Reviews by Scott W.

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History Was Not My Favorite Subject…

Scott W.

Let’s face it, we all have our preferences for brands and manufacturers. Our store regulars at CI Hamburg can probably tell you that mine are, in no particular order, AJ Fernandez, Southern Draw, Perdomo, and Padron. I have to admit, though, that I have sometimes bought a cigar just because it has a catchy name. The original Man O’ War Ruination by AJ Fernandez happens to be one of those cigars, and by getting caught in that simple trap, I found myself with a new addition to my go-to cigar lineup. I wondered, would the 10th Anniversary Ruination join that list, or would my expectations for the blend end up being ruined?

This box-pressed gordo is wrapped in a dark, oily, Ecuadorian Sungrown Habano wrapper. Soft leather and sweet aromas waft off the wrapper, while the aromas I get at the foot give a spicy warning that this is not the standard Ruination blend, but one intending to have more heft to it. Fair enough. Seeing that the blend has Nicaraguan and Honduran ligeros in the filler has me wondering just how strong this cigar is going to be. I have to admit, the broad ring has the coolest color combo to date in the Man O’ War lineup. A stunner, indeed. I want one poster-sized, signed by AJ, and framed for my man cave, if I am ever allowed to have one.

I give the cigar a straight cut with my twin guillotine cutter and toast the foot. I am greeted by softly tanned leather, natural sweetness, earth, and gently warmed yet creamy cedar on the palate. The retrohale delivers sweet cedar, white pepper, and sweet baking spices. I am genuinely shocked at how well-balanced everything is, and I am barely ½ inch into this cigar. The body of the cigar is definitely full, but the smoke has a creaminess to it that I am not used to getting on most of the full-bodied cigars I have enjoyed, which I am hoping will not work to deceive me as I am gauging this cigar’s strength. The draw is nothing short of perfect, by the way, which is always appreciated.

Honduran tobacco seems to be a double-edged sword for my palate. I have had blends heavy on it that seem to bring unpleasant bitterness that overwhelms the other flavors, while other Honduran-heavy blends have no trace of it whatsoever. This cigar is showing none of the bitterness noted above, but I am guessing that it is providing some of the earthiness in the cigar. Whatever the case may be, the blend works very well, and the flavors have remained balanced and consistent as the first 3rd winds up. Construction and burn are very good thus far.

The band is quite broad on this cigar, so I decide to remove it as I begin the second 3rd. No major changes present themselves, but I am beginning to notice the strength beginning to climb. The blend did say ligeros (plural), after all, so that is not coming as a huge surprise. This cigar is not for those desiring an hour or less of smoking time, as I am halfway through the cigar in just over an hour. While that is certainly less time than the 6 Day War between Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June of 1967, you still want to plan for more time than less if you want to enjoy a Ruination 10th Anniversary. 

One thing I have been thinking about is what beverage I would enjoy with this cigar. Something sweet, spicy, and having a woody note to it as well… a bourbon… like Elijah Craig. I can see the notes of each being very complimentary to each other…like Bogie and Bacall, Sonny and Cher, and Shaq and Kobe. Well, maybe not Shaq and Kobe…

Entering the final 3rd after an hour and a half, the strength continues to build. I notice a creamy coffee note joining the other flavors, and I am struck by how well it is balanced against them. In my opinion, far too many cigars with higher proportions of ligero are overly peppery and coat my palate with an oily sensation, but this blend is doing none of that. I don’t like to overuse the word “refined”, but that is exactly what this cigar has been as it has burned. When a manufacturer designates a blend as an Anniversary blend, I feel that you should be getting something special, not just having an excuse to use that word and slapping it on the product. AJ has definitely created something special here! 

It’s not a trap to see the words “10th Anniversary” on this cigar, but if somehow, in some way it is, it’s a trap you want to get caught in. Over and over again. Get more than one of these, get a 5-pack, a box, or more… consider yourself ruined if you don’t!