Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 60
Strength: Full
Price: $13.50 ($8.00-$11.00 online)

Today we take a look at the Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo. I bought a fiver on a one day special.

From Cigars International:
“Man O’ War first marched out of AJ Fernandez’s factory ten years ago, and took the CI Nation by storm. Ever since the mighty flavors and bold blends entered our territory, we’ve been glad to quarter them in homes without putting up a fight. And when our scouts gave word that a new blend was on the rise, we gathered the troops and got ready to snatch as many as we could.

“The Man O’ War Ruination 10th anniversary is a sight to behold. It all starts with the Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf, dark enough to blot out the sun. This imposing leaf is wrapped around a core of Nicaraguan and Honduran Ligero, bursting with power, earthy & leathery notes, and spice. This blend is full-bodied and ready to wage war on the competition, so if you like heavy cigars, add these to your cart before they’re gone!”

This is an extremely toothy cigar. It feels like a cat’s tongue. The Habano wrapper is a deep, rich dark cocoa hue. A beautiful box press, tight seams, and very few veinage. The caps on the 5 pack I bought are all a little fakakta. The application of the triple cap nearly seems like an afterthought and sloppy looking. I picked the best looking of my sticks for pretty photos. This is a very solid cigar and one must be prepared for a marathon of smoking time. As it is full tilt strength, I expect to transverse several levels of consciousness as I am bombarded with loads of nicotine.

Big nose gulps of chocolate, espresso, creaminess, cedar, malt, caramel, peanut, honey, and raspberry.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate covered raspberries jells, cream, malt, cedar, raisins, malt, vanilla, and licorice.
OK. So far, everything I expect from an AJ blend.

The blend is very similar to the original Ruination so I am not sure how different this stick will be from its forebearer. There is very little info on the blend so I will play it by ear. The MSRP is considerably higher than its kid brother’s price point but online prices are all over the place. And it is in limited supply.

As dense as this huge cigar is, the draw is spot on. I put my PerfecDraw Cigar Adjustment Tool away for another time.

As I’ve whined constantly, I have no luck with the burn on box pressed sticks. I assume it’s me but for the life of me, I have no idea why. Fingers crossed.

First puffs are redolent of black pepper and creaminess. Malt follows with some intense fruitiness. Plus, there is a strong smoky oak element that envelops the profile.
This tree trunk emits smoke like a wildfire. The cat leaves the building.
Immediately, the strength reaches medium/full. Oy.

A large percentage of AJ blends are ready to smoke quickly after receipt. One of my favorite things about his cigars…you don’t have to wait months and months. But I do find that that the Man O’ War series doesn’t have staying power if given too much humi time. These are sticks meant to be smoked in their prime. They are not the type of blends that blossom after years of storage.

Just a nipple hair’s breadth into the cigar, complexity begins to formulate a plan. Transitions are at the starting gate with maximum security. The finish is dominated by the spiciness of the pepper.

I did expect the black pepper to be overwhelming but, in fact, it is modulated and balanced so as not to interfere with other flavors. Nice.

I’m an AJ fan…big shock. And I like the Man O’ War series. In fact, I feel that this multiple blend pack of upstarts, using the same title, represent the comfort factor of how AJ blends cigars. Sort of his platform for other blends.

I rarely mention the look of a cigar band unless it’s extraordinary…but this band is quite attractive. Very classy look. And no skulls.

Huzzah! I’m having zero burn issues. This may be a first. Alert Fox News.

Flavors are just warming up. The discreet complexity that started so early is wrapping its arms around the aforementioned flavors and new ones popping to the surface. There is a real intense nuttiness made up of hazelnut, Brazil nut, and almond. Makes me hungry.

The creaminess is the star of the show. It coats the coffee, chocolate and malt with a warm blankey and hands it a binky.

Oh lord…The Eagles. Arrghhh…

Nicotine jumps in way too early. I thought my fuzzy vision may have been from sniffing glue too early in the morning. Sadly, this stick is built to kick ass and let Darwin do its thing…to weed out the men from the other men (No idea what that means). Run, newbies, run…By the time I finish this cigar and review, my grammar will that of a 5-year old’s.

I try not to start the morning on an empty stomach smoking a cigar that wants to kill me but sometimes you gotta take a bullet for the group.

Milk and honey make their move. The blend needs a balance of sweet and savory and up til now, it was only savory. The added sweetness really helps boost the confidence of the blend.

This cigar is going to take all morning to smoke. I plan on just writing til I hit 4500 words so that you can take your phone into the bathroom for a dump and still not finish my review.

Strength is full tilt now. Oy 2.0.

I’m going to have some new Bespoke Cigar blends to review shortly. I can’t wait. They are, by far, my favorite brand I can’t afford. I will take them over any Padron. Which slyly allows me to tell you that if you use the promo code: Katman…Small Batch Cigar will give you 10% off any Bespoke purchase. Very nice.

The Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo is beginning to spread its wings as flavors dig deep providing a real sense of appreciation of what AJ can do. I don’t know what process he used to make this special edition Ruination different, but I can now taste a remarkable road its traveling to impress.

I like the original Ruination but this baby is reaching for a new level of competence. There is a richness brewing that doesn’t appear in its namesake.

“I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four is playing. Way Back Machine to 1966. Is it me or does John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” seem like a rip off?

Holy cow. It’s taken a full 40 minutes to get to this point. But all is well and the burn is flawless. I could have made love to my wife 10 times. Not at once as I always need a 4-day break between erections. Welcome to age 69.

The cigar jumps the shark and becomes amazingly smooth. It’s deep richness shines like the sun we never see in Wisconsin. Balance is perfect.

Flavors I’ve mentioned are joined by cinnamon graham cracker, lemon zest, mushroom, and black grapes.

The CI Conglomerate is selling a box of 10 for $80. A fiver is $55. I wouldn’t mind a box of 10 before they disappear. is selling singles for $13.50.

Creaminess branches out its tentacles by including cappuccino, milk chocolate nougat, and Crème brûlée with that rich custard flavor accompanied by the caramelized sugar. Impressive.
Look at that clean burn line…

The strength has been tamed by a greater force than the Cosmic Muffin.
My vision begins to return as the nicotine calms down.
By far, this is my favorite Man O’ War blend. It takes the series to a new level.
Lord, this is a delicious cigar.

I expected a flavor bomb status by now but it is cruising Whittier Blvd. It is not an in your face blend. Subtleties abound. I’d put this cigar up against some of the finest boutique blends.

I stopped writing and bought a 10-count box. CI throws in free shipping on this purchase. Tell CI the Katman sent you. I won’t get anything out of it but I want them to know.

The flavor profile explodes. Bold but still perfectly balanced.

A sip of water and my mouth is full of luxurious flavors. I’m not gay…not that there is anything wrong with that.
The spiciness is on the money. As strong as this cigar is, I expected an overflow of black pepper. Rather, it is in the mix but is a nice cherry on top of this tobacco sausage.

Normally, I don’t like behemoth cigars. The Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo is on point with an ever-changing regimen of interesting elements that puts a smile on my punim. It is reminiscent of some Isabela cigar blends that keep changing as the cigar burns down.

The halfway point is reached in an hour and 10 minutes of smoke time. Will I survive? Will I begin to babble? Will I be able to find my testicles if I need them?
The burn needs its first minor touch up.

Oh man, stop reading this and buy some. I saw somewhere how limited edition this cigar is but now I cannot find that info. Regardless, it won’t be around long.
Construction is immaculate.

The intensity is at 11. Every puff brings something different to the palate. It becomes so much richer in the second half. Ptooey on Padron. Now I wonder if AJ had meant to show them up by producing a spectacular blend for a mere fraction of the cost of a good Padron.

Nicotine reappears. The laptop screen is a blur. I’m typing from memory.

Did I mention that SBC will give you a 10% discount on Bespoke cigars with the promo code Katman? I repeat myself under stress, I repeat myself under stress, I repeat myself…

“Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group is playing. I remember the first time I took acid in 1972 that this song came on the radio and when the synthesizer solo began, my buddy, Mike Cook and I freaked out and couldn’t figure out how to turn the radio off.
Remember kids, just say no.

The blend is now just plain unbelievable. Holy shit. The complexity is through the roof. Man, I’m glad I just bought more. $8 for this cigar? It puts those $12 best ever cigars to shame. The cigar is dancing around all your favorite boutique blends like a drunken stripper.
Ever date a stripper that was just drop dead gorgeous who had hips like a meat grinder? Me neither. Long ago and far away.

Creaminess, malt, chocolate, espresso, graham cracker, dried fruit, brown sugar, licorice, citrus, Crème brûlée, extreme nuttiness, cedar, cinnamon, smoky oak, mushroom, vanilla, nougat, and peanut.
The strength remains powerful but tamed.

I’m now in my second hour. All of it super enjoyable.

The cigar is built like a tank. AJ made sure that only his best rollers were on the job for this baby. I can name a laundry list of more expensive cigars that don’t touch the hem of the Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo.

At this writing, there isn’t a single review of this cigar. I don’t know if is due to it being a limited edition or what. At first, I thought…Uh-oh. The cigar has dispelled my concerns.

SRV is playing. Impossible to ever get tired of listening to that man’s music.

You definitely need to block out an afternoon for this cigar as it will take that long to finish it.
This is where I usually say I prefer a Corona Gorda…nope, not this time. One of the few blends that stands up to being huge and maintaining a dazzling flavor profile.
I’d be a lot more entertaining if the cigar was a dud but it ain’t.

I’m now wondering why AJ chose to place this blend in the Man O’ War category. It could have easily stood on its own as a new blend from AJ. This cigar is head and beard above the other MOW blends.

My good buddy, Officer Mark Alonzi, sent me a bottle if WhistlePig rye whiskey. The next Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed Gordo I smoke will be in the evening accompanied by that fine libation.

“Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh is playing. This song was a watershed moment for me as a bassist. In 1973, I saw the band play live on TV and noticed the bass player was using a fretless. As he swayed to and fro with the beat, I was mesmerized. It took 7 years before I had the guts to get my own fretless but that’s how I remember the event affecting me.

The cigar flames out at 2 hours 35 minutes.
Not a harsh or bitter note evident. Smooth. Balanced. Complex. But I do feel like I’ve dropped a quarter hit of acid.
Tell the wife you need the money for a kidney transplant and get some.


And now for something completely different:
My downfall as the fixer….

The band had finished its second album at the famous Island Studios in London…and since Miles Copeland was a cheap bastard, he picked an untried producer to ride herd on the biggest egos on the planet. Now, the guy had a distinguished career as an engineer, but nothing as a producer. And the band ran all over him. Once, he was almost brought to tears because Darryl Way, the band leader, violinist and keys player, yelled at him….because Darryl wasn’t getting his way.

I was the mediator of the group and we all know what happens to that guy. And it did.

Two camps sprung up…Mick, the guitarist, and Darryl. Then there was Sonja, the singer, and Stewart Copeland, the drummer. I was in between trying to make the peace. Both camps were constantly at odds with each other. I was looking out for myself. I finally hit the big time and I didn’t want to see it get flushed down the toilet over band squabbles.

Stew was a very good drummer but had no constraints. He was like Keith Moon and just soloed away during every song. On stage, this was torture, because while Darryl and Mick were upfront trading lead riffs, Stewart was on some other planet soloing in all sorts of weird time signatures causing the boys up front to lose where “1” was.

That forced me hit quarter notes hard and heavy so they would know where they were. Quarter notes means 1-2-3-4. The backbone of rock n roll. It made me crazy to be an accomplished bassist playing quarter notes while Stew behaved like he was the star of the band. And this band was a progressive one with lots of intricate chordal changes. Not a 1-4-5 blues band. Darryl was a trained classical musician and our music reflected his training and love.

During the close of recording of the album, Jose Feliciano showed up for a couple nights and added his own style to our English progressive recordings. The only one it sounded good on was my tune: “I Broke My Leg in Yucca Valley, but My Heart Lies in Palm Springs.” Really, no bullshit. That was the name of the tune and of course, it was bass oriented. I got to show off. The band hated it. It was so intricate that they couldn’t figure it out. It was very American jazz fusion…the exact reason they hired me. So, they went to the booth and sulked. My tune became a bass solo with Feliciano playing guitar and famous Brazilian percussionist, Paulhino De Costa playing every percussion instrument he had in his kit bag. And Stew was right on point. I tried teaching Sonja the two sentence lyrics but she didn’t have the range or the ability to hit the strange time signature…or the ability to scat sing, so we had our only instrumental on the album.

Top: Jose Feliciano enjoying a doob, Me with fro, Jose recording in studio, and the lead roadies enjoying my hospitality in my hotel room.

RCA had a big “Listening Party” debuting the release of the album called “Midnight Wire.”
It was a scene right out of “Spinal Tap.” The record was played on a continual loop throughout the party and each time Yucca Valley played, I could hear mutterings of, “What the fuck is that?”

My heart sank. Feliciano liked it so much that he bought licensing rights…but I waited and it never showed up on any of his albums.

RCA’s reaction to our album was a disaster. And not just because of “Yucca Valley.”

Behind closed doors, Copeland and his henchmen figured out a new plan. They brought in two American hot shot producer brothers that had just finished producing Clapton’s latest album, “461 Ocean Blvd.”

In Amsterdam, they came to watch us perform and we got word that we better go meet them at their hotel one afternoon. I went by myself because no one was interested. I felt it was very important but the band had no interest.
So, I sat in their hotel room and listened to these two fuck heads tear our album apart…just ripped it.

And to my face, they told me my bass playing sucked. They said the vocals sucked. They said the arrangements sucked. They said the violin playing sucked. They said the guitar playing was out of place. Holy Bat Shit!

I raced back to our hotel and with my eyes as big as saucers, I told the band we are in big trouble. They just laughed at me while drinking and smoking dope.

The plan was to re-record the album but something needed to be fixed. The two camps were called for a meeting. I was not invited. They blamed each other for the album failure. And guess what? Yep. I got the phone call. I was gone. The album problems were laid right at the foot of the bassist.

They hired a session bassist to fill in the tracks. But when I listened to the finished album, I heard my bass playing on 75% of the tracks. So, I wasn’t the problem. And I’ve never been paid royalties as, to this day, the refuse to admit they used my tracks.

The new album had no soul and was listless and sterile. No excitement, no verve. It was considered by the critics as the end of the band. And this band had a long life time. I believe they put out 14 albums. I was on 4.

There I was, stranded in England without a gig. It was so humiliating when the musical mags and rags started reporting that I had left the band because of differences inside the band. But I called these rags and told them the truth and they printed it. The band came down hard on me for doing this. I didn’t care. They fired me without any severance and I was dead broke 6000 miles from home with my girlfriend and her little girl.

The roadies took pity on me and delivered half of the equipment stored in the management’s warehouse so I could sell it and have money. Management made no stink over this. These were their best roadies and the roadies got in the face of Miles Copeland and shamed him for doing what he did to me. I sold everything and finally had some money in the bank.

I spent another 6 months playing with several well-known English bands but it just didn’t click with me and I decided to go home with my tail between my legs.

Me and little Jennifer critiquing a Curved Air album.


Tags: , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Naturally. I concur Doctor. Bought a 5 pack originally. Oooh so tasty that I can’t keep my hands off them. Let’s put it this way. Smoked my 2nd one last night. But after reading this review and last night’s memory I will be smoking another one this afternoon.
    And yes…. the power of your suggestion caused me to stop reading and order up a box.
    Summer’s coming and I can imagine smoking these outdoors at a blues festival or down at the beach.
    AJ blasts a grand slam with the 10th Anniversary Ruination !!!!

  2. You convinced me to try this smoke otherwise would have waited for a sampler that might have this cigar in the bunch.

  3. Hey Frank…You won’t be sorry. An excellent cigar that excels its price point. If I were rich like you, I’d have bought a few boxes.

  4. Ordered. You really should get commission!

  5. That would be nice. Gratitude from an online store? Ha…

  6. When you live in LA, just buying a cigar breaks the bank.

  7. That why we moved to Milwaukee. A $10 cigar here is only 50¢. Monthly rent on a two bedroom apartment is only $175 per month. Car insurance is $22 per month. Gas is 35¢ per gallon. A gallon of milk is 14¢. But bagels are $29 each because they have to be imported from NYC.

  8. Katman,

    Thank you for your reviews are pallets are very similar and it has been very helpful. Ive enjoyed the original, as well as damnation… From one cold Wisconsinite to another.

  9. Thanks Josh…just started snowing and off to work I go. Damn.
    All the best,

  10. I just picked up 7 boxes of these on cbid at around 32-35 a box and also a couple boxes of the reconquista at 62-68. If you have to list your top 5 Aj cigars in order what would they be?

  11. Not putting me on the spot here, Josh…too much pressure…the man makes a million different blends…
    So, not in any sort of order, are what I like at this particular moment in time the best:
    AJ Fernandez Ramon Allones
    San Lotano Oval Habano
    Montecristo by AJ
    Enclave Broadleaf
    Man O’ War Ruination 10th Anniversary Box-Pressed

  12. I thought Charlotte said you perform good under pressure :). Thanks… I found a box of Ramon Allones for 170, seems like a good price? Thank you for responding by WI brother!

  13. I know you!!
    I’m charging you double next time I see you at Prime.
    Making an old man do all that research about AJ.
    I could have broken a hip and died tomorrow.
    Still, you’re my boy…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s