I am not a flashy kind of guy. My style is mainly comfortable casual. I'm not the Aviator-wearing, pinky ring-sporting, kind of dude. So when I looked at the band on the Ave Maria Crusader, I knew this wasn't the cigar for me. This cigar is held by Goodfella guys like Paulie from the Sopranos, not joe-schmo casual. Regardless of my apprehensions, I selected the Crusader to test my manliness.
It's a fact that most cigars are selected based on look alone. If looks could kill, I would have been dead. This cigar is deadly looking. My guess is that the guys who buy the Crusader are macho men so bad ass that they eat rocks and glass for breakfast. They wear oversized suits with bold patterned ties. And they most definitely wear pinky rings – maybe two per pinky.
Did I mention the band on this thing is massive? The band covers 2/3 of the cigar and areas of it are raised and shiny to represent jewels. Centered on the band is a beefy knight ready to hack and slash his way through an army of opponents. The band is not shaped traditionally. It has multiple cut-out sections that are jagged and can easily catch your finger, which I found to be an annoyance.
The wrapper is a Habano sun-grown wrapper from Ecuador that has a nice milk chocolate-y look to it. For the most part, my stick had a slightly smooth feel to it. I think these sticks only come in Robusto 5×52.
On the cold draw, I got notes of earthiness and strong coffee. When I lit it up, the favors continued with a bit of a kick, slightly bitter.The filler is Honduran and Nicaraguan. I'd say the strength is medium to strong.
At first, I was pleased with the draw but as I continued to puff on it, the draw got weaker, and I found myself relighting over and over again. Additionally, the construction of the cigar began to fade starting at the head of the cigar. For some reason, the hole I punched expanded into a crater causing the wrap to loosen and slowly unravel at the head.
About halfway through, I gave up. The draw was weak, the wrapper was coming undone at the head, and I was tired of relighting it. I'm not sure what happened – things started off pretty good. I don't think I would buy another Crusader due to my initial experience, but if you like flasy-looking cigars that are bold in strength this might be the cigar for you. Consume. Review. Repeat. gives the Ava Maria Crusader a six out of ten "forgetaboutits."