At this year's 2014 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Victor Vitale and Legacy Brands will launch the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro. This is an off-shoot of the Tortuga 215 Reserva line that was introduced at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show. The Coyote Negro introduces a dark Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper into the Tortuga portfolio. The cigar itself is a slight modification of the Tortuga 215 Reserva blend, but uses the Mata Fina wrapper in place of the Nicaraguan one. While an official launch is planned at the 2014 trade show, a soft-launch of the cigar was recently done for the Cigar Federation store's Cigar of the Month club. Recently, I've had an opportunity to smoke the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro. With this blend, Vitale nails it with bringing in the Mata Fina wrapper. I've found the Tortuga line to be solid, but without a doubt this is the best release to date by Vitale under the Tortuga brand.
- Tortuga: This is the brand name. When I talked to Vitale at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, he explained to me that it was his father who came up with the Tortuga name. Tortuga is Spanish for "turtle". Vitale felt the name was very appropriate for the brand in terms of the focus on quality and not rushing a product to market.
- 215: This is an area code from the City of Philadelphia - where Vitale hails from.
- Coyote Negro: While this is appropriate since it represents a dark wrapper. When Vitale broke news of this cigar on Cigar Chat he explained that wanted to mix things up and make a name more "fun"' as opposed to the traditional names he has recently been using. "I chose something that was rare...it's the black coyote, it's rare," explained Vitale on the show.
Without further ado, let's break down the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to the Mata Fina wrapper, the tobaccos in the binder and filler are from Nicaragua. As we said above, Vitale tweaked the blend from the original Tortuga 215 Reserva to work with the Mata Fina wrapper.
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
The Belicoso is what was soft launched to the Cigar Federation Show. A second undisclosed vitola will be announced at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show.
Belicoso: 5 1/2 x 54
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Coyote Negro in the belicoso. As mentioned this is a dark Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper. The wrapper itself has a chocolate bar color with a fair amount of oil. There are some visible veins and the wrapper's darker color does a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. The tip is a classic belicoso. As opposed to a sharp tapered torpedo tip, this belicoso head has a smooth, rounded tapering.
|Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro - cedar sheath removed.
While the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro appears to have two bands, it is actually a single band that is actually interconnected. The banding is exactly the same as the Tortuga 215 Reserva. The upper portion of the band has a pale yellow, gold, red, and white color scheme. This portion of the band features a red shield with the text "TORTUGA 215" in light font. Just below that text is the text "Todo Importado". There is also a gold crown above the shield. To the left and right of the shield are gold medallions as well as gold and red striping. The red stripe just below the medallions has the text "LEGACY BRANDS" (on the left) and "BY VICTOR VITALE" (on the right) - both in gold font. On a red stripe below that one it says "TORTUGA" in a ticker tape format - also in gold font.
At the bottom of the shield is a gold medallion and this connects to the bottom portion of the band. This is also a pale yellow in color. The text "Reserva" is in gold cursive font. Two gold medallions surround the text on each side. A red stripe with a thin dark trim sits in the middle of the band with the text "VICTOR VITALE" in the middle. The remainder of the band has gold adornments.
Finally a black ribbon rests around the footer. This differs from the red ribbon found on the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro vitolas. Like those Cedro vitolas, a cedar sleeve connects the ribbon to the banding on the upper part of the cigar.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro, I removed the ribbon and cedar sleeve. I then used a straight cut to remove a portion of the belicoso tip. I still left enough tapering to get the effect of the narrow ring area. From that point I moved on to the pre-light draw. The Coyote Negro's cold draw treated me to a mix of cocoa, leather, and some subtle cedar notes. Overall, I was quite pleased with pre-light draw of the Coyote Negro. At this point I was ready to light up this cigar and see what the overall smoking stage would have in store.
The start to the Coyote Negro delivered some notes of cocoa and earth. The earth notes would quickly transform to more of a nutty flavor. Meanwhile there were spice notes in the background consisting of background pepper and cedar. I found the sweetness to come from both the cocoa and cedar notes giving it a two dimensional quality. I also found the retro-hale to be a key component to this smoking experience as it provided a mix of spices including black pepper, baker's spice, and herbal spice.
Toward the end of the first third, the cedar notes started to increase and by the second third, the cedar notes joined the cocoa in the forefront. The sweetness now had an increase in the contribution from the cedar notes. Throughout the second third, I still found the cocoa and cedar notes to be primary. The pepper now floated back and forth between the forefront and background. The nut flavors remainder secondary.
The last third saw a gradual return of the earth notes into the forefront. The earth notes combined with the cedar notes. The pepper notes were close behind, with the cocoa notes more of a distant secondary note. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
In my opinion, a figuardo cigar is not my "go to" vitola, but 2014 seems to have produced its fair share of excellent ones. In terms of belicosos, I put the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro right toward the top of well constructed ones - and this was reflected in both the burn and draw of this cigar.
From a burn standpoint, I found the Coyote Negro to perform very well. There was a slight curviness to the burn line, but the cigar never was in danger of tunneling or canoeing. The resulting ash was a charcoal gray. The ash was firm and not prone to flaking. The ash also came off the cigar in nice firm chunks. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro Belicoso
The draw was outstanding. I really think the more rounded taper of this belicoso helped enormously. It allowed me to take advantage of the narrower ring gauge and it was never prone to getting soft (a problem I see with many belicosos). I found the draw to not be too loose, and not too tight. Overall this was a cigar that was a real pleasure to smoke.
Strength and Body
In terms of both strength and body, the Coyote Negro started out medium for both attributes. By the middle of the second third, both the strength and body progressed to medium to full. While this progression was similar to what I got from smoking the Tortuga 215 Reserva Cedro No. 5, I still felt the Coyote Negro had a slight edge in strength and body.
The strength and body also countered each other very nicely on the Coyote Negro - with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
In terms of the Tortuga 215 Coyote Negro, this is one of those cigars that fired on all cylinders. It delivered great flavor, excellent complexity, had terrific construction, and the cigar was well balanced. The use of the Mata Fina wrapper worked outstanding on this particular blend. I never like to say "I'm a fan of wrapper xyz", however in my book when Mata Fina clicks with a blend, it delivers a phenomenal cigar experience.
I'm curious to see how this cigar will smoke with some age, but right now this cigar is smoking great as it is now. This is a cigar I could recommend to a novice cigar enthusiast looking to graduate to the medium plus range. I'd also recommend this to experienced cigar enthusiasts. As for myself, this is a box worthy cigar - and one I would smoke again.
Strength: Medium (1st Third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st Third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Assessment: 4.0 - Box Worthy