Cubao by Ortega Premium Cigars | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Esteli and Jalapa
Size: 4.5 x 50 “Robusto #4”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $7.35 by the box (10) at Ortega Premium Cigars


First, I’d like to apologize. It is 7:30am and I’m at my dining room table work station and it’s -32° . I took the cigar out of the safety of the humidor and within 5 minutes I began to hear cracking noises as the wrapper became affected by how cold the house is first thing in the morning. I glued where I could but it is what it is. Damn weather.

Cu-bao – The “Taíno” word for “where fertile land is abundant” or “a great place.”

From Wikipedia: “The Taíno were seafaring indigenous peoples of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. They were one of the Arawak peoples of South America, and the Taíno language was a member of the Arawakan language family of northern South America.”

From Ortega Premium Cigars web site:
“The Cubao was originally introduced in 2008 by Eddie and Erik while they were still partners in EO Brands. Ortega re-introduced the brand during the IPCPR show in Vegas 2013. The Cubao is manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua at the My Father Factory is an exquisite blend of long filler tobaccos from the Esteli and Jalapa regions of Nicaragua topped off with a beautiful rich and oily Ecuadorian Sumatra Wrapper. The Cubao is a medium bodied cigar which has been impeccably hand crafted and exudes deep and rich tobacco flavors that linger on your palate.
“The Cubao is only available in boxes of 10 cigars.”

There is very little that can go wrong when you choose a blend originated by Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa. Plus their sidekick in arms, Pepin Garcia. And to sweeten the pot, this is one of the most inexpensive blends.

The cigar was first released at the 2008 IPCPR trade show under the aegis of EO Brands. From which came the Murcielago (which I recently reviewed) and the 601 series of cigars.

But Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega went their separate way and EO was no longer. In 2013, Eddie decided to resurrect the Cubao.

From the press release:
“I’ve been meaning to re-introduce Cubao for a while now, just had my hands full launching and promoting the Serie D which was the first brand under the Ortega name this past year, I think now is the right time to re-introduce the Cubao.”
While Erik is gone, Don Pepin is still part of the blending process and production…and made at the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua. The cigar was originally a small batch limited release, but now is in full production.
Part of the press release stated that this blend is for the “refined palate.”

The stick is a bit rustic looking with exposed seams and some mottling at the bottom half of the shaft. The triple cap is flawless. The cigar is solid, really solid. The dark Oscuro wrapper oozes oil. And it feels a bit sandy.

I clip the cap and find aromas of cocoa, coffee, spice, toast, dried fruit, and a bit of vanilla bean. The shaft gives off an enormous aroma of fresh peach.
Time to light up.

I’ve had these sticks a couple months. Plus they have those years of factory aging where Eddie found them. And now they are in full production. So are the aged ones gone already? Am I smoking one? Or am I smoking a production cigar?

The first puffs are very spicy. A natural fruity sweetness appears. The draw is excellent and loads of smoke fills the spot right in front of my eyes while I type.

A bit of creaminess shows up early in the smoke. The strength is already a strong medium body. And then I get cocoa, strong cedar, and earthiness.

And once again, another flavor appears: coffee. I’m only at the ¾” mark and the flavors are very nice. The char line needs a minor touch up.

The cigar is sailing. I have to believe that I’m smoking one of the older models with so much storage time. Flavors are bold as axis. Or is that Axis: Bold as Love? I don’t know. Have to ask Jimi.

Flavors are so intense I find it difficult to put them in order but here goes: Spiciness, creaminess, cocoa, fruitiness, sweetness, earthiness, cedar, and some newly added wood; almost smoky.

The strength is definitely at medium/full by halfway through the first third.

And as the first third begins to end, the cigar has adopted a smooth and nuanced approach. The spiciness shares the same spot in line. But the other flavors have melded together. A round, rotating ball of coffee, sweetness, fruitiness, cedar.

The second third begins with the addition of luscious caramel. The cedar goes away. But a citrus note appears. It is not as tart as lemon but I’m not sure I’d say it was orange or not. Too early.

The coffee element turns to espresso. The creaminess and cocoa give it a mocha caramel latte effect. I am the only person on the planet that has never had a coffee from Starbucks so I’m guessing at what they call it. Notify the media immediately.

The price point. If I was guaranteed that every $7 cigar tasted like this, that’s all I’d buy. I have no quibble with the price. You can taste where very nickel went.

Man, the cigar is smooth now. The spiciness of the red pepper really gives it a big punch. That’s Garcia, of course. Put Eddie and Pepin together and you get magic. I know I’m fawning over this cigar but it’s been a long time since I smoked one and I am just so impressed.

The citrus defines itself at the halfway point as orange zest. Ever bite into an orange without removing the peel? It’s amazing as long as the skin is thin. That’s what this tastes like. I can almost taste, and feel, the juice running down my leg. (Apologies to Led Zep.)

The strength settles down now. It is closer to medium than medium/full. Just a growth spurt, I guess. The caramel really makes the stick.

It is now officially a flavor bomb.

It is just nuts how good this stick is. Screaming laughter.

Here are the flavors once more: Spice, creaminess, caramel, sweetness, cocoa, coffee, and orange zest. The wood is gone.

I begin the last third and I am genuflecting to the great Eddie Ortega. I asked my Catholic wife what the word was for kneeling in the Catholic Church and she came up blank. Thank you baby Jesus for Google.

So far, the glue is holding and no more cracks. Fortunately, they are on the back side of the cigar so my photos don’t show the shmeared glue.

The flavor profile is very complex now. The draw continues to be on the money and the char line is close to dead nuts.

I remove the band. A tiny resistance from the glue but not enough to have me swearing this early in the morning.

The sun is out now. I started the review when it was still sort of dark outside and had to use my camera’s flash. Now it is pure and natural.

New flavors appear: baking spices. Almost a pumpkin pie spice.

This cigar has been full of wonderful surprises. I take my hat off to the blending team. What an accomplishment. I should add that I am smoking a small robusto given to flavor bomb status due to size. I don’t know about the bigger sizes. I pretty much stick to the robusto size.

By the last third, I’ve been smoking 45 minutes. Maybe longer.

The flavor profile is now on cruise control. The strength remains at medium but I am getting a hint of nicotine. It should hit medium/full very soon.

I like that you can buy Eddie’s cigars on his own web site. It guarantees that you are getting exactly what you ordered; in that, not cigars that may have issues from lack of care.

The espresso and creaminess move to the front of the line. The earthiness is right behind. That woody flavor that long ago disappeared returns as burnt oak. Very camp fire-ish.

Another new flavor: black licorice. It almost overwhelms the previously described profile.

Another example that you can get a super-premium without all the hoopla and for a very do-able price point.

The cigar finishes with an “I don’t want it to stop” mentality.

Totally off the subject…for those who don’t have health insurance, and have a Costco nearby, you can get on their program for people without insurance and get your meds for a price that is almost cheaper than if you had insurance. I never pay more than $11 for a script. And the nice thing is that you don’t have to be a member to use the pharmacy and get that deal.

I write about this because I must take my wife to work and make my monthly trek to Costco to get out myriad of prescriptions. Wisconsin only has two Costcos and we have one only 35 miles from Milwaukee. So I am squeezing in a review before we leave in an hour.

I am in love with this cigar. Another stick that I must have more of.

The cigar hits medium full with 1-1/2” to go. But no harshness or heat. Just smooth.

The cold takes its toll on the last bit of the cigar and a crack forms but it makes no difference to me because this was a great cigar experience. Damn the cold.


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7 replies

  1. Most enjoyable cigar reviewer I have come across. I look forward each day to the reviews. I’ve been an avid Cigar smoker for close to 15 years but really have been smoking them since the late 70s.
    Currently I’m on a sabatical from smoking…hey it’s Jan in New England…my cigars never smoke good this time of year what with cracks from the cold and burn issues. I don’t smoke in the house ever, so am reduced to smoking in a windless alcove or my old car with the window open and the heat cranked (got a newer car also where no smoking is allowed).
    So…back from rambling….I love to read about cigars especially while on a sabatical and these reviews are cool in so far as I get to read about cigars that I haven’t tried yet in addition to those I have. Maybe I’ll have to try smoking robustos…tho’ I like cigars that have length and more girth mainly because I find them less hot and because smoking time is longer. And they seem to me more flavorful…but that’s me.
    Man I can’t wait for summer…best time for cigars….and occasionally I drive up to Montreal and see how the Canadians are!

    • Thanks for you kind comments, Richard.
      I am very lucky. My encourages me to smoke in the house. Of course, windows must be opened and the fans going. But all in all an understanding wife so I try to smoke in my man cave downstairs when she is home.
      Glad to have you aboard.

  2. Good review Katman…Always informative and entertaining…I get my thrills vicariously my good buddy…Keep up the good work…I’m gonna light up a Drew Estate Roam now…Ha !

  3. This stick sounds right up my street, Katman. Famous appears to have some pre-divorce stock of Cubaos on clearance – $68 for 20 of the large robusto (#6). Any idea if these are the same blend you reviewed?