Since the company’s concerted regroup/relaunch in 2014, Warped Cigars has always been extraordinarily calculated in their branding and release strategies. Where other boutique-minded companies of similar sizes have been known to introduce one to two new offerings each year, often featuring wrapper changes as the primary draw (Connecticut/maduro variation, etc.), Warped will most often debut completely new brands with a low number of size options each year. Conversely, where said companies may introduce limited-edition projects with concepts designed from the ground up, Warped has been known to release limiteds based on simple tweaks to their core-line cigars (e.g. Black Honey, Sky Flower, and Maestro del Tiempo 6102R). Adding to the intrigue, these projects are oftentimes much more limited than Warped’s fan appeal may suggest, sometimes consisting of only 100 boxes.
Warped Moon Garden is one such cigar, tweaking the company’s Flor del Valle line to become one of the most sought-after limited-edition cigars of 2018. Earlier this year, Cigar Dojo wrote regarding the cigar:
Warped Moon Garden [is] a special release that was announced in the spring of 2018, going on to become one of the most anticipated limited edition releases of the year. The cigars are based on one of the brand’s earliest releases—Flor del Valle (translating to mean “Flower of the Valley”)—continuing the floral theme with a similar design and a clever twist on the cigar’s name. This is in reference to the unworldly flavors offered by the cigar’s most unique ingredient—medio tiempo, with a small amount of the rare tobacco being used in the cigar’s filler. This leaf is more dense and potent than the standard corona leaves that are the uppermost leaves on typical tobacco plants. But a small percentage of plants grow the extra medio tiempo leaf above this priming, serving as an extra boost to the Moon Garden blend. And while Warped has featured cigars with this leaf before, the Moon Garden marks the first time it has been used on a lancero-sized cigar (also being Warped’s first true lancero of any blend, for that matter).
Warped Moon Garden Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Factory: TABSA (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited Edition (650 boxes of 10 cigars)
- Vitola: 7″ × 40 (Lancero)
- Price: $15.00 (MSRP)
Currently, the majority of Warped’s cigars come out of the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa, S.A. (TABSA) factory in Estelí. Moon Garden is no exception, sharing the common trait with nearly all of the aforementioned cigars through the use of a Nicaraguan puro blend, finalized in a Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper—a signature style of the Fernández family, who owns the farms and factory where Warped cigars are made.
The key differentiators with Moon Garden are the cigar’s shape and filler blend; the former being a lancero (known as one of the most sought-after sizes for enthusiasts) and the latter incorporating medio tiempo tobacco. Being the thickest tobacco priming, medio tiempo is known for its potency—a leaf not commonly seen in lancero sizes due to its density.
No surprises here; apart from the cigar’s incorporation of medio tiempo and its lancero size, it’s clear that the look was a large factor in the cigar’s fanfare. The cigar’s band has been recycled on more than one occasion, now outfitted in an unorthodox color scheme of teal, magenta, black, and cream. I can’t help but appreciate atypical color palettes of this nature (which seem to be growing in recent years), easily standing out against the conventional shades of brown we’re all so accustomed to. The cigars are packaged in slide-lid boxes of 10, having undersized artwork on both the front and backsides; the look is abstract and feels heavily influenced from brand-owner Kyle Gellis’ affinity for wine culture. The appearance is fantastic overall, but the cigar’s bands seem to outshine the packaging to a fair degree—perhaps that’s the intention.
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The cigars are triple-capped with a somewhat flat, Cubanesque head, with visible, well-placed seams from head to toe. The wrapper is classic leather-brown in appearance, with undertones of maroon. There are an assortment of veins throughout, some minor color variations, and the leaf is smooth to the touch. A near-firm bunch gives the cigar a sturdy feel, with a surprisingly straight/consistent appearance, considering the cigar’s slender shape.
On the nose, there are aromas of leather, musk, and cinnamon across the wrapper. The foot is simply cedar wood and light cinnamon—a faint experience compared to the wrapper leaf. With a cut, the draw feels around medium/firm, showing light notes of paper, clove, and wild brush.
Considering the rare, high-priming tobacco in the cigar’s filler, I would expect to find a fiery blast upon the cigar’s ignition; this proves true, bursting onto the palate with loads of spices in the retrohale and raw peppercorns on the tongue. Sharp spice quickly evolves to a more mature white pepper quality, which is joined by dark berries and a touch of espresso on the finish. But the hot sensation in the nostrils hasn’t quite finished, springing back to life with a horseradish-like zing!
The flavors are concentrated, delivered onto the palate in medium bursts of smoke through a slightly firm draw. At this point, the smoke texture is on the dry side, hitting the palate primarily on the bitter receptors, followed by sweetness and saltiness. The construction seems to be on point, building countable stacks of ash in the range of one to two inches in length. Overall though, the cigar isn’t nearly as full as expected, ranking around medium in flavor, and medium-light in strength and body.
Most of the cigar’s flavor progressions come between the first and second thirds, introducing a brown-sugar-and-hickory concoction, as well as sweet cream cheese on the finish. There is an overriding theme that carries through the changes though: corn whiskey. This is very sweet and grainy, giving an alcohol-like burn through the nostrils. Punchy black coffee is noticeable, as is chocolate-covered marzipan and an overall syrupy sweetness throughout the finish.
While this may seem like quite an impressive progression of complexity, the changes seem to happen in spurts, mostly in the cigar’s early portions. Crossing the halfway point and into the finale, the profile becomes a bit monotonous, with the only real updates coming in the way of wild herbs (bordering on harsh) and mint chocolate. The flavor output remains about the same, with strength increasing to medium-plus and body around medium to medium-plus.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I would, but I can’t say I’d go out of my way to find it, and I can’t see myself paying full price (let alone aftermarket prices). Moon Garden is a fun shape, delivering a concentrated smoke that dazzles the palate early on. But the cigar doesn’t quite live up to the hype, in my opinion, as I find myself struggling to find uniqueness in the profile without resolve.
- Moon Garden was awarded Cigar Dojo’s No. 5 Limited Edition Cigar of the Year for 2018.
- Three cigars were smoked for review.
- Review cigars were provided by Jorge Ahued and his Stogies World Class Cigars tobacconist in Houston, TX.
- Cigars/spinoffs in the Flor del Valle series include the original Flor del Valle, Sky Flower, Moon Garden, and the recently announced Ghost Orchid.
- Personally, of those that have been released, I’d rank the aforementioned cigars as: Sky Flower > Flor del Valle > Moon Garden
- Flavor: Medium
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Syrupy sweetness
- Dried herbs
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Old Cuban cocktail | Italian soda | Espresso
- Purchase Recommendation: Try one
- Concentrated flavor
- Fun flavor changes between first and second thirds
- Fantastic appearance
- Monotonous profile
- Dry texture
- Draw is a bit tight