For the sixth year in a row, Tatuaje has released a TAA exclusive cigar, and this year it’s a return of the 2012 version.

For those who might have missed it, the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) is a group for tobacco retailers, and one of the things that some manufacturers have done to motivate joining, is to offer TAA only releases to the retail members. When Pete Johnson originally started the yearly TAA release, he had planned on a different blend each year, but with the exception of 2013, each year has been instead the same blend, but mostly different sizes.

Tatuaje TAA 2016 Box 1 Tatuaje TAA 2016 Box 2

In 2015 however, Johnson revisited the original 2011 size, and then this year he revisited the 2012 size. With six releases and four different sizes, this is the Tatuaje TAA lineup.

Tatuaje TAA 2016 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje TAA 2016
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/4 inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $11.95 (Boxes of 20, $239)
  • Release Date: June 13, 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes of 20 (80,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

As is to be expected, the Tatuaje TAA’s Connecticut broadleaf is quite dark, slightly rough with a few prominent veins, and quite oily feeling. There is very little give overall, being quite firm from head to foot. Coming off the wrapper is a strong, rich barnyard aroma of earth, leather and some damp hay. The cold draw is much sweeter, with chocolate, spices, a bit of pepper, earth and some rich fruits.

Starting into the first third there is a strong pepper note that dominates the entire profile. Very rich earth, fresh ground dark roasted coffee beans and some chocolate cookie come in strong enough behind the pepper though, that they’re all distinct and separate notes. Starting out, the burn was a bit wonky, though it evens itself up mostly and doesn’t required a touch up. The ash holds quite well to around the inch mark, but is slightly flaky, making a bit of a mess on my lap. The profile has settled down slightly with the pepper dying down a little, though the earth, coffee grounds and chocolate notes are still quite prominent.

Tatuaje TAA 2016 2

The second third continues with much the same flavors, though in slightly different ratios. Pepper has calmed down to more of a background note, while the coffee and earth have grown slightly. Chocolate cookies have turned into more of a cocoa note, while baker’s spices have shown up in a bold fashion up front. While the burn has mostly regulated itself, it did finally leave a large enough section behind that I felt it needed a touch up. The ash has become slightly more dense, not flaking off anymore, though it still holds to right around the inch mark. It seems the flavors have settled into somewhat of a routine now, all sticking around basically the same strengths. Spice leads the group, with coffee, earth and cocoa in the middle, then the pepper bringing up the rear.

Tatuaje TAA 2016 3

The final third doesn’t see any change, with the same spice, fresh coffee grounds, sweet cocoa and pepper making up the profile. The burn has returned to a mostly even affair, not exactly a sharp, even burn, but certainly not anything that requires intervention on my part. As I near the end of the cigar, it continues to burn slow, cool and smoothly, allowing the flavors to shine all the way to the end and not get muddled or harsh.

Tatuaje TAA 2016 4

Final Notes

  • The 2013 release was not only a different blend, but featured a different band as well that themed more towards the 10th Anniversary bands that were put on some of the special release cigars that year.
  • With the exception of 2013, the blend for the TAA release has been one based on the Tatuaje Pork Tenderloin and Barclay Rex releases. Among fans of the Tatuaje brand, those two blends are certainly some of the more coveted ones, which certainly explains the popularity of the TAA release, no matter what size it is that year.
  • This is the first year that the TAA release has seen a price increase as well, having previously always been priced at $11. This year there was a small bump up to $11.95.
  • All three samples performed very similarly, though in the third sample it did seem to be a little more finicky with the burn, requiring touch ups in the second and final third.
  • Last year, the TAA 2015 took the top spot in the halfwheel Top 25. With the exception of the TAA 2013—which was a different blend—the TAA blend has placed in the list every year. In 2012 it took the 18th spot and 2014, spot number three.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Tatuaje advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged just over two hours.
  • Corona Cigar Co. & STOGIES World Class Cigars (713.783.5100).
92 Overall Score

The first question I think most people will have, is of course “is it better than the other sizes?” and that’s a difficult question to answer. The blend seems to shine in every size Johnson has released, never dropping below the 91 mark since 2011. Personally I think I might prefer the 2015 version slightly better, simply because I don’t remember needing any touch ups on that one. Flavor-wise, the 2016 version is just as good as you’ll be expecting, with a rich profile of flavors that mesh together very well. So whether you have most of a box of 2015s left over or you’re fresh out: go ahead and pick some of this year’s release up. Compare it to the previous years or just keep smoking a tried and true blend. Either way, it’s a win in my book.

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Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.