Dracula by Bram Stoker is hands down the most well-known vampire novel ever written. The book’s popularity throughout the past century, the number of movies about Dracula, and the numerous vampire related books, movies and television shows can easily allow us to say that the character Dracula is one of the most popular horror icons in history. It only makes sense that this character was also an inspiration for a release in Pete Johnson’s Monster Series, which is easily one of the most sought after limited edition cigars on the market today.

The Tatuaje Monster Series is released around Halloween every year to much hype, fanfare, and a veritable flurry of phone calls and emails to vendors by fans looking to get their hands on a box. The original The Drac was released in October of 2009. Three years and two more Monster releases later, Johnson has released the Little Monsters series, smaller versions of each original Monster release.

Here is halfwheel’s full documentation about the Little Monsters release from Charlie’s Mini Mum review in mid-June.

To recap, the Little Monsters are based off of the four original Monster Series releases and the upcoming 2012 release, The Tatuaje Mummy.

The cigars are smaller versions of their original counterparts with a slight change to the bands, which read “Little Monster” except for the Baby Face, which features a tobacco band like the original The Face.

Pete Johnson announced the Little Monsters on the Jan. 14 episode of Smoke Inn’s Kiss My Ash Radio show. We posted this news story in January:

Earlier this morning on Smoke Inn’s Kiss My Ash Radio show, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje announced that he would be releasing the Monster Series in smaller vitolas.
The popular Monster Series has previously been regulated to larger sizes, hence the Monster moniker. During the show, which will be available online later this week, Pete said that he is working on thinner RGs and shorter sizes.
Early reports indicate that it will be available in samplers. As of now, the only mention of a release date has been June.
Update (January 14, 2011):The names for the cigars are:

  • Frank Jr.
  • Lil’ Drac
  • Baby Face
  • Wolfie
  • Mini Mum*

*Mini Mum is based on The Mummy, the next Tatuaje Monster Series.

In March, Johnson confirmed the sizes, pricing and the reason behind the increase in production:

Pete Johnson of Havana Cellars/Tatuaje has confirmed the five dimensions for the much anticipated Tatuaje Little Monsters release slate for June. Tatuaje Little Monsters.jpgThe five sizes are (in order of appearance):

  • Tatuaje Mini Mum — 5 3/4 x 42
  • Tatuaje Wolfie — 5 1/2 x 48
  • Tatuaje Baby Face — 4 3/8 x 50
  • Tatuaje Lil’ Drac — 5 x 48
  • Tatuaje Frank Jr. — 5 5/8 x 44

Johnson has slowly leaked information about the release since announcing it in mid-January. The concept takes the four released Monster Series blends and the Mini Mum, the fifth in the series scheduled for later this year, replicated in smaller sizes. For Tatuaje fans, the names and distinct appearance makes them easy to coincide with their larger brother: Lil’ Drac based off of “The Drac,” Frank Jr. off of “The Frank,” etc. In the past month, Johnson has announced that he will make 10,000 orange boxes that will include two of each cigar, this is double the original 5,000 he originally planned. The Tatuaje brand owner also told halfwheel that he expects pricing for the boxes to be around $75.00. The Little Monsters sampler is expected in June. Johnson hopes that the increase in production numbers will keep them on retailers’ shelves a bit longer, as opposed to the normal Monster Series releases which often sell out before retailers receive their shipments.

And last week, the Little Monsters began shipping.

The Tatuaje Little Monsters, a limited edition project for Pete Johnson’s Havana Cellars, began arriving in stores Monday in what is expected to be one of many shipments over the course of the next few weeks. The Little Monsters, which constitute five smaller versions of Tatuaje’s Monster Series releases are a 10,000 box release Johnson hoped would stay on shelves, something the larger versions traditionally have failed to do.
However, a sample of a few retailers indicate the initial shipment seems unlikely to stay on shelves as retailers are reporting frantic purchasing.
Last week, Johnson tweeted the following, asking his fans for patience:
Pete Johnson Little Monster Tweet

The cigars are smaller versions of their original counterparts with a slight change to the bands, which read “Little Monster” except for the Baby Face, which features a tobacco band like the original The Face.

We e-mailed Pete Johnson to ask him to explain his motives behind blending, specifically how he was approaching making smaller versions of blends that debuted a few years ago:

I used the same blends as the original, which was the best way to represent the original cigars. The tobacco varietals did not change. Only the crop years.  Of course the Mimi Mum and The Mummy will be from the same crop.

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 1

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 2

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 3

The Little Monsters are packed in pairs from newest release (Mini Mum) on the left to oldest release (Frank Jr.):

Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 5

Interestingly enough, the boxes originally depicted the Little Monsters on the outside, however, due to concerns about marketing products to children, Johnson decided to place the artwork underneath the cigars and instead the outside of the boxes read “Little Monsters.” The original boxes looked like this:

Tatuaje Little Monsters Boxes.png(via Sean “Casper: Johnson)

On the production boxes, you will find this underneath the cigars:Tatuaje Little Monsters Box 4

Each box was supposed to contain a single trading card depicting one of the monsters. In addition to the five normal cards, there are two limited edition cards: one is a version of the Baby Face card that has a depiction of Pete Johnson’s face instead of the normal monster face and the other is reportedly a foil printed card. However, Pete Johnson has stated that there will only be 5,500 cards because of a printing issue. A little over 1,000 of each of the five regular cards were produced.

Tatuaje LiLMonsterCards Full
Tatuaje LilMonsters Back Full

On top of that, the Mini Mum card that has been shipping in the first shipments contains a printing error. Under the Favorite TV Show section, it says, Unwarpped, which is obviously supposed to read Unwrapped.

Here’s a picture of the boxes being packed at My Father Cigars S.A. with the card inside and various cards on the table:

Unlike the original The Drac, the Lil’ Drac features bands that are in the normal place, as opposed to upside down foot bands. When I asked Johnson why he went for traditional bands, he responded, “I wanted the bands to line up in the box. Plus I didn’t want to put him upside down in the box.”

Tatuaje Lil Drac 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Lil’ Drac
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $7.50 (Boxes of 10, $75.00)
  • Release Date: June 11, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

*Each sampler contains two Lil’ Dracs, in total, there are 100,000 Little Monsters

The Lil’ Drac looks exactly like its larger counterpart, The Drac, except for the aforementioned band and obvious size differences. It fits nicely in my hand and looks to be a comfortable cigar to smoke. The Lil’ Drac has an almost rugged looking wrapper, a few veins and is a little rough feeling. There are a couple of minor spongy spots, but nothing to worry over. Aroma off of the Ecuadorian wrapper is leather, sweet tobacco, and hay. The cold draw brings sweet hay notes with a little bit of raisin in the background.

The initial draws of the first third are really amazing. There are notes of cocoa, cinnamon, leather, and a little sweet peppery kick. Draw and burn are perfect, although the light grey/white ash only holds to about a half an inch leading to a full lap of ash. The lack of Tatuaje pepper blasting my palate makes me classify the early parts of the Lil’ Drac as a more mild to medium bodied cigar.

Tatuaje Lil Drac 2

More cocoa and cinnamon begin the second third with some brown sugar, but the peppery kick subsides to just a minor note in the background. Occasionally I’m getting hints of raisins and nutmeg in the background, but only once in awhile. The second third of the Lil’ Drac is building up in strength and body slightly, but I wouldn’t classify this as anything above a medium strength cigar.

Tatuaje Lil Drac 3

The final third is more of the same overall sweet profile with cocoa and brown sugar as the dominating flavors, but in the background a nice cedar note toys back and forth with the sweet peppers. The Tatuaje remains flavorful and doesn’t get bitter even at the very end. Although it does start to burn a touch hot, but that was around the half inch mark.

Tatuaje Lil Drac 4

Final Notes:

  • As Charlie Minato noted in the Mini Mum, smoke the Lil’ Drac slow. If you don’t, it can get a little harsh and cover up the wonderful profile.
  • Between the two Lil’ Dracs I smoked for the review, one needed to be ashed every half an inch or so, the other held the ash nicely to an inch. Both seemed to have identical construction as far as feel and draw goes.
  • Total production for each Little Monster is a similar number to the recent production of the Monster series (21,658), which are both over twice as much as the first two Monster releases (8,658).
  • When Brooks Whittington smoked his prerelease version of The Drac, the cigars hadn’t been placed in boxes. Unfortunately, the red paint used on The Dracs infected the cigars with an aroma of fresh paint.
  • Something my fiancée pointed out to me: the similarities in the character cards to Garbage Pail Kids cards. The cards seem to be designed after them with the same layout and look to the characters, even down to having similar stats of each character on the back.
  • For those wondering about The Boris, Johnson has long talked about doing a Little Boris as an exclusive for Jeff Borysiewicz’s Corona Cigar Co. The Boris was never part of The Monster Series and as such it wasn’t included in the Little Monsters. The Little Boris is currently being offered as a pre-order from Corona Cigar Co. MSRP is $9.00 per cigar for the 5 x 48 Robusto with $1.00 per box being donated to Cigar Rights of America. It features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The initial run is set as 5,000 cigars. Borysiewicz has requested an additional run, but wrapper supply has prevented Johnson from confirming anything beyond the first batch. You can read more about the Little Boris at the bottom of this post.
  • Final smoking time is one hour 30 minutes, but I feel I could’ve stretched that out a little more.
90 Overall Score

I’ve only smoked one of The Drac about a year and a half ago and I don’t remember being overly impressed. I have to say though the Lil’ Drac is a cigar that I wish I could buy by the box. The size is perfect, it fits comfortable in my hand and isn’t a jawbreaker. The flavor profile is a sweet bouquet of smooth, satisfying notes. I’ve not had the chance to smoke any of the other Little Monsters yet but I’m hoping each can live up to or come close to how I feel about the Lil’ Drac.

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Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.