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Peanut butter and jelly, Bert & Ernie, Tatuaje and the TAA. Some things just go together.

Since 2011, Pete Johnson has been creating limited edition cigars for the Tobacconists’ Association of America, an organization of approximately 80 of the largest, highest-volume brick-and-mortar retailers in the industry, as well as about 40 manufacturers. The cigar gets sold at the group’s annual meeting and trade show in the late winter or early spring, and then shipped a few months later.

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In 2018, the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary, and to commemorate it, Johnson created the aptly named Tatuaje TAA 50th, a 5 x 52 box pressed robusto with a Connecticut broadleaf rosado oscuro wrapper covering a Nicaraguan binder and filler.

Here’s what I said about the Tatuaje TAA 50th when I reviewed it in June 2018:

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Tatuaje TAA 50th, I found it to be a bit on the boring side, with two of the three samples providing little to write about as far as flavors, complexity or progression. The third was a bit more vibrant, but it came with the cost of some increased metallic harshness and a more pronounced bit on the tip of the tongue. These may very well turn into something quite good with some time, and there is no doubt I’m hopeful that they will, but for now, there are much more engaging cigars in the Tatuaje portfolio that I’d pick up before the TAA 50th in its current state.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje TAA 50th
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A (Connecticut Broadleaf Rosado Oscuro)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $11.95 (Box of 20, $239)
  • Release Date: May 21, 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The Tatuaje TAA 50th is a rougher looking wrapper than I remember, or at least it didn’t stand out in my memory from when I last smoked this cigar. It is unmistakably Connecticut broadleaf due to its color, vein structure and texture, not to mention a preferred leaf of Pete Johnson. As such, while the cigar is rolled well, this wrapper doesn’t allow that to be shown off as much as a smoother leaf might. It’s a bit firmer than most box-pressed cigars I’ve come across, not showing as much of the pillowy give as I expect. Otherwise, it looks good: the closed foot is fairly tightly folded and while the head’s appearance gets held back a bit because of the wrapper’s texture, it still looks like it was assembled well. The foot of the cigar is somewhat mild with a bit of black cherry and black pepper ahead of some earth. The cold draw is a bit sweeter with more of the black cherry flavor and less pepper, while the earth is mellower and less of a contributor.

The first puffs of the Tatuaje TAA 50th are pretty much everything I expect from a cigar with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper: earthy, peppery and just a bit sweet with dark berries, or more so in this case, the black cherry I picked up before lighting the cigar. It’s quite well balanced, starting big and bold but also in harmony. The sweetness isn’t long for the profile, departing at about the one-inch mark and leaving behind the earth and pepper, which also makes up the retrohale, though it’s more white pepper and a bit less earth, which results in a brighter experience of the smoke through the nose than on the palate. The earth gets just a tick lighter as the midway point approaches and it touches on some black coffee notes but never becomes close enough to really warrant the description. The technical performance is fantastic in the first half to complement the balance and refinement of the flavors.

After some subtle transitions in the first third and the start of the second third, the Tatuaje TAA 50th has generally stayed largely the same, with the sweetness departed and a mix of earth and pepper driving the profile. Towards the end of the second third, the profile dries out a bit and the earth picks up a slightly rockier taste instead of the richer soil notes it exhibited earlier. There are some suggestions that the flavor is trying to develop a dry wood note, though it is doing it fairly slowly. It’s not until the final third that it fully arrives, further drying out the palate but bringing about some appreciated development to the profile while giving it a bit a level of complexity that hadn’t been experienced since the first inch. I’m also now getting a much more pronounced bite on the front of the tongue as a result of the flavor’s evolution, though it never becomes harsh or annoying, let alone enough to mark the cigar down. While I’d love to get a bit more of that first third sweetness, it is not to be, though that doesn’t stop the cigar from finishing on a strong note after just about 90 minutes.

93 Overall Score

Nearly a year to the day since the Tatuaje TAA 50th was released, it has seemingly remedied my main complaint from when I first smoked it. At least in the case of this sample, it is far from boring and has definitely woken up quite a bit, showing much more in the way of flavor progression and vibrance. Where it shines most though is depth and complexity, particularly in the first and final thirds. Hopefully the Tatuaje TAA 50th is still on its upward trajectory, as the results could be quite good at the peak if so.

Original Score (June 2018)
86
Redux Score (May 2019)
93

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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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