Steampunk by Cigar Federation | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 52 Belicoso
Strength: Full
Price: $6.00

Today we take a look at the Steampunk by Cigar Federation.
Thanks to reader Aaron Dixson for the cigars.

From Cigar Federation:
“Steampunk is IMO the best Factory Direct Boutique we’ve ever offered!
“BUT we made this production EVEN BETTER than before!
“This is the same phenomenal Steampunk blend recipe…just made with higher quality tobaccos (that were sourced by yours truly)! Oh, and just for fun, we added a belicoso tip just to add a little more “cool factor”.
“Steampunk has 100% 5-Star Reviews from the FedHeads who’ve smoked it!
“We originally got Steampunk from a boutique cigar factory that only had these because one of the brands they were working with couldn’t pay for these cigars. (Too much gambling in Las Vegas at IPCPR I heard.)
“If you knew which company–and how much they charge for their cigars–you’d be buying these by the truckload!
“Steampunk is a 6×52 Nicaraguan puro made with tobacco from Esteli and Jalapa. It’s creamy, spicy, sweet and is one of the most full bodied cigars we’ve ever had. Notes of dark chocolate, cedar, and coffee. Strength comes in at a nice solid medium plus.
“If I were a cigar reviewer, I’d give this a 93 rating. Shoot, if it had a band it would be a $12 cigar all day long!”

A nicely constructed torpedo. Seams are hidden. Veins are plentiful but yet oddly attractive…like my first wife. Big hard spot where the cigar band would have been. And soft spots in the bottom half. The hue of the wrapper is a rusty brown with hints of cinnamon. The cap is beautifully fabricated.

From the shaft, I can smell big splashy aromas of floral notes, cream, cinnamon, red pepper, dark chocolate, espresso, giant loads of caramel, malt, slight nuttiness, cedar, and barnyard.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell sizzling red pepper that singes my nose hair, caramel, chocolate, espresso, cedar, malt, floral notes, vanilla, and nuts.

The cold draw presents flavors of red pepper, malt, chocolate, coffee, cedar, nuts, cinnamon and vanilla.

Big plug just below the cap. Out comes the PerfecDraw cigar poker tool and the center of the cigar becomes the Holland Tunnel.
A bit too much resistance. I better try the cigar poker again. This time it’s fixed.
Big billows of smoke fill the room.

Lots of flavor starts the journey. Lush caramel and vanilla custard. Red pepper and cinnamon make the eyeballs flare with demon-like precision. Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog’s eye. Heavy on the malts. Café au lait sits atop it all.

Complexity wastes no time before performing the Lotus position on my palate. Transitions begin with Earnest…and his brother Howard T. Bass.

Aaron told me in a note with the cigars: EAT FIRST! Naturally, I ignore his suggestion and am counting the minutes before I face plant on the laptop’s keyboard.
The burn is steady and congenial.

CF is right by saying this $6 stick could easily be blind taste tested and assumptions would put this blend in the $10-$12 range. It starts off with a blast of fireworks; which is more than I can say for most cigars at twice the price.

But then let’s face it…how can you go wrong with a Nicaraguan puro? It’s manna from the gods. Yeah, flavors are predictable as they usually follow the same pattern but it’s the style and panache that makes each Nic Puro different. How much soul does the blender insert into each stick? A universal quandary.

I should add not a single review. Probably due to its limited stature. I’m sure it will return as Steampunk 2.0. Like “The Fly 2.”

Strength is medium/full. And only an inch has been imbibed. (Imbibe doesn’t just have to do with drinking alcohol. It also means “absorb or assimilate.” Like when aliens arrive at your place of work and eat your face and drain all of your precious bodily fluids).

Despite the sense of the bottom half being slightly under filled, this is a very slow roll of a smoke. I could be here for days. Aren’t you lucky.

The Byrds are playing “Mr. Tambourine Man.” More on the band later.

My 50th high school reunion has set up a web site. Every day new people register. I’m not going as I can’t find anyone that has signed up I want to see again. But yesterday, my first ever band member showed up. He was the guitarist in my first band. We were called the Southern California Exposition and Musical Aggregation. And yes, the drummer got the whole name on his drum head…in psychedelic mode of course. Anyway, when I contacted him hoping to hear he is still playing, I got a “Nope.” He is on his 4th wife, a million grandkids, and sells catheters or something similar. He was the guy that guided us from just playing strictly top 40 of 1966 and 1967 but introduced us to new albums by Cream, Jimi, and Zep.

The Steampunk by Cigar Federation is choogling on down the road. Excellent response from the pleasure center of my brain. Complex and nicely balanced. At $6, this is one helluva’ cigar blend. See, not everyone is a greedy thief. Nice to know that there are some manufacturers not trying to empty your piggy bank for a 90 minute ride on the steamboat.

The first major sweet spot hits after only an inch or so. Just blasting away and keeping my mind centered on the meaning of the universe.

The entire list of earlier described flavors is in play and excelling in their goal to curl my hair and shave my balls.

Another fine example of a blend so good that its whole exceeds the individual components. A cigar that doesn’t need a sophisticated palate. Just sit back and enjoy and the hell with the dissection of its inner workings.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.

CF pointed to right field and swung. Out of the park. The Babe couldn’t have done it better.
New flavors: citrus, black licorice, raisins, almonds, earth, wind, and leather, marsh gas, and fresh herbs…probably Kohn Kush.

Strength remains at medium/full. I believe a perfect storm awaits me as I venture towards the second half. The last third will probably stop my heart. Thankfully, I have a loving wife that will hold the defibrillator paddles until I promise never to ask for a BJ again. It’s OK. Her teeth keep coming out; finding a resting place on the end of my kishka. Looks like a Muppet.

I would love to own a box of Steampunk by Cigar Federation. So would you.

Lift off. Strength hits full. Oy. I have a long way to go and my stomach is empty. I don’t mind. Vomiting is a great way to lose weight.

I have a second Steampunk. I will guard it with my life. Anyone comes near it will find the seat of their pants full of rock salt.

Speaking of bowhunting…The family spent the day at the Ojibwa Bowhunters Club where the in laws are members. It rests on 50 acres and has a beautiful camp site where you can sharpen your arrows. I personally slaughtered 6 baby seals, 1 elk, 4 Vietnamese potbelly pigs, 6 pigeons, and by accident…two tweakers who wandered into the kill zone. I got my hair cut short for summer. My Hippie card has been revoked. Still a nice photo of Charlotte, grandson Scott, and me:

Halfway point and my head is spinning. Aaron warned me to eat something; and what do I do?…I hide in the bathroom jerking off to the latest Better Homes and Garden magazine with one hand covering both ears.

Strong but smooth. Balanced perfectly. Enough nicotine to kill a horse.

Transitions on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. A finish as long as Dr. Rod’s shlong. (I wish he’d stop sending me graphic pics.)

The burn has been exemplary. No complaints at all about construction. I cannot believe this is a $6 stick.

I’ve lost the desire to dissect additional flavors. This is a bountiful joy ride. No scrunching of this face to milk the different flavors from the blend. It’s to be enjoyed and not ripped apart by wild barnyard animals…in an earlier life, I was a blind lamb…In fact, I was the one that Agent Starling saved from the farmer.

Sweet Spot 2.0 kicks in and we’re off to the races. Godamm the Pusherman! I’ve reviewed $20 cigars that wish they were as good as the Steampunk by Cigar Federation.

Smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.

Normally, a $6 stick puts you in Torano country. Or a bundle of Quorums…the good ones.

It now feels like I’ve taken blotter acid. The strength of this stick is somewhere between the Three Mile meltdown and eating a stick of butter.
Creamy but lethal. The kids took out life insurance policies on Charlotte and me. What do they know?

That’s it. I’m ruined for the day. I have nothing in my humidor that can follow this. I could smoke the other Steampunk by Cigar Federation I still have. Maybe wait til this afternoon when it’s nap time. Smoke a Steampunk and fall into a restful coma.

The finish has become Bozo Crazy. Curly screaming “Moe, Larry…Cheese!”
I have visions of Queen Elizabeth going down on Prince Philip.
All the girls I screwed when I was young are in my head telling me what a lousy lay I was.

This cigar can turn you into a visionary. Someone of great import. Someone who gets their cat’s head stuck in their ass. We always get our cats declawed.

The list of flavors is never ending. Coming and going on a whim keeping this old man’s interest at peak levels. It’s like being on a runaway carousel.

Strength is yellow cake uranium. I can no longer feel my extremities. Ear wax is flowing down my legs.

So many cigars to try…if I were only nicer to the manufacturers, I’d be up to my ears in samples. But where’s the fun in that? Begging seems to work for me.

This blend was a huge surprise. With no reviews to go by, this was a crap shoot. CF brags that the cigar got 100% 5 star reviews. All 15 of them. Even with a lack of enthusiasm by CF’s customers to lay down their thoughts, this is one spectacular cigar.

I’m going to name my new guinea pig after Aaron for his kindness. I shall call him Mort.
Kill anyone that gets in your way. Buy this cigar if you can.


And now for something completely different:

I’ve told you about my oldest friend, Skip. And how we went to Europe together in the early/mid 70’s to make our fortune and fame in music. I have another tale of friendship and music.

I was a child of the folk music era of the early/mid 1960’s. I picked up the 5 string banjo. Skip picked up the guitar and we taught ourselves how to play. We loved music. Mostly, rock and roll. So, we were in the right place at the right time for the period of peace, love and understanding.

I was fortunate to take banjo lessons from the legendary John McEwen. There was the coolest little music store in Long Beach called McCabe’s.

As my music friends were respectful and jovial, the owners allowed us to hang out all day on the weekends and some weekdays in the store. We saw iconic musical greats come and go to get something special for the band. I saw the Stones come in and buy dulcimers.

McEwen told me one day he had to stop giving lessons because he was going on the road with his new band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A big deal in those days with a couple top 10 hits nationwide.

McEwen is on the far left:

There was this great venue for musical concerts in Anaheim. It was called Melodyland. It was a theater in the round. Skip and I always bought front row center seats for around $3.50 each. I say front row because no one ever sold out the 15,000 arena and therefore the stage was aimed in just one direction and did not rotate as usual.

And we saw every band of note. Our first concert, after I got my driver’s license at 16, was Buffalo Springfield (Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, and Jim Felder). I had never heard a band play so loud and I was hooked.

Melodyland always had a full evening’s entertainment. No band played longer than 30-45 minutes so there were always 5-10 bands to enjoy.

Buffalo Springfield had just scored a top 10 hit with their “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” song. Followed by the iconic, “For What It’s Worth.” And there we were watching these soon to be one of the most famous classic bands of the music world.

One night, we saw the greatest concert of all. The Mamas and Papas opened and played for a full hour. We were delirious. And after that, Simon and Garfunkel came on and did 90 minutes. Just the two of them and Simon’s guitar. No backing band. We sat there rapt in wonder. All for $3.50 and we sat up front less than 20 feet away.

At 16, The Byrds played at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. It was a small dive that seated about 250 people and getting tickets was impossible. I called the place and pretended to be a reporter from the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper. Their manager bought into it and my friend, Elliot Kushell, and I took a tape recorder and camera (My Kodak Instamatic should have been the red flag debunking that we were pros) and we spent the whole evening back stage.

We literally hung out with the band in their dressing room the whole night while they played three sets. I wrote an article and submitted it to Tiger Beat Magazine but it was rejected. Full of red marks correcting me. It was like friggin’ English class. The editor told me that the story wasn’t “cuddly and cute” enough.

I still have the reel (I used a Sony tape recorder my grandfather bought me for my Bar Mitzvah) from the interview we did with Jim McGuinn. That’s right. Roger McGuinn’s original name was Jim but his guru said he was a Roger; not a Jim. So, when he signed an autograph for me, He made a big “J” then stopped and wrote “Roger.” Wish I still had that little piece of paper. I’m sure I could get as much as $5 for it on eBay.

And then the craziest of all: Jimi. The place was half full. It was before Woodstock. We watched as this guy, who had been living in London and killing them over there; had come back to America to play shit hole gigs. He even opened for The Monkees and was booed by all the teeny boppers. I believe he canceled his participation in the tour after 3 gigs.

The volume of the Hendrix band was so loud that a rep from the theater actually walked up to Jimi while he was playing a solo and used his hands to show that the volume had to come down. We laughed hysterically. And since we were only 20 feet away from him, Jimi saw us laugh and he looked at us and smiled.
So what did Jimi do? He turned up, of course.

Things were very informal in those days. Especially, at a small venue like Melodyland. It only held 3000 folks…but no series of acts ever sold the place out. The stage was circular and could rotate 360 degrees. But they never had to do that as half the place was empty; so they faced their audience.

Skip and I were brazen young men and always hung out and talked to the bands afterwards. They were all gracious and kind to us. They never shooed us away.

We endeavored to talk to Jimi but we realized he was really high. Didn’t know on what at the time…my guess was either acid or heroin. But he was out there playing his ass off. Maybe he wasn’t high. He was just being Jimi.

When I was 19, I got tickets to see the Doors at the L.A. Forum. I was shocked at seeing the stage. This place was huge. The stage was completely set up like a fortress of Marshall amplifiers. At least 15-20 feet tall. And they stretched across the stage not allowing one inch for anything else. If I had to guess, I would say there were 50 amps up there. No idea how many they actually played out of. Seemed more like a stunt than necessity.

Now this was surreal. I took a date to the L.A. Forum. The Doors’ opening act was Jerry Lee Lewis. Everyone loved this guy but who thought this would be a good opener? And to make things worse, Lewis was going through his country phase. So all the musicians in his 8 piece band wore the exact same three piece suits. And Lewis wore a different colored three piece suit to stand out from his sidemen.

After about three songs, the audience started to boo. Lewis must not have heard them; or ignored them. He did a torturous 45 minute set…never once played any of his legendary songs…only country. And when he came to the last song, he approached the mic and bellowed to the audience, “You wanna’ hear more?”
And in unison, 20,000 people yelled, “NO!!!!!”

Lewis was in shock. He told the audience to go to hell and stomped off the stage to thunderous applause.

Morrison was a known drunk. He held a bottle of Southern Comfort the whole time and about 15 minutes into the music, he grabbed an empty box and puked into it. In one hand he held the liquor and the other, the box. So, for the entire set, he was either drinking or puking. He got booed as well. It was disgusting, especially when he missed the box.

Not long after that, Led Zeppelin came to the Forum. I saw them play every single time they hit L.A. Right up until the death of Bonham. I must have seen them play 4-5 times.

My new girlfriend had never gone to a real concert before and when Bonham started sledge hammering the drums for the start of their first song “Rock and Roll,” my girlfriend sprung out of her seat like a helium balloon and never sat back down for the entire concert. She was mesmerized. I got laid that night.

If you never saw the original Zep, well…that’s a real shame because it was like watching the thunder of the gods. As a bassist, I was mesmerized by John Paul Jones. I wanted to burn my bass when I got home.

Who else did I see in L.A.? I saw The Who. With drummer, Keith Moon. I saw Cream. Watching Jack Bruce changed my life.

My first bass was a Hofner like McCartney’s. But watching Jack Bruce play his Gibson EBO made me change axes. I bought a brand-new Gibson EBO and juiced it up with fancy electronics. In fact, I used that bass on the Curved Air Live album. It was after that that the band convinced me to switch to a Fender P. That was a mistake as it was only a few weeks before we began to record the next album. I went from being comfortable with a short scale bass to being overwhelmed by the giant Precision bass that felt like playing a 2×4 neck. It really took me 6 months to get used to it.

My bass playing style completely changed as I mimicked the improv style of Jack Bruce. As any musician knows, woodshedding is the most significant method to hone one’s chops. I got really good which held me in good stead when I auditioned for Curved Air. But the great jazz fusion bassist, Stanley Clarke, also had a huge influence on me and the combo of Clarke and Bruce made me a special player over in England.

I know I am missing a shit load of bands that I saw as a young man, but it was so long ago and I’m so decrepit, it is hard to remember them all.
But it was quite an era.


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14 replies

  1. Sold out on Cigar Federation. Booooo…

    Great review, though. Sorry, I missed this.

  2. I’m a big fan of Gram Parsons’ music – so the Sweetheart of the Rodeo album by the Byrds is a hallmark to me. Parsons hijacked the Byrds for one country / rock album (Sweetheart of the Rodeo), then left in an attempt to get himself into the Stones.

    The dude could be a passive aggressive manipulative prick but he could sing the hell out of heart breaking song. It’s not as visual as alternatively drinking and puking into a box on stage, but it has its own damaged psychology behind it.

  3. Remember the band Poco? Same group of fellas moving in and out of that band. Do you also remember that the original name of the band was Pogo? That was the name of a newspaper cartoon strip and the band got sued for using it. So they changed a letter and voila: Poco.
    Was a big fan of Parsons back in the day. Those great bands that came out of the SoCal and NorCal scene were classics. Now they are forgotten except by those that are hardcore followers or us old folk.

  4. Fantastic rock recollections!
    I’m jealous.
    I had tickets to see the mighty Zep when Bozo bit the dust.
    And the Doors, aw man.
    Keep up the good work Katman.
    And I’d be remiss to not say thanks for all the awesome reviews as well.
    You’re the man!

  5. I’m a fan of good music. Yeah, alot of that was made before today and some, yes, by “old folk”.

    Another reason to respect your elders. Not everything new is good.

  6. I wanna get a Curved Air CD, Katman….I only have room for one. Which should I get?

  7. Thanks for the fever dream down memory lane Phil. Loved those intimate clubs! In Beantown they were places like Jonathan Swift’s, The Rat, The Paradise and on and on. But Zep never played any of them!

  8. My uncle was friends with one of the guys in Poco. Went to school with him. Don’t know which one since I don’t really know that band. As much as I do know about music, I couldn’t name a single Poco song.

  9. Damn, you’re on a roll today. Glad you’re feeling better. I can tell when you are in good spirits, as you get exponentially rauncier. Love it.

  10. Phil, I wish I had so many memorable experiences like you …but even if I did I’d forget ’em all!

    Nothing like late 60’s and early 70’s music. I remember the first Doors album my older sister had. I was 9 when I heard “The End.” I didn’t know what the FUCK the Lizard King was saying, but I knew it was something that I’d have to figure out eventually.


    “YES SON.”



  11. *Raunchier. More raunchy. Yeah.

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