When The Michael was released, it just didn’t seem like Halloween, much less fall. By the time I got ahold of my box, it was starting to feel sorta fall-ish in Atlanta, but not all that spooky. I didn’t let that deter me from lighting a few of the latest Monster Series up that week. When I started working on this review about a month later, the time seemed right. We had a few cooler days, and even a healthy dose of fog. And in the days it has taken me to finish the review, we blew right through spooky fall nights and on into winter wonderland, complete with a dusting snow. Our fall lasted about two days. The Jack O’ Lanterns didn’t wither away on the front porch, they froze solid and grew a snow beard. No matter, the review will proceed as though I didn’t miss the brief Halloween-y window.
I won’t bog this review down with a history of the Monster Series, but I will take a moment to make sure we’re all properly acquainted with The Michael. As you can see from the picture of the box, whoever this Michael character is, he must enjoy cutlery. Probably to a degree that most would find unhealthy. And while we’ve learned in recent news that Mario Batali could be considered a monster (I find him a little terrifying), the Michael in question is no chef. We are of course talking about the Michael Myers from the Halloween slasher movies. Wikipedia tells us that John Carpenter described him as “an evil force that’s loose,” and “unkillable”. That’s a big scary mask and jumpsuit for this cigar to try to fill. Is a cigar with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and an all Nicaraguan interior up to the task? Let’s find out if The Michael really will hunt down and kill each of my tastebuds with flavor, or if the murder is just limited to my back pocket.
Size: 6 1/8 x 52
Source: My Father Cigars S..A., Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Price: MSRP $13.00
The Pre Light
Up close, The Michael is toothy, oily and has a little mottling, but it doesn’t look as rustic to me as have some of the Monsters of years gone by. Also worthy of pointing out is that the band is actually a deep navy blue, though in most lighting my eyes register it as black. (It’s easier to see in the pictures than in person, for some reason.) The cigars felt pretty consistent, but at least one was a little softer than the others. The veins were numerous but typically fine. I also noticed what looked like a pretty thick stem in the foot of one of the cigars. I didn’t test the cold draw in every case, but the one I did tasted like dried fruit, leather and earth.
The First Third
The first puffs of the cigar produced flavors similar to the cold draw, sweet and tart dried fruit, leather, earth and coffee. It wasn’t long at all before notes of vanilla, gingerbread and clove made appearances, with pepper often bringing up the rear in the finish. The smoke richly coated my palate and the flavors lingered. Aside from a little unevenness in the burn line, The Michael was off to good start.
The Second Third
In the second third The Michael steers into a more chocolaty, oaky and peppery profile. The sweetness and (to lesser extent) the spice character of the first third were still present, but played a smaller role. The chocolate part of the profile grew really rich as it burned and headed into mocha territory. Notes of vanilla, cinnamon, graham cracker and cedar also made appearances. It was a little difficult to nail this third down, as each puff seemed of offer some interesting development in flavor. As with the preceding third there are no burn issues to note, other than a little ugliness with the ash itself.
The Final Third
The Michael concludes with a with a profile of earth, oak, coffee, caramel, cinnamon, burnt sugar and pepper. Even though the cigar was coming to a conclusion, the flavors continued to develop, keeping my interest right up until the end. There was never an issue with draw, but the burn line was more likely here to run into minor problems that generally corrected with time.
What I didn’t say in the introductory blabber at the top of this review is that The Michael was good right off the truck, but is showing noteworthy improvement in the short time since then. The snow and fog I mentioned meant days with really high humidities. I kept an eye on that, skipped the worst days, and prepared to make allowances for burn issues. But I don’t have to, The Michael burned well in nearly every case. (As luck would have it, the cigar photographed for this review was the least behaved of the bunch, but still acceptable. It was also the one that was a little softer than the others.) I enjoyed this cigar immensely and am happy with my box purchase. I’d do it again, this may well be my favorite Monster. Should you have the opportunity pick up your own box (which might be tough at this point), or just a few singles, I would encourage you to do so.