Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro Series Belicoso | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54 “Belicoso
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.75
Humidor Aging Time: 6 Weeks
Dry Box Time: 48 hours




Today we take a look at the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro Series Belicoso.

Debuted at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show.
Limited production.
From the Tortuga (Victor Vitale and Legacy Brands) web site:
“Tortuga is my dedication to premium cigars. It defines everything I stand for in our industry and is a tribute to the art, culture and tradition of tobacco. After twenty years in the business I continue to discover more of the intricate details that define our culture. From fields to the factory, my process of producing premium boutique cigars begins and ends with passion. I am proud to introduce the Tortuga Edition “Connecticut” and “Black Coyote”. These long awaited additions will be limited and slowly produced to ensure the utmost quality expected of Tortuga cigars. Only found at Appointed Merchants, the legacy of Tortuga continues. Enjoy.”

80% of the cigar is covered in a cedar sleeve and the large cigar band. So, luckily, I have two sticks. I remove the cedar sleeve…to discover an oily, dark chocolate/hickory colored shaft.
Seams are not visible. Not so many veins either.
The belicoso pointy cap is impeccable. The stick is solid and has some tooth to it.

Cedro No.5: 5.5 x 48 $8.05
Cedro Belicoso: 6 x 54 $8.75
Cedro No.10: 6.5 x 58 $9.00

From the shaft, I smell pumpkin spice, hot pepper, cocoa, meat, cedar, and Worcestershire sauce.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell red pepper, cocoa, cedar, malt, and cream.
The cold draw presents flavors of red hot pepper, cocoa, espresso, cedar, and nuts.

3 minutes in, I get the start of a V burn. It is corrected and I cross my fingers.
The draw is excellent.

First thing I experience is a pepper blast. As it calms down, there is creaminess, chocolate, malt, some salted nuts, and a touch of coffee.
So far, it has the flavor profile of any Nic puro.

The V burn goes for it again. Out of curiosity, I light up the second one I have. I figure that the first one is going to be a pain in the ass so why bother torching the stick until I finish.


Sure as shit, I get a V burn on the second stick I have. While this is not definitive, it shows lack of decent construction in its consistency.
Strength is mild/medium.

This is my first Tortuga and I made the mistake of assuming it was a New Breed style blend. In other words, it would be ready to smoke in a few weeks or longer. Not in this case. I am convinced this Old School needing several months of humidor time.

Flavors aren’t bad but they are muddled. Very subtle but with potential.
I’m not impressed with the construction. I’ve gone through two sticks and both had the same issue with the burn.

Smoke time is 25 minutes.
It is here that flavors liven up.
The malt elements are potent.


The draw becomes difficult and the bottom half becomes soft.
There is a strong grilled meatiness component.
The spiciness is gone. Gone, baby, gone.

More flavors: Black cherries, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, coffee, creaminess, cedar, and caramel.
I quickly check out other reviews. They all experience the same as me.
No one gives this blend a big rating. And all complain about one thing or another. So, it isn’t just me.

Strength is barely medium body.
I have no idea when the medium/full experience will kick in.
Transitions are minute and barely discernible.

The draw is tough. I use the cigar awl to relieve a plug near the cap and the whole cigar opens up. The bottom half is still very soft.
The opening of the draw really helps with the flavor profile.

The Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro Series just doesn’t really qualify as a fine premium boutique cigar blend.
The aforementioned flavors are now potent and delicious.
The strength now hits medium/full. Who da thunk that a plug would damage the flavor profile with such impact.

Smoke time is 40 minutes.
Smoke pours from the foot now.

The last third shows the potential of this blend. As other reviewers don’t discuss the humidor time, I have no idea how long they sat aging.
But I’m guessing it wasn’t very long based on their complaints.
This part of the stick is its redemption.

Transitions occur right and left. Complexity hits the bullseye.
What a shame that the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro Series didn’t start like this. Instead, it was bland and without hope.
The char line still needs constant correction.
Nicotine kicks in.


The Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro Series is now an excellent blend.
The spiciness has returned.

Creaminess, black cherries, coffee, malts, nuts, grilled meat, Worcestershire sauce, cedar, molasses, and caramel. All blooming nicely.
What a shame. I get the potential of the blend with only 1-1/2” to go.

Most reviewers give the blend a rating in the 80’s. One gives it a 92.

Clearly, this is not one of Victor Vitale’s finest.
Strength hits full body.
I’m really enjoying the stick now. At one point, I gave thought to just ditching the cigar and going a day without a review.
I’m glad that patience will out.

The construction issues will also play an important part in my rating.
I cannot really recommend this blend. There are other blends in the line.

The Tortuga 215 Reserva El Coyote Negro is supposed to be a fine blend and gets high marks from reviewers. I picked the wrong stick to review.

There is also a Connie blend but not my style as it is a mild blend.

The Byrds “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star” is playing. I have just the story for this.
The last part of the stick is very soft.
I’m done.
Try the El Coyote Negro and pass this one up.


I was able to purchase 13 cigars for review. Some required me to buy them in 5 packs as there was no way to purchase singles. Plus I got a couple cigars for review through care packages. Thanks to 12 good souls.
So it seems appropriate that my last day be July 4, 2016. This is really the end this time. No coming back when I feel better. I’m shutting ‘er down for good. I went a lot longer with my early onset of dementia than I thought I would. My doctor told me hardwired tasks are the last to go; so I was lucky.
I’ll say my goodbyes on the 4th. And what better day than to do this: Independence Day! But without the Resurrection part.
The site will stay up and I will, on occasion, monitor it for comments.

And now for something completely different:
The Byrds


In 1966, at the height of their short career, I got to meet, and hang with them, at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA.
The Golden Bear is a small venue. Maybe seats 200 people. The Byrds had a string of major hits. And were considered the American Beatles.

They only played two nights but two shows per night. It was impossible to get tickets. So my buddy, Elliot Kushell, had an idea. We would pretend we were reporters for the Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper.

I called the Golden Bear and introduced myself as a reporter. I just knew they wouldn’t buy it.
An hour later, The Byrds’ manager called back and said he would get us backstage passes.
Elliot and I were ecstatic.
We were both 16. And hardly looked like real reporters.

We got there and not a single reporter was there. Unless they were in the audience. We were the only people allowed back stage with the band.

I brought along my Sony reel-to-reel that my grandfather bought me for my Bar Mitzvah. And I brought two cameras: A Kodak Instamatic and a Polaroid.
We met them as soon as we got there. We were invited into their dressing room. A drab and tiny room. Almost like a big closet.
Right away, they were friendly and generous.

I got a 45 minute interview with Roger McGuinn. I took lots of photos. During the concert, I just wandered to the front of the stage and took pictures with my Instamatic. No one bothered me.


Back stage, I used my Polaroid. David Crosby asked if he could use it so he could show me some tricks. He knew how to get double exposures with the thing.
So he took a bunch of crazy photos.


Strangely, I never saw them drink alcohol or smoke any weed. They were sober.
And neither Elliot nor I had used weed at that age. Things were different then.

Now Roger went to a guru on a regular basis. This guru said his original name of Jim was wrong for him and changed it to Roger. LOL.

I asked for an autograph and, apparently, he wasn’t used to his new name. He started to write the letter J and then stopped and wrote Roger. I wish I still had that piece of paper but that was almost 50 years ago.

Roger let me hold the famous Rickenbacker 12 string that was the signature sound of The Byrds.
There were girls in the dressing room of course. And David made sure that they all sat on my lap. I almost passed out. And I was embarrassed because I had the wood of a horny 16 year old.

The evening lasted for 6 hours. All of it exhilarating. When it was over, each of The Byrds gave me a big bear hug. I couldn’t believe it. We had bonded.

The next day, I wrote an article, from the interview, and submitted it to the teeny bopper magazine “Tiger Beat.”

A couple weeks later, it was returned to me, bleeding with red mark ups. I was told that my article was not cuddly enough. I swear to God. Those were her exact words.
That was the official start of my writing career. Protection Status


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3 replies

  1. The 4th will be a sad day my friend.

  2. I’ve gone past my expiration date but thank you for the kind sentiment my friend.

  3. Eight Miles High. So You Want to Be A Rock ‘n Roll Star. Phil, I’m so glad you had these amazing experiences to share with us! It’s so wonderful when you hear stories about such towering geniuses who are also such terrific people that they can provide memories that will last a lifetime. Mazel Tov!!!

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