Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Iron Mike I-Beam

The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Iron Mike I-Beam  is the second release in a monthly series of cigars being developed by Ortega Premium Cigars.  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.  The Iron Mike I-Beam is the February 2013 cigar.   In my opinion this is one of the more unique smokes I’ve had in 2013 – and it makes for one of the best releases under the Ortega Premium Cigars banner to date.

At press time, the following are the names confirmed for the first six months of the Ortega Wild Bunch series.  Currently the series looks as follows:

January: Big Bad John “Jackhammer”
February: Iron Mike “I Beam”
March: Island Jim “Wahoo
April: Tony “The Boss”
May: Dandy McCoy “Empire State”
June: Honest Abe “Ringmaster”

The inner part of the box reads as follows to describe the character of “Iron Mike”:

Mike is a fighter by nature.  When you work with iron you have to be, but if it can be built with steel, Iron Mike can build it.  He bends it to his will and fabricates things that make a country great.

Mike is blue collar to the bone, after work, you’ll most likely find him at the local watering hole enjoying a cold beer and favorite cigar.

Like the entire Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series, Iron Mike is being made at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.  This factory has been making Ortega Premium Cigars’ releases since the company launched last year.  Without further adieu, let’s break down the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Iron Mike I-Beam and see what this cigar is all about.

Blend Profile

The Iron Mike I-Beam is a Nicaraguan puro with a Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

As mentioned above, each monthly release of the Wild Bunch is a unique blend in a different vitola.  There is one vitola per blend.  The official name for the vitola of the Iron Mike is called “I Beam” .  The cigar itself measures 4 7/8 x 54.  The cigars are packaged 20 per box. The plan is for 500 boxes of each blend to be produced.

The Iron Mike I-Beam has a roasted coffee bean colored wrapper.  The wrapper is coarse in terms of complexion.   Upon examination of the wrapper, there are visible veins and visible wrapper seams.  The cigar itself is well-packed with no soft spots.

The band of the Iron Mike I-Beam is highlighted by an illustration of the character whom Iron Mike represents.  These illustrations were done by Neal Wollenberg, whom has been working with Ortega on the whole project. Wollenberg also did the art work for the boxes.

The rest of the band is similar to the layout of the other bands in the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series.  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 “2 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 “IRON MIKE” in black font on a “silver beam” style background.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoke of the Iron Mike I-Beam, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  After successfully getting a clean cut, it was time to move on to the pre-light draw.   The cold draw yielded a very interesting flavor profile – a combination of earth and mineral notes.  This was definitely one of the more unique pre-light draws I had.  Overall, I was neutral in terms of the pre-light draw, but since we don’t factor it into our score and assessment rating, there was no loss of points here.  At this point, I was ready to light the foot of my Iron Mike I-Beam and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

There are two things that stand out about the Iron Mike I-Beam.  First up it serves up a complex flavor profile with lots of flavor transitions.  Secondly, the mineral notes that were present on the pre-light draw continue throughout the smoke, providing a very unique contribution to the flavor profile.  I also found these mineral notes had a better effect on the flavor profile of the smoke than on the pre-light.

The start to the Iron Mike delivers notes of oak, pepper, and the mineral flavors.   The oak notes dissipate rather quickly and the cigar settles into a flavor profile of pepper and mineral. At the same time some background cherry notes emerged.

By the five percent mark, some roasted coffee and earth notes became the primary flavors.  The pepper and mineral notes became secondary.  The cherry notes took on more of a tertiary note. Around the ten percent mark, some nut flavors joined the pepper and mineral as background notes.

In the second third of the Iron Mike, the mineral and nut notes became the main flavors again. The roasted coffee notes and earth notes are now in the background.  The pepper notes kick up a slight notch, but still are playing more of a supporting role.

The last third continued to see the mineral and nut flavors as primary.  This time the cherry flavors kicked up a slight notch and became secondary with the earth, roasted coffee, and pepper notes. The last third also provided some nice complexity with some variations of these flavors as the cigar comes to a close.  I did pick up a few metallic notes toward the end.   The resulting nub was ideal – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

Like the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Big Bad John Jackhammer, the Wild Bunch 2013 Iron Mike I-Beam has some outstanding construction.  This construction is also reflected in the burn and draw.  Overall keeping the burn line straight was low maintenance – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash did have some minor flowering, but overall it was a tight ash with minimal flaking. The color of the ash varied in white and gray colors throughout the smoking experience. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw was outstanding. This made the Iron Mike I-Beam a joy to smoke.

Strength and Body

The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Iron Mike I-Beam starts out as a medium strength cigar.  At the start of the second half, the strength kicks up slightly and crosses the threshold into medium to full strength.  As for the flavor notes, they follow a similar pattern as well.  The flavors start out as medium-bodied and in the second half, it progresses to medium to full-bodied.  In addition, the strength and body do an outstanding job at balancing each other from start to finish.

Final Thoughts

There was a lot to like about the Ortega Wild Bunch Iron Mike I-Beam.  It provided a lot of complexity and had great balance.  This definitely was one of the more unique cigars I’ve had from the My Father Cigars’ factory. The mineral notes do some real interesting things to this flavor profile.  I’m not sure if this flavor profile is for everyone, but I liked it.

With two releases of the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series under Eddie Ortega’s belt, he has succeeded in delivering two distinct smoking experiences.  The Big Bad John Jackhammer and Iron Mike I-Beam not only are completely different in appearance, they smoke totally different as well.  I definitely give the nod to the Iron Mike here.   This is a smoke that both the novice and experienced cigar enthusiast will appreciate.  As for myself, this is not only a smoke I would have again, but one worthy of a box purchase.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Smoke Inn Cigars in West Palm Beach, Florida.