Sadistic satisfaction for the serious stogie chomper.
Look, I’ll be honest. I love tobacco. I smoke pretty much constantly from when I wake up to when I go to bed, and I like to follow the great Mark Twain’s advice when it comes to cigars: “Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar”. If it’s waking hours in Pennsylvania, you can bet I’ve got a cigar or a pipe fired up in my hand.
Naturally, this means I generally gravitate to more full-bodied selections. I’ve been smoking for a good long time now, but until I got snagged by Cigars International from a small b&m in Arizona I haven’t tried too many of the CI Nation favorites. It’s not that I had anything against them (we’re all just retailers trying to bring an amazing product to people who will appreciate it, after all) it’s just that they had never really crossed my radar. Fast forward to March of 2019, and I’m pretty much settled into a great new career with CI when the Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary crosses my desk. I knew this brand had a reputation for being on the stronger side, so I couldn’t wait to get it lit.
Before this, I had never tried the original Ruination, or any Man O’ War for that matter. I knew they’re made by AJ Fernandez, and AJ had already scored a few places in my ‘Top 20’ regular rotation list (it’s hard for me to pare it down to less than 20). I also knew as soon as I cracked the cellophane that I had been doing myself a major disservice by not seeking this brand out sooner. The wrapper is a deep hickory-brown Ecuador Habano leaf showing an almost perfectly uniform color, with very finely gritty oils and almost no veins or seams to be seen. It’s almost hard to get a good look at because this things absorbs light like a black hole. My sample is very hard to the touch with a fairly sharp box-press, showing corners but no hard edges. I like candy-bar box-pressed cigars so sharp you could cut yourself on them, and this isn’t quite that defined but it is close.
The aroma from the foot is surprisingly muted, with some dark fruit and leather just barely apparent. Ditto for the wrapper, but with more of chocolate-wood note. It also made me sneeze, which is always an indication that a cigar will suit my tastes. I opted for a straight-cut, and the cold draw is creamy with a touch of vanilla sweetness, and a background of chocolate, leather, and earth that leaves a peppery sensation on the lips.
This stick takes a bit of patience to light, but your patience will certainly pay off. I lit carefully to avoid overheating the foot, and was greeted right off the bat with a fair amount of spice at the tip of the tongue, slowly radiating to every part of my palate with every subsequent puff. The flavor profile is dominated by a sort of woodsy-savoriness, with lots of tree bark and barbecue notes and a constant undercurrent of pepper and earth. The smoke production is solid, and I can retrohale about half the smoke for a distinctive extra dimension of charred wood and cream.
The profile loses a lot of its edge and the strength begins to dwindle approaching the second third. There's a nutty note that slowly moves toward the up-front flavors, and the toastiness evolves into more of a smooth graham-cracker note.
The dense white & black stacked ash clung for an impressive 2 ½ inches before falling with an audible plop into my ashtray, the burn remained razor sharp while building the next 2 inches. I’m very happy with the quality of construction of this sample, especially considering the larger ring gauge, since 60+ usually gives me less-than-stellar performance. No touchups or relights required at all, making this a very relaxing cigar conducive to kicking back and getting comfy.
Past the halfway point, the flavors are mostly savory and earthy, with a deep chocolatey finish. There is also a subtle emergence of mineral/graphite notes, which is a common thread among almost all of my favorites. The profile in the final third of the Ruination 10th Anniversary exhibit a perfect balance of cream, earth, and graphite. I’m surprised toward the nub by a bit of an herbal, almost tea-like note, seated firmly in the background and barely detectable.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cigar that burns well all the way down to the finger burnin’ nub, but I found myself poking a match into the side so I could keep on puffing on it after it was too small to hold. I finally toss it in the ashtray with about a half inch left, an hour and 45 minutes after I first put the flame to the foot.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience with the Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary, and can now safely say that I’ll be putting in an order for the some of their other lines.