Omar Ortez Belicoso
Living in the Land of the Free?
A couple of informational items regarding the allowance of cigar smoking recently came to my attention and again, I cannot help but point out the irony and just how topsy-turvy this world can sometimes be. The first, a reader responding in a recent issue of "Cigar Aficionado" commented on the fact that he could not help but notice the freedom that smokers had in a certain country that has little freedom, both personally and politically. The reader, in his commentary, could not help but wonder at the irony that the United States of America, the self-proclaimed land of the free and certainly one of the most personal and politically free countries in the world, does not grant a man more freedom when it comes time to light up his favorite cigar!
I recently suffered this same irony when I traveled to Hawaii for the first time. Knowing that I would be in an ideal climate and frame of mind for some good cigar smoking, I thought that I would do some research in advance to ensure that my cigar smoking would be in compliance with Hawaiian laws. To my surprise, the laid back, "hang loose" Hawaiian culture is pretty uptight when it comes to cigar smoking. In sum, there is virtually nowhere indoors to smoke. You are limited to designated outdoor smoking areas, often in far off corners in the many open-air venues in Hawaii. I now know how lepers must have felt a century ago. However, my research led me to marvel at one exception in particular where it was okay to smoke indoors in the state of Hawaii -- you are allowed to light up in jails and penitentiaries! Yes, you are reading this correctly! Here in America we have at least one state that grants more smoking freedoms to an incarcerated criminal than the law-abiding good citizen, who is on vacation, spending his money and keeping the economy going. Go figure!
Putting the tobacco rules and ironic jail exception aside, the Hawaiian Islands are certainly something to experience! If you can appreciate unparalleled outdoor beauty, sun, sea and warm weather, it’s the place to be. And, by any measure, there is certainly no better country in the world than the good old U.S. of A.
So, find yourself a legal corner somewhere (if you can) and let’s get smokin’!
Omar Ortez Belicoso
Size: 6.2 inches x 52 Ring Gauge
Price: $5 to 6
The Omar Ortez Belicoso is made with all Nicaragua-grown tobacco, another Nicaraguan puro. It is cigar giant Altadis’ answer to the successful, rustic Rocky Patel Edge line of cigars. Originally, like the Edge, they were packaged in rustic boxes with no band or cellophane, very Cuban-like in its packaging. Today, they do get a simple foot band, like the Edge. Altadis is most known for their Monte Cristo, Romeo y Julieta and H. Upmann brands.
I’ve reviewed the Edge in the past and it is one of my "go to" cigars, a top value play still in the market today. An absolute must for anyone’s humidor and a respectable, yet affordable, cigar to provide a guest, friend or colleague. Needless to say, the Omar Ortez had some tough competition.
Look and feel
The look and feel of the Omar Ortez is intended to be rustic. It will not win a beauty contest in terms of its look and feel. The wrapper is dark, veiny and oily. It is not a consistent color across the stick. Don’t take this to mean it is not well constructed. Though the wrapper leaf is not a silky smooth Connecticut, the cigar is well packed, wrapped and capped fairly well. The torpedo cap snipped efficiently off with a dual blade cutter.
Aroma and Taste
The pre-lit aroma was that of very earthy tobacco at the foot, with a peat moss-like tone. The aroma along the length of the cigar was cedar wood. Upon lighting, you were greeted with rich aroma and flavor. I did not notice much peppery spice at all in the blend, but the wood flavor was dominant. As you smoked through the first half, the taste got a little metallic at times. The latter portion of the cigar tended to have some chocolate flavors emerge. Like the Edge, I would classify the cigar as a medium to full bodied smoke.
RATING: 8.7 (on a scale of 1 to 10) – I like this cigar and it is a very good value. If you like Rocky Patel’s Edge, I would suspect that you will enjoy the Omar Ortez cigar, and you ought to give it a try. My only complaint, and it is the primary reason I cannot rate this cigar higher, is the burn on the first two cigars I smoked was inadequate. The cigar would often need to be relit, because it went out quite quickly, numerous times. I rested the last of the three sticks I bought for three months in my humidor, thinking that the cigars might have been brought to market a little too early. The last of my Omar Ortez cigars was smoked recently and it burned perfectly! I don’t recall ever having to do this with an Edge. Given the similar taste profiles and similar price point, I still prefer the Edge. Like the Edge, it is an excellent smoke to pair with smoky bourbon or an earthy scotch.
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