Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, this past weekend wasn’t conducive to the shooting sports in Austin. I’d planned to review the SIG SAUER 1911 Super Target I received last week. Alas, it remains unfired in my safe. Instead, I took the opportunity to do some indoors product testing, specifically cracking open the sampler package of cigars from Warfighter Tobacco.
With the explosion in gun ownership over the last decade a number of companies have been trying to market tangentially related products to that growing population. One notable success: the Black Rifle Coffee Company. To make their caffeinated product stand out, the market their product straight to the “gun culture.”
Ditto the folks at Warfighter Tobacco. They’re using the trappings of the military to make their cigars stand out, marketing effectively to both veterans and gun owners.
U.S. military veterans founded the company; Owner Chris served two tours in Iraq with the National Guard. Some variants of their cigars include donations to organizations supporting the military and law enforcement.
The band features a drawing of a bearded “operator,” complete with NVG capable helmet smoking a cigar. The “garrison” version sports a more elaborate cut and design with a gold background and black lettering, the word “GARRISON” prominently at the top. The “field” version is still a nifty design but definitely much more subdued with desert tan and dark brown colors.
There’s another wrapper near the foot of the cigar with “.50 Cal” branding. This is a pretty popular affectation, but I’m not a fan. It’s one more thing to remove and one more way the wrapper could be torn and damaged.
Their branding is slick. But are their cigars any good?
Warfighter Tobacco offers three styles of cigars (“5.56,” “7.62,” and “.50 Cal”) in two different versions (“Field” and “Garrison”), which can be a little confusing. There’s no clear description on the website about the difference between Field and Garrison grade cigars, for example. A chart showing the differences between all their various offerings would definitely be appreciated.
The sample pack offers one cigar of each style, optionally packaged in a reusable cedar box with an engraved Plexiglas sliding cover.
I’d ordered the “field” grade sampler pack but apparently they had run out of those cigars, so “garrison” grade cigars were substituted instead. They were also out of the advertised torpedo size .50 Cal cigar. So a larger and rounded cap Churchill size stick arrived in my mailbox instead. That’s where we will start.
I’m usually more of a fan of the robusto form factor in cigars, possibly extending to a corona if I’m feeling like a longer smoke. Those sizes top out at 5 1/2 inches. The Churchill we have here is a full seven inches in length. That will make for a longer smoke, but for those of us who designed their humidor layout around the smaller varieties it makes for a bit of a headache.
Anyway, the rounded cap design is something I prefer to the tapered torpedo design so I’m happy to see that instead of the promised torpedo.
The wrapper in this garrison version of the .50 Cal is a Dominican Maduro. That mature “Maduro” style wrapper gives the cigar its darker color and typically a richer flavor as well.
Before lighting the cigar smells mainly of leather, a typical smell associated with the Maduro wrappers. Inside that wrapper is a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-filler tobacco filler bound with a Dominican binder, a combination that should make for a medium to full bodied cigar.
Cigars from Warfighter Tobacco are not shipped with a Boveda humidifier packet by default (that’s a $1 add-on item) so they arrived at my doorstep a little on the dry side. For those ordering online, take note and pay the extra buck.
Even so slicing through the cap with my double guillotine cutter was clean and easy, resulting in no stray strands of wrapper or unfurling of the cap. Once snipped the cigar draws well, slightly on the “loose” side probably due to the lack of humidification on its trip from the factory. The pre-light taste of this cigar was somewhat surprising: oatmeal. That’s a new one for me.
While you’d expect a cigar with a name like “.50 Cal” to be hard hitting from the start, like The Boss’ favorite Liga Privada T52. In reality the first third of the cigar starts surprisingly mild and smooth.
My immediate comparison: the Padron 1964 Maduro line of cigars in terms of flavor profile for this stick. Which is great, because that’s my current go-to cigar (whenever Robert is paying). Initially the cigar has tones of chocolate. As the first third melts away that filler starts kicking in and adding some spice into the mix, possibly nutmeg.
For those who believe that a good cigar is one where the ash doesn’t fall off until there’s four inches hanging fire, this isn’t your cigar. Every time I placed the cigar down in the tray any ash that may have collected fell straight off. I’d advise ashing early and often to avoid getting any on your pants or clothes.
As the cigar progresses so does the taste, just like you’d expect from a good cigar. That initial light flavor gets progressively thicker and heavier. The second third of the cigar takes on a much richer taste, more like coffee than chocolate and with a definite spiciness that wasn’t present when I first lit the foot.
As the cigar dwindles down that flavor changes again, moving to an oak-y darker taste with less of the spice that was present in the middle third. It’s an enjoyable progression to experience over the roughly hour and a half of smoking time.
I was genuinely surprised by this cigar. Having had my fair share of crappy cigars that used gimmicky marketing to make their name I was fully prepared to have the same experience with Warfighter Tobacco. What I found instead was a delicious cigar, competently designed and well manufactured that provided me with a fine companion on a rainy afternoon.
The only complaint I have is about the length. A Churchill is something you almost need to plan your day around. If they made a run of these in something closer to a robusto size I’d be getting a full box and making them a staple in my humidor, but as-is they are still definitely worth picking up a stick or two.
Brand: Warfighter Tobacco
Product: .50 Cal Garrison
Wrapper: Dominican Maduro
Filler: Blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican long-filler tobacco
Price: $9.99 each / $149 for 25 (on website)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Visual Appeal * * * *
The branding is good, but I’m not a fan of the second band around the foot. Then again that could just be me being a crotchety old man. I’d also appreciate if the website had the differences between the various cigars more plainly spelled out.
Taste * * * * *
Delicious and complex, the subtle changes over the course of the cigar are definitely appreciated.
Overall * * * *
It’s a damn fine cigar at a damn reasonable price. Make them a little smaller and you’ve got a customer for life. I’d also love to see a small donation from each cigar sale to the NRA or another pro-2A or pro-military organization.