Review: Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto (Prerelease)

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At the IPCPR trade show in Orlando, FL earlier this year, Victor Vitale brought a host of new releases, one of which was an extension to the Ortsac portfolio, the Ortsac 1962 Habano.

We detailed the release in a news post:

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The Cigar Agency’s Ortsac brand is set for another expansion, this time two new lines for its Ortsac 1962 line, both debuting at IPCPR 2012. A Habano and Maduro version are both coming to the Ortasc 1962 line. According to Victor Vitale, both are being made in Honduras at Tabacalera Aguilar and both will receive a Robusto, Toro, 6 x 60 and what Vitale describes as a “first of its kind” 6 x 66. The Habano version is a Nicaraguan puro using Oliva tobaccos, whereas the Maduro will use a San Andrés wrapper over the Nicaraguan fillers.

It should be noted, the wrapper is now listed as Ecuadorian Sun Grown Habano, not Nicaraguan as once stated.

There will be four different vitolas in the Ortsac Habano line when it launches, all in boxes of 20. They are:

  • Robusto (5 x 54) — $6.00 (Boxes of 20, $120.00)
  • Toro (6 x 56) — $6.50 (Boxes of 20, $130.00)
  • 660 (6 x 60) — $7.00 (Boxes of 20, $140.00)
  • 666 (6 x 66) — $8.00 (Boxes of 20, $160.00)

 

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But enough of that, lets get down to business, shall we?
  • Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto 1Cigar Reviewed: Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Tabacalera Aguilar
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Habano
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.00 (Boxes of 20, $120.00)
  • Release Date: October 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
*There will be 50,000 total cigars across the four vitolas, numbers for specific vitolas are unavailable.

The Ortsac Habano is a good looking stick, with a great triple cap, although the cigar is a bit spongy when squeezed. There’s a mocha brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch with almost no oil at all present. The cold draw is interesting: cedar, peppermintand more spice on the lips than I was expecting.

 

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The Ortsac starts off the first third immediately with strong spice on the lips and tongue, along with flavors of leather, oak, slightly bitter coffee and a bit of vanilla in the background. The finish is excellent and the retrohale is quite sharp reminding me of a very spicy salsa. The draw is a bit open so far and the burn is a bit wonky overall, but is easily corrected. The overall strength starts out firmly in the medium category — and while I can see it getting stronger — I don’t think it is going to go anywhere very quickly. The finish is excellent as well, one of the best parts of the cigar so far. Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto 2

Coming into the second third of the Ortsac Habano and the profile changes quite a bit with an almost overwhelming note of creamy leather becoming dominant for the majority of the third. It is not a bad flavor by any means, but it is strong enough to crowd out most of the other flavors, although I can still taste notes of oak and coffee every once in a while. There is still quite a bit of pepper noticeable, and the construction evens up nicely through the second third. The strength ends up at just above medium and the smoke production is way above average.

Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto 3

The final third of the Ortsac 1962 Habano does not feature many new flavors, but the strength of the flavors changes quite a bit. The leather from the second third takes a back seat, replaced by a dominant notes of creamy oak and earth. There is slight sweet floral note that comes and goes, but it sadly does not stick around long enough to really impact the profile in any major way. The pepper on the retrohale has only seemed to increase, and is at a noticeably higher level than during the first third. Construction remains good, and the strength ends the cigar at a strong medium. 

Ortsac 1962 Habano Robusto 4

 

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Final Notes:

  • According to Vitale, the name he chose for the brand, “Ortsac”, has multiple meanings. On the one hand, it is “Castro” spelled backwards. On the other hand, there was an Operation Ortsac that was a military plan to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro, and Vitale used that idea to promote the idea that he wanted to “overthrow” cigars smoker’s preconceived notions that Cuban cigars are better than non Cuban cigars. The “1962” in the brand name is an obvious allusion to the year the Cuban embargo was instituted.
  • The finish on this cigar is excellent: spicy and slightly sweet. One of the best I have had in a while.
  • While three of the four vitolas are shipping to retailers next week, the 666 vitola is not quite ready, and should be in retailers hands in January of 2013.
  • When the spice in a cigar is as prevalent as it is on this cigar, I usually expect it to die down over the course of the first third. That just did not happen with the Ortsac Habano, and in fact, the strength of the spice actually got a bit stronger as the cigar burned down.
  • The predraw had a very distinct peppermint note that was easy to place, but alas, I tasted none that flavor in the actual cigar itself.
  • The smoke production that came from the Ortsac 1962 Habano is enormous, dense and white.
  • Ortsac is distributed by Victor Vitale of The Cigar Agency. Victor Vitale also distributes the brands Second Growth, Tortuga and La Mexcla Cubana.
  • Both the burn and draw started out a bit off kilter, but both evened up nicely by the start of the second third, and gave no more issues after that through the end of the cigar.
  • Ortsac has another release planned for 2013, which will be an all Nicaraguan puro. Interestingly, as mentioned above, the 1962 Habano was originally described as a Nicaraguan puro.
  • When asked by Stogie Review in an interview why he decided to produce a 6 x 66 vitola, Vitale answered, “You know, I am really big on ‘first of its kind’ in the business, I try to really create something unique and different for the smoker to get excited about. The consumer is looking for different things.”
  • Having said the above, I am not sure that having a vitola that will automatically be associated with the Mark of the Beast is a good thing, although Vitale told me that was the furthest thing from his mind when he was thinking up the size and name.
  • This is not a cigar you want to smoke quickly. The faster I puffed, the more bitter it became. But the second I slowed down, more and more complexity started becoming noticeable.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to the reviewer by Victor Vitale.
  • The final smoking time for both samples was just under one hour and 15 minutes.

 

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The Bottom Line:  Ortsac is not a cigar I had ever heard of, so I was not sure what to expect. While the profile is not overly complex, the notes it does have are district and easily recognizable, the finish is excellent, and smoke production was copious. The construction was not amazing, but it was not horrible either, and was not bad enough to negatively impact any of the flavors. I enjoyed it enough to get more, as they are a great value at the prices they are selling for, and I think they have a decent chance to age well. Having said that, I really wish the sweetness that I tasted at times would have come a bit more to forefront, as I think it added some nice complexity to the profilewhen it was around at certain points during the smoke.

 

Final Score: 85

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

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.

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