Next to the original release of the Black Label, this has to be one of Pete Johnson’s most heralded productions. Much like the Brown Label Especiales, it would be difficult to do a comprehensive assessment of the lancero vitola in the non-Cuban world without the original El Triunfador. For a long time, it’s been one of the lancero that I’ve had get hot, mainly because I rarely smoke the cigar to anything less than an inch.
- Name: El Triunfador Lancero Limited
- Vitola: Lancero
- Size: 7 1/2 x 38
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Country: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Cubana S.A.
- MSRP: $10.50 (Boxes of 25, $262.50
- Source: Secondary Market
- Time in Humidor: 7 Months
- Cut: Xikar Xi3
- Light: Xikar Axia
- Beverage: Coke
- Smoking Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
In 2008, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje/Havana Cellars, released a single size of a new cigar called, “El Triunfador.” The release was made so that Johnson could solidify his trademark claims over the old Cuban brand which he had registered. A year later, he would release the full version of the regular El Triunfador line, a collection of cigars that he originally planned only for Europe. Eventually, the entire new El Triunfador line would make it to the U.S., although quite different than the original 2008 cigar.
Johnson released the El Triunfador in classic El Laguito No. 1 (7 1/2 x 38) with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, as opposed to the red-banded El Triunfadors which feature a habano wrapper. Originally, he planned the cigar to only be a limited release, but given the reception, the cigar is still released in small quantities, now made in the newer My Father Cigars S.A. factory, as opposed to the now defunct Tabacalera Cubana S.A. One interesting side-note is that the El Triunfador Lancero Limited, often known as the El Triunfador Lancero (OR), received a little brother in the form of The El Triunfador Petite Lancero Limited SODO, a limited release made for Seattle’s J&J Cigars last year.
It should also be noted, this actually constitutes a Cabaiguan Maduro lancero.
Connecticut Broadleaf comes in a few different shades, this one appears akin to staring down a cup of coffee. The El Triunfador is dark and with few veins. Aroma is a medium leather over cocoa and coffee, fairly strong for a cigar without cellophane. Packing is never record-setting on the original El Triunfadors and it produces a rather soft feel to the touch. The foot is toasty with a berry like sweetness and a bit of bittering from coffee, medium-full and pretty straight forward.
After taking the pigtail and a bit more of the cap off, there’s a medium plus woodsy leather with berry hints. Cold draw of the El Triunfador is consistently and shockingly tight with a medium balance of berry, cola, oaks and orange peel. Carefully toasting the foot produces a mix of toasty and cocoa notes, nothing overwhelmingly out of any ordinary. Initial flavors are a mix of coffee and cedar with an orange hint adding meatiness until the lengthy finish of leather, orange peel and salts finish the initial, rather Cuban, draw.
Very Cuban? Yes. Woodsy, sweet earth and meaty notes with touches of fruit tied together by a beautiful aged tobacco. An incredibly balanced flavor that is medium-plus, yet clearly refined. Spices, earth, cherry and orange peel join remains of caramel to provide a finish that is a bit shorter than one would like. Even with a pretty good draw, smoke production could be increased, particularly outside, where a coffee and woodsy note dominates the humid Carolina air.
The El Triunfador sees a cocoa note consistently rise from nowhere joining toastiness, peanuts (distinctly on the retrohale) and sweet earth as the core with contrast coming from touches of herbal spices. Finish is a rich nut accompanied by earthy tones with some herbal notes and a bit of harsh white pepper on the throat, still medium plus and a bit short. The middle portion sees a slight tightening of the Tatuaje’s draw, but the overall state is still quite good, although smoke production could use some improvement, or at least in my opinion. Strength is identical to the first third, medium with body being medium-plus, perhaps even medium-full.
Sweetness rises for what is the most active flavor profile since the opening minutes. For much of the final few inches, its herbs, tobacco with a bit of spices. At other times the medium plus flavor is overtaken by berries, meatiness, coffee and any combination of the aforementioned. Finish is much like the above, but there’s an added woodiness about it, cedar and oaks becomes rather prominent at times of the medium plus flavor and a slightly longer draw. While most of the rest of the attributes of the El Triunfador remains the same, with about an inch the cigar becomes noticeably warmer as I begin to burn my fingers. As much as I try to nurse it, with an hour and fifty left, I put the Tatuaje El Triunfador Lancero Limited down, sadly.
I’m a bit unsure. This rendition of the El Triunfador is medium, occasionally dipping into the lighter waters of medium plus, maybe. Nicotine is a toss-up, flavor is likely a bit much, but with a bit of a meal, this probably is okay. I wouldn’t feel as if I put a new smoker’s stomach in any risk, so I presume it passes, right?
In all honesty, I've probably smoked some from both factories, but I acquired a five-pack from the original 2008 release a few months ago and those are the one's I've been smoking of late, including the one pictured and the other three I smoked to develop this review. I can't tell you that they are different. The cigars are active, there's a lot of flavor, but they are rather consistent in their core and construction, which is a huge plus. Without a doubt, the original El Triunfador is one of my favorite Tatuajes, an absolute classic.