Cigar Review: Fratello Oro

  • FratOro_straightVitola: Corona
  • 5.5” x 47 ring gauge 
  • MSRP ~$8.00
  • Provided by local rep

Background

It had been a while since I had smoked a Fratello…around the time of the 2015 IPCPR to be exact. I had seen the brand’s owner, Omar Frias, at the trade show in New Orleans and tried the new Bianco blend. Then…life got in the way…until one of our local brokers picked up Fratello recently. The rep gave me a few of their cigars to get reacquainted with the brand in hopes that the shop would give a greater presence in the humidor. So I smoked an original Fratello—still a very nice smoke, but one that I had kind of forgotten about—and a Bianco—better than I remembered, and my memory wasn’t a bad one—and for the first time, an Oro.

“Oro” means “gold” in Spanish…so we have (yet) another Connecticut Shade-wrapped stick named either Gold or Oro (if you’r having trouble remembering others, think CAO, GTO, LFD, 5 Vegas, Davidoff (Puro d’Oro and Oro Blanco), Quesada…as well as a ton of brands you haven’t heard of). Let’s just say that if someone tries to trademark “Gold” or “Oro” in the cigar business, there will be a host of plaintiffs trying to sue.

Anyway, so it’s wrapped in an Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut Shade, but then it gets interesting with an African Cameroon binder, and uses fillers from Columbia, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. It read that it’s made in the La Aurora factory, but after smoking a couple, I can already say it doesn’t really taste like a La Aurora. I’ve had a couple before this review stick; all of them were given to me by the local brand representative.

FratOro_boxPrelight

The original Fratello came in plain wood boxes. Bianco boxes were white. The Oro comes in a mustard yellow box with the familiar red, white, and black company logo. The color of the box maybe isn’t the most attractive thing I’ve ever seen, but it does attract attention in the same way Camacho and Toraño boxes do, while looking a little classier. The bands (regular and foot) are rendered in white, black and brilliant gold foil. Yes, photography is a challenge, but they do catch the light, don’t they?

The wrapper was a nice shade of Conny gold with a slightly oily feel to it and an aroma of fresh hay and clean earth. The foot had a slightly riper earthiness to it, along with touches of cedar and mildly sweetened chocolate.

Once clipped, I got a really good cold draw that had flavors of bread, honey, and a little pepper spice.

Flavor

The Fratello Oro starts off with a bold and in-your-face presence. Flavors of earth and honey, cedar and pepper, cocoa powder and bread, all bounce off each other in a fairly full-bodied cavalcade almost from the first puff. Mild in body? No….not really a “mild-to-medium” Conny here. This cigar comes out of the gate full in body and flavor, making it very unusual in the marketplace today. The interplay between wrapper and binder was especially interesting, with a pronounced sweetness and subtle pepper burn on the palate (and much stronger pepper burn on the nose) from the Cameroon leaf mixed with the creamy smoothness of the Conny. The fillers played a bolstering role with earth and cedar.

As I headed into the second third, the texture of the smoke continued to be very creamy and smooth. I continued to get a good amount of pepper burn while the sweetness backed off a bit and more grassiness came through.

The grassy notes backed off during the last third, replaced by a cedar flavor while the smoke continued to be creamy, oily and full-bodied. Earthiness was just below the surface and the sweet, almost honey, notes popped up from time to time. Pepper spice continued to be a dull burn on the palate.

FratOro_angleConstruction

The samples I have smoked have all been great construction-wise: fine draw, even burn line, solid ash.

Value

The price point on these is very fair for the experience they deliver.

FratOro_footConclusions

After I smoked my first one, I declared the Fratello Oro to be a “Connecticut with balls!” I haven’t changed my assessment of that. I’m fairly certain I’ve never had a more full-bodied stick with a Connecticut Shade wrapper. The interplay of the different tobaccos provided a great complexity throughout and the overall flavor profile was very pleasing to my palate. Definitely one to try if you like a Conny on occasion, but want one with some oomph.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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