The Mike Ditka Kickoff Series is a new line of cigars from Camacho which honors the football legend, Mike Ditka. Within the series are three separate blends, which each honor a different stage of Ditka’s career. There is The Player, The Coach, and the Hall of Famer which I am reviewing today.
Each of these three blends are available in four sizes, a 5 x 50 Robusto, a 6 x 50 Toro, a 6 x 60 “Super” Toro, and a 6 x 54 Torpedo. The packaging used for the Kickoff Series is similar in design to that used for the Camacho Liberty, except the boxes are limited to 10 count. While the boxes are only half as deep, label aside, it looks almost exactly the same as a Camacho Liberty box. Also much like the Camacho Liberty, all of the Kickoff Series blends are packaged in individual cedar coffins.
To celebrate the launch of the Ditka Kickoff Series, Mike Ditka himself is touring various cigar stores across the country. If you attend an event where Ditka is present you can get your box signed by him, and a picture with him as well. Recently, one of these events took place near me at Mickey Blake’s in Southington, CT. Sadly, I was unable to attend the event itself, but a few weeks later when I stopped by they had already gotten some of these sticks back in stock so I picked up a couple of each to try out.
Wrapper: San Andres Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
Construction and Appearance: Each Ditka Hall of Famer comes in a cedar coffin which features a black finish on the top. On the cigar coffin written is The Hall of Famer 5 x 50 in white, Ditka in large gold letters, and Specially blended by Camacho in white as well. When I open the coffin, I am met by a very rich dark chocolate colored wrapped cigar.
It features a single, fairly large band, which has a gold, black, and red color scheme to it. At the top it is gold and features a bust of the man himself, the year ‘88 (when he was inducted to the hall of fame), and a small text which says “The first tight end ever inducted into the pro football hall of fame.” Below the gold band is a black stripe which has Ditka written in gold, and below that a red stripe which has blended by Camacho written in gold.
The wrapper of the Hall of Famer is very dark, almost dark chocolate in color. It has a very rich oil to it, with fairly mild veins. The cap is nice and tight, and the wrapper quite seamless, but oddly enough the sample smoked for review has a slight bend to it.
Flavor and Notes: The wrapper of the Hall of Famer has a deep rich cedar scent of the cedar coffin, along with a bit of espresso, and a little cocoa. The foot of the Hall of Famer has notes of a deep rich spice, earth, espresso, and plenty more cedar to it. To prepare smoking the Hall of Famer, I opt for a straight cut, and on the cold draw there are flavors of cedar, cocoa, coffee, and earth. Despite the slight bend in the cigar the cold draw offers optimal resistance.
Smoking Characteristics: The Hall of Famer kicks off with a nice blend of pepper, spices, espresso, bitter sweet chocolate, and a little cedar. The draw is excellent, offering just the right amount of resistance, and providing a nice thick, rich, full body of smoke. From the start I can tell the Hall of Famer will have a bit of a kick to it. The deep spice in both the smoking profile and on the retrohale reveal a strength that is in the medium to full range. The first third continues much like the initial draws. There are notes of white pepper, spice, espresso, bitter sweet chocolate, and a nice rich cedar. Each draw provides a nice finish with flavors of cedar, and spice which linger for quite a while.
Into the second third of the Hall of Famer, the flavor remains fairly consistent, the spice and espresso are now the primary notes, with the cedar and bitter sweet chocolate taking on secondary roles. The white pepper is no longer present in the smoking profile, but still lingers on the palate between draws. During this third there is a noticeable increase of strength, pushing the blend into the medium to full range. The construction on the Hall of Famer is standing up wonderfully. The ash is holding firm to almost the two inch mark without flaking at all. I have not needed to touch up the burn once at the half way point and it is still quite razor sharp.
As I remove the band and truly enter the final third of the Hall of Famer, a nice new berry fruit-like sweetness starts to join the blend. The overall flavor is now a little less dry, and the sweetness starts to overtake the spicy tones and the bitter espresso and chocolate. The cedar at this point is only present as a finish on the palate, and the pepper has faded from the smoking experience entirely. The strength certainly remains in the full spectrum during this third, a nice buzz is starting to really set in now. I have to say I am glad I had something a little heavy for lunch before smoking. The Hall of Famer performs wonderfully to the nub, remaining cool, firm, and most of all, delicious.
Conclusion: I have to say I am a little shocked at how good this stick is for the price. While I would expect a high level of quality for a $9 dollar stick, when I saw the cedar coffin packaging, and the Ditka name (which must have required some licensing or royalties of some sort) I thought maybe the tobaccos is where this cigar would be lacking. I have been proven thoroughly wrong. The Hall of Famer is quite delicious, while the flavors are not very complex, they are quite bold and rich. I regret not picking up 2 or 3 more of these when I had the chance and hope to correct that in the future. In fact, at an event, I could certainly see grabbing a box of these. Without a doubt out of 3 Kickoff Series blends, this is my personal favorite.