Ora Vivo Armand Assante Genios
(European Market Release)

In 2013 Victor Vitale’s Legacy Brands launched a new cigar line called Ora Vivo.  This project is a collaboration between Vitale, Gary Macchione of Boutique Brands, and motion picture actor Armand Assante.  The first cigar, the Ora Vivo Armand Assante was launched at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show.  What makes this project so unique was the fact that Assante is a celebrity who did not just lend his name to this project, but played a hands-on integral role in its development.  Ora Vivo Armand Assante was originally launched in four lines, but later in 2013 an additional four vitolas were added for the European market.  The European sizes were geared more toward smaller sized offerings.  One of those sizes is the 5 1/2 x 52 Genios.  Back when Ora Vivo was launched, I called it Vitale’s best work to date.  After having an opportunity to smoke the Genios, this solidified that Ora Vivo is the real deal in my book.

Back at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, 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 has also been promoting his line at cigar events across the country.

Without further ado, let’s look closer at the Ora Vivo Armand Assante Genios 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

There are eight frontmarks in the Ora Vivo blend – four for the European market and four for the American market

European Vitolas

Genios: 5 1/2 x 52
Pyramid: 6 1/8 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
Colon: 5 x 44

American Vitolas

Ov-3: 5 x 54
Ov-6: 6 x 56
Ov-7: 6 x 60
Ov-8: 7 1/2 x 58

From a packaging standpoint, the European vitolas are packaged in a white box and contain a white ribbon on the footer.  The American vitolas are packaged in a black box and have no ribbon.


Packaging of the Ora Vivo European Editon


As mentioned for this cigar expeienc, I smoked the 5 1/2 x 52 Genios – which is a 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”.  As mentioned on the footer is the white ribbon.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting up my Ora Vivo Armand Assante Genios, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. Once the cap was clipped it was on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw wasn’t overly flashy, yet provided the right appetizer on the pallet. I picked up notes of natural tobacco and pepper. Overall, I was quite pleased with the pre-light draw of this cigar. At this point, I was ready to fire up the Ora Vivo Armand Assante Genios and see what this cigar would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Overall I found some parallels between the Ora Vivo Genios and the American vitolas.  I had smoked the 54 ring gauge Ov-3 and found it to have and excellent profile.  I found the 52 ring Genios to have similar flavors, but also tell its own story.

The start to the Ova Vivo Genios delivered a mix of white pepper spice, natural tobacco sweetness, and nut. It didn’t take long of the nut flavors to move to the forefront. The spice and natural tobacco moved into the background. I found that the spice soon became a cross between the white pepper and some cedar notes.  The pepper was also prominent on the retro-hale.

By the end of the last third, the nut flavor became richer and took on more of a “toasted nut” taste. The combination of white pepper and cedar was a close secondary note. These flavors continued into the second third. The natural tobacco notes varied in intensity during this stage of the cigar. I also found that this cigar had a nice “Nicaraguan twang” on the tongue – giving it a nice lingering effect on the finish.

The last third saw the spice join the toasted nut and natural tobacco flavors in the forefront. This is the way the the cigar came to a close. The resulting nub was outstanding – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The burn and draw performed excellent on the Ora Vivo.  The burn line remained relatively straight. There were a couple of points of jaggedness along the burn line, but nothing major and no abnormal amounts of touch-ups or re-lights were required.  The resulting ash was a bit darker than what I got on the Ov-3.  It still had a salt and pepper pattern and remained firm throughout the smoking experience.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Ora Vivo Armand Assante Genios

The draw was outstanding as well.  It was not too tight and not too loose.  This cigar was low maintenance in terms drawing on it and getting maximum flavors.

Strength and Body

Like the American sizes, I found the Genios to be a medium strength cigar.  The Genios perhaps had a touch more strength than the American sizes, but it still was in that range for medium.  As for the body,  like the American sizes, I also found this to be a full-bodied smoke.  The flavors had some nice weight on the pallet.  As for strength versus body, I definitely gave the edge to the body.

Final Thoughts

When I first smoked Ora Vivo, I mentioned how this was a very classic styled smoke – and the Genios certainly follows suit here.  The American Ora Vivo provided me a great smoking experience.  I found the European one to be an even better one.  I cannot say if this is due to a smaller ring or age of the tobacco.  What I can say is that Vitale and company hit it out of the park with this particular blend.  This is definitely a cigar I would recommend to either the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast.  As for myself, this is a cigar I would definitely smoke again – and its a box worthy cigar.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy
Score: 93


News: Ora Vivo Armand Assante and Tortuga 215 Reserva Heading to Europe; New Ora Vivo Sizes for Europe
Price: n/a
Source: Sample Provided by Manufacturer (*)
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 79
Stogie Feed: Ora Vivo Armand Assante 5 x 54

* The cigars for this assessment was given to Cigar Coop by Legacy Brands.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but this does not influence the review.