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Fratello Oro Fuoco | halfwheel


In 2019, Fratello introduced a new 3 1/2 x 50 vitola as an exclusive release to the company’s retail partners in Europe. Named Fuoco—which translates to fire from Italian—the petit robusto was popular enough that Fratello decided to bring it to the U.S. market.

At this summer’s 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show, the company showed off the same vitola in its three core blends: the Classico, the Bianco and the Oro. Each of the regular production cigars is packaged in 30-count boxes and all three carry the same MSRP of $7.50 each.

“We released the Fratello Fuoco in Europe in 2019 as it is a very popular size in the European market,” said Omar de Frias, owner of Fratello Cigars, via a press release. “Following its success, we are now bringing this special size to the consumer in the U.S.”

As noted above, one of the three Fuoco blends is the Oro, which was not only Fratello’s first Connecticut shade-wrapped cigar when debuted in 2016, but also the company’s first creation rolled at the La Aurora factory. Blend-wise, the Oro incorporates an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper covering a Cameroon binder as well as filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

There are currently eight different violas in the Oro line:

  • Fratello Oro Shorty (4 x 58)
  • Fratello Oro Robusto (5 x 50)
  • Fratello Oro Corona (5 1/2 x 47)
  • Fratello Oro Gordo (6 x 60)
  • Fratello The Boxer Oro (6 1/4 x 52)
  • Fratello Oro Toro (6 1/4 x 54)
  • Fratello Oro Fuoco (3 1/2 x 50)
  • Fratello Oro J.T.T. (6 x 50)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fratello Oro Fuoco
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Cameroon
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 3 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Petit Robusto
  • MSRP: $7.50 (Box of 30, $225)
  • Release Date: August 20, 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Covered in an extremely attractive golden brown wrapper, the Fratello Oro Fuoco is quite smooth to the touch but has virtually no oil visible. There are a few prominent veins running down its length and the cigar is surprisingly hard when squeezed, while the short pigtail and covered foot are nice touches. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of hay, cedar, almonds and earth, while the foot brings notes of barnyard, cinnamon, vanilla beans, leather and dark chocolate. After a straight cut, the cold draw features flavors of dried tea leaves, hay, cedar, lemongrass, white pepper and vanilla bean sweetness.

A combination of toasted bread and spice on my tongue greets me immediately after lighting the foot, the former of which is quickly overtaken by the top flavors of roasted coffee beans and earth. Secondary notes of almonds, dried tea leaves, lemongrass, hay and creamy cedar flit in and out, while a significant amount of spice is still present on my tongue. In addition, the retrohale features both white pepper and vanilla bean sweetness seemingly pulled directly from the cold draw. Construction-wise, there is a surprising amount of smoke billowing off of the foot for such a small vitola, while both the burn and the draw are excellent so far. Both flavor and body are at medium but increasing, while the strength ends the first third just under the medium mark.

Although the roasted coffee beans flavor remains one of the stronger notes in the profile during the second third of the Fratello, the earth flavor is replaced by a creamy cedar note that continues to get stronger. Additional notes of hay, lemongrass, earth, cocoa nibs and very slight floral flit in and out, while the spice on my tongue shows no signs of abating any time soon. In addition, the vanilla bean sweetness recedes noticeably on the retrohale, while the amount of white pepper increases significantly. In terms of construction, the draw continues to impress, and while one sample features a burn that strays off course enough to need correcting, the other two cigars are fine in that regard and the smoke remains quite high for all three. Flavor ends the second third just over the medium mark, body is at medium plus and the strength hits a solid medium.

The final third of the Oro Fuoco seems to be very close to being a carbon copy of the second third: roasted coffee beans and cedar remain the main flavors, followed by notes of hay, generic citrus, creamy nuts, cocoa nibs, toast and slight floral that rotate in and out at various points. However, one major change is the amount of both spice and white pepper—on my tongue and on the retrohale respectively—both of which increase noticeably. That in turn throws off the balance in the profile as well as on the retrohale, where the vanilla bean sweetness that was so obvious in the previous two thirds is almost overwhelmed at times. Thankfully, the burn has evened up nicely and the draw continues to give me no problems at all, while the smoke production continues to flow from the foot in copious amounts. Flavor remains just over the medium mark, while both the body and strength easily hit medium-plus by the time I finish with less than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • Oro translates to gold from Spanish.
  • There are actually quite a few cigars that utilize the Oro moniker, including from Davidoff, Quesada and Viaje.
  • Last week, Fratello released the Oro J.T.T. as an exclusive release for Virginia-based retailer Tobaccology. However, while the blend of the J.T.T. is the same as the other Oro cigars, it features a sweetened cap and is limited to 5,000 cigars packaged in boxes of 12.
  • La Aurora—where the Oros are produced—is the oldest cigar factory in the Dominican Republic, which is where Omar de Frias, Fratello’s founder, was born.
  • Fratello has actually used the 3 1/2 x 50 vitola before, specifically in the Fratello Firecracker, which was made for Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire in 2017. However, that was actually a “ramped up version” of the company’s Classico blend and included a much longer “fuse” pigtail.

  • Two of my samples developed a split in the wrapper that was caused by taking off foot band that featured a massive amount of glue. Thankfully, the excellent burn was barely affected, and the main band did not have the glue issue.
  • The corona vitola in the Oro line took the 17th spot on halfwheel’s Top 25 list in 2017.
  • This cigar will get hot and acrid very, very quickly if you puff to hard or to fast.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged 58 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Fratello Oro Fuoco cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. has them in stock now.

87
Overall Score

Over the years, I have been a big fan of just about every line that Fratello has released, but the Oro has remained near the very top of that a list due to its combination of balance, complexity and strength. Although there are obviously many similarities to previous vitolas in the line, the Oro Fuoco is essentially a spicier version of the blend featuring less complexity and sweetness in the profile than its larger siblings. While it is still easily one of the better Connecticut-wrapped blends I have smoked recently and a solid choice for those looking for a shorter, punchier version of the Oro, I will still choose the corona vitola every time.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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