Man O’ War Armada War Horse by A.J. Fernandez | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5 x 64 “Gordo-Perfecto”
Body: Full
Price: $20.00 ($7-$8 on Cbid)
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Today we take a look at the Man O’ War Armada War Horse by A.J. Fernandez.

At first sight, many thoughts enter this puny brain. The first is to say, “Oh, the humanity!”
hindenburg

Or to give it some pillow talk and tell it, “Dear, maybe you should cut down on your salt intake.”

Or lastly, “Kat, you better go see a doctor immediately. Don’t fool around with this thing. I’ve seen people go in a flash because they ignored this..” Or something like that.

This is a ridiculously expensive cigar at CI or Cigar.com. The War Horse goes for $20.00. But if you go to Cbid, the price drops dramatically. But is it worth it? There is already an Armada in the Toro Grande size of 6.5 x 56. Both sizes are exactly the same price. They are not different blends; just different sizes.

I notice something odd. There is no longer any War Horse listed on CI but Cigar.com has them. Could they have been duds? Are they phasing them out already? They’ve only been out for less than two months. Did they run out of them? Maybe AJ found that there isn’t a market for a $20 Man O’ War.

There is not a single review of this cigar from anyone. I feel like I am entering the Twilight Zone.

The cigars were a gift from a reader about 4-6 weeks ago and I’m ready to try one. The reader found a sale on CI or Cigar.com in which a 10 pack was going for $70. And I’ve seen the War Horse going for around that on Cbid. Just not at the moment.

I doubt there is a more phallic cigar to hold in your hand than the Man O’ War Armada War Horse. It is a bulbous perfecto that looks as if it will give birth at any moment. It is solid and surprisingly; no soft spots. They were a little mooshy when I got them but dry boxing them and then over a month in my humidor has settled them down.

The construction is remarkable. No visible seams. A lot of large veins and a few small veins. The wrapper is a dark Hershey bar oily brown. Holding some together next to to each other, they are all identical. Nice job of rolling. The triple cap is impressive. The Man O’ War Armada War Horse feels a bit toothy here and smooth as silk there.

I clip the cap and find aromas of cocoa, sweetness, spice, barnyard, a bit of cedar, and cinnamon.
Time to light up.

This is a real mouthful if you are a chomper like me.
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First puffs are an easy draw and full of sweetness, cocoa, caramel, a bit of spice, espresso, nutmeg, and creaminess.

It is very expressive in its flavor profile. And should only be minutes before there is a taste explosion.
Vanilla pops by with a cup of coffee.

The little hole at the foot is pumping out smoke like there is no tomorrow. It begins its burn unevenly and I touch it up. It is on track now.

The Armada is quite the different beast from the rest of the Man O War line.

There has been substantial care and doting on this blend. I begin to get a laundry list of exotic and normal flavors. It has become very complex within the first 5 minutes.

The earthiness of the tobacco is unbelievable. It quickly moves to the front of the line of flavors most likely to succeed.

And then the spice makes a run for the border. It is black pepper and very strong. It lingers in the back of my throat like the time I was stuck in a holding tank at the Mesa, AZ jail.
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This is a helluva cigar. Whether it is worth $20, in my book…nothing is worth $20.

In my little Face Book group: Katmensch Cigar Group, when I saw the one day deal I urged my Katmenschian members to jump on this. An Armada, this size, for $7 is ridiculous. But alas, as usual, no one heeded my advice except for the wonderful soul that bought me a 10 pack.

I’ve burned an inch of cigar and we have flavor bomb status. Marvelous, inexplicable flavor components race past my palate making it difficult to identify the mysterious ones. But have no fear, dear reader, your Uncle Katman will latch on to them at some point. Damn puny brain!

The char line is dead nuts. Creaminess, earthiness, caramel, cocoa, spice, vanilla, coffee, cedar, cream of wheat, nuts, toasty, and leather are screaming laughter.

A small crack forms along the same line as a large vein. It is near the foot and if it doesn’t move, I will smoke right on by it. I heard it crack. Just like my skydiving accident when I got shoveled into the ground at 45 mph head first and heard my spine go snap, crackle and pop. I used to be 5’-11. Now I am 5’-9-1/2. Have been ever since the accident.

Du-oh. I should have known this with my structural engineering background. The crack formed because of undue pressure of this beam extending from my lips and only being held at the cap by my teeth. Simple cantilevered beam equation.

beam

The Man O’ War Armada War Horse is delicious but I am not really sure if a month or so was enough time to marinate the sticks. Usually, anything by AJ is good to go in one to two months. But too much time; like a year is too much. I have been sent some fine cigars by readers that include some Man O Wars. And was told they had a year of humidor time on them. I smoked them all and they were listless and blah. Barely any flavor and absolutely no oomph. Instead of being very full bodied, they were barely medium bodied.

I learned that lesson a long time ago when I had cash in my pocket and had lots of cigars that could marinate for a long time. A year or longer can mellow out a cigar too much. The optimum time is 2-4 months. You still get the zing and complexity and the blender’s intent. After that, the cigar begins to degrade. Mellow, yellow, babies.

I am old enough to remember when that Donovan song came out and everyone was trying to figure out how to smoke banana peel. The experiments failed miserably. But Donovan got a No. 1 hit out of it. Did you know that Led Zep bassist John Paul Jones played that iconic bass line at the beginning of the song?

The ash is hardy and really hanging tough. I am in a quandary about whether seeing how far it can go, or just knocking it off. That’s a big goddam ash to fall on only my boxer shorts clad lap.

The second third begins after a day and a half.
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Flavors are very sophisticated and meant for the experienced palate. If you can find them on Cbid in the $7+ range, grab them.

I get a fruity element now. It is apples and cherries. A buttery pie crust.

The Man O’ War Armada War Horse is a truly amazing cigar. Complexity up the wazoo. Perfect balance and a very nice finish.

Caramel climbs the food chain and is in the front of the line now. Flavors are so delicate and nuanced that it is hard picking them apart. But I will try:
Caramel, cocoa, creaminess, toasty, nuts, exotic spice, fruit, fresh bread, vanilla, spice, cinnamon, cedar and leather. There are other flavors lurking I can’t put my finger on. But all in all, it is a most interesting flavor profile.

The char line remains dead nuts.

As I move within an inch of the halfway point, it becomes a super duper flavor bomb. This is extraordinary. I reviewed the La Palina Family Series when they first came out and were $10 more per stick than they are now. I guess Bill Paley’s friends weren’t enough to get sales on those sticks.

They are incredible cigars but the Man O’ War Armada War Horse is every bit as good. And probably one of the best cigars I’ve smoked in ages.

The strength has maintained an even medium body throughout. But it is about to hit medium/full at any moment.
The ash is creating too much pressure on the wrapper above it. It forces the wrapper to crack. So my experiment to see how long it will hang on has back fired. I quickly remove the ash. I should have paid attention to the cantilever equation.

Back in high school, I hated math. Did poorly in algebra but did well in geometry.

I got into the steel business as a structural draftsman. Even took a two year course in detailing (That is what drawing is called in construction) at L.A. Trade Tech.

Anyway, I was forced to get good at math; especially geometry and trigonometry. And this was before calculators so we used equations and slide rules. A real bitch and time consuming.

Years later, calculators came out specifically for construction needs. It did all those lengthy equations for me. But I learned to love math. Drawing complex things like stairs, handrails, and hip and valley roofs was a real challenge and I loved it.

I still have my construction calculator. Charlotte uses it most of the time.
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The halfway point is finally upon me. I’ve invested over an hour.

If I had to use one word to describe the blend, it would be: Smooth.
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There is one crack left and it disappears underneath the cigar band. Time to remove the band and that damn crack is almost 2” long. I shouldn’t have been a smart ass by allowing that heavy ash to stay on too long.

The crack is on one side and I’m not showing it in my photos. But at some point, it will destroy the cigar. I must admit that I sparked one up early after I received the Man O’ War Armada War Horse sticks. It burned perfectly but was not ready yet.

I ruined the cigar with a stress fracture because of that damn ash.

So I may not be able to finish it. We shall see.

The last third begins.

This is a GREAT cigar. Not for newbies as the strength hits full bodied. Nicotine creeps in.

The flavors are so delicate that this blend was designed for the experienced smoker.
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I may just burn pass the crack and I don’t want to put the Man O’ War Armada War Horse down.

The price point. Do not spend $20 on this cigar. If you can find it on Cbid for $7-$8, buy it.

The nicotine is very strong now so I don my crash helmet.
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If anything halts me finishing the cigar, it will be the nicotine.

Still, even with the Katman’s stupidity, the cigar is fantastic. I reviewed the other Armada back in March of 2013. It was the Corona (5 x 44). This is a completely different cigar even though the fixings are the same. Shape can make a big difference and of the two sizes, I like this one more than the Corona.
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And now for something completely different:

A short story about Allen Skipper Howlett and me….

Back in the day, there were always two guitarists in a band. There was a rhythm guitarist and a lead guitarist.
In our band Homegrown, we had a brilliant lead player so Skip played rhythm and keys.

Skip was a brilliant rhythm player. He knew exactly what to play and when. His augmentation of the lead player’s riffs was impeccable.

When we lived together in Santa Ana, CA, Skip would take all of “my” records and play them while he played along. But he only worked on the rhythm portions. He wasn’t a lead player so didn’t pursue it.

At that time, there was a huge surge of jazz fusion music. And that is what I took to.

Every single day, for months prior to me leaving for England with Skip, I would meet at a drummer’s house and my friend, Tim; the guitarist would spend 8 hours a day jamming. And we would listen to the leading jazz players of the day on records. During that whole time, we never played a single song. We would jam for an hour and let the music takes us where it wanted to go.

This experience made me a great player. I learned more about bass playing in those 6 months than I had in the previous 9 years of playing.

But Skip didn’t do that. He continued to practice on the classic rock albums of the day; and by doing so, didn’t grow as a guitarist.

I had outgrown Skip but still we put a trio together with the hopes of taking it to Europe and making some dough.

A month before we were to leave, our singer racked his Harley into a tree. He was coming home from a bar, drunk, and not a block from our house had his accident.

He spent 3 months at the VA hospital in Long Beach.

Our plans were dashed but we had bought our one way tickets with no refunds so we went.

Here is the thing about guitar players. There are a gazillion of them. Bass players…not so much. Good bass players? Rare.

Once ensconced in London, we went separately to auditions. And I scored with Curved Air. One month after entering England I was on the cusp of being a rock star.

Skip had no luck. The archaic notion of being a rhythm guitarist was dying quickly. Either you were a guitarist or you weren’t. And Skip didn’t have the tools to be an all-around good player.

My career took off and Skip’s didn’t. His wife was forced to take a job as a house cleaner at a hotel. Smart lady and she became very bitter about Skip’s inability to match my success.

After a year and no success, Skip’s wife demanded they go home. I stayed another year until I got fired from Curved Air.

I always felt bad for Skip. If he had only had the chance to come jam with us before we left, he may have well had the chops to get a working gig.

Skip and I have remained best buds for 56 years. Of all my old friends, he has been my rock. And just about the only one left. My other close friends died untimely deaths in their 50’s because they didn’t take care of themselves.

After things got cooking with Curved Air, I moved out from the flat in London we shared. Things had become very tense. I got the stink eye from his wife all the time.

When we played London, they always came to see me. And then his wife wouldn’t speak to me for days.

I wish it had turned out differently but you can’t go back. It is what it is.
The main thing is that our friendship stood the test of time and that’s what matters most.

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2 replies

  1. Nice! Loved the story and the review – and, au contraire, I did acquire ten of those Arabian Stallion dicks from CI when you said, “Go.” Now I am glad I did!

  2. Picked up 10 of these too when you brought it up. Yet to smoke one yet though. Will do this coming weekend.
    Great story! Have 2 friends that are drummers (1 studio and the other nightclub bands) funny thing was this is all they have done there whole life but when they got married their wives demanded they stop playing and get a “real” job. Needless to say both were divorced in less than a year each and still rocking today.