Earlier this year, an odd Tatuaje band returned in Hawaii. In 2013, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje posted a picture of an unusual gold and white band on Instagram with the comment “Musubi!” The cigar never made it to stores, because it was destined for a wedding of a good friend of Johnson’s.
However, earlier this year, Johnson used the leftover bands on a new blend: a 5 x 50 closed foot robusto with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and filler from Nicaragua. The cigars came in boxes of 13, wet-packed with gold foil and sent to Hawaii.
The name comes from a local Hawaiian snack—essentially Spam sushi.
Musubi, the cigar, was sent to five stores—Fujioka’s Wine Times, Honolulu Cigar Company, R. Field Wine Co., Tamura’s Fine Wines & Liquors and Tobaccos of Hawaii—and limited to 300 boxes, although Johnson indicated he and his friend kept some boxes.
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Musubi
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $11.25 (Boxes of 13, $146.25)1
- Release Date: March 7, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 13 Cigars (3,900 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Quite frankly, the Tatuaje Musubi smells awful. It’s an unpleasant mixture of manure, rotting walnuts and a touch of acute dark cherries. It’s not a major concern as broadleaf oftentimes does not have the greatest aroma as a finished tobacco product, but it definitely makes me think twice about placing it into a humidor. Also not scoring high marks is the wrapper, which has a lot of veins, including some that are sizable and near the top of the cigar. Even for a cigar with a covered foot, the Musubi is pretty tight as far as the cold draw goes. There’s a big sweet cocoa note—similar to a chocolate stout—with a touch of spice on the finish.
Fortunately, whatever concerns I could have possibly had about the draw are gone as soon as I take the first puff. The chocolate fades quite a bit, with graham cracker sweetness, some earth and leather. It does take a bit for the cigar to get going in terms of smoke production, but once it does the flavor presents itself as leather, walnuts, a semi-sweet cocoa, gritty earth and some cinnamon. There’s citrus in the nose, graham cracker in the finish and a touch of grassiness. Construction is great for the first cigar. I’d peg the strength on the south side of full, but definitely one of the stronger cigars I’ve smoked of late.
The gritty earth becomes a more dominant flavor in the second. It’s joined by acidic apples, some vanilla and a floral note through the nose. It’s a great contrast between the sweet and the acidic with an earthy core. At the halfway point, the cigar begins to show signs of harshness, but they never really do much to impact the Musubi. The draw tightens up a bit, which is fine for me, and I’m able to get over two inches of ash on the sample I’m not photographing. Strength-wise, it continues to creep higher, still solidly in the full range.
On two samples, there are about five puffs that are overwhelming; toastiness, bubble gum and a super hot pepper blast the nose. It only lasts for a few puffs, but it’s an incredible mixture of being detailed and punishing. On one hand, I’m relieved when the Musubi decides to move on from the overwhelming status, but I’m a bit disappointed to see it go. The pepper remains on the tongue, along with toastiness in the mouth and a lot of woodiness. Unfortunately, the acidity is completely gone and the sweetness barley sticks around as the final inch comes to a close, but the whirlwind ride of the Musubi has presented enough flavors that I don’t want to complain too much. Somewhere in the final third the strength peaks, but none of the three cigars I smoked make it down to anything that could be disguised as “medium.”
- I’ve only had Spam a few times; I can’t say it’s one of my favorite things.
- That being said, I do like sushi of most types and I really like this band, which interestingly has no mention of Tatuaje on it.
- I’m not anywhere close to calling food-themed cigars a trend. As for Hawaiian exclusives being a trend, it’s been going on for a few years.
- Lost&Found released Spam Artist earlier this year, which seemed partially inspired by Spam.
- The original Musubi and the 2015 Hawaii release are not the same blend. As for what the original is, an email from Johnson in 2013 says, “It’s also not a regular Tatuaje but I won’t comment on the blend.”
- I don’t normally find the covered foot to have any effect on the cold draw, but it did here.
- This was a full cigar, one of the fullest new cigars I’ve smoked in a while.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
This is one of the more unique broadleaf cigars I’ve smoked from Pete Johnson, which at this point, is saying something. Sure, it’s full and gritty—two traits easily attached to many of the most sought after Tatuajes of all time—but this one has an array of unique flavors that I just don’t find. Unfortunately, they never really assemble into something that makes much sense to me. While aging the broadleaf bombs from Tatuaje is not something that usually produces great results, the Musubi’s progression over the next 18 months is something that intrigues me a lot, largely because I have no clue where it will go.