Tatuaje Reserva J21 Friday, Feb 27 2009 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo (Aged Ligero)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

By now most avid cigar fans are very aware of Pete Johnson, Pepin Garcia, and the Tatuaje brand of cigars.  The Tatuaje brand is the marca responsible for Pepin Garcia’s big breakout to fame in the cigar industry.  Now the man makes an impressive number of cigar lines for an array of different cigar marcas.  Most every cigar he puts out is received with praise and excitement, but the original Brown Label Tatuajes and their premium extension the Reservas are still the best cigars Pepin makes in my opinion.  I have talked before about the meaning behind the names that Pete Johnson gives to his cigars.  The meaning behind the J21 on this cigar seems to be a bit more cryptic.  I have seen a number of explanations for this moniker, from 21 being Pete’s favorite number or 21 being the number of people in his family.  Whatever the 21 stands for it seem that most agree the “J” is for Johnson.

The Tatuaje Reserva J21 looks very different in comparison to the other cigars in the Reserva line of Tatuajes.  The wrapper on the J21 is much darker and rougher in appearance than the wrapper on the Reserva SW or the “A” Uno.  The wrapper is much lighter, smoother looking on those other Tatuaje Reservas.  This is because the other two Reservas use a lower priming (visio)for the wrapper where the J21 uses the highest priming (ligero).  The extra exposure to sun and elements makes for a darker rougher leaf.  It also produces a more robusto and potent leaf.  Pete uses a ligero wrapper on the Tatuaje Cojonu cigars too which are the strongest and most robust cigars in the Tatuaje line.  This is intriguing because the Cojonu is blended to be a very strong cigar where the Reserva line, in the case of the SW and the “A” Uno, tend to be the mildest (but by no means mild) of the Tatuaje lines.  So here with the J21 you have what I am assuming is the refined and elegant blend of the Reservas with the wrapper of the brash, robust Cojonus.  I imagine the two must meld together for a very unique experience for a Tatuaje.  I can hardly wait, so it’s time to spark this robusto up.  I’m using the “Three Match Method” on this one.

The first third smoked just like a Cojonu.  Lots of black pepper and strong wood.  It was very robust and brash.  The second third was a bit more dynamic changing as the smoke progressed.  It mellowed out a bit like the cigar was trying to let me know it was a Reserva.  It was still much more full bodied that the other two sizes in the Reserva line.  The flavors were still predominately woody with a slight sweetness that was unlike anything I’ve tasted in a Tatuaje.  As I passed the halfway mark the flavors became more dry with notes of leather and toasted tobacco and a slightly earthy finish.  In the last third it began to pick up again and the black pepper returned.

The J21 is an excellent smoke that to me resembled a Cojonu more than it did a Reserva only it didn’t have as strong a nicotine buzz as the Cojonus tend to have.  It is a full bodied and robust smoke with decent complexity and excellent flavors.  The burn was a bit odd on this smoke.  It meandered a lot never really burning straight but always managing to even itself out before requiring a flame to touch it up.  As thin and delicate as the corojo wrapper leaf is, you’d think it wouldn’t have a problem burning straight, but odd burns seem to be fairly common with corojo wrapped cigars in my experience.  I’d recommend this cigar to any Tatuaje fan.  You won’t be disappointed.  If you like the bold in your face flavor of a Cojonu but would like it in a smaller format, the Reserva J21 will satisfy your craving.

Rating – A

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I can see clearly now….. Monday, Feb 23 2009 

That’s right. I can see. This is significant because before last Wednesday I could not do so without the aid of contacts or glasses. Today, I can see without those troublesome devices. I had my eyeballs polished with lasers!

I am still kind of in awe of the whole thing. Last week I had custom Lasik eye surgery to correct my vision and today my vision is better than it has ever been at 20/10. I have had glasses ever since elementary school, so almost my entire life. Seeing without glasses is like a miracle to me. I am still coming to grips with it. It is as much an emotional as it is physical change in a strange way.

The reason I mention it here on my cigar blog is as an excuse. My eyes are still healing and they are not quite ready to deal with the hassle of cigar smoke yet. They need a little more time to settle in and heal a bit before I expose them to that. So, due to my lack of sufficient planning, my review of the Tatuaje J21 will be delayed at bit.  I had planned to have it up this week, but now I will be pushing it back a week to give my eyes the time they need.  So no review this week.  Just an apology for the delay and the sharing of some exciting news.  I cannot wait until I have a chance to get out on the motorcycle for the first time without glasses or contacts.  I know that alone will make the surgery worth it.

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Roi Tuesday, Feb 17 2009 

Country: Cuba
Box Code: SUA JUN2000
Size: Corona 5.54″ x 42 ring

This cigar has a classic Cuban appearance and comes in a traditional presentation. Unbanded in a cedar cabinet of 25 cigars, the wrapper is light brown and silky looking with a few puckered veins running across its surface. It has a triple cap and once I clipped it I could see an expertly done bunching of the tobacco that mirrored what I saw in the foot. I was concerned that the draw might be a little tight and I was right but it was still manageable. I have found many of the Cuban cigars I have smoked to be  excellent smokes, but only after they have been aged properly do the begin to truly shine. With eight and a half years under its belt this cigar demonstrated why many cigar lovers consider Cuban cigars to be the best in the world.

The Le Hoyo du Roi starts off smooth and creamy with pronounced flavors of cafe au lait and wood. There are hints of black pepper and that Cuban earthiness that we all crave from a Habano. The pepper notes are subtle. It’s like the cigar wants you to know its there but it doesn’t want to overwhelm your palate, allowing you to enjoy all the subtitles it has to offer. The aroma is rich and decadent and the flavors have a chewiness to them that is simply fantastic. The smoke started off almost mild but continued to pickup as I progressed becoming a medium to almost full bodied smoke. It developed more spice but maintained its creamy/chewy characteristics. There were several flavors I picked up along the way that I couldn’t identify, subtle notes that weaved in and out making for an engaging and very enjoyable smoke. I am convinced that smoking a Habano while it’s young is such a waste. I have had the pleasure of a few aged Habanos over the years and they are always amazing smoking experiences and this cigar was no exception. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that the draw was just a bit too tight. I wish it were a bit looser making it a bit easier to smoke. The draw made me work a bit harder than I want to. I think that this was due to the fact that the cigar seemed over humidified.   It was too wet, so I hope some time in my cabinet at 62% to 65% RH will help the draw issue.

This du Roi was very reminiscent of a 1999 Hoyo du Prince I smoked last year which I’d rank as one of the best cigars I ever smoked. The 2000 du Roi ranks pretty high on my list as well now.  I feel like I have handed out more A+ ratings than usual lately but looking back over it, I have had the pleasure of some really stellar smokes recently.  There is just no way, even with the draw issue that I can score this any lower.  Everything else about this cigar was perfect and the flavors were out of this world.

Rating – A+

Cuba Libre Epicure Wednesday, Feb 11 2009 

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Country:  Honduras
Wrapper: Corojo
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Not Sure
Size: Toro 6.0″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Cuba Libre is blended by Nestor Plasencia.  I am not very familiar with his blends.  I am not sure but this might be my first experience with one of his cigars.  I had a hard time finding any details on this cigar and it’s blend.  What I was able to find was inconsistent and vague.  I was able to discern that this is a Honduran made cigar and it may be a Honduran Puro, but like I said I couldn’t find much detail on the blend so I am not sure of that.

The Epicure has a severe box press.  The wrapper is leathery and rough looking and has a rumpled look near the head.  I can see a couple small stems in the filler at the head and foot.  The draw is good and a little on the loose side.  It produces lots of thick white smoke and has a basic tobacco aroma, nondescript.  The best I can describe it is that it smells like a cigar.  I know, that sounds kind of silly but it’s accurate.  The flavors are a bit plain as well.  It has a basic core of leather and earth complimented by a toasty tobacco.  It was all a bit muddled and one dimensional.  It has decent strength and body.   The finish is OK but can be a bit bitter at times, and the burn is a bit problematic going askew several times.  At about $4 a stick it is a decent value smoke.  The flavors are pleasant enough and with an attractive price point I would say this is a good cigar for out on the golf course or when working in the yard.

Rating – C

No Smoke, Just A Pic Thursday, Feb 5 2009 

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Didn’t have a chance to get smoke the Cuba Libre this week. Between being busy and it being to darn cold to even go out to my man cave (garage), I went cigar free this week. I didn’t want to let things float until I did get around to smoking the cigar for my next review so I have decided to share some pictures to heighten the anticipation for my review of the Tatuaje Reserva J21 that is coming up later this month.  Don’t they look delicious?  Click on them to see an enlarged view.

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