About a month before the start of the 2024 PCA Convention & Trade Show, Tatuaje shipped the cigar it made for the 2023 PCA Convention & Trade Show.

For the second year in a row, Tatuaje made an exclusive cigar for the annual PCA Convention & Trade Show, a sister cigar of sorts to its longstanding series of cigars made for the Tobacconists’ Association of America’s (TAA) Exclusive Series Program. Both the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and TAA are retailer-focused trade organizations that host trade shows, though the organizations and their trade shows look rather different. That said, the cigars—and their purpose—are quite similar. Tatuaje donates 50 cents per cigar sold to the respective organizations, meaning that the company will donate $25,000 to the PCA from the sales of this release.

As for the cigar, the Tatuaje PCA 2023 is a 6 3/8 x 54 toro extra that uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Nicaragua. The Tatuaje TAA 2023, which began shipping to retailers in mid-April 2024, is the same size but uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. Production was limited to 2,500 boxes of 20 cigars. In an effort to get more retailers to attend PCA 2023, Tatuaje only offered these cigars to stores that placed orders in person during the trade show, which took place in July 2023.

Note: The following shows the various Tatuaje PCA Exclusive Series vitolas. Some of these cigars may have been released after this post was originally published. The list was last updated on May 28, 2024.

85 Overall Score

This is a review of a very enjoyable cigar that was torpedoed by the second cigar. Had that cigar smoked like the first or third cigar, this would have been eligible for our Top 25 list, and I would have expected it to perform quite well. That said, this is a much lighter profile than most of the cigars in the Tatuaje portfolio. I’m curious to see how this cigar ages, especially in the short term, as it tasted like the final third hadn’t fully settled down. I’ve theorized before that cigars with milder flavors tend to fare better in aging, this will be a great candidate to test that with, so long as the next Tatuaje PCA 2023 I smoke was bunched properly.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje PCA 2023
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $15 (Box of 20, $300)
  • Release Date: February 2024
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing that stands out about the cigar is its length. After being so accustomed to the 6-inch or so lengths of the Tatuaje TAA Series, I wrongly assumed this would be in that category. The next thing that catches my eye is how well the PCA’s logo is printed on the secondary band. The aromas from the wrappers are remarkably similar, with a red pepper-accented milk cocoa leading to some muted oak and brown sugar. It’s pretty strong but more medium-full than full. The feet’s aromas are a tick closer to medium, with more or less the same scents, though with a sharper version of the red pepper. The cold draws are similar stories: medium-full muted cocoa powder over chili pepper, dry earthiness, vanilla and—on one cigar—some sort of menthol-like cooling sensation.

For better and worse, the opening puffs of the three Tatuaje PCA 2023s do not have the same consistency. Perhaps due to the closed foot, perhaps due to the draws, none of them start with as much smoke volume as I’d like for the first puff. Toastiness, earthiness and leather are present on one cigar. The second cigar has a very tight draw with various cracker sensations over some charred earthiness. The third cigar has an open draw with cocoa, meatiness and earthiness leading some ketchup sweetness and saltiness. The first and third cigars eventually end up in a pretty similar place. Dry potato chips and earthiness lead some earthiness and sharp white pepper. The finish tends to be more interesting as flavors of macadamia nuts, hay, cedar, creaminess and rock candy show up, though never altogether. The second cigar is pretty close to being plugged, producing flavors of bitter grass and earthiness over woodiness and some coffee. I find that when cigars have plugged draws, they can oftentimes take on this flavor accent, one that I can only describe as “green.” It’s somewhat similar to the taste that tar can add, though not identical. Fortunately, retrohaling on that cigar doesn’t seem to be impacted by that as there are some muted floral flavors, pasta water and heavy cream. That said, those flavors don’t hold a candle to the other two cigars: basmati rice, creaminess and poultry-like meatiness. More impressively, the texture of those flavors is somehow both fragrant and also a touch thick. Regardless of the draw issues, flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium to medium-plus. Outside of the poor draw on the second cigar, I don’t have any issues with construction. The third cigar’s somewhat open draw pretty quickly tightened to a normal level of resistance. The cigar with the tight draw has a variety of hard spots right where the bands are placed.

Even amongst the two cigars that don’t have draw issues, there’s not much in the way of similarities. One cigar has lots of hay and minerals with a sugary sweetness, roasted woods and saltiness; in terms of intensity, it’s a small gap between the primary and secondary flavors. The third cigar has dry hay and creaminess over soft nuttiness, bread, white pepper and some acidity, which combines with the creaminess to create a tart creaminess. The cigar with the bad draw has a more balanced mixture of spiciness, minerals, burnt coffee and some floral flavors. With that cigar, sometimes I get some clawing sharpness, but it happens on less than a third of the puffs. The finish of the cigars are closer together: thick creaminess and bread—sometimes a defined pretzel flavor—with rice, leather, charred earthiness and some creamed coffee. The cigar with the bad draw is noticeably different: earthiness with some black pepper. Retrohales are also two different stories. Two cigars have a softer profile with bread and pretzels are quickly overtaken by creaminess and generic pasta flavors. The cigar with the bad draw has more mineral flavors with white pepper and creaminess. For all three cigars, creaminess eventually takes over the finish of the retrohale, joined by hearty cedar and woodiness. Flavor is medium-full or full, body ranges from medium-plus to full and strength is medium-plus. Outside of the very tight draw of the second cigar, construction remains fantastic.

Depending on the draw, the cigars have generally been on divergent paths, but the final thirds of each cigar are quite similar. It’s not for the better. All three cigars have a profile that is getting more charred and losing a lot of the complexity. At times during the cigars with good draws, I notice a unique cannabis-like herbal flavor or some lime, but it’s tough to pick up through the charred earthiness. As the second cigar passes through the knots, it gets worse with an intense amount of this harsh burnt flavor that can happen on cigars with tight draws. It’s difficult for me to pick up the difference between the main flavor and the finish, though after about 10 seconds, a saltiness emerges and eventually brings some nuttiness with it. Regardless of the cigar, my notes about the final thirds’ retrohales are remarkably similar: softer creaminess, muted pretzels, some earthiness and no more tartness. The finish is a bit softer if I retrohale, though it’s not all that different. On one cigar, creaminess and pretzels eventually add themselves to the mixture, though neither hold a candle to the charred earthiness. Flavor ranges from medium-full to full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. One cigar, not the one with the bad draw, needs a touch-up in the final third, the only time my lighter is needed for a touch-up during any of the three cigars.

Final Notes

  • The cigar with the tight draw had multiple knots in the area where the bands were placed. Because of how cigars are bunched, this is the most likely place for an issue like this to occur. I’ve been told that it’s related to how the buncher will hold the bunch in their hand: the place where the band goes is likely about where their thumb would be, which they will use to keep the bunch together as they pick up various tobaccos. As such, it oftentimes ends up being tighter than the rest of the cylinder.

  • Tatuaje lists these cigars as 6 3/8 x 54. After seeing the extreme variance in weight, I reweighed the cigars and confirmed the results. I’m unsure which cigar was the lightest one, but nothing would surprise me, including that the cigar that was plugged weighed the least.
  • This variance is the third widest adjusted weight variance we’ve measured. For context, we’ve weighed and measured 230 reviews worth of cigars, nearly 700 cigars in total. To put the weight difference between the first and third cigars into perspective, it’s the weight of the Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Petit Panetela that Brooks recently reviewed. Yes, I copied that line from another review; no, that’s not a good thing.
  • Speaking of copying things from other reviews regarding construction issues, I’ll repeat: the frequency of reviews that contain at least one cigar having a major issue that plagues it from start to finish has gone up dramatically. It’s not fun as a cigar reviewer, it cannot be fun as a cigar consumer. If you’d like more of my thoughts on this, I’d refer you to the Final Notes section of this recent review.
  • Credit where credit is due. In addition to the $25,000 donations to the PCA and TAA, Tatuaje is also one of the main contributors to Cigar Rights of America (CRA), another cigar trade organization.
  • In 2022 and 2023, there were clear pushes to have more “PCA exclusive cigars,” ones cigars were only offered to retailers that placed orders at the trade show and, in some cases, ones that resulted in a donation to the organization itself. In 2024, it seemed to more or less stop. While Kristoff made one, very few—if any—other companies announced a PCA exclusive cigar. Some cigar media members seemed surprised by this, I was not. As I have said before, this series of cigars has been plagued by a few major issues:
    • The Premium Cigar Association is a relatively small group that consumers, in theory, should never interact with. I don’t know why a consumer would be curious about this Tatuaje versus any other Tatuaje in the same way that if I walked into my local liquor store and saw a bottle of Buffalo Trace WSGA 2023, I wouldn’t be any more motivated to buy that bottle over others. That would be a reference to the Wine and Spirits Guild of America, and I made up that example, as I don’t know if the WSGA does exclusive bottlings.
    • The attempt to use exclusive cigars like this as a carrot to get more retailers to attend the annual PCA Convention & Trade Show has been done with nearly zero regard for timing. As a company that announced its exclusive cigar four months before the start of the trade show, Tatuaje was the outlier. Most companies announced their exclusive cigars within three weeks of the trade show, which is simply not enough time for most retailers who might have been on the fence about attending to make a decision to attend. Furthermore, in a world where there are so many new cigars, it’s unclear how much of a carrot this could be.
    • This has always been a lesser imitation of the TAA’s Exclusive Series Program. I think it’s possible that this could become a bigger thing, but the PCA would need to be much more involved with working with the manufacturers to make these cigars. Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s a good use of the group’s time as, even with more investment from the PCA, I think points #1 and #2 will remain.
  • For its part, the PCA was unwilling to close the door on the PCA-exclusive cigars. I’m not sure if this means we should see a renewed effort in 2025 or if this will just be phased out in a quiet manner, but if cigar companies thought the PCA exclusive cigars were a good idea, they would have done them in 2024. As evidenced by the Year of the Dragon cigars, cigar companies aren’t afraid to try an idea they think will make money. Actions speak louder than words: if there were actual demand for the PCA 2024 exclusive cigars, more companies would have made them.
  • I do not believe Tatuaje has announced a PCA 2024 exclusive cigar, though that could come in the fall when it would presumably announce its TAA Exclusive cigar. Doing so would also prove the point that these aren’t useful as ways to get retailers to attend the trade show.
  • The final third of this cigar was still full-flavored, but because it was mostly just a soft creaminess, the end result is a fairly light Tatuaje. It’s not mild, but the flavor profile is far from the Nicaraguan powerhouse profile that most Tatuaje fans would like.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time ranged from two hours and 10 minutes for the third cigar to two hours and 45 minutes for the plagued cigar.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigars Direct, Corona Cigar Co. and Smokingpipes all carry the Tatuaje PCA 2023.
85 Overall Score

This is a review of a very enjoyable cigar that was torpedoed by the second cigar. Had that cigar smoked like the first or third cigar, this would have been eligible for our Top 25 list, and I would have expected it to perform quite well. That said, this is a much lighter profile than most of the cigars in the Tatuaje portfolio. I’m curious to see how this cigar ages, especially in the short term, as it tasted like the final third hadn’t fully settled down. I’ve theorized before that cigars with milder flavors tend to fare better in aging, this will be a great candidate to test that with, so long as the next Tatuaje PCA 2023 I smoke was bunched properly.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.