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

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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.

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Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria Thursday, Oct 15 2009 

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Country: Honduras
Wrapper: Honduran Criollo ’98
Binder: Honduran Criollo ’98
Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0′ x 49 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

The Alec Bradley Tempus is made in the Raices Cubanas factory in Honduras. This is the same factory the the Illusione and Cruzado cigars are made for Dion Giolito. I mention this because of a story I heard. It is second or third hand so I have no way of knowing how true it is but it is interesting. The story goes that Dion was testing several prototype blends to use in one of his lines. Apparently Dion wants his cigars to change up on him 4 plus times through the course of the smoke so there were several blends that while good, complex smokes, they were passed on by Dion. The rumor is, that one such blend was offered to and subsequently bought by Alec Bradley to become the Tempus. Like I said, I have no idea if it is true or not, but it is an interesting story and maybe it provides some insight into what happens to some of better blends that go unclaimed during the development phase for a new cigar.

The large ornate band and the second gold band at the foot of the cigar gives it a kind of regal look from a distance, but up close the cigar looks rather rustic.  The wrapper drak brown and a little rumpled looking with a sparse scattering of small black spots on it.  It is very veiny and has a slight tooth to it.  The triple cap is sloppily applied.  It kind of looks like a Padron, only slightly better put together.  Despite its rustic appearance, it is obviusly a well made cigar as the draw was near perfect and the burn remained straight and even the entire smoke with no relights or touch-ups.

This was a nice robust smoke.  It burned slow and cool and took me close to two hours to finish.  It starts off with a peppery blast and rich notes of earth and black coffee and a subtle sweetness on the finish.  It is a full bodied start with a bit of a heady punch.  It does begin to mellow out though and the majority of the smoke is nice and smooth with creamy flavors of nuts and oak interrupted by the occasional flash of salty leather.  As I neared the end, it changed back to the robust earthy smoke that it began as with plenty of pepper on the finish.

This was a good complex smoke that was able to hold my attention for the full 90 plus minutes it took to smoke.  I don’t smoke a lot of Churchills because they do take a while to work through so they need to be complex and engaging when I do partake of one.  The Alec Bradley Tempus Centuria fits the bill.  I will certainly smoke this one again.  The Tempus is easily my favorite Alec Bradley cigar.

Rating – B+

You can get Alec Bradley Tempus cigars @ CigarsDirect.com

Avo Domaine No.30 Thursday, Jan 29 2009 

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Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: Churchill 6.75″ x 48 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

Avo cigars are the first premium cigars I ever smoked.  The classic Avo no. 2 may be the cigar responsible for setting me down the path of premium cigar smoking and collecting as a hobby.  It got me hooked on hand made premium cigars.  Way back then, the Avo no.2 was my expensive special occasion smoke, because in the beginning I had always thought that $7 for a cigar was extremely extravagant.  My how things have changed… lol.  Over the years I have moved away from the AVO brand as part of my regular rotation of smokes but it has still always held a special place in my heart because of its role in myearly days of cigar appreciation.  Today I have an Avo Domaine no.30 courtesy of my friends at CigarsDirect.com.

Avo Uvezian, the man behind the Avo brand, is a gentleman that exemplifies class and sophistication.  He is a respected cigar connoisseur and a accomplished musician.  The Avo brand of cigars mirrors its creators sense of style and class.  The cigars are know for being refined, smooth, and balanced.  The Domaine utilizes a beautiful Ecuadorian grown wrapper that is fermented a second time after being sent to Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic.  Some of the finest Dominican tobaccos are used for the filler and binder to lend a robust yet  balanced flavor when paired with the aromatic Ecuadorian wrapper.

This Churchill is a handsome cigar with a smooth silky wrapper.  Construction is almost never an Issue with Avo cigars.  The Domaine is a medium bodied smoke with an earthy, must core.  I also picked up strong grassy/vegetal notes and little hits of sourness as I made my way through the smoke.  It smoothed out a lot in the second half losing that vegetal quality that I have to say I was not enjoying.  It was predominately earth with notes of hay the rest of the way.  Smooth and enjoyable.  Overall this cigar is not my cup of tea, but it is well made and if they don’t always start out the way this one did, I’d consider it a nice mid afternoon smoke.  If they are always that grassy at the start, then I think I would just pass on this cigar.  If I were judging solely on the second half of this smoke I’d score it a solid B, maybe even a B+, but taking it as a whole I can only give it a C.

Rating – C

Redux: Tatuaje Reserva SW Thursday, Feb 7 2008 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0″ x 47 ring

The Tatuaje Reserva SW just may be my favorite cigar bar none. When asked to make a list it always lands in the number one spot, but in my mind the lines on these sorts of things are a little less clear. The point is, I love this cigar and make a point to enjoy one on a regular basis. When I first struck up my blog’s relationship with my friends over at CigarsDirect.com I told them my favorite cigar was the Tatuaje Reserva SW. They asked for a list of my favorites so as is typically the case, the Reserva SW ended up in the number one slot. As a very generous thank you for the Reviews I’d be writing for them, they sent me a few of these gems to enjoy. I have posted a review of the SW in the past but honestly I didn’t give it the full attention to detail it deserved so as I went to grab one of the SWs that CigarsDirect.com sent me I knew it was time to revisit this stellar cigar here on the blog.

The Tatuaje Reserva SW is part of the Selección de Cazador line of Tatuajes, which is also commonly referred to as the Brown Label or Tatuaje Cabinet, and even sometimes as Tatuaje Miami. The Reserva extension of this line is a collection of super premium cigars. It is available in three vitolas. The robusto sized 5×50 Reserva J21, the “A” sized 9.25×47 Reserva A Uno, and the Churchill sized 7×47 Reserva SW. The SW is a not so subtle reference to Sir Winston Churchill who was particularly fond of the vitola that now bears his name. Of course like all Tatuajes, the SW is made in the traditional Cuban style with a triple cap by the master blender and cigar maker Don Pepin Garcia. The Reserva takes it’s Cubanesque styling a step further with the “Reserva” name and the black and gold Reserva band that very closely resembles the “Reserva” band used by some Cuban brands’ super premium line extensions. Pete Johnson is a huge fan of Cuban cigars and the Cuban cigar industry so a lot of what Tatuaje does is fashioned after the Cuban brands. The Reserva Line of Tatuajes tend to be a milder blend then the rest of the Brown label line but I find that they tend to be a bit more complex as a result.

Before getting down to business, I took a moment to admire the leathery brown wrapper. It had a slight oily sheen and a few thin but prominent veins running across it, giving it a slightly rustic look. The triple cap on the head clipped perfectly with my trusty Palio. A pre-light puff reveals a perfect draw and delivers a hint of black pepper to the toungue. I used my brand new ST Dupont X-tend lighter to put the cigar to flame. The Reserva SW starts off like most Tatuajes with Pepin Garcia’s trademark peppery start. It only takes a few good draws for this one to settle down. Noticeably mellower than the standard Brown Label Tats, for most of the 1st half it is a very smooth and creamy smoke. It has a very woody core with undertones of coffee and cream. The creaminess of the smoke has an almost buttery feel to it. The smoke is thick and slow to dissipate. Once you pass the halfway mark, the cigar begins to pick up a bit. It gets a bit more robust but never threatens to become what you’d call full bodied. The flavors got more earthy and leathery, less creamy, and the finish seemed to hang on longer but it never lost its smoothness. As I tried to nub it down to my fingers there was a return of the black pepper I experienced at the start of the smoke. It was there for about the last smokable inch of the cigar and may be attributable to tar buildup near the head. Construction was impeccable and the burn perfect. The ash was firm but a bit papery on the edges.

The Reserva SW is far and away my favorite Churchill and when pushed to name a number one overall favorite cigar, this one still manages to grab that title for me. With only one anomalous exception among the many I’ve smoked, I have never been anything short of wowed by this cigar. It is 2 hours of pure smoking pleasure. It’s smoothness couple with its impressive complexity suits my palate to a “T”.

Get yours at CigarsDirect.com: Tatuaje Reserva SW

Rating – A+
Matt’s Top 5

Tatuaje Reserva SW Thursday, Mar 22 2007 

Country: USA
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Churchill 7.0″x47 ring

Tatuaje has become my favorite marca hands down and this cigar only reinforced that opinion. It is big stick with an oily, leathery, brown wrapper. There were small veins throughout and it was a little bumpy giving it a slightly rustic look. It had an expertly applied triple cap that clipped perfectly. It was well filled with no sign of any rib veins in the filler at the head or foot. The pre-light draw was firm with just the right amount of resistance. Very peppery at the start, it mellowed quickly to a nice woody core and vanilla notes with a nice earthy finish. I’d describe it as medium to full bodied, not as robust as the Regio or Noella. Half way through the vanilla disappeared and it got buttery/creamy with cocoa notes. The last third was the smoothest dominated by wood and leather. A fantastic and complex smoke start to finish. If it wasn’t for the price I could smoke this every day.

The burn was nice and even. The only thing I can say bad about this cigar is the ash. It was flaky and didn’t hold as well as I have come accustom to with other Tatuajes.

Rating – A+

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