|Mike Ditka Kickoff Series – The Player|
As mentioned “The Player” is one of three cigars in the Mike Ditka Kickoff Series. The other two offerings are: “The Coach” (a Honduran Criollo wrapped cigar) and “The Hall of Famer” (a San Andres Maduro). Since then, a fourth limited edition offering called the Mike Ditka Throwback (a Corojo Maduro) was released. As for the Kickoff Series, it was launched late in 2012, but has slowly been making its way to retailers in the first half of 2013.
Today our focus will be on “The Player”. Let’s take a closer look at this cigar and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As mentioned “The Player” has an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper with Honduran and Dominican tobaccos.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Filler: Honduran, Dominican
The following frontmarks are common to all three cigars in the Mike Ditka Kickoff Series. The cigars come packaged in individual coffin boxes and the coffin boxes themselves are housed in boxes of ten. Those housing boxes are individually numbered and are limited to 1,000 boxes of ten per blend.
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50
Torpedo: 6 1/4 x 54/42
6 x 60: 6 x 60
For this cigar experience, I smoked the torpedo vitola. The Ditka Kickoff Series Player’s Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper almost has a “golden” quality to it. There is a slightly oily sheen to the wrapper. There are some visible veins and a few wrapper seams. The surface of the wrapper is also slightly bumpy.
The band has an old school football feel to it. It features a sketch of Ditka wearing his #89 Chicago Bears uniform on a gold colored background. Above the sketch it says “THE PLAYER” in black font. To the left of the image it says “CHICAGO BEARS NFL CHAMPIONS” in black font. To the right is a large “’63” – also in black font. On the lower left of the image it says “Mike” in black cursive. Below the gold background is a thick black stripe with the text “DITKA” in gold font. Below the black stripe is a thick red stripe with the text “CAMACHO” in gold letters. To the left of that text it says “SPECIALLY BLENDED BY” in smaller gold font. There are gold and white pinstripes separating the black and red areas – as well as the trim of the band.
|Ditka Kickoff Series – “The Player” in an Open Coffin|
As mentioned, each of the Ditka Kickoff Series cigars are packaged in an individual coffin style box – similar to the Camacho Liberty Series. “The Player” is packaged in a red coffin box. The red coffin box says “DITKA” in large gold letters. To the left of that text it says “THE PLAYER”. The left side also has the dimensions of the torpedo vitola – “54 x 42 x 6 1/4” in black font. To the right it says “SPECIALLY BLENDED BY CAMACHO” – also in black font with “CAMACHO” in larger font.
|Coffin box packaging of the Ditka Kickoff Series
“The Player” Torpedo
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Given this was a torpedo, I defaulted to a straight cut to remove the tip. Once the tip was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes were on the mild side and provided notes of cedar sweet/spice, dried fruit, and floral notes. Overall while this was a mild-bodied dry draw, it was a satisfactory one. At this time, I was ready to light up the Ditka Kickoff Series Player and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
The start to the Ditka Kickoff Series Player started with a mix of pepper and cream notes. Some citrus notes soon entered the mix. The citrus and pepper notes moved out into the forefront early on. The cream notes took on a secondary role. The retro-hale provided a mix of pepper and cedar notes.
Later in the first third, the pepper notes moved to more of a cedary spice. This became the primary note. The cream notes remained in the background. The citrus notes moved to the background and were joined by some wood and chestnut notes.
The middle third saw the chestnut notes move into the forefront. The cedar spice was a close second while the cream, wood, and citrus notes were secondary.
In the last third, the citrus and cream became the primary notes. The chestnut and cedar notes receded to the background. The citrus and cream notes formed a very nice sweetness. Toward the very end, the spice notes made one more return – providing a slight spicy kick. “The Player” was flavorful and not harsh right at the end. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
It is always pleasant when a torpedo provides an excellent burn and draw. I find there are not many torpedo vitolas that meet this criteria. “The Player” Torpedo was definitely one that did meet the criteria.
The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was a tight salt and pepper color. There were a couple of points where the ash had some slight flowering, but this really wasn’t an issue. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Mike Ditka Kickoff Series – “The Player”|
The draw was simply outstanding. It had a touch of resistance to it – which is ideal in my book. The tip never got soft while drawing. When you can draw a torpedo and and it draws as well as a parejo, this is a very good cigar.
Strength and Body
In the past couple of years, many Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade releases have been trying to be stronger and bolder in terms of strength and body. “The Player” is not going to do this. It is going to be a classic Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade smoke in terms of these attributes.
“The Player” is going to be a mild strength cigar for the first two thirds. In the last third, it does progress to mild to medium strength. As for the flavors, they are more subtle. They start out mild to medium-bodied. In the last third, it does pick up enough depth to notch its way to medium-bodied. “The Player” is going to have an edge of body over strength throughout the whole smoking experience.
The Mike Ditka Kickoff Series Player is a cigar that really flies under the radar. As mentioned it is going to deliver a milder smoke in terms of strength and body, but it is going to deliver a a great smoking experience. This cigar has a lot more complexity to it than one might think – and the flavors delivered are outstanding. The construction also is excellent – as this is one of the better torpedoes I’ve smoked in 2013. This is definitely a great cigar for the novice enthusiast looking for something not overpowering, yet offering complexity. I’d only recommend this to an experienced cigar enthusiast who can appreciate something milder. As for myself, this was a very good cigar – and one I would smoke again.
Strength: Mild (1st 2/3), Mild to Medium (last third)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (last third)
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Tobacco World in Marietta, Georgia.