So you all read yesterday Jason’s description of Victor Vitale’s presentation for us. I of course attended as well and had the experience of smoking all six cigars at the same time. It was very unique and a great practice that I think every smoker should try at some point. Coming out of the tasting my two favorites were the ORTSAC and the Hammer & Sickle Moscow City, so I decided to fire up an ORTSAC all by itself and give you all my take on it.
Before I start talking about the smoke, I’ll start with the back story. The brand name was taken from a government operative to assassinate Castro that was called “Operation Ortsac”, and Victor’s goal with the cigar was to make one that utilized the flavor profile of many Cuban cigars and would stack up quality-wise. I think he succeeded in his goal, it’s a great smoke and really does give off the rich, earthy flavors that I’ve found in my small amount of experience with smoking Cubans.
I smoked the Torpedo sized ORTSAC, and I was very impressed with the construction and cap before lighting. I made a smooth cut with plenty of cap left over and it fired up easily. Right off the bat I got a very rich, earthy flavor that was complimented by notes of leather and dark wood. Thick smoke and an easy draw make this one easy to enjoy, and as I puffed on the first third I was getting some hints of cedar and just the right touch of spice in the background.
As I moved on to the middle third, the earth tone turned even deeper and developed nicely, a small but welcome complexity. I also started to get some distinct pepper tones on the retrohale, something that I find very enjoyable. It was about at this point that this one really changed drastically. Out of nowhere came some heavy chocolate flavors, but not sweet, like baking chocolate. This mixed in nicely with some coffee notes that were coming to the forefront and pushing the earth and leather towards the back. The same background spice remained as a welcome complimentary flavor.
As I entered the final third I began to get some creamy notes to go along with the chocolate that was still going strong. This one still had one more surprise for me, as I neared the end it changed pretty drastically to reveal a very smoky hickory/campfire/barbecue flavor. This is a very good thing for me, I love a cigar that just envelops you and makes you feel like you’re sitting at a bonfire or over a smoky grill. This change kept me puffing right down to the nub, savoring each wood-fried puff. It finished off incredibly smooth, without a hint of bitterness or any heat which can happen when you’re trying to smoke the last half-inch.
Overall I really enjoyed this cigar. I especially liked the final third, as there were some unique flavors that really caught me by surprise. Of course it really helped to have the great perspective from participating in Victor’s very special presentation, even a seasoned cigar-vet like myself can always learn more. I give this one a 7.5 or an 8 on my rating scale, and when put in the category with other cigars in its price range I think it also is an excellent value. Definitely one I’ll be keeping in my rotation and one I think anyone who enjoys a medium-full bodied cigar with a complex flavor profile will enjoy.