Fratello, the Italian word for “brother”, is a line created by Omar de Frias out of the Dominican Republic. The inspiration for the company came 20 years ago when Omar watched a torcedor (cigar roller) working on his art in the Dominican; when the torcedor finished the cigar he was rolling, he handed it to Omar and said “Kid, welcome to the true gentleman’s club”. Now, his vision has come to light in the form of Fratello Cigars. This medium bodied smoke is wrapped in a Nicaraguan Habano leaf over a Ecuadoran Sumatra binder. The fillers consist of Nicaraguan and Peruvian tobacco’s, an interesting combo that should provide a unique experience because of the use of the tobacco from Peru. Coming in 4 sizes, today we will review the toro size, though the cigar is also available in a corona, robusto and 6×60, pretty standard fare now-a-days. Let’t get to the specifics and light this new line up.
Size: Toro 6 1/4 x 54
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Ecuadoran Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Price: $8.50/stick or $150.95/box of 20
Appearance: The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper that adorns the Fratello cigar is a dark mocha brown with some slight tooth and noticeable oils. The roll is done very well, looking nearly seamless though there are some veins that run the length of the cigar. The cigar is a little soft when squeezed but not so soft for me to worry about the effect it may have on the smoke. The band on this cigar is very unique, some will love it, others won’t. I fall into the former category, finding it to be an eye-catcher that is looks great on the cigar. It is shaped like a swept wing coming to a point and moving down and around the cigar at an angle like a planes wing. The red and white color combo is solid and looks great on this line.
Pre-Light Aroma: The foot of the Fratello Toro smells delightful, bringing a sweet aroma of brown sugar, molasses, and a tingling cinnamon spice. The wrapper is much more earthy and barnyard in aroma, closer to what I expected from the Nicaraguan wrapper. The cap comes off clean when clipped and shows the cigar to have an easy draw without much resistance. The sweet brown sugar from the foot comes through on the draw as well with a slight tobacco taste left on the lips. Peruvian tobacco to me is very unique in taste and aroma while providing enjoyable nuances to a cigar, I would love to see more manufacturers use the tobacco.
The cigar lights evenly and easily while bringing a large amount of smoke to the palate. The initial flavors come through as a heavy earthy component with some nice white pepper spice both at the back of the palate and through the nose. Midway through the first third the flavor shifts and takes on a sweeter tone, showing the brown sugar I picked up on the foot along with a sweet espresso like flavor. The body starts medium but is building towards full bodied pretty quick, hitting medium-full by the end of the first third. The burn line is slightly wavy though not so off it needs touching up while the ash holds through the first third without flaking or falling off.
Into the 2nd third and the sweetness changes into an earthier tone highlighted with big notes of leather and nuts taking over the palate. The nose continues to hold the white pepper notes creating a tingle on each retrohale. The burn line straightens out considerably through this middle third and again holding the ash through the entire third. The strength is steady at medium-full and seems to be falling back into the medium category through this third. The flavors have really shown some great characteristics in this third, bold and easily identifiable without overpowering one another.
Into the final third and the brown sugar sweetness comes back to the front of the palate with the heavy leather notes moving to the back end. This creates an interesting dynamic between the flavors as they are so opposite one another yet make for a nice taste on the finish. The body remains medium, never making it to the full bodied point, though initially it seemed like it was trying to go there. The spice was consistent through the nose from start to finish allowing to get some flavor switches every 4 or 5 puffs by retrohaling the smoke. You can definitely detect the differences from the Peruvian tobacco in this blend which create a very distinct flavor and balance. The big brown sugar taste is one I have only picked up from Peruvian tobacco, which is unfortunate because you just aren’t seeing manufacturers use it very often. It is a great flavor and sensation on the palate that I can see becoming more popular in the next several years, especially if the product continues to be as quality as the Fratello is.