There aren’t a ton of people in the cigar business with a Wikipedia page. Nelson Alfonso Egüed has one and it’s well deserved.
Alfonso is the founder of Golden Age Visual Developers (GAVD), a design firm that is credited with some of Habanos S.A.’s most iconic designs of the last decade including the BHK Behike, Gran Reserva, and Humitube packaging. His work with Habanos ranges from branding to design to porcelain ashtrays to an expansive photography book and then some. His client list is a veritable who’s who of Habanos S.A. and their most prominent distributors, as well as Padrón, for which GAVD manufactured the company’s 50th anniversary humidor.
He also founded Selected Tobacco S.A., a company’s who portfolio includes three cigar brands—all of which look like they could be part of the Habanos S.A. portfolio: Atabey, Bandolero, and Byron.
At the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the company showed off extensions to its Atabey and Byron lines. Five new sizes were announced for Atabey.
- Atabey Dioses (8 x 50) — $34 (Boxes of 25, $850)
- Atabey Spiritus (7 1/2 x 40) — $30 (Boxes of 25, $750)
- Atabey Benditos (7 x 58) — $36 (Boxes of 25, $900)
- Atabey Misticos (6 x 56) — $34 (Boxes of 25, $850)
- Atabey Duendes (6 x 54) — $30 (Boxes of 25, $750)
Four of the sizes were regular production, while the Misticos size was limited to just 100 boxes.
Like the rest of the company’s products, it’s produced in the Tabacos de Costa Rica factory, which is also responsible for Cuba Rica and MBombay.
- Cigar Reviewed: Atabey Misticos
- Country of Origin: Costa Rica
- Factory: Tabacos de Costa Rica
- Wrapper: n/a
- Binder: n/a
- Filler: n/a
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 56
- Vitola: Toro Extra
- MSRP: $34 (Boxes of 25, $850)
- Release Date: 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I really do like the Atabey packaging and the cigar is pretty. In almost every regard, if this was added Habanos S.A. portfolio, you wouldn’t be surprised. For many of us, sadly, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cuban company adding a 6 x 56. While the Misticos is not Cuban, it is quite large, and remarkably soft to the touch with a generous amount of oils. Aroma off the wrapper is mild to medium with a very sweet berry flavor intertwined with some blueberry muffins. The latter flavor is even stronger on the foot surrounded by a little bit of spice, making it a trifecta of of sorts, as the blueberry flavor is there in spades alongside some raw sugar and oak.
Despite the blueberry dominating the pre-light ritual, there’s exactly zero of it once the Atabey is lit. Instead, there’s a ton of oak, some sweetness around the lips with secondary flavors of popcorn and floral. Despite going through a fairly thorough lighting ritual, there’s not a ton of smoke on the first few puffs. Fortunately that picks up to an adequate level, though still bit less than I’d like given the 56 ring gauge. The flavor is good with American whiskey flavors of charred woods and some spice. Popcorn and floral stick around as well, but it’s not as sweet as the first few puffs. The cigar is all around medium with the flavor getting close to the medium-plus level.
The spice lets up noticeably in the second third of the Misticos which adds a new layer to the flavors. There’s still quite a bit of charred woods, but a berry sweetness, wheat, walnut and cashews break through underneath. Construction is nearly identical to the first third: a solid burn line and smoke production that is fine, though nothing to write home about. Flavor picks up to medium-full while body and strength increase to the medium-plus nature.
It’s another sharp turn for the Atabey Misticos in the final third with green licorice, black pepper and a generic earthiness emerging. The nutty flavors are still there, but not as detailed and it’s tough for them to shine because the earth and pepper flavors last quite a bit into the finish. I find myself touching up each of the samples in the final third to help the smoke production, even though the cigar never goes completely out. Flavor, body and strength all remain at the same levels as the second third.
- In the interest of full disclosure, these were smoked about a month ago. I didn’t finish the review on time and it didn’t get scheduled until now.
- Speaking of disclosure, the company does not disclose the Atabey blend.
- When these cigars were announced, the press release said they weren’t shipping until 2018. Needless to say, plans change. Our coverage from the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, which happened less than two weeks after the press release, said December 2017. I spotted the cigars on a shelf in September.
- I will say, for the price you are getting a nice box as it has legitimate humidor furnishings in the hinges and lock. It’s super impressive for a box, but I’m not sure you could charge $150 for the box as a humidor. It’s probably better than some $150 humidors, but that says more about some of the junk on the humidor market than the box.
- The blueberry flavor reminded me of Hostess Mini Muffins, which I used to eat as a snack in middle school.
- I was surprised with the smoke production. If I’m going to smoke this size versus say the Spiritus (7 x 40), I’d hope to get great construction all the way around. The smoke production wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I’d expect from the ring gauge.
- The flavors were very well balanced in the first two thirds, probably the cigar’s single best quality.
- I feel like Atabey as a brand is very much hate it or love it. That’s sort of what happens to any cigar at this price point because just about everyone makes judgements about how good something is based somewhat on price. As I’ve said before, that’s not how we score cigars. For me, I think the cigars are certainly well above average, but not I’ve yet to had one that delivers the special experience I’m looking for when spending $35 per cigar.
- Selected Tobacco is distributed by United Cigar Group in the U.S. United Cigar Group is owned by Dave Garafalo, who also owns 2 Guys Smoke Shop and The Cigar Authority.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Average smoking time was two hours and 40 minutes.
- Site sponsor Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) carries the Atabey Misticos.
I’m not entirely sure what Tabacos de Costa Rica does, but it manages to produce—with a much higher rate than any other factory—cigars that taste similar to how a Cuban taste. This is a classic example of that, a cigar that I wouldn’t identify with 100 percent certainty as something from Habanos, but it certainly has the flavor profile that it wouldn’t surprise me. The unfortunate thing is that doesn’t mean it tastes similar to the best cigar in the world. It’s good, one of my favorite Atabeys to date, but as with every review of the brand, there’s a discussion of price that needs to be had. Compared to other cigars at the $25-35 price point, this would not be something I’d gravitate towards.