There is certainly something to be said for making a big first impression, and that’s just what Pete Johnson did when he unveiled a 100-cigar master case containing a new project called the Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection.
The project was shown off at the 2016 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, and it seemed to immediately generate both interest and intrigue, and not only because Johnson called it his favorite thing in the booth that year. The project of adding a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper to 10 cigars in Tatuaje’s Seleccion de Cazador line sounded intriguing, the cigars themselves looked incredible, but thoughts of selling a 100-count box priced at $1,200 certainly had some people a bit concerned, though that was fairly easy to resolve by means of selling samplers and individual cigars.
First, the cigars. Johnson selected 10 cigars from what’s commonly referred to as the Brown Label line due to its simple yet distinctive primary band, including the six HUNTER sizes, the fairly recently released K222, the well-regarded Reserva SW and Reserva J21, and the Cojonu 2003 Reserva.
- Tatuaje Havana Cazadores Reserva Broadleaf (6 3/8 x 43)
- Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf (6 1/8 x 52)
- Tatuaje Noellas Reserva Broadleaf (5 1/8 x 42)
- Tatuaje Tainos Reserva Broadleaf (7 5/8 x 49)
- Tatuaje Especiales Reserva Broadleaf (7 1/2 x 38)
- Tatuaje Regios Reserva Broadleaf (5 1/2 x 50)
- Tatuaje Reserva SW Broadleaf (7 x 47)
- Tatuaje Reserva J21 Broadleaf (5 x 50)
- Tatuaje Reserva K222 Broadleaf (5 7/8 x 52)
- Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Reserva Broadleaf (6 1/2 x 52)
To keep it relatively simple, each cigar would be priced the same as its original counterpart.
In addition to the size of the actual box, which should be enough to make most retailers have to think about reorganizing a few shelves, there was also the size of the release: 5,000 of these boxes/cases/chests were going to be produced, making for a total run of 500,000 cigars.
Then, things changed.
Johnson decided to change course a bit and reduce the number of master cases being produced in favor of moving to 10-count boxes of the cigars in the Reserva Broadleaf collection. He said that the change would allow retailers to pick and choose the sizes they wanted, as opposed to having to sell all 10 sizes at once, a valid concern that anyone who has worked in a cigar shop can understand.
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaragaua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $12 (Boxes of 10, $120)
- Release Date: Feb. 14, 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The focus of the Tatuaje Reserva Broadleaf Collection is the wrapper, and at least from a visual perspective it’s easy to see why. A dark, chocolate brown and generally uniform shade, the wrapper has a bit of crystallization on it which gives some immediate visual sparkle to complement its oily sheen. There are just a few small veins on each sample with a good bit of tooth and the seams are so clean on the first cigar I light up that it took me a few seconds to find one. The Unicos has a very firm and even roll with about as little give as a cigar could have while still having any. The aroma from the foot is a fantastic sweet earth, with thick chocolate sauce following quickly, a decent sprinkling of pepper behind that and on one sample, a subtle note of cherry cobbler. Once the well-shaped torpedo head is clipped off, the cold draw offers a complex set of flavors that almost fight to get out of the narrowed opening. Flavors of ramen, pepper, cedar and earth all take turns introducing themselves to the front half of my tongue, with the air flow smooth and easy.
The Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf opens with a flavor that is a bit hard to sink into, as it seems slightly metallic and lacking depth, though things open up quickly as the first retrohale introduces plenty of pepper into the nose, followed by some for the tongue on subsequent puffs, though variations from sample to sample can have it feeling a bit aggressive and harsh. There are a few notes of earth and chocolate that come out early which the palate latches onto quickly, and by the time the cigar has burnt about a third of an inch, the flavor has righted itself and is showing familiar broadleaf sweetness and earthiness, though the body of the smoke still seems a bit on the thin side. In the second sample, the flavor elicits a word I can’t remember using to describe what I’m getting from a cigar: hard. While many times the words lush, chewy, rich, and thick get used to describe the smoke of a cigar, in this case I find it almost hard to process and lacking any semblance of those four other words. The cigar does burn quite well though, making it by far the standout characteristic of the Unicos so far.
After the first two clumps of ash drop off, the cigar is noticeably stronger in both flavor and body, with a muted yet forceful pepper lingering on the palate after it gets coated with a subtly sweet earthiness that interplays with a bit of char, depending on the progress of the particular sample, which can make it a somewhat less than endearing profile. Notes of rich earth with a hint of smokiness dodge the more detrimental part of the Unicos from time to time, making for enjoyable interludes that show the better sides of the blend. The metallic taste comes and goes past the midpoint, and at times does a back-and-forth with a note that is somewhere between a candy cane and a generic breath mint. Pepper is still quite strong in the nose, though a bit more restrained than in the first third. At the very end of the second third, the Unicos picks up some of the metallic taste and aggravation of the back of the throat occurs with more frequency and intensity. The third sample was able to suppress a good bit of this harshness yet didn’t quite make up for it with flavors, though it was certainly an improvement over the other samples.
The Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf doesn’t change drastically at the start of the final third, but within the first few puffs there are notes of chocolate and cherries that emerge, one of the better sets of flavors that the cigar has offered to this point. Unfortunately it doesn’t last long, and all too quickly the metallic note begins to return while the pepper gets back to its old tricks, namely getting aggressive on the back of the throat. Even the third sample, which has been the best tasting of the bunch, can’t shake a brutally unpleasant taste on the center of the tongue that is sharp and thick, metallic and biting. The draw begins to feel a bit more labored in the final two inches of the Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf, and the flavors just a bit less satisfying than they had been earlier. Burn issues in one sample don’t help things, though laboring through a pair of relights yields a fairly enjoyable meatiness to close things out.
- Tatuaje and L’Atelier Imports unveiled a new booth at last year’s trade show as well, which Johnson said he wanted to make a statement with and tell people that he and the company were going to be around for the long run.
- I do find it interesting that certain sizes struggle in certain cigar shops, and I commend Pete Johnson for acknowledging this and pivoting on this project to accommodate what I have to think were some requests from retailers.
- As an example, there is a store in the Phoenix area that tells me it is almost impossible for them to sell anything under a 50 ring gauge, as it just doesn’t work for its customers, while cigars around 60 ring gauge do incredibly well. Conversely, there’s STOGIES World Class Cigars in Houston, which is well-known for being a lancero lover’s paradise.
- That said though, when it came to the individual boxes of Skinny Monsters, retailers were required to buy them in sets, which included a box of each, as opposed to taking a buffet-style approach and picking specific quantities of each box.
- Also released at the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show was the L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER 16, L’Atelier Identité, La Mission de L’Atelier 1982, Négociant, Surrogate Crystal Baller Corona Gorda, Tatuaje The Krueger, Tatuaje La Vérité 2013, Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Collection, Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Cazadores Edition, Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Lancero Edition, and in the accessories category, the Tatuaje Stash Ashtray.
- Tatuaje advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Corona Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) and Smoke Inn all carry the Tatuaje Broadleaf Collection, though in various configurations and offers.
Update — The price of the Unicos Reserva and the size of the Regios were originally listed incorrectly.
I'm not quite sure what word best describes my experience with the Tatuaje Unicos Reserva Broadleaf as confusing and disappointing both come to mind quickly. The overriding and occasionally overbearing harshness is an immediate turnoff and the metallic taste that is one of the few constants of the cigar is simply unacceptable. While there are some enjoyable moments of sweet earth and chocolate, they are way too few and far between to make this recommendable. Pete Johnson has done better with broadleaf than this, and I'm sure will do so again; but my experience with this effort show that it's far from what's expected from him.