Tatuaje Cigars, made in the heart of Esteli at the My Father Cigars Factory is one of my absolute favorite brands of cigars. I have always loved the things that have come out of this factory and I have always loved the blends that Pete Johnson has developed for his Tatuaje line. Naturally this is a match made in heaven. Personally I think that Johnson is a long lost relative of Jose Garcia, but since neither will admit it, weâ€™ll just go ahead and say that the cigar gods brought these two together.
In 2013 the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary lineup was put together, (youâ€™re not going to believe thisâ€¦) to celebrate Tatuajeâ€™s 10th year of business, (big surprise, right?) The blend is no different than their classic brown label line but they did redesign the labels and introduce two new vitolas: the Bon Chasseur (5 3/8 x 52) and the Belle Encre (5 3/8 x 48). In March of 2014, Tatuaje released the Belle Encre with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper instead of the classic Ecuadorian Habano wrapper which was previously used for the brown label line. They were released with a secondary â€œReservaâ€ band and sold in these cool zip up 22 count humidors that look like laptop cases, retailing for $242 per humidor.
Alright, letâ€™s get to the cigar!
The Tatuaje 10th Belle Encre Reserva is a great looking cigar. The wrapper is bit darker, deeper brown, has a little more tooth and slightly more oily than the classic Belle Encre. The feel is great and gives good resistance with no major veins present. The cigar stays intact after cutting the cap and the draw is perfect.
Upon the first few puffs I get what I would expect from a cigar like this: black pepper spice and cedar up front with some bittersweet chocolate and earth on the finish. Thereâ€™s a really pleasant and unique taste on the retrohale reminiscent of the dark red fruit notes one might pick up on a dry Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavors stay consistent through the first two inches and the burn stays fairly sharp with no touchups required thus far.
As I approach the end of the first third, the cedar and earth come to the forefront and the black pepper spice moves into the finish; there is also a sweetness that becomes more prevalent as the cigar progresses. The cigar has finally ashed and the burn requires a little touch up.
Alright, so you know that aroma you smell when you get a brand new leather wallet? Thatâ€™s the aroma that Iâ€™m getting as the cigar is burning once I enter the second third. The sweetness has begun to fade while earth and black pepper are becoming more pronounced. I still get some of that dark red fruit on the retrohale along with a bit of the black pepper. The ash is holding nicely as I pass the halfway mark and the burn stays fairly even.
Itâ€™s been nearly an hour now and I am entering the final third of the cigar. The flavors remain the same however the intensity of each has changed. The sweetness is less pronounced and moves into the finish, the black pepper remains up front, the earthy notes become more prevalent and the bittersweet chocolate returns to the finish. The fruit notes are less pronounced on the retrohale but the black pepper remains accompanied by a leathery aroma. The cigar has ashed again but the burn remains even and no touchups were required after the first third.
As the cigar comes to an end, it becomes a little more bitter and the sweetness has faded almost completely. Leather becomes prominent and the black pepper fades in and out. Only leather and earth remain on the finish with earth and black pepper on the retrohale.
The total smoking time was just above 90 minutes, (94 minutes to be exact, for those of you who want to know), and the burn stayed even throughout while holding a decent ash (2 inches at the longest). In all, the cigar was not incredibly complex and only had significant profile changes after the first third and towards the last inch and a half.
Personally, I love a good Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and this was no exception. I certainly prefer this blend over the classic Belle Encre and would certainly recommend this cigar to those of you who enjoy full bodied, spicy and rich flavored cigars. At no point was the retrohale too rough nor was the cigar ever too spicy. At $11 a stick, the cigar isn’t cheap by any means but certainly worth every penny. Although I donâ€™t feel that it is fair for me to label a cigar with a numbered rating, for the purposes of this review I would rate this cigar a 9/10. I only wish the red fruit would have remained on the retrohale longer and the subtle sweetness hadnâ€™t faded so quickly, as it balanced out the cigar almost perfectly.