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For the past several years, Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire has celebrated the 4th of July holiday with a series of cigars from various manufacturers that share a common theme: firecrackers.

The cigars get their names from their petit robusto vitola but also because they all share a distinguishing feature: a cap with an extended twist of tobacco designed to resemble a fuse.

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This year, Fratello joined the club of companies to make such a cigar for the retailer, a list that includes La Flor Dominicana, My Father, RoMa Craft Tobac, and Tabacalera Leyensa Cubanas.

Omar de Frias of Fratello created what has been referred to as a “ramped up version” of the original Fratello blend, which uses a Nicaraguan habano wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Peru.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fratello Firecracker
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Filler: Nicaragua & Peru
  • Length: 3 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Petit Robustor
  • MSRP: $5.99 (Boxes of 20, $119.80)
  • Release Date: June 13, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first task at hand with the Fratello Firecracker is figuring out how to handle the fuse-style cap. For purposes of the photos, I pulled the fuse up so I could clip the cap while leaving the band in tact, but you could approach it in a number of ways. This small cigar is densely packed and offers a firm roll under its earthy, matte brown wrapper. From the covered foot I get a fairly strong note of slightly bitter chocolate, an aroma I find quite enjoyable, while a bit of earth and bark offer supporting notes. The cold draw on the first sample is a bit loose while others are more in line with my liking, with more of a tree bark note but still some chocolate to be found along with some heavy woods.

Given the chocolate on the Fratello Firecracker’s pre-light profile, I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t translate once the cigar is lit. Instead, I get a slightly peppery but more chalk-laden smoke that at the onset makes me think the cigar’s name is more about its shape than its blend, though retrohales do a good job at showing more of the black pepper the cigar contains. There is some chocolate to be found, and while I think it’s one of the more dominant notes, it isn’t prominent enough for me to call it a defining note. Just as the burn line hits the first inch, I get a bit more chocolate on the finish, and if it holds throughout the cigar might end up being the part I remember most as it is quite good. If anything, the restraint the cigar shows in terms of strength is impressive; with a name like Firecracker one might think this is a blow-your-face-off type of cigar, but at least in the first third, it’s far from it. The burn and draw have both been solid with no issues to report.

The flavor evolves well into and through the second third; while I’m still not getting a lot of pepper, the chalk has faded away and that clears the way for at least some more pepper, particularly on retrohales. There’s not a lot of sweetness in the Fratello Firecracker’s profile despite what is now cocoa powder, and the smoke has an interesting texture that I think it best described as uncreamy. It’s not that it’s rough, but it has a fine texture in the mouth that seems to lock in to each nerve it can find.

The final third of the Fratello Firecracker finally delivers some of the strength that one might infer from the name that the cigar has; it’s far from overpowering on my palate but definitely a step or two up from what the cigar has offered to this point. The chocolate sweetness continues to linger, now manifesting as a dry brownie, while a bit of dry earth is a variable from sample to sample. Much like a good roller coaster, the Fratello Firecracker is over all too quickly, leaving a lingering tingle of black pepper on the palate as the nub of tobacco begins to heat my fingers too much for comfort.

Final Notes

  • I forgot that this cigar has a fuse cap; when I was taking it out of the cello and getting ready to smoke it, my thumb caught the fuse and I immediately wondered how a cigar with such a large vein would ever be released onto the market.
  • The fuse is held to the body of the cigar with a bit of glue, meaning that you’ll want to be careful when lifting it up so as not to damage the wrapper, something that didn’t happen in any of my samples. Additionally, you’ll be left with a bit of a glue trail.
  • While the cigar is a bit short for my liking, it would seem to be a solid vitola for the casual smoker as it is much less intimidating than many of the bigger ring gauge cigars we see these days.
  • If the July 4th holiday were still on the horizon and I had a party to attend, I could easily see picking up a box and making them available for guests. That’s one of the nice things about this vitola—it’s substantial but not intimidating, and while it would be a shame to waste one, there is a certain feeling that you don’t have to be completely committed to finishing it.
  • If I were a novice cigar smoker, I might be intimidated by the name a bit, fearing it is more powerful than what I could handle.
  • Retrohales are a must to get the full experience and strength of the Fratello Firecracker.
  • I still think the Fratello bands are some of the better ones out there; while not the most elaborate or ornate, they are easy to read and distinctive in shape, two plusses in my book.
  • Final smoking time was one hour on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Two Guys Smoke Shop still has the Fratello Firecracker in stock.
89 Overall Score

The original Fratello blend has always sat well with my palate, and the expression of it in the Firecracker vitola is no exception. As I noted, it is a bit on the short side, and I can't say that the blend needed any additional strength to be enjoyable, but it does seem to be able to support the stronger second half. For an affordable, hour-long smoke that is flavorful and has a decent amount of strength, the Fratello Firecracker certainly fits the bill.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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