Speculation about what a company might do in the future is the norm in every business, including the cigar world. In this leaf-loving industry, it seems that nowhere is speculation about what a company might put out next than Tatuaje and the annual Monster Series.
Pete Johnson’s annual Halloween release has turned into a bit of a guessing game for fans of the line, and by and large he’s kept the release a fairly good secret, generally saving it for the industry’s annual IPCPR trade show every summer. As people began to wonder what movie monster Johnson might draw from for a future release, one name that kept getting brought up was Chucky, the children’s doll-turned-raging murder made famous in Don Mancini’s Child’s Playfilm series. In addition, talk of a companion cigar—Tiff—also began to circulate. Those rumors were quickly debunked by Johnson, though they weren’t entirely false. Chucky would be used as the inspiration for a different type of Monster, a Pudgy Monster.
In February, Janny Garcia of My Father Cigars posted a picture of an unbanded cigar with the caption “Smoking my Tiffany!!!” and a #monsters hashtag. It seemed like Chucky and Tiffany would finally be getting cigars made in their image, and in early April the project was confirmedwhen it was brought to the Tobacconists’ Association of America annual meeting.
Given the Monster Series name, it should come as no surprise that the cigars themselves are large. As such, in 2012, Johnson created the Little Monsters to allow smokers to see how the first five Monster Series release performed in a smaller format. Pudgy Monsters, which is the final name for the “fat little monster” idea, share many details with the 2012 project, both are 10-count samplers, the boxes for both are rather similar, both began shipping in June of their respective years and more importantly, both are smaller takes on Pete Johnson’s popular Monster Series.
Five of the Pudgy Monsters share the ring gauge of the original Monster Series release and the length of the Little Monsters.
- Frank (5 5/8 x 49), based on The Frank (7 5/8 x 49) and Frank Jr. (5 5/8 x 44)
- Drac (5 x 52), based on The Drac (6 3/4 x 52) and Lil’ Drac (5 x 48)
- Face (4 3/8 x 56), based on The Face (6 3/8 x 56) and Baby Face (4 3/8 x 50)
- Wolf (5 1/2 x 52), based on The Wolfman (7 1/2 x 52) and Wolfie (5 1/2 x 48)
- Mummy (5 3/4 x 47), based The Mummy (7 3/4 x 47) and Mini Mum (5 3/4 x 42)
Last year, the company released The JV-13 (7 1/2 x 52) based on the character Jason. Johnson’s pudgy take on the JV-13 is Jason, a 5 1/2 x 52 cigar.
Each Pudgy Monster box has one of the aforementioned six cigars. The remaining four cigars are split up between two different 4 x 50 releases, Chuck and Tiff.
With these releases, the Monster Series and its related releases, now stand at 19 cigars.
- 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 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Drac (5 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Face (4 3/8 x 56) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Wolf (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Mummy (5 3/4 x 47) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Jason (5 1/2 x 52) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 1 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Chuck (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Tatuaje Tiff (4 x 50) — June 2014 — 20,000 Samples of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
While Johnson initially declined to confirm the Chuck and Tiff blends, he has told halfwheel the Chuck uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers.
Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Chuck
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: 4 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
Vitola: Petit Robusto
MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 10, $95.00)
Release Date: June 18, 2014
Number of Cigars Released: 20,000 Boxes of 2 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Tatuaje Chuck is an attractive cigar both in stature and color; the former is familiar due to the ring gauge but also eye catching because it is an inch shorter than a standard robusto. Despite a fair number of veins, the Ecuadorian habano wrapper does it best to appear as smooth as possible with an equally smooth texture, marked by a tactile sensation of low-pile velvet. Each cigar smoked is firm to the touch but not without the slightest bit of give. The pre-light aroma comes across as almost stereotypically Nicaraguan with notes of terroir and pepper, an earthy and soil driven first impression with subsequent samples adding a sharp and dry note of freshly cut lumberyard wood and a bit of sawdust. The cold draw ranges is on the firm side with distinct notes of pepper that span from black pepper to a more red chili pepper taste that offers a Sriracha-like kick.
There is way more pepper through the nose than what is offered for the palate, though that doesn’t mean the tongue gets left out of the fun and depending on which the way the air is moving, your eyes might even be in for a bit of a treat. While I knew what this was prior to lighting it up, I don’t think that’s why it made me think of the flavor as being almost distinctively Tatuaje, but it’s this type of flavor I tend to associate with the brand. Strength is a good bit beyond medium and toes the line to outright full before a half of an inch has burned. Not surprisingly, retrohales offer good amounts of strength and pepper that will likely prove challenging for many.
While the flavor progression is fairly linear, it’s the goregous white ash that is packed tight which catches my eye. On each of the three cigars I smoked for this review, without wavering the ash holds on until about the midpoint when it finally releases its grip, and another big clump starts being built almost right away. The pepper dies down on the palate just a bit as the smoke continues to be thick and plentiful; in place of the pepper is a note almost equal parts earth and well cooked steak that shows a subtle shift but keeps the strength well above medium. Retrohales continue to offer intense amounts of sharp pepper that are enjoyable in only the briefest of amounts, and even from the ambient smoke it’s the nose that continues to get most of the pepper from the Tatuaje Chuck.
The final third, which seems to come on fairly quickly, sees a quick dip in the strength of both the flavor and pepper before quickly picking up where it left off, as well as adding a new type of bite in the flavor that is hard to put a name to or criticize, so I feel comfortable just calling it straight, strong tobacco. One thing that is distinguishing about it is that it now tingles the lips more than the palate, a bit of a different sensory experience than what the Tatuaje Chuck has delivered to this point. The rapidly amount of unburnt tobacco left to hold onto has me digging out a draw poker to assist in getting as much out of this petit robusto as I can, with the flavors staying strong but manageable all the way down to the final puff. Each sample has burned and performed flawlessly, with only the smoke production slowing down a bit in the final third.
- The almost baby blue color of the band certainly doesn’t make you think of a monster, and the white script writing of Tatuaje doesn’t do anything to help. In a way though, it’s almost fitting given its nod to Chucky, who looked pretty harmless at first.
- I really can’t stress enough how impressed I was with the ash in all three samples, particularly in the first half of each cigar.
- I’m not a fan of horror movies, and I will admit that I have never seen any of the Child’s Play films. That said, a quick perusal of IMDB.com gave me the synopsis, and this compilation of clips (NSFW) seemed to bring me up to speed.
- I smoked the Tatuaje Tiff as a comparison, and other than the peppery start, the difference between the two is fairly stark. I didn’t get quite the same levels of creaminess or sweetness that Brooks Whittington did. They are two fairly different cigars, and when my palate isn’t in the mood for the strength or pepper of Chuck, Tiff would certainly be a good alternative.
- On July 3, Pete Johnson confirmed that this year’s Monster release will be Jekyll, with Hyde following in 2015.
- For those wanting to speculate what 2016’s Monster will be, remember that according to the pattern Johnson established of two classic monsters and one more modern one, it will be a movie monster of a more recent vintage.
- At last check, there were no plans to release Chuck or Tiff in larger sizes.
- The second shipment of Pudgy Monsters has been arriving at retailers for the past week or so, meaning more should be available if you missed out on the first shipment. There’s also another shipment scheduled for later this year. With the quantity produced, while your local store may not have them in stock, there should be plenty of places with them that would be happy to ship to you.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 20 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar is a Tatuaje retailer and has the Pudgy Monsters listed on its website.
Leave a comment in any of our (to-be) eight Pudgy Monster reviews to be eligible to win a Pudgy Monster sampler. You can enter up to eight times, once per review. The winner will be announced on Aug. 9, a week after our final Pudgy Monster review is published. Contest rules are here.
After my first go with the Tatuaje Chuck, I wasn't overwhelmed by what it offered, and quite frankly it had me jotting down notes of good but unexciting and putting it into the category of being a cigar I would smoke again but wouldn't necessarily chase down. The second cigar more or less maintained that feeling, but it was the third that seemed to have just a bit more pepper and a bit more character that bumped up my opinion of it a good bit. Given that bit of variance, I'm a bit unsure of what the true profile of the Tatuaje Chuck is, but at its most basic level it's a good, strong and peppery offering that will easily satisfy fans of both Tatuaje and strong cigars in general, with the potential to only get better and more distinctive from there.