Back in February, we reported on an unusual project that brought together three different cigar companies to produce two different cigars. Dubbed Larceny, the new collaboration consists of two different cigars: one crafted by Eddie Ortega based on what he thought Williams would enjoy and the other blended by Sean Williams based on what he thought Ortega would like. The resulting cigars were then rolled at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

“We both wanted to do something different and we’d kicked around doing something together before,” said Williams in an email to halfwheel. We figured instead of working together on a single cigar why not each do a cigar that we think the other would like and give the consumer two profiles in one box. The Larceny tag is simply a play on how much as an industry we tend to copy each other.”

Larceny Vitolas

The resulting cigars are a 6 1/2 x 52 toro extra that have a suggested retail price of $9.50 each. Blend-wise, the Ortega Larceny incorporates a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos while the El Primer Mundo Larceny is composed of Nicaraguan binder and fillers covered by an Ecuadorian oscuro wrapper. Only 400 boxes of 20 were released, each of which includes 10 cigars blended by Ortega and 10 cigars blended by Williams and distributed by Ortega Premium Cigars.

Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Ortega Larceny By Sean Williams
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • Date Released: May 12, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 400 Boxes of 20 Cigars (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Covered in a dark reddish brown wrapper, the Ortega Larceny features both quite a bit of tooth as well as a noticeable amount of oil. There are virtually no seams present at all and the cigar is just short of being rock hard when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of dark cocoa, dank earth, leather, cedar and fruity sweetness while the cold draw brings flavors of the same dark cocoa powder, cedar, coffee beans and raisin sweetness.

The Ortega Larceny starts out the first third with flavors of heavy espresso beans and barnyard, along with leather, cedar, cream and slight creamy peanuts. There is some noticeable spice on my tongue that begins to fade almost immediately, along with some very aggressive black pepper on the retrohale that shows no sign of receding any time soon. I am picking up some of the raisin sweetness from the cold draw, but it is not overly strong at this point. Both the burn and draw are excellent so far, and the smoke production is quite high from the start. Strength-wise, the Larceny hits a point between mild and medium early on, but seemingly refuses to budge after that.

Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams 2

I start to pick up an interesting mint note on the retrohale around the start of the second third of the Ortega Larceny, but it does not stick around long enough to impact the overall profile all that much, and the dominant flavors remain a combination of rich espresso beans and barnyard. Other flavors of dark chocolate, hay, peanuts, cedar and oats flit in and out, but none come close to being strong enough to challenge the dominant notes. There is still quite a bit of black pepper on the retrohale, but the spice from the first third is long gone, and the smoke production has dropped noticeably. Construction-wise, the Ortega Larceny still features a wonderful draw and a burn line that does not need attention, while the strength has increased somewhat, hitting a point just under the medium mark by the end of the second third.

Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams 3

While the profile of the Ortega Larceny does not exactly fall apart during the final third, it does not really get any better either. Espresso beans and barnyard remain the dominant flavors as they have for the entire cigar, while other notes of hay, cedar, anise, cinnamon and leather continue to play much lesser roles in the profile. The mint note has sadly not returned, and while the raison sweetness is still very much present on the retrohale, it is noticeably reduced from its high point in the second third. The Larceny does hit the medium mark before the end of the cigar, but stalls out there, never threatening to go any higher. The draw continues to be excellent, but the burn begins to waver a bit, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times before I put the nub down with a little more than an inch to go.

Ortega Larceny by Sean Williams 4

Final Notes

  • Collaborations in the cigar world are nothing new, but they still remain relatively rare. Other examples include Face Off in 2003 between Christian Eiroa, who was still with Camacho at the time and Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana as well as the Re+United project, which united Michael Giannini of General Cigar Co. and Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr. last year.
  • Ortega and Williams have since announced Miami Stash.
  • This release is the first time that both Espinosa and Ortega have collaborated since they went their separate ways after dissolving EO Brands in 2012, which was originally founded in 2003.
  • The red-banded cigar is the blend that Williams made for Ortega and the gray-banded cigar is the blend Ortega made for Williams. This gets a bit confusing as the former is actually an “Ortega” cigar.
  • The band on these releases are quite simplistic, and reminded me strongly of the band that is used on the El Credito El Perrito War of Flavors the first time I saw it.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
  • The overall construction on all three samples was very good, although the burn did have a tendency to become wavy during the final third, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Larceny cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Emerson’s Cigars and Serious Cigars have them in stock.

Editor’s Note: This review originally was published without a score. That was a mistake and it has been corrected.

88 Overall Score

Decently complex, well-constructed and nicely balanced, the Ortega Larceny is, at its core, a very smokable cigar that does a lot of things well, but nothing truly amazing. The flavors are interesting at times—especially the all too fleeting mint note I picked up in the second third on each of the three samples—but are just not strong enough nor distinct enough to really elevate this blend. Having said all of that, the Ortega Larceny is easily good enough to recommend trying, especially considering how many were made.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.