In 2011, Tatuaje released the first of what would end up being an ongoing exclusive annual release for members of the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA), appropriately named the Tatuaje TAA 2011. While the cigar itself was new, some of the components in the blend were not, as Pete Johnson made the announcement that the cigar was “similar to the styles” of two of his most popular releases, the Barclay Rex and the Pork Tenderloin.

Fast forward four years, and things have come full circle, with Johnson announcing that the 2011 version of the Tatuaje TAA 2011 would be making a comeback for the 2015 release, both in terms of blend and size. However, while the cigar is the same in both blend and size, the number of cigars released is quite different, with this years version having more the double the number of cigars released at 76,000 compared to 30,000 in 2011.

As has been the case with all of the TAA releases, the cigar is sold in boxes of 20 with a retail price of $11 each, and is rolled at My Father Cigars S.A. in Esteli, Nicaragua. In addition, the total number of cigars produced each year is dependent on the orders Johnson receives at the annual TAA meeting, which took place earlier this year.

Tatuaje TAA 2015 Box 1

Tatuaje TAA 2015 Box 2

Tatuaje TAA 2015 Box 3

For those unfamiliar with the group, Patrick Lagreid summed the organization up nicely:

The TAA is a fairly small group of some of the country’s top tobacconists, a group of about 80 retailers (though many have multiple locations) as well as about 40 manufacturers. The association gathers annually to discuss issues facing the industry and retailers, as well as to have its annual trade show, a unique event that works on a group buying format in order to secure exclusive deals for these generally high-volume merchants.

There have now been five different releases in the Tatuaje TAA line.

Tatuaje TAA Collections

In addition to the Tatuaje TAA 2015, there are multitude of exclusive TAA releases from different manufactures this year, including the Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary TAA Exclusive Robusto Grande, Drew Estate Acid Big Bang TAA Exclusive, Ashton VSG Robusto Especial TAA Exclusive, Padrón 1926 Serie No. 47, the  Por Larrañaga TAA En Cedro, a new The Angel’s Anvil from Crowned Heads, a modified La Antiguedad from My Father, the Casa Magna D. Magnus II Hadrian, the La Flor Dominicana TAA 47, the Nat Sherman Panamericana and Asylum Nyctophilia.

Tatuaje TAA 2015 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje TAA 2015
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 5/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 20, $220)
  • Release Date: Sept. 8, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,800 Boxes of 20 (76,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Like most of Tatuaje’s cigars with a Connecticut broadleaf leaf, the wrapper is a dark espresso brown with sparkles up and down the length and the covered foot is a nice touch. It is relatively smooth to the touch, I would call the press an oval rather than soft box-press. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong barnyard, horse blanket, earth, leather and dark chocolate, while the cold draw brings flavors of the same gritty earth, leather, black coffee, generic nuts and dark fruit sweetness.

Starting out the first third, the Tatuaje TAA 2015 features a dominant combination that is both earthy and nutty, with a slight floral note underneath. Other flavors of leather, creamy oak, bitter cocoa, coffee beans and licorice flit in and out, and I can taste a faint but distinct dark berry sweetness on both the finish and the retrohale. There is quite a bit of black pepper on the retrohale for the first 15 puffs or so, and while it calms down after that, it is still a relatively major note. The draw is excellent with just the right amount of resistance after a straight cut and while the burn is not exactly razor sharp, it is far from needing any touchups so far. Overall, smoke production is massive off of the foot, and while the strength is noticeable, it barely hits the medium mark by the end of the first third.

Tatuaje TAA 2015 2

The dark berry sweetness increases noticeably in the second third of the Tatuaje TAA 2015, becoming a dominant player in the profile along with gritty earth and creamy nuts. The floral note from the first third is long gone by the halfway point, but other flavors of oak, milk chocolate, espresso, anise and a touch of citrus flit in and out. While the black pepper on the retrohale is still quite prominent, it is noticeably reduced from the first third, and continues to recede as the second third marches on. Smoke production is still massive off of the foot, and both the burn and draw are excellent, while the overall strength easily surpasses the medium mark, and seems to only be increasing.

Tatuaje TAA 2015 3

While the The final third of the Tatuaje TAA 2015 adds a slight green pepper flavor on the retrohale that fades in and out, it is not strong enough to knock out the still dominant earth and roasted peanuts combination. The dark berry sweetness is still very much a part of the profile, although it is regulated mostly to the retrohale, where it combines nicely with the black pepper that is still lingering around. Construction-wise, the TAA 2015 continues to give me no problems, with a wonderful draw and close-to-razor sharp burn. As expected, the overall strength increases during the final third, but seems to peter out just north of the medium mark by the time I put the nub down with a little less than an inch left.

Tatuaje TAA 2015 4

Final Notes

  • Is the TAA 2015 better than the original 2011 version it is replicating? For me, the answer is not quite, but they are very, very close, and both are extremely good cigars.
  • The green pepper note I picked up in the final third of each sample was interesting, but thankfully was not all that strong, as it definitely affected the profile in a less than optimal way when it was present.
  • On every sample I smoked, and on every stick I looked at, there are what look to be very small shiny specks on the wrapper. This has been evident before in some Tatuaje releases and according to Johnson.

That’s the heavy mineral content from the farm where we get our Broadleaf. Many people think it comes from the bands but it is from the rich soil on the farm. You can actually see these specks on the leaf during process. If you were to walk the farm, your pants will look like you got a lap dance from an overly bronzed up dancer.

  • This year’s TAA Annual Meeting & Convention took place on April 12-16 as was held in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic.
  • The smoke production is quite copious, and smells distinctly of sweet and bready graham crackers.
  • I am extremely impressed with the fact that the $11 price tag on this cigar has remained the same for five years, despite the ever growing popularity of the release.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples I smoked averaged one hour and 35 minutes.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Tatuaje TAA 2015 cigars, site sponsor Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) has them in stock.
91 Overall Score

The Tatuaje TAA releases are a joy to smoke every year, and the 2015 incarnation continues that tradition nicely. The profile is both rich and complex throughout the smoke, with an underlying dark berry sweetness that really sets off the rest of the flavors that are present. For me, there is a tendency for the broadleaf wrapper that Johnson uses to overwhelm the rest of the flavors in cigars it is used on, but in this case, the rest of the profile is very much in harmony with the wrapper. A cigar that is easy to smoke, easy to enjoy and easy to recommend.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.