In May, Fratello announced its first new line since the brand launched in 2013. Dubbed the Bianco — which translates to white from Italian, a reference to the white band that it uses — the new cigar is scheduled to officially debut at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show this month.
However, last month we reported that eight mid-Atlantic retailers and their customers would be getting a preview of the new cigars, as the Bianco was soft launched during events from June 16-26.
Internally, the Fratello Bianco incorporates a Mexican San Andrés negro wrapper covering a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania and Peru.
There will be three different regular production vitolas offered at launch, all of which are differentiated by Roman numerals: the 6 1/4 x 44 Bianco I ($8.75) , the 6 x 50 Bianco II ($9.25) and the 5 x 56 Bianco III ($9).
In addition, there will be a 5 x 44 size available as an event exclusive. As with the original Fratello blend, Bianco is being produced at an undisclosed factory in Estelí, Nicaragua and comes packaged in boxes of 20.
- Cigar Reviewed: Fratello Bianco I
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Nicaragua, Pennsylvania & Peru
- Size: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 44
- Vitola: Lonsdale
- MSRP: $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
- Date Released: June 16, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The Fratello Bianco is covered in a gorgeous espresso brown wrapper that has quite a bit of tooth to it, along with some very obvious oil. The cigar is quite spongy when squeezed and there are a few veins visible. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong oak, earth, manure, hay and fresh ground coffee while the cold draw brings flavors of dark cocoa, espresso beans, leather, oak, barnyard and a nice raisin sweetness.
The Fratello Bianco starts off with some immediate and noticeable spice on my tongue as well as black pepper on the retrohale, along with dominant flavors of aged oak and espresso beans. Other notes of grass, gritty earth, dark cocoa, rice and an interesting meatiness that stays on the edge of the profile for the entire first third. The raisin sweetness from the wrapper is in full force on the finish and seems to gain in strength as the cigar continues. Construction-wise, the Bianco features an excellent draw and a burn that is non-problematic, while the smoke production is well above average for a cigar this size. The overall strength seems to start out with a bang, but quickly slows down, and ends the first third closer to medium than to mild.
The raisin sweetness increases noticeably during the second third of the Fratello Bianco, becoming a major player on the retrohale as well as the finish. The dominant flavors are still a great combination of bitter espresso beans and oak, but the dark cocoa note has increased in strength as well, leaving other flavors of earth, leather, grass, anise and baker’s spices in the dust. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, and the smoke production shows no signs of letting up. Strength-wise, the Bianco hits the medium mark at about the halfway point, but stalls out there, and does not seem to want to go much further.
Coming into the final third of the Fratello Bianco, I could tell there was going to be a major shift, and it turns out I was correct. While the flavors are all still present, the profile has turned mushy and indistinct, with very few notes rising above the pack. Those that do are a strong dark chocolate and espresso bean mix, along with the same raisin sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale that have been present for the whole cigar, albeit at shadow of their former strengths. The construction and the smoke production remain quite good, but the strength never even threatens to cross the medium mark and I put down the nub with a little more than an inch to go.
- The name Fratello translates to brother from Italian, which makes this cigar white brother.
- There is something refreshing to me about the fact that a new cigar company has grown so popular, despite the fact that it has only released one line in its first two years in existence.
- The original Fratello line uses a red band with white letters, while the Bianco band features the exact opposite color scheme: a white background and red letters.
- Last month, Fratello hired its first full-time employee, Mariela Matos, who will serve as the company’s brand manager, albeit, her roles are a bit different than a typical brand manager.
- I photographed a portrait of Fratello Cigars owner Omar de Frias here. If you are wondering, he is both as wonderfully gregarious and as tall as people say he is.
- Along with the above, the more I talk to de Frias, the more I am impressed with him as a person. Not only does he work for NASA, but he also used to play basketball professionally in the past.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 30 minutes.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Fratello.
- Site sponsor STOGIES World Class Cigars had a limited supply of Biancos in earlier, but is now sold out. In addition, Atlantic Cigar, Elite Cigar Cafe (972.6619136), Lone Star State Cigar Co. (972.424.7272) and Serious Cigars are all Fratello dealers.
I absolutely love the Fratello blend in every vitola I have tried—although I hold a special place in my heart for the Fratelllo Lancero—and while the Bianco is not quite a good as the first line, it is pretty close. The rich internal blend is balanced wonderfully with the inherent sweetness from the San Andrés wrapper and the ever present black pepper on the retrohale combines nicely with the rest of the flavors. Yes, the profile seems to fall apart a bit at the very end of the smoke, but the first two thirds are simply excellent, easily making this a release to seek out to try for yourself.