Ortega – El Conejito Tubo (Spec’s Exclusive)
I hope you all had a safe, wonderful, and Merry Holiday! I had a lot of family in town and haven’t had much time to rest, but it’s worth it. I even got to spend some time with Daniel. He headed into town for a few days and it was great to finally meet up with him. That being said, I finally found time to sit back and enjoy a cigar. My choosing for this week is Ortega’s El Conejito Tubo.
The Good Stuff: Recently I stumbled across these tubos in one of my local shops. “El Conejito”!?! I’ve never heard of it. I passed, not really knowing what I was passing up on. The next time I returned I pulled the trigger and picked up a few. It turns out this tubo was made by Eddie Ortega exclusively for the Spec’s retailers located here in Texas. An Ortega LE?! And Ortega LE in TEXAS?!?! Hell yes! A while back I got to sit down and have dinner with Eddie and he spoke about how great of a relationship him and Spec’s have. I loved hearing that considering Spec’s is where I pick up a good deal of my wines, beers, and even world food. It’s basically a Man’s grocery store. Anyhow, This blend is only released in one size (for now), a 6 x 50 tubo. The cigar is blended by Don Pepin, but is not made out of the My Father factory. It’s a Nicaraguan puro dressed in am Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. I can’t remember the exact price of these, but It was between $6.50 – $7 a stick and comes packaged in boxes of 10. Did I mention how much I love these 10 count boxes coming out lately? It’s a lot easier to pull the trigger on box purchases for us with thin wallets. On a side note, “El Conejito” means small rabbit or bunny in spanish. Spec’s mascot is actually a white rabbit wearing glasses.
Size: 6 x 50 tubo
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Pairing: Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA (7.5% ABV)
Prelight: The wrapper on this cigar looks delicious. The Ecuadorian Habano is a beauty, sporting a rich, consistent, medium brown across the board. The only lighter colors seem to be around a few of the larger veins the Conejito carries. There is a little bit of breakage near the foot of the cigar. I actually noticed this on all the sticks I picked up. The cap of the tubo has these strange, small, inner wings that I would assume would help lift the cigar into place in the tubo. They actually slice through the wrapper around the foot, but the damage is very minimal and I don’t see it really doing anything to the overall experience. Outside of the foot, the construction is flawless. The Conejito is very, very. very firm. It’s almost like a baseball bat, leading up to the round double cap. The Conejito is polished off with a band similar to the red portion of the bands we are used to, except a light brown with a red “El Conejito” banner across it. Eddie mentioned to me that he though the printing was bad on the band, but I think it came out great. He also said they would be adjusting the printing on the next run, so look out for those.
The wrapper on the cigar gives off a very strong, musky, sweet wood aroma while the foot carries a much spicier, pepper character. The cap cut clean and easy using my Palio double bladed cutter. As expected, the cold draw on El Conejito releases a very sweet, woodsy, tobacco flavor. Time to light up and see what else this cigar has to offer.
First Smoke: Right off the bat the amount of smoke the Conejito kicks out is ridiculous! The cigar starts out with some subtle pepper and spice, with an overall sweet, cedar flavor backing up some mild tobacco. As I stated before this cigar gives off an incredible amount of smoke with every little puff. The burnline is perfectly clean and sharp leaving behind a thick trail of solid white ash. Despite the ash being so solid, it did fall into my ashtray at only half an inch. I blame that on the tubo’s cap that I mentioned during the prelight mucking up the foot and causing it to flower. After that first bit fell off the ash actually held on for almost an inch. So don’t be scared, it really doesn’t mess with the experience. And if that wasn’t enough, Eddie actually mentioned that the next shipments will have a sponge inside to prevent this from happening. Talk about being pro-active!
Halfway There: Usually the pepper drops off early into a cigar, but the Conejito still has it in there, although it’s not a major player it really help keeps the body of the cigar up. The second third has also seen a huge ramp-up in sweetness as the cedar has become more of a major player. The retrohale is very smooth, coating my nasal passage with a soft cedar and spice. The burnline is slightly wavy, but not concerning. The strength of the cigar is still sitting pretty medium and I am not feeling anything at all in the nicotine department.
Finish: The pepper has completely faded in the flavor category of this El Conejito. The interesting change-up was the huge ramp up in musk while the cedar faded out. This cigar now tastes very musky and aromatic with vanilla and honey notes. Along with the body the strength has increased a notch or two. It’s still a high medium and I finished this cigar is about an hour and a half with not nicotine kick at all. The cigar burned flawlessly the entire time and required no touch-ups or relights. There was also absolutely no harshness in this cigar at all, I was able to take it all the way down to the nub.
Overview: The Conejito is a big departure from the Serie D that we have all grown to love. Full body, but more on the sweet, musky, cedar side of the spectrum while remaining nice and medium in strength. The cigar is beautiful, the flavors were creamy, bold, and smooth, and the burn was perfect all the way through. What else could you ask for? How about a great price, from a great place. I know Spec’s isn’t close to all of you, but I know a lot of you live near one. This is a purchase that you don’t want to pass up. I don’t think it’s limited, at least it doesn’t sound like it is, but you never know. The El Conejito hits the mark in terms of a novice smoker, who doesn’t want to break the bank, but wants a premium cigar. As well as the seasoned cigar smoker looking for a perfect afternoon smoke that is full of flavor without knocking you on your ass. This was yet another solid stick to come from Ortega Cigar Company. Eddie’s been on a roll and he has a HUGE year ahead of him. Be on the look out.
Pairing: I’ve been waiting for the right cigar to pair this beer with. Dogfish Head’s 75 Minute IPA is probably one of my favorite beers released by Dogfish Head this year. I for one, am not an IPA fan at all. But there are certain IPA’s that really get my attention. The 75 minute is a strong, American style IPA with a twist, it’s bottle fermented with Maple Syrup. You don’t taste the maple syrup though. It’s just an afterthought adding a tiny bit of sweetness to an already sweet and hoppy mixture. Along with the sweet and hoppyness you get some really smooth floral and spice notes. This beer is flawless and pairs wonderful with the spice, and musk from the Conejito. Not to mention it pours almost the same color.