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If you’ve read any of my early reviews, you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of mellow cigars. I actually tend to beat that point into the ground pretty hard. Lately, though, I’ve been laying off the powerhouses and sticking to medium- or medium-to-full-bodied smokes, but I haven’t smoked a cigar in a few days, so I figured I’d make up for lost time and smoke a strong one: the Don Diego Fuerte Belicoso by Omar Ortez.

As you may know, Don Diego is not known for making strong cigars. Their regular line is on the mellower side of mellow, and while I haven’t tried the Playboy line, that one’s supposed to be pretty mellow also. That’s exactly why they enlisted the help of Omar Ortez when creating the blend. Ortez is known for making some of the strongest smokes in Altadis USA’s lineup, from the Puro Maduro to the Warlock, both of which are fairly intense.

Anyway, out of the handful of Omar Ortez cigars I’ve had, the Don Diego Fuerte was by far my favorite. The construction was amazingly consistent, the wrapper was dark, oily, and flawless, and the draw was nothing short of perfect. After clipping the tapered cap, pre-light flavors were spicy and pronounced; right off the bat I got red pepper, sweet cedar, and leather. The aroma at the foot was of spicy dried fruit, like a mix of raisins, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.

Lighting up this stogie took a little longer than usual, maybe due to the thickness of the interior leaves, but once it was lit, it didn’t even come close to going out. I took a couple of slow draws to get the burn going and tasted a ton of pepper, cocoa, and good, strong coffee. This was not your typical vague, gas station coffee flavor; this was legitimate, fresh-brewed black coffee. As the initial pepper blast subsided, I picked up some roasted nuts and toffee sweetness.

A third of the way in, this toffee sweetness turned into full-on nougat. Between that, the roasted nuts, and the pepper, it was like smoking some kind of spicy, Aztec-style Snicker’s bar. Around the halfway point, a strong, peppery cedar note started to come through, but the smoke stayed sweet enough to keep it from becoming overpowering.

With about two inches left, the smoke still hadn’t gotten harsh. It also hadn’t gotten soft—the heat from the cherry didn’t seem to have any effect on the firmness of the cigar. The final third was predominantly peppery and chocolaty with a subtle cinnamon note on the aftertaste. At this point, the Aztec chocolate flavor was in full swing. Right at the end, the pepper ramped up, and I decided to put down the 1” nub.

I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by the cigar. The draw was easy and the flavors were consistently pleasant, the burn stayed straight and even from start to finish, and the ashes held on for up to an inch and a half at a time. If you like a full-bodied stogie with great balance and a lot of rich, candy-like flavors, the Don Diego Fuerte is for you. Clearly Omar Ortez knows what he’s doing with stronger tobaccos, and I’m looking forward to trying some more of his blends in the future.

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