halfway I get some sugar too. The sweetness disappears, I taste leather and pepper. Near the end the cigar turns very peppery.


The draw is fantastic. The smoke is thick and full. The light ash is firm. The burn is flawless. The cigar is smooth, medium full bodied and flavored with a smoke time of seventy five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a great cigar but I like the Maduro a little better.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

San Lotano The Bull Robusto

After the regular San Lotano line, with three different wrappers, A.J. released the San Lotano Oval in both a maduro and habano version and because of the success of the 5 blends he released another San Lotano, The Bull. And initially it was distributed by Meier & Dutch only but got released to Fernandez’s own accounts too.


The bull is box pressed and the blend is tweaked for that vitola, it works better in a box press than in the oval shape or as a round cigar. The cigar is made out of Nicaraguan filler and binder with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and it comes in four vitolas, a 5×54 robusto, a 6×54 toro, a 6×60 gordo and a 6 1/2×54 torpedo.


The first thing that you see is that the bottom half of the cigar is wrapped in cedar. Now that’s not unusual yet there is a picture of a bull on the cedar and it has a cut out so that the ring is fully visible. The ring is the same as on the other San Lotano lines. The wrapper is dark and oily. The construction feels good with a nice cap. The cigar has a medium strong, deep, barnyard and forrest aroma.


After cutting the cigar I get a great cold draw. I taste just well fermented tobacco. After lighting I taste coffee with sugar. After half an inch I taste toast, some pepper and cedar, well balanced. Some spices show up too. Halfway it’s mostly spice, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, those kinds of flavors. After two thirds I still taste the spices but now with pepper and some minty freshness.


The draw is great. The ash is quite dark with nice layers. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is straight. The cigar is full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah every now and then

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, San Lotano, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ave Maria Barbarossa

Now when you read the sales pitch of this cigar you’re expectations will be raised since a few other cigar manufacturers, not affiliated with either this brand, Meier & Dutch, or A.J. Fernandez praised this cigar. So my curiosity led me to buying a few of those cigars including this 7×48 Churchill that is named Barbarossa.


The cigar, made in Esteli at the A.J. Fernandez factory, is created with Honduran and Nicaraguan filler and an Habano wrapper from Ecuador. The cigar comes in ten different vitolas, ranging from a corona up to a 7.1×60 salomones and everything in between, parejo’s, figurados, a range so wide that most people will find a vitola to their liking.


The medium brown, smooth wrapper has a reddish glow, something I like. There is also a little tooth. The ring is amazing, a nice shape, a knight in a white shirt with a red cross, like the knights from the crusades, detailed, high quality prints, its great. The cigar feels evenly packed, the triple cap is well placed. The aroma is medium strong, hay, straw with a little ammonia is what I smell


After cutting I taste a very spicy and peppery cold draw, which is a little loose. After lighting I taste nutmeg, cinnamon and cedar. After a third I taste wood with white pepper and herbal flavors. The wood becomes stronger, the pepper gets milder. In the final third I taste a flavor that I can’t place, it’s a warm, creamy flavor that is a little woody but not full on wood.


The smoke is amazing, thick, full, voluminous. The draw is a little loose, but not too much to complain. The ash is light colored. The burn is not great but not bad either. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s not a bad cigar, I won’t turn one down but buying? There are more and better options out there for me.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Ave Maria, Nicaraguan cigars, Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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