Bite Size Review: Fratello Boxer
Know what you get when you cross a 6’9 ex-professional basketball player with a NASA project analyst and a graduate degree in finance? Really, REALLY good cigars. Ok, it’s really this Puerto Rican native who also happens to love cigars, Omar de Frias. Thankfully, for us anyway, he gave up jump shots, said adios to NASA and set out to make his own stogies. Omar’s lightening moment began in his youth in and around the Dominican neighborhood where he grew up transfixed by the men, like his grandfather, in broad-brimmed hats who smoked cigars.
Then a neighboring store owner took Omar to watch a torcedor at his craft. Game on. Cigars would forever be imprinted on his soul. In Omar’s case, the connection was intangible, but idealistic as the ‘it’ factor was more about class. In 2013, de Frias launched Fratello (Italian for ‘brother’) Cigars while still working at NASA. Shrewd in business and possessing a tireless drive, de Frias and Fratello Cigars became profitable within 20 months with three blends and garnered a following that grew exponentially in a very short time. This is a familiar theme: guy gets the cigar bug, is passionate, knows what he wants in a blend, executes perfectly and cigarnation lives happily ever after. I’m good with that.
Like few other maker/blenders, de Frias is passionate about great flavor and complexity. He also understands differentiation (another theme) the example of which is the iconic barber pole Fratello band. Fratello’s line-up includes the inaugural blend, Fratello, Bianco, Oro, Boxer, the new Navetta (NASA tribute) and the just released Exclusivo for the Old Virginia Tobacco Shop. The Fratello Boxer employs the same flavorful tobaccos as the eponymous release but with the addition of some extra Nicaraguan ligero. We LOVE ligero!
When we first saw the blend our collective drool-o-meter pegged 11 out of 10. The oily, cinnamon-colored Habano wrapper is smooth, semi-veiny with almost invisible seams. Lots of floral essence and chocolate soothe the nose. The tapered cap is very well done. The firmness of the roll is uniform throughout. The cold draw is good with a ‘V’ cut and coats the palate with thick herbal tea and molasses whereas the fragrance of tea, baked bread and ginger emanate from the boxed foot. The first aspects you notice after lighting up are 1) how crisp and clean the flavors are including the finish and 2) a very rich and smooth body. The addition of the ligero adds just the right amount of pepper. The build is flawless, the flavor palette is diverse and endlessly tasty and the transitions offer a host of complexity. Never mind Cigar Aficionado’s rating of only ‘89’ – this is boxworthy and a go-to if there ever was one. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Fratello Cigars are produced by venerable Joya de Nicaragua in Esteli, Nicaragua.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Torpedo [Box Pressed]
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.25″ / 52
- Purchased: Local B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
- Binder: Unknown
- Filler: Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec II
- Price paid: $9
Build: Uniform firmness throughout; nice torpedo treatment.
- Shaft – floral essence; chocolate
- Foot – green tea; baked bread; hint of ginger
- Cold Draw – tea; molasses
Flavors: Lots of leather and cinnamon notes initially, light black pepper, light spice and hint of anise; crisp toasty finishes; baked bread on retro; more floral and woody profiles in transitions; a lingering floral essence with additions of caramel, cedar and baked bread.
Touch ups: 1
Combustion: Uneven at times but corrects
Weaknesses: Uneven burn at times
Recommend: 1. Go-to
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer
- Smoke a banana instead