These days everyone wants to be in the boutique game. You’ve got entrepreneurial food and drink connoisseurs opening up tiny cupcake shops, quirky burger joints, and microbreweries, and having a good deal of success at it. The big players in these respective markets have noticed and are updating their offerings accordingly in an attempt to cash in on the trend, leading to things “gourmet” coffees at fast food joints and craft beer-style offerings from the big beer houses.
A similar thing is happening in the cigar business. The incredible popularity and growing sales of small manufacturers like Illusione and Tatuaje has attracted the attention of the big guys. One such tobacco titan, Altadis, has offered its answer to the quirky world of boutique cigars in the form of a new stick called Warlock.
If you’ve seen the ads for Warlock in recent cigar magazines, you’ll probably have no problem remembering the spooky looking guy with a five o’clock shadow and a supernatural glint in his eye. If you haven’t, have no fear, here’s the discription that accompanies eye-catching advertisement:
“Bewitching” is an apt description for this exotic, fuller-bodied cigar.
Warlock is handcrafted in Nicaragua by renowned cigar maker Omar Ortez, who works his magic on many of that nation’s finest smokes. The new cigar’s big, bold taste comes from a specially selected Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and sumptuous blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.
Connoisseurs of robust, rustic smokes will be left spellbound by Warlock’s powerfully intoxicating flavor.
Unlike some of the new, legitimately boutique cigars we review, you shouldn’t have a problem finding this one. It’s available almost anywhere you can buy an Altadis product. It comes 20 to a box, in five frightfully ordinary-sounding sizes, Churchill (7 x 54), Toro (6 x 54), Belicoso (6 x 54), Robusto (4 3/4 x 54) and Corona (5 1/2 x 44).
So will the Warlock put a hair-raising hex on me, or will it prove to merely the sparkly hocus-pocus of an imaginative marketing department? Let’s find out.
Size: 4 3/4 x 54
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Cubano
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hours
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $6.25
The Warlock is not at all scary to look at, with it’s oily milk chocolate colored wrapper and the occasional medium to fine veins creeping around its length. Aside from a sloppily applied triple cap on one stick, they were without blemish. I couldn’t help thinking there is something familiar about this strange new stick, adn then it hit me. There’s no denying a similarity in appearance to the late Nosotros.
The sticks were rock hard, consistent, and felt as oily as they looked. The wrapper had the usual pungent, earthy compost aroma. The cold draw tasted like cocoa with a little raisin sweetness, and was a little snug.
With the unfortunate exception of the stick I selected randomly for the Tower of Burn, the Warlock burned slowly and beautifully. (And even that one looked pretty good, despite the cracked ash.) Long, solid, light ashes and an even burn was the experience almost every time. The only thing keeping me from calling it perfect was a consistently snug draw. A little too much resistance for my preferences, but completely smokeable.
There seemed to be a little slight of hand happening in the flavor department. By that I mean, I got dramatically different results from several of the half dozen Warlocks I burned at the stake. What follows is the profile I encountered most often. (The others were considerably sweeter throughout, but less complex.)
The Warlock starts its show with a roasted nut flavor with a savory, mineral tingle. Sweetness and grassy flavors were appeared before very long. By the end of the third, each puff was an interesting concoction of chocolate, grass and roasted nuts.
Around the beginning middle third, a creamy nougat flavor appeared, and would fade and be summoned back frequently in this section. A little later I noted the tell tale signs of the infamous Nicaraguan zing and a little butterscotch. The chocolate, grass and roasted nut mixture from before continued.
The roasted nuts that had been a part of profile since the beginning dropped off in the final third and the chocolate turned earthy. A cedar presence also made itself itself known.
The price is a crowd-pleaser. Clearly the spell this cigar casts isn’t one of poverty.
Even with the unpredictability of the flavor profile from stick to stick, I enjoyed the Warlock enough to buy it again in the future. When it was off, it was like lighter-bodied candy, when it was on, it was richer, fuller and anything but boring. And if you’re going to have an off stick or two, that’s not a bad way to do it. (Unless you don’t like candy, and then there’s just no helping you.) This experience a great illustration of why I never work my weekly magic on just one stick.
It’s well priced, it burns nicely, and it’s tasty. If you’ve been holding off on trying it because the advertising seems a little silly, don’t. It’s a good smoke, and it’s worth picking up.
Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.