At the beginning of 2020, L’Atelier Imports began quietly releasing a new cigar—the LAT 46—to a small group of retailers who were ardent supporters of the brand. Yet despite its name, it’s not quite the same blend as other sizes in the LAT line.
The reason for that is that the wrapper has been swapped out to a lower priming, and thus lighter shade, of the Ecuadorian-grown Sancti Spiritus wrapper, while keeping the Nicaraguan binder and filler. This modified blend gets paired with a 5 5/8 x 46 corona size that was used for another variation of the LAT line, the Selection Speciale, otherwise known as the LAT 46 Selection Spéciale.
- L’Atelier LAT 46 Selection Spéciale (5 5/8 x 46) — March 2013
- L’Atelier LAT 46 (5 5/8 x 46) — January 2020
That cigar, released in March 2013, uses higher primings of the Sancti Spiritus wrapper, resulting in a noticeably darker color.
Just to be clear, this blend is closer to much closer to the original L’Atelier, Pete Johnson told halfwheel. He said if it were to be categorized, it would belong with the regular L’Atelier line as opposed to the Selection Speciale.
In terms of how the cigar was used, K.C. Johnson said that it is designed to be sold at stores that are the most ardent supporters of the L’Atelier Imports brand, and in particular, shops that booked events with him beginning in early 2020. It is sold on its own—as opposed to being an incentive cigar received with the purchase of other L’Atelier offerings—with individual cigars priced at $8.75 and boxes of 10 priced at $87.50. Additionally, once a store qualifies to get the cigars, they can reorder it in the future.
- Cigar Reviewed: L'Atelier LAT 46
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Sancti Spiritus)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 5/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $8.50 (Box of 10, $85)
- Release Date: January 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Even though the L’Atelier LAT 46 wears a lighter wrapper than its regular production peers, the wrapper leaf is still a well-tanned, nutty brown color. Veins are very thin and flat for the most part, though the occasional one will pop up that stands out more than the others. The firmness is reminiscent of what I think of from Cuban cigars; firm at the core but showing just a bit more give than what might be the industry average at the moment. It’s also a bit softer than what I would expect from the My Father Cigars S.A. factory, an opinion again based on a more general assessment. Aroma from the foot is dry, slightly peppery, and increasingly smelling like dry firewood and kindling the more I sniff, though doing so also brings about a sweetness that makes me think of orange-infused simple syrup. With all of this, there’s something making the smell denser and heavier, and my initial thought is some sort of muffin or other baked good. The draw is near perfect in terms of airflow, and there feels to be a bit of softness to the air as it hits my palate. The flavor is mellower than the aroma, holding onto some of that muffin flavor and texture, but with almost none of the woods and only a fraction of the pepper and sweetness.
The L’Atelier LAT 46 starts with an interesting flavor that gets me thinking about some kind of artisanal or lesser-known breads, the first thing that comes to mind as I try and pin down what I’m tasting. There seems to be just a bit of doughiness left in the flavor for me to pick up, but it’s not the dominant flavor, though one sample challenges that with a lot of creaminess. Pepper is pretty minimal out of the gate, and I wouldn’t say the cigar has much sweetness to offer either, whether the smoke is on the palate or through the nose. The ash builds up to about an inch in length fairly rapidly, and when it comes off I begin to get a warm nuttiness from each puff, while the lingering finish turns smokier and earthier, reminiscent of the progression of a charcoal grill going from full of food to cooling and eventually out, just condensed and with a peppery finish refusing to leave my senses. Flavor and body sit around the medium-plus mark, while strength is medium at most in the early goings. The draw, burn and smoke production are all very good.
The second third picks up the nuttiness and starts developing it into a primary flavor, though that lingering grill flavor and its somewhat charred and peppery tail hasn’t left yet and feels at conflict. One sample manages to avoid this a bit longer than the others, and the results are pretty impressive. The nuts start to take on a roasted flavor and aroma, with the pepper accenting them quite well. As for the other two, there’s an interesting and hard to place flavor that starts emerging, and if feels like the center of my tongue is puckering a bit in response to it. At times it has some hints of basic woods, almost like matchsticks, then it will begin to make me think of white pepper, but then there seems to be some dampness to the flavor. It’s confusing to say the least, and the more it builds—which it does consistently across all three samples—the less I find it even remotely enjoyable, let alone tolerable. Thankfully the technical performance is flawless, while flavor sits at medium-full, body at medium-plus and strength at medium.
The best part of the final third of the LAT 46 is an enjoyable mix of more roasted nuts, some toast, a coating of creaminess and just a bit of pepper that is neither as strong as black pepper nor as bright as white pepper. But the most notable thing is how much of that finish remains, with two showing enough to have me anticipating the end of the cigar a bit more than I should. As the cigar gets into its final two inches, a profile begins to emerge that is quite interesting if not inherently one that I would describe as instantly embraceable. Among the final puffs, the flavor gets sharp and starts to needle the tongue, and were it not for this review, any one of them would likely be that final puff. With the sharpening of the flavor, it finishes full but not necessarily in the good sense, while body has hung around the medium to medium-plus mark and strength is closer to medium. The technical performance has been outstanding and problem-free.
- The release and use of the L’Atelier LAT 46 is very similar to that of the Surrogates AKC, which was released at the end of November 2019. That cigar was designed to be sold by retailers who support the Surrogates brand, and can be reordered after events with Dan Welsh, the owner of New Havana Cigars, as well as the co-creator of the Surrogates brand, which was launched in 2011 with Pete Johnson and eventually became part of the L’Atelier Imports portfolio. (Correction: an earlier version of this review identified Welsh as the co-owner of New Havana Cigars, when he is in fact the owner. We regret the error.)
- In terms of production numbers, this is an ongoing, if somewhat limited release. K.C. Johnson told halfwheel that the first batch was about 250 boxes of 10 cigars, though given that stores can reorder them, that number will increase with time.
- K.C. Johnson has been featured in the halfwheel Portraits series, as has Dan Welsh and Pete Johnson.
- The burn rate of the LAT 46 was surprising; it certainly moved quickly with normal puffs, and anything beyond that really advanced the burn line.
- It has been quite some time since I have smoked any of the regular production LAT sizes, so I’m hesitant to make a comparison. But from memory, I’d almost certainly go with one of them over this if forced to choose.
- I felt very little—if any—nicotine effects from the L’Atelier LAT 46.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was just over one hour and five minutes on average.
After an enjoyable start, the L'Atelier LAT 46 ventures off into a series of flavors that are only temporarily interesting before becoming tough to embrace and enjoy, and then becoming a cigar that just begs to be put down. It's marked by one of the longer finishes that I can remember, which is fine and even commendable on a general level, but the slightly charred pepper that the LAT 46 offers tends to overstay its welcome. I must give the construction of the cigar a tremendous amount of praise, as it is fantastic and truly flaw-free. Unfortunately, it's probably the most notable thing about this modified blend in L'Atelier's LAT line, a release that I had a lot of hope for given its size and different wrapper, but which ultimately fell short of expectations.