Ortega Premium Cigars – REO
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.
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.
Quality Importers manages distribution for Ortega Premium Cigars. REO cigars are available for purchase through Cigars International and Cigars.com.
Purchased through Cigars International
Price: $29.99 per bundle of 20
Size: 4 ½ by 44
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro
Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 5 Minutes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.