Cigar Reviews

Ortega Premium Cigars – REO

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After EO Brands shut it doors in 2012 with Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega parting ways, the REO line all but disappeared from the market. Shortly after the split, Eddie Ortega launched Ortega Premium Cigars with its freshman release of Ortega Series D, but not much activity was seen from the lines he maintained rights to from the EO days such as Cubao, REO, and Vibe. Cubao was later re-released in 2013 and REO came back on market earlier this year.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

The original REO that came on the scene more than a decade ago was produced at Rocky Patel’s factory in Honduras and featured a Costa Rican wrapper. While I am not certain who is manufacturing the newly released REO, it is still produced in Honduras, but now features a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos. The cigars come packaged in 20 county bundles with four vitola options: Corona (4 ½ by 44), Robusto (5 by 50), Torpedo (5 1/4 by 54), and Chairman (6 by 58 Gordo). A bundle will run you $29.99 for the Corona up to $49.99 for the Chairman.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

Quality Importers manages distribution for Ortega Premium Cigars. REO cigars are available for purchase through Cigars International and Cigars.com.

THE FACTS

Purchased through Cigars International
Price: $29.99 per bundle of 20
Vitola: Corona
Size: 4 ½ by 44
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 5 Minutes

Pre-light

The Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper on the REO is extremely dark, almost black in appearance. The color is consistent from head to foot of the cigar. About a half inch from the head of the cigar, I encounter a indentation, but other than that, the rest of the cigar is filled evenly and is solid to the touch.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

An aroma of earth and barnyard are found on the Maduro wrapper, while some more earth and a generic woodsy smell comes across on the foot. After two cuts of the double cap, the draw becomes workable. Even though the aroma from the wrapper and foot were faint, the dry draw features much fuller and richer flavors of cedar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

FIRST THIRD

Upon lighting, the draw opens up allowing a copious amount of smoke to move through with each light draw. Just like the wrapper, the flavors are dark. Up front and center are a gritty earth and coffee. Behind the darker flavors, a pine is adding some depth to the profile and a bitterness that is working well. Sort of like a pine flavor common in IPAs. The smoke passes easily through the sinuses, but it does highlight a pepper spice and earth. A light colored, layered ash is being formed as the cigar burns with a minor wave.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

MIDDLE THIRD

Moving into the second third of the REO, a richness develops and the earth is now more diesel like. A mild sweetness joins in that is only noticeable every few puffs. The burn is now jagged with a section of the wrapper trailing behind, but so far a touch-up isn’t looking necessary. The flavors have been holding steady at medium/full up to this point.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

FINAL THIRD

The flavors mellow out with the coffee pushing forward accompanied by a cocoa sweetness that is now more consistent in the profile. A new yeasty bread flavor has joined in. At the last inch, I am beginning to feel the lightest nicotine hit that is welcomed and relaxing.

Ortega Premium Cigars - REO

WRAP-UP

REO by Ortega Premium Cigars is by no means the prettiest cigar either in packaging or wrapper choice, nor the most complex. However, for $1.50 a stick for the 4 1/2 by 44 Corona, the REO delivers a bold and dark profile of earth and coffee that develops to a richer, sweeter profile as the cigar burns down. With the cigar opening up after lighting, I have no complaints in regards to performance. Sure, the ash doesn’t hold long and the burn was a little wavy, but I’ll get over those things. I dig this little cigar and I am certain that I will be ordering up another bundle or two in the near future.

Jeremy Hensley is a bean counter for a non-profit in El Paso, Texas. He is married to the most understanding wife (he still can’t figure out how she puts up with his cigar smoking hobby), and blessed with two beautiful children. When he is not acting like a kid, he enjoys everything outdoors, especially fishing with his dad in the Great Lakes. Also, he meets the criteria of being a Casa Fumando reviewer: being a hockey fan. Feel free to contact Jeremy anytime via email (jmhensley13[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/pdn_jdog

8 Comments

  1. irratebass

    August 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Surprisingly I have never heard of these…..and I consider myself to be a big fanboy of all things Ortega….thanks for posting the links, gonna have to get myself a bundle. Nice review.

    • Jeremy Hensley

      August 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      I am a fanboy of Eddie’s cigars as well. I had the opportunity to hangout with him at Foxtoberfest in 2012 and 2013 and he is an all around good guy. This is probably one of the best finds this year for the price. Thanks for checking out the review.

  2. jjo

    August 12, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    An hour long smoke with what sounds like a nice progression of flavors in one of my favorite small sizes, and for a buck and a half? Sign me up! Great write up, Jeremy! You seem to have a knack for finding these bargain gems. 🙂

  3. Jeremy Hensley

    August 13, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Hey, Jeff! The size rocked, but I could’ve enjoyed this blend for an additional 30 minutes or so and been happy. I may pick up a large size next time to see how it compares to the Corona. The core flavors of earth and coffee hold throughout with the richness and sweetness developing in each third. A profile that just works well for me.

  4. RZ

    August 26, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I’m down the final puffs of an REO robusto and while I lack the palate to distinguish the flavors the reviewer describes, I can say that I have really enjoyed this cigar. Easy draw and loads of smoke. A couple of construction flaws were noted-a small hole in the wrapper near the cap and a hole in the filler that caused an uneven burn- but the burn corrected itself without touch up.

    • Jeremy Hensley

      August 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      RZ, thanks for checking out the review. Glad you enjoyed the REO robusto. I am looking forward to burning through the other sizes.

  5. Harry M. Whalley

    July 24, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Hi, in the 70’s I used to smoke REO’s , but they were small, about 8cm.long & 1cm. square in section, unusual ! but a very nice mild cigar.
    They obviously no longer exist, but as an afficionado of Cigars, can you recommend something similar. I do not inhale the smoke as I used to 40 years ago when I stopped smoking altogether, I am now 74 but enjoy a small cigar now & again after a nice meal& a glass or two of wine.
    I look forward to you comments

    • Jeremy

      July 30, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Hey, Harry! Thanks for your comment and sorry for my slow reply. It has been a crazy busy summer. That is interesting to learn that there was another REO line back in the 1970s. But it is not unheard of to bring back old brands. Now on to your question. There a several good mild cigars I would highly recommend that are on the smaller ring gauge size: EP Carrillo New Wave Connecticut Stella (Corona), Punch London Club, Four Kicks Corona, and Illusione Rothchildes Connecticut. I hope this help! And happy smoking to you.

      Best Regards,
      Jeremy

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