It’s that time of year again.
Tatuaje’s legendary and-or infamous Monster Series is back with another release, The Hyde.
It all started in 2008 with The Drac and much simpler times. Release a cigar based off a monster character from film and literature, design a box to mimic said monster; rinse and repeat.
Perhaps more than anything, the Monster Series is known for its packaging and the hoopla that surrounds it. The Frank was limited to just 666 numbered boxes of 13 with the cigars priced at $13 per cigar. The majority of those boxes were limited to just 13 stores, who each received 31 boxes. The numbers are all part of a dark theme: 13 is unlucky, 666 is the number of the beast, i.e. devil, in biblical terms.
By 2010, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje realized that many people who wanted to smoke the cigars weren’t actually getting to smoke the cigars because collectors were buying up the boxes before they ever hit shelves so he decided to expand the release to include simpler 10-count boxes in addition to the 666 dress boxes.
In 2011, Johnson created the Little Monsters, smaller versions of the first five Monster Series releases and in 2013, Tatuaje released Pudgy Monsters, which were slightly-smaller versions of the first six Monster Series releases along with two additional cigars.
- Tatuaje The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) — 2008 — Named after Frankenstein — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (8,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Drac (6 3/4 x 52) — 2009 — Named after Dracula — 1,300 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (16,900 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Face (6 3/8 x 56) — 2010 — Named after Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Wolfman (7 1/2 x 52) — 2011 — Based on the monster from The Wolf Man (1941) — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Mummy (7 3/4 x 47) — 2012 — Based on the Boris Karloff character — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 3,100 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (39,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The JV13 (7 1/2 x 52) — 2013 — Based on Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Jekyll (7 x 49) — 2014 — Based on Dr. Jekyll from Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Hyde (7 x 49) — 2015 — Based on The Hyde from Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
For the most part, the Monster Series craze kicks off at the annual IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in the summer when the cigar and the new packaging are shown off for the first time. It picks back up again in early October when the list of the retailers who will receive the bulk of the dress boxes, known as The Unlucky 13, is posted.
As was explained in an earlier news story:
Thirteen retailers are chosen to receive the bulk of the dresses boxes. They each receive 31 of those boxes, which shipped out last week. The Unlucky 13 take 403 out of the 666 dress boxes, the remaining 263 are sent to other Tatuaje accounts who generally receive between one to three boxes if they receive any dress boxes. All accounts have access to the 10-count boxes, this year a total of 4,500 10-count boxes.
A few days later, those cigars begin shipping to retailers.
The Unlucky 13 are 13 U.S.-based Tatuaje retailers selected each year. With the exception of Gloucester Street Cigar,[ref]The now defunct Gloucester Street Cigar was selected for each of the first four years. Johnson publicly credited with the store’s owner with helping Johnson on the idea.[/ref] retailers have only been able to be an Unlucky 13 retailer once.
- Famous Smoke Shop
- Federal Cigar
- Fox Cigar Bar
- Iwan Ries & Co
- Lone Star State Cigars
- Maxamar Cigars
- Neptune Cigars
- Old Oaks Cigar and Wine Co.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
- Sanj’s Smoke Shop
- Signature Cigars
- Sir Tom’s Tobacco
- Tobacco Leaf
- Z T Cigars
Oklahoma City, Okla.
As with most thing Monster Series, it’s not that simple. Johnson actually creates 700 dress boxes, but 34 are kept for his own personal use including charitable fundraisers. Last year, Tatuaje released 62 European dress boxes that featured a gray background instead of a white one, that will return this year.
- 403 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (31 boxes of 13 per store) — Unlucky 13 Dress Boxes
- 263 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars — Non-Unlucky Dress Boxes
- 62 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars — European Dress Boxes
- 34 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars — Not for sale, unmarked dress boxes
- 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars
This year was a bit different because the release was known about well in advance. Last year, Johnson decided that he would create monsters based off of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The two cigars would be identical in shape, a 7 x 49 churchill with a Cuban-style 109 cap, and feature bands that were the opposite of each other. The Jekyll, last year’s release, used an Ecuadorian Sancti Spíritus wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers, while this year’s releases, The Hyde, uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers.
There are now 21 releases in the Monster Series family. The plan is to have a total of 13 regular Monsters.
- Tatuaje The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) — October 2008 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (8,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Drac (6 3/4 x 52) — October 2009 — 1,300 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars (16,900 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Face (6 3/8 x 56) — October 2010 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Wolfman (7 1/2 x 52) — October 2011 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 1,300 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (21,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Frank Jr. (5 5/8 x 44) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Lil’ Drac (5 x 48) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Baby Face (4 3/8 x 50) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Wolfie (5 1/2 x 48) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Mini Mum (5 3/4 x 42) — June 2012 — 10,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Mummy (7 3/4 x 47) — October 2012 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 3,100 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (39,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The JV13 (7 1/2 x 52) — October 2013 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Frank (5 5/8 x 49) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Drac (5 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Face (4 3/8 x 56) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Wolf (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Mummy (5 3/4 x 47) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Jason (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Chuck (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Tiff (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samplers of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Jekyll (7 x 49) — October 2014 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje The Hyde (7 x 49) — October 2015 — 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
Tatuaje showed off both cigars, and their packaging, last year. The dress boxes combine to create a singular image displaying the split personalities of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Johnson actually handed out a few prerelease versions of both The Jekyll and The Hyde last year. At the time, he indicated that he had time to change The Hyde blend if he wanted, but he ultimately kept it the same.
(Tatuaje The Hyde IPCPR 2014 Prerelease vs. Production)[ref]While our box of The Hydes appears darker than the prerelease that could easily be attributed to color sorting for that particular box.[/ref]
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Monster Series #8 The Hyde
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 49
- Vitola: Churchill
- MSRP: $13 (Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars, $169 & Boxes of 10 Cigars, $130)
- Date Released: Oct. 5, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 666 Dress Boxes of 13 Cigars & 4,500 Plain Boxes of 10 Cigars (53,658 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Visually, the Hyde has quite a few similarities with the Jekyll, from the 109 cap to the ring gauge and length. However, the similarities end at the wrapper, which is quite a bit darker on The Hyde, more of a dark espresso brown color. The cigar seems to be exceptionally well-rolled, and is silky smooth to the touch with very few obvious veins. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong manure, hay, freshly ground coffee, leather and cocoa while the cold draw brings flavors of orange citrus, barnyard, leather, chocolate, oak and black pepper.
Starting out, the Tatuaje The Hyde features a dominant sweet and creamy almond note, interspersed with other flavors of rich coffee beans, leather, barnyard, cedar and dank earth. There is some nice pepper on the retrohale, along with a faint mint note that gets stronger as the first third progresses. I do notice some spice on my tongue intermittently, but it is not strong enough to really affect the profile overall. The draw is excellent after I straight cut the cap, and while I have to touch up the burn once, it is really no big deal at all. The smoke production is massive off of the foot, and while the strength is not exactly aggressive, I can tell it is going to go beyond the close-to-medium mark that it hits at the end of the first third.
The main flavor shifts a bit in the second third of The Hyde, morphing from a sweet and creamy almond note to more of a cedar note, although the creaminess in the profile is retained. Other flavors of graham crackers, coffee, leather, wheat, cardamon, dark cocoa and earth flit in and out, but the main star of the show on the retrohale is the mint note, which has increased in strength exponentially, almost to the point that it drowns out the pepper that is still present. Construction-wise, the burn has evened up nicely, while the draw still excellent, and smoke is pouring from the foot like a house on fire. As expected, the strength has increased, but not at a high rate of speed, reaching only a solid medium by the time the second third draws to a close.
Mint is still the star of the show in the final third of the Tatuaje The Hyde, but the flavor is reduced noticeably from its high in the second third. The other dominant note remains the creamy cedar, although there is a bit more generic sweetness on the finish than was present in the first two thirds. Other flavors include dark chocolate, leather, almonds, earth and a touch of citrus, but they are minor notes that are mostly in the background. Both the burn and draw continue to impress, and the smoke production remains quite copious until the end of the cigar. The overall strength has barley budged from the medium mark, and that is pretty much where it ends up when I put the nub down with a little less than an inch left to go.
- The history portion of this review was written by Charlie Minato, the rest was Brooks Whittington.
- While the Monster Series for next year’s release has not been finalized as of yet, we know it will be a modern monster. Johnson told me at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show that he has an idea of what he was going to go with, but that he was not going to lose any sleep over the choice.
- Interestingly, two more limited releases with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper: the Tatuaje H-Town Lancero and the Tatuaje W Nice Ash 2015, although the latter was officially covered in a rosado version of the leaf.
- I really do love the 109 cap that both the Jekyll and Hyde have—and loved them on other cigars Pete has released as well—but for some reason, I had to cut down a bit further than I am used to on each of my samples for this review to get an optimum draw. Not a big deal, but definitely something I noticed.
- The mint note that I picked up was a wonderful addition to the profile, and really put the cigar over the top for me, but it was relegated entirely to the retrohale. In other words, if you are not retrohaling this cigar, you will most likely never notice it.
- Unlike in years past, S.T. Dupont did not create a special lighter for The Jekyll last year. Instead, the Jekyll and The Hyde will get one lighter, which should be shipping now, that will feature one monster on one side and the other on the back.
- The boxes for both The Jekyll and The Hyde are not cut straight, so the tops will flare at the top when you put them together.
- The stores chosen every year are called the “Unlucky 13″ for a reason: not only do they have to deal with an avalanche of calls asking about the dress boxes, but they are vilified no matter what they do in terms of whom they sell their allotment of dress boxes to, whether local or call in orders.
- The final smoking time for each of the three samples I smoked averaged just over two hours.
- The three samples smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel. I did smoke a different sample that was given to me by Pete at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, but the flavors were a bit muted compared to the fresh samples, and that cigar was not factored into the final score, since it was essentially a prerelease sample.
- If you would like to purchase any of The Hyde cigars, site sponsors site sponsor Emerson’s Cigars shows that they have them in stock, while Cigar Hustler, Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), Lone Star State Cigar Co. (972.424.7272) Atlantic Cigar, JR Cigars, Cigars.com, Serious Cigars and STOGIES World Class Cigars (713.783.5100) are all Tatuaje dealers and should have them in stock shortly.
I have smoked every full-sized Monster Series release Johnson has put out over the years, and while The Hyde is not the best of the bunch, it easily holds its own against some stiff competition. The profile is nicely-balanced, complex and rich, with an underlying mint note that hits its peak in the second third before fading almost totally out of existence by the end of the cigar. Although I had to touch up the burn on a couple of the samples once or twice, the construction was wonderful overall, and the smoke production never let up. An excellent addition to a series that continues to excel, and one that I think the vast majority of people who try it will love.