Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 – Gearhead Gary Crankshaft

The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Gearhead Gary Crankshaft is the ninth installment in a monthly series of cigars developed by Ortega Premium Cigars. The Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series is a unique limited production cigar concept that was introduced by Ortega Premium Cigars.  The idea 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. As with the whole Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series,  I have found that each of these cigars has their own unique identity – and Gearhead Gary is no exception.  Once again, it’s another solid installment to the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series.

The Gearhead Gary actually was intended to the the September 2013 release, but for the most part it arrived at retailers in early October.

At press time, the following are the names confirmed for the Ortega Wild Bunch series.  Future names and releases have been subject to change throughout the year, but this is how the series currently stands.    We’ve been very proud at Cigar Coop to bring you timely assessments of each of those throughout 2013. Currently the series looks as follows:

January: Big Bad John “Jackhammer”
February: Iron Mike “I Beam”
March: Island Jim “WaHoo”
April: Tony The Boss “Enforcer”
May: Dandy McCoy “Empire State”
June: Honest Abe “Ringmaster”
July: Wild Bill “Cheroot”
August: Fast Eddie “Eight Ball”
September: Gearhead Gary “Crankshaft”
October: Warrior Joe
November: Da Byrdman
December: Crazy Jack

Each Ortega Wild Bunch character is described in the inner box cover.  The following is the description for Gearhead Gary. While it has not been disclosed who Gary is, it is clear he is a person who is a wizard at repairs.

Most definitely the mechanic of the group, Gearhead can fix anything on wheels or without.  Gary is that great neighbor next door kind of guy who enjoys working on cars and fixing things.  When not hanging at the local cigar shop, you can always find him at his garage sipping on his favorite brew while working on his next project which is usually an antique he picked up at a great bargain.

Without further ado, take a closer look at Gearhead Gary and see what this installment of the Wild Bunch brings to the table:

Blend Profile

The Gearhead Gary is the third installment of the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 to use an Ecuadorian Habano leaf for the wrapper –  joining Island Jim “WaHoo” and  Tony The Boss “Enforcer”.

Wrapper: Habano Ecuador
Binder / Filler : Nicaragua Esteli / Jalapa

Vitolas Available

As mentioned the Gearhead Gary “Crankshaft” is a 6 x 52 belicoso.  This becomes the first non-parejo as well as the first belicoso to be released in the series.  The name Crankshaft is used to refer to the vitola.  The cigars are packaged 20 per box.


The Gearhead Gary “Crankshaft” has a medium brown colored wrapper.  I would describe it as a slightly darker shade than a caramel color.  There is some oil on the surface of the wrapper. There are some visible veins, but I found the wrapper seams to be well-hidden.

As with the other installments of the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013, the band of the Gearhead Gary is highlighted by an illustration of the “Gearhead Gary” character done by Neal Wollenberg. 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, HECHO A MANO” in white font on gold background. Below that is the text “Premium Ortega Cigars” in white font on a red background.  On a third row 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 9 of 12″ in white font on a gold background.  Below that is a white “12” that is circled in white on a (darker) red background. Toward the bottom of the band it says “GEARHEAD GARY” in a white modern font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Given this was a belicoso front mark, I pretty much defaulted to a straight cut (even though that is my cut of choice on a parejo anyway).  Once the tip of the belicoso was removed, I proceeded to begin with the pre-light draw.  The dry draw yielded a combination of sweet spice, leather, and some citrus.  Overall, I considered the pre-light draw to the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Gearhead Gary Crankshaft to be satisfactory.  At this point, I was ready to fire up my  Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 Gearhead Gary Crankshaft and see what the smoking phase would have in-store.Flavor Profile

I found it took a couple of minutes for the flavors to get going on Gearhead Gary. Once they did I was picked up an herbal spice with some earth notes in the background. I found Gearhead Gary to be the kind of cigar you wanted to retro-hale very early on. The retro-hale also had some of the herbal notes, but they were also layered with some black pepper.

Around the ten percent mark, a licorice flavored sweetness emerged in the background joining the earth notes.  Meanwhile the herbal spice, while not overpowering remained up front. So far, Gearhead Gary was throwing out some really interesting flavors.

As the Gearhead Gary moved into the second third, the earth notes joined the herbal spice up-front.  Hints of chocolate joined the licorice sweetness in the background.  These flavors held throughout the second third and well into the final third.

In the final third, the licorice and chocolate sweetness diminished on the Gearhead Gary – leaving the earthy, herbal spice. While there was a loss of sweetness, there was no harshness.  The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

From a burn standpoint, the Gearhead Gary did require several touch-ups. While the touch-ups did the trick to keep the cigar burning straight, I found I had to do more touch-ups than I would normally prefer.  The ash was a nice salt and pepper color.  The burn rate and the burn temperature were both ideal.

The draw was very good for a belicoso.  The tip did not get soft as I drew from the Gearhead Gary. Many may disagree with me, but when I smoke a belicoso and it doesn’t feel like a belicoso, it’s an excellent draw in my book.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, I did not find the Gearhead Gary to be a nicotine bomb.  Overall I assessed the Gearhead Gary to be a medium strength cigar from start to finish.  As for the body, I found this to be one of the milder cigars in that department.  As I mentioned earlier, it took a short time for the flavors to get going on the Gearhead Gary.  When the flavors broke out, I wouldn’t put them past mild to medium-bodied for most of the first half.  By the second half, the Gearhead Gary progressed to medium-bodied for its flavors. Overall I gave the Gearhead Gary a slight advantage when it came to strength over body, but again – not a cigar that will overpower you.

Final Thoughts

The one thing I did like about the Gearhead Gary was it did have a very different flavor profile to it. The one thing I wish the Gearhead Gary had was a little more depth on the flavors.  Still this is a case where I believe the pluses outweigh the minuses.  At the conclusion of most of the Ortega Wild Bunch 2013 series assessments, I have said that it has to be an incredible challenge to bring twelve different blends to market on pretty munch a monthly basis from blending, production, and distribution standpoints.   Yet, Ortega Premium Cigars has done a great job – and the series overall has been a good thing for cigar enthusiasts.  I’d recommend this cigar to a novice enthusiast as it is not an overpowering cigar.  For an experienced cigar enthusiast, I’d recommend it if they like flavors more subtle.  As for myself, this cigar still kept my interest.  It’s worth keeping a Fiver in my humidor and smoking from time to time.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Finish: Good
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
Score: 89

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