Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo Estelí (2008)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.625 x 46 “Corona Gorda”
Body: Medium
Price: $12.50 in Jars of 19
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 0
Accompanying Libation: Water

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Today we take a look at the Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label).

BACKGROUND:
Thanks again to Joe Talotta for gifting this little treasure to me.
Before this cigar came to be known as just the Black Label it was Private Reserve.
It was the first Tat that had a nipple cap.
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The cigars came in jars of 19 cigars each and only 1000 jars were produced.
These cigars were produced at Tabacalera Cubana S.A.

According to Halfwheel.com:
“Pete Johnson has always said the sun grown wrapper used on the Black Label blend is supposed to be rough, both in how it looks and how it feels.

“This cigar was far from being a ‘pretty’ cigar but that did not bother me a bit. It was a treasured and unexpected gift that I was thrilled to be given. After smoking this cigar I realized that this was one of the best cigars I smoked on the island. Later that day in speaking with my host on this trip I came to understand that these cigars were something special to every person who carried them. They were cigars that they made for themselves. Even the guys who worked hard in the cigar factories all day would return home at night and make their private cigars. Simple cigars with flavors they personally enjoyed. Over the course of the next few days my host and I visited his friends and asked for cigars that they made. Before I left I had cigars from a few locals who all used different tobaccos from the different growing regions. They were all great but there was one that really stood out for me as special.

“I decided when traveling to Nicaragua to work with the Garcia family that I would try to recreate this special cigar for myself. Together we spent quite some time working on the blend and looking at different leaves for wrapper. The marbled toothy wrapper was perfect for this cigar, rustic looking but with tons of aroma.”

DESCRIPTION:
It is, indeed, a rough looking cob. But seams are tight. The wrapper is wrinkly and out of sorts. It’s lumpy and bumpy. The oily toothy wrapper is the color of a baked russet potato. There is that nipple mentioned earlier atop the triple cap. And still intact is a closed foot.
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I took a photo with a white background to illustrate the oils imparted on the cello that the cigar came in.
Age has shrunk this baby a little. About 3/8”.

AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
There is a heavy barnyard aroma up and down the shaft; especially at the freshly clipped cap. (I do a nifty yarmulke cut removing the wrapper of the cap but leaving the tobacco underneath untouched.) As well as some generic sweetness, leather, cedar, spice, and floral notes.

FIRST THIRD:
First puffs are very sweet. Lots of cedar, earthiness, cinnamon, some exotic fruit, cream, and coffee.
The draw is just perfect. The upper half of the stick is pretty hard while the bottom half is soft in spots. Too soft. Not an equal dispensation of filler.
And then Blam! The famous Garcia Pepper Blast.
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Strength starts out at heavy medium body. A smoked meat element appears. And then the Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) becomes very nutty with almonds at the forefront.
After all this time, I am surprised that the char line is dead nuts. Just perfect.

All the flavors are on an upward curve. Especially the spiciness. It is making my eyes water and nose run. Soon to be an Olympic event.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the extremely limited editions that you couldn’t get your hands on certainly appeared? “Look everyone! I held these extra 20,000 cigars back for 7 years and now you can buy them for only $78 per stick!” Ever looked at the Cigar.com Luxury Cigar part of the site? That’s just plain fucking nuts what some of those cigars go for. If I spend $450 for a single cigar, I want Miss America to blow me while I smoke it.

The ash disembarks the stick at ¾”.

The sun comes out early in Wisconsin. Now if I can only keep the cat from jumping up and sitting in the open window blocking that wonderful sun, I will be happy. Damn stubborn cat. If he could flip me off, he would.
Like a light switch, the complexity is lit up like a Christmas tree.
Notes of chocolate, coffee, and citrus bring a new twist to the table.
Strength hits medium/full.

I held back this cigar for the last of the sticks gifted to me that I can review. I’m glad I did. Spectacular blend.
The Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) is a needle in a haystack of wonderful blends.
The sweetness begins to define itself: Caramel, butterscotch (I know, I know. Never had both in the same cigar but with each sip of water, it changes.)

SECOND THIRD:
The sweetness begins to define itself: Caramel, butterscotch (I know, I know. Never had both in the same cigar but with each sip of water, it changes.)
The citrus is orange Gran Marnier. A very delightful liqueur flavor.
Creaminess and spice, in tandem, ratchet up big time.
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This is a really well rounded cigar. Smooth as silk. Complex. Perfect balance. A very nice long finish. I have no idea at what point in the humidor aging time that this transition took place. It seems almost a sacrilege to usher the cigar to the butane lighter gods after such a long peaceful sleep.

Of course, you may find this cigar but it is doubtful. Then why am I reviewing it? To keep the ledger balanced on my catalog of reviews. Never know when someone gets a chance to buy a well-aged Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) but decide to look for a review that reflects what extensive aging has accomplished.

The char line needs its first touch up.
I get a photo off just before a 1” piece of ash falls off.
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Cinnamon makes a run for it. Really potent now. Combined with the spiciness; just like those hot cinnamon toothpicks in a wax paper bag we bought for a nickel as kids. I suppose I’ve really dated myself by referring to the price as a nickel. Back when we fought the dinosaurs for the sweet leaves on the tree, candy was either a dime or a nickel.
Lawdy, lawdy, Miss Clawdy..the blend is unbelievable. Someday in the future, you will be able to experience the cigar with me through your high tech device. I will be long dead by then.
Flavors are in perfect alignment now. Nothing out of place or looming large above the other flavor elements.

HALFWAY POINT:
The Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) is, by far, the most complex and perfectly balanced cigars I’ve smoked in I don’t know when. Yes, many blends do very well with extensive aging. But I’ve never tasted anything like this one.
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I’m sticking to the rule of taking a puff every two minutes. No rush. No hurry.
Another minor touch up is required. How odd that the first half had a dead nuts char line and now there are construction issues. But then I remember what I said at the start of the review: The cigar is packed unevenly. That must be the culprit.
Here they are: Creaminess, cedar, nutty, orange citrus, chocolate, caramel, malt, mesquite, cinnamon, butterscotch, leather, earthiness, espresso, and the slightest touch of pineapple. This must be the longest list of kitchen sink flavors in a cigar I’ve reviewed in years.

LAST THIRD:
This is making me laugh. I check the Halfwheel review and we are very close in our determinations. Even the double Cracker Jack prize of both caramel and butterscotch. Once in a while, Halfwheel and I are on the same page; note by note. And then other times, we couldn’t be farther apart.
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Another good source for inside cigar information is Cigar Coop. This guy seems to know everything about the backgrounds of cigars. I certainly admire him. But with both Halfwheel and Cigar Coop, I have no idea how they keep up with all the cigar reviews and cigar news. It seems like it would have to be a full time job. But of course, it isn’t.
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The strength has ratcheted back to medium body. And still very smooth. No heat or harshness.
Make fun of me if you will, but the Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) is one of the most impressive flavor bombs I’ve smoked. An experienced palate will dig the shit out of this blend. There is so much going on that it is difficult to keep track.
The cigar finishes with all flavors intact. What a wonderful treat.

SUMMATION:
I expected this to be a very tasty cigar. But I didn’t expect what I experienced. Except for a few touch ups, the cigar was trouble free.
The team of Pete Johnson and Pepin Garcia can be brilliant. Johnson is a very lucky man that he found a mentor in Garcia. Talk about luck.
Unfortunately, like most A List reviewers, there is a rush to judgment. A month, at the most is allowed before the review begins. As a result, the complexity and balance has not settled in yet like one aged for 7 years. This is where that A List reviewer and I differ. He gives the cigar a rating of 88. I give it a 96. Huge difference in the cigar experience.
I don’t know what to say other than this time with the Tatuaje Private Reserve Corona Gorda 2008 (Black Label) was marvelous.
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And now for something completely different…

I dredged this anecdote out of retirement. It was the very first story I told about Butch and me ever. In fact, it first occurred when I had my blog on Open Salon. I wrote over a thousand reviews there but they changed format and my reviews are gone forever. Luckily, I managed to find this story in my current digs.

The Eddie (Butch Patrick) Munster Chronicles…Continued:

The Waldorf Astoria charged $18 for a burger and fries in 1983.
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Butch and I ordered one burger extravaganza each. The voice on the other end of the phone said it would take approximately 45 minutes. OK. This would surely be a feast. My God. We were in the famous Waldorf Astoria. I expected a feast to satisfy Louis XIIII.

Butch headed straight for the courtesy fridge with the ridiculously expensive treats. Items that I was not about to pop for, regardless of how much pot we had smoked.
An hour later, no food. I called room service and I was assured that it was on its way.
Uh-huh. Sure buddy.

I had to pry Butch off of the fridge. I had a brilliant idea. A little toot of cocaine would assuage our appetites until the Waldorf could manage to deliver the sumptuous feast to the peasants. I went over to my suitcase where the drugs were stored for the trip. I removed a small brown colored gram bottle containing the white death.

The dilemma: Where do we find a smooth surface to lay the drug out in neat little lines? Butch looked at the wall over the dresser. He got up, walked over to the wall, and removed an enormous mirror. I mean enormous! This piece of art was at least 36” x 48” with an ornate frame making it even bigger.

Slipping and sliding, he waddled over to the bed and lay it down. It took up the entire double bed. Yes, Rocshire Records actually popped for double rooms.
I placed the bottle on the mirror and got up to get my wallet. Within the wallet would be our means to snort the white powder; a $20 bill to be rolled into the shape of a tube. When I came back to the bed, Butch had already dumped the entire contents of the bottle on to the surface of the mirror.

A gram, back then, was worth about $100. An entire gram was too much for a little appetite suppressant. This was essentially a heart attack dose.

I had a good friend that was an ex-con. He made his living dealing. And he got stuff that was as close to pure as anything I had ever tried. Rick liked me a lot because I wasn’t one of the many coke whores that surrounded his business. I turned down his offers for more and more toots than he could believe. The rest of his clientele never turned down anything. So we became friends. This was a man who once you became friends; he was loyal to a fault. He had a big heart. And his prison stint had to do with illegal gambling. He was not a violent man. But he was a huge man. I wouldn’t want him mad at me or to confront me. He actually went on to become part of my Eddie Munster creative team. He was very inventive. Always had good ideas. I lost contact with him in the late 1980’s. I hope he is well. I think about him now and then and worry.

Back to the Waldorf….
I went first, doing a very small amount of coke….maybe a quarter of an inch. Instant wake up and “What hunger?” As Butch leaned over the mirror, there was a knock at the door. Both of our heads jerked up and stared at the portal and then back at each other.
The food!

Obviously, we could not allow the waiter to see the mirror on the bed and the illegal substance atop. I yelled to Butch, “Get rid of it!”

Butch grabbed the mirror, and just like a scene from the Three Stooges, ran towards the open door to the adjacent suite and slammed into it. The dolt was holding the mirror sideways.

The mirror held sideways, in his hands, overlapped the door by at least two feet on either side. Rebounding from the jolt, he turned the mirror the other way. But the oversized frame would not allow him through. And he couldn’t turn it on its side or all the coke would hit the floor.

The knock at the door was louder and sounded impatient. I yelled that I’d be right there. “Hang on!”
Butch threw the mirror back on the bed. Yes! That’s right. Scoop it up and shove it back in the bottle.
Not Butch.

He grabbed the rolled up bill and proceeded to inhale the remaining gram of coke up his nose.
My jaw dropped.

The paramedics would be called. Survival was not an option.

As I waited for him to drop in a heap, twitching and convulsing, the door knock came, for what seemed, one last time. I pulled the comforter over the mirror and opened the door. The food was wheeled in by a disgruntled employee.

Word was out that a pair of Hollywood types wearing T-Shirts was in the prestigious hotel. And no one liked it one bit.
I signed for the food and he left.

Butch’s eyes had no irises left, only pupil. He couldn’t blink. “Still hungry, Butch?”, I asked.
There was no reply. He had lock jaw.

I was hungry and he did not seem near death…for the moment.

They forgot to deliver one of the burger and fries orders. I shook my head. We waited an hour and a quarter and they fucked up the order.
I called downstairs and bitched at them. Profuse apologies spewed forth. Yeah, sure. The Californians didn’t get their complete meal of burgers and fries. I’m sure the kitchen was in an uproar.
I was assured that the balance of our meal was on its way.

I cut the burger in half with a butter knife, nearly destroying it.
Expecting a beautiful piece of meat piled high with condiments and veggies, I was extremely disappointed at the fare. It looked like a fast food burger.

It felt like we were at some greasy diner in Arkansas. The plate was pitiful. But food was food.

Amazingly, Butch wanted to eat. The natural appetite suppressant of the drug did not seem to cause Butch’s desire to feed his face wane. So we shared a crappy burger.

An hour later, the second burger and fries arrived. A big smile on the waiter’s face with an outstretched hand, as he proclaimed that feeling badly, the kitchen threw in some extra fries! I shoved him out the door without a tip.

Life at the Waldorf was not cherries and cream.

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2 replies

  1. I really gave some thought to mentioning the cat hair but I figured that a lot of people don’t view the photos on a big screen and therefore would never see them.
    Good catch Ron.

  2. Pete has said he likes to roll cigars that age well. He wants it too be good now and exceptional in five years. I don’t think anybody reviewing a Tat without keeping that in mind is doing the cigar an injustice. I think that is the big difference in the ratings. You actually got it the way Pete wants it smoked.