Tag Archives: Fratello

Umbagog and Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters Cigars and Fratello News

UmbagogLast week I bought some of the Fratello Fire Crackers from 2 Guys Cigars when they went on sale, and while I was at it, I added a few of Steve Saka’s Umbagog Corona Gordas to my order as I was itching to try them out. The Umbagog is almost the same blend as the Mi Querida, utilizing Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers that  weren’t as pretty (in Steve’e estimation, who else could tell?) as the wrappers on the Mi Querida. I love the Mi Querida, so chances were good that this was a safe buy. The advantage is that the Umbagog is a little less expensive, although I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a blind tasting. Like the Mi Querida, the Umbagog is made in the NACSA factory in Nicaragua. I mistakenly thought I got the Toro Toro, but upon reflection, I had the Corona Gorda, I thought it looked thinner than the Ancho Larga in its sister line. The Corona Gorda is 6″ x 48, which ten years ago would have been a toro for the most part. It had one of the better burns I’ve had in a non-Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust cigar, they all seem to burn perfectly, which goes along with Steve’s Puros sin Compomiso mantra. It was loaded with sweet espresso and cocoa flavors that I enjoy, and, with the exception of its plain band and odd name, was as great a cigar as I’ve smoked. I’m waiting for the right time (and company) to smoke the Muestra de Saka I have, and continue to gravitate toward a cigar from this company when I want a sure thing.  The Umbagog is a winner, pick them up when you can as they are limited to the “reject” wrappers!

 

Tatuaje_PudgyWolfTonight I grabbed one of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monsters that was in the Oh F*ck I’m Lost pack I got at an event a while back. I had the Drac and the Wolf to choose from and went with the Wolf. I’ve smoked the Wolfman, the 7½” x 54 big old torpedo with the shaggy foot that I want to say was the fourth release in the Monster series back in 2011?  The Pudgy Monsters version is a 5½” x 52 belicoso with the same shaggy foot, that is the wrapper is cut back a half-inch from the end. It’s fun the be able to taste when the wrapper flavor kicks in and understand how much that thin leaf adds to the flavor. This one has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, and the rest is Nicaraguan. I remember really enjoying the larger format (TY to Will Cooper, I think it was in a sampler he sent for my 50th birthday, which was a handful of years ago now!). This one had a smooth, nutty, grain flavor with some mellow coffee in the second half and was a really flavorful and pleasing cigar. Burn was flawless. Dammit, now I’m going to have to keep an eye out for more of these, I suspect the samplers are still around, but I’d certainly buy a few of these if they were available singly, which I don’t guess they are. I’m doing pretty good this week, two spectacular cigars!

 

I mentioned the Fratello Firecracker earlier, this is a 3″x 50 format with a long pigtail “fuse” that is a 2 Guys exclusive, and every year it’s made by someone else, Don Pepin Garcia, La Flor Dominicana, RoMaCraft…this year’s is made by Fratello. These usually are a strong blend, I’ve smoked the LFD and Cromagnon versions and look forward to trying Omar’s version, I’m sure it’ll be great. But Omar de Frias has a new Fratello cigar debuting at the IPCPR show that sounds interesting. This one is called the Fratello Naveta, which is Italian for “shuttle” and is a nod to his years at NASA (where he makes a space shuttle look small).

“Blending Fratello Naveta was special as I wanted to translate the ultimate celebration our men and women of the space program felt after a successful mission”. “After being part of over 21 missions nothing beats the feeling of getting our astronauts home safe to their families” said de Frias.

“Colleagues of mine would get together and smoke a very special cigar to commemorate the occasion. This very special blend carries the ultimate feeling of innovation, duty, honor and success” said de Frias.

Fratello_NavettaBlended with an Ecuador oscuro wrapper the blend will be featured in 4 vitolas.

– Robusto Discovery (5 x 50) 10.50

– Toro Endeavor (6 ¼ x 54) 11.25

– Gordo Enterprise (6 x 60) 12.00

– The Boxer Atlantis (6 ¼ x 52) 12.50

Fratello Navetta will be manufactured at Joya de Nicaragua and will be available for shipment in September. Omar de Frias worked at NASA for 12 years prior to leaving to focus full-time on Fratello.

 

I’m looking forward to trying this one!  The presentation looks great!  I’ll get to the Firecrackers in the coming weeks.

 

That’s all for me for tonight, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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A Fratello Cigars Event, a La Aurora, a L’Atelier and a Contest!

FrFriday evening we took a family trip over to the Wooden Indian cigar shop in Havertown, PA to have a visit with Omar de Frias and his amazing Fratello cigars. When I say family, my wife sometimes joins me on these trips, but this time my son Corey came along, and, at the invitation of the shop owner, Dave, Macha joined us too. Macha loves these outings as she gets a lot of attention and loves everybody. She was well-behaved, most of the time just laying down and relaxing, something I wish she’d do at home when we get back from a long walk and I just want to finish my cigar and she wants to play in the yard! Anyway, she had a great time, and I smoked one of my favorite cigars from last year, the Fratello Bianco Boxer. This is a box pressed torpedo wrapped in a beautiful San Andrés wrapper,  Dominican binder and fillers from Pennsylvania, Nicaragua and Peru. What distinguishes the Boxer from the regular Bianco line, and this holds true with the regular and Oro Boxers as well, is that they use a little extra ligero in the blend. Not only does the cigar smoke perfectly and taste amazing, it’s got a little extra kick! I picked up a few more for the humidor, along with some other goodies, and enjoyed a great evening at the Wooden Indian with my buddy Omar. It was the fist time I’ve seem Omar without his goatee, is that the breaking news here? Omar Shaves Goatee!…only at CigarCraig.com, Sorry Halfwheel and Cigar-Coop, I was first with this bombshell!

 

LaAurora DE ParkYesterday was a beautiful Saturday to go to the track, and my daughter decided to have our grand-daughters joint birthday party in the picnic grove at Delaware Park. We got there early to secure a spot, and while we were waiting for everyone I smoked a La Aurora Preferido Corona in the Diamond or Broadleaf wrapper. Since I smoked this the first time over two years ago the pungency and cloying flavor I got then has settled down and it’s more like what I would expect from an aged Connecticut Broadleaf. It was a little over the top the last time I smoked it, but it was slightly underwhelming to me yesterday. Honestly, I forgot that I didn’t really like this cigar the first time around, but was looking forward to a tasty Broadleaf cigar. I usually don’t choose my granddaughters events to enjoy a cigar, but when it’s reasonably appropriate, like at the track 45 minutes before they arrive, I go for it, and it’s usually something from La Aurora because Aurora is also my daughter’s name and how could she get mad at me, right? It works in my head. Anyway, I didn’t lose all my money, had a nice day playing the ponies and hanging with the family.

 

L'Atelier_LAT38SpecialLast night I rummaged through the Lancero tray and came up with a L’Atelier LAT 38 Special. This 7½” x 38 Lancero was a beauty, with a dark, Sancti Spíritus Ecuador wrapper, binder and filler from Nicaragua rolled at the My Father Factory in Nicaragua. I wanted to smoke something from the Johnson family of cigars, but I was only finding rubustos, and I craved more than that. I have a ton of rubustos in the humidor and should probably just go on a rubusto bender and work them down. There was a time when that was my vitola of choice, but I’ve either gotten more patient or have more time because I want a toro or larger more times than not. I digress, theLAT 38 was a beauty, and the flavor was outstanding. It had the savory and sweet flavor I’d expect more from the Broadleaf than the Sancti Spiritus that the L’Atelier line is known for. I can’t remember when I got this, it may have been at an event at a shop in Colorado I was at back in 2014, but it was good. I haven’t found many cigar in any of Pete Johnson’s portfolio that don’t satisfy my palate. My only complaint with this cigar was that it suffered from Nomex Wrapper Syndrome (Nomex is the stuff that electrical wiring is wrapped with so it doesn’t burn) it required a lot of attention with the lighter, and I was being careful not to overheat the cigar since Lanceros can easily be ruined by smoking too aggressively.  The humidor these are in stays in the mid to low  60s so it wasn’t wet.

Contest!

June PrizeSince we got to the track early yesterday they were giving out hats, and since I’m not a huge hat wearing guy, I figured it might be a good time to have another giveaway. I’ve assembled some odds and ends that have been collecting for a while to go with the Delaware Park hat. There are a couple of bottle openers including one for your key chain from Nomad Cigars, a torch lighter from El Artista, a couple cutters, a highly collectible Matt Booth Room 101 punch cutter, a Ninety Degree magnetic cigar holder and a nice Balmoral flask. As always, a few cigars might fall into the box as I’m packing it up, it happens, I can’t help it! So the usual rules apply, must be of legal smoking age in your municipality, one entry by way of leaving a comment on this post, and have fun! I’ll pick a winner next Sunday, June 11, 2017. 

 

That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

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Tortuga, Nestor Miranda, and Fratello Cigars

Tortuga_Reserva215_DiplomaticoLast Monday, before it snowed and I smoked a bunch of the Casta Cigars offerings (which, by the way, are only available direct from their website for now), I was in a Tortuga kinda mood, so I picked a single Tortuga Reserva Diplomatico from the humidor. The Diplomatico is a big cigar, 7½” x 58, why I decided on a cigar this large on a winter Monday evening is anyone’s guess. For me, at least, any Tortuga is a good decision, as I love the flavors in this Honduran made Nicaraguan puro. I can always count on the Tortuga line to satisfy me, and the box pressed Reserva line has the right balance of strength and flavor that just always works. I need to catch up with Victor Vitale again soon, he’s been quiet lately. He makes great, under-rated and appreciated cigars. I’m sure some warm, sunny day I’ll wish I had this one back, but it sure hit the spot! Fortunately, I have an old Tortuga Limited Edition and an Ora Vivo Armand Asante in this size still in the humidor.

 

CandelasFriday was Saint Paddy’s Day, and the temptation for me is to smoke a Candela. I rounded up my small stash of Candela cigars, and derivatives (Barber Poles with Candela), and decided I wasn’t in the mood for a Candela, so I found a Nestor Miranda Collection Habano Danno One Life Addition that, at least, had a green band.  This one was a couple years old, and is another formidable sized cigar, measuring 7″ x 56. The Danno line commemorates NMCDannoNestor Miranda’s  late son, Danny. It’s made at the My Father Factory in Esteli and is a wonderful blend of Nicaraguan, Brazilian and Honduran tobaccos. I really like the latest incarnation of the Nestor Miranda Collection cigars, sadly, I only seem to smoke them in the robusto format, which I enjoy in all four varieties (Maduro, Habano, Connecticut and Corojo), this size is special though. It’s more of a good thing.  I remain mystified that two years after re-working the packaging and bands on this line, the website remains out-dated.

 

Fratello_Oro_RobustoYesterday was a damp, overcast Saturday, so after running some errands, doing some good deeds, I relaxed on the porch with a Fratello Oro Robusto, the newest offering from Omar de Frias. I was tempted to smoke this on St. Paddy’s day, considering the irony that the 6’9″ Omar is pretty much the exact opposite of a leprechaun, at least in stature. I could definitely see Omar dancing around in green leprechaun costume.  Gotta say, the Fratello Oro is magically delicious! This Fratello is made in the Dominican Republic, with an Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, Cameroon binder and Dominican, Nicaraguan and Colombian fillers, no Peruvian tobacco in this one! It’s got the creamy, grassy flavor from the Ecuador Connecticut, the sweet “Camerooniness” from the binder, some strength and unique spice from the filler blend. It comes together in a very good, full-flavored cigar! While it didn’t absolutely blow my mind like the Fratello Bianco Boxer torpedo did, it was an excellent cigar with very good flavor and performance. I have yet to meet a Fratello I didn’t like.

 

That’s about all I have for today, hopefully the snow melts off as Spring officially starts tomorrow and we head towards my favorite time of year. Take a look forward to the beginning of June, when the Philly Cigar Festival is being held in Pottstown, PA. In the coming weeks I’m going to have a contest to give away a ticket to this multi-vendor event, so if you’re in the area, or are willing to travel, you might want to get in on the contest. I plan to be there, hopefully some of my readers can join me!  Now, I just need to give the organizers a little grief about using one of my photos on their website without giving me credit!  Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

 

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CigarCraig’s Top Five Memorable Cigars of 2016 and A Contest Winner!

Happy New Year to everyone and thanks for another great year at CigarCraig.com. If you all keep reading, I’ll keep writing! Heck, I’d probably be writing this if nobody was reading.  I’m posting on a Saturday instead of Sunday for a couple reasons, mostly because I don’t feel like getting up early tomorrow to post something when nobody will be around to read it, and I slacked off and missed my Wednesday post, it happens. So I figured I wrap up the year with some of the cigars that were memorable to me this year,  and my criteria was simple, the cigar, no matter how many I smoked, made a positive impression on me to the point where I really want to smoke more of the cigar. These are presented in no particular order, and I know this keeps me off of Halfwheel’s annual conglomerate list, but so be it, why break the streak?

 

Maya Selva Flor Mayade Selva Grand Pressé Box Pressed Toro. This really shouldn’t be included as it was an IPCPR sample smoked on the show floor, and I typically think this is a bad place to properly evaluate a cigar. However, my approach was that I only smoked one cigar on the show floor all day, and I practically did smoke this all day. I would let the cigar go out while talking to someone, and relight it and it was still amazing. This was a brand that I had heard of but not tried, and was very impressed. Sadly, I don’t see these around the stores here, but I have to hunt some down. I know this is only based on one example, but it was memorable and fits my criteria!

 

RoMa_Neanderthal_HNRoMa Craft Neanderthal HN. Technically I smoked this cigar at the end of last year, but since I smoked it’s little brother, the Shallow Gene Pool, later in the year I’m going to mark it down as Memorable. I really did love the candela wrapped  Fomarian ,  and smoked more of those this year than the Neanderthal, the Neanderthal stuck out in my mind as memorable. It had some strength, but most of all the flavor was exceptional and left a definite impression. The pricetag keeps it out of this cheap bastid’s rotation, but it competes favorably with other cigars at similar prices, such as a Padron 94 Exclusivo or similar. Bottom line is, there aren’t a whole lot of cigars I’d pay $12 for, but the Neanderthal is one of them.

 

Mi Querida_GorditoIt should be fairly common knowledge by now that Steve Saka and I go way back and I consider Steve a friend. Actually, in March it will be 20 years since Steve and I met face to face. So if that puts a bias on my inclusion of the Mi Querida Gordito (as well as the rest of the sizes) in this list, so be it. It could be argued that knowing Steve shaped my palate and preferences, and if that’s the case than I’m pretty lucky. I first smoke the Mi Querida Ancho Larga (toro) at the IPCPR show at the insistence of Stace Berkland, who was working in the Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust booth, and my initial impression was good, but that age would benefit the cigar, which might have been construed as saying I didn’t like it, which wasn’t the case at all. I’ve smoked several sizes in the line now, the Ancho Corto (robusto), the Muy Gordo Grande and the Gordito, which I am listing here as the most memorable. Hey, I love them all, they are exactly my style of cigar, I like the mellowness of the Muy Gordo Grande, but the punch that the little 4″ x 48 Gordito has really made an impression. I was going to include the Sobremesa Elegentes en Cedros in my list, as I found it to be an awesome cigar, with a slight edge on the also awesome Short Churchill, but I didn’t want to appear totally biased! Unfortunately the Mi Querida Gordito size might be hard to find as I think it’s fairly limited.

 

CorneliusandAnthony_Cornelius_ToroI’ve developed an affinity for milder, more complex and sophisticated cigars lately, and one new one that I find myself going to frequently is from Cornelius and Anthony, and is the Cornelius. This is a cigar that’s made at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami, and is just a really tasty cigar with a lot of subtlety and class. I’ve smoked several of the sizes and think the toro suits me best, although the corona gorda certainly has a lot going for it if you want a little bit of an edge to the flavor. The Cornelius and Anthony  Daddy Mac is a great smoke as well, but not nearly as memorable as the Cornelius. It’s another cigar in the over $10 range that I think is worthwhile. I put it in the same category as the Sobremesa, Davidoff, or some of the Havanas, it’s “clean” and delicious. There are some times that I chose to smoke this cigar that I remember fondly.

 

Fratello_Bianco_TheBoxerFinally, the cigar that was most memorable for me this year.  I was tempted to number this list because I knew this was number one, but really couldn’t assign numbers to two through five. At the time I said about this cigar “This was the best cigar I’ve smoked in recent memory” and I stand by that. Of course, the cigar Im referring to was the Fratello Bianco The Boxer. This is a box pressed torpedo, with  San Andrés Negro wrapper, binder from the Dominican Republic, and the fillers are Nicaraguan, Pennsylvanian and Peruvian. I dig the Bianco blend, and this tweaked version was just off the charts in flavor, and again, hit my particular flavor preference on the nose. Friggin yummy. Omar de Frias made news this year by quitting his day job at NASA to concentrate on the Fratello brand, a bold move given the whole FDA nonsense. What an amazing cigar.

 

That’s five, right?  There were a lot of runners up, the Hoyo La Amistad, the Foundation Tabernacle, the Foundry Time Flies, Leccia Des Nudos (it should have been in the top five…so close).  There were a lot to choose from but these were the most memorable.

 

Contest Winner!

 

GCCThe last contest of the year was some great stuff from General Cigar Company. We had a Flathead sign, a nice Macanudo Colibri cutter, some La Gloria Cubana scissors and a Punch bobble head. Maybe I should have included a cigar from each brand from my humidors in the contest, because that’s what I intend to include. Many people who have won my contests before can tell you that things often fall into the box when I’m packing it up (has anyone seen my keys?). The FDA says that manufacturers cant give away cigars for free, but they don’t have any say over my personal collection and what I do with it! The winner of the last contest of 2016 is Timmc71. Please send me your info so I can get these goodies out to you!  

 

That’s all for today!  Happy New Year again, and here’s to a successful 2017!

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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Fratello Bianco The Boxer Cigar

One of the great treats at the IPCPR is seeing my friend Omar de Frias, who charged on to the cigar scene in 2013. Here was this larger than life unknown guy at his first trade show, making a big splash with his line of cigar made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory, although that was hush hush for quite a while. Omar is one of the nicest guys you will want to meet, and one of the hardest working as well. He holds down a day job at NASA, travels tirelessly promoting Fratello cigars, meets with legislators on Capital Hill fighting for our freedom, and has a family too. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Omar, jump at the chance and do whatever you have to do to get to one of his events.

 

Fratello_Bianco_TheBoxerThis year at the IPCPR Omar presented his new line extension in the Fratello Bianco series, the Fratello Bianco The Boxer. The Bianco series is the San Andrés maduro cigar in the line, it’s got a beautiful dark wrapper, quite the opposite of the name Bianco, which is Italian for white. So We have a guy who was born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Dominican Republic, living in the US and making cigars in Nicaragua with an Italian name! The Boxer is his box pressed torpedo, it’s a classic 6¼” x 52, with a crisp square press.  The wrapper is the afor mentioned San Andrés Negro, the binder is Dominican, and the fillers are Nicaraguan, Pennsylvanian and Peruvian, blended in a slightly different proportion than the rest of the Bianco line. This was the best cigar I’ve smoked in recent memory. It was rich, loaded with those dark chocolate and espresso flavors I love, with some interesting spices from the Pennsylvania and Peruvian fillers. The shape was fun and comfortable in the mouth and hand, and it smoked perfectly, the draw had just the right resistance, and the burn was even. I lit it with a new lighter, the Xikar Xidris, a new addition to their lighter line, which you’ll hear more about in the near future, but out of the box it worked well and has a great feel and look.  I’ll certainly be on the look out for the Fratello Bianco The Boxer as this is an amazing cigar.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

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