The old expression "third time's a charm" has always sounded a bit dorky to me. I suppose it's in the category of jokes that we all wish people would stop saying, like "hey, are you working hard or hardly workin'?!" That one's a classic. So where did the saying "third time's a charm" come from anyway? Who's the first dad to toss that line out? There seems to be no definitive proof of its origin. Some say it's associated with the Christian Holy Trinity and good luck. On more of a darker note, others say it came from an Old English law about hangings. Basically, if you have the neck of an ox and somehow blast through three hangings then you're free to go. Seems impossible, but story has it that guy by the name of John "Babbacombe" Lee survived the gallows three times and they were like "what a cheeky bastard....guess we gotta let'm go!". Regardless of where it came from, old people love to play that record when the time arises. All that said, I do have a confession. That gem went through my mind while smoking the 3rd Man O' War for this review. I had to chuckle. It's official; I'm old. Forget about me and let's just get into the nitty gritty.
Cigar: Man O' War Special Edition Figurado
Origin: Estelí, Nicaragua
Factory: Tobacalera AJ Fernandez de Nicaragua
Size: 7.1 x 58
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
At first glance these come off pretty sharp. The habano wrapper has a smooth, fresh leather feel with zero veins. Running up and down the shape of these they're tightly wrapped with uniformity throughout. The additional red ribbon adds a nice touch. Upon closer inspection though things go downhill. Across the 3 samples, there were some dings, heavy color contrast at either the head or foot, and the perfecto tip was approaching sloppy. One had a couple of long red strands from the ribbon that were hanging. All in all, a decent looking cigar.
This is by far, without a doubt, my biggest complaint here. The 1st sample was a concrete wall. I swear I heard Gandalf yelling at me "You shall not pass!" It was an absolute disaster. The 2nd one was still very tight. I managed to achieve something resembling a "session" with numerous operations, but it hampered the flavors drastically. The 3rd sample however was pretty much perfect. Go figure! Hence, "third time's a charm". If it hadn't been for the excellent puffs on the 3rd cigar, this score would have been considerably lower.
The cigars that were able to pass smoke though them did so with a wobbly burn. I used plenty of fuel trying to be a fire sculptor and keep things contained. The ash though was pretty solid and wasn't flaky. Some of the pieces of the remaining cap came off during smoking, but nothing that lead to unraveling. I've had worse, but I've certainly had better.
1/3 - Nothing fuels a Man O' War warrior like hickory beef jerky. That's what charges through the gate in the 1st third. A couple steps behind are macadamia nuts with mild sugar cane in the rear. I was pretty surprised at how mellow the body is. I'm able to retro the entire puff easily which brings in a note of clean brown soil. Moving in I pick up fresh hay with sprinkles of damp hay. By the end of the 1st third the flavors begin to become more complex with the addition of milk chocolate and baby spice (not the Spice Girl).
2/3 - I'm really enjoying the forward chocolate note now, along with the fresh oak. Hickory is still present, but no longer beefy. The retro now has turned to a 70/30 mix of white pepper and black pepper. A chewy, nougat like sensation remains on the finish.
3/3 - Leather has decided to be front line and the milk chocolate has become baking cocoa. The hickory note that started off the fun has transitioned again into hickory smoke. I may be in left field on this one, but red potatoes kept coming to mind. It's not a note I taste hardly ever, but I did here. The background sweetness has taken on a mild bitterness while not being gross.
I was honestly dreading the 3rd cigar for this review because of how much of a bust the other two were. Normally AJ Fernandez pumps out solid smokes, but man these were too solid! I was glad that the final test was much better and provided an enjoyable smoke session. Despite the burn line that needed babysitting, the flavors were quite nice and each third had noticeable transitions. I do recommend trying this cigar, but based on Round 1 & 2, "Buyer Beware".
Best of luck on your test and let me know in the comments below what you thought of Man O' War.
**Number of cigars smoked for the review: 3