While Omar de Frias may not have had the most normal path leading into the cigar industry, he’s still one to pay homage to where he’s come from, which is a very normal thing in the cigar industry. After working for NASA for 12 years and running Fratello for the past four, de Frias finally came to the point where he decided to leave his job at NASA and focus on Fratello full time.

This year at the 2017 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, de Frias showed off his latest project which paid tribute to his time at NASA. It is called the Navetta, which is Italian for shuttle, and comes in four sizes – each named after a NASA space shuttle.

  • Fratello Navetta Discovery (5 x 50) — $10.50 (Boxes of 20, $210)
  • Fratello Navetta Enterprise (6 x 60) — $12 (Boxes of 20, $240)
  • Fratello Navetta Atlantis (6 1/4 x 52) — $12.50 (Boxes of 20, $250)
  • Fratello Navetta Endeavor (6 1/4 x 54) — $11.25 (Boxes of 20, $225)

de Frias had this to say about the release:

Blending Fratello Naveta was special as I wanted to translate the ultimate celebration our men and women of the space program felt after a successful mission. After being part of over 21 missions nothing beats the feeling of getting our astronauts home safe to their families. Colleagues of mine would get together and smoke a very special cigar to commemorate the occasion. This very special blend carries the ultimate feeling of innovation, duty, honor and success.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fratello Navetta Atlantis
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Joya de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Oscuro)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 20, $250)
  • Release Date: Oct. 2, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Navetta Atlantis has a wrapper anything but consistent across the three samples. One is extremely rough, one is right in the middle, and the third is extremely smooth—almost silky—though all three do have a general oily feel to them. Thankfully that’s where the differences end, as it’s awkward to write about three separate experiences in a cohesive manner. There is some give across the entire cigar, but no soft or underfilled spots. The aroma off the wrapper is a barnyard theme that’s heavy on the earth and leather, with hints of cocoa, spice and a bit of meatiness in the background. A smooth, earthy chocolate dominates the cold draw, with some spice, dried cherries and a bit of light spicy pepper in the background.

Starting into the Navetta Atlantis the profile is quite smooth with a slight sweetness, lots of spice—mainly ginger and cinnamon—along with a touch of pepper, cocoa, a light nuttiness and some toasted wood. The burn isn’t perfect to start, but it doesn’t need a touch up quite yet. As I move along there is a dark fruity note in the background that develops, almost like a black cherry but not quite fully there. The dense ash is holding on easily to around the inch mark, and while the burn line isn’t perfect, it has evened itself up quite nicely.

Moving into the second third the spice continues to lead the pack, with sweet cocoa following closely behind. Nuttiness, pepper and toasted wood continue in the background, while a very light espresso note joins the pack. The burn has continue to improve, keeping mostly even with only a bit of waviness to it without any intervention on my part. The draw is right in the middle of ideal and produces a good amount of smoke with each draw, though it quickly slows to a trickle shortly after. The sweetness has grown a little, perhaps more in the spice note than the cocoa note, while the nuttiness, pepper, wood and espresso round out the profile nicely.

The final third sees the sweet spice grow into an even more bold note than before, while a new grain-like note joins the cocoa in the middle. Pepper, wood and the nuttiness from before has melded somewhat into a more earthy note, which works well alongside the espresso in the background. The burn continues to stay even and impress me, and while it’s not what anybody would call razor sharp, it certainly doesn’t need any help from me. As I get to the final inch I stop to take the final photo, but find myself resuming to smoke the Atlantis to get as much as I can out of the final third, only stopping when the nub started to burn my fingers.

Final Notes

  • The space shuttle Atlantis was the last orbital vehicle used in the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, with a launch date of July 8, 2011.
  • The shuttle’s maiden launch was on Oct. 3, 1985 and flew 33 missions before being retired and put on display at Kennedy Space Center.
  • While the box and bands make very nice-looking packaging for the cigars, something about me wishes they came in the totally impractical but completely awesome shuttle displays that were used at IPCPR.
  • As different as the wrappers felt, I didn’t notice much difference in the profile. The rougher wrapper seemed to be a little less sweet and a touch more spicy in the first third, but it could have just been my imagination.
  • The Atlantis size is one we’ve seen before in the Fratello Boxer. In fact – if you look on the sticker on the cellophane, it says The Boxer 6 1/4 x 52.
  • While Fratello has certainly enjoyed a lot of popularity in a relatively short amount of time, it’s nice to see the slow burn that de Frias is giving the company. Between so many people dumping a ton of new lines on the market last year and new companies trying to expand quicker than they perhaps should, the Navetta was the only new thing Fratello had at IPCPR Convention & Trade Show this year.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged right around two hours.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigar, and STOGIES World Class Cigars carry the Fratello Navetta Atlantis.
92 Overall Score

The Fratello Navetta Atlantis was certainly one of the new cigars from the show I was excited to try as I’ve historically enjoyed the company’s other lines. Starting out I wouldn’t say that it immediately impressed me, but instead was a slow build that culminated into a fantastic finish that literally had me burning my fingers to keep from ending. The flavors never really morphed too much or changed into something completely different from start to finish, but grew in intensity and shifted levels until they meshed into a wonderful combination that shined in the final third. I’m eager to see what the other sizes in the blend taste like, but if it’s anything like the Atlantis size, the Navetta is going to be another success for Fratello.

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Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.