Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 – Big Bad John

The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series is a unique limited production cigar concept introduced by Ortega Premium Cigars.  The concept behind the Ortega Wild Bunch is to dedicate a cigar to various cigar enthusiasts whom company president Eddie Ortega has personally met during his time in the cigar industry.  During 2013, each month a different cigar – in a different size and blend will be released as a tribute to these various people. At the time of this article, the January release of this series has made it to retailer shelves and it is entitled Big Bad John “Jackhammer”.  I recently had an opportunity to smoke the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” and without a doubt this series has gotten off to a very solid start.

Like the Ortega Serie D Maduro and Natural, the Ortega Wild Bunch is being made at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. At press time, the following are the names of the twelve characters that will make up the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series.  As mentioned each will be a different blend and different vitola.   We have heard the names and dates may be subject to change. At this time, we have details around the first four releases with details still pending for the remainder of the series.

January: Big Bad John “Jackhammer”
February: Iron Mike “I Beam”
March: Island Jim “Wahoo
April: Tony “The Boss”
May: “DA” Byrdman
June: “honest” Abe
July: “Wild” Bill
August: “Fast” Eddie
September: “Gearhead” Gary
October: “Dandy” McCoy
November: “Warrior” Nick
December: “the Crusher”

In this assessment, we will break down the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Big Bad John “Jackhammer” and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

Information has been slowly trickling out on the Big Bad John “Jackhammer”.  When we previewed the cigar, we did not know details of the binder and filler, but we now know this cigar is a Nicaraguan puro.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

As mentioned above, each monthly release of the Wild Bunch is a unique blend in a different vitola.  As the name indicates, this is a large cigar both lengthwise and in ring gauge.  The Big Bad John “Jackhammer” measures 6 7/8 x 60.  The cigars are packaged 20 per box. The plan is for 500 boxes of each blend to be produced.


The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Big Bad John “Jackhammer” has a classic red clay colored rosado wrapper.  The wrapper has a thick and sturdy feel to it. The wrapper itself has visible veins and wrapper seams giving the cigar a rugged look.  There is also some oil on the surface of the wrapper.

The band of the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” is highlighted by an illustration of the character whom Big Bad John represents.  These illustrations were done by Neal Wollenberg, whom has been working with Ortega on the whole project.   

To the left of the illustration is the text “TABACOS ORTEGA, HEACHO A MANO” in white font on gold background. Below that is the text “Premium Ortega Cigars” in white font on a red background.  Finally, below that is the text “GRUPO SALAJE THE WILD BUNCH” – also in white font on a gold background.   To the right of the illiustration is the text “1 of 12” in white font on a gold background.  Below that is a white “12” that is circled on a red background.  Finally toward the bottom of the band it says “BIG BAD JOHN” in black font on yellow – in a “construction warning sign” style design.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Big Bad John “Jackhammer” cigar, I went with a straight cut into the cap.   Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw ritual.  The dry draw notes provided me a mix of cedar, leather, and cherry.  Overall, I considered this a satisfactory pre-light draw.  At this time, I was ready to light the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” and see what the cigar experience would have in store.

Flavor Profile

While I didn’t find the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” to be a cigar to undergo a lot of flavor transitions, I did find this a cigar that provided a great array of flavor from start to finish.  The flavors also complemented each other very well.

The Big Bad John did not provide the typical blast of pepper found on many cigars made by the Garcia family at My Father Cigars.  I did find a combination of cherry, pepper, and cedar to start. This was followed up by some floral notes.  The cherry and floral notes moved into the forefront while the cedar and pepper were secondary notes.

Around the ten percent mark, I also detected a creamy component in the background.  As I retro-haled the Big Bad John, I was definitely getting a lot more in the way of sweetness from this cigar.

The flavor pattern held steady for most of the cigar.  Toward the end of the cigar, there was more spice.  This spice took on a baker’s spice quality.  The spice never overpowered this cigar.  The resulting nub was firm and cool at the finish.

Burn and Draw

The construction to the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” was outstanding and this was reflected in the burn and draw.  The burn line remained straight from start to finish requiring only occasional touch-ups.  The resulting ash was a darker salt and pepper and held firm throughout the smoke.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.   It is worth noting I smoked one of these cigars outside with a breeze and sometimes that can have an impact on a big ring gauge smoke.  The Big Bad John “Jackhammer” still performed outstanding as far as the burn went with no adverse effects from the breeze.

The draw was outstanding. It had a touch of resistance – and that is something I like on a draw. This made for a great cigar to puff on.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective the Big Bad John “Jackhammer” starts out in the medium range.  It stays in that range for most of the cigar experience before progressing to medium to full in the last third.  As for the depth of the flavors, they start out medium-bodied before progressing to medium to full in the second third.  Overall there is good equilibrium between the strength and body.  As a result there is a nice balance between these attributes.

Final Thoughts

Big ring gauge cigars sometimes get a bum rap.  When a cigar is blended specifically for a big ring gauge, a big ring gauge can provide a great experience.  This is exactly the case with the Ortega Wild Bunch Big Bad John “Jackhammer” cigar.   While the Ortega Serie D line has been widely popular among many cigar enthusiasts, it is my opinion that the Big Bad John is the best blend to date by Ortega Premium Cigars.  This is a cigar that can appeal to both novice and experienced cigar enthusiasts.  I also encourage those who don’t usually like a big ring gauge to give this blend a try.  As for myself, this is a cigar I would definitely smoke again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Last 1/3)
Body: Medium (1st 1/3), Medium to Full (Last 2/3)
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 92

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.