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

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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…

CAO La Traviata Intrépido Saturday, Jun 19 2010 

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Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Size: Double Corona 7.0″ x 54 ring
Courtesy of CigarsDirect.com

I don’t know about you, but over the past several years it seemed to me that everything CAO did was centered around some kind of gimmick.  Neon lighted humidors, barber pole wrappers, car trunk cigar boxes, etc.  The focus has been all on the marketing and gimmicks to the point it seemed as if they had lost touch with just making cigars.  It showed in the quality of the smokes they were putting out too.  Then the go and release the La Taviata.  No gimmicks, no fancy boxes or over the top elaborate modernized bands.  Just a classic style cigar with a classic looking band and even using an old classic Cuban brand name.  Very un-CAO like really.  I have to say they should concentrate on the cigar itself more often, but more on that soon.

The Intrépido is a BIG cigar.  I called it a double corona in the stats list above, but with a 54 ring gauge it is one big ass DC.  Perhaps calling it a Gigante would be more accurate.  It has a good-looking Colorado wrapper, a little oily and a bit bumpy.  It is finished off with a sloppy looking cap and moderately simple band.  As big as this cigar is, it is packed full of tobacco.  There were no soft spots to be found, the draw excellent and the burn was razor-sharp.

After a bit of a peppery start this cigar is very woodsy with lots of cedar and oak as the dominate flavors and just beneath the covers is a slightly sweet spice the balances it out nicely.  I have to think that is courtesy of the Cameroon binder.  At different times during this very long smoke (I smoked this a little north of two hours) I picked up some leather, coffee,and licorice.  I found it to be a nicely balanced and decently complex smoke.  It is a far better cigar than its very modest price tag would imply.  The Intrépido is the largest size in the line and it only costs around $6.  CAO departed from their glitzy high-priced and gimmicky approach with this cigar and it easily the best cigar they have made in the past decade and it is an inexpensive and economical smoke that far out-performs its price tag.  I found it to be a very good medium bodied cigar.  This size however is a bit too large for me.  It was very hard pressed to finish it. I wouldn’t classify this as a strong cigar, but rather because of it size and the sheer volume of tobacco I had to smoke to get through it, I started to feel a little green towards the end.  I think the shorter vitolas would suit me much better.

Oliva “O” Ovation Maduro (Old Embroidered Band) Tuesday, Mar 24 2009 

Oliva Serie O Maduro

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper:Connecticut Grown Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Double Corona 7.0″ x 50 ring
Courtesy of Smokinson @ The HerfHut forum

I will refrain from rehashing all the background on this smoke here since I talked a bit about the old Oliva “O” cigars in the review I did just prior to this one on the Oliva “O” Bold Omni. I’ll just quickly thank Smokinson at The Herf Hut Cigar Forum again for his generosity in sending me this fine, aged maduro. I’ll also quickly touch on the fact that this is a cigar with some nice age on it. It has been several years since the Oliva “O” with the embroidered band as been produced. Like most avid cigar lovers, I really enjoy smoking a well aged cigar. So… lets get to it.

The maduro wrapper on this thick double corona is beautiful. leathery with some small veins running throughout, it looks delicious. The cigar is well filled and given its ample size it has a nice heft to it making it nice to hold. The wrapper is applied perfectly but the cap is a little sloppy although I’ve seen worse. It has a very good draw and the foot took a light readily.

Right off, this is a very different cigar from the “O” Bold. It is light and smooth and creamy from the first puff. It also has a very pronounced sweet maduro flavors. The Bold started off with a peppery kick. This maduro is medium bodied with nice toasty and creamy flavors of coffee and earth all wrapped up in a great maduro sweetness. It produces thick, snow white clods of smoke and the burn is perfect. I find it somewhat reminiscent of a Hemingway Work of Art Maduro. At the halfway mark it starts to pick up. It got more robust and developed some black pepper which seemed to mask the sweetness. It was less creamy, the flavor a bit dryer but still very earthy. That is how the cigar finished as well. It was a very good, enjoyable smoke that was smooth and well balanced.

Rating – B+

Tatuaje “The Frank” Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

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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…)

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