Ortega Larceny EPM | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Oscuro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6.5 X 50 “Toro”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $9.50

larcenyposter

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Today we take a look at the new Ortega Larceny EPM by Sean Williams.

BACKGROUND:
Eddie Ortega and Sean Williams (El Primer Mundo) collaborated on designing two different blends and housing 10 from Eddie and 10 from Sean in one box. They have a web site called “The Ortega Project.”
they sold out their entire allotment to the 42 retailers that were selected to carry it.
They decided that each blend would be the same size. And the premise was simple…”What would I enjoy smoking?”

The Ortega version uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper while the Williams version uses an Ecuadorian Oscuro wrapper. The binders and fillers are Nicaraguan.

Through my research, I found that no one can decide on just one number of boxes released. I’ve seen it reported that it is 300 and other sources say it is 400 boxes. And the cigar is too new for the people who work on the Ortega Premium Cigars to insert it with the other Ortega blends.

The project is distributed by Ortega Premium Cigars.
The cigars are named Ortega Larceny and Larceny EPM (El Primer Mundo).
I’d like to thank the lovely Eddie Ortega for samples.

DESCRIPTION:
The Ortega Larceny EPM is pretty rough looking. Lumpy and bumpy. Some very big veins populate the wrapper. Seams are tight on one cigar and loose on the other. One cigar is decidedly bigger than the other. I measure them both and one is a 50 ring gauge and the other about 53 or 54.
The wrapper has an oily, russet brown hue. Much lighter than most Oscuro wrappers. Both are very sleek to the touch.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
The shaft is heavy with chocolate, spice, earthy tobacco, and black raisins. The clipped cap and foot smell of dark chocolate, spice and raisins.
The cold draw brings a very spicy note and more chocolate and earthy tobacco.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is excellent. Smoke billows around my head giving me a smoke shampoo.
Flavors of chocolate, sweetness, and raisins show up right on time. Spice is slowly building. A meaty element is also present.
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The Ortega Larceny EPM is a more traditional Nicaraguan blend than the Larceny by Ortega. It doesn’t have the wild flavor spectrum that the other blend had.
It is simpler and more direct allowing the flavor profile to really boost the small amount of big flavors.

A burn issue begins but I nip it in the bud. I’ve had some pretty good luck lately with reviews that had on the money char lines.

Creaminess, salt, and wood move in. And then swoosh…everything stands at attention.
But primarily, this is a creamy chocolate bar. Then again, I’ve only smoked an inch. More to see.

The Ortega Larceny had more of a flourish by this time. But then it had a kitchen sink list of flavors. It also had some annoying burn issues.
So far, so good with the Ortega Larceny EPM.

The ash is half white with speckles of grey.
The cigar is packed tight and smokes slowly. It’s taken a good 10 minutes or more to smoke 1”.
Flavors aren’t transitioning. I’m 1-1/2” into the Ortega Larceny EPM and it is the same flavor profile as the start of the cigar.

I recently bought some sticks from CI’s Clearance racks. When I checked out, they offered up a 5 pack of an El Primer Mundo sampler for $14.99. Each cigar runs in the $7-$8 range so that was a pretty good deal. Apparently, anyone can buy the sampler and you don’t have to go through the checkout process to get them. You get $37.00 worth of EPM sticks for $15.00.
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It contained:
1 – Primer Mundo Red Label (6” x 52) $7.00
1 – Primer Mundo Blue Label (6” x 52) $7.00
1 – Primer Mundo Black Label (6” x 52) $7.00
1 – Primer Mundo La Hermandad (6” x 52) $8.00
1 – Primer Mundo Epifania (6” x 54) $8.00
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SECOND THIRD:
No real changes except for the addition of some fruity elements. The raisins move closer to the front and the addition of black cherry. They are in season now and damn expensive. In fact, all the summer fruit hitting the markets are way out of line. Remember paying 59 cents a pound? Now everything is $3.00 per pound or more.

The spice note is dissipating. In the middle of the pack now.
The chocolate and creaminess comes and goes.
6third

Like the Ortega Larceny, the Ortega Larceny EPM must need months and months of humidor time; not weeks.
Most Ortega blends are rarin’ to go after 3 weeks of humi aging. Of course, they get better with age but still…if you are in a hurry, they are just fine after 3 weeks.

A touch of caramel lands.

Here is the list: Chocolate, cream, caramel, sweetness, fruit, earthy, newly added coffee, and spice.
Basically, the flavor profile is your stereotypical heavily Nicaraguan influence.

I had hoped this would be a potent cigar full of flavors. I’ve noticed that of the two blends, the EPM gets the highest review count online. It’s like 4:1.
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Or it could be that in their test smoking of cigars, they found out that the cigars aren’t ready for review. I respect them for that.

Someone commented that I’d never be an “A List” reviewer. I know that. Look at how I write. I’m crude, vulgar, and speak the truth to the point of being painful. Plus, those guys get bucket loads of cigars sent their way and they can pick and choose what to review. I have a nice list of sponsors who get the old curmudgeon Katman. I’m happy with that. And for someone who isn’t in the cigar industry like most top reviewers, I think I’ve made quite the dent in the clique. That wasn’t my goal; Just worked out that way.

Another comment complained about my vulgar language and how it is a symptom of the decline of Western Civilization. OK. I curse a lot. But it is how I speak and I chose not to differentiate how I speak to how I write. I gotta be me. (Cue Sammy Davis Jr. and the Chairman of the Board).

I cannot think of a single reviewer that is either hated or loved with the ferocity that I am.

Back to the Ortega Larceny EPM. Very creamy. Lots of chocolate and sweetness. But there is a generic quality to these components.

This is a nice cigar. Unless there is an incredible transformation over the next few months, I’d have to say that this cigar is nothing special. Any of the cigars in both “The Katman’s Best 174 Boutique Brands/Blends in the $6-$9.50+ Range” and “The Katman’s List of 135 Great Cigars in the $5.00-$6.50 Range” are better blends.

I’m guessing this is the last time Ortega sends me samples. But the truth is what I speak. This is why I’m not an “A List” reviewer. Those guys describe the cigar the same way I do but without opinion. Their mission statement is not to make enemies and I don’t blame them.

HALFWAY POINT:
Again, no transitions. Same ol, same ol.
The char line has been constantly wavy this whole time.
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Moments later, the flavor profile kicks in. We’ve found the sweet spot. No addition to the flavor profile but it is now bold and intense. The first transition.

The fruitiness returns. But the spice remains a distant memory.

Emerson’s Cigars offers up a nice 4 pack. Two of each blend for $38.00. That’s a good trial run pack for anyone just curious. Tell them the Katman sent you.

The caramel note is gone.

The strength has been a steady medium body throughout the smoke.
Smoke time has been 40 minutes.
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Construction has been good not counting the wavy burn line. No wrapper issues.
And then a turnaround…the chocolate cream is dissipating. Leaving an earthy quality with some sweetness. The spice is making a resurgence.

LAST THIRD:
The Ortega Larceny EPM has flattened out. The sweet spot was a flash in the pan.
The flavor profile is now like going on vacation with your parents when you were 13. “How do I get out of here?”
10third

Smoking the Ortega Larceny EPM has become just passing time with an ordinary cigar.
The strength hits medium/full. No nicotine.

The spiciness returns and becomes the strongest element in the flavor profile.
Chocolate continues to be on the wane leaving only the creaminess and touch of sweetness.
Final smoke time is an hour and 10 minutes.
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PRICE POINT:
Almost $10 for the Ortega Larceny EPM and the Ortega Larceny. I’ve gotten several cigars lately that blasted their way out of their cellos. Muy flavors. Lots of character and complexity. I found no complexity in the Ortega Larceny EPM. I don’t remember any of the other reviewers using the word complexity in their reviews either.
If I had to guess, I’d say this was a $7 stick. And only because it is a new blend from the Ortega folks.

SUMMATION:
Of the two blends, I feel that the Ortega Larceny was a better stick than the Ortega Larceny EPM. It had a wider spectrum of flavors and was complex. It had construction issues which was the main problem I had with the blend.
Even if one smokes a cigar with only weeks of humidor time, it will either show you potential or not. I don’t feel I’ve seen potential.
I’m a huge Ortega fan. I cannot think of a single blend I didn’t love. Even the much less expensive Wings for Warriors was a better blend.
I have never once not said I highly recommend this cigar for an Ortega blend. This will be the first time.
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And now for something completely different:

A comment from a recent review made me think of this story.
Back in the 80’s when I had my recording studio; we also had a rehearsal studio next door in a stand alone building. It had a large rumpus room with couches and big chairs. Very cozy and comfy. We had a big pinball machine but the musicians ended up breaking it. We didn’t replace it. Back then, we only charged $10 an hour for rehearsal space. It cost more than it was worth. But we had hoped it would entice groups to book recording time.

The studio was large with a PA system we provided. This turned out to be a big mistake as most owners of rehearsal studios will attest. They don’t last long as the renters abuse them. We went through two of them before we ditched the whole thing and made it a rule that the band provide their own rig.

The James Harman band is a legendary blues band. Still very active today.
The band members were from the Long Beach and Orange County area.
jamesharman

This PR photo was taken at my rehearsal studio:
jhband

They were a 5 piece band: James on vocals and blues harp, Steve Hodges on drums, Kid Ramos on guitar, Hollywood Fats on guitar, and a bassist whose name I can’t remember for the life of me.
steve

kid

fats

They rehearsed at least 2-3 times per week booking 4 hour sessions.
Sometimes they’d rehearse and other times they would work on their PR packages.

Hodges was an old friend from high school and I played in some bands with him.

Harman was a strict disciplinarian. A dictator if you will. Everyone cow towed to his every need or face that famous Harman ire.

The boys smoked weed. Harman did not. He forbade his players to get high during practice and gigs.
So Hodges and Fats would show up early and we would go back into my office before Harman showed up and light ‘em up.

One day, Harman showed early.

We had a back door and Hodges and Fats made a beeline for it and went around the block and came back through the front door.

Hodges, like most drummers, was in great shape and ran the whole way. Fats was…well…fat. A hefty 300+lbs.
I was talking to Harman and he asked me why he saw the boys’ cars out front but they were nowhere to be seen?
Before I could answer, Hodges entered the front door. He was sweaty and his chest was heaving from the run.
“What were you doing?” Asked Harman. Steve said he felt like a run before practice.

A few minutes later, a heart attack prone Fats walked through the door and Harman threw up his hands.
“There is no fucking way you ran around the block!”
Fats just stared at his shoes and said nothing.

Harman said he could smell the weed.

So, Harman began yelling at them as the rest of the band walked in.
Everyone looked at their shoes.

“I don’t want you guys to smoke weed, you know that..right?”
And then he looked at me.
“Hey. I own the place. Remember?”
That pissed him off.

Fats said he wasn’t feeling well so Harman made the decision to fold PR shit. So we all sat in the large lounge and folded paper.

I turned some music on. Harman got up and pulled out my cassette and put his own in. Didn’t even ask permission.

Everyone found themselves sitting on the floor with their backs against furniture.
Fats couldn’t get down there so he lethargically folded paper from the seat of the couch.

After a couple hours, they got up and headed into the rehearsal room and spent two hours playing. I went next door to the recording studio.

Charlotte and I went to see Harman and his band play about a year later somewhere in Orange County. It was a little dive with only a foot high riser for the band cramped into the corner of the bar.
I remember seeing Harman’s temper flare after an hour there.

Lots of people in the club but some were too close for comfort in Harman’s eyes.

One guy was clearly drunk and rested his arm on the top of the P.A. speaker column.
Harman lost it after yelling at the guy to move away.
He leaped off the stage and pushed the guy with all his force causing the guy to go flying. Security came over. The music stopped and Harman was warned.

Charlotte and I shook our heads. What an asshole!

Never bothered to go see him again. Didn’t want to get knocked down if we stood or sat in the wrong place.

Poor Hollywood Fats allowed his lifestyle to back fire at an early age. At 32, he died of a heroin overdose.

Currently, Kid Ramos, who is 56, is fighting for his life with a rare pelvic cancer. But he is still playing out.

I’ve checked various web sites that feature Harman and I can’t find a single one that mentions his side men. Just the famous people he has played with. Even Harman’s web site fails to mention all those musicians.

He does proudly declare that Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, is his best friend.
It figures.

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5 replies

  1. Uncle,
    With the amount of crap cigars produced it is hard to find diamond’s in the ruff. That’s where you come in. Besides, who doesn’t like a little spice in the review? Cigar reviewers can be pretty boring.

  2. Phil, what became of Cuban week? You reviewed 3 cigars of 8 in 2 days and nothing since then. Are you going to finish reviewing the rest of them?
    Shawn

  3. Love your reviews!! Keep telling it like it is.
    My old roommates band had their gig cancelled about a quarter way through their sets because the owner caught the sax player smoking a doob outside on a break.
    Turned on the lights Made em tear down and leave. 😮

    • When I was 15, I was in my first year of high school. I knew some guys that had a makeshift band. They were asked by the girls’ gym teachers to provide background music for some sort of period to period presentation that some of the girls put on. I was asked to play bass.
      I get there, set up, and the three guys go outside and smoke some weed to go with the acid they took an hour earlier.
      At 15, I hadn’t tried pot yet so I declined the offer.
      First set. First song. It was a disaster. Of course.
      They kept starting and stopping because they couldn’t remember how the song should go.
      So the idiot vocalist says..into the microphone…”Sorry. But we’re pretty fucked up on LSD and not to worry…We’ll get it.”
      I almost shat myself.
      I wasn’t high.
      We managed to play that first period.
      When we took a break between periods, a bunch of female teachers came outside and stared at us. Checking us out.
      I felt like putting up my hands and yelling, “It isn’t me!!!!”
      They did something that would never happen today. They told us thank you for the music but we could now go home for the rest of the day.”
      So I got to go home but then had to explain it to my mother. She laughed.
      And there was no repercussion for me. No one talked to me the next day about what happened. I guess they talked to the perps and told the heads of the school that I wasn’t part of the wild drug orgy.
      Will never forget that day 50 years ago. LOL!