L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.25 x 55
Body: Full
Price: $8.00
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Dedicated to good friends….everywhere.

Today we take a look at the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher.

By the way, L’Atelier, in French, means: “An artist’s, or designers, studio or workroom.”
And if you really want to go nuts: “From Middle French; Astelier woodpile, from Astele splinter, from Late Latin Astella, diminutive of Latin Astula. First Known Use: 1699.

From the New Havana Cigars web site:
“The offerings by L’Atelier Imports are all made by the Garcia Family and blended by Pete Johnson and the L’Atelier team. Surrogates was started in 2011 by Pete Johnson and Dan Welsh and when L’Atelier Imports was created in 2012, Surrogates was a perfect fit for the portfolio. Pete Johnson and industry friends Dan Welsh, K.C. Johnson and Sean “Casper” Johnson set out to make premium cigars that are “Consumer Price Conscious” and to raise the expectations of cigar smokers at every level of experience.

“This premium line, made at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua is a unique undertaking. Each vitola released under the Surrogates brand will have its own character derived from its own blend and size. Created to bring the excitement of a limited edition stick at a consumer conscious price point and be readily available, these vitolas answer the question of whether to save it or smoke it with a blaring “Smoke it! Every day!”. The Surrogates tagline of “Limited Edition Quality at an Everyday Price” is another way that L’Atelier Imports is bringing the premium cigar experience to more cigar enthusiasts.

“Bone Crusher defines a new equilibrium and expectation for the full bodied cigar”

The NHC Surrogates is currently available in six blends: Skull Breaker, Bone Crusher, Tramp Stamp, Crystal Baller, Animal Cracker, and Satin Glove. Prices range from $7.50-$9.50.

Uh-oh. I had my bowl of cereal coming into this review.

NHC offers a sampler of 4 cigars containing 2 NHC Surrogates Bone Crushers alongside 2 new Surrogates Skull Breakers for $30.00. Or $7.50 per stick.

The four sticks I received had very yellow cellos containing the cigars. That’s a very good thing. According to NHC, these cigars have been sitting around since their inception in 2011. They should be ready to blow.
The wrappers on both sticks are dark. But one is much darker than the other. One is dark chocolate while the other is almost charcoal. Which to review?

Construction is the same on both. Tight, near invisible seams. Lots of veins. Perfect triple caps. Both are a bit lumpy and bumpy but in an appealing fashion. The oiliness is just oozing. And the wrapper feels very toothy.

My neighbor loaned me a small digital camera similar to the one that died on me. I call them cigarette box cameras. Different manufacturer but simple controls and very similar. I’m sure both were made at the same factory in North Korea by one of Kim Jong-un’s, the Supreme Leader, sex slaves. Don’t worry. I washed my hands.

I clip the cap, of the lighter of the two wrappers, and find aromas of spice, cocoa, leather, earthiness, espresso, and sweetness.
Time to light up.

Nice flavors start with the first puffs. There is a decadent creaminess, dark chocolate, red hot spiciness, exotic coffee, molasses, and sinewy leather.
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The draw is perfect considering how solidly packed it is. Smoke is making my eyes water as it fills the room and around my pin head.

The L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher starts with a bang and becomes Flavor Bomb 1.0.

The sweetness is taking on all sorts of shapes of mythological demons…like the marshmallow Easter bunny or those horrible giant jelly beans.
Kidding.

The sweetness is the molasses, brown sugar mixed with an acidic balsamic vinegar, powdered sugar and a slightly sweet element of carrot juice. Good stuff.

The espresso morphs to sweet, creamy coffee. The spiciness has moved down the ladder some and the coffee takes its place at the head of the line.

But the chocolate is impressive as well and as the cigar begins its complexity force field, it becomes neck and neck between the two major flavors.

The L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher has an Ezra Zion quality to it. That incredible depth, or field, of flavor that is bone deep. Pardon the pun. Each puff must be savored in order to fully appreciate the blender’s intent. It is a very intense flavor profile.
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Of course, having approximately 4-5 years of box life on the cigar doesn’t hurt.

NHC is really doing its customers a solid with this deal. Not only are they knocking a few shekels off the regular pricing, but they are handing you fully matured blends. Kudos NHC.

The char line has been wavy since the start but I feel no need to mess with it.

The second third begins.

The lighting has changed dramatically. It is too light to allow the cheap flash to work as it did in my early photos allowing you to see just how oily the wrapper is. And just dark enough to obliterate the detail of the wrapper. I check the status of my new camera and all it says is: Label Created. Drat.

This is a marvelous cigar.

I find it quite interesting that at the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher’s life, it was merely the NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher. The involvement of Pete Johnson and Pepin Garcia was kept a secret.
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If I were to have blind taste tested this cigar back in 2011, I never would have guessed the folks behind the blend. Dan Welsh, K.C. Johnson and Sean “Casper” Johnson also had their hands in the blending of the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher and in my mind; it may just have been those fellas that helped make this a stunning blend.

Chomping away, a nice 1” hunk of ash falls through my bath robe and right on to my naughty bits. Damn boxers.
The strength is medium/full. And has been as such since the beginning. Unless, the cigar rears up on its hind legs during the last third, I am sticking my neck out and saying that those years aging have mellowed the cigar. The description of the cigar is that it is a power house. But not yet.

I have to go back to New Havana Cigars and get more L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crushers. But before I do, I will review its partner in crime: Skull Breaker tomorrow. I just might buy a few of those 4 packs. Can’t beat the price.
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The price point. Killer. If this stick were to be released in 2014, it would be a double digit price. No doubt. I applaud the NHC and L’Atelier folks for not jacking the price. I can only think of a handful of cigars at this price that is this good.

The flavors, once more: Coffee, creaminess, chocolate, leather, fruity sweetness, molasses, brown sugar, only a dash of carrot juice, oak, and a rich earthiness.
And then Bam! The strength hits full bodied; dragging with it some large doses of nicotine.
Flavor Bomb 2.0.

The second half begins.

Normally, I drink something while I am smoking. Not today. I want nothing to interfere with delicate and nuanced flavors. And that is exactly what has happened.
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Instead of the earlier boldness of the flavor profile, the elements have gotten aboard that merry-go-round of complex delicacies. Each flavor deserves exacting focus. No distraction. It is almost as if the cigar was juicy.

The complexity is out of this world. I don’t mind the onslaught of nicotine as it is being offset by brilliant flavors.

My chomping requires a minor clip to the cap.

A meaty flavor now shows up. It is not a BBQ type meatiness; but rather an expensive cut of meat cooked to perfection. It could be fine brisket the way my mother made it or it could be a hunk of filet mignon from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Back in the day, I had a customer who made me buy him lunch there. And this mammoth sloth would buy all those expensive side dishes. Lunch for the two of us pushed $200. But then the schmuck would give me a no bid contract for several hundred thousand dollars so my bosses allowed the lunches.

Back to the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher. I am quickly approaching the last third. And the cigar is rumbling. It is shaking and vibrating like a $30 vibrator.

Flavors explode all over me. I light a cigarette and lay back on the bed. Whew. That was good for me.
The list of flavors hasn’t changed, but their intensity has.

If it wasn’t for being born in 2011, I would most definitely place the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher in my Top 25 Cigar List for 2014.

It is a great feeling to come back from hiatus and review a magnificent cigar.

I’ve only reviewed the Surrogates Tramp Stamp, Satin Glove, and Crystal Baller. That leaves two blends to go after I finish this blend. Since I have the Skull Breaker in waiting, I must get my hands on an Animal Cracker.

The construction has been great. Built like a Mac truck. No wrapper issues. No char line issues. And only the most minor of shmooshy cap issues.

The strength is on the verge of becoming full bodied. But if it doesn’t make it, that’s OK with me.

I want to thank some wonderful readers of the Katman: John Young, Joseph Talotta, Richard Tunstall, Mike Simmons, Ron Naramore, George Hartmann, and Zelig. They recently donated to my fund so I could buy cigars for review.

Cigars will be arriving this week and next. As I am a writing junkie, I probably won’t give them much time to rest.

If you go to NHC and buy this 4 pack of the Surrogates Bone Crusher and Skull Breaker, please tell them that the Katman sent you. Thanks.

While I don’t consider the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher to be a big cigar, it does have a large ring gauge.

I’ve invested 90 minutes of smoke time just as I begin the last third. And it has been one of the most pleasurable 90 minutes of cigar smoking experience in a long time.
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I’m not kidding when I over simplify the fact that the cigar is just oozing flavor. I’m supposed to buy cigars for my daughter’s wedding in May for the groomsmen, etc. I would love to buy the L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher to give to them.

Most of the nicotine fades away. I expect that is due to the 4-5 years of box aging. The L’Atelier NHC Surrogates Bone Crusher never really makes it to full bodied, but comes close.

The finish is marvelous. And I highly recommend this cigar.
Thanks to everyone for their support.
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