As long-time readers of halfwheel are likely aware, April Fool’s Day affords us the chance to do serious reviews of not-so-serious products. In years past, it’s been the My Father Baseball Bat, the My Father Pipe, a fake Cohiba Diplomatic Siglo VI, the Naughty Goose and the Butane Gas Gold Man Jet Torch (NSFW) lighter. In keeping with that tradition, this year we review a limited production item from the Leaf by Oscar brand, The Woody by Oscar.
The Woody started making appearances in the early summer of 2015, and in particular, at the West Pennsylvania Cigar Crawl and then the Southern Cigar Festival in Alpharetta, Ga. The first sightings of it were made without molds, which resulted in a cigar that had various ring gauges that ranged from 80 to 100, though all were 21 inches in length. While there have been some reports that it was based on the Leaf by Oscar Maduro blend, Oscar Valladares told halfwheel that the cigar is and has always been the same Honduran puro blend that is used for the Leaf by Oscar Corojo.
The new version, now made with molds, which still measures 21 inches in length but is more around a 90 ring gauge, got its big stage debut at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in New Orleans, where it dwarfed the company’s other big ring gauge release, the 8 x 66 Big Johnny. From what I’ve been told, the ring gauge does fluctuate a bit, so reports of it being anywhere between 80 and 100 are indeed accurate, and depending on when yours was made, it could fall anywhere in that range.
First and foremost, The Woody by Oscar is a very smokable cigar and is based off the Leaf by Oscar Corojo blend. However, this cigar has to increase the proportions and uses a total of four wrapper leaves, four binder leaves and a substantial amount of filler. While it was designed to be mainly a promotional item that would be featured at Leaf by Oscar events, a number of retailers did pick up the cigar for sale. Each cigar comes packaged in a protective slide-lid coffin and an MSRP of $50, before taxes.
- Cigar Reviewed: The Woody by Oscar
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
- Wrapper: Honduras
- Binder: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras
- Length: 21 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 80
- Vitola: Woody
- MSRP: $50 (Coffins of 1, $50)
- Release Date: June 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
Obvious comments aside, The Woody by Oscar is an impressive cigar: it’s an incredibly well rolled cylinder, as given its massive size there are only a few spots where the roll isn’t perfectly smooth, and it’s not immediately obvious where one wrapper leaf starts and the next begins as the colors match up well and the seams are clean and flat. I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t weigh more, checking in at 3.8 ounces, though its length spreads that out quite a bit. It does make me a slight bit concerned about possible bowing of the cigar once I get smoking it, as I have a feeling it will be a two-handed operation more times than not. There are a few soft spots on the cigar, not to the point of being underfilled, but a few squeezes show a bit of sponginess at points. The silver-dollar sized cap is cut and applied about as well as one could ask for on any premium cigar, let alone on a cigar of this size where it would seem that a small cookie cutter would be more appropriate than the tools about the size of a lipstick tube commonly found on rolling tables. From the foot I get an aroma that leads with bright fruit and a bit of dairy, sort of like strawberry yogurt. White pepper follows quickly behind that, almost masked until it reveals itself with a significant tingle in the nostrils. There’s also a bit of toffee and ginger snap cookie in the mix, with a bit of damp lumber as well. Somewhat surprisingly, my XIKAR MTX scissors manage to be just big enough to cut the cap off cleanly. Air moves decently on the cold draw, not overly loose and not particularly tight, feeling light I’m not generating enough air flow to really gauge the cigar. It’s not the most flavorful cold draw I’ve ever experienced, showing a bit of cold coffee and generic tobacco notes.
The first few puffs of The Woody by Oscar are as you might imagine them, awkward. After I’m able to get just enough of a seal on the head of the cigar to maximize airflow, it takes a good bit of work to get any of the smoke from the foot to my mouth. While there’s a good amount coming from the far end, little is making it to me, at least without a few really labored puffs, ones unlike I’ve ever taken on a cigar. What does make it to me is fairly bland to start and appears to be a much different color from what’s coming off the foot; the latter is a bright gray while the former is dull and almost liver colored, showing hardly any visual vibrancy. The first clump of ash comes crashing down at about two inches and 23 minutes into the cigar, and as would happen, missed the ashtray. Fortunately, it landed on a table and was easy to scoop into the bowl, as I’m interested to see just what The Woody will look like in ash form. With the first bit of ash gone, air flow seems to improve a bit, and while I’m not getting tons of smoke, I am beginning to get a bit more flavor. Dry tobacco is still very present, but it is evolving with more wood, nuts, leather and a bit of table pepper into a fairly dry but enjoyable profile. I’m surprised there isn’t more smoke coming off the foot of The Woody as it rests almost comically on my four-stirrup Stinky ashtray, several inches extending on either side like a person too tall for their bed. The nuttiness has begun to fade out of the equation, replaced by a bit of cereal grain and just a touch of sourness, the former of the two further drying out the profile and my mouth. Retrohales are still fairly mild and just a bit peppery with a creaminess and chalkiness that tug at the olfactories for attention. The second clump of ash breaks off even quicker than the first did, though thankfully it landed in the ashtray after I spotted a fairly significant crack developing and didn’t want to chance it landing on me, while the third was even smaller and fell to the ground. In the process of examining this ash issue, the aroma of The Woody really caught my attention, as it is much more developed than what ends up in the nose via retrohales While the profiles are similar, there’s a bit more creaminess in the smoke from the foot, and the overall profile is much cleaner and more vibrant. As the cigar continues to burn, the flavor slowly but steadily gets better and more in line with what I would expect from a cigar in a traditional vitola. After about five inches and 75 minutes, notes of dry pretzel come along to slightly shift the profile. It’s still fairly dry and medium-minus as far as intensity, but there is definitely flavor to be had. A bit of pepper begins to emerge in the transition to the second third, and with each puff, the cigar performs and tastes more like a traditional vitola.
With about 14 inches left in The Woody, the second third has more or less commenced; there’s not a distinct turning point for the cigar, so a tape measure helps set the boundaries for where these paragraphs will break. Puffs still need a bit of a ramp up to get the smoke flowing freely to the mouth and nose but it does eventually happen. The flavor remains very consistent from the first third; I hate to call it boring but it isn’t doing much to capture my attention at this point, relying on a bit of pepper, warm nuts, leather and wood in fairly equal amounts. With about 13 inches left in the cigar, the smoke production suddenly diminishes to nearly a wisp other than when I really try and get it going again, while the draw also feels like it has tightened up significantly. The one positive is that the ash mounts to a fairly sizable length of nearly two inches, almost as long as the first clump, but once that falls off, I notice the cigar’s first technical issue, some serious tunneling right at its core, creating a literal black hole in the roll. I knock off as much of the stray ash as possible and give the foot a relight with a triple torch lighter and the immediate results seem to be good; smoke production is back to normal and I’m getting a much better draw from the cigar. There’s a slight shift in flavor as the smoke returns to decent volume, with the pepper becoming just a touch more prominent through the midpoint. However, it’s also at that point where the burn line begins to go really awry, hitting a spot in the wrapper that it just can’t burn through, resulting in one side shoveling and another touchup to try and even things out. For a cigar that had been burning fairly well through the first half, the second half is not off to the most stellar of beginnings, as I can see paths that have been carved by the burn line as the ash begins to build, showing just how unevenly the cigar has been burning at times. With the cigar down to nine inches left, it is beginning to taste and perform even more like something you’d find on a retail shelf, and given the rise of the 8 x 80 cigar, it’s actually not that far off. The flavor is definitely refining itself, and the white pepper in the nose is as clean and bright as any more typical ring gauge would be expected to deliver. I’m surprised by how cool the smoke has become recently, almost having a bit of a mint toothpaste feel, though I have to admit that having smoked a foot of this already, my taste buds could certainly be off their normal game. Another sizable clump of ash begins to mount as the cigar heads into its final third, which—mind you—is still seven inches of 80 ring gauge tobacco.
It’s taken The Woody by Oscar a good 14 inches or so to really open up, but with the final third finally here I’m getting a fairly enjoyable flavor profile that while still on the dry side for my liking, is showing a good mix of peanut, white toast and a bit of pepper, with a bit of campfire in the aroma that suddenly develops a note of warm peach. There are a few moments where the cigar turns a bit sour and leaves a lingering sensation on the palate, but it quickly relents and gets back to the warm, somewhat muted flavors if had been offering just prior. The ash is still holding fairly well, building over an inch before finally letting go with a solid thud in the metal ashtray. The flavor stays fairly linear, mixing in a bit more chalk and mineral notes at times than it has in the past, while the burn issues that appeared to be behind the cigar have reemerged. There’s still a bit of shoveling going on, as it looks like the cherry keeps gravitating to one side of the cigar. After about six hours of smoking and with just under four inches left to burn, I can thankfully say that the cigar is finally starting to show its true flavor and one that reminds me of the Leaf by Oscar Crojo blend. The pepper continues to develop and get better and better, particularly through the nose where it is crisp and fairly powerful, while a note of warm almonds with just a bit of char marks the cigar’s resting aroma. A soil-heavy earth note has also begun to emerge, and while it carries a bit of after-puff sourness, it gives the cigar a gravitas that was sorely needed through the first 17 inches. There’s also a bit of chalk that unfolds on the palate several seconds after the most recent puff was taken, all part of a lingering effect that the copious amount of smoke has left in its wake. The draw has found a sweet spot as well, with the cigar drawing as would be expected with its shorter length. I’m also beginning to feel some true nicotine kick, something I had been waiting for since the midway point, and has me wondering if I’ll be able to completely finish The Woody. As I begin to see the proverbial finish line on the horizon, it seems like I’m getting further away from the better flavors that the cigar had to offer, as the heat starts turning things a bit bitter and the pepper starts an unraveling of the balance that the cigar had shown. Thankfully, there is no need to puff on the cigar so drastically as I had at the start, and much like I do with a lancero, find myself purposefully slowing way down to keep the center from getting too hot and adversely affecting the flavor. With the slower pace, the harshness departs and clears the way for pepper and earth to return, not quite at the same intensity as it had earlier, but in an amount that makes bringing The Woody to a close a very palatable experience.
- At 21 inches, this cigar will not fit in most desktop humidors.
- The cigar for this review was smoked on Feb. 17, 2016; this was due to finding a day open enough to properly smoke and enjoy this cigar. As you might know, I also work in pro baseball, so March is pretty hectic for me with spring training, and finding the hours necessary for this would be nearly impossible.
- The Woody requires a bit of mental prep to smoke it properly; or at least it did for me. I had to find a day where I had no real plans and could clear off the schedule, plus I didn’t want to light it with any pressing issues to attend to. That resulted in a few false starts and a delayed start time; I was planning on starting about 10 a.m.; in reality it was closer to 1:30 p.m.
- As you might imagine, the molds for this cigar are quite sizable:
- I will say that when it comes to cigars that are bigger than normal, I’ve always leaned towards length over girth. For me, a longer cigar provides more opportunities for a blender and roller to sprinkle in changes in the cigar.
- Speaking of girthy cigars, Brooks Whittington reviewed the CroMagnon Femur by RoMa Craft Tobac, a 10 x 133 1/3 vitola cigar. Incidentally, it too has an MSRP of $50.
- Given the change in production and roll out of the cigar, your ring gauge might vary from what mine was, which I pegged at close to an 80.
- I also had a vision that I would wake up, head out to my balcony and start smoking this, see people on their way to work, and then see them coming home while still smoking the cigar. There’d be a friendly wave and a look of confusion on their face, but that didn’t come to fruition.
- I was torn with whether to use my cigar scissors or a series of punch cuts to remove the cap; thankfully the scissors were just big enough to do the job and cut a very clean opening. I was also considering using a knife of some sort, though didn’t have one I felt comfortable enough with for this application.
- As part of my preparation, I wanted to make sure I’d have the proper lens to photograph this cigar, which I did, but I wasn’t able to take into account just how that first photo would look with all the background in it.
- I do wonder if the increased rate of puffing I had to achieve early on adversely affected the structural integrity of the ash. I was expecting that first clump to last more than two inches, though I fear I may have gotten the core so hot that it burned the leaves too thoroughly. Needless to say, I was disappointed that it kept breaking off so quickly.
- There’s also quite a bit of science happening with this cigar as far as how its size affects the burn and the flavors I’m getting directly versus what I pick up in the aroma.
- To its credit, The Woody never went out. It needed a few touch-ups to straighten out the burn, but not once did I need to give it a full on relight.
- I reviewed the Leaf by Oscar Maduro in the lancero vitola in Dec. 2015.
- A lot of things went through my mind as I smoked this cigar, such as there’s no way I’d be able to smoke this in the car.
- Final smoking time was almost right at seven hours.
- The cigar for this review was provided by Jim Robinson, owner of the Leaf by Oscar brand.
- Site sponsor Cigar Hustler currently has The Woody by Oscar in stock. STOGIES World Class Cigars is a Leaf by Oscar account, but doesn’t list The Woody for Oscar for sale currently.
I’ve never been one for novelty cigars; while I do have a My Father Baseball Bat, it’s not on display, and I’m not even sure I could tell you where it is. As such, it’s a bit hard for me to tell you to run out and grab one The Woody by Oscar other than to say you’ve done it, but to say that the cigar is without its bright spots would be unfair. The first 14 inches or so are fairly uneventful, and given the significant amount of airflow you have to generate to get smoke to your mouth, plus the burn issues in the second third, it may seem like too much of a mountain to climb to make the final third worth it, but that is exactly where the cigar shines. Fans of the Leaf by Oscar Corojo blend will immediately recognize the flavors, rich in earth and pepper with a decent amount of nicotine for a full sensory effect. The big ring gauge does require a bit more conscientious smoking, as the sizable core of heat can get very hot, very quickly and as such adversely affect the flavor, but with a bit of self-discipline and the willingness to overlook the 80+ ring gauge, can offer a pretty decent smoking experience.