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Man O War

February 23, 2013

Man O War [torpedo]

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54

June 24, 2010. That’s a hell-of-a long absence  They say however, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I can only hope that is true. While I’d attempt an apology or an explanation at best; I’d much rather jump right in and offer a review of what proved to be a mighty fine cigar.

If truth be told, I have wanted to sample a Man O War for quite some time, but for whatever reason had never pulled the trigger and purchased one; until recently. I suppose if you’re going to come out of review hibernation, the Man O War by AJ Fernandez is the cigar to do so with.

The Man O War is quite an impressive cigar with a firm, oily wrapper, laced with mild, yet distinct veins running throughout. The cigar sits firm in the hand, enticing you with a rich caramel pre-light aroma.

A single clip from my trusted Palio cutter was all it took to begin my adventure with the Man O War. Drawing effortlessly, and producing thin plums of smoke, the MOW greeted me with crisp pepper notes that danced toward the back of my throat. These notes lingered for about the first 20 or so minutes; about an inch to an inch and a half in; then faded away, giving way to a refined mix of aged leather and pure tobacco. Toward the end of the cigar; about the final third, the pepper notes returned, albeit more subdued and brought with them a hint of mild sugar. I found the finish to be quite enjoyable, making for a cigar that while not overly strong or complex, did in fact maintain a flavor consistency throughout that was much to be enjoyed.

The long leaf filler of the MOW made for quite the impressive ash; holding firm throughout the duration of the smoke. It refused to give way its first break until nearly the mid point of the cigar. If memory serves, it only broke its ash three times, before being laid to rest.

With a cool, slow burn, I was able to enjoy the fullness of the MOW for just over an hour and a half, paying close attention to not allow the cigar to extinguish itself from negligence.

It’s a wonder to me now, why I’ve waited so long to sample a MOW offering, but this I know, it won’t be nearly as long before I sample yet again. The Man O War is certainly a fine cigar that is perfect for most every cigar lover. Believe me when I say that you won’t regret forking over the $6-$8 (give or take) to enjoy one of these cigars. I think you’ll find that it’s money well spent.

Appearance: 2.25 (3)
Construction 3 (3)
Taste 3.5 (4)

Total score 8.75 (10)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone

Man O War


Padron Series Ambassador Maduro

June 24, 2010

Padron Series Ambassador [lonsdale]

Wrapper: Nicaragua Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size: 6 7/8  x 42

Note: with this post, I begin the use of a new, more regimented, rating system. Previously, I’ve simply assigned an over all score (out of 10) that honestly, was too subjective. My new system is still based on a top score of 10, but now 3 points will come from overall appearance, 3 points from construction and 4 points from taste. I hope this will allow me to more accurately rate each cigar I review. With that said, on to the review…

I’ve often avoided writing a Padron review, for the simple fact that every cigar within the Padron Series I’ve had the pleasure to smoke, I’ve found each about the same. Which is to say a quality, consistent, go to cigar. Today, however proved such a beautiful day, it seemed only fitting I carve out a bit of time to enjoy a cigar and what better choice than the Padron Ambassador?

My initial inspection resulted in a rather rugged looking cigar that while not something you’d take home to mom, was well constructed and set firmly in hand. The pre-light aroma was caramel sweet and rather inviting, and I quickly forgot about the rugged, dare I say unkempt appearance. Like with any other Padron I’ve smoked before the cap clipped easy and the draw was just right.

She lit up like a champ, producing billowing clouds of smoke that faded into the rich blue sky above. Immediately I was greeted by a wave of deep pepper, which wonderfully coated my entire pallet. The maduro wrapper helped to balance the pepper with a fine dusting of chocolate, mixing together to create the perfect blend of creamy snap pepper.

The marble grey/black ash was light and anything but firm, falling off a bit too easily about every half inch. The burn however was dead on even, despite the best efforts of the breeze; which did it’s best to remind me of its presence.

As I approached the two thirds point of the cigar, the flavor had decidedly mellowed, settling into a gentle, yet rich pattern distinct of cigars baring the Padron band. Every now and again, I would catch the faintest kick up of caramel; which helped pull me along what had now become a lazy afternoon smoke.

Entering into the final third of the cigar, I began to notice the flavor was mostly that of the maduro wrapper. There was a definite richness and fullness to this final third which made for a fine finish. While I can’t say for certain, I may have noticed  a touch of toast as the cigar came to a rather pleasant finish, about seventy minutes later.

As far as flavor is concerned, the Ambassador didn’t prove overly complex, nor did it dissatisfy–it is a Padron after all. My guess is the maduro gave this cigar a bit more excitement than you might find with the natural. Medium in strength, it was, as I mentioned a good afternoon cigar.

Appearance: 2 (3)
Construction 3 (3)
Taste 2.5 (4)

Total score 7.5 (10)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone

Rocky Patel Old World Reserve [Torpedo]

June 16, 2010

Rocky Patel Old World Reserve

Wrapper: Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size: 5  x 54 [Torpedo]

As the evening wind softly announced the impending storm that loomed on the far horizon; I was struck by the regal charm of the Rocky Patel OWR. Encased by a rich, leathery maduro wrapper, this 5×54 torpedo need not beg to be clipped; for I had already done it the honor. without effort the double blade of the Palio made quick work of the well crafted cap.

My pre-light inspection turned up hints of aged caramel notes; which served to only heighten my excitement for smoking this find cigar. Before setting flame to tobacco, I tested the draw. It was found to be easy and open.

Now with nothing left to do, my Xikar lighter clicked to life, sending billowing plumes of smoke rising into the air.  Instantly, I was made aware of the earthy–almost cashew nuttiness of the OWR. This tone would continue for the duration of the cigar; much like the rain that was now falling rhythmically from above. Mixed with the earth tones was a robust hint of fine German chocolate and the faintest hint of white pepper that graced the back of the throat like a velvet blanket.

Within those first few draws I knew I would be in for a fine cigar. About ninety minuets later my predictions would be confirmed.

Personal rating: 8.25 (10 pt. scale)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone

An Update

May 11, 2010

It doesn’t take a genius to notice I’ve been on a bit of a reviewing hiatus. While this is true; also true is my hiatus is nearing its end. The fact of the matter is, I’ve found myself, as of late, in a busy season of life. Shortly this season will come to a close, and just in time for summer; which we all know is prime opportunity for fair amounts of cigar smoking. So, to those of you who hold yourselves as faithful readers, I ask your favor to bare with me a while longer. The reviews are soon to return, and the Ring Gauge Review will once again be alive and active.

Until such time, I bid you Happy Smoking,

~R. Harrison Malone

Hoffman House (Robusto)

March 17, 2010

Hoffman House

Wrapper: uncertain
Binder: uncertain
Filler: uncertain
Size: 5  x 50 [Robusto]

It was a decent late winters day when I strolled into Iwan Ries & Co looking to spend the next couple of hours enjoying a cigar. As I determined my cigar for the day, I also opted to make a purchase to be enjoyed at a later date.

Cue the Hoffman House Robusto. I recall the salesman offering me a brief history on the cigar, which you can read for yourself.

Upon my usual pre-light ritual, I quickly noticed a rich, robust tobacco aroma, that seemed to be mixed, if ever so slightly with a note of honey. Inviting for sure. The wrapper was drawn tight, providing the perfect coat upon which to clothe the well packed binder and filler. She cut clean and while holding to a draw that was a little firm, offered up a rich pre-light flavor of oats, honey and pure tobacco.

I was pleased to see that I had no difficulties in lighting the cigar. In fact, upon setting heat to it, the draw began to loosen and by an inch or so into the cigar the draw issues had resolved themselves just fine.

I noticed an initial spice; almost like white pepper that greeted you at first. However, this far too quickly dissipated in my opinion. More on this in a moment. Once the spice left, I was left with the flavor of rich, pure tobacco with a hint of butter. This made for a rather indulgent flavor profile, that kept me coming back for more.

Toward the latter third of the cigar, due to neglect more than anything, I did have to offer a relight. To my surprise this reproduced the spice I was initially greeted with. But much like in the beginning, this too quickly faded returning to the flavor profile that had been true throughout.

Producing large volumes of smoke and a rather gorgeous firm white ash, the Hoffman House proved to be a real gem of a cigar, that in hind sight I’d wished I’d purchased more of (despite the fact I felt as though they tipped toward the pricey side.  I believe close to $9 for a single). I should add, I found the Hoffman House to be a very well balanced cigar, resting nicely in the medium range for strength.

Personal rating: 8 (10 pt. scale)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone

Kristoff Ligero Criollo Matador

February 25, 2010

Kristoff  Ligero  Criollo

Wrapper: Cuban Seed Honduran
Binder: Cuban Seed Dominican
Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican & Cuban Seed Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5  x 56 [Matador]

If I were to describe the Kristoff Ligero Criollo Matador in a word, it would have to be “club.” The Matador is a beast of a cigar, but don’t let that scare you. This beast is tame and gentle.

Resting nicely in its rough wood finished box with loose tobacco shavings creating a bed for this monster of a cigar to rest upon; it’s inviting to say the least. Another fun and interesting feature that helps the Matador stand out is its pig tail cap and shag foot.  Wrapped in a well pronounced veined wrapper, it’s surprisingly smooth to the touch. Equally as surprising is the firmness of the cigar; although boasting such a bold size, I guess this is to be expected.

My pre-light inspection was well met with a distinct aroma of fresh roasted nuts and a slight hint of honey. As you may well imagine, I no longer can prolong the inevitable;  I sink the blades of my Palio into the pig tail cap. I’m committed now! Nicking off just the extream most edge of the cap, it proves to be enough, allowing for a firm, but open draw.

More of the roasted nut and honey great me. I  light, draw, and am instantly transported to the land of relaxation. Upon first draw, a gentle spice is added to the flavor profile of the Matador, making for an invigorating smoke. Billowing clouds of white smoke begin to fill the air, and I think to myself, “this is how a cigar ought to be.”

It probably goes without saying, but the Matador is a cigar event. You would do well by yourself to grab a good book to slow yourself down and enjoy the fullness of flavors the Matador has to offer. This is not a cigar you’d want to burn through in an hour. In fact I took close to three hours to eventually nub the cigar to completion.

While the ash was firm throughout, I did experience a slight burn issue. This however never proved too much of a problem, only requiring a couple of touch ups with my trusted Xikar torch lighter.

Somewhere toward the middle part of the cigar, the spice that had supported the notes of nut and honey faded, making way for a buttery smooth draw that just clung to the roof of the mouth. Medium to full in strength the Matador is an impressive cigar and at a retail price of just under $10.00 is every bit worth it.

I imagine this being a perfect cigar for a long summer’s night with family and friends, watching the sun set and the stars fill the night sky. Please do yourself a favor and try a Kristoff  Ligero  Criollo if you’ve not done so already. I doubt very much you’ll be disappointed.

Personal rating: 9.5 (10 pt. scale)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone

Alec Bradley SCR Torpedo

February 6, 2010

Alec Bradley SCR

Wrapper: Trojes, Honduras
Binder: Trojes, Honduras, Indonesia Embertunada
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Size: 6 1/8 x 52 [Torpedo]

I enjoy giving new cigars a try. There’s something of the unknown that stimulates the senses and seems to heighten the overall smoking experience when for the first time you enjoy a never-before-smoked cigar. This was exactly the case for me as I selected the handsome Alec Bradley SCR from the humidor.

With it’s banded foot and dominant primary band, the SCR is dressed for a night on the town of the highest class. The wrapper is rich and inviting to say the least, offering hints of leather and molasses. As much as you could simply sit and stare long at this fine cigar, it’s near impossible as it begs you to clip, light and draw deep.

Which is exactly what I preceded to do. It was like seeing an old friend you’d not seen in years. The initial draw flooded the senses with a bounty of rich flavors, including thick leather mixed with a perfect balance of buttery smooth cream (I’m craving another as I write). In addition to the wonderful array of flavors that danced about for the duration of the smoke; every now and again I would pick up a soft hint of spice that seemed to linger ever so gently on the lips. This was a nice touch to the overall cigar, as it kept things interesting all throughout. I also noticed that the flavor profile you were greeted with at the beginning held throughout the middle and end of the cigar. Never once did it become bland or earthy toward the middle or end.

The draw was flawless; something I find lacking on most torpedoes. The smoke was encasing, hanging low in the air. The burn was only slightly hindered by a small nic in the foot that was the result of removing the secondary band. Once the burn moved beyond this point it was near perfect, never once needing a touch up. The ash held firm, holding to about the one to one and a half inch mark every time before letting go on its own.

This is a wonderful cigar to add to any humidor and would seem to compliment most any occasion well. It is quite mild (don’t read boring), but has a ton of robust flavors that do well to make this a great cigar for a long time smoker or someone  somewhat new to cigars.

Would I smoke the SCR again? In a heartbeat!

Personal rating: 9 (10 pt. scale)

Happy Smoking,
~R. Harrison Malone