Fratello Oro Robusto

 

It’s been 2 years since our inaugural review of the Fratello brand heralding the Boxer, with its diverse complexity, beautiful construction and iconic barber pole band, a “go to” smoke. We felt that after two years of unfair neglect, it was time to revisit Omar de Frias’ Dominican boutique. But instead of going after the brand’s newer releases like Navetta Inverso or DMV, we chose to go backwards and shake down Fratello’s third installment, Oro. Not to be confused with the Boxer versions, which were not just a rehash of the brand’s first three blends – Cassico, Bianco and Oro – as each of the three lines were re-blended specifically for the box press dress.

 

Oro is the Spanish word for “gold”, an obvious clue to the namesake by the color of the cigar’s shiny bands and the Connecticut shade skin. The Oro was originally released in late 2016, making the line almost 4 years old and marks the first to be manufactured by La Aurora, not the Joya de Nicaragua factory which produced the inaugural Classico and follow-up, Bianco lines. Oro also marks Fratello’s first foray into using a Connecticut shade wrapper. At the announcement prior to its official release at the 2016 IPCPR show in Las Vegas, Fratello founder Omar de Frias hinted, “We wanted a mild to medium cigar with a creamy after taste but that it also embodies the true nature of our company which is full flavor cigars.”

 

The Oro remains a staple of Fratello’s growing portfolio and over the years it has found a fan base for those for whom mild-to-medium Connecticut-wrapped smokes hit collective sweet spots. The cigar has negotiated the heavy review circuit turning out respectable ratings, even inching to within a couple of points of hallowed 90s-rating territory at Cigar Aficionado. The Oro line, outside the box pressed Torpedo vitola, still remains a 5-size line-up from the bulbous, Nub-like Shorty to the 6”+ toro.

 

 

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In this writer’s opinion, Connecticut shade wrappers are the least attractive and tend to be a brittle bunch. The Oro’s Ecuadorian wrapper is no exception as there are visible holes and minute tears in the veiny, pecan shell-hued skin. The cigar feels firm throughout its length except for minor spongy areas around the foot. The pleasing floral and leather aromas from the wrapper, however, are a nice surprise and the fudge brownie essence from the foot also divert your attention from the less appealing package. The effortless cold draw is a bonus which also offers a nice dusting of kumquat flavors.

 

The opening draw is wonderfully rich with wood and oats followed by a lush retro of white pepper, cream and nougat. The creamy texture also adds hints of brown sugar. The long woody finish also features flashes of graham cracker. Settling into a dominant woody core, our robusto introduces some spice and oak notes and early nuances are replaced with a nice cocoa essence. Transitions offer spicier and smoky elements with more body highlighted by a steady diet of cocoa, cedar and black pepper notes and robust finishes of dark roasted coffee.

 

Bonus points for this cigar are its rich, tasty finishes. Construction is solid as it remains a generous smoke producer and produces a strong 1” ash. Combustion is rarely even from first light, but nothing that gets too askew. I’ve said before that many have tried to re-invent the “Connie” with few able to coalesce and complement nuances specific to the wrapper with creative blending aspects. As de Frias articulates from the outset, the goal was for a Connie with full flavor and a creamy texture. While not a go-to like his Boxer, I still say Mission Accomplished. – In Fumo Pax!

 

Recommendation: Boxworthy

 

Did you Know: Prior to his tenure as a NASA project analyst, Fratello founder, Omar de Frias, at 6’9” was a professional basketball player for his home country, the Dominican Republic.

 

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  • Profile: Mild-Med
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • Length / Ring: 5.0″ X 50
  • Purchased: Gift
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Cameroonian
  • Filler: Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan
  • Production: La Aurora Cigar Factory
  • Blade: Xikar Xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$8.08 [Box $161.50]
  • Humidor Age:  7.5 mo.
  • Box: 20
  • Other Vitolas: Corona [5.5″x47], Toro [6.25″x54], Gordo [6″x60], Shorty [4″x58]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1.01
Draw
: Effortless
Construction: Firm with spongy foot, pecan shell hue; veiny; light oil; perforated wrapper; feels dry, brittle; holds strong, 1″ ash; generous smoke producer.
Aromas:

  • Wrapper –  Leather, floral
  • Foot – Fudge Brownie
  • Cold Draw – Kumquats

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Lush draw; rich retro of leather, cream, nougat and oak; hints of brown sugar; hardy draw of oats and wood; long, woody finish with hints of graham cracker; wood becomes dominant; texture buttery smooth; light spice develops on palate; nuances replaced with more cocoa notes.
  • Transition: Bold profile with slight uptick in body; black pepper on palate; smoky retro of cedar and cocoa; robust finish of charred oak and coffee; savory draw of leather and wood; more spice.
  • Transition: Very woody; next level spice; little going on; hints of caramel with dominant notes of earth, cocoa and black pepper on retro; nice finish of black coffee and toasted cashews.

Complexity: Very good
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Very  good
Weaknesses: N/A
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

 

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