|Ortega Serie “D” Natural|
The Ortega Serie “D” Natural was the second blend to be released by Ortega Premium Cigars. Ortega Premium Cigars is run by Eddie Ortega. Ortega, was the co-founder of EO Brands which became famous for the 601 and Murcielago lines. Earlier this year, Ortega and his partner Erik Espinosa announced they were dissolving the EO Brands’ partnership and each formed their own company. Ortega’s first release with Ortega Premium Cigars would be the Ortega Serie “D” Maduro. The Serie “D” Natural would follow-up a few months later. I recently had an opportunity to sample the Serie “D” Natural. Overall, I found this to be a good cigar and that differs greatly from its maduro counterpart.
With the Serie “D” Maduro, Ortega teamed up with the My Father Cigars’ factory in Esteli, Nicaragua to produce the cigar. For the Serie “D” Natural, once again this cigar will be made out of the same factory. Like the Serie “D” Maduro, it took me some time to track down the Serie “D” Natural. This is because Ortega Premium Cigars has been selective in terms of rolling out the cigar to brick and mortar retailers. The slower, selective roll-out protects many brick and mortars and helps control the tobacco supply a little better.
Without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at the Ortega Serie “D” Natural and see what this cigar delivers.
The Serie “D” Natural uses a similar blend to what the Serie “D” Maduro has – except for the fact that it utilizes an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. This is a wrapper that has become a staple of the Garcia family at My Father Cigars.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: Esteli, Nicaraguan
Filler Esteli/Jalapa Nicaraguan
The Serie “D” Natural is available in the same frontmarks as the Serie “D” Maduro. The original focus of the Serie “D” line was around smaller length, smaller ring gauge cigars. Like its maduro counterpart, the Serie “D” Natural has a box-press shape. Recently, Ortega added a “No. 20” (6 x 60) vitola to both the Maduro and Natural lines.
No. 6: 4 1/2 x 48
No. 7: 5 x 46
No. 12: 5 x 52
No. 8: 5 1/2 x 50
No. 10: 6 x 52
No. 20: 6 x 60
When we first assessed the Ortega Serie “D” Maduro, we looked at the No. 6 vitola. Therefore, it was appropriate to assess the equivalent vitola for our review of the Serie “D” Natural.
The Ortega Serie “D” Natural No. 6 has a medium brown-colored wrapper. There is virtually no red tint to this rosado wrapper. The wrapper itself does not have an oily or silky complexion to it. It is also virtually void of visible veins and visible wrapper seams. From the foot, there is a subtle sweet tobacco aroma.
The banding to the Ortega Serie “D” Natural is similar to the Ortega Serie “D” Maduro with some slight differences. The band features a combination of red, gold, and white coloring. The top part of the band has a red background, while the bottom half has a gold background. On the top half, the name “Ortega” is in white cursive-like font on a red background. In smaller white font and on a red ribbon background is the text ‘Serie “D”‘. There is also gold trimming around the cigar – including gold leaves on the side. There is black stripe toward the bottom. The big difference between the Natural and Maduro band is the color of the bottom half. The bottom of the Natural band is gold colored while the bottom of the Maduro band is green colored.
Like the Serie “D” Maduro, the Serie “D” Natural features some innovation around the band around UPC Codes. Here is what we wrote when we assessed the Serie “D” Maduro. The same concept applies to the Serie “D” Natural.
There is a little bit of innovation on the band as the back features a UPC code. From speaking to several retailers, they applaud this move as it makes their lives easier when pricing. Given that Ortega has somewhat garnered a technical-savvy reputation in the cigar industry (I can’t say if it is true or not, but he is very active on twitter and facebook), this doesn’t come as a surprise that he has been able to implement this innovative concept.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I do with almost every cigar, I opted to remove the cap of the Ortega Serie “D” Natural with a straight cut. It was now time to start the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw notes provided mostly cedar notes. The flavor was not an overly spicy cedar, but at the same time it was not overly sweet. Overall, I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. Therefore, it was time to toast the foot of this cigar and see what the cigar smoking experience would bring to the table.
Similar to the Serie “D” Maduro, the start to the Serie “D” Natural had a peppery start. The pepper can be detected both on the tongue and through the nostrils. Given the Serie “D” Natural is made by the Garcia family, I would definitely categorize it as a Garcia pepper blast. The pepper subsided quickly and some sweetness began to fold in. The sweetness seemed to be on the citrus side as it also had some sour components to it. The citrus and pepper were pretty much on even footing during the early stages of the cigar.
Later in the first third, the citrus and pepper were still very much the primary notes. I also detected some caramel notes in the background. As the smoke moves into the second third, a woody flavor emerges and becomes the primary flavor. The citrus and pepper became more of a secondary note. The caramel flavors became tertiary.
As the Serie “D” Natural moved into the final third, the flavor profile pretty much held. The cigar did not get overly spicy or harsh. The resulting nub was excellent – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
From a burn perspective, the Serie “D” Natural did require several touch-ups during each smoking experience to keep the burn going straight. This surprised me because I did not have this issue with the Serie “D” Maduro. The touch-ups with my butane lighter kept the burn line going straight, but I did have to reach for it more frequently than I perform. The resulting ash was white in color. For the most part the ash was on the tight side, but I did have some occasional flaking The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The Ortega Serie “D” Natural required virtually no maintenance from start to finish on the draw. As a result, I assessed this to be an excellent draw.
Strength and Body
The Serie “D” Maduro was what I termed a classic “medium-medium maduro”. This means the cigar had medium strength and the flavors were medium-bodied. For the Serie “D” Natural, I actually felt both the strength and body had more of a boost when compared to its maduro counterpart. From a strength perspective, the nicotine level seemed higher and I assessed the cigar to be medium to full in terms of strength. The flavor notes of the Serie “D” Natural also were slightly deeper than the Serie “D” Maduro. I assessed this cigar to also be medium to full-bodied. The strength and body balance each other very nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
The Ortega Serie “D” Natural started out very promising, but as the flavor profile got more woody, I admit it wasn’t moving in the direction I really wanted. This really became more of an issue of the cigar not fitting my flavor profile. The Serie “D” Natural is a good case study for what a wrapper can do to change a cigar. Ultimately, I think maduro fans will still like the Serie “D” Maduro and non Maduro fans will gravitate toward the Serie “D” Natural. This is a cigar I would still recommend to both novice and experienced cigar enthusiasts. This might be a good cigar for novice enthusiasts to graduate to something that is medium to full in strength and body. From a personal standpoint, the Serie “D” Natural didn’t have the “wow” factor, but its still a quality smoke and one I would reach to from time to time.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: Nice to Have