Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf

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By now you are no doubt familiar with the Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection; the 100-cigar item was shown off at the 2016 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, and quickly became the subject of numerous photos and discussions, and not just because Johnson called it his favorite thing in the booth that year.

The project of adding a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper to 10 cigars in Tatuaje’s Seleccion de Cazador line sounded intriguing, the cigars themselves looked incredible, but thoughts of selling a 100-count box priced at $1,200 certainly had some people a bit concerned, though that was fairly easy to resolve by means of selling samplers and individual cigars.

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First, the cigars. Johnson selected 10 cigars from what’s commonly referred to as the Brown Label line due to its simple yet distinctive primary band, including the original six HUNTER sizes, the fairly recently released K222, the well-regarded Reserva SW and Reserva J21, and the Cojonu 2003 Reserva.

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Bundles

To keep it relatively simple, each cigar would be priced the same as its original counterpart.

Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Box 1 Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Box 2 Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection Box 3

In addition to the size of the actual box, which should be enough to make most retailers have to think about reorganizing a few shelves, there was also the size of the release: 5,000 of these boxes/cases/chests were going to be produced, making for a total run of 500,000 cigars. Then, as you might have heard, things changed.

Johnson decided to pivot a bit and reduce the number of master cases being produced in favor of moving to 10-count boxes of the cigars in the Reserva Broadleaf collection. He said that the change would allow retailers to pick and choose the sizes they wanted, as opposed to having to sell all 10 sizes at once, a valid concern that anyone who has worked in a cigar shop can understand.

As for the Cojonu 2003, it was the first of the Cojonu series to be released, fittingly in 2003, and on Tatuaje’s website, belongs in the Seleccion de Cazador – Miami group, along with the Gran Cojonu, Cojonu 2006, Cojonu 2009, RC184, RC233, Reserva A Uno, Reserva SW, Reserva J21, and K222 Reserva.

Designed as a stronger and spicier version of the Brown Label, the name is fitting as it translates to being ballsy, albeit shortened from the word cojonudo. While the Nicaraguan binder and filler are the same, the original Cojonu 2003 used a Nicaraguan wrapper before switching to an Ecuadorian habano leaf.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $14 (Boxes of 10, $140)
  • Release Date: Feb. 14, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The wrapper is a rather dark leaf, and were in not for the readily available black base of the band to contrast it, I’d likely think it to be a bit darker. There are some prominent veins and tooth, with some samples showing a bit of crystallization of the sugars. The roll is firm and even, with a bit of a slanted head on the first sample but otherwise nothing to complain about. The foot offers a rich and sweet aroma, with several manifestations of  grapes coming to mind, from freshly sliced dark grapes to grape juice and thick grape jelly the first things to register. There’s a bit of earth but hardly any pepper whatsoever, and what is there takes some focus and attention to find it deep in the background. The cold draw is a contrast, tangy with bark and soil, even a bit of peat in some tastes, with air moving near perfectly.

The first puffs of the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf aren’t as sweet as I was hoping given the pre-light aroma, but they are flavorful, with a good bit of pepper on top of base notes of grilled white meats and a dry, cedar-like finish that also has some red chili pepper in one sample. Retrohales in the first inch deliver an even darker spin on the pepper, almost charring it with some rock-laden soil undertones. There is a bit of sweetness in the lingering aroma, though don’t expect a candy store, this is thick and almost a bit starchy, yet with some dark berry characteristics. After the first clump of ash breaks off about an inch in, the pepper kicks up a notch, particularly in the nose where it is medium-bodied, near full strength and commanding of the senses. There’s a good it bit of balance in the cigar early on, as even with pepper playing a prominent role, the sweetness is doing a commendable job balancing it out, while maintaining the blend’s heavier base notes.

There’s a little bit of chalk and white pepper to open the second third of this broadleaf-wrapped Cojonu 2003, with the most notable effect found in the nose, as the smoke is brighter yet less aggressive than earlier before. The clump of ash that carried the cigar out of its first third and into its second breaks off at about an inch in length once again, and the event nudges me to take note of the smoke, which is a bit thicker and richer, with just a bit of sweetness beginning to emerge from the earthy base note. Pepper is still prevalent but a bit less dominant, and at the midpoint the cigar hits a new level of complexity, adding a bit of chocolate syrup to both the flavor and aroma, while the pepper-driven retrohales are finding a new midpoint between the two versions they presented earlier. The Cojonu 2003 preps for the final third by getting a bit more flavorful and robust, with rocky earth, a bit of pepper and a coy sweetness continuing to emerge from the aroma. The cigar still burns well, albeit a bit slower, with one sample needing some help getting back to full combustion.

I’m not sure if there may be a bit too much residual moisture in the Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf, but the start of the final third has me thinking there just might be; the combustion issues are one clue, while a slightly off-putting taste is another. While not as metallic as what I experienced with the Unicos, some similarities are beginning to emerge. A slower puffing rate helps a bit, but not enough, and this comes at the expense of all the best parts of the cigar to this point; the pepper gets mangled and its clarity lost, the sweetness is almost non-existent and the deep, rich foundation of earth flavors has lightened, becoming more of a forefront component while drying out and having a similar effect on the mouth. A sharpness goes after the tip of the tongue with less than two inches to go, and in the final puffs this Cojonu 2003 variant gets to be less than pleasant, continuing with a metallic twinge while the pepper gets a bit rambunctious on the palate and the grounded base of earth thins to a point of not being helpful.

Final Notes

  • This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but there’s a good bit of strength in this cigar, noticeable especially when standing up during the final third.
  • I dry boxed the third sample to see if it would help the final third of the cigar, and it seems to have at least nudged the cigar in the right direction. It burnt better and had a bit less harshness than the other two samples.
  • That said, I hate having to recommend dryboxing a cigar in order to enjoy it properly. In an ideal world, every cigar would smoke ideally right off the shelf. If nothing less, this might be a cigar to store at a lower humidity level than the rest of your collection.
  • I feel obligated to add pronunciation when ever possible; this is pronounced co-HO-new.
  • Several other members of the Cojonu family have been reviewed on halfwheel: the Gran Cojonu Reserva, Cojonu 2012 Reserva, and the Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.
  • The year on the cigar refers to when it was blended, not when it was produced.
  • Those bands are a bit reminiscent of the Cuban Edición Limitadas.
  • While not photographed as such, the cigars come in cellophane.
  • Tatuaje advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Corona Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) and Smoke Inn all carry the Tatuaje Broadleaf Collection, though in various configurations and offers.
84 Overall Score

After my experience with the Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf, I was a bit apprehensive about what the Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf might have in store, but fortunately it was not a repeat performance. While it has a few rough spots, the overall performance is much better, rich with several expressions of pepper, a thick and heavy earth note as the base, and touches of rich sweetness that permeates through flavor and aroma in select spots that seem to always occur at just the right time. Dryboxing suggests that lower humidity may be a key to unlocking this cigar's full potential, so should you give this a try—which I think is worthwhile—be sure you're giving the cigar the best chance to impress you with what it has to offer.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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