Ora Vivo Armand Assante

Just prior to the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, a cigar was announced that was a collaboration between Victor Vitale of Legacy Brands, Gary Macchione of Boutique Cigar Brands, and film actor Armand Assante.  The cigar is called the Ora Vivo Armand Assante, and as the name indicates it carries Assante’s name.  For a while Assante was looking for the right fit to associate his name with a cigar.  Assante had a friendship with Macchione, and was familiar with Vitale’s cigar work.  Assante and Macchione approached Vitale and the wheels were put in motion.  As we learned at the IPCPR 2013 Trade Show, this is not a cigar where Assante simply lent his name.  It is a project in which Assante has had significant involvement with.  Over the past several weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the final Ora Vivo Armand Assante product.  Not only is this an excellent and classic cigar smoke, but this project represents some of Vitale’s best work to date.

We talked to Vitale at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show about the project.  While Vitale felt it would be a huge plus to the industry to bring Assante on-board, he also wanted to make sure the fit was right for all.  As Vitale explained to me at IPCPR, “If this is something you are looking to do as a license and put your name on it, I’m not interested.  If this is something that you want to create because its a personal passion of yours and this is something you waited your whole life to do; and you are looking to create a legacy, than I am interested and I will partner will you.”

And since then Assante has gone full throttle with this project.  He was at Vitale’s booth at IPCPR for nearly the entire duration of the trade show.  He also is promoting his cigar on November 2nd at a special dinner open to consumers at Sterling Gardens in Matawan, New Jersey.

Without further ado, let’s break down the Ora Vivo Armand Assante and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The Ora Vivo is a Nicaraguan puro featuring tobaccos from three regions in Nicaraguan.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

The Ora Vivo Armand Assante by Victor Vitale is being launched in four sizes.  The cigars are rpackaged in boxes of 16.

5 x 54
6 x 56
7 1/2 x 58
6 x 60


For this cigar experience, I smoked the 5 x 54 robusto size. The wrapper to the Ora Vivo Armand Assante has a rich caramel color to it.  The wrapper itself has a slight amount of oil on it.  The wrapper also does a good job at hiding its seams.  There are some visible veins on the wrapper itself.

The band features two Roman Statue-like heads arranged in a conjoined-like fashion.  The heads sit on a indigo colored circular background.  There are gold and black rings surrounding the circular background with the text “ORA VIVO” going around the inner ring.  Below the circular background is an indigo ribbon with the text “ORA VIVO” on it.  The remainder of the band’s background has a white color.  On each side of the band are three gold medallions with various designs on it.  The bottom of the band has a banner of gold colored various international flags. Just above those flags in gold font is the text “ARMAND ASSANTE”.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting up the Ora Vivo, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut.  Once the cap was successfully clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw phase.   The dry draw provided a mix of natural tobacco and pepper – definitely establishing a classic feel right out of the gate.  Overall, I considered the pre-light draw of the Ora Vivo to be satisfactory.  At this point, I was ready to light up my Ora Vivo and see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The Ora Vivo started out with a mix of pepper and earth notes in the forefront.  There was also a combination of tobacco and nut flavors in the background.  By about the five percent mark, the earth and nut became the primary flavors.  The pepper moved into the background and it was around this point where the natural tobacco floated between the forefront and background.  As for the retro-hale, it had a nice combination of nut and spice – complementing the flavors on the tongue perfectly.

As the Ora Vivo moved into the second half, the earth notes remained in the forefront and were now joined by the pepper notes.  The nut notes had moved into the background – along with the natural tobacco flavors.   The flavor profile remained this way until the cigar experience came to a close.  There flavors were smooth right until the end – and there were no harsh notes.  The resulting nub was a little soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

In terms of the burn and draw, the Ora Vivo Armand Assante did not let me down at all.  The burn line remained straight from start to finish – requiring minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was tight with a few isolated cases of flaking – but nothing major.  The ash was white in color with some gray and black streaks in it.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Ora Vivo Armand Assante

As for the draw, I found the Ora Vivo to be ideal.  It was not loose and not tight.  This made the Ora Vivo a very easy cigar to puff on.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, the Ora Vivo is not going to be a cigar that is going to overpower you with nicotine.  I assessed the strength of this cigar as medium.  As for the flavors, they definitely had some depth and robustness.  I assessed the Ora Vivo as having just enough depth to be a full-bodied smoke.  Overall, when looking at strength versus body, I gave the edge to the body here.  The Ora Vivo is definitely a cigar that emphasizes flavor.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned up front he Ora Vivo Armand Assante was a very classic smoke – and this was reflected in the flavor profile. I didn’t find the Ora Vivo was going to be groundbreaking in terms of its flavor profile, but the flavors it did deliver had an old school feel – and one that can appeal to a wide variety of cigar enthusiasts.  While I don’t have any context for the type of cigars Assante smokes on or off screen, if had to venture to guess what he would smoke – it would be a cigar like this.  This is the type of cigar that can appeal to a wide range of cigar enthusiasts – either novice or experienced.  As for myself, this was an excellent cigar.  It is not only a cigar I’d smoke again – but its certainly a box worthy one.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy
Score: 92

Source: One cigar for this assessment was gifted to me by a friend.  Additional cigars were also provided by Legacy Brands.  The request was initiated by Legacy Brands to myself (Cigar Coop) to provide feedback.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but in no way does this influence this write-up.