It is October, and that can only mean one thing to the Pete Johnson faithful: the annual Tatuaje Monster Series release. Since 2008, Pete Johnson has released a cigar in October to coincide with Halloween that is based on a specific monster character from old Hollywood.

Although the early rumors were that the 2013 rendition of the Monster release would be Chucky and Tiffany (Bride of Chucky), we posted the official selection of Jason Voorhees  in a post back in February:

Earlier today Pete Johnson indicated that the sixth rendition of his annual Monster Series release would be based off of the character of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series. Further comments on the photo below suggested that it would be a Double Corona, although Johnson indicated further details would be forthcoming.

Tatuaje Monster Series Jason Mask.png

It was long assumed that the 2013 version would be Chucky and The Bride (of Chucky), but Johnson changed his mind. “I’m saving Chucky and the Bride for Fat Little Monsters in 2014,” replied Johnson. 

Just last week, we posted the list of the “Unlucky 13” retailers that would be receiving the sought-after dress boxes.

As in the past, 666 dress boxes of 13 will be released to the public, each of the Unlucky 13 retailers will receive 31 dress boxes. The remaining 263 boxes will go Johnson’s other accounts. The dress boxes will ship first to the Unlucky 13 and then to the other retailers in the middle of the month.

In addition, there will be 4,500 plain 10-count boxes, making this the largest Monster Series release of all-time with 53,658 cigars being released. Johnson is known to keep some back for charity and other purposes, but this is the first time the Monster Series has gone over 40,000 cigars, let alone 50,000.

Pricing for each cigar is $13.00 per cigar meaning the dress boxes carry an MSRP of $169.00 and the plain boxes $130.00. The cigars are no different, although the plain boxes traditionally have cigars wrapped in cellophane. The dress boxes routinely fetch upwards of $400.00 on the secondary market within weeks of the release.

As has been the case for the last few years, accessory-maker S.T. Dupont will also be making a special lighter for the release.

S T Dupont Monster Series JV 13

Here are the “Unlucky 13” retailers that the majority of The JV13 dress boxes have been shipped to:

  • Atlantic Cigar Co
    Folcroft, Pa.
  • Buttheads Tobacco Emporium
    Danbury, Conn.
  • Cigar Master
    Boston, Mass.
  • Don Francisco Cigars
    East Brunswick, N.J.
  • Fine Ash Cigars
    Avondale, Ariz.
  • Havana House
    Akron, Ohio
  • Humidor Pipe Shop
    Huntsville, Ala.
  • Leesburg Cigar and Pipe
    Leesburg, Va.
  • Liberty Tobacco
    San Diego, Calif.
  • Prime Cigar and Wine Bar
    Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Tobacco Shoppe of Midland
    Midland, Mich.
  • Town & Country Cigar Bar
    Euless, Texas
  • Union Cigar Society
    Seattle, Wash.

With the addition of the Jason, there are now six releases in the Monster Series. They are:

Tatuaje Monster Series Releases 6

  • Tatuaje The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) — 2008 — Named after the 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)

Since 2010, the Monster Series has been shipped in two different forms. There are a variety of plain boxes with 10 cellophaned cigars and then there are the dress boxes. The individually numbered boxes have been hand decorated to better coincide with the release, each containing 13 cigars. While not as prevalent with this release, some of the design—notably releases #2-5—has made it so that the each dress box is unique to itself.

The six dress boxes look like this:

Tatuaje Monster Series Dress Boxes

Here are what the dress boxes of The JV13 look like:

Tatuaje Monster Series The Jason Box

Tatuaje Monster Series The JV13 Box 2

Tatuaje Monster Series The JV13 Box 3

Tatuaje The JV13 4

Johnson had this to say about the blend of The JV13, which uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and is based loosely on the Fausto/Avion blend:

I use broadleaf a lot but this is probably one of my strongest blends to date. Strong without being unpleasant. The higher priming tobacco we use in the Fausto/Avion style blend along with a high priming Broadleaf gives it a nice punch but I believe it has balance. Jason needed to be strong…It is more like the Fausto/Avion internal blend with a twist. Completely different than any other Monster.

Tatuaje The JV13 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Monster Series #6 The JV13
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Double Corona
  • MSRP: $13.00 (Dress Boxes of 13, $169.00 & Boxes of 10, $130.00)
  • Date Released: October 2, 2013
  • 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

At 7 1/2 x 52, The JV13 is a fairly imposing cigar with a dark espresso brown wrapper. Like a lot of Tatuaje’s before it, the Connecticut broadleaf is quite rough to the touch and covered in tiny sparkles. There are multiple veins visible, but almost no oil present at all. Resistance is a bit hard when squeezed, but not hard enough to think there will be a problem. Aroma coming off of the wrapper is a combination of earth, pepper, dark chocolate, leather and barnyard.

From the first puff, the Tatuaje The JV13 presents immediate flavors of gritty earth, leather, hay, oak and slightly bitter espresso. During the entirely of the first third, there is a really nice—fairly strong—vanilla sweetness that flits in and out, but it dissipates noticeably as the first third ends. The profile is gritty and meaty, smoke production is well above average and there is quite a bit of black pepper on the retrohale. Construction-wise, the draw is just slightly loose for my preferences and the burn is a bit wavy, but neither are bad enough to negatively impact the cigars. The strength starts out just below the medium mark and ends the first third as a solid medium showing no signs of letting up.

Tatuaje The JV13 2

The JV13 loses quite a bit of the sweetness in the second third that was present, as the profile turns noticeably more mellow with less black pepper on the retrohale as well. Flavors are still fairly consistent with the first third: a dominant  gritty earthiness, leather, oak, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, along with just a touch of cinnamon. The draw has tightened up nicely by the halfway point and the burn has become razor sharp as well. The strength continues to increase, and hits a high medium by the end of the second third.

Tatuaje The JV13 3

The final third of the Monster Series sees a return of the sweetness from the first third, albeit not quite as strong. In addition, the dominant flavor from earthiness to leather, although the earth note is not far behind. Other flavors of oak, barnyard, cocoa powder and bitter espresso flow in and out. The black pepper on the retrohale has also reappeared, although it is not quite as aggressive as during the first third. Both the burn and draw remain excellent until the end of the cigar, and smoke continues to billow out as well. Strength-wise, The JV13 easily ends as a solid full, although short of being overpowering.

Tatuaje The JV13 4

Final Notes:

  • This is the second review in a row for me with a strict use of an article. It’s always a bit awkward, none more so than in “The JV13” form. Interestingly, just about everyone—including Johnson—I’ve spoken to refers to the release as “The Jason.”
  • I have to say, I really appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into these releases every year. Looking back on past releases, you can tell that there is a definite progression in terms of the artistry involved in the packaging and how it directly relates to the specific monster that is being memorized. The touches of red on the box of The JV13 tie not only into the color of the paper the cigars are wrapped in, but also the color of the bands. The “6” in the hockey mask is also a great touch.
  • Johnson has said many times that he does not consider The Boris to be part of the Monster Series, which is why it is not in the group photo above. Having said that, sharp eyed viewers will notice that The Boris is actually listed with the other Monsters on the Tatuaje website. Of course, another note is that the Tatuaje website does not seem to have been updated in about three years.
  • There have been people on various forums wondering about how Tatuaje was able to use the Jason character for one of his releases. Johnson had this to say when I asked him

    I am friends with the owner of the franchise and he has been very supportive of my brand since I first started. You are correct in saying that when I am doing the Monster series that no permission is needed because I am not using any full names or full likeness of the characters. It would be different if I put the words Friday the 13th and the movie logo on the box. Then I would need to get licensing from the owners and the studios of all the Monster movies.

  • Since the first release in 2008, the Monster series has followed a specific pattern: two classic monsters followed by one newer monster. Before The JV13 was announced, the rumor was that the sixth incarnation would be The Chucky and Tiffany (The Bride), but Johnson told halfwheel that those will be held for another project. He also mentioned that the aforementioned pattern will continue, meaning that next year’s monster will be a classic one. There are very few real classic monsters left, so I think that Johnson is going to have to get a little creative in the future. My guess? A candela-wrapped The Creature from the Black Lagoon, or perhaps a Culebra Medusa, although Drew Estate already has that name with that concept.
  • halfwheel attended the IPCPR show in Las Vegas back in July, and covered the Tatuaje booth, detailing all of the forthcoming releases. You can see the post here.
  • The band actually are a reversed version of The Drac. The Drac used a band that was red on black, and The JV13 uses a band that is black on red.
  • As has been the case with the last few releases, not all of the dress boxes will go to the Unlucky 13 stores on the above list. In fact, each of the 13 retailers will only get 31 dress boxes, and the remaining 263 boxes will be sent to other Tatuaje accounts in various amounts.
  • Yes, the cigars in the dress boxes and the regular 10 count boxes are exactly the same. They are also priced the same.
  • The JV13 is the first time in the series that the name of the Monster is not written on the front of the box.
  • 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.
  • Every Monster release so far has had 666 dress boxes except for The Drac, which had a total of 1,300 dress boxes produced (but no regular boxes).
  • Each of the bands on the Monster series cigars— and especially the colors of the bands — are representative of the specific Monster Series they are attached to. I emailed Johnson for details, and he had this to say about them:
    1. The Frank — Green and black because of any old image you see of him.
    2. The Drac — Black clothing with a hint of red or blood.
    3. The Face — You were right. Human skin.
    4. The Wolfman — Brown because of fur but with a little red for blood.
    5. The Mummy — Gray because of old bandages and dust.
    6. The JV13 –– Red because of blood spilled.
  • Despite the prevalence of Connecticut broadleaf in Tatuaje’s special releases, it is interesting to note that Connecticut broadleaf has only been used once before in the Monster Series, The Frank back in 2008.
  • The overt strength in this blend did not kick in until well into the second half in each of the two samples I smoked, but when it does, you feel it.
  • There is a pretty kick ass info graphic showing how each of Jason’s victims died in the movies that you can see here.
  • On every sample I smoked, and on every stick I looked at, there are what look to be very small shiny specks on the wrapper.
    This has been evident before in some of Pete’s releases and according to Johnson:
    That’s the heavy mineral content from the farm where we get our Broadleaf. Many people think it comes from the bands but it is from the rich soil on the farm. You can actually see these specks on the leaf during process. If you were to walk the farm, your pants will look like you got a lap dance from an overly bronzed up dancer. This is totally different from some of the gold specks that are seen due to the gold of specific bands rubbing off a bit.
    You can see an extreme example of it here, on a La Riqueza. Although it’s not always the case.
  • Speaking of Jason, I would not try this prank in Texas.
  • The final smoking time for both samples averaged just under two hours.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Tatuaje The JV13, site sponsors Cigar King, Famous Smoke Shop, Superior Cigars & Tobacco Grove all sell Tatuaje and should be getting regular boxes in the next couple of weeks. You might also see a dress box or two at each of these stores. In addition, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar was chosen as one of the “Unlucky 13” and will be raffling off their dress boxes at some point in the near future. You can sign up for the raffle here. Pete Johnson will be at The Cigar Republic, Atlantic’s retail operation, in Elmsford, N.Y. for an event on October 12.
89 Overall Score

Every year, this is a release that people seem to either love or hate. While I don't consider most of the Monster releases to be among the best of what Tatuaje has put out over the years, they are always very good blends that I enjoy immensely and The JV13 is no different in that regard. If you like Connecticut broadleaf, you are going to find the profile for this release extremely familiar, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It does seem to have a bit more sweetness then I am accustomed to compared to anything in the Fausto line, especially in the first third, and while it falls off a cliff in the second third, it returns in the final third. This is easily the strongest Monster Series to date, and it will sneak up and knock you on your ass if you are not careful, but the strength is not overwhelming at any point. The JV13 is not the most nuanced or complex of blends—nor is it meant to be—but it is definitely well-balanced and has more than enough flavor to hold up to the size without a problem. I enjoyed The Mummy and The Wolfman a bit more, but The JV13 is easily good enough to buy a box of if you like Johnson's work with Connecticut broadleaf. 

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Brooks Whittington

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.