Omar de Frias grew up next to a cigar shop in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and can remember being handed his first cigar by the torcedor who told him, “Kid, welcome to the true gentlemen’s club,” thus beginning a lifelong obsession. Love of cigars would stay with de Frias as he spent time as a professional basketball player, was a scholar, and finally left a job at NASA to launch his cigar brand in 2013.

It’s not Rocket Science 😉

Fratello Cigars
The initial entry, a Nicaraguan-made habano dubbed simply “Fratello,” (which serves as Omar’s nickname and which means “brother” in Italian and “embodies the true nature of this industry, camaraderie, family and friendship”), earned the company a good deal of accolades in 2013. His second blend, Fratello Bianco (a maduro), was again of Nicaraguan origin, crafted at the historic Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua factory. For his third release, de Frias has moved to his homeland of the Dominican Republic, partnering with La Aurora to produce Fratello Oro in 2016. Omar describes his desire to create a mild to medium cigar “that also embodies the true nature of our company which is full flavor cigars.”

Oro Robusto Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
  • Binder: African Cameroon
  • Filler: Dominican | Nicaraguan | Colombian
  • Factory: La Aurora S.A. (Dominican Republic)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5″ × 50 Robusto
  • Price: $8.25 (MSRP)

Fratello Oro cigar box open

Appearance

First things first, this cigar comes in what may be my all time favorite box presentation ever. The beautiful goldenrod color, with the red, black, and white Fratello logo, and simple sans-serif type are a truly wonderful example of elegant cigar packaging. When the box is open, the eye is drawn to the chevron-inspired band design—the cigars lined up just perfectly in the box. In this case, the band is set over a gold foil background, with a matching foot band that says, simply, “ORO”. Once the cigar is in hand, it’s a creamy café au lait shade that seems just a shade or two darker/red-tinged than most Connecticuts; which tend to be a little more pale. The cigars tend to have a few noticeable veins and a fine tooth that is felt more when circling around the cigar, as opposed to a top-to-bottom grain. Seams are tight and would be invisible if not for the veins. The cigars tend to be very solid, one in particular having a rock-hard plug just below the cap.

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Smoking Experience

As mentioned above, one sample had a very solid plug between the cap and the band. I was nervous that trying to open it with my draw tool would cause a wrapper split, but I was lucky. Once getting it to a somewhat serviceable draw, a massive creamy note was foremost, with a sour fruity note that reminded me of an Italian “orange” wine. There’s not a lot of aroma coming off the wrapper, perhaps a slight hay and tobacco nuance.

There’s a rush of soapy floral flavors to start, followed immediately by a creamy cappuccino. Following that, the aforementioned floral note turns into something a little more grassy on the very long, strong, and slightly bitter finish. Sweetness becomes the dominant feature after a half inch or so, and this tastes like pancakes soaked in brown butter and pure, dark maple syrup. There is a slight amount of black pepper on the retrohale, but what I notice more than new flavors when retrohaling is how the core flavors seem to spread out, becoming bigger and enveloping each other. The finish remains bitter—not in a bad way… but close. It makes for a bold contrast to the sweetness and sort of makes me feel like this cigar can’t figure out what it wants to do. The cigar that had the plug (which just happened to be the review cigar) sees the draw becoming tighter. That creamy and rich brown butter flavor is saving the blend right now, preventing the bitter flavors from overtaking the whole thing. Strength and body are light, while the flavor is pretty intense, a solid medium-plus. At 28 minutes into the smoking experience, the burn of the cigar is nonpareil.

Fratello Oro cigar review



The second third continues with pleasant sweet grains, and could take a side job masquerading as a bowl of Super Golden Crisp cereal. On the other end of the spectrum, the bitterness has continued to increase and is now something akin to eating raw hops, some puffs being very intense and off-putting. Just before the halfway point in this particular cigar, I grab a pair of needle-nose pliers and remove two gigantic midribs in hopes of improving the draw, which had almost entirely closed. Both the draw and the overall flavors of the cigar improved dramatically immediately afterwards. The draw was impeccable moving onwards. While the bitterness didn’t depart entirely, it did tame down to an acceptably pleasant flavor element. I also noticed several new flavors that were previously drowned out by the overpowering bitterness (bright citrus, sweet dried apples, creamy flan, and a return of the floral and muted black pepper notes). Fifty-three minutes to this point, with strength and body picking up to medium and a slightly toned-down flavor (a bit towards medium with the absence of the intense bitterness).

The final third is creamy greek yogurt tang with honey sweetness. This is a breakfast cigar! Bittersweet orange and white chocolate. Potato chips and green onion tips. There’s a lot going on here. And there is still that floral bitterness, which isn’t the biggest or most predominant flavor, but it is the first thing to cross my tongue. I really enjoy this because, to stick with the flower motif, this flavor sort of blossoms, while elsewhere on the tongue another flavor blooms, and in-between they meet and create something new. There’s a very special characteristic to this cigar that makes the flavors something you actually feel on the palate, it’s kind of a physical flavor, and the transitions are very enticing. Near the end of the cigar, the pepper on the retrohale picks up to the ideal (for this smoker) pain-equals-pleasure potency, while a tingle of pickling spices tantalize the tip of the tongue. And then, suddenly, a flavor of caramel waffle-cone ice cream. The burn was incredibly razor-sharp throughout the entire smoking experience, with nary a touchup needed. Finishing in an all-around medium, the cigar is extinguished at exactly one hour and 30 minutes (and 57 seconds but who’s counting?).

Fratello Oro Robusto cigar smoking

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I’ve really been enjoying the “new breed” Connecticut cigars lately, and this one is a good example of how a “Connie” can be more than just “mild.” There’s flavor for days with this blend. I do tend to enjoy stronger cigars more regularly, as that’s probably 95% of what’s in my humidor, but it’s particularly rare that what I reach for on the regular will attain this level of flavor.


Profile
  • Flavor: Medium
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Breakfast (cereal, pancakes, yoghurt, etc.)
  • Bitter floral
  • Citrus and apples
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Sunshine, cappuccino, a heavily oaked Chardonnay
  • Purchase Recommendation: If you enjoy Connies, get a box; otherwise grab a couple to try (and then discover that you, too, like Connies)

Fratello Oro Robusto cigar nubbed

Image credit for those without Cigar Dojo watermark: Fratello Cigars

Fratello Oro Robusto
After all is said and done, I like this cigar very much. This being a handmade, natural product, I can’t fault one cigar having an issue with too many large midribs in the bunch. I don’t see it as a construction fault, so much as just being a fault of nature. It wasn’t a roller cramming too much leaf into the bunch, but a natural variance in a natural leaf. So my scores below reflect the experience after removing the offending veins, as I believe that is the true representation of the cigar (this is also backed by other samples smoked outside of the official review). Another fault of nature (mine) is that I get prickly about any robusto costing more than $5, but I fully realize that this is just me, and it’s not the 1990s anymore. Honestly, that’s the only thing that I would say isn’t a plus in this cigar. Omar and the La Aurora factory did a fantastic job, and I’m happy to have another excellent Connecticut-style cigar to enjoy.
Appearance92%
Burn/Construction96%
Draw94%
Flavor90%
Complexity90%
Price/Value86%
Pros
  • Flavor for days
  • Transitions galore
Cons
  • Slightly too bitter at times
91%Breakfast Time!

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