Steampunk Maduro by Cigar Federation | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.25 x 52 Belicoso
Strength: Full
Price: $6.00

Today we take a look at the Steampunk Maduro by Cigar Federation.
Snagged a 5 pack a couple months ago. One cigar was smoked prior to review.
The original Steampunk received a 94 rating from me. And was my #14 pick for the best cigars of 2018.

From Cigar Federation:
“Steampunk just got even more buck-wild! We’ve been on pins and needles to finally release the STEAMPUNK MADURO!
“Steampunk MADURO utilizes the same phenomenal tobaccos as the original Steampunk…BUT we added a beautiful milk chocolate maduro wrapper!
“It took the Steampunk blend to the next level…BIG TIME!
“The original Steampunk has 100% 5-Star Reviews from the FedHeads who’ve smoked it! And if you liked that blend….you’re gonna love the maduro version!
“Steampunk MADURO is a 6.25×52 belicoso made with tobaccos from Esteli and Jalapa. It’s creamy, spicy, sweet and is one of the most full bodied cigars we’ve ever had as a FDB. 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!
“Get Steampunk MADURO while you can because we only got a few hundred of these beauties! So, yeah, they’re gonna go fast!!”

No shortage of veins spanning the length of these cigars. But seams are jam up and jelly tight. The oily espresso colored wrapper is certainly a maduro. The caps are a tad bit sloppy but remain intact during the slobbery portion of the smoke. The stick is pretty hard. Needed to use my PerfecDraw cigar poker and tool on the first one. Seems there will be a repeat performance on this stick as well.

Baking spices, black pepper, dark chocolate, espresso, malt, bubblegum, funkiness, caramel or butterscotch, big dollops of cedar, black cherries, licorice, and barnyard. I further a guess that is by and large the average aromas of a Nic puro. Good but not life changing.
The cold draw presents flavors of curry spices, black pepper, red pepper, baking spices accentuating clove, cedar, malt, milk chocolate, marshmallows, dark coffee, and barnyard.

It’s an industrial chimney spewing smoke and filling the room. First flavors up are a very potent black pepper, rich tobacco, some malt, cedar, creaminess, curry, and raisins.
Strength starts at the medium point.

I’ve found that a lot of boutique manufacturers put out a non-Maduro blend and it’s just a gorgeous thing to smoke. They become daring by putting out a similar blend using a maduro wrapper and the whole thing caves in on itself. I remember loving the Ezra Zion All My Exe’s. Then next year, I tried the maduro version and hated it. The boys told me I got a bad batch and sent me more. Still hated it. Go figure.

The point being is that the maduro version of the Steampunk has a lot to live up to. Can it succeed?
Some bitterness intercedes; changing the profile dramatically.

Flavors recede. The whole dominates the individual notes. But creaminess begins to excel calming the very strong black pepper. The chocolate dissipates til there is nothing left.
It now proclaims a very woody element. Any sweetness is now gone. Poof.

Transitions are still. Complexity is far away. The finish is disappointing.
I’m only an inch or so into the stick but except for a brief moment, the Steampunk Maduro is devoid of character. I don’t even taste potential.
Creaminess and pepper. Strength remains at medium.

Maybe the blend needs 6 months of rest. Maybe it’s just not a very good cigar. 180 degrees from the original Steampunk. All My Exe’s syndrome beginning to kick in.

Granted, this is a $6 stick. This is Torano territory. Mediocre catalog brand territory. Something with a skull on the band territory. Cool to look at but hollow.

I should be tasting tantalizing elements. CF said they’d compare this to a $12 stick and should get a 93. Hmmm…Funny thing. Their description of the original Steampunk blend says the exact same PR bullshit. Except they were right about the original. I guess they felt safe plagiarizing their own copywriting.

This is where a cigar review becomes interminable. A big stick and tasteless. The review seems to be proving string theory.
I grab a sip of water to see if that helps. I get a touch of root beer. Huzzah!
Strength begins to accelerate as it inches towards medium/full.

There is movement. Life is being created in this petri dish sausage tube. Instead of a plain linear presentation, the flavors begin to spread out. Tentacles are formed containing some balance and the slightest touch of character. Am I hasty or listening to Cream?

The Steampunk Maduro begins to breathe on its own. No longer on life support.
Flavors don’t expand but the complexity plants its foot into moon soil. A new beginning.

The finish improves; but not by much. Transitions are a pipe dream. Odds are the cigar, if it is going to shine, will occur in the last third. This means one of two things…the blend needs a lot of humidor time, or secondly; it’s not a very good cigar. After a couple of months of naked rest, potential should be shmeared all over the blend.

The blend doesn’t seem to be able to reach above $60 bundle quality…making time slow down to a crawl.
The Steampunk Maduro desperately needs some type of sweetness to offset the blandness. It is strictly savory and to be honest, not all that savory to start.
I had high hopes.

Cream and black pepper continue on their path to lead the horse to water. Ancillary flavors are whispers…daring to be heard, or tasted.

93, my ass. $12 look alike? Don’t think so.
So, what happened? The original vs. the Maduro. Not in the same universe.

Construction is good. Nice clean smoke. No burn issues. And nothing about it reads premium blend.

CF got lucky with the original Steampunk but couldn’t bottle the lightning. Probably the reason it’s been on the market for months instead of disappearing in the blink of an eye. Smokers know. They talk. And they listen.
It’s a yard ‘gar. But even $6 seems like a lot to be nestled in that category.
Yesterday, had plenty for sale. This morning, they are gone. No need to thank me for saving a berating from your wife.

The halfway point arrives with good news. Sweetness appears in small doses from milk chocolate, licorice, malted milk balls, and candied lemon peel. But instead of exploding, it’s all baby steps. I’m dying for this blend to prove me wrong and perk up and surprise.

No transitions. Static. Completely linear in its attack. The tentacles are coated and fried.

If you can settle for just cream and black pepper, this cigar is for you.
The other flavors are just teasers. They come and go without notice or reason.

Another high school story is here in the nick of time. Buddies and I were hanging out a park smoking doobs and drinking Coors. There was an old swing set nearby. Our tough guy in the group jumps on the wood seat and starts swinging as high as he can. He tells us he can go head over heels on the thing. We laugh and we’re stoned but we know this is impossible.

No matter. In one massive swing, the guy reaches the height of the top cross bar and slips. He flips backwards and heads towards the ground in free fall until one of the hooks that adjust the swing’s seat height rests itself in my friend’s nut sack. He is literally hanging by his balls.,,upside down and screaming like a banshee. He is kicking making it worse and we can’t get near him to free him for fear of getting our teeth knocked out by his shoes.

The hook tears through skin and collapses on the ground in his own puke. There is a lesson here my dears…if you never want to have children, I have the plan that should work every time.

Steampunk Maduro. Strength is medium/full. No complexity. No finish. Devoid of balance. Just another non-descript cigar blend you can live without ever trying.

What a dud.
I’m curious as to the blender of both the original and the Maduro. Certainly, it can’t be the same people.
Small flashes of flavor erupt for a few moments and then climbs back into its crypt. Cover the unsmoked stick in silver and you can go out and kill vampires.
We’re heading towards full strength. Nicotine slams it home. Nothing is quite as endearing as a blend with no flavor but makes me hallucinate.

I’m determined to finish the cigar. Ordinarily, I’d have given up by now and tossed it.
It has a papery finish. Maduro almost always guarantees some degree of sweetness. Not this time.
On what planet does this cigar get a 93?

I’m bummed. CF has put out some very good inexpensive original blends. This one is a big oops.
The problem with limited edition boutique blends is no one reviews them…OK…maybe one or two guys. But you never know when a redemptive version is brought back to market the next year.

The last third is no different than the first third. It makes no effort to improve of build. A one trick pony.
I’m sorry CF. But it is what it is.
Lucky you, they are sold out.


And now for something completely different:

My old friend and mentor, Hall of Fame drummer Hal Blaine passed away on March 11 at the age of 90. Natural causes. We should all be so lucky to live that long.
On February 19, a huge 90th party was thrown for Hal at a club in Hollywood. The guests were all the finest drummers and musicians in the world. Hal was reported to be cogent and articulate. And he even played showing off the chops that made him famous.
I’ve been working on something in which I describe the more personal moments I had with Hal that I’ve never written about. But I just can’t get it right. In the meantime, here is a previously published story about him…

I watched a documentary on HBO last night called “The Wrecking Crew.” I had seen it before but it was months ago..
Anyway, two friends were highlighted in this doc. First, The L.A. Wrecking Crew was a group of studio musicians used over and over and over by just about every producer on the planet during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
They account for hundreds of No.1 hits in the 1960’s.

Hal played on over 35,000 recordings. And played on over 6,000 singles; of which almost all hit the top 40.
Hal Blaine was prominently discussed and took pare as one of the talking heads discussing the subject at hand.
And my bass teacher, Carol Kaye, was another. My second cousin, Fred Selden, is an iconic L.A. session reed player. Mostly a jazzer but made a million bucks showing up for 3 sessions per day in his heyday. I watched him in the studio with 12-16 piece bands that had charts thrown in front of them and they nailed it on the first take without any practice. They were that good.

Fred pooh poohed my rock n roll style of playing. Yeah, back in 1969, I took lessons from bassist Carol Kaye because Fred introduced her to me as a way to get me to take music more seriously.

One thing hit home. Hal and Nancy Sinatra discussed her Ed Sullivan special that was an hour of Nancy’s Las Vegas show in which Hal got top billing on the marquee of the casino.

When I had my TV show in L.A. in 1983, I got Hal and Darlene Love together. The Blossoms were on the Nancy show as well. And Darlene was part of that all girl group.

Hal brought this up to me a couple weeks before shooting my show. He told me he had the whole thing on reel to reel video. This was around 1969 and no such thing as Beta Max’s back then.

So, he went out and bought a $2400 ($15,000 in 2019 dollars) Sony reel to reel video player/recorder. He had it stored away and gave me use of it so I could have a Hollywood facility transfer it to ¾” video tape.
Now this machine weighs at least 30lbs. Man, it was heavy.

Hal made me lug it from his yacht in Marina Del Rey to my car. And then to the tape facility and when I brought it back to Hal, he asked if I could hold on to it for a while as it was a real pain in the ass for him to put it back into storage.
Over the years, I kept bringing it up that I still had this thing and he just kept telling me to hold on to it.
So now, over 30 years later, I still have the Sony Video Recorder. It sits in the dining room.

I got my ¾” VHS tape made and we did the show…using clips from the Sinatra special to show off Hal and Darlene. Hal even had a solo that he was very proud of. Sinatra had a full orchestra behind her.

Carol was the first big time female bassist in Session World in L.A. She came up with some of the most famous bass riffs in rock n roll. The list is too long. She was the bassist on all of the Beach Boys’ hits (“Pet Sounds”. Played on albums from Simon & Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, The Righteous Brothers, Count Basie, and she came up with the riff for the “Mission Impossible” theme. Check her out on Wikipedia.

You can check out Hal Blaine on Wikipedia as well. Or “The Wrecking Crew.”
No. They never mentioned me by name. LOL.
But I have kept in touch with Carol over the years.

Back in the day, when other musicians discovered I was a student of Carol, they literally bowed down to me.
She only uses a pick while playing. And it drove me nuts because her music books that you worked from had the symbols: ⟰ or ⟱. Each symbol represented how you hit the string. You had to hit the E note with an upward motion of the pick and then the next notes might be downward motions.

And I’d get reprimanded if I didn’t hit the string with the right downward or upward motion. I could play the riff perfectly but if my pick was not used properly, we’d start again.

I took lessons from her for about a year. And then it was time to move on. Back then, I took lessons from her in her Hollywood home while we sat in her dining room. I paid $14 per lesson. $100 in 2019 dollars.
I highly recommend watching this documentary if you can. Especially, if you are a musician.

Early 1980’s. Sunset Gower Studios. Hal and me on the far right:


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4 replies

  1. Hey Ethan,
    Because I have thousands of reviews on my blog, I get comments on cigars that go back to 2012. So, I get to hear readers’ opinions every day.
    I also get a shit load of emails every day. And trust me when I tell you that this is not the first time I’ve heard complaints about CF.
    But I do believe that Ezra Zion now owns the CF store. So there is no shortage of $12 sticks.
    It just so happens that you had the ‘nads to publish your complaint. Good on ‘yer.

  2. EZ were my boys several years ago as they began their journey. I highly promoted them as I believed in their mission. They cranked out great cigars and then the $12 price tag became the norm which really annoyed me.
    Like most newer boutique cigar brands I got behind and really pushed, they soared and discovered they no longer needed me. Loyalty meant nothing. So, I was discarded like an old shoe. I’ve gone through the same thing with at least a dozen boutique cigar makers over the last decade so it didn’t surprise me. Still hurts to be treated like shit because they decided they outgrew me, but I can still wake up and have breakfast every morning….lol

  3. Phil,

    I thought this was a dud as well! Glad you confirmed it, I was thinking am I missing something here?? Glad your feeling better.

  4. Lou,
    A dud is a dud is a dud…

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