Warlock Robusto

Boutique and Altadis go together like B.J. Raji and ballet, but it looks like boutique is the word being used to review the new Warlock cigar. It used to be a boutique was a place girls went for clothing and accessories, but not any more. Now Altadis, the mammoth cigar manufacturer, is dangling a dainty tobacco treat before our eyes and dazzling us with its boutiquiness.

I suppose it’s a testament to the efficacy of the Altadis marketing department, or perhaps it’s only an indication of the gullibility of consumers in general (your truly not excepted) but I defy anyone to identify a “boutique” cigar without the band. It’s just not possible, and furthermore, it’s not necessary. The proof is in the puffin’, not the puffery.

Warlock is blended by Omar Ortez, which says more than any advertising slogan or buzzword ever could. Ortez is doing great things for Altadis; from his Originals, which have been out for a few years, to last year’s Don Diego Fuerte, he’s blending much more interesting and bolder cigars for this industry giant. And without letting Altadis off the hook for making some massively popular and incredibly boring cigars, I have to say that it’s nice to be able to find these sticks on the shelf.

With all the “boutique” nonsense floating around this cigar I expected it to be a Nicaraguan puro, but it’s not. It has an Ecuadorian Cubano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Five wide-mouthed sizes are (widely) available:

  • Churchill 7 x 54
  • Toro 6 x 54
  • Robusto 4 3/4 x 54
  • Belicoso 6 x 54
  • Corona 5 1/2 x 44

Construction Notes

The Warlock robusto is rugged but rich in appearance. The wrapper is dark, mottled, and exhibits a nice sheen of oil. It’s veiny, but attractive nonetheless. The roll is solid and the draw is fine. The head is rounded off and finished with a plain but functional single cap. The only thing that yells “boutique!” here is the band, which foregoes ornate gold foil for some hipster gothic script.

The burn is haphazard, but doesn’t really need correction unless you’re compulsive about a straight-edge burn. The ash is a bit flaky and loose, but not particularly problematic.

Overall construction: Very Good.

Tasting Notes

The Warlock robusto starts out smoothly, which was surprising until I reminded myself that this isn’t a Nicaraguan puro. The initial flavor is woody, but it’s not nearly as robust I expected. The finish is strangely short for a cigar billed as full-bodied and “powerfully intoxicating.” The flavor is balanced, but not as pronounced as I anticipated.

The flavor builds in the middle section, remaining primarily woody with notes of earth and coffee on the side. There is still no pepper. On the nose there is spice aplenty, but it’s subtle (and actually quite nice). Sweet notes of caramel blend with the coffee and wood to produce an aroma that is almost Illusione-esque.

Finally in the last section the pepper arrives, bringing with it some char. The power of the blend is evident at this point as well, but it’s not exactly brutal. Most medium-bodied cigar buffs will be able to smoke this one without difficulty.

Conclusion

The Warlock robusto is a fine smoke, though it was not what I expected. It’s balanced and well made, and I like the Ecuadorian Habano cover leaf a lot. The price is not bad either — around 6-7 bucks for the robusto.

On the other hand, I would be much more inclined to smoke this cigar again if there were a size with a 46 or 48 ring gauge. I’m getting a little tired of the 50+ RG trend.

Final Score: 89

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Don Diego Fuerte by Omar Ortez


Don Diego cigars have been around for decades and are known for being mild, aromatic, and inoffensive. The introduction of a Don Diego “Fuerte” is therefore somewhat oxymoronic, bringing to mind George Carlin’s bit about jumbo shrimp. The words “Don Diego” and Fuerte (Spanish for strong) just don’t go together.

Unless, that is, you append the words “By Omar Ortez” to the end. The Don Diego Fuerte is not like some other mild-to-medium bodied cigars that have been fuertified over the years — Indian Tabac “Super Fuerte” and Fonseca “Series F”, for example, which were made a tad bolder but never reached the “fuerte” threshold, in my opinion. The Don Diego Fuerte is not like those cigars. This sucker is FUERTE.

It’s also surprisingly good.

There isn’t much information available on the genesis of the blend, or why Altadis decided to exploit a brand name known for mildness to promote a very bold smoke. Aside from its being made in Nicaragua by Omar Ortez, I wasn’t able to dig up too much.

The wrapper for this cigar is a dark and oily Ecuadorian Cubano that I suspect has received processing as a maduro leaf. The binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is a blend of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. With the exception of the corona, all of the sizes in the line have a 54 ring gauge. They’re thick sticks.

  • Churchill – 7 x 54
  • Belicoso – 6 x 54
  • Toro – 6 x 54
  • Robusto – 4 3/4 x 54
  • Corona – 5 1/2 x 44

Construction Notes

The Don Diego Fuerte has a gorgeously oily maduro wrapper. The roll is dense and consistent, resulting in a perfect draw. The cap is standard for Altadis — nothing fancy, but executed well. The burn is incredibly even for a maduro wrapper, and the ash is solid. With a cigar this short it probably wasn’t necessary to ash it at all, but I did.

Overall excellent construction.

Tasting Notes

It starts up like a full-bodied maduro: chocolate with a touch of black pepper, though not as much pepper as many other Nicaraguan cigars. The smoke is thick and the aroma sweet and cedary with a touch of raisin. After a half-inch or so the potency of this cigar becomes evident. It’s smooth, but it means business.

Leathery flavors emerge in the middle section, with more spice on the nose than on the palate. There is also an earthy, sulfurous smell at play — something like gunpowder. This blends nicely with the leathery aspect.

The last inch brings coffee with an earthy sweet caramel-like aroma. At this point my stomach was churning a bit, so I had to take it slowly.  I usually call it a night if a cigar is making me feel green, but I really didn’t want to put this one down.

Conclusion

Basically shock, both at the strength and the quality of the cigar. I wasn’t expecting much from the Don Diego Fuerte and based on the paucity of reviews, it looks like nobody else is expecting much either. But clearly Omar Ortez has done something entirely new with a tired old brand.

Single stick prices hover around $5 USD for the robusto, or $120 for a 27 count box. Full bodied cigar smokers will have to check out this new formulation. It most definitely is not your father’s Don Diego.

Final Score: 90