Wrapper: Rare Corojo Maduro
Binder: South American, Central American
Filler: South American, Central American
Size: 7.5 x 49 “Mamba”
Today we take a look at the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo by Battleground Cigars.
The blend came out in 2013.
From Battleground Cigars web site:
“We are Battleground Cigar, founded in Hazardville CT by Michael Tarnowicz in 2000. We are a boutique cigar created with the beautiful history of our home state Connecticut and our vast surroundings of U.S. History.
“We are an honest family owned business, wanting to create an authentic CT cigar leaf and premium filler cigar. Our theme is simple, our countries US Civil War history and CT tobacco History, combined to create a unique boutique cigar that will know will be up to premuim standards.
“We are a small company, but we are growing and evolving so that we may bring you a different smoking experience from the norm. We bring everything from traditional Ct Shade and Broadleaf wrapper to Corojo Maduro, Brazilian, and Nicaraguan wrapper, to the very different Bourbon and Irish Whiskey Infused and Louisiana perique blended premium cigars.
“We are humble, we are honest, we are American, we are BATTLEGROUND CIGAR.”
The combination of the nearly jet black oily wrapper and the red on black cigar band, this is one interesting looking cigar. Seams are fairly tight. Lots of veins. The foot is box pressed but I don’t think it was intended to be so. Squished in shipping probably.
I can’t remember if I’ve had a Maduro Corojo. But then I can’t remember anything. LOL Badda Bing Badda Boom!
This is a massively long stick. I measure it and it is 7.5” on the money.
The last thing I want to do is make a false accusation about a company I know nothing about. But when the sun comes out, and I get better photos, you will see the massive oiliness to this wrapper. As if it was dunked in 10-40 motor oil. Now I’m not saying that Old Powder Keg applied some sort of oil to this wrapper, but I have NEVER seen a wrapper this oily. It looks unnatural. I hope I’m wrong. Unfortunately, there is no way I can find out. So I don’t expect a Christmas card from the Old Powder Keg folks.
Note: At the end of the review is one of the most important anecdotes I’ve ever written about legendary drummer Hal Blaine. Don’t miss it. Finish the review and you will get a cookie.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
I read a review in which the reviewer found aromas two times the kitchen sink. I put the shaft to my nose and I smell barnyard and charred tobacco. Go figure.
From the clipped cap and foot, I smell aromas of barnyard and plums. There is a slight liqueur aroma.
On the cold draw, I taste chocolate, fruit, sweetness, nutty, and cedar. This is a long way off from the review I read earlier. These guys must have palates of gold to taste the long list of obscure flavors.
First flavors in the batter’s box: chocolate, coffee, sweetness, fruit, almond paste, vegetal notes, spice, creamy, caramel, earthiness, and cedar.
I’ve morphed into the other reviewer.
Using geometric and trigonometry calculations, I figure out that the length of this cigar is too long to dangle from my mouth with only my two lips holding on: no biting or chomping.
Strength is medium body.
The Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo is flattening out a bit at the ¾” smoked point. Most of the listed flavors have gone underground.
What’s left? Creaminess, chocolate, coffee, sweetness, spice, and cedar.
John K. also sent me two other Battleground Cigars. The original Old Powder Keg blend and the US Custer. The original Battleground has an impressive looking box press. Both are beautiful looking cigars.
At 1” burned, the flavors perk up.
I must admit I was expecting a much spicier cigar. The spice is just a ‘middlin. I also expected this blend to kick me in the arse at the get go. Instead, it is like any other medium body maduro. Great Expectations.
As I near the second third, the cigar has not really impressed. It started out with a lot of promise and then fell short.
No changes to the flavor profile. Maybe a little creamier. The chocolate is top heavy. But the list of flavors is small.
The strength moves up to a tick above medium body.
Smoke time is 20 minutes.
The sun comes out and you can see, sort of, a more clear definition of the wrapper. You can also see a spider web of cracks. Might be the reason for oiling the cigar. I’m just spit ballin’.
And then Halle-fucking-leujah! The spice is defined as red pepper and really storms the castle. Bingo!
The pepper kicks the other flavors in the ass.
Now we have: Spice, creaminess, chocolate, coffee, cedar, vegetal notes, sweetness, generic fruitiness, and earthiness.
The generic fruitiness is finally defined as black grapes, raisins, figs, and a lemon twist.
Finally. We have Sweet Spot 1.0. Flavors are emboldened.
No changes to the lineup. But they are now bright around the edges.
This giant 2-3/4” long cigar band comes off without a hitch. Nice.
Strength remains at medium+ body.
Half an inch from the halfway point and smoke time is 40 minutes.
The flavors flatten out a bit once again. Either the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo is what it is or needs months and months of humidor time; which can never hurt any blend.
I hate to harp on it and I’m sure you are sick of hearing this, but I have a great palate. A blessing, for sure. That and 5 decades of cigar smoking. There are very few cigars that get past me in the early stages of humidor time. It is usually the Old School big manufacturers that produce cigars I can’t taste in the first month. I’m sure you are thinking of one or two right now.
The Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo is an interesting cigar. Never boring. Just not fantastic. I was fortunate, in the last few reviews: RoMa Craft Tobac Neanderthal HN, GTO Dominican Cigars Pain Killer Maduro, Asylum Nyctophilia Maduro TAA Exclusive and the Martinez Cigars Pasión Piramides to bowl me over and therefore, receive rave reviews.
And then to prove I’m a schmuck, the flavors become much more intense.
The spiciness is roaring like the MGM lion. The creaminess, cocoa, and coffee are delicious and decadent. The fruit combo along with some sweetness is a crocodile wrestler. Added to that list is strong nut combo of marzipan, cashews, and hazelnut. It has become very toasty and the caramel is singing a Puccini operetta.
Smoke time is 55 minutes.
No change in strength. I think that the big red letters spelling out Maduro and Corojo fooled me into thinking I was going to get a knee knocker blend.
But then the last couple of reviews had blends that were so strong, I barely made it through the reviews without passing out.
So a slightly strong medium body blend is a nice change up.
Even though, the flavor profile is nice, it does not impress me as a high premium blend.
I just got a comment for the Neanderthal from a cat who plays drums and got to jam with Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. He must be a monster on the kit. Of course, this was back in 1978-1979. We were all monsters back then. When I hear recordings of myself playing during that era, I am shocked at how good I was. But then all I did was play morning, noon, and night. It is either hard work or being a savant. I was the former.
Back to the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo.
I have to thank both John Kozlowski and Paul Stulac for sending me cigars that are not widely known. I get a lot of messages telling me how they appreciate me bringing unknown cigars into their lives. Thank you for that. I try. Actually, it’s pure luck.
What have we here? Flavors zooming? This has been a helluva roller coaster ride. The flavors explode and then they flatten out. I’m waiting for consistency and complexity.
The balance is so so and the finish is long…at times.
The leaf stats provided by Battleground Cigars says the wrapper is a Rare Corojo Maduro. Does this explain the excessive oiliness of the wrapper? The wrapper reminds me of how they spray fruit with a waxy substance to make them look better.
Nicotine shows up.
Smoke time is an hour 20 minutes.
Under normal circumstances, I’d have put this cigar down by now.
If the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo had started this way, I’d be writing a rave review. Fawning over the cigar blend.
Here is the true sweet spot of the cigar.
For the last time, here are the flavors: Spice, chocolate, coffee, creaminess, nuts, toasty, fruit, cedar, shortbread cookies, leather, and a very rich earthiness.
The first half saw the char line requiring lots of minor touch ups to the char line.
Since the halfway point, the burn line has been spot on. No touch ups required.
This is an extraordinarily long review due to its length and my real time reviewing style.
I read all the other reviewers and I don’t know how they reduce the third flavor points into a couple sentences each. It seems so incomplete to me. I suspect it might be due to an insufficient palate. Just guessing. It also probably means that they smoked the cigar and took notes. And reviewed it at a later time. Memory fades.
Only the big guy reviewers are able to pull that off. I admire that. I can’t do it. I tried when I started out reviewing and I took copious notes but I didn’t like the results so I changed my style into writing the Dead Sea Scrolls.
If the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo started out like what I taste now, I’d rate it a 90. Based on the last minute complexity, it gets an 85. Remember, my palate is different than yours. No two alike; like fingerprints.
Strength climbs to a solid medium/full now.
The nicotine is minimal.
And finally, I’m having a good time.
Maybe with a lot more humidor time, the Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo will prove to be a phenomenal cigar and work out its consistency issues.
I’m conflicted about the price. It is a boutique brand. Costs are more for them than others.
But truth be told, based on what I tasted today, the cigar should be in the $6-$7 range compared to other blends in “The Katman’s Best 180 Boutique Brands/Blends in the $6-$9.50+ Range.”
The Old Powder Keg Maduro Corojo was, for the most part, a very pleasant experience. But the inconsistency element, the lack of complexity in the first two thirds, and the lackadaisical approach to the blend forces me not to recommend this cigar.
It certainly had its moments as it did in the last third. But a great cigar does not that make. I truly enjoyed the last third.
And now for something completely different:
This week, I watched a 2 hour documentary called “The Wrecking Crew.”
It is about the group of musicians that played on every album and single in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Mostly anonymously.
Each member of the group played on hundreds of gold records.
Two members of the Wrecking Crew I’ve written about: Hal Blaine (Drummer) and Carol Kaye (Bassist).
Hal was my mentor in the early 80’s. Carol was my bass teacher in the late 60’s.
Watching the special shocked the hell out of me.
I had no idea that the Wrecking Crew bit the dust by the late 70’s. Rock groups had become good musicians and played on their own recordings making the use of the Wrecking Crew moot.
All of a sudden, my mentorship from Hal made sense.
I first met Hal in 1982 when my band hired him to do an album at Sunset Gower Studios. Which was the heart and soul studio that the Wrecking Crew did most of their work.
This led to me becoming very friendly with Hal and I used him countless times for sessions at my own recording studio in Long Beach, CA.
Hal was going through a devastating divorce in which he lost everything. He was living on his yacht in Marina del Rey.
I spent many an afternoon having brunch with Hal and his cohorts and other recording stars.
The documentary explained how the musicians got cheated. They didn’t get their names as players on 80% of the albums they played on. On top of that, they got straight union rates.
They got hired to do sessions from The Monkees to The Beach Boys to Simon & Garfunkel to the Mamas & Papas.
Why? They could lay down the music in 3 hours. Regular musicians took 77 takes. It was about budget.
Hal lied to me.
On more than one occasion he told me that he left a lucrative big national commercial session to come to Long Beach to do a session for me in which he was paid $300 cash. Which by the way, he stuffed in his pockets like a squirrel making sure no other squirrel got its hands on it. I thought that strange at the time.
He was living on my session dough.
There was no Chevy commercial that would put things on hold so he could take a 4 hour break. It was his ego. He couldn’t admit to me that the entire Wrecking Crew were becoming has beens. Not because their playing was not brilliant. But, rather, because the competency of musicians had risen to such a point, that they didn’t need the Wrecking Crew to fix their music.
Of course, when the musicians who came to my studio found out they could have Hal Blaine play on their demos for $500 went nuts at the thought of it. I became the most famous pimp in Long Beach.
I could get “The Man.”
In the documentary, Hal said he worked as a security guard by the end of the 1980’s. This was the first I had heard that.
He was totally raped financially in the divorce. And as a session player, he was paid a fee and received no royalties. So when the sessions dried out, so did the dough. Clearly, most of the Wrecking Crew thought it would go on forever and probably didn’t plan their money expenditures well. Hal had a mansion in Beverly Hills. He drove a vintage Rolls Royce. And he owned a yacht. Like a kid in a candy store.
I now think about all the possessions I have that were once Hal’s. Why? Because he didn’t want to put them back in storage.
He even did my public TV show for me. $300.
I feel pretty bad now. But then Hal could have bucked the ego thing and told me the truth. I would have gotten him more money for sessions. I could have gotten him several thousand bucks a week…instead of several hundred. But he would not break down and tell me the truth. He was busted. And his ego couldn’t deal with it.
I was his Long Beach agent. I have no idea who his Hollywood agent was but I doubt lots of people tried to help. One thing about show biz…nobody loves you when you’re down and out.
He spent so much time at my studio, I don’t know where he would have the time to do other gigs.
So by watching a 2 hour documentary, my whole experience with one of the greatest session drummers in the world has been tainted. I watched as he admitted spending time as a security guard. Clearly, his ego finally took a tumble.
One of the most impressive things to me about Hal is that he played on several Beatles’ songs. He didn’t get credit but then neither did the hundreds of other players on their albums. In fact, Ringo’s early drum set was an exact replica of Hal’s early kit.
I’ve tried to contact Hal since the documentary. He has not responded at this time.
Doesn’t matter. At the time of my mentorship, I found that associating with this man to be nothing less than Cloud 9 times.
I wish Hal the best and hope things are better for him.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS