Ortega Mini maduro

Today Punch and Draw “get small” with a hand-rolled maduro mini cigar from Ortega, and a vice on their heads. Excuuuse me?!

Ortega Mini Cigar - Maduro

Punch: Excuse me, sorry to interrupt! But I was just wondering something… what is the name of that attractive and swing-ing cigar you are holding?

Draw: This is one of three different blends of the Ortega Mini line we were provided for review at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival. According to their June 2013 press release announcing this cigar’s release, these are made in the Dominican Republic by Abe Flores at the PDR factory in Santiago. The Ortega web site doesn’t specify the construction other than to say the wrapper is a Brazilian maduro. Others report it having a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan fillers.

P: It looks quite small! The wrapper is quite rough, and the construction appears to be good, especially considering how difficult it must be to hand roll such a small cigar. This parejo appears to have three, generous sized caps. I have a slight sponginess near the head, but it’s no big deal. I’m getting little to no aroma from the wrapper, and the pre-light draw is equally as devoid of flavor.

D: Mine is very stiff, possibly from being held hostage in a desert museum by King Tut – or maybe because my Boveda packs are getting crunchy. I have one prominent leaf edge near the foot which might lift while burning – we’ll see; it’s a curiosity, not a complaint. I get a very light algae taste (as before) on the cold draw, like damp basement. There’s also a hit of black pepper on the tip of my tongue. Impressive.

A light toasting released some chocolate. Very nice. Let’s light up.

P: Mmmm… That first draw was yummy — very flavorful with nice nutty leather and a light pepper finish. OOoo! I just picked up a faint Doritos flavor on the attack.

D: I get a hint of chocolate at the finish – it is fleeting, hard-to-find, but there someplace. For me, that corn-sweetness is in the aftertaste. After some hefty smoking, my ash held on for an inch. I also note that the Ortega Mini Maduro produces quite a mouth full of smoke. Nice. Now, now it is the time for a couple of wild and crazing guys.…

P: Excuse me? I know, right – don’t mention it. Let’s… get small.

D: You know, I know I shouldn’t smoke small cigars while driving, but, uh, I was smokin’ the other day and a cop pulled me over. He goes, “Hey, is that a small cigar?” I said, “No, it’s tall. It’s tall!” He said, “Well, I’m gonna have to measure that.” They’ve got a little test they give you; it’s a balloon, and if they can get your cigar inside of it, they know… it’s small.

P: Fortunately, at 4 x 38, we already know it’s small! Ortega Mini Maduro cigars are sold in four-pack boxes, like the stiff boxes that some cigarettes come in, for $10.80, or $2.70 each. They also offer a five-pack sleeve of boxes for $54. And, at the 1/3rd mark I’m picking up some maduro sweetness.

Ortega Mini Cigar Box - Maduro

D: Coming into that second third, flavor intensity is building along with strength. The nuttiness is cashews, building in the middle, and a balanced blend of black peppercorn, green pepper, and jalapeno along with some old leather and maybe some yellow onion taking over the corn-chip aftertaste. The pepper blend is the dominant flavor for me at this point.

I also observe, after the draw, that it is…smoking from a heretofore unseen pinhole in the side! Now that is small.

P: The flavor does steadily build, and I concur with the cashew and the increase in pepperiness. Uh-oh! I’m getting.. Happy Feet! See, every once in a while that happens, I have no control over it. Sorry. Okay. We’re moving along now…

D: I just carefully examined the other sticks in this particular tupperdor and found no evidence of intrusion. It’s possible that this stick alone possessed the undesired passenger. Or, it may have been a defect in the wrapper which the torcedor missed at the factory.

Either way, I’d like to point out that this short stogie does not idle well, and having completed my inspection I’m relighting it.

P: I haven’t let mine idle much, so I can neither confirm nor deny any idle issues with this one. I did need to touch up some tunneling, once. Otherwise the burn on mine has been good. Here starting the last third (which is very near the end on this small cigar) I’m getting mostly leather and it hasn’t yet turned into a nasty munge.

D: Yeah, good call Punch. This little stogie looks like a big stick, and with the band on it, I keep thinking it’s a big stick. But really, the two-to-three finger point is where one would normally put it down, I think. Because… it’s small.

You’ve got a good bead on the flavor. The leather has really swelled and overtaken the pepper blend, which is a surprise to me at the end of any cigar. You can have another cracker.

Burn it or Spurn it?

P: Burn it! Without regard to its diminutive size, this is a good cigar in all respects. It starts off with good flavor, the flavor builds throughout, it has a few transitions to keep it interesting, and it ends well. It can idle out on you pretty easy, if you neglect it even a little, but I believe that would be an issue with any handmade cigar of this size. I prefer this to any of the other little cigars I’ve had, and if you have an interest in sticks of this size you would do well to try this Ortega Mini Maduro. Just hope no tall people come over.

D: For me, this was a quality maduro in a small package. Some flavor complexity, moving from mild to moderately intense. Mild-to-medium strength, but I burn out of it before it buzzes me out. Work it constantly to avoid burn issues (after all, burning through it quickly is probably why you selected a smaller stick). For my part, there are other short sticks out there that I would go to first, but it’s a matter of taste and not quality. Burn it, if you want …in the late evening, or the early evening, or maybe early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Or, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning.

…But never at dusk.

…with excuses apologies to Steve Martin.

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