In 2012, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje decided to venture from his generally Nicaraguan-forward cigar blends and release a cigar with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, appropriately titling it the Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment.

The line showed up with little fanfare or formal announcement, appearing at select retailers in various sizes—a total of five would be eventually released—before finding itself relegated to the history of the brand.

At least until 2019.

This year, Tatuaje decided to not just bring back a limited amount of its Limited Series Mexican Experiment, but also release a 2019 version called the ME II. Both lines use a wrapper grown in the San Andrés region of Mexico over a Nicaraguan-grown binder and filler.

Additionally, both come in the same four sizes, each of which is priced at $10:

  • Tatuaje Mexican Experiment/ME II Robusto (5 x 54)
  • Tatuaje Mexican Experiment/ME II Toro (5 3/4 x 50)
  • Tatuaje Mexican Experiment/ME II Churchill (6 1/2 x 48)
  • Tatuaje Mexican Experiment/ME II Belicoso (5 x 52)

As for what makes them different, the Mexican Experiment wears the red, green and white band from the Limited Series and each size is limited to 1,000 bundles of 15 cigars. The ME II is a regular production cigar that wears a different band, one that says ME II on it, and it comes in boxes, albeit 15-count as well.

Here’s what I said about the original Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto when I reviewed it in June 2012:

The key word in this cigar is experiment, and certainly this is more the result of several experiments as opposed to a one-off trial. The results are good if not stellar, with the Tatuaje Mexican Experiment succeeding in showing off some of the better qualities of the Mexican San Andrés wrapper leaf. Is it the most complex Tatuaje out there? No. Is it the best use of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper? Not in my book, as that honor still resides with the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor. But is it a tasty cigar worth trying? Yes.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto (2019)
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Gordo
  • MSRP: $10 (Bundle of 15, $150)
  • Release Date: July 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Bundles of 15 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

If there’s one thing I remember about the Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto, it is the red, white and green band. Beyond that, there is nothing that immediately jumps out about the cigar, but closer inspection reveals some less noticeable things. The cigar gets a pretty solid box process, with the firmness a bit more than what I was expecting but it is far from being a hard cigar. The wrapper leaf is quite interesting to look at, a dark brown that has a black-brown hue in some spots and is fairly oily and toothy. There’s just enough variance in the color to clearly see the seams of the wrapper, but otherwise, the cigar is pretty perfect from a visual perspective. The foot offers an aroma that is bright, sweet and surprisingly spicy, mixing a bit of black pepper, baking spice and some sweet peppers together to really tingle the nostrils. The cold draw is a bit more restrained but keeps to the same basic path, minus some of the brighter spice notes.

The opening puffs of this new Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto have me scratching my head both to figure out what exactly I am tasting as well as why I’m tasting it, as it is certainly not what I would call a traditional flavor set either for Tatuaje or for a cigar billed as having Mexican tobacco in it. There are some words that come to mind—bitter and vegetal—that don’t really seem to fit here, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think of the handful of times I have had bitter melon. There’s some familiar black pepper to be found and the nose gets a very bright expression of it, while earthiness seems to be making a push to join the party, all in the first half-an-inch. The retrohales become a bit too potent for my liking here as well, forcing me to abandon the technique for a bit. If anything, this is a reminder that I’m not smoking a cigar that has been in the humidor for several years. As the cigar burns through its first inch, smoke production steps up to fairly substantial levels, and thankfully the less familiar parts of the flavor settle down a bit. What hasn’t settled are retrohales, still bright and peppery, almost too much so for my enjoyment. The cigar has performed very well through the first half, with smoke production still being quite significant.

There isn’t much change to be found immediately after crossing into the second half of the Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto, but in the final third the cigar begins to take on a more familiar profile, though I’m having a really difficult time getting the notes of Mexican tobacco that I find myself looking for, notably the earthy terroir that is a hallmark of the varietal. It’s also becoming apparent that there is little if any sweetness to be found from the cigar until the very final inch, and it’s only minimal at best. That last inch brings the black pepper into a more familiar place as well, leading me to take one more retrohale which shows that it is still as vibrant as it was earlier. Things wrap up after about 90 minutes with the cigar still performing very well.

82 Overall Score

Other than a general memory of liking the original Tatuaje Limited Series Mexican Experiment Robusto, I can't say I have much in the way of specific details that stood out about it after just over seven years since reviewing it. As noted above, this new version is a bit of a head-scratcher from a flavor perspective in the first half as it tasted almost nothing like what I would expect to get from a combination of Mexican and Nicaragua tobacco, let alone what I'd get from Tatuaje utilizing such a combination. The retrohales were also much more lively than I prefer, making it tough to utilize them to get a complete picture of what the cigar has to offer. Maybe it's some youth, maybe it was a bad day for my senses, maybe it was just a funky sample, but my lone experience with the 2019 release of the Tatuaje Mexican Experiment makes me question a number of things about what all I spent about 90 minutes with for this redux. It certainly didn't match up to what memories I have of the original, nor my expectations of this re-release.

Original Score (June 2012)
Redux Score (September 2019)
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Patrick Lagreid

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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.