In 2011, Tatuaje released the first four vitolas in a regular production line named Fausto, which translates to happy or lucky from Italian. While the Fausto brand was new, the blend was not. It was the same blend as a legendary creation released two years earlier named T110. That cigar was based on another cigar that Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson had made named Thermonuclear, which got its name from its abundance of strength.
Generally thought to be one of Tatuaje’s strongest blends, the Fausto line is made up of an Ecuadorian habano maduro wrapper covering the binder and filler tobaccos grown in Nicaragua. Over the years, there have been many additions to the Fausto line—including some Italian exclusive versions, a culebra and an exclusive for a retailer’s 50th anniversary—but one of the most limited incarnations of the brand was released at the inaugural Mega Herf for members of Saints & Sinners, a Tatuaje fan club where members receive the ability to purchase exclusive cigars, alcohol and swag as well as access to a forum centered around Tatuaje.
During that Mega Here event—which took place in Philadelphia in the summer of 2016—a coffin containing one each of the La Mission de L’Atelier 2020 and Fausto FT235 was offered to attendees, both of which were rolled in the same 9 1/4 x 47 gran corona vitola. Each coffin containing two cigars was priced at $30, and there were only 500 coffins produced. However, only 175 coffins were sold at the event; the rest of the coffins were saved for different Saints & Sinners events.
Four years later, the Saints & Sinners Club listed another coffin containing two different gran corona sizes. This time, the cigars are the Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment and the Nuevitas Jibaro:
- Fausto FT235 (9 1/4 x 47)
- La Mission L’Atelier 2020 (9 1/4 x 47)
- Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment A (9 1/4 x 47)
- Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro A (9 1/4 x 47)
Note: Since halfwheel launched in 2012, we have started off each new year with a week of reviews that are different from the other parts of the year. Rather than reviewing new cigars, we try to find cigars people might consider a holy grail cigar. These reviews are scored the same as our regular reviews, though oftentimes we are only able to procure one of the cigars, so many of these reviews are based on smoking one cigar instead of our normal three cigars per review. You can read more Holy Grail Week reviews by clicking here. — Charlie Minato.
- Cigar Reviewed: Fausto FT235
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Maduro)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 9 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 47
- Vitola: Gran Corona
- MSRP: $15 (Box of Two, $30)
- Release Date: July 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 1 Cigar (500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
I have always been somewhat intimidated by gran corona vitolas, and the Fausto FT235 is no different in that regard. Despite its age—the cellophane is noticeably yellow—the cigar still features a light sheen of oil and the pale, milk chocolate brown wrapper is sandpaper rough to the touch. In addition, there are three small soft spots between the band and the box-pressed foot, and the cigar has some nice give to it when it is squeezed. Creamy cedar leads the aromas emanating from the wrapper, followed by gritty earth, hay, generic nuts, nutmeg and pepper. The foot features not only huge notes of dark chocolate and leather tack but also cedar, almonds, cinnamon and light nougat sweetness. Finally, after a straight cut the cold draw brings flavors of strong almonds and cocoa nibs followed by draw straw, roasted espresso beans, dank earth, charred meat and maple sweetness.
Anise, black pepper and spice are the first things I taste after I light the foot of the Fausto FT235. While the anise is quickly replaced by top flavors of gritty earth and powdery cocoa nibs, both the black pepper and spice remain firmly in place for the entire first third. Secondary flavors of espresso beans, leather tack, charred meat, generic nuts and slight citrus peel flit in and out, while the retrohale is chock full of both black pepper and a dark fruity sweetness that reminds me of blackberries, the latter of which seems to be getting stronger as the burn line progresses. Flavor ends the first third at a solid medium, while the body and strength lag a bit behind at a point just under the medium mark. There is virtually nothing to complain about when it comes to construction, as the draw, smoke production and burn are all working in harmony so far with nary an issue to be had.
There are some changes in the main flavors during the second third of the Tatuaje, as a combination of charred meat and earth overtake the profile followed by dark chocolate, leather tack, creamy almonds, cedar and dry straw. In addition, some spice remains obvious on my tongue, although there is about half as much compared to what I noted in the first third. The amount of black pepper on the retrohale has decreased slightly, but the amount of blackberry sweetness has increased just a bit at the same time. Flavor has bumped up to a point above medium, while the strength hits a solid medium and the body stays put just under the medium mark. In terms of construction, the wrapper does show signs of coming unraveled a bit just before the halfway point. Fortunately, it stops unraveling near a major vein and never becomes anything more than a minor annoyance with the burn line seemingly unaffected in any major way. The draw continues to give me excellent resistance and smoke continues to flow from the foot like a house on fire.
Charred meat continues to be one of the top flavors in the profile of the FT235, but the gritty earth that was so prevalent in the second third has receded noticeably, allowing a strong cedar note to take its place. Additional flavors of espresso beans, leather, dark chocolate, cinnamon, sourdough bread and light citrus show up at various points, but the amount of spice on my tongue remains about the same. In addition, the black pepper on the retrohale has not changed compared to the second third, the blackberry sweetness has waned slightly. Flavor stays put slightly above medium and the body increases enough to cross into the solid medium territory, while the strength hits medium plus. Finally, while the smoke production continues to be copious off of the foot and the draw continues along its excellent path until the end of the cigar, the burn runs into some issues, forcing me to make two quick touchups before I put the nub down with about an inch remaining.
- Interestingly, in addition to the Italian translation above, the word Fausto also translates to splendor from Spanish.
- As is the case with most vitola names these days, the gran corona vitola name—traditionally a 9 1/4 x 47 cigar—has been used on a number of different releases that don’t come close to that size. For example, the Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran AniverXario Gran Corona measures 6 x 48, RoMa Craft Tobac’s El Catador de Las Gran Coronas cigars come in at 5 3/4 x 46 and the Isla del Sol Maduro Gran Corona measures 5 x 44.
- When the Fausto line was first announced, Tatuaje released ads touting the blend’s strength that featured the slogan “This one goes to Eleven”, a reference to the “Amplifier Scene” in the 1984 mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap.”
- The vast majority of vitolas in the Fausto line are named after the length of cigar measured in millimeters, and the FT235 is no different: its length measures 235 millimeters.
- The Fausto Up Down 10/50 took the 13th spot on the halfwheel’s Top 25 list in 2013.
- If the somewhat simplistic band used on the Fausto looks vaguely familiar, it might be due to the fact that it has quite a bit in common with the Dunhill Exclusive bands that were used on those cigars from the 1960s-1980s, albeit in a totally different color scheme.
- As noted above, the wrapper came unwrapped a bit during the second third, but never threatened to unwind all of the way and the burn line was not affected.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. We paid $55 for the coffin containing two different cigars.
- Final smoking time for the one cigar came in at two hours and nine minutes.
While I have smoked a number of different Fausto releases over the years, the majority of them have not done much to wow me when it comes to complexity or nuance. Of course, pretty much all of those Faustos I smoked were relatively fresh, so I was looking forward to seeing what the FT235 offered at this point in its life. It turns out that six years of age has done a great job in toning down the overt strength, spice and black pepper that I have found in other sizes in the line—although all three are still very much present—while allowing more distinct flavors of earth, cocoa nibs, charred meat and cedar to top the profile, along with a combination of black pepper and distinct blackberry sweetness on the retrohale. This is a very good cigar, and one that fans of the Fausto blend will want to track down to try for themselves.