Fratello

Fratello Arlequin Toro

Fratello Arlequin. Fratello is an American cigar company, founded by former NASA employee Omar de Frias. And for his cigars, he either uses Italian names or bases them on his background in the space industry. For the Fratello Arlequin, both these subjects come together. The cigars are only available in the Fratello Space Pack. A fresh pack with 4 different Fratello toro cigars. The Space Pack draws its name from De Frias his years at NASA, Arlequin comes from the jester at the old Italian theatre.


The cigars come only in a 6×50 size for now. If the public response on the blend is good, De Frias might release the blend in more shape as regular production. For the production of this cigar, Fratello uses Joya de Nicaragua. That’s where most Fratello cigars are made, although some are made at La Aurora in the Dominican Republic. For the blend, De Frias picked Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobacco as the fillers. The binder comes from Ecuador. And the wrapper is Mexican.


The cigar looks good. A nice dark, leathery-looking wrapper. The construction feels good. The ring is recognizable Fratello, yet with a colorful back that is clearly inspired by the harlequins from the Italian theatre. Without knowledge of the name and the harlequin history, the ring may seem a little childish though. But if you are in the know, it makes sense. The aroma isn’t too strong, and the cigar has the smell of old leather.


The cold draw is good. The cigar gives a mixture of leather, spice and raw tobacco in the cold draw. Immediately after lighting, there is marzipan with coffee and leather. Then the flavors change to cinnamon toast with leather and pepper. Coffee appears too, with more pepper and fruity acidity. The flavors continue to develop. Wood and leather show up while toast, pepper, sweetness, and coffee remain. The mouthfeel is a bit buttery. Halfway the cigar is sweet and bitter, with old leather, charred wood, and caramel. The final third starts with wood, leather, and the pleasant bitterness of very dark chocolate. Then there are spices as well, the flavors pick up. The pepper is present yet not overpowering.


The draw is good. The ash is salt and pepper colored, and quite firm. The burn had to be corrected once. The smoke is decent in volume and thickness. The cigar is medium-full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is three hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? For the price, yeah maybe.

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Categories: 89, Dominican cigars, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars

Fratello Bianco II

The first time I ran into the Fratello brand was when I was in Nicaragua in 2015 with my then employer, journalist Marcel Langedijk and photographer Jesaka Hizkia for the Cigaragua book. At the Joya de Nicaragua factory I saw cigars being packed that I never heard of, Fratello, and asked about them since I’m a cigar geek and new brands spark my interest. It turned out Joya de Nicaragua makes those cigars for Omar de Frias.


Last year at Intertabac I met Omar, a huge guy, who used to work for Nasa. I think he launched satellites into space with his bare hands, that’s how tall and strong he is. He handed me one of his Fratello cigars which I reviewed and this year at intertabac he handed me his second line, the Fratello Bianco, a 6×50 Teachers Pet aka Fratello Bianco II. The cigar is made with filler from the USA, Peru and Nicaragua, a Dominican binder and wrapper from Mexico.


While the name Bianco might make you think this will be a Connecticut Shade wrapper, as was my first thought when I heard the name, it is not. The Mexican San Andres wrapper is dark. There is some oil to the wrapper but it’s dry on the tough with a few veins. The unusual shaped white ring with red letters and silver details fits the dark wrapper. The construction feels good and the shape of the cigar looks good, but I have to add that I can’t remember if I ever had a cigar made by Joya that didn’t have great construction. The cigar has a medium strong, vegetable like, aroma, cauliflower, broccoli kinda smell.


I punched the cigar, the cold draw is perfect. I taste dry tobacco with a hint of dark chocolate. After lighting, with matchsticks this time, I taste chocolate. After half an inch some dry vegetable taste joins the chocolate as a supporting flavor. After a third I taste some cinnamon too. Halfway I taste chocolate, pepper and nuts. In the final third I taste wood, a bit charred, vanilla and pepper. The pepper grows near the end.


The draw is perfect and the white ash is firm. The white smoke is thick and medium full in volume. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is almost two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? Oh Yes, oh yes. I used a nub tool, that’s how good it is.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fratello Boxer Box Pressed Torpedo

The first time I ever heard of the Fratello brand was in may 2015 when I was visiting the Joya de Nicaragua factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and I spotted the brand. I didn’t know what it was, so I asked Juan Martinez and he explained that it was a private label for a gentleman named Omar de Frias. Fast forward a year later, due to the new then pending TPD2 regulations the company I worked for bought 2 boxes of everything of all the brands we distributed and Joya de Nicaragua included every possible size of Fratello and Sobremesa too just to be sure and have these cigars registered on the Dutch market. Included were two boxes of Fratello lancero, a size that we don’t get a lot but as a lover of that vitola I snagged both boxes for myself


In september of last year I met Omar at the Joya de Nicaragua booth at Intertabac, we chatted a bit and he said “let me give you my favorite cigar” and handed me this 6 1/2×52 Fratello Boxer box pressed torpedo. A quick look on their website taught me that the cigar is made with filler from Nicaragua and Peru, a Ecuadorean Sumatra binder and a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. As the name suggests, the cigar is box pressed. The wrapper has a nice medium dark wrapper, to reminds me of a bar of chocolate, with a few veins that rolled in a way you don’t see them on the face of the cigar. The ring is great, not a ‘straight’ ring with a diagonal written text but a true diagonal ring with a vibrant red color, white letters and black lining. The footboard is black with red lining and white letters.


The construction of this cigar feels very good, I can’t feel any plugs or soft spots but then again, I can’t recall ever having a bad rolled Joya de Nicaragua cigar. The aroma isn’t strong and quite spicy, a bit like paprika powder and other kitchen spices, quite unique. I used a flat cut to cut the cigar. The foot band was stuck to the cigar so I damaged the wrapper taking the ring off. The cold draw is great and I taste spicy raisins. I use a soft flame to light the cigar. I taste roasted coffee beans and an earthy flavor.


After a centimeter the coffee disappears and I taste that earthy flavor with a nice dose of refreshing lemon. The lemon tones down a little and I taste a little bit of cocoa with it. The earthy flavor is still the base of it all. After a third the earthy flavor is all I taste. Halfway the coffee returns with a little bit of lemon. Slowly the cigar gets a little spicy with a little parsley and pepper. The lemon gets stronger again. The pepper is slowly taking the overhand. I also taste a faint cocoa again. Near the end I taste pepper and a bit chocolate with a little nuts.


The draw is good even though I cut the cigar very close to the top and therefore not opening up all smoke channels. That does effect the smoke, that could be thicker and more luscious. The ash isn’t very pretty at the start but the color and the structure gets better along the way, it’s relatively firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium full bodied and equally flavored. The smoke time is two hours exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? I liked the lancero better.

Score: 89

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Categories: 89, Fabrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, Fratello, Nicaraguan cigars | Tags: , , , , , ,

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