I smoked my first one just the other night and I enjoyed it immensely, far better than the 89 would elude too. :>
Review: Tatuaje Avion 13 (Prerelease)
Sometimes it is hard to believe that it was only a few years ago that unopened boxes of the Tatuaje T110 were readily available on the secondary market despite its seemingly quick rise to legendary limited edition status among Tatuaje fans. As the T110 started to become harder to find, fans clamored for another release of the cigar. Pete Johnson’s stance on re-releasing limited edition cigars is that it isn’t something he ever wants to do. While there is a variety of reasons for that, he has stated the main reason is that it wouldn’t be fair to the fans who worked hard to get their hands on the original.
Having said that though, Johnson has taken limited edition cigars, changed up the size and using a similar blend, created new limited edition runs or even entirely new lines of regular production stuff. The Avion line is one of the latter, being spawned out of the Fausto line, which was a child of the T110 blend. In Patrick’s review of the Avion Limited a couple weeks back, he went into a very detailed history of the blend and each iteration. Instead of rewriting the same information that he worked hard to put together, I’ll instead let you read what he wrote:
Tracing back the roots of the Avion line is like looking at a family tree; one pioneering cigar begot another, and then that line had multiple releases, including an offshoot that became what is known as Avion.
The history of the Avion 13 goes back to July 2009 and the Tatuaje T110, a store exclusive made for R. Field Wine Company in Honolulu, Hawaii. According to Brooks’ review of that cigar, it was a take on another Tatuaje creation that started out as somewhat of a joke cigar because of how strong it was, literally making people sick from its strength. That cigar? Thermonuclear. Because of its smaller size, the T110 was referred to as Thermo Jr.
From the T110 came from the Fausto line, which was released at the 2011 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show and was launched in four sizes, including the FT153 which Brooks also reviewed. You may remember the Fausto marketing campaign, with the tag line borrowing from the famous amplifier scene in Spinal Tap when it said that “This one goes to 11.”
Out of the Fausto line came Avion, an annual release in a single box-pressed Perfecto vitola. The Avion line is being limited to just three releases, which makes 2013 the final chapter in this particular line. However, this final chapter didn’t get written without an edit and the possibility of a postscript along the way.
In mid-May Pete Johnson decided to change wrappers on the Avion 13 from Ecuadorian Habano to Connecticut Broadleaf. This was shortly after what was going to be the regular release of the Avion 13 went into production, meaning that there would be some cigars that needed to find a home but wouldn’t be part of a regular release. Initially, he said there were some 7,500 of these cigars made, but at the 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, he said that the number was a bit higher, as workers at the factory found more in one of the aging rooms and brought the total number produced to somewhere around 9,700 cigars. Johnson and the Tatuaje team got the word out to retailers and the initial 7,500 were quickly allocated to retailers, arriving at stores in early July and in turn were snapped up by consumers. Johnson is making some 1,700 or so available to retailers who didn’t get any during the first shipment , with the remaining 500 or so being reserved for the Saints & Sinners club.
Why the switch? Johnson feared there might be confusion at the retail level between the Avion 11 and Avion 13 due to their similar size and color. To further distinguish the two versions, he is adding a secondary Reserva band to the Avion 13.
Johnson posted a picture to several social media sites on May 17th, showing off the Reserva with the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper along with the announcement that he was switching wrappers mid-production. Here is what they look like after being rolled and prior to being box pressed:
Here’s what the boxes looked like on display at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention:
Here are all five releases of the Avion line:
- Tatuaje Avion 11 (6 3/4x 48/52) – $9.95 (Boxes of 20, $199.00)
- Tatuaje Avion 12 (5 5/8 x 42) – $6.66 (Samplers of 6 Cigars, $39.95)
- Tatuaje Avion 12 (5 5/8 x 42) – $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170.00)
- Tatuaje Avion Limited (7 1/4 x 52) – $8.00 (Bundles of 10, $80.00)
- Tatuaje Avion 13 (6 7/8 x 52) – $11.00 (Boxes of 20, $220.00)
And as Patrick stated above, the Avion line has a long history behind it. Here is every release associated with the blend:
- Tatuaje T110 (4 3/8 x 52) — 2009 — 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje T110 (4 3/8 x 52) — December 2009 — 190 Boxes of 25 Cigars (4,750 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje PJ40th (5 1/2 x 50) — April 2011 — N/A
- Tatuaje M80 (4 x 50) — June 2011 — 333 Boxes of 15 Cigars (4,995 Total Cigars)
- Fausto FT166 (6 1/2 x 48) (Prerelease Event) — June 2011 — N/A
- Fausto FT153 (6 x 50) (Prerelease Event) — June 2011 — N/A
- Fausto FT140 (5 1/2 x 52) (Prerelease Event) — June 2011 — N/A
- Fausto FT127 (5 x 54) (Prerelease Event) — June 2011 — N/A
- Fausto FT166 (6 1/2 x 48) — July 2011 — Regular Production
- Fausto FT153 (6 x 50) — July 2011 — Regular Production
- Fausto FT140 (5 1/2 x 52) — July 2011 — Regular Production
- Fausto FT127 (5 x 54) — July 2011 — Regular Production
- Avion 11 (6 3/4 x 48/52) — August 2011 — Regular Production
- Tatuaje Exclusive Series Tobacco Plaza DD (6 x 58) — March 2012 — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Limited Series Fausto FT114 (4 1/2 x 52) — March 2012 — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Exclusive Series Tobacco Plaza DD (Wet Pack) (6 x 58) — April 2012 — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Limited Series Avion 12 (5 5/8 x 48/52) — May 2012 — 1,500 Total Cigars
- Fausto FT114 (4 1/2 x 52) — August 2012 — Regular Production
- Avion 12 (5 5/8 x 48/52) — August 2012 — Regular Production
- Avion Limited (7 1/4 x 52) — July 2013 — 970 Bundles of 10 Cigars (9,700 Total Cigars)
- Avion 13 (6 7/8 x 52) — August 2013 — Regular Production
Now you know the background, so let’s get to the review.
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Avion 13
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Straight Perfecto (Box-Pressed)
- MSRP: $11.00 (Box of 20, $220.00)
- Date Released: August 16, 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
Looking at the above picture of the Avions together, you can see the Limited and the Reserva are very similar shades of a deep, dark brown. With Patrick’s description of the Limited’s habano wrapper being toothy and slightly rough though, the Avion 13′s broadleaf wrapper is the exact opposite. To the touch the wrapper is incredibly soft, supple and slightly oily to the touch. When squeezed the cigar shows it is firm without any soft spots. The wrapper has a rich barnyard note with hints of cocoa powder sprinkled in. The cold draw’s flavors consist of smooth milk chocolate, sweet pepper and a light grassy note.
Starting off the first third is a very strong black pepper note along with some cocoa and leather. The tightness is ideal and with each draw brings tons of billowing smoke. Dark grey ash holds firmly to around an inch. The black pepper note is still pretty strong and I can already feel the Avion 13′s strength in the back of my throat. Retrohaling is brutal with the black pepper and strong enough to bring tears to my eyes. A few minor touch-ups have been needed, but is otherwise the cigar is burning fairly straight.
Overall the cigar has actually smoothed out a little bit in the second third, where the black pepper was in your face before, it has backed off a little. This allows some nice wood notes to shine through with the cocoa and leather. Now it is a strong, slightly sweet profile that is quite enjoyable. A couple more random touch ups are required, though for the most part it has an even burn line. An inch into the second third I’ve noticed a major shift in the overall sweetness, making the profile quite sweet and creamy.
The final third sees the return of the black pepper, which kind of overshadowing the rest of the profile. I wouldn’t call it harsh though, it’s far from it. The Avion is about as smooth as a pepper bomb can be, however it is continuing to grow in strength along with the pepper. As the cigar finishes up there are enjoyable notes that peek through the black pepper, including cocoa, a touch of cinnamon, a little more wood and some leather.
- As I’ve said before, I think the mouthfeel of a mid-50’s RG box pressed cigar is excellent.
- Usually I enjoy smoking without a breeze and having the smoke envelope my head, which allows me to fully enjoy the aroma of a cigar. In this case I’m actually thankful there was a breeze, because when it stopped and the smoke enveloped me, it was almost overwhelmingly strong.
- Speaking of strength, as we usually note with strong cigars, don’t smoke this on an empty stomach! I smoked one sample before dinner and the other a little while after dinner. While the after dinner sample was still noticeably strong, the sample before dinner left me feeling slightly queasy.
- In Patrick’s review of the Avion 13 Limited he noted the flakey ash on one of the samples he reviewed. The ash on both of the regular versions seemed much more solid and didn’t flake at all.
- This is the first of the Avion line to not have an Ecuadorian habano wrapper.
- While this is supposed to be the third and final release of the Avion series, Pete Johnson stated, “I still might think about doing something in the line later on… no plans as of now.”
- When talking with Johnson on Friday, August 16, it was noted that they had just received shipment that day and were shipping the cigars to retailers starting that same day. If any retailer requested overnight shipping, those could potentially be available in some stores today. Otherwise we should see these hitting retailers over the next couple of weeks.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Best Cigar Prices, Cigar King and Tobacco Grove all have the previous Avions in stock. Assuming they put in an order for the Avion 13s, we should see them in stock there shortly.
- Tatuaje provided the cigars for this review at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention.
- Final smoking time averaged a little over two hours.
The Bottom Line: The T110, Fausto and Avion lines have never really been my cup of tea. I enjoy the black pepper that accompanies so many of Tatuaje’s releases, but the strength of this blend isn’t something I usually seek out. Putting aside my personal preferences however, I think this cigar is still a very solid blend that many people will enjoy. The Broadleaf wrapper changes the profile for the positive in my opinion and might even open up the line to people who previously didn’t like Avions. Construction on the cigar was very solid without any major complaints. Along with the enjoyable, albeit not too complex, flavor profile I think that this cigar will easily end up in many people’s rotations.
Final Score: 89