On October 10, 2016, Major League Baseball player David Américo Ortiz Arias suited up for the final time. The game was against the Cleveland Indians, marking the final matchup in what would become a clean sweep for a Cleveland organization well on their way to the 112th World Series matchup. Astonishingly, the 40-year-old Dominican American designated hitter, who’d come to be known as “Big Papi,” had showcased one of his most impressive seasons of his career in his 20 years played; marking a .315 batting average, 38 home runs, 127 RBIs. Still, even after contributing to an ambitious comeback in the 3rd game of the American League Division Series, Boston was defeated 4 – 3; and Ortiz gave his final goodbyes to a standing ovation of over 39,000 screaming fans at Fenway Park.
Ortiz ended his career as one of the best players of all time, winning the World Series on 3 occasions (1 of which ended the infamous, 86-year “Curse of the Bambino” winless drought for the Red Sox), a World Series MVP in 2013, 10 All-Star game appearances, and many other accolades.
And in the summer of 2016, as he began transitioning towards his departure from Major League Baseball, Ortiz introduced his next venture at the 2016 IPCPR show; honoring his Dominican heritage with a new cigar under his name: Big Papi by David Ortiz.
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*Images without Cigar Dojo watermark were provided by Tabacalera El Artista*
Big Papi by David Ortiz Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Claro
- Binder: Criollo ’98
- Filler: Dominican | Nicaraguan
- Factory: Tabacalera El Artista S.R.L. (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 54 toro
- Price: $13.75 (MSRP)
For this project, Ortiz collaborated with fellow Dominican manufacturer Tabacalera El Artista. Through the company’s vertical integration, Ortiz blended his ideal smoking experience, using the helpful guidance of El Artista’s artisans to come up with the final blend.
The cigars take on Ortiz’s “Big Papi” moniker, a nickname he earned in Boston after using the friendly Dominican slang “papi” to refer to anyone who’s name he’d forgotten.
After the initial debut in the summer of 2016, El Artista began shipping the cigars in late October—coinciding with Ortiz’s retirement.
Mr. Ortiz’s public involvement in the brand is important to El Artista. The release of Big Papi was timed with the end of his commitment to the 2016 baseball season, “We wanted to ensure David Ortiz’s attendance at events across the country.” says Jonas Santana, Marketing Manager for El Artista.
Ortiz kicked off a public tour of his Big Papi cigars on November 3, 2016; with plans to attend large events in the US and Dominican Republic throughout 2017.
Look / Feel
As with their namesake, the cigars are large in stature—arriving in a singular, 6″ x 54 toro vitola. A simplistic, red and white box draws inspiration from Ortiz’s uniform—with the cigar’s sharing the color scheme. The bands add a little more detail, having a subtle, striped pattern for the background—a style seen throughout many MLB uniforms (although, interestingly, not on the Red Sox uniforms, as far as I can tell). Front and center is a solid, red profile of Ortiz in his notorious stance, pointing both fingers towards the heavens—honoring his late mother each time he’d cross the home plate, following home runs. And to either side are the words “Big Papi,” along with smaller subscript, “By David Ortiz.” There is also a red ribbon foot-band, adding a more luxurious feel to the cigar.
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is about Colorado Claro in shade, showing hues of orange with darker mottling throughout. There is an intricate web of veins, none being thick or prominent enough to affect the cigar’s impressive construction. It is bunched a little over medium, having a fairly dense feel—with only one soft spot to be found after carful inspection. Otherwise, it has a nice and springy construction that feels altogether burly—you get the feeling this will be a long smoking experience.
The cut is clean, revealing a surprisingly easy pre-light draw (almost too easy). Flavors are of citrus, cedar, and various spice cabinet aromas. On the wrapper there are subtle, tangy notes and on the foot you will find a petting zoo muskiness.
Like the heavy-hittin’ crack of the bat for which Big Papi was known, the cigar lights up with a fiery burst of spices and dark, freshly-cracked, black pepper! Spices dominate the palate, with the majority hitting the center of the tongue—rather the back of the nostrils, as you’d expect. To compliment this tongue-tingling zest, the overall strength output is on the stronger side; a medium-plus body and medium flavor output make up the rest of the experience.
Soon the spices creep into the nostrils, providing more black pepper and an overall robust sensation. Additional notes of leather, earth, anise, and a light caramel sweetness develop from the half-inch mark to the two-inch mark. Despite the excessively open pre-light draw, the actual smoking draw lies around medium-plus—basically perfect—producing a medium smoke output with a dry texture.
The cigar showcases a classic feel on a more amped up and robust level. A perfect zing of spice is the backbone, pairing nicely with the hearty leathers throughout most of the cigar. The construction is good, but a wavy burn line seems to spiral out of control about every third, marking a quick touchup to restore balance and high flavor output. In the final portion of the smoke, there are added notes of roasted malt, floral aromas, creamy caramel, and sharp leather (think new couch). This leads to dark and toasted bread flavors at the cigar’s band—which is where I parted ways with Big Papi.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Sure would! Due to its large size and equally long smoke time, this isn’t going to be something I smoke often. However, the cigar’s intriguing backstory and robust flavors are enough to warrant a monthly rotation—or perhaps the perfect compliment to any big MLB games (it’ll even smoke long enough to cover nearly the whole game!).
- Smoke Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: old cuban, mojito, rye whiskey, Belgian quad
- Purchase Recommendation: box split (or attend any of the upcoming Big Papi events and get the full box, meet the man himself, and maybe even have it signed!)
- Near-perfect draw
- Long smoke time
- Traditional flavors with an amped-up twist
- Multiple touchups
- Lacks complexity
- Smoke output dwindles after halfway point