Redux: Tatuaje Monster Series “The Frank” Friday, Apr 22 2011 

320x240
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Sungrown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Double Corona 75/8″ x 49 ring

I read on a discussion board somewhere that someone was saying hurry up and smoke The Frank because it has peaked and is in the decline.  I thought, OK lets smoke one and see how they are doing.  I still have the better half of my box left.  I’m glad I picked the box I did because my Franks are certainly not in a decline.  They are smoking wonderfully.  True they have lost a bit of their oomph, and a little bit of the spice they had when they were newborns but these dark double coronas still have plenty to offer me.  They still start off with a blast of pepper but perhaps not the full on punch in the palate that it once was.  It also still has plenty of the “sun grown twang” that I love from sun grown broadleaf wrappers.  The black pepper and spices are much more subtle now and the coffee and cocoa flavors are more prevelant and I was occasionally getting an nutty, almost almond like flavor from it from time to time.

I can’t say if these cigars will decline, maintain, or improve as time goes on.  I just don’t know.  I do know that right now they are fantastic.  I think they are even better now than they were when they first came out.  That is saying something because they were fantastic fresh.  So given this most recent experience with a nicely aged version of The Frank,  I am not sure how much longer these will last in my humidor so I probably won’t have to worry about how they will continue to age.  They probably won’t have an opportunity to do so for much longer. Perhaps then, the discussion board warning still has had its intended effect, to get me to smoke my Franks…

Tatuaje Reserva Petite Cazadores Monday, Feb 21 2011 

320x240
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Petite Cazadores 4.0′ x 40 ring

Everything I love about a Tatuaje packed into a 30 minute smoke.  This little guy has classic Tatuaje flavor.  Plenty of the Nicaraguan earth and toasted tobacco, great black coffee notes, and just enough black pepper for some spice.  The construction is impeccable and the format is just perfect for when I want a Tatuaje but perhaps don’t have a whole hour to hour and a half to spend with one.  I will be buying a cabinet of these.

El Triunfador Lancero (original release) Monday, Dec 20 2010 

320x240
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lancero 7.5″ x 38 ring

This is a rustic looking lancero. It has a very dark brown wrapper that is veiny and oily. The cigar is bumpy looking and topped off with a small pigtail cap. The draw is excellent for a Lancero. Don Pepin has some skilled rollers because he seems to put out a consistently good lancero no matter what line of cigars it is a part of. I saw online somewhere that this version of the El Triunfador is basically a Cabaiguan Maduro. I don’t know about the accuracy of that assertion, but I can tell you this is a darn good smoke. It packs a nice punch even after spending about 2 years in my humidor. It is a smooth smoke with strong flavors of wood and earth. It mellows a bit in the middle becoming predominately earthy with a bit of a coffee flavor in the background. The last third or so picks up again with lots of wood, earth, spice, and a subtle bit of licorice on the finish. I only have one more of these excellent cigars left. I’ll need to pick up a couple of the more recent vintage and see if they can live up to their forefather.

Tatuaje Verocu Tubos Monday, Jun 14 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 61/8″ x 52 ring
Photobucket

The Verocu extension of the Tatuaje Havana VI line was first introduced as a two vitola regional release. There was the West Coast version, the No. 1 Lado Occidental, and the East Coast’s No. 2 Zona del Este. Each was sold in cabinets of 50 cigars. They were a huge hit and remain a favorite of many Tatuaje fans. They were a limited release however, and much to the dismay of those fans, they are no longer made and extremely hard to find and generally unavailable. If you don’t already have some you aren’t likely to get any. But despair not, there have been subsequent releases of the Verocu blend like the No.9 which is a Holts exclusive. The most recent addition to the line is the Verocu Tubos, a tubed Torpedo measuring an ample six and one eighth inches in length and sporting a beefy 52 ring gauge. It comes armored in a very nice, bright red aluminum tube and is available in boxes of 10.

This torpedo is not a particularly pretty cigar but nor ugly or rustic either.  The wrapper is dark, mottled, and slightly veiny.  It is well filled with no soft spots and smells of cedar and leather.  The draw is a little on the loose side but not too much so.  The first draw has a predictable peppery bite to it before settling in to a spicy, earthy core with complimentary notes of cedar, leather, and tobacco which seem to come and go as I made my way through the smoke.  The last third brought lots of earth and black pepper that over powered everything else and was a bit over the top even for me but didn’t really detract much from the rest of the experience.  The Verocu Tubos is a fairly well-balanced, robust, and complex smoke with a sneaky bit of power to it.

There has been lots of talk about cracked and split wrappers with this cigar.  I didn’t have any of those problems but I did have several burn issues.  The cigar tunneled a bit at one point, then it started to canoe. It also went out on me three or four times.  These burn issues are very uncommon in my experiences with Tatuaje cigars.  Right now I am just going to chalk it all up to being a result of shipping conditions and I am hoping all that will work itself out with a few more months of rest in my humidor to acclimate and re-hydrate because the cigar did seem a touch dry to me.  Time will tell and I will probably wait another 6 months before I try another one to see where they are at.

Overall I’d say this was an excellent smoke with great body and good flavors.  If the burn issues do manage to work themselves out then I would rate this as an excellent cigar.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 Sunday, Jun 6 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo Ligero
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 6.75″ x 48 ring

The Tatuaje Cojonu 2009 is part of the Cojonu extension of the Tatuje Brown Label line.  Also known as Tatuaje Miami, Tatuaje Classics, Tatuaje Cabinet series, and even more formally (and very rarely) as Tatuaje La Seleccion de Cazador.  The Cojonu extension is a series of very strong cigars that are released in a new shape every three years.  It started with the Cojonu 2003 which was a long toro, and that was followed by the Cojonu 2006; a belicoso.  So 2009 predictably brought us the next installment which happens to be a very long torpedo with a very short and rounded taper at the head.  As I have always understood it, each of these cigars is the same blend with the same binder and wrapper,  the difference with each edition being the vitola.  So it is good to note that the year on these cigars does not refer to what most cigar smokers normally associate a year with.  It doesn’t have to do with the crop, or the year it was made.  It is simply the name of the vitola.  Much like the Lonsdale in the classic Brown label line is called a Havana Cazadore, this torpedo is called 2009.  All three vitolas are regular production cigars and all three are still made and available today.

As I mentioned the Cojonu blend is much stronger in body and power than the already quite robust standard Brown Label blends.  The story goes that the name of the line, Cojonu, is a play on a slang Spanish term meaning “ballsy”.  An obvious reference to the strength of the blend.  The Cojonu wrapper is an aged ligero leaf so it had plenty of time in the sun while it was growing and the result is a very dark and very rustic looking wrapper.  The flash in my photo doesn’t do it justice as it sort of bleeds out the color making it appear a much lighter shade of brown than it appears in living color.  It is well filled, and a pre-light  test draw revealed a good but slightly lighter than expected draw.

It is commonly held that if you take what is essentially the same cigar and change the size, it changes the flavors and experience.  I subscribe to this with the following assumption.  When you change the size you are not merely changing the length but also the thickness, or ring gauge.  I think that goes to explain why, in my opinion,  there is virtually no difference at all between the Cojonu 2003 and the 2006.  Both cigars are a 52 ring but the 2003 has about an inch on the ’06 in length.  In that case there were no discernible differences in the two vitolas in my opinion.  To me, they tasted and smoked identically.  The 2009 stepped down a bit on the ring gauge to a 48 ring.  This time I noticed a difference.  A large one actually.

When a cigar gets smaller the blend has to change in some ways.  While the percentages of the different filler types used in the blend may remain consistent, the simple fact is you cannot cram the same amount of tobacco, in the same configuration into a thinner cigar.  So while you are smoking, the percentage of ligero to seco that is burning may be the same, in the thinner cigar there is simply less total ligero and less total seco burning at the same time than there is in the thicker cigar.  So it just goes to figure that there would be a difference in how the cigar tastes and behaves in general.

So how does all this come into play with the Cojonu 2009.  Well the first thing I noticed was that the 2009 is noticeably milder that it’s brothers.  That is not in any way to suggest it is a mild cigar.  It is still a full bodied smoke, but it doesn’t have the same “kick you in the head” effect that the other two seem to have.  One thing I have always been impressed with when smoking the Cojonu cigars is how smooth they are despite their ample power.  This is still true with the 2009, and the toned down power has another favorable side effect.  I believe it allows some more of the subtitles of the blend to come through.  The flavors are very similar to the previous two versions, they just come to play at different volumes now.  The peppery start is there, just less overwhelming.  The core of earth, hardwoods, and cocoa are there as well and seem to have a creamy texture to them.  The most notable change however is the cherry notes.  In the ’03 and ’06 I’d get fleeting hard to pin down flashes of cherry every once and a while as if it could only muster the strength to push past the other more robust flavors occasionally and only for a brief moment.  With the 2009, the cherry notes are less subtle and easier to detect, balancing out the less sweet core flavors very nicely.  I have smoked a couple of these cigars now and I can safely say the 2009 is my favorite Cojonu.

Tatuaje “The Drac” Wednesday, Mar 3 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo 63/4 x 52 ring

Plenty has been said already about the Tatuaje Drac and the rest of the monster series.  I have talked about them at length in my posts on The Frank and Boris.  I’ll just do a quick summary here.  The Drac is the 2nd in a limited edition series of cigars by Tatuaje that is release around Halloween every year.  they are extremely limited and highly sought after making for an extremely hard to find cigar.  Last year I was lucky enough to get a whole box of The Frank.  This year I wasn’t so lucky but I did manage to get my hands on two of The Drac cigars.

The Drac is a large Torpedo that comes in a shiny black lacquered, coffin-shaped box.  The torpedo shape imparts a fang like or stake like image either of which is appropriate for a cigar named after the worlds most famous vampire.  It has a black and red band at the foot and is stored in its coffin upside down with the foot of the cigar at the top of the coffin just as Dracula was reported to sleep in his coffin upside down.

The Drac delivers pleasant medium bodied flavors of wood, earth, and leather with subtle sweetness on the finish.  The draw was excellent, but the burn on my first sample was not good at all.  It required constant attention continually becoming uneven.  The ash was very flaky and did not hold well at all.  The cigar also went out on me twice during the last half of the smoke and it wasn’t due to inattention as I was trying very hard to keep the thing burning right and lit.  These kind of construction issues are not at all typical of Tatuaje cigars and based on what I have read about The Drac, they really aren’t at all typical of this smoke either.  I think maybe I just got a bum stick or maybe I didn’t give it enough time in the humidor to settle in.

I have one more Drac and I am going to give it some significant time to rest in my humidor before I revisit this cigar.  Flavor wise it was a very good and very enjoyable smoke if not as complex as most other Tatuajes, but the burn issues really detracted from my enjoyment of it.  Whenever I have a cigar that performs this way I chalk it up to a likely fluke and I make plans to revisit the cigar in the future.  That is exactly what I plan to do with The Drac.

Tatuaje Boris (The Frank out of Costume) Tuesday, Feb 16 2010 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Sumatra Ecuador Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0″ x 49 ring

By now most every avid cigar smoker knows about Tatuaje Cigars and the Monster Series of cigar release by Tatuaje every October around Halloween.  The Monster Series Started in 2008 with the release of #1 The Frank, a box pressed Double Corona in a blood spattered coffin.  In 2009 #2 The Drac, a dark torpedo in a shiny black coffin was released to an absolute frenzy of fans trying to get a hold of the very limited cigar.  2009 also marked the first edition of the Monster “Out-of-Costume” Series of cigars.  This first edition is a Churchill called Boris, named after the actor Boris Karloff who made Frankenstein’s Monster famous in his portrayal of the role in the classic 1931 film Frankenstein.  It is a very clever marketing scheme that i think is a lot of fun.  Pete Johnson may not be finding it as fun as he had envisioned.  The limited nature of the cigars and the resulting difficulty in obtaining these cigars have cause Pete to be bombarded by complaints by frustrated and angry customers and tobacconists. It is a shame I think.  People seem to lose perspective and they get angry over something that the should not be angry about.  They are limited cigars and not everyone will be able to get them every time.  I really wanted a box of the Dracs.  I was lucky enough to get a box of the Franks in 2008 and hoped to add the Dracs to my collection.  I wasn’t so lucky this time and I did not get a box.  In fact I didn’t get any initially.  The only reason I have two of the Dracs in my humidor now was that I had a friend who was lucky enough to get some and was willing to trade for a couple with me.  I didn’t write an angry letter to Tatuaje cigars.  That’s just the way it goes, the nature of a highly sought after limited edition cigar.  I hope peoples’ unreasonable anger doesn’t discourage Pete from continuing with this fun and unique series of cigars.

While I had to go the trade route for my Dracs, I did manage to purchase a couple of the the  Boris from my local cigar retailer, Empire Cigars.  The Boris was cleverly thought out keeping with the motif of the series.  It is slightly shorter than the Frank and it is not box pressed, the idea being this cigar represents the actor Boris when he was out of his monster costume.  Like I said, very clever and well thought out.

This is probably the most unique Tatuaje I have smoked.  It is completely unlike any other Tatuaje I’ve tried and unlike any Pepin Garcia smoke I can think of as well.  Completely absent of any black pepper notes, this cigar has a very unique and very distinctive sweetness to it that is present from the first puff to the last.  It is a full flavored though not very strong cigar.  Complimenting the remarkable sweetness of the cigar are creamy notes of almond and espresso.  There were occasional flashes of leather  on the finish.

Overall it was a smooth, creamy, and flavorful smoke. Excellent from start to finish.  The natural question is how does it rate compared to its costumed counterpart The Frank?  I have to say my personal preference is for the Frank.  But to use an analogy to clarify, that is like me saying I prefer a 16oz aged black angus filet over an 10oz cut.

La Riqueza No. 1 Wednesday, Oct 7 2009 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Sun Grown USA Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Lonsdale 6.5″ x 42 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

La Riqueza; The Riches, or The Wealth. Interesting choice of names for what might be one of the ugliest cigars I’ve seen since a Padron. I kid a little, but it really isn’t a pretty cigar and that has solely to do with the wrapper. It is a sun grown USA Connecticut broadleaf wrapper that is rough, bumpy, toothy and rumpled looking. Not what you’d think would be a first choice for a cigar wrapper leaf. Another interesting thing about this cigar is that it represents the first time Pete Johnson stepped away from making a Nicaraguan Puro with a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. The Tatuaje Brown Label, Havana VI, and P series all used Nicaraguan tobacco and all use Corojo wrappers. Of course since Pete released the La Riqueza he has gone on to use this naturally dark sun grown wrapper on a number of cigars like some additions to the Reserva line (Regio and Noella), The Frank from the Monster Series, and the Cabiaguan Maduro (which is a misnomer since the wrapper isn’t really a maduro in the traditional sense).

So the wrapper was a new thing, but the binder and filler are still composed of robust Nicaraguan tobacco. The cigar has a rather rough box press adding to its ugly duckling appearance and they come in traditional Cuban style dress boxes. At least originally they were in dress boxes. They still are, but now you can also get a slightly prettier version that isn’t box pressed referred to as the Cabinet Series which comes in, you guessed it, a slide top cabinet. They come 50 to a box and the band is slightly different.  It has some white space to the left and right of the main center logo.  The band on the box pressed version is red with white stripes as it wraps around the back.  Pete uses the Flor de Lis on the band tying it in to his now famous Tatuaje brand.  They come in five sizes and they are:

  • No. 1 — 6 1/2 x 42 (Lonsdale)
  • No. 2  — 5 1/2 x 52 (Torpedo)
  • No. 3  — 5 5/8 x 46 (Corona)
  • No. 4 — 5 x 48 (Robusto)
  • No. 5 — 4 3/8 x 42 (Petite Corona)

The Vitola names in parentheses are not official, but just what I have chosen to identify the sizes as.  Some times those names give people a better idea of what the cigar is than just a number or measurement so that is why I added them.  The La Riqueza is made in Pepin’s Nicaragua factory.  I am smoking the no.1 this time, so onto the review…

I say it all the time, but I love Lonsdales.  For me it is the perfect size.  I really like how the wrapper comes into play with the flavors of the blend.  The sun grown wrapper on this cigar imparts a nice robust sun grown twang with a slightly sweet undertone.  This compliments the chocolate and earthy notes that are rich and smooth.  these flavors alternate with blasts of leather and wood and an occasional spiciness That makes for an interesting and complex smoke.  I have smoked a few Torpedos in this line that I wasn’t impressed with.  I found them to be more full bodied than the no.1 but not as complex.  The no.1 is a smooth, flavorful, and complex medium bodied smoke.  In the last third some black pepper joins the party giving the cigar a bit more bite and it develops a slightly nutty finish.

I have smoked three different sizes of this cigar, and guess it is not much of a surprise that the Lonsdale is by far my favorite in the line.  The construction is perfect with a nice draw and a sharp even burn.  The ash is a little loose and flaky but I can live with that given how good this cigar is.

Rating – A

You can get your La Riquezas @ CigarsDirect.com

Other takes on the La Riqueza:

Cabaiguan Maduro RX Monday, Sep 28 2009 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Dark Natural Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.25″ x 50 ring

The Cabaiguan (kah-bei-gWAHN) is probably my absolute favorite Connecticut Shade cigar.  Not really mild, it is more of a medium bodied smoke with light yet assertive flavors.  I have been wanting to try the maduro version for a long while and I have finally got around to it.  Sometimes with the sheer volume of different cigars out there it is hard to get to everything you want to try.  Any way, from what I was able to find with some internet searches, it appears the Cabaiguan Maduro isn’t even really a maduro in the traditional sense.  According to Tatuaje’s site and I saw it again on a retailers site, the wrapper on this cigar is a naturally dark sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  If that sound familiar to you then you are probably familiar with the La Riqueza line of cigars from Tatuaje.  The wrapper for that cigar is described the exact same way.  So is it the same wrapper?  I have no idea, but I wasn’t able to find a wealth of information on the Cabaiguan maduro and what I did find wasn’t necessarily authoritative.  I suppose I could have dropped an email to Havana Cellars and get some details straight from the source but I didn’t.  Looking at the cigar I would guess that this wrapper is related at best but would not guess it is the same as those used on the La Riqueza.  This wrapper is much nicer looking.  The La Riquezas always look rough and lumpy and ugly.  This wrapper has a slight tooth and is generally smoother with an oily sheen.  If it is the same or related, the Cabaiguan got the pick of the litter.  it is still a rustic looking wrapper but it is much prettier than the La Riquezas I have seen.  One other item of note on the dressing if the Cabaiguan Maduro.  It has the same band used on the Cabaiguan Guapos which is a Nicaraguan natural sun grown wrapped cigar of a much lighter shade than these broadleaf maduros.

Right off the bat I could tell this isn’t really a Maduro.  Notes of dark chocolate and coffee bean are complimented by a tart sun grown twang that is one of my favorite things about a natural sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  The Tartness was the dominate flavor for the entire smoke.  I also picked up notes of cedar and a very subtle sweetness.  Overall not a terribly complex cigar but very robust and enjoyable.  If you are a fan of that sun grown twang then you’ll love this cigar because you get a lot of it.  Although I wouldn’t call this smoke a favorite, I definitely like it for an occasional change of pace especially when I am craving a sun grown.

Rating – B

Showdown: Tatuaje Reserva Noellas – 2006 vs 2009 Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

320x240

Country: USA
2006 Wrapper: Aged Nicaraguan Corojo Ligero (Cojonu Wrapper)
2009 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder (both): Nicaraguan
Filler (both): Nicaraguan
Size: Corona 51/8” x 42 ring

2009 has seen an exciting expansion to the Tatuaje brand with lots of new cigars including some new additions to the Reserva line of the Brown Label Tatuajes.  Pete Johnson’s seemingly ever broadening use of the sun grown broadleaf wrapper found its way onto two new Tatuaje Reserva cigars.  The Reserva Regios and the Reserva Noellas.  The new Reserva Noellas are particularly intriguing to me because this is not the first time there has been a Reserva Noella.  Back in 2006 Tatuaje offered to a number of its best accounts boxes of  Noellas cigars with a Reserva label on the box.  This label was applied just as it has always been on the boxes other Reserva cigars like the J21 and SW.  There were only about 200 boxes made.  The cigar is the same size as the standard Noellas but it has a different wrapper.  Instead of the standard Corojo wrapper that is used on the regular Noellas, these cigars are wrapped in an aged oscuro ligero wrapper just like what is used on the Cojonu line of Tatuajes and the Reserva J21.  Unlike other Reserva cigars this incarnation of the Reserva Noellas did not sport the second black and gold Reserva band.  They only had the normal brown Tatuaje band on them.  The only way to know it was a Reserva is to have seen the box it came from, or if you put it side by side with one of the regular Noellas you would see that the wrapper is much darker in color (note: I have found this to be truer of older Noellas which seem to have gotten darker in more recent vintages).  The 2006 Reserva Noella was tagged with a nick name, often referred to as a Noella Oscuro in online forums and websites.  After that initial run in 2006, Tatuaje never made this cigar again.  That is still true today even though we once again have a cigar bearing the Reserva Noellas name…

Here we are in 2009 and we once again have the Reserva Noellas available at many Tatuaje retailers.  But this 2009 edition is not the same cigar that was made back in 2006.  It is still the same size and same blend, but the wrapper has changed again.  The 2009 edition sports a sun grown broadleaf wrapper just like the Tatuaje Monster Series released last October.  It also wears the black and gold Reserva band unlike its predecessor and this one, while somewhat limited, is not restricted to just a one time run of 200 boxes.    I believe that this cigar is meant to be a mainstay in the Reserva line.  It along with its cousin the Reserva Regios have been nick named by some as “little monsters” because they share a very similar makeup to “The Frank” with their broadleaf wrappers around the original blends for those vitolas.

I thought it would be fun, since I happen to have a few of those old Reserva Noellas from 2006 in my humidor, to go ahead and do a side by side comparison of the two different cigars which bear this name.  I started with the 2006 edition… (more…)

Tatuaje Reserva Regios Tuesday, Jun 30 2009 

320x240

Country: USA
Wrapper: Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.5″ x 50 ring

This year hasn’t been as prolific with the new cigars like last year was, but 2009 has brought a few new things from my favorite brand of cigars, Tatuaje.  This year there are two new additions to the Tatuaje Reserva line of cigars.  Two of my favorite Tatuaje Brown Label vitolas now have a Reserva version, the Noellas and the Regios.  The Regios will always hold a special place in my heart as it was the first Tatuaje I had ever smoked, and it was the first vitola in the brand that I purchased an entire box of.  So when I heard that the Regios was being used for a new Reserva I was predictably excited.  The Reserva Noellas and the Reserva Regios use a different wrapper than the standard version.  The regulars have a Corojo wrapper, but the Reservas use a sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  If that sounds familiar it is because that is the wrapper used on the ultra-limited  Monster Series Tatuaje, “The Frank”.  In fact, these two new Reservas have been dubbed “mini monsters”.  You may also feel a tickle of deja vu hearing about the Reserva Noellas.  That is because there was a Reserva Noellas once before.  Back in 2006 a very few select retailers received without warning a one time run of Noellas that has a Reserva  label on the box.  There wasn’t a Reserva band on the cigars though.  These were the first incarnation of the Reserva Noellas and they were a one time run of 200 boxes or so (couldn’t find the exact number).  This original version was also referred to as a Noellas Oscuro, but I will talk more on that in the near future……

So a quick recap of the current Tatuaje Reserva line.  We have the:

  • Reserva SW – Churchill with a Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva “A” Uno – “A” size with a Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva J21 – Robusto with a Ligero Corojo Wrapper
  • Reserva Noellas – Corona with a Sun Grown Broadleaf Wrapper
  • Reserva Regios – Robusto with a Sun Grown Broadleaf Wrapper

The moniker “little monster” seems appropriate if you hold the Reserva Regios side by side with a Frank.  The wrappers are identical and it really does look like a smaller version of the Frank in appearance.  It’s a dark, oily, and toothy wrapper  with just a couple prominent veins running it’s length.  It is topped with an expertly applied triple cap like all the Tatuaje cigars.  Construction is very rarely an issue with a Tatuaje and this cigar is superbly put together with a perfect draw and a nice heft.  It is dressed in the standard brown Tatujae label accompanied by a second black and gold Reserva band.

The Reserva Regios starts off a little different than the Frank or most any other Tatuaje.  it lacks that blast of black pepper I’ve come to expect every time I light up a Tatuaje.  Instead it  begins with a mellow spice and a slight sweetness that is common with a sun grown broadleaf wrapper.  It is very, very reminiscent of the Frank.  It starts to pick up quickly, its strong sun grown “twang” is accompanied by notes of leather and wood.  It has an amazingly slow cool burn that allows the flavors to have amazing depth and balance.  It gets more and more robust as I make my way through the length of the cigar.  The “twang” remains the core of the flavors ad it is complimented by strong notes of leather, wood, earth, and spices.   Each draw delivers a something a little different than the last.  This was an amazing smoke.  Delicious, complex, and an absolute joy to smoke.  It starts off medium bodied and a little mellow and it just escalates in body and power as you smoke it, finishing off as a robust, full bodied treat.  This cigar is an absolute “must try”.

Rating – A+

For another take on this cigar check out “A Cigar Smokers Journal”
Also, Ben has a Reserva Regio In Hand

Update: For the sake of completeness there are a few Tatuaje Reservas that i left out on the list above. The reason for doing so was because two of them were one-time special runs and the third I admit I didn’t know about at the time I wrote this review and I am not sure if it is a one-time run or not, but it is limited to one specific retailer. So the three missing Reservas are…

  • Reserva Noellas 2006 (Oscuro)
  • Reserva SW Maduro
  • Reserva Petite Tatuaje

The Noellas I mentioned above and will talk more on in a future review.  The SW Maduro was a special release sold by one shop out west.  Pete made the cigar as a kind of memorial for a fallen friend.  The proceeds or some portion of them went to benefit that friends family.  The Petite Reserva appears at the moment to be made for one specific online retailer.  I have no additional information on that one at this point.

Ambos Mundos by Tatuaje Thursday, May 28 2009 

320x240

Country: Nicaragua
Wrappers:  Ecuadorian Sumatran / Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto 5.0″ x 50 Ring

Ambos Mundos, which means both worlds is the newest line of cigars from Pete Johnson and Tatuaje. Made, like all of Pete’s cigars, by Pepin Garcia this line of cigars is an economy cigar whose release is aptly timed given current economic conditions. Pete had this to say about it:

“My original idea for the Tatuaje brand was for it to be not as expensive as it turned out to be,” said Johnson, “but having it made in Miami kind of set that expensive precedent, so I made this cigar partly due to the economy and partly because this is where I originally wanted the cigar to be priced.”

I find that to be interesting. I am not sure how a cigar the quality of the original Tatuaje could ever be a cheap economy cigar regardless of where it was made so this doesn’t make much sense to me. It implies to me that if the Tatuajes were made in Nicaragua they would be $5.00 cigar. Boy I wish. I am sure that isn’t exactly what he meant but anyway… (edit: The more I read that quote from Pete the more I am convinced I just misread and misunderstood it.  He obviously wasn’t saying he originally intended the Tatuajes to be $5, but rather was pointing out that is where he wanted the Ambos Mundos to be.  He was just saying that he wanted the Tatuajes to be cheaper than they are, but the fact they are made in Miami precluded that.  So now I get what he was saying and my original comments look kind of stupid to me now…)
Photobucket
The Ambos Mundos are long filler cigars that use tobacco from the same farms as the Tatuajes but instead of the Grade A tobacco used for the Tatuajes, these use grade B and C tobacco. It is tobacco that might have cosmetic differences or might need additional fermentation. That is the how and why the price points are where they are. They are available in two sizes and two wrapper types. All of them use Nicaraguan filler and binders, but one version uses a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper and the other an Ecuadorian grown Sumatran wrapper, hence the “both worlds”. The sizes you have to choose from are a bit boring in my opinion. They are the cliche 5×50 Robusto and 6×50 Toro. The Toro is $5 and the Robusto comes in a quarter cheaper. The Ambos Mundos were released this past February (2009). They suggest that you age these cigars a bit to allow the tobacco to finish fermentation due to the use of the lower quality tobacco. That might explain some things, but really, who wants to age an economy cigar?

I smoked the Habano wrapped version with the creme colored band first. Both of the samples I tried were Robustos. The Habano is a Nicaraguan Puro. I have to say, I found this cigar to be nearly unsmokable.  It was sour and bitter and very unpleasant.  I did my best to try and smoke the whole thing but a little more than halfway through I had to give up on it.  This is the first cigar I have tried that is made by Pepin Garcia that I thought was a bad cigar.  I find it hard to believe that anything about this smoke is at all related to the Tatuajes I love so much.  Maybe it really does need to be aged some but I am not sure how much help that would be to this cigar.  To truly age it in any meaningful way means you need to set them down for at least a year, closer to two years probably.  Anything less isn’t aging, it is merely acclimation to your humidor.  Plus, like I said, who wants to age a $5 economy smoke.  The humidor real estate is too valuable and better used aging a box of quality top shelf cigars.  As it is today, I have to give this cigar an F.

Next up is the Sumatran which sports the dark red band.  Wow what a difference a wrapper can make on a cigar.  This was a much better experience.  Still not what I would call a good smoke, at least this one was enjoyable enough to smoke the entire cigar.   I could see the potential for this one to become a fairly decent smoke if it were allowed to age.  It had a spicy bite with an earthy core complimented by notes of cedar and flashes of coffee.  There were still occasional hits of sour flavors but it was not nearly as harsh and bitter as the Habano.  Because of the potential I can see for this cigar to get at least a little better I can rate this version of the Ambos Mundos as a C.

I wish they didn’t associate this brand so closely with the Tatuaje brand.  These are not Tatuajes, and they don’t taste like even a distant cousin to the Tatuaje brand.  It hurts me to say it because I am such a huge fan of everything else Pete and Pepin have done, but these cigars just don’t live up the standards they have set with their other lines.  Truth is, I find the mixed filler Tatuaje P Series to be a far superior cigar and they cost about the same amount, cheaper in some cases as they are available in a better choice of sizes.  I think the concept for these cigars was a nice idea, but I also think it is really hard to make a good cigar at this price point.  Fact is, nobody I have come across does a better job at a $5 cigar than Oliva.  That is probably because they have a huge advantage given the large quantity of tobacco they have at their disposal (and yes I mean the Oliva Cigar Family and am not referring to the other Oliva tobacco famliy).

Rating – F (for the Habano)
Rating – C (for the Sumatran)

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

Tatuaje (Black Label) Private Reserve Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

640x480 cropped

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder:  Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Corona Gorda 55/8” x 46 ring
*My 100th Cigar Review*

The mystical, almost mythical Tatuaje Private Reserve, or as it is more commonly referred to the Tatuaje Black Label. Arguably the most sought after cigar of 2008, this cigar was originally made as Pete Johnson’s private cigar. It just seemed natural to me (after much internal debate) that I mark my 100th cigar review here at Matt’s Cigar Journal with a review of a rare and highly coveted Tatuaje.   After all, it is my favorite brand of cigar, and I did obsess and dream of the Black Label and it’s beautiful Jar for 6 months before I finally got my hands on it.   By the way, you all were very helpful in assisting me with my decision on what cigar to smoke for my 100th review, as evident from the poll results.   So here it is, my 100th cigar review… The Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve.

The Black Label was rumored to be available only if you met Pete Johnson and he gave you one. When the announcement that the Black Label would be sold to the public in a limited release, packaged in a collectible ceramic jar, the frenzy began. First we were given a teaser, a little taste of what was to come. Many of the Tatuaje vendors received one or two cabinets of 24 Black Label cigars. These were quickly sold off and they served to heighten the anticipation of the release of the Jar. Finally in early 2008 the Jar hit the shelves and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to purchase one. It comes with 19 of the cigars inside, secured with a yellow ribbon and then wrapped in foil. The Jar is a work of art. Just click here to see photos of my jar from just about every conceivable angle. Yeah, I was/am a little obsessed with the Jar. The Black Labels are still hard to find, but not impossible if you search hard enough. They are even available in a second size now. Black Label Robustos can be purchased in packs of three if you attend a Tatuaje event.

It is immediately apparent that this cigar was not designed to be “pretty”.  It was made to look tough.  The wrapper is rustic and bumpy, spider-webbed with small veins.  The color is a dark mottled brown.  It has a rough fuma style head that comes to a slight nipple and the foot is closed with a shaggy bit of wrapper covering it up.    And then there is the band.  Simple, black, classic.  It just adds to the toughness of this cigar.  It’s overall appearance seems to compliment the look of its creator, Tattoo Pete.    The Black Label may look a little rough around the edges, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is anything less than a top shelf cigar.  It is very well put together.  It burned straight with a firm ash that just did not want to fall off.  The draw was perfect as was most everything about this cigar. Putting the foot to flame you a hit with an initial burst of black pepper that quickly subsides.  Initially the flavors were mild spice and leather with a subtle sweetness on the lips.  This cigar is constantly changing as you smoke it.  I picked up notes of  ginger, oak, earth, nuts, cocoa and an occasional flash of hay early on… all weaving in and out around a spicy, leathery core. It was a medium to full bodied smoke with a rich tobacco aroma boasting some decent strength, but it isn’t a cigar that will knock you down.  The dichotomy of the cigar is amusing.  It looks rough and rustic but it smokes like a refined and elegant cigar, rich and complex.  The cigar was always changing, always doing something that demanded my undivided attention.

This was the third Black Label I have smoked and each one has been better than the last.  I can definitely say this cigar is a favorite of mine and it probably deserves a spot in my Top 5 the next time I update that list.

Rating – A+

Tatuaje “The Frank” Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

Photobucket

Country: USA
Wrapper: Sun-Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Double Corona 75/8″ x 49 ring

Plucked from its blood splattered coffin, it is time to put this green banded monster to flame. OK, the truth is I couldn’t bring myself to break into the coffin yet so this one is an extra single I picked up but it came from a coffin too, just not mine.  The Frank is a special ultra-limited release from Pete Johnson and his Tatuaje brand.  Using the blend for the Tatuaje Taino, the corojo wrapper is replaced with a sun-grown broadfleaf wrapper and in place of the brown band is a ghoulish green band adorned with the Tatuaje name and trademark flor de lys.  They were released as a first in a series of 13 special Halloween cigars from Tatuaje.  Only 666 boxes were made and they were release to just 13 retailers selected by lottery throughout the States.  In the coffin shaped box are 13 monstrous cigars.  I was lucky enough to have my local cigar shop, Empire Cigars, selected as one of the 13 retailers to get The Frank.  What makes me even luckier is that I was able to get myself a box of these rare and special treats.  Since Empire was one of the 13 to get The Frank, they will not be eligible for next years release which will be “The Drac”.  The Drac is reported to be a torpedo that is banded at the foot and placed into their coffins upside down just like the way Dracula was reported to like sleeping in his coffin.  We’ll have to wait and see how lucky I am next year at trying to get my hands of a box of those.  For now, it is time to get back to The Frank… (more…)

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: