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After launching The Judge brand during the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show with only two sizes—a 5 x 60 and a 6 x 56—it took almost another year for My Father Cigars to add a third vitola to the lineup. That happened in March 2017, when The Judge Toro Fino was released, a 6 x 52 that was not only the smallest ring gauge in the line up to that point, but also was the first to be packaged in boxes of 24 instead of boxes of 23.

After that, it took almost exactly three years for another size to be added: The Judge Corona Gorda, a 5 5/8 x 46 corona gorda packaged in 23-count boxes that began shipping to retailers in March. Fast forward less than a month, when My Father Cigars announced that it would be releasing yet another brand new vitola in The Judge line that would be sold exclusively to members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA.)

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Measuring 5 1/4 x 52, the My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 is packaged in boxes of 23 cigars with only 1,500 boxes produced and features a TAA embossed gold ribbon foot band. As with the rest of The Judge line, the new TAA release is made up of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper covering dual Nicaraguan binders of corojo and criollo, and an all Nicaraguan filler. The cigar is rolled at the My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

There are now five different sizes in The Judge line.

  • My Father The Judge (5 x 60) — July 2016 — $12.40 (Boxes of 23, $285.20)
  • My Father The Judge (6 x 56) — July 2016 —  $12.10 (Boxes of 23, $278.30)
  • My Father The Judge Toro Fino (6 x 52) — March 2017 — $11.70 (Box of 24, $269.10)
  • My Father The Judge Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — March 2020 — $11 (Box of 23, $253)
  • My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 (5 1/4 x 52) — April 2020 — $11 (Box of 23, $253)

For those who are unfamiliar with the particulars of what the TAA is, Charlie Minato has provided a very good description:

The TAA is a fairly small group of some of the country’s top tobacconists, about 80 retailers as well as 40 or so manufacturers. The association gathers annually to discuss issues facing the industry and retailers, as well as to have its annual trade show, a unique event that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants.

During the convention, the organization hosts two distinct selling events. One is known as the Dream Machine, an optional event where manufacturers offer the entire group of retailers tiered specials and discounts. The more the group collectively agrees to buy, the better the discounts and deals are for every retailer involved. In addition, the week includes a more traditional trade show which oftentimes sees some of the most aggressive discounts of the year.

However, for consumers the TAA is most known for its Exclusive Series Program, which involves exclusive cigars from participating manufacturers which are only sold to the retail members, with a portion of the sales of those cigars donated back to the TAA.

For 2020, there are 14 companies that have new TAA exclusive releases:

  • Cigar Reviewed: My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Corojo & Criollo)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $11 (Box of 23, $253)
  • Release Date: April 17, 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 23 Cigars (34,500 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 features some fairly distinctive attributes, starting with the foot ribbon with the TAA initials. The wrapper has a reddish-tinged, dark espresso brown color and is smooth to the touch with quite a bit of oil. In addition, there are a number of very prominent black veins bulging through the wrapper and can be found running up and down the cigar. The aroma from the wrapper and foot is a combination of strong dark chocolate, nutmeg, peanut shells, hay, popcorn and earth, while the cold draw brings flavors of sweet leather, gritty earth, tobacco, tree bark, hay, espresso, slight raisin sweetness and significant amounts of both black pepper and spice on my tongue.

Starting out, The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 has some extremely bitter espresso on both the palate as well as a significant spice on my tongue, both of which begin to fade after about 10 puffs, leaving behind a gritty earth as the dominant flavor interspersed with lesser notes of leather, charred steak, bitter dark chocolate, almonds and popcorn. The raisin sweetness from the cold draw is noticeable on the retrohale, but it is mostly overwhelmed by the black pepper that is also present. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a simple straight cut, and although the burn needs to be corrected virtually out of the gate, it gives me no issues after that. The smoke production coming from the foot of the cigar is about average, while the overall strength is showing early signs of being a significant player by coming close to the medium mark by the end of the first third.

Thankfully, both the black pepper on the retrohale and the spice on my tongue have faded quite a bit as the second third of The Judge begins, allowing just a bit more of the raisin sweetness to become noticeable in the profile, albeit still not nearly enough to make a huge impact. Unfortunately, the dominant flavor continues to be the same fairly standard gritty earth note, while other flavors of charred meat, leather, hay, bread, cinnamon, generic nuts and a touch of floral flit in and out at different times. In terms of construction, the draw continues to be a shining light on the hill and the burn has evened up nicely, while the smoke production remains at a fairly moderate level. Strength-wise, the My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 easily crosses medium by time the second third comes to an end and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

There is no stopping the gritty earth note in the profile of The Judge TAA, as it remains as much the dominant flavor in the final third as it was in the preceding two thirds, followed by additional flavors of hay, peanuts, oak, charred meat, roasted espresso beans, leather, bread and cocoa nibs. However, there are a number of other major changes to the profile, including the amount of spice on my tongue—which has increased enough to hit levels not seen since the first third—and the black pepper on the retrohale, which is once again essentially drowning out the much-needed raisin sweetness. The draw continues to give me no problems whatsoever and the burn, while fairly wavy,  is easily good enough not to need attention with my lighter. Finally, the strength level continues to increase from where it was in the second third, coming very close to the full mark by the time I put the nub down with a bit more than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • I love how the pale gold color of the foot band matches up almost perfectly with the color that is on the My Father logo in the main band. It is subtle, but noticeable nevertheless.
  • Construction on all three samples was extremely good; in fact, I barely even touched my lighter for two of the cigars after the initial toasting of the foot.

  • The raised bumps on two of the three samples of these cigars are quite unusual, in that they seem to be ready to burst through at any moment.
  • As has been the case with a number of major cigar events, the in-person TAA Convention & Meeting was canceled due to coronavirus COVID-19. Instead, the organization held a virtual event.
  • Cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged a somewhat surprisingly long one hour and 49 minutes.
  • You can find the My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 for sale at site sponsor Corona Cigar Co. here.
82 Overall Score

Lovers of gritty earth, charred meat and leather flavors in cigars rejoice: you have a brand new option to lust after. Unfortunately, the dominance that each of those flavors offers comes at a price, specifically the lack of almost any nuance or overt sweetness. While the construction was excellent in every way, the profile of the final third falls apart due to a combination of a just shy of full strength level and significant black pepper on the retrohale. In the end, the My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive 2020 is a textbook example of a cigar that sacrifices balance and complexity on the altar of boldness and strength.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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