2012 by Oscar Barber Pole | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Candela & Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Strength: Medium
Price: $9.00

Today we take a look at the 2012 by Oscar Barber Pole.
The blend was originally designed for a single cigar lounge with 200 boxes limited production of only ten sticks. The original had a footer band that the current ones do not have. Point being is that people like this cigar and they went back into production releasing the cigar to your favorite stores, but without the footer band. I found no information on the Oscar Valladeres web site or anywhere else for that matter that mentions how this cigar went from a miniscule amount to full release.
Photo courtesy of Halfwheel.com:

From Halfwheel.com (1-12-2018):
“We seem to be reviewing more and more barber pole cigars. And while none of them are quite normal, the 2012 by Oscar version is a bit different than any I can recall smoking before.

“The first thing that jumps out is the candela wrapper. A barber pole is created by using multiple types of wrapper leaves to create the distinctive appearance of alternating colors that resembles the classic spinning cylinder found outside many barbershops, hence the name.

“For this particular release Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. took a Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper and paired it with a green candela wrapper. That alone is different, but like the rest of the 2012 by Oscar lines, this cigar is box-pressed with a fairly aggressive candy bar-style press.”

In ordinary room light, nothing special to see here…other than the barber pole. In photographic light, all the oiliness in the Mexican portion of the wrapper glistens like an overused stripper pole. The candela is pretty flat in color, as most are, but has the color tone of what that stripper pole looks like in the morning.

The stripes are perfectly executed. Completely symmetrical to this structural engineer’s eyes. Veins are nearly non-existent making the stick have an exotic appeal. I could have said banana appeal but why would I?

There is something about a barber pole cigar that makes smokers go: “Wow, ooh, whoa, (silent fart), and I can boogaloo on that baby.”
And the box press was crisp at some point, but has softened.

The wrapper has dual aromas: The typical grassy and sweet greenness of the Candela and the Mexican brings dark cocoa, espresso, floral notes, malt, raisins, cream, cedar, black pepper, barnyard, and black licorice.

The aromas might be more potent if the cigar was shipped in cellos; but it is naked as your testicles your girlfriend told you to shave…she’s tired of coming up for air and having Groucho Marx eyebrows.

The draw is supercalifragi…you know how to spell it…Spot on…maybe a bit too airy but who’s complaining? I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for my next cigar.

I’ve got Pandora classic rock on and every 4th song is by The Eagles. Time to change the channel…sorry Rod…my bad.

And it begins…we are eating a big Porterhouse covered in a sweet glaze. A very distinct sweetness takes the reins. There is a touch of spice. There is some kind of nutty element I can’t quite identify at this early stage. A salty pretzel flavor is present. And then the cigar turns into a Pittsburgh chimney belching smoke like its 1999.

Strength is medium.
This is an unusual blend. Flavors are a bit confusing at the start with no seeming direction. It’s early, I know. But I’m not hit in the puss with any type of complexity.

A small slit appears in the flavor opening…creaminess shows up helping other notes to perk up. The chocolate and coffee are more pronounced now. There is a touch of citrus. And the complexity begins its long march.

Just like that, the blend kicks into high gear. Transitions begin with elements of caramel, nuts, It’s just my palate but I swear I can taste some sweet melon in the back of my throat…and then it passes. This is why I like to write contemporaneously. If I smoke a cigar three days before I review and just take notes…I would have no means to convey the moment.

I taste French fries. Must be due to my diet…I’m hungry! I tried hypnotizing myself into thinking cottage cheese tastes like cheesecake. All that happened was I barked every time I took a piss.

This cigar is unique the way the Valladeres Wild Hunter tasted. It steers away from the usual leaf stats this cigar possesses with twists on the profile. There is no way in hell I could have blind taste smoked this and come up with the tobacco origins.

Cinnamon toothpicks. Yeah, baby. Now its 1963. They were a nickel for a little wax paper pouch with a staple holding the folded top down. Shit. I’m 100 years old.

This week, my boss came in to count his money while he sat on his golden throne and observed the mortals. First thing he said to me was “Phil…your face is so thin. Maybe you better stop dieting!”
All of a sudden, I felt like I had a brain tumor (“It’s not a too-muh!). Then I realized he was drunk, as usual, with a chaser of amyl nitrate. It’s OK. He is easier to deal with when he is like this.

The complexity is nicely balanced now. A richness exists from a deep tobacco mixture done right. Transitions are moving at a relaxed pace. The finish is just spice and cream.
Another perfect medium strength stick.

For some reason, I’m getting barraged at the lounge by newbies who tell me they want something light. I do the heavy sigh…and then talk them into whatever I think they should smoke. They always listen because I look scholarly…and I speed talk. This is how I got the job at Prime.

It’s peanuts! The citrus is lemon peel. The peanuts need a partner. Where is the bridge?

While the first third had a slightly linear quality, the second third sees a surge in the blend getting serious.

I’m burning through the Mexican wrapper portion and it is filled with coffee and chocolate. Right behind is a touch of licorice, malt, caramel, lots of cedar, peanuts find their mate in a hint of honey. This is killing me. I haven’t eaten today. By the last third, I expect to be hallucinating all sorts of flavors that only exist in my puny brain.

I hit the Candela and the grassy sweetness returns. Jekyll and Hyde.

I moved it to the Doobie Brothers channel and now every 3rd song is The Eagles. Gotta go to Zep channel. Right on. “Black Dog.” If you have ever been in a band and played this song, you know how tough the time signatures are. You really need to concentrate to get those riffs right. But once you get it you never forget them. Strangely, the notes are exactly the same as The Associations’ 1967 song, “Windy.”

Drummer Hal Blaine told me that every recording session he did with The Mamas and Papas, John Phillips always arrived with a big leather doctor’s bag filled with every drug known to man. No idea why I just brought that up. At least I didn’t bark.

For the price, this is an excellent blend. The construction is top notch. You’d be surprised…or maybe not…how many manufacturers fuck up the barber pole. And I’m having no issues with the burn on the box press. Alert the media.

This will be at least a 90+ minute cigar. It is jam packed with tobacco; yet the draw is impeccable and the burn exemplary.

Two older women are standing and staring at me as I sit naked in front of the window smoking a cigar. I wave. They show me their dicks. They weren’t women. I’d wave back but the A/C is on and I’m afraid I have nothing to wave with.

I am now breaching the delicious portion of this blend. The first third was a tease. I now begin the second half and there are lurches and grunting noises…wait…I was on the cat. I stick my tongue deep into Sammy’s mouth and he walks away wobbly. He has forgiven me.

Chocolate peanuts and chocolate raisins dominate along with a rich creaminess. A sip of water and flavors meld beautifully.

Impressively complex as the cigar steps up its progress. I still taste pretzel with hot mustard. That mustard was once cinnamon.

So many guys that occasionally read cigar reviews just hate the way reviewers like me dissect the flavor profile. Sure, some are ridiculous. But teaching smokers to be curious and get to the next level of cigar appreciation is not easy. Most smokers are content with their go-to blends and have no interest in moving forward. Too bad…so many cigars, so little time.

The meaty quality returns in force. The blend bounces between savory and sweet like clockwork.

Jimi is playing…thank you baby Jesus.

Transitions are running for the gold now. They whizz by at breakneck speed.

I’ve had potential customers get mad at me because we don’t sell Swisher Sweets.

I’ve had this cigar for only 2 months. But since the cigar does not receive a cello, it breathes and ages way ahead of the condom draped cigars. A good cigar to try when you are in your local B&M to plotz and drink alcohol.

I now visit my FB page just once a day. Everyone is so angry. So many people with threads of friends arguing and calling each other names. I mean, really…how many times can you post something about wearing masks?

Richness pours from the stick like a Russian hooker’s quedgie. How do you socially distance yourself from a hooker? Does she stand across the room and piss on you like a firefighter manning the big hose?

This will be a 2-hour smoke.
Strength reaches medium/full.
No harshness. No nicotine. We have a wiener.

You ever go into a public bathroom only to discover you can’t find the opening in your underwear…so you undo your belt buckle and your pistol falls on the urine-soaked floor?
Me neither.

I should clarify. I mentioned BigFoot Gunbelts in a previous review. I failed to mention they make incredible “conceal carry” dress belts. Not a law enforcement belt.

Peanut butter, chocolate, espresso, caramel, malt, cedar, cinnamon returns, dried fruit, creaminess, sweet raw cashew, and licorice are amply on display.
I need to get more Barber Poles. It’s a great cigar to hand to your mooch friends while you watch them go “Ohhhh…pretty.”

In 1970, my friends and I visited our wheelchair bound friend, Harry. He had polio. But he sold great weed. And he was fun to be around. One day, we visit, and he tells us to sit down in his dimly lit living room. He is showing old porn movies on his projector. The people have black strips across their eyes and it looks like these were made in the 1940’s.

Then all of a sudden, there are naked boys on the screen. We look at each other in horror. We yell “HARRY!” At that moment, some chicks we know show up and just walk in. They look at the screen. They look at us. They run. We chase after them telling them that we aren’t pedophiles. We were pissed.

Harry commissioned me to make a very nice gold ring for him…no skulls. I take my girlfriend’s daughter over to his place to show him how the ring is going. He approves.

The next day, the Feds raid his place. I guess Harry was into other stuff than weed…porn, sales of illegal weapons, and half a dozen other serious offenses. Never saw Harry again. I still cringe at the thought I was there 24 hours earlier with a 3-year-old girl. I would have never recovered my relationship with the girl’s mother if we got arrested. I should add he wasn’t showing his movies when I visited. I was young and shallow graves were my thing.

The 2012 by Oscar Barber Pole is a solid boutique blend at a reasonable price.
It never got much further than the hem of medium/full strength. No nicotine or harshness. Smooth to the end.


And now for something completely different:
The Sonja Kristina Chronicles…

I was tasked during our first tour to keep a secret from the band about Sonja’s rehab. She was a morphine addict that used a needle. She was getting help from a private doctor who put her on methadone…injected.

Within days, it nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. Here I was. A kid from California and whisked away into the big time, from being a bar band bassist, to one of the biggest progressive rock bands in Europe, Japan, and South America. They just couldn’t budge in North America. They tried but just couldn’t break.

Sonja’s instability, while tapering off her morphine addiction, was horrifying. Never saw anything like that. Realized just how middle-class America I was.

She had serious insecurity issues. On the albums, before this tour, she sang with a lovely, soaring feminine voice.

On the tour, the addiction really fucked her up and she thought she was Janis. Some of the written reviews of our concerts were devastating for her. Time after time they wrote that the band was brilliant, and I got mentioned a lot for bringing new life to the rhythm section. I was playing jazz fusion while they were playing classical music rock. No soul.
Every time Sonja read a review; suicide attempts came within hours.

She used to cut her wrists a lot. But she would use blunt instruments to do so. All she accomplished was to scar her wrists and arms ugly.

We played in Dover. Jeff Beck was there. Jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty was there. And Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman was there. They even jammed with us during our encores.

In the dressing room, after the show, I shoved Sonja into the bathroom and told her to change. We had to get back to the hotel and shoot her up with methadone. She never shot up before a concert because it made her high. Of course, the rest of the band members were high on either hash or alcohol. But no matter. They’d gone through this with Sonja for years and the caveat for doing the album and tour was that she remained straight the whole time.

So, they couldn’t know she was a junkie. At that time, Stewart Copeland and Sonja became an item. Stew was the only person to know because he had moved in with her.

By the time we got back to the hotel, she was long overdue for that methadone shot.

All three of those monster guest musicians were visiting in the dressing room and I forgot about Sonja.
I dashed to the bathroom. She had been in there for over an hour. I knocked. No answer. I knocked again and again. No answer.

That was it. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back to the dressing room and told the band what was going on. They were livid.

We all tried to cajole Sonja out of the bathroom, but she never made a sound, so we broke the door in.

There she sat. On the toilet. Unconscious and her arms extended away from her body with blood running down them. They were superficial wounds caused by a bottle opener.

We carried her to the couch in the dressing room and I went into my gig bag and got her stuff. Minutes later, she was fine.

The tour lasted 8 weeks. The band was in an uproar when they found out Sonja didn’t keep her word. Darryl threatened to quit the tour.

I was the peacemaker as I had finally found the big time and didn’t want to lose it. Naturally, this position made me rife for being the eventual scapegoat a couple years later. Someone had to be sacrificed for a poor recording of an album in 1975; so why not pick the one least responsible for the problems? The bassist of course. The peacemaker.

Sonja and Stewart Copeland eventually married.

Back then, Stew was not half the drummer as he was in The Police. He would constantly solo like Keith Moon. And this pissed off Darryl something awful. He and the guitarist would be up front and center on the stage trading riffs and Stew was soloing. They had no idea where “1” was. So, I started playing quarter notes and accenting the 1 count, so they knew where they were. I had to abandon my cool riffs to play quarter notes.

Like clockwork, Stew got fired by Darryl every single week. A brouhaha would break out and Sonja would threaten to leave the band if Stew went.

So, every week, fired…re-hired…fired…re-hired. Tiresome for the morale of the band.
Sonja finally got well after that first tour. She became productive and began to write songs again. But the rancor between her and Darryl never went away.

Darryl was probably the most arrogant S.O.B.’s I had ever met in the music biz. It was impossible to please him and, of course, his shit didn’t stink. (He has been writing music for the biggest orchestras in the world. Ballet and opera as well.)

Darryl invited my girlfriend and me to move in with him in the little town of Datchet outside of London. It was a great deal and we would save money. Darryl still approved of me at that time in the band.
But as things do, shit happened….to be continued.


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4 replies

  1. Come on Phil! If the newbies say they want something “light,” sell them a nicotine bomb to make them “light” headed! 🙂

    In your time living and recording in the South Bay, did you ever come across a fellow bassist by the name of Steve Soto? It would have been in the 80s as he was the bassist for the punk band The Adolescents. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago.

    And if you aren’t aware of this guy, you might enjoy the videos of an avid bassist by the name of Davie504 on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/user/Davie504

  2. Katman,

    Can I get an opinion? I’m looking at getting an electronic cigar fridge. Since the NewAir 400 isn’t available right now what do you think of the Whytner CHC-2515? I know you reviewed the old NewAir, should I hold out for the new ones to come out? I live on the East Coast and while I can maintain humidity in my humidor/tupperdors I’m worried about temps since my AC is having a hard time with our outdoor temps above 100 right now. What would you recommend? Thanks for your advice!

  3. I’m not an expert on electronic cigar humidors. I reviewed the NewAir but wasn’t impressed.
    Here is a list I found:\

  4. Hi Red,
    Nope…never ran into Soto. A lot of musicians in L.A.
    I checked out Davie and yes he is a great bassist. The times they are a changin’.
    If I start fooling my customers with strong cigars, I’d need to start wearing body armor in case they return to complain.

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