Oscar Valladares "Altar Q" Sumatra Review: 16 Chambers of Flavor and Fun

Hot damn! Does Oscar Valladares know how to take cigar branding and packaging to a whole other dimension or what?! 

From the tobacco leaf encased The Oscar, to the throwback/futuristic McFly cigar with its shaggy foot and 1980s-inspired branding, and then over to the pimpalicious purple Super Fly, ol' Oscar Valladares seems to have stuffed one tobacco-filled trick after another up his sleeve.

Altar Q by Oscar Valladares takes things even deeper into tobacco roots territory, with a 16-count box that is fashioned after an ancient Mayan monument dating back to 776 AD. According to history reports, the sides of this monument featured the likenesses of sixteen ancient rulers of the lost Honduran civilization of Copán.

Widely recognized as "one of the most important sites of the Maya civilization," Copán was once a mighty metropolis and served as a cornerstone for trade in that region of the world for centuries. Apparently, one of the crops that was locally grown and traded in this ancient metropolis, was a wonderful little plant that we like to call tobacco. And it is here where our story begins...

[Buy 5-Pack]

Unlit Impressions  

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Outside of the Ecuador-grown Sumatran wrapper on this cigar, all of the internals hail from Honduras, much of which is grown right down the road from the Copán archeological site. This results in a leathery and mildly herb-spiced smelling wrapper, and a foot that is darker and earthier, but also very spiced tea and bright citrus oriented.

But forget all of that noise, because I want to talk about that banding, which is apparently made to mimic the original monument honoring the sixteen rulers of Copán. This means that each barrel band in the box is unique, with the foot of each band bearing the name and number of the ruler. For my review cigar, I had number sixteen, or Yax-Pac. This makes him the last of his line, so not sure if that's a good or bad sign for me and my review.

One other interesting note about said banding, is that like Oscar's Leaf line, the paper utilized is a rough pulp paper formed from recycled tobacco leaves that don't make the cut. Unsheathe this mighty archaic homage, and you will find a light, milk cocoa-colored wrapper with a touch of tooth and a meticulous finish.

Seriously folks. There's not a rough spot, soft pot, blemish, vein, or flake to be found on these smokes, at least when it comes to touch. Visually, veins and teeth actually are the only things to detect, which says a ton about construction and quality control.

Initial Smoke

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Despite there being a bit of a sharp red pepper bite at first puff, light up and the following few minutes soon become smooth and develop a medium, doughy bread intro. Strength, body, and flavor all sit on the lower end of the scale, and at times feel somewhat muted, making the black, white, and red pepper spices feel even more intense on retrohale.

1st Half    

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

As the Sumatran wrapper heats up, along come those tea tastes that fans of this tobacco tend to fawn over. Cardamom pods and coriander, little bits of black pepper, sea salt, cinnamon, some clove, and sweet cream. It all creates a combo that encourages another pull, and even more milky smoke to engulf your senses.

Retrohales are a tick or two sharper in strength and flavor, but thanks to the mellow milkiness of the smoke, are no longer eyewatering in any way. Darker bread flavors, some graham cracker tastes, and raw sugars start to form here, as well as a deeper earthiness. Just be careful, and pace this side of the smoking process if you want to keep the blend on the lower side of the medium strength and cigar flavor profile spectrum.

2nd Half    

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Darker and more Honduran earth forward than before, the second third, and mid-section of this Sumatran smoke sticks you with a common characteristic found within tobacco farmed in this region of the world. Honduran topography takes things in a richer, forest-floor-flavored direction, sweetness increases, and so too does strength.

Medium+ at this point, the lighter-colored wrapper strives to retain control over its innards, and for the most part, does a damn good job. Although some of the cinnamon and spice notes can be a bit sharp at times, they playfully bounce off the earthy Honduran binder and filler blend. This is emphasized all the further by the toasted woodiness that builds the deeper you go. It's a pleasant sort of firewood flavor that makes you feel like you should be camping with such smoke.

Final third flavors, however, hold the key to unlocking this monumental treasure chest of flavor and fun. Darker yet, and notably bolder in flavor alone, there is more of a milk tea taste than ever, and some stronger Sumatran tobacco tastes that are slightly fruity. For me, this tastes like a blend of exotic dried candied fruits. Papaya, pineapple, and palm candy sugar are the subtle frontrunners, and stay flavorful enough to keep you craving for more.

Parting Puffs    

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Here is another one of those smokes that just seems to get better as it goes. In this blend's case, that means an even darker, chewier finish. Spoonful after spoonful of dark sorghum honey, toasted cedar, spicy chai tea, and a saucer of cream at every corner completes the entire 1.5-hour-long smoking session with class and complexity. 

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw  

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

I have yet to encounter an Oscar Valladares cigar that has not performed commendably. This stick and the one prior were no exception to the norm and burned with the best of them. I did encounter some random flaking on the review cigar, but nothing worth deducting any stars over.

Final Thoughts  

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Sometimes, I feel like a cigar should be smoked backward. Altar Q is one of those premium cigar blends. While there is something to be said for a cigar's ability to produce a memorable grand finale, I feel that this smoke's best moment should have taken place much sooner. In the first half sort of sooner.

Instead, the first half seems to land a little flat at times, with flavors that come close to being well-rounded, but just don't reach the right tempo or tone for me to go starry-eyed. It's still quite a tasty first half but in a slightly diluted, occasionally inconsistent sort of way. I also found light-up to be a bit sharp, and that it leaned too heavily upon the pepper portion of the flavor wheel.

However, the second half and those sizzling good parting puffs improve my overall view of this blend significantly and are what makes this stick 100% recommendation-worthy.

In closing, I have found that after revisiting this cigar, I have noted the exact same flavors, transitions, performance attributes, retrohale aromatics, and so on in every stick I have smoked. So while each might be uniquely clad with the likeness of a different ancient Mayan ruler, Oscar Valladares obviously maintains a firm grasp of the quality control carbon copy button, and that in itself is pretty damn exemplary.  

Oscar Valladares Altar Q Cigar

Flavor, Aroma & Transitions

Depth & Complexity

Construction, Burn & Physical Appeal

Backstory & Branding

Overall Balance & Repeatability

Stogie Specs


Oscar Valladares "Altar Q"


Sumatra (Ecuador)








6" x 52 "Toro"



Pairing Drink

Spiced Herb Tea w/ Honey


 4.2 / 5

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.