halfwheel: Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No.5 (Prerelease)

Brooks Whittington, halfwheel
Written on November 27, 2013.
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Earlier this year, Victor Vitale announced the release of the Tortuga 215 Reserva, earlier this week, he announced the release of three new sizes all wrapped in cedar.

Brooks Whittington broke news on the 5 1/2 x 48 size:

Pricing is set at $8.05 per cigar with the cigars sold in boxes of 48. The Cedro No.5 is the first of three new sizes for the Tortuga 215 Reserva line, the other two vitolas are still being finalized, although scheduled to be released in the spring. The three new sizes will be distinguished by the inclusion of a cedar wrap as well as the fact that they are round as opposed to being box-pressed.

According to brand owner Victor Vitale, the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No.5 will be shipped to retailers on December 9, 2013.

The boxes of the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No.5 look like this:


With the addition of the Cedro No.5, the line now sits at five confirmed vitolas with two future sizes planned:

  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Alma (5 x 54)
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Diplomatico (7 1/2 x 58)
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Tributo (6 x 58)
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Triunfo (6 x 60)
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No.5 (5 1/2 x 48)
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro TBA
  • Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro TBA

There is also a regular Tortuga line with six sizes. It’s a Dominican-made cigar completely different from the Nicaraguan puro Reserva.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No.5
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Tabacalera Aguilar
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size:  5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $8.05 (Boxes of 48, $386.40)
  • Release Date: December 9, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
  • The presentation is nice, a little busy, but it works. Removing the cigar from cedar is a task that wasn’t as easy as it should have been. Even in our low RH humidor for over a week, one example saw the Cedro No.5 force me to break the cedar rather than sliding it off. It was at that point that I also noticed the cigar was very squishy. Given that it was not consistent throughout, my guess is a filling problem, rather than a humidity problem. If it is a humidity problem, it’s bad news for Vitale, because the cigars we had were nearly dry-boxed for a week and a half before being smoked. Fortunately, the cold draw is incredible. A rich candied orange note with a touch of blossom water hints and a bubble gum texture. It’s a sweet tooth heaven as far as traditional cigars go.

    Despite the cold draw, the Cedro No.5 starts off with little sweetness. A deep cedar coats the palate, a bit of coffee bean on the finish and a light creaminess through the nose. An inch in and the Tortuga 215 Reserva is presenting great notes of nuttiness and mushroom with some cedar and soft nuttiness. Easily the most impressive feat is the smoke production, albeit not volume, I’m pretty sure I could have had a three-course meal in between puffs and I would have come back to a cigar that was still lit with a slightly open draw and slow moving smoke.


    Unfortunately, the Tortuga 215 Reserva softens out in the second third with the cedar note fading behind the creaminess. Herbal and toasty notes develop towards the end, but the profile has gone from medium plus to mild to medium. I get some butter as well, which might lead you to believe that this is a Connecticut profile, it’s not, even if it might be looking that way on paper. Smoke production is great, the draw remains good, although I touch-up a few times.


    The lack of filling is apparent in the final third, the cigar is becoming overly squishy in the mouth. Flavor-wise, the last quarter of the second third and the final third are hardly different. The Tortuga becomes milder, which is fine, but the flavors don’t develop in detail, which is frustrating.


    Final Notes:

    • I really do think these cigars suffered more from a filling issue than a humidity issue. It remains to be seen if that was the case or if there was no issue at all. The cigar burned fine, but the amount of give was excessive.
    • The Tortuga 215 line has some odd box quantities. The original sizes are 27-count boxes, and 48-count boxes are not something we see much at this point. 
    • I would have loved to have found the sweetness I got from the cold draws, which were sensational.
    • Vitale says the cigar is extremely limited. What that actually means is something different. Fuente makes around one million Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars per year, which is also an “extremely limited” product. The cigar is not a limited edition, although Vitale’s first run is set for 100 boxes.
    • The Tabacalera Aguilar factory has been used by Vitale before, including for the Ortsac 1962 line, as well as what point by Ernesto Padilla for the Padilla 1968 line.
    • This was not the flavor profile I was expecting at all. Like I said, not a Connecticut cigar at all, but milder than I would have ever imagined.
    • The band looks like a cross between an Oliva Serie V and a lot of what Padilla has done recently with foot bands from an Añejo. There’s a ton going on and the size of it is very large.
    • I’m not a huge fan of having to remove a band halfway through the cigar. 
    • The 215 is a reference to Vitale’s native Philadelphia. I stopped by Liberty Smokes, the retail shop owned by Victor’s father, Michael, but it was closed.
    • This might be the mildest Nicaraguan puro I’ve had to date. Medium at times, not much beyond that and it hardly accounted for more than quarter of the cigar.
    • We rarely see cedar sleeves on new cigars. In addition to the added costs, some cedar wrapped cigars have had mold issues.
    • Cigars for this review were sent to us by Legacy Brands Company.
    • Final smoking time was an absurd two hours and 50 minutes at its shortest point.
    • None of our site sponsors carry Tortuga at the moment.

    Overall Score

    Tortuga was a brand I got excited for. While Jerry Cruz of Stogie Review and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, a lot of times when it comes to the less obvious cigars, we are on the same page. He loved the original Tortuga, I liked it. And that’s more than I can say about the Reserva Cedros. There is nothing wrong with the cigar, but outside of a few moments in the first half, it’s average at best. Despite what seemed like some obvious filling problems, the cigar is constructed wonderfully and burns on levels rarely seen, but flavor is the ultimate judge.