The Fratello Boxer was the first line extension made by Fratello Cigars. In 2013, Fratello Cigars had a very successful launch of its eponymous line. In 2014, company founder Omar de Frias opted to extend his line. Rather than just add a new size, he opted to use the opportunity to play with the blend. The result became a 6 1/4 x 52 box-pressed torpedo called the Fratello Boxer that would feature a blend different from the four original sizes in the line. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Fratello Boxer. There was no doubt that this was a different cigar from the cigars with the original blend. Overall I found the Boxer to be nice change of pace from the original line as it offered a spicier and more full-bodied cigar experience.
When De Frias launched Fratello Cigars, he got a nice jumpstart on the market as he made available his cigar to attendees of the FDA seminar at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show. He then followed up on this momentum by launching a grassroots journey he calls his “retailer countdown”. This involved visiting retailers and consumers and spreading the word of his brand. This proved to be successful and help land Fratello on the map. In fact, for 2014 we named Fratello Cigars one of our Cigar Coop Five Boutiques to Watch.
Recently De Frias added his first shop exclusive to Stogies World Class Cigars in Houston in the form of a lancero called the Fratello H-Town Lancero. Like the Boxer, the H-Town has a blend different from the other vitolas in the line (including the Boxer).
Without further ado, let’s break down the Fratello Boxer and see what this cigar brings to the table:
The blend features tobaccos from three countries. One thing worth noting is the Peruvian component in the filler. There is also Nicaraguan tobacco in the wrapper as well as in the filler. The binder is Ecuadrian Sumatra.
On Episode 124 of Stogie Geeks, De Frias explained what was done different with the blend. In the original Fratello blend, the ligero (from Esteli Nicaragua) was placed at both ends of the cigar. With the Boxer, the ligero is present throughout the length of the cigar. Because the Boxer is box-pressed, it was necessary to remove some tobacco from the blend to prevent it from being too tight (thus cracking the wrapper), so some of the ligero that was removed.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan, Peruvian
The Fratello Boxer is a 6 1/4 x 52 box-pressed torpedo. This is the only size using this particular blend.
The Fratello Boxer’s Habano wrapper is a combination of colorado red and coffee bean color. Upon closer examination, some darker marbling can be seen. For this particular vitola, I did not find the wrapper to be oily, but on the silky side. There are a few visible wrapper seams and a few visible veins. The box press itself was firm and didn’t have any soft spots.
The band is very unique. It is primarily red with thin black trim and white font. The band is a zig-zag shape with the text “FRAT” and “ELLO” in large white font and black trim. The text “FRATELLO CIGARS” is also on the band in landscape mode – also in white text on a black background.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Given the Boxer had a torpedo tip, I went with a straight cut and cut a little less than 1/2 of the tip off. Once the cap was clipped, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided notes of cedar sweet-spice and subtle notes of coffee and cream. In terms of the pre-light draws across the other blends in the line, this one was the most enjoyable. At this point, I was ready to light up the Fratello Boxer and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
Out of the gate, I was treated to a mix of cherry sweetness, white pepper, and cedar spices. I also found the white pepper was prominent on the retro-hale. As the Fratello Boxer moved through the first third, I found the cherry notes transitioned to a coffee bean note. In addition, there were notes of cedar present. Meanwhile both an herbal and slight cream note surfaced in the background. The pepper notes were also in the background and had a lingering effect on the tongue.
The coffee and cedar notes remained primary going into the second third. During the second third, the herbal notes moved toward the forefront. Meanwhile the cream notes remained distant and the pepper notes still lingered on the after-draw.
By the last third, there was much more spice. The spices contained a mix of herbal, cedar, and some of the pepper notes. The coffee notes were now in the background, and the cream had pretty much disappeared. I found this mix of spices to get a little harsh in the latter stages. When the cigar experience came to a close, the resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
When it comes to box-press torpedoes, many times I have been disappointed when it comes to burn. With the Fratello Boxer, this was not the case. This cigar maintained a relatively straight burn path from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups. The burn line itself also was on the sharp side. Meanwhile the resulting ash had a near white color to it. The ash was firm and came off the Boxer in nice clean chunks. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Fratello Boxer|
The draw was outstanding. It had a slight bit of resistance – which is something that I like. Deriving the flavors from the Boxer was a low maintenance task. The cigar produced a decent amount of smoke. The torpedo tip remained firm throughout the smoking experience.
Strength and Body
Compared to the strength and body of the other Fratello vitolas, I definitely found the Boxer to be the most “full” in the line. I assessed this cigar as falling right in the middle of the medium to full range of the strength spectrum. In terms of the body, it started out medium to full but as the cigar progressed, the body increased its weight on the palate. By the second half, I found the Boxer was a full-bodied cigar. When looking at strength versus body, I found the body to have a slight edge.
The Fratello Boxer succeededs in providing a stronger and fuller cigar based on the Fratello blend. The combination of box-pressing and tweaking the blend made for a different cigar. At the same time, the Boxer still maintains a lot of the core characteristics in terms of sweetness to the original blend. You will definitely pick up the fact that the ligero leaf is positioned for the length of the cigar. My only concern is that each time I smoked this, the last third exhibited more in the way of harshness. However, the first 2/3 was excellent and overall the pluses outweighed the minuses. This is probably a cigar I’d give to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar that was nice change of pace. Given all of the pluses, it’s still worthy of a fiver in my book.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver