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News: Eddie Ortega Leaves EO Brands, Starts Ortega Cigar Company

2 Feb 2012

In 2010, Rocky Patel bought a 50% share in EO Brands, maker of such lines as EO 601, Cubao, Murcielago, and Mi Barrio (all made at Don Pepin Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua). Yesterday, Eddie Ortega, co-founder of EO Brands along with Erik Espinosa, announced he was leaving the company and starting his own outfit called Ortega Cigars.

“I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time and now is the right time,” Ortega told Cigar Aficionado. “Eric [Espinosa] is like my brother, but I wanted to be independent.” His new company will be headquartered in Sunrise, Florida, just north of Miami. A buyout of his share in EO Brands is being finalized.

Ortega’s new website has already announced three cigar lines. The first, due in March, is the Series D, which will feature a San Andreas maduro wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Ortega also announced two other lines, Brotherhood and Aftershock, but details were hard to come by. To get some information on the other lines, I touched base with Eddie to see what he is planning.

As for Brotherhood, Ortega tells me he doesn’t have the blend yet, but plans to soon. “I just wanted to start promoting the project because it is for a great cause. I want to somehow help out our military heroes and their families. Fifty percent of all profits will be donated to some of the organizations that help our military men and their families,” Ortega told me. He also said that Aftershock is also still in development.

Ortega plans to keep his company small. He says he already has 100 accounts lined up and wants to limit his exposure to around 300 stores. “I don’t want to open a zillion accounts…just good retailers that support the product. That would be cool with me.”

If that happens, he told me he might not even attend the annual IPCPR Trade Show where new cigar companies usually go to promote their brand and open new accounts. At the moment he is handling his own distribution, but he is “in talks with a couple of distributors, but only to distribute to certain areas in the country.”

The Series D is being made at the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua, which is run by the Pepin family, his longtime collaborators at EO Cigars. As for future lines, he said he was “planning to make some brands with other factories.”

Ortega described the Series D as an “awesome blend…We are using some fillers from Jalapa and Estelí that are crazy good and help create a profile that is full-bodied with lots of spice, flavor, and aroma. I know the consumer will love this one!”

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

3 Responses to “News: Eddie Ortega Leaves EO Brands, Starts Ortega Cigar Company”

  1. Parkland Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Not all that surprised to see Eddie leave EO after Rocky took over. But surprised to see him parting ways with Erik. At their peak (I'd say when the Cubao Maduro came out) EO Brands was one of my favorite cigar makers. Really liked their 601 Series, the original Cubao, and Murcielago. Now I'll be interested to see what Eddie does and how his blends do. I wish him well and hope the cigars are awesome.

    Also will be interested to see if Erik stays with Rocky…

  2. El Duke Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    loved the sticks Eddie made while at EO, so looking forward to what he makes on his own. His cigars with Pepin have always been favorites of mine but I also look forward to seeing what he does when working with other cigarmakers.

    Also, good job actually talking to Eddie and not just reprinting the press release like others. Original reporting sets this site apart from others.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Cigar Review: Ortega Serie D No. 12 | The Stogie Guys - Monday, March 5, 2012

    […] we reported in early February, Eddie Ortega, co-founder of EO Brands along with Erik Espinosa, announced he was […]