In July 2007, Pete Johnson released the first of the limited edition Verocu cigars, an extension of the Havana VI line introduced in late 2006. The Tatuaje Verocu No. 1 Lado Occidental, which translates into west side, was part of the first limited Verocu release, limited to retailers fittingly in the West coast. Alongside the No. 1 was the Verocu No. 2 Zona del Este, released only for the East cost stores.
The Verocu line was created to be slightly stronger than its Havana VI counterpart, although that was five years ago.
In total there have been five limited releases banded in Verocu style:
- Tatuaje Verocu No. 1 Lado Occidental
- Tatuaje Verocu No. 2 Zona del Este
- Tatuaje Verocu No. 9
- Tatuaje Verocu Red Tubo
- Tatuaje Cigar Más Finas
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Verocu No. 1 Lado Occidental
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Cubana S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Cafe Rosado Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 50, $500)
- Release Date: July 2007
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 50 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
The Verocu No. 1 has a beautifully dark brown wrapper that, despite being soft and slightly oily, only has a matte-like finish to it. There are a couple of noticeable veins, but the wrapper is otherwise well-applied and flawless. The construction is solid, the cigar is firm without any soft spots and appears to have fared well over the past five years. On the predraw I’m getting strong milk chocolate, leather, and earth notes with some minor pepper on the tip of my tongue.
The initial draw of the first third of the Tatuaje Westie is a bouquet of flavors: sweet, creamy coffee notes, chocolate, cinnamon and the signature Tatuaje pepper solely in the background. Each draw produces a great amount of white smoke. Brown stripes litter the relatively white ash, which is flaky, but holding well at the one inch mark. After about an inch the initial sweetness dies down a bit, the pepper increases slightly and some leather aromas are peaking through as well. Towards the end of the first third some nice, but not overwhelming, cedar notes have come into the picture meshing nicely with the rest of the mix.
Things slow down in the second third. Some cedar is still hanging around along with some licorice notes appearing as well. I can feel the strength of the cigar, although it’s not the upfront peppery bite on your tongue like you might be used to with other Tatuaje cigars. Eventually a bitterness takes over and leads to a more linear profile with the chocolate returning.
The final third is more of the same chocolate with some minor black pepper notes floating around in the background. With most of the final third remaining, some nice herbal aromas develop and the cedar returns playing off each other nicely. The combination isn’t necessarily complex, but it is finishing out the cigar quite nicely. The strength has built throughout and is now very noticeable, making this a strong, but smooth cigar that is definitely the step up it was meant to be from the Havana VI line.
- I’m disappointed that this will probably be my only chance to smoke one, however New Havana Cigars did have a bandless release from Tatuaje called the ELO1 that is supposed to be the remaining Verocu No. 1s. Those of course are long sold out, but they had another batch released to them in 2011. That means the possibility of seeing them again isn’t out of the question, however waiting five years to smoke it, might be. In addition, early last year, Shiroma’s Wine and More purchased some of the remaining stock of Verocu No. 1s for their fifth anniversary.
- Since this cigar was released only a couple years after I started smoking cigars and years before I even knew what a boutique brand was, I never had the chance to smoke these fresh, it would have been interesting.
- This cigar has a lot of nicknames: Westie, West Coast, West Side, etc.
- Both this cigar and the Verocu No. 2 in my humidor were procured from a friend who bought them both here in Texas. Technically I believe our local retailers were considered West coast, but it appears some retailers weren’t limited to just one of the two.
- The original batch of releases was banded as Exclusivo Lado Occidental, the later batches are banded Verocu West Side.
- Looking at Tatuaje’s website, it was interesting to see the LEs ramp up with only a few each year from 2006-2008 and then an explosion of them starting in 2009. The Verocu No. 1 and 2 were two of only three LE releases that year.
- The Verocu No. 1 is actually packed in a media rueda or half wheel.
- To date the Verocu releases of 2007 are the largest limited edition Tatuaje release disclosed. Both releases saw 50,000 cigars plus the aforementioned NHC and other releases.
- Being five years out of production, you’re still able to find these on the secondary market occasionally. Expect to pay around $10-15.
- Final smoking time for this stick was one hour and 45 minutes.
It was interesting going back to one of Pete’s early limited editions that I had not gotten to try before. As previously stated, I might not have gotten to smoke these fresh, but given what I know about the Verocu profile and the Tatuaje profile, the age has done this stick wonders. This cigar has a long finish and coats your mouth with the sweeter flavors up front and finishing off with a mild peppery bite. The flavor bouquet wasn’t overwhelmingly complex and the different flavors ended up playing very nicely off each other. As I guessed before I smoked the cigar, the age has mellowed out the peppery bite many Tatuaje sticks have. It was actually nice not having the pepper clog up my palate however, which allowed the other flavors to shine. Despite its age, The Verocu No. 1 still packs quite a punch. I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar and will definitely be on the look out for any rereleases of this stick in the future.