This concoction of a joint venture between Pete Johnson and Pepin Garcia was first unveiled in 2006. The name of the cigar, Havana, is an acronym of the six sizes that were released at the time; hence the VI after the Havana. Two more sizes have since been released.
The Artistas is a compliment to the rollers whose expertise must be of the highest order to produce the difficult torpedo shape with the traditional Cuban triple cap.
The cigar’s release was meant to be a medium alternative to the previously released Brown Label. Although, most people consider this stick to be more in the medium/full arena.
The Red Label was the first Pete Johnson stick to be produced at the My Father factory in Nicaragua. I might add that if you look around, the price of this stick is varied. I found it at $6.50 all the way up to $8.00. So be careful when you shop for this cigar.
The cigar I smoke and review today has almost two years humidor aging on it. So I expect it to be mellower than say a stick that has only a few months aging.
Construction, like on all Tatuaje cigars is impeccable. Seams are invisible. Veins appear lightly on the wrapper. The triple cap is flawless. And there is oiliness while also having some tooth.
I sniff the cigar and detect very subtle aromas of spice, cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, and anise. The dry draw is so subtle as to have no discernible flavors except for a bit of spice and anise. Now this is mellow.
The first puffs are some punchy spice. My nose hairs are singed. Smoke just pours from the foot making it difficult to see through it while I type. The char line is wavy.
Almost immediately, the cigar takes on a host of flavors…leather, wood, black cherry, cocoa, coffee, and creaminess. And the famous Garcia Blast of pepper. I guess time in the humidor doesn’t change the immovable. It already has a long finish.
I know the caramel word is used excessively by reviewers but in this case, it applies. The creamy buttery smooth flavor mixed with a natural sweetness foals a caramel component. While the adjective is overused, by me truly as well, the flavor is so elusive that caramel is a good catch all for what we taste. A palate is a tricky thing. No one has the same abilities to taste. So that’s why you probably read several reviews before choosing a cigar. Read 3-4 different reviewers and you should get a comprehensive idea of what you are looking for. Of course, while palates change, sometimes the facts do as well.
The waviness has seemed to correct itself and off we go past the first inch mark. The creaminess is muy strong overwhelming all the other flavors except the cocoa. I grab a Diet Coke for my NYC egg cream experience.
The body is classic medium at this early point. Which leads me to gesticulate that we shall be doing the light fandango by the last third.
Damn. I’ve had many of these cigars. But never one with this much humidor time and it has re-emphasized the blender’s intent many fold. The cigar is a bona fide flavor bomb almost from the beginning.
The spiciness has tamped down a bit by the time I finish the first third. But the BIG flavors of creaminess, cocoa, wood, leather, caramel, and black cherry are pumping out fistfuls of impactful influence.
The draw on the cigar is absolutely a dream. It is perfect. And while we don’t always give much thought to the draw, I notice it when I am writing.
This is the most flavorful cigar I’ve reviewed in weeks. I wasn’t expecting that. As of late, I’ve been smoking Illusione cigars, which are all about power and punch, and subtle on flavor. So this is a nice change up.
The second third sees a deep richness accompanied by earth. The cigar digs in with complex nuances that are just magnificent. All those flavors have taken their place in line making the profile perfection.
The really nice thing is that if you find the right retailer, you can afford these cigars. No ridiculous prices of $9.00+. Atlantic Cigar sells them in the $6.50 range which is the cheapest I’ve found: http://www.atlanticcigar.com/cigars/Tatuaje-Havana-VI-Red.asp
And all the sizes are available. That’s nice.
The body is still medium in strength as I hit the halfway point. Creaminess is still leading the charge with cocoa and sweet caramel not far behind.
A swig of Diet Coke and my childhood comes rushing back as I see my father making us that special treat. Chocolate syrup, seltzer water from those bottles with a spigot, and milk. Why it became known as an egg cream, I will never know; unless I venture over to Wikipedia. So I do and here is what it says:
“It is especially associated with Brooklyn, home of its alleged inventor, late 19th-century candy store owner Louis Auster. Most modern versions of the drink contain neither eggs nor cream.
“The egg cream is almost exclusively a fountain drink. Although there have been several attempts to bottle it, none has been wholly successful, as its fresh taste and characteristic head require mixing of the ingredients just before drinking.”
Big help that was. So apparently, the invention of the name is unknown, or legend.
The last third just explodes with flavor. I really don’t want this to end. Have you ever wondered how long Cigar Aficionado allows their test subjects to humidor age before testing them? Based on their findings, my guess is, not very long. They rate some cigars with stratosphere ratings that leave me scratching my head in befuddlement. The Tatuaje Havana VI should be a 9.5 rating, at the least.
We are still at medium, Houston. And we don’t have a problem.
The cigar is uber smooth. It is perfectly balanced with a very long finish. But now, with a couple inches to go, the strength hits full tilt. I know this because when a cigar hits full bodied when I am writing, the laptop screen gets wavy. The strength creeps on you.
The cigar finishes out cool as a cuke. Flavors are pounding my palate.
And now for something that has nothing to do with rock n roll:
I was 10. My father, who was in structural steel with his own shop, took part in expansion of the Hunt Foods factory in Torrance, Ca. He got me out of school for the contractor walk through. I only remember one thing….the catwalk and the massive vats of cooking spinach.
I hated spinach until that day. These vats were 8 feet in diameter and 6 feet tall. The steam rose from the open vats and wafted up to the catwalk above. The smell was nirvana. I was shocked. I was now hungry for spinach.
I had a constant craving for spinach from that day forward. I ate in the cafeteria every day in school. And we had to clean out plates before being allowed to leave. And a large woman named Brunhilda stood at the door to make sure your plate was clean or you were sent back to finish it.
The days spinach was served saw a slide in kids eating in the cafeteria. But when my table saw me scarfing the green moosh, they asked if I would eat theirs. My eyes lit up and gladly took their portions. I was a hero.
Then I got smart. I began charging a nickel to finish their spinach. In a blink of an eye, I was rich. I kept all those nickels in a can in my bedroom.
I now had plenty of money for my Nehi grape soda and french fries for the walk home from school. I bought my fries at a burger joint for 15¢ and then walked across the street to the mom and pop pharmacy and placed 10¢ in the pop machine for the grape soda.
I stopped begging for money at home and my parents became suspicious.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS