Warped Flor del Valle Sky Flower Lancero | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98, Corojo ‘99
  • Size: 7 x 40
  • Strength: Medium
  • Price: $16.00

BACKGROUND:

This is the 2020 version…just released in December 2020.

From Atlantic Cigar:

“Flor Del Valle or “Flower of the Valley” is a reincarnated old Cuban brand. Using 100% Aganorsa tobacco this cigar is produced in the Casa Fernandez factory in Nicaragua. This Nicaraguan puro has a Jalapa Corojo 99’ wrapper and is bound in a dual binder and has fillers consisting of corojo 99’ and criollo 98’ tobaccos. The Sky Flower is a limited release, tweaked version of the Flor Del Valle line, in a 7×40 Lancero. Warped has introduced powerful medio tiempo tobacco into the blend, these leaves are found at the very top of the plant and only grow randomly on only about 10% of tobacco plants, making it very rare. Available in 10 count boxes this cigar is a solid medium body.”

APPEARANCE:

Long tall Sally…Between the years 1950-1951, Lanceros were the choice of every gentleman who considered himself an aficionado. It still is today…despite the gap. You look at that 40-ring gauge down the pipe of its foot and you wonder how a roller managed to roll filler, binder and a wrapper around this miniscule love pole. Not a bad looking stick but not a flawless one either. Veins are attacking like Rodan attacked Tokyo. The wrapper looks like a hapless attempt at bandaging a soldier’s leg in WWI.

There is some oiliness in room light, and it is a paper bag brown color. In katman light, the oiliness sticks out like a Grizzly bear eaten by a ferret. The stick is honey colored with hints of orange. The cigar band is so small, as most Warped bands, which makes it a real bitch to photograph with my limited abilities and using a 1924 Thornton Pickard, Junior Special Ruby Reflex, Quarter Plate SLR. It’s like a Kodak Instamatic without the lens. Don’t ask.

SMELL THE GLOVE:

Sweet notes of Gardenias, caramel, honey, molten milk chocolate, and very fruity aroma like Fruit Loops cereal. On the other end of the spectrum, my giant schnoz smells mild black pepper, earth, wind, and leather, malt, cedar, moistened toilettes from a gas station bathroom, mushroom, and limp lipids.

FIRST THIRD:

I do have coffee in the morning prior to a review. No food. But still, to clear my palate, I rinse my mouth with hydrogen peroxide. It kills all the bacteria in your mouth and palate. Swish it around for 20 seconds and spit. Don’t put water in your mouth afterwards…wait a few minutes and you have a fresh palate after eating all that BBQ. And for those that think this is unsafe, HP is used as a mouth wash. Read the bottle. Don’t swallow it. If you do, you will die a death of a thousand razors. Maybe worse. A little Russian roulette before a review recharges the brain.

Good start. A wash of spiciness, rich tobacco, and caramel and malt. With a touch of filled ashtray for dessert.

One thing I don’t like about Lanceros is that they tend to go out often. Not enough tobacco to keep a good campfire warm.

Interesting flavors emerge; although as this is a Nic puro, we should all know what to expect.

Nice musical accompaniment song: “Little Wing” played by Clapton and Winwood.

Black pepper is mild. Good. This is a crucial part of the cigar. I do not like a pepper bomb attacking me from the start. All those subtle flavors with their arms raised get washed away from the detritus of the spiciness. I can taste warm honey, cinnamon, chocolate, creaminess, malt, and warm French bread.

Complexity kicks in from the get-go. Transitions are in slow motion but gearing up for the big amateur corn cob eating contest. The finish is mild and pleasing.

The stick must be packed solid although I did not have any resistance issues, so I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool. Nothing scarier than needing to clear a 7 x 40 cigar with something sharp. Thank goodness I was on the bomb squad during the Korean War. Must be why I like kimchi with my fried liver.

I do find that many Lanceros have burn issues. This baby ain’t no different. Gotta stay on top of this because a run can go bat shit crazy on a Lancero.

An inch in and the cigar reaches for Uranus. Strength is medium. The subtle elements are doing a nice job with folding the edges of the profile. Holy shit. This is a $16 cigar!

When I get near the end of this cigar, it better expand into a sex toy and swallow me whole. I used to get sex on the street in the 1940’s for $5. I do wish I still had my penis. My kingdom for a time machine…and rubbers not made from newspaper.

Iced cinnamon roll is present and welcomed. So far, the blend is heavy on the sativa side…oops, I meant on the sweet side vs. an equal amount of savory.

This is a smooth and gradual ride. It does not stall out. Getting better all the time…yeah, yeah, yeah.

I’m 84 today. Charlotte is getting me a hooker because she is 91. I will spend the day practicing trying to find my schmekel on the first try.

The blend is mellow yellow now. Certainly, not an in-your-face kind of cigar. It had more zip at the start than it does now. Uh-oh.

Don’t get me wrong but for a $16 stick, it should be causing tampons to dance the light fantastic. Instead, it is a mildly complex nice tasting set of leaves. But it’s early. I’m sure the second half will be better. Man, here I go again…put this kind of price tag on a cigar and it better impress the hell out of me…I’m waiting.

The Southern Draw Cedrus Lancero is only $10 and the Warped blend has nothing to scream about. From the first puff, it needs to grab you by the uvula and swing it.

The complexity hits me in the face with a pie right before the second third begins. Good sign.

SECOND THIRD:

The Warped Sky Flower is much better than the first third. Flavors come out of hiding. The complexity is now bad moon rising. The finish is limp. Not much savory going on except for the flavor of the tobacco leaves. Mm-mm…earthy. Strength remains at medium. Damn. The cigar needs some real oomph to find its salvation. Because right now, there is no way I am going to recommend you spend $16 on this stick. Hell, the Casdagli Cremello Lancero is only $3 more and I gave it a 100. We are no where in that neighborhood with the Warped.

Sweet dominates: Honey, caramel, chocolate, café au lait, sweet malt, and cinnamon rolls. This is not a nicely balanced cigar. Unless this was the purpose of the blender.

First sip of water and some savory appears: charred steak, mushroom, and a vegetal component. And when I say vegetal, I don’t mean Kevin Spacey. Perv.

The balance makes its move at last. A conglomeration of long-awaited pleasant niceties. I have no idea of what went on with the tobacco or aging in designing this cigar, but it tastes like a million other decent Nic puros. It is a decent cigar. It would make a great go-to stick if the price was $10 less.

While still having an acceptable amount of complexity, the cigar is incomplete. A lot of factors go into the mix to be a great cigar. Warped left some of them out. Too bad. I had extremely high hopes for this stick. I like pretty much everything Warped turns out. Want a treat? Try the Warped Lirio Rojo.

Strength is very comfy at medium.

The blend should pop. It should be doing the Mashed Potato or The Freddie. I’d settle for the Twist.

The halfway point opens up the flood gates. Now we’re talking. I had to smoke 3-/12” to get here.

I believe I taste watermelon. Don’t know if I’ve ever tasted this in a cigar. And then it retreats to the cave with the other flavors.

Transitions are minimal. The finish is better but doesn’t give me a boner this big.

“Wild Horses” by The Stones. One of my faves. Beautiful song.

I’m harping but if this were an $8-$10 stick, I might be more generous in my praise.

Don’t argue with me. Price matters. Anyone says different to you, rub their faces with urinal cakes.

And then there is a change…the black pepper goes nuclear. A mustiness appears. Great.

Maybe if the cigar got months and months of humi time, it might improve. But you do this long enough and you can just foretell the future. Don’t need no stinkin’ shades to see that this blend is disappointing.

I’d rather write non-sensical flowery praise than report the cigar lives in the Netherworld.

Another sip of water…the black pepper explodes. Wonderful.

A good friend gave me a couple of these sticks. He’s had them since they came out in December. Plenty of humi time for the cigar to shine. Or present its intentions.

LAST THIRD:

The blend is going nowhere fast.

The flavor profile is in stasis. No real forward momentum. Heavy sigh…

If the cigar was half the price, my final rating would be higher. It’s a good $8 cigar.

This review is going to take me off Kyle Gellis’s Christmas card list. Another one bites the dust.

The stick stops improving. It seems happy to sit in the mud making mud pies.

Most of the sweetness has been usurped by the spiciness. Without all those sweet components, the cigar isn’t left with much.

The spiciness is causing my tongue to burn. Like the time I stuck my tongue…er…never mind.

I had no expectations that the last third of this blend would be a chore. I’m watching the clock.

And now for the Coup d’état…harshness and bitterness storm the Capitol. Way to go.

There is no point in going further.

If you have plenty of discretionary cash, go for it.

If you are a broke schmuck like me who must choose carefully to get the most bang out of my buck, pass on this cigar.

RATING: 75

And now for something completely different:

I know a lot of the shit I write about seems impossible or downright fabrications, but they are all true. There is a lot to be said about following your dreams when you are young; and most importantly, being in the right place at the right time. It started with me following my dream of making music my life’s work. Thank goodness a lot of luck followed. The magic is putting yourself out there, taking big chances, and be ready to deliver the goods. None of my young musician friends did what I did. I understand. I was always scared shitless making those giant leaps…but I did them anyway. I was young. I knew music and I was a damn fine bassist. Not bragging. If you are good at something, odds are you know that.

My luck ran out 10 years after I began my career at 24. By the time I was 34, I felt the hunger waning. I had pretty much done everything I had dreamed of doing to some degree or another. There wasn’t much I hadn’t done.

Even my adult friends who continue to take their music seriously and try to earn a living from it…have day gigs. I don’t know a single successful musician friend that doesn’t do something else to make sure his family is housed and fed. Some teach. Others do whatever it takes.

I feel fortunate to have always been able to play out in good bands once I went back to a straight life. It takes the pressure off from you to make enough money playing out. Club or bar bands don’t make much dough. And I refused to be in a wedding band or cruise ship band playing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” or Carpenter’s tunes.

Working for a living allows you to cherry pick the bands you want to play in. On the other hand, if you are trying to make a living doing this, you must play with just about anyone that will have you to make a dime. You say to yourself that you’re a great player so why isn’t it happening for me?

Most musicians make $50-$150 per gig depending on the type of band and the number of members. You gig out 3-4 times per week and what have you got? At best…$600 per week.
And no health insurance for your family.

Or you’re divorced because your wife doesn’t understand why you won’t grow up.

I made the decision when I was 34, using a crystal ball and Talmudic writings, to not be a burn out as I got older. The transition was very difficult. I hated my straight job. I hated commercial construction. But it paid well, and I could raise a family with middle class status. But it paid for me to be able to play out on weekends. Music isn’t about how famous you become, it is ingrained in your soul and you have no choice but to play.

I had a decade of excitement and lots of road stories over the course of my 71 years. As it turns out, the pro music life was merely a small blip in my life…Yet, I was in the thick of things doing what I loved. And making a living doing it.
All things must pass.
OK. Onward Christian Soldiers…

Back in the early 80’s, I had a lot of friends because I owned a recording studio in Long Beach, CA. One of those friends was an L.A. disk jockey on a major rock station. 50,000 watts.
His name is Marshall. He used to get me into to the cool places, private parties, and the hard to get into clubs in Hollywood.

I was always jealous of those good DJ guys that had such great pipes. What a gift. Of course, there is a reason none of them made it to TV or the movies. They had a face for radio.

We used to hang out at this one club that is long gone…don’t remember the name and was very small and off the beaten path. I met Ray Manzarek of “The Doors” there. He was very laid back and we saw him there the couple times we visited the club each week. It was a very cool hang out and seemed to attract a lot of musicians. Of course, the cool days to hang out was during the week; not the weekend. The real hipsters stayed away from the throngs. Better chance of meeting people like you.

We got friendly and I explained how I made my bones by playing bass in Curved Air. So, we talked music…we traded road stories. It had only been 4 years since I left CA and The Police were huge so my association with drummer Stewart Copeland was a big deal. And we tooted nose candy together. Right there on the table.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds used to play at this club fairly often. And this was when Jimmie Vaughan was in the band…that’s Stevie Ray’s brother for those of you who are not sure.

The club had two floors with a DJ playing music downstairs that held a lot of folks. But upstairs was the place to hang.
There couldn’t have been more than a dozen tables, a bar and no bandstand. The band played on the floor in the corner.

The FT’s were getting airplay back then and since Marshall was a big shot DJ, the boys of the band would always visit with us for a while. Bands knew that if Marshall liked them, they might get some serious airplay on a big station.

One night, Jimmie suggested I bring my bass with me next time they played there. I was in shock. Actually, what was shocking was that this band of extreme talent only filled half the room of a dozen tables. We sat maybe 6’ from the bandstand. And would kibitz with the band between songs. We turned into good natured hecklers. Sometimes, Manzarek would join us at our table and heckle too. And Vaughan would make “Doors” cracks. We drank, fed our heads, and laughed a lot.

The very next time we visited the club, I brought my 1980 Schecter fretless bass. I studied some of their songs at home so I wouldn’t make an ass of myself. I was ready.

Sure as shit, the boys asked me up to jam on their fourth set when there was basically no one left in the club. I got to play 4 songs with them and did OK. No clams. It was disconcerting having the legendary Ray Manzarek watching you play though.

After the gig, the band sat at our table, with Manzarek, and shot the shit while the roadies packed their gear. We sat there until 5am. These boys were hard drinking fellas. No way could I keep up with them. I had to do a fair amount of toot to stay conscious…which I spread around the table….in fact, everyone shared their stashes. So, we talked all over each other and laughed all night…of course, with the club closed, out came the herb. So, it was crazy nuts.

Jimmie told stories about his brother. It was about 8 years later that Stevie died. Ray told stories about The Doors that had us all rapt with wonder….
Jimmie told us how a roadie would super glue the tips of Stevie’s fingers back on during concerts. None of us could fathom that and wondered if he was pulling our leg.

The night ended and it wasn’t til that afternoon, that I was calm enough to go to bed. Marshall and I continued to visit that club, but I never took my bass back. I figured it would be presumptuous of me to bring it without being asked.

The Thunderbirds disappeared into the night playing much bigger gigs…but Ray Manzarek was always there. We eventually began to feel sorry for him. He always seemed to be sad. He took a big fall from grace from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. He got involved in the L.A. punk scene producing and managing….but a far cry from being a huge rock star.

Yeah, doing the drugs was not a good idea but when you are young, you feel immortal. Plus, if you were an adult in the early 80’s, you did coke. Unfortunately, I lost friends to that devilish drug over the years who didn’t know when to stop. You can’t do that shit when you are in your 50’s. You die.

But I was smart about it. In 1984, I met the love of my life while on tour, married her, and gave up full time music and all the drugs that went with the lifestyle. Went back to work making a decent buck and lived happily ever after.



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

12 replies

  1. Happy birthday Katman! It’s frustrating reading or watching cigar reviewers glow about a blend without adding in pricing. I don’t get how price isn’t a factor in many reviews. If a $20 cigar doesn’t taste as good as a $5 new world then it needs to be mentioned. Cigar prices are ridiculous nowadays and I’ve blown a lot of money on cigars that were absolutely not worth it.

    • Thank you, Zach…
      I’m not sure why price is so taboo in most reviews. I do not believe there is anyone close to my age writing reviews online. Most seem half my age. But I do understand that these guys and gals are looking towards the future of their hobby or careers. Relationships are important. At my age, I don’t give a shit about making some manufacturer happy with me. They’ve tried by the dozens to get rid of me. Like a cockroach, I’m still here regardless of their efforts.
      Figuring in price as to whether to recommend a cigar should be standard procedure.
      I have only so many years left doing this. After me, then what? Who will be the next gonzo reviewer?
      Many have tried and only disappointed themselves and their readers. I see a shift in reviews over the last couple years…some reviewers mimic me. Not as well as I mimic myself, but they tried and gave up.
      Years may not affect my cigar palate…but years may certainly dull my ability to write and entertain.
      But if I need to stop for some health reason or anything else, I won’t care. I will be pleased with myself that I spent 11+ years as a disrupter. The cigar industry will certainly rejoice in me hanging out a sign Closed for Business.
      Time for my Fleet Enema.
      Phil

      • I think being a cigar reviewer can in some ways be similar to the job of a food critic….a positive review from the right critic can be huge for a young chef and similarly a poor review can certainly hurt. It creates a true love/hate relationship. The power to lift up or trample another person’s work can be a weighty thing and so I get it that some cigar reviewers choose the “if you have nothing nice to say than say nothing” approach. Also…palates are very subjective so one person may experience the same cigar very differently than another and I myself am often willing to give a cigar a shot even when my favorite reviewer was less than impressed. At the end of the day if I try to put myself in the shoes of the cigars creator all that I can really ask from a reviewer is honesty. Any true craftsman welcomes the reviews of his peers and will take criticism in stride. A fragile ego is the first sign of a weak spirit and in any industry weak will eventually be trampled.

        • When I toured in my 20’s, first thing the band did at the hotel restaurant in the morning after a concert…was read the local city newspaper to see what the music critic said about Curved Air. Some of it was flattering. Some was fair with criticism. And there are the ones that say the band should be held to account with a new Nuremberg Trial. Wow. I laughed at all the really grabbing our balls and squeezing them reviews. Didn’t matter. We had sold out crowds. We were on tour. If a critic was funny and accurate, I liked that city. And still have the reviews now hold up in boxes.
          While Sonja, on the other hand, took the bad ones like a sledge hammer to the vagina. She went out of her mind and then did an extra pick me up shot of methadone. And then she would try to kill herself…sort of. Lots of self pity. And hatred for a reviewer.

          Get where this is going?
          A blender or owner that is a regular guy gets the bad review. It doesn’t have impact on him. Not really. And if has a good sense of humor, he might be pointing at this review to his friends. It’s all perspective.
          Smart guys get it. Dumb asses don’t. Pick your side, blenders. I work with both types.
          Phil
          P.S
          Now if a bunch of professional music critics slammed your band or your cigar blend…that might be a good measuring stick to tell you that you fucked up.

  2. To smoking aces.. I totally get what you are saying and I agree fully with you. My metaphor is going to a 5 star Mexican restaurant and getting tacos, I order 3 steak tacos and the price listed on the menu is $25… I get them and they are good but nothing mind blowing. I then go to a taco truck the next day and order 3 steak tacos and they’re the best tacos I’ve ever had and the price is $6. I’m gonna be pretty upset that a 5 star restaurant couldn’t make their food any better then a truck parked outside for 4x cheaper. Sure you can include the ambiance and the experience of going to a high end place but was it really worth it? I’m paying the money and have certain expectations. Palates are different 100% but as a whole I think everything together is what makes a product great. Pricing is deff a factor and I wish more reviewers considered it

  3. Phil,

    Enjoyable review as always. I just picked up 5 pack of the sticks, and plan to put them away naked in my humidor for 6 months. I found last year’s version was okay when I initially purchased them, but after sitting for 6 months they just seemed to come together, at least for me. As always, thank you for your honest and detailed reviews. You have really helped me to deepen in my appreciation of a good cigar, and develop my palate.

    • Hi Jim,
      As Curly would have said, “Ahhh…you’re a rich guy…nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
      If you can remember in 6 months, when you light one up, please come back and comment here again. Tell the truth even if you completely disagree with me. I don’t mind that at all. It is those who call me names telling I don’t know what I’m talking about comments that I don’t like, or publish.
      Luckily, they are fewer and fewer every year.
      I’m happy I can help you. It was never my mandate to sway people one way or the other but it morphed into that eventually.
      I hope you and your family are well and covid free.
      Thank you for the kind words,
      Phil

  4. Phil, warm wishes for many happy returns of your birthday. After many years (not that many…) of reading and texting, NH to WI, I look forward with pleasure to the next missive.

    You and Charlotte stay well!

    JohnB

    • Thank you, John…
      Birthdays seem to have lost their meaning. Once you make it into your 70’s, well…who cares? Right?
      I plan on seeing a hypnotist to convince me I’m only 68.
      You and yours be safe and well also,
      Phil

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