While it may be difficult to believe now, when the inaugural cigar in Tatuaje’s Monster series The Frank was released in late October 2008, they were really not all that hard to get ahold of, even if you were looking for multiple boxes. I can remember calling up both Empire Cigars and the now-defunct Gloucester Street Cigar Co. days after the release with options to purchase multiple cigars. Now things have changed, the dress boxes go quick, sell for far more than their list prices and there are smaller monsters.
(Editor’s Note: Rather than rewriting history seven times, we’ve included the same basic history of the Monster Series across all eight reviews.)
Last year, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje began talking about a project known as “fat little monsters,” a take on the 2012 Little Monster samplers, which was a take on the über popular Monster Series. Tatuaje’s origins with monsters dates back to October 2008 when the company released The Frank as part of its Monster Series. The plan was simple, cigars based off of monster characters from films with names, boxes and even some times blends paying homage to each monster’s respective personality. The series has become an annual occurrence, arguably the most anticipated and craze-filled cigar release of each year.
Given the Monster Series name, it should come as no surprise that the cigars themselves are large. As such, in 2012, Johnson created the Little Monsters to allow smokers to see how the first five Monster Series release performed in a smaller format. Pudgy Monsters, which is the final name for the “fat little monster” idea, share many details with the 2012 project, both are 10-count samplers, the boxes for both are rather similar, both began shipping in June of their respective years and more importantly, both are smaller takes on Pete Johnson’s popular Monster Series.
Five of the Pudgy Monsters share the ring gauge of the original Monster Series release and the length of the Little Monsters.
- Frank (5 5/8 x 49), based on The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) and Frank Jr. (5 5/8 x 44)
- Drac (5 x 52), based on The Drac (6 3/4 x 52) and Lil’ Drac (5 x 48)
- Face (4 3/8 x 56), based on The Face (6 3/8 x 56) and Baby Face (4 3/8 x 50)
- Wolf (5 1/2 x 52), based on The Wolfman (7 1/2 x 52) and Wolfie (5 1/2 x 48)
- Mummy (5 3/4 x 47), based The Mummy (7 3/4 x 47) and Mini Mum (5 3/4 x 42)
Last year, the company released The JV-13 (7 1/2 x 52) based on the character Jason. Johnson’s pudgy take on the JV-13 is Jason, a 5 1/2 x 52 cigar.
Each Pudgy Monster box has one of the aforementioned six cigars. The remaining four cigars are split up between two different 4 x 50 releases, Chuck and Tiff—based on the characters of Chucky and Tiffany from Don Mancini’s Child’s Play films, specifically Bride of Chucky.
With these releases, the Monster Series and its related releases, now stand at 19 cigars.
- Tatuaje The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) — October 2008 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (8,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Drac (6 3/4 x 52) — October 2009 — 1,300 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (16,900 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Face (6 3/8 x 56) — October 2010 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Wolfman (7 1/2 x 52) — October 2011 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Frank Jr. (5 5/8 x 44) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Lil’ Drac (5 x 48) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Baby Face (4 3/8 x 50) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Wolfie (5 1/2 x 48) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Mini Mum (5 3/4 x 42) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Mummy (7 3/4 x 47) — October 2012 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 3,100 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (39,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The JV13 (7 1/2 x 52) — October 2013 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Frank (5 5/8 x 49) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Drac (5 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Face (4 3/8 x 56) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Wolf (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Mummy (5 3/4 x 47) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Jason (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Chuck (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Tiff (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
The suggested retail price for each 10-count box is $95. There will be 20,000 boxes, which began shipping in mid-June. Like the Little Monsters, the cigars are expected to be released in multiple shipments.
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Frank
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 5/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 49
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 10, 95.00)
- Date Released: June 18, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 20,000 Boxes of 1 Cigar (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Covered in a dark coffee bean brown wrapper that is quite rough to they touch, the Tatuaje Frank is familiar with its dark wrapper and green band. It has some soft spots when squeezed, but not enough to make me think there will be problems, and there are prominent veins running up and down the length. Aroma from the wrapper is strong earth, leather and barnyard combined with some black pepper, while the cold draw brings earth, dark fruit, oak and leather notes.
The Tatuaje Frank starts out with earth, dark cocoa, cedar, hay, leather and barnyard, along with a nice amount of black pepper on the retrohale that compliments the profile without overwhelming the flavors at any point so far. Intertwine with the other flavors there is also a great overt syrupy sweetness that is quite pervasive, reminding me strongly of maple syrup mixed with cinnamon. Smoke production is above average so far and there is a slight spice on the tongue that comes and goes. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent with just the right amount of resistance while the burn is a bit wavy but nothing that gives me any problems. The strength is noticeable, but fails to reach the medium mark by the end of the first third.
The maple syrup sweetness continues to build in the second third of the Tatuaje Frank, until it is one of the dominant flavors in the profile, along with a rich earthiness that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The other notes in the profile are essentially the same as the the first third: dark and slightly bitter cocoa, hay, wood, leather and some espresso on the finish. The black pepper on the retrohale has dissipated a bit, but is still quite noticeable, but the spice on the tongue from the first third is long gone. Both the burn and draw are wonderful, but the smoke production has taken a hit, and seems to on a path to keep decreasing. Strength-wise, the Frank takes a major bump upwards, easily clearing the medium mark by the end of the second third, and seemingly continuing to build.
The rich earthiness takes the dominant spot in the profile of the Tatuaje Frank about halfway through the final third, although the maple syrup sweetness is still very much in evidence until the end of the smoke. As has been the case for the rest of the cigar, the other flavors in the profile have remained fairly constant with leather, espresso, hay, dark chocolate and cedar flitting in and out. The overall smoke production has increased a bit from its low, but is still not as strong as the first third, while the black pepper on the retrohale remains about constant. The strength easily surpasses the medium mark by the end of the cigar, although well short of full, and the construction continues to impress until I put the cool nub down with less than an inch left.
- The naming of the different releases under each Monster can be a big confusing, with The Frank being the original larger size, Frank Jr. being the Little Monster and just plain Frank as the Pudgy Monster.
- The box colors of the Pudgy Monsters — orange on black — are the exact opposite from the boxes the Little Monsters were packaged in, which were black on orange.
- Tatuaje did release one cigar in the so called Actor’s Series named The Boris, which took its name from the classic actor Boris Karloff who played Frankenstein’s monster in the movie of the same name in 1931. Johnson has reiterated multiple times that he does not consider the Boris to be part of the Monster Series canon, which is one of the reasons a smaller version of the blend was not released with the other Little Monsters. There was a small version released, the aptly named Little Boris, but it was a single store release for the Corona Cigar Company, whose owner Jeff Borysiewicz had been using the name Boris for some of the cigars in his store for years. Borysiewicz allowed Tatuaje to use the Boris name on the condition that Johnson do a single store release for his store.
- Johnson included a redux of the original The Frank cigar in last year’s Saints & Sinners sampler boxes.
- I found the box-press on the Frank is not too extreme and as a result feels great in your mouth. The Frank Jr. seemed a bit more awkward for me to smoke for some reason, probably having to due with the combination of the box press and the thinner ring gauge.
- The bands on all three Frank releases are printed on slightly different materials, with the newest incarnation easily the most shiny of the three.
- I smoked a Frank Jr. to compare with the Franks, and found the Pudgy Monster version to be significantly sweeter and more balanced overall.
- I really love the idea of the Pudgy Monsters more than the Little Monsters, as the Pudgys use the same ring gauge as the original releases, and thus are quite a bit closer to the original idea behind the blend.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 15 minutes.
- The samples smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Tatuaje Pudgy Monster boxes, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar has them on backorder at the moment, but they should be getting more boxes in the future.
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Although it has lost quite a bit in the last six years, when it was first released in 2008, I considered the Tatuaje The Frank to be one of the best non-Cuban cigars made at the time. While the Frank is not at the level, I was quite impressed with the interplay of the rich earthiness and syrupy sweetness that seems to be present throughout the smoke. The profile is not overly complex, but it is extremely well balanced, the flavors are very distinct and enjoyable, and the construction on all samples was absolutely top notch. This is one of those times that I really wish I could get a 10 count box of just one of the blends in the box.