Fratello Arlequín has had an interesting journey, in terms of core-line releases from Fratello Cigars. The cigar was first released in 2019 as part of an experimental four-pack, where consumers were encouraged to provide feedback on two new blends: Arlequín and Sorella. This eventually led to full releases for both cigars in 2020, with Arlequín coming to U.S. retailers, and Sorella shipping abroad.
Cigar Dojo has formerly described the Arlequín’s backstory:
The name is the Spanish translation of Harlequin, which is the name of a historical character from the 16th Century Italian comedy, Commedia dell’arte (also being the inspiration for the better-known Harley Quinn character of Batman canon). As Harlequin is characterized by his checkered costume, Fratello has incorporated this look throughout the cigar’s presentation.
Arlequín Toro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
- Filler: Nicaragua | Peru
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua, S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6¼” x 54 (Toro)
- Price: $10.50 (MSRP)
Differing from its original incarnation, the Arlequín shipped in two new formats:
- Fratello Arlequín Robusto: 5½” x 52 | $9.50
- Fratello Arlequín Toro: 6½” x 54 | $10.50
These sizes differ from the 6″ x 50 original with box-pressed shapes and new box/band designs, though the blend remains the same.
Arlequín is—in my opinion—the most attractive cigar from Fratello to date. This begins with the box presentation and continues through the bands. The former incorporates a modern, flat-style design that centers around bold colors of navy blue and an orange/pink that I’d describe as coral or melon. This leads into the bands, which carry over a bold and contemporary font for the “ARLEQUÍN,” making up the entirety of the band’s front. The back shows a nod to the checkered pattern worn by the Harlequin character of the cigar’s namesake.
The cigar is dark and mottled in color, having a subtle oil that is made visible when held to light. It is a tad on the gnarly side in terms of outward construction, with bumps protruding from beneath the band. This leads to what looks to be a double cap, showing an assortment of veins and well-placed seams along the way. It has a uniform box-pressed structure to it, with a solid, medium-firm bunch.
On the nose there are notes of hickory, cinnamon, chicory, and rain-soaked oak coming from the wrapper. The foot is more aromatic, showing hickory, molasses, and classic barnyard components. The pre-light draw is near-perfect in resistance, with added flavors of musty earth, corn chips, and zesty nutmeg.
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Differing from the expectations of the cigar’s Mexican San Andrés wrapper and Nicaraguan filler, Arlequín does not kick off with a blast of intensity. Instead, the cigar is restrained, hitting the palate with smooth flavors of damp earth and rain-soaked hardwoods. This is accompanied by black pepper—though it is felt more on the palate than as a spice through the retrohale. There are added complexities of chicory coffee and an unexpected Tajín Clásico component (which many will recognize as the seasoning used on michelada-style lager cocktails). In its beginnings, the cigar is mild-to-medium in strength, just under medium in body, and medium in flavor.
As the pre-light draw hinted, the smoking draw is near-perfect, giving way to a medium-plus smoke output on each puff. There are no standout flavors at this point, though the combined profile is clearly enjoyable. This includes nutmeg and a pinchy mustiness in the retrohale, joined by peppercorn and vegetation-rich soil on the palate. This is the point where the cigar’s most noteworthy sweetness enters into play—a banana sweetness along the lines of Banana Runts candy. This is a crucial flavor, working well with the earthy, jungle-like profile and injecting an appreciated sweetness for balance.
At the halfway mark, Arlequín is medium in body, a touch over medium in flavor, and almost medium in strength. The cigar maintains its smooth character, though it becomes darker in character. Dense earth still plays a major role, with added notes of raw cocoa, cinnamon, and an occasional zestiness through the retrohale, bordering on nutmeg or clove.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Absolutely. I’ve smoked this cigar multiple times for review and to verify the cigar’s placement on Cigar Dojo’s 2020 year-end list, and come to the overarching summary of “like taking the jungle and blending it into a smoothie… minus the monkey guts.” In my opinion, that is this cigar. It’s not just earthy, it’s earthiness enriched with all the plant matter and minerals that fuel the fertility of the rainforest. Combine this with a juicy backdrop and a signature banana sweetness, and you have yourself a unique, flavorful specimen.
- Fratello Arlequín Ranked as Cigar Dojo’s No. 6 Cigar of the Year for 2020.
- This cigar maintains Fratello’s unique combination of Italian and Spanish backgrounds, being inspired from the Italian Commedia dell’arte but using the Spanish Arlequín translation.
- The name is pronounced “ar·leh·keen.”
- The Arlequín will be featured in this week’s episode of Flavor Odyssey, being paired with a boulevardier cocktail.
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium
- Damp earth
- Rain-soaked hardwoods
- Banana Runts
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Black pour-over coffee | Porter | Zinfandel
- Purchase Recommendation: Box
- Atypical experience
- Great draw
- Fun balance of untamed earthiness and ripe juiciness
- Can be overrun by beverage pairings or other cigars (make this your first cigar of the night)
- Around two touchups per smoke