|Fratello by Fratello Cigars|
Just prior to the 2013 IPCPR Trade show, a new cigar company launched their first cigar. The name of the company is Fratello Cigars and their first release is also being called Fratello. Fratello Cigars is being launched by Omar de Frias who is based out of Northern Virginia. de Frias is a former professional basketball player and long-time cigar enthusiast. The day before the trade show, IPCPR attendees had a first opportunity to smoke this cigar at an FDA Seminar. It was at that point where I first had the opportunity to sample this cigar. Like many other attendees, I was impressed by this debut line. Since then I’ve had an opportunity to smoke a few more of these. This cigar is an outstanding cigar and one of the better rookie efforts for 2013.
de Frias originally is from the Dominican Republic. In addition to playing pro basketball, he has worked for NASA, Baxter Healthcare Corp, and earned an MBA from the University of Puerto Rico. The Fratello project was two years in the making. In terms of the name Fratello, de Frias explained in a press release, “Fratello, has been my nickname since college, means brother in Italian and embodies the true nature of this industry, camaraderie, family and friendship.”
Without further ado, let’s break down the Fratello and see what this cigar brings to the table:
The blend features tobaccos from three countries. There is a Peruvian component in the filler. There is Nicaraguan tobacco in the wrapper as well as in the filler. The binder is Ecuadrian Sumatra.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Fratello is currently available in four sizes. Each size will be available in boxes of 20:
Corona: 5 1/2 x 46
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 52
Toro: 6 1/4 x 54
Timacle: 6 x 60
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Fratello Corona. The Fratello has a silky colorado red wrapper with a coffee bean tint to it. There is some darker marbling. There are a few visible wrapper seams and a few visible veins.
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.
de Frias told me that the placement of the band on the cigar was critical. The zig-zag shape added a challenge to make sure the cigars aligned in the box evenly.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my cigar experience of the Fratello Corona, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap. It was then on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided me notes of coffee and cedar spice. While it wasn’t an overly complex pre-light draw, it was nonetheless an enjoyable one. At this point, I was ready to light up my Fratello Corona and see what the overall cigar experience would deliver.
The start to the Fratello Corona provided some notes of red pepper and coffee to start. I could also detect some notes of dark chocolate and cream in the background. In the early stages of the cigar, the pepper was definitely more prominent on the after-draw. The pepper was also prominent on the retro-hale – and remained like that throughout the smoking experience.
Later in the first third, some cedar sweetness emerged – joining the pepper and coffee notes. As the Fratello moved into the second third, the chocolate notes were replaced by a light citrus note. The creamy notes still remained in the background. The citrus note wasn’t overly sweet, yet complemented the primary flavors nicely.
In the last third, I found some earth notes emerge and take over as the primary flavor. The coffee notes diminished, but I could still detect the pepper, cedar sweetness, and citrus notes. The Fratello was flavorful until the end. The resulting nub was soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Fratello is definitely a well constructed cigar. The attributes of burn and draw reflect this excellent construction nicely and score quite well with this cigar. The burn line of the Fratello remained relatively straight from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was firm with a classic salt and pepper color. Both the burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw had that slight touch of resistance to it. This is something I consider ideal in my book – making for an excellent cigar to puff on from start to finish.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, I found that Fratello Corona to have what I term “the right amount of pop”. I assessed the Fratello as having just enough strength to fall into the medium to full range. As for the flavors, there definitely was some nice depth to them. I also assessed the Fratello as being a medium to full-bodied cigar. This cigar does an excellent job at striking an equilibrium between its strength and body. Overall I found these two attributes to balance each other excellently.
Overall the Fratello was a very impressive effort for a first cigar from a new cigar company. This was a well-constructed cigar that delivered excellent complexity and balance. There is no doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from this company as the future looks very bright for de Frias and his brand. The early momentum that Fratello Cigars got at the trade show appears to have continued as this is one new cigar I continue to hear people talk about. I found this to be an excellent cigar for a novice enthusiast to graduate to something on the medium plus end. Experienced cigar enthusiasts will definitely appreciate everything this cigar has to offer. As for myself, this is a cigar I would not hesitate to smoke or buy again.
Strength: Medium fo Full
Body: Mediumt to Full
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigar for this assessment were provided by Fratello Cigars. These samples were initiated by Fratello Cigars in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this write-up.