Latitude Zero is, yes, the Equator — and Ecuador is the Spanish word for Equator — so it’s no surprise that the cigar pictured here is a product of that South American country. The Oliva Tobacco Company is a prominent purveyor of Ecuadorian tobacco to many of the cigar industry’s primary manufacturers, and Latitude Zero celebrates this with a special Habano seed wrapper called R13E, or “Angel’s Cut.” (Named, presumably, for the patriarch of the family, Angel Oliva.)
The Oliva Tobacco Company grows tobacco not only in Ecuador, but also in Nicaragua and Honduras, and they supply tobacco to manufacturers from General Cigar to Fuente to Rocky Patel to Don Pepin Garcia. The one thing they don’t do is make cigars, but on occasion a blend pops up that is made entirely of Oliva Tobacco. Almost ten years ago the Angel 100 hit the market; that cigar was made by NATSA with OTC tobaccos, and by some small miracle I still have a few left. Maybe it’s time I cracked a box to see how they’re doing.
So far I haven’t been able to sniff out who is making Latitude Zero. In any case, it’s made just as well as the Angel 100, but it’s a much bolder blend. Beneath the Ecuadorian Habano is a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and filler leaf from Esteli, Nicaragua, and it is made in five traditional sizes:
- Churchill – 7 x 50
- Robusto – 5 x52
- Toro – 6 x 50
- Toro Gordo – 6 x 60
- Torpedo – 6.5 x 52
The band on this cigar is attractive, but oversized, so the first order of business is to remove it. Most of the time it comes off easily, but I’ve had to rip it off a couple times. Having accomplished this, the wrapper is revealed to be a smooth dark colorado maduro.
Construction quality varies a bit between the two sizes I smoked: the torpedo with its larger veins and drier appearance is more rustic than the robusto. The tip of the torpedo is clean and symmetrical, while the robusto sports an almost seamless single cap. The torpedo’s draw is a little too easy. By contrast the robusto offers the perfect level of resistance. Both sizes burn slowly and evenly. The ash is flaky, but holds.
Overall construction: Very good.
The theme of Latitude Zero is bittersweet baker’s chocolate — a nice balance of sugar and cocoa. It opens with a dash of pepper on the palate and an earthy aftertaste that lasts for the duration of the cigar. The pepper dissipates after a half an inch or so.
The smoke texture is medium to full in body, with a strength to match. (The torpedo is especially potent in the last third.) Both sizes produce a pleasant aroma, equal parts musk and cedar. As the cigar burns into the second and third stages the aroma seems to get a bit sweeter while remaining woody. The sweetness blends well with the chocolate that persists throughout, and the tannins on the tongue are a nice contrast.
Construction quality seems to be higher for the Latitude Zero robustos than the torpedos, but both sizes are pretty similar otherwise. The “Angel’s Cut” wrapper is quite fine, both in appearance and aroma. I would pick up another blend that features this wrapper regardless of who manufactures it. And since this is Oliva tobacco, that could be anybody.
At 6 bucks a pop for the robusto and 7 for the torpedo (or less if you have the patience to bid for them) these are a decent deal. If OTC’s latest blend ages as well as the Angel 100’s I have put away, I believe I will be stocking up.
Final Score: 88