La Mission du L’Atelier | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Sancti Spiritus
Size: 4.75 x 52 “1959”
Body: Full
Price: $8.00 ($7.20 at Small Batch Cigar minus 10% coupon code = $6.48) Tell them the Katman sent you!




Today we take a look at the new La Mission du L’Atelier from Pete Johnson.

“Pete Johnson explained that the years were chosen for the vitola names as they correspond to when the winery received 100-point ratings from Robert Parker, something that has occurred seven times to date with the other ratings taking place in 1955, 1982 and 2000. Johnson originally said if there was to be another 100-point rating; an additional size would be added. A few weeks after making that statement, Parker upgraded a 2005 vintage to 100 points. Johnson said he would be making a new size for that.”

“4 other years have been designated as 100-point releases, 1955, 1982, 2000, and 2005. All of which will see future vitolas added to the La Mission brand.”

From The Cigar Authority:
“La Mission is a brand that was inspired by Château La Mission Haut-Brion, a French winery located southeast of Bordeaux in the Pessac-Léognan region. Known for producing full bodied wines with explosive flavor, La Mission became the perfect inspiration for what would be the most full bodied release to date under the L’Atelier brands.”

Some reviewers have gotten the leaf stats wrong. I pulled mine from the L’Atelier Imports web site.
A nice oily, toothy, mottled coffee bean colored wrapper with tight seams and small veins.
The cigar has a soft box press. And a little pig tail atop and nicely applied triple cap.
The cigar band is L’Atelier’s first move into artistic presentations.
The cigar is solid top to bottom.
I’ve chosen to break the cigar down into halves instead of thirds.


1959: 4.75 x 52 $8.00
1989: 5.625 x 54 $9.00
2009: 6.5 x 56 $10.00
1955, 1982, 2000, and 2005 are upcoming blends. No info on them yet.
Cigars come in boxes of 18.

From the shaft, I smell spice, earthy tobacco, cream, coffee, cedar, and chocolate.
From the clipped cap and foot, I smell strong chocolate, spice, earthiness, and leather.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark cocoa, spice, sweetness, fruit, cedar, leather, and earthy tobacco.

The draw is perfect as it nearly chokes me as it surrounds me like a rain cloud.
And now the flavors start the layering process: Strong red pepper, chocolate, coffee, cedar, sweetness, meaty components, molasses, earthy tobacco.

It is very gratifying to get emails from readers, who haven’t smoked a long time, who tell me they may only get 40% of the flavors I taste. But then find themselves striving to train their palate to find the missing elements in this flavor equation. Good on yer’ boys!


Creaminess pops up. Nice.
Great start. This is exactly how a high premium cigar should begin the journey. Not finding its roots in the second, or last, third. But right at the start of the experience.

The combo of Pete Johnson and Pepin Garcia, in my book, can do no wrong. It is one of the strongest power couples in Cigar Land.

The La Mission du L’Atelier is somewhat of a mysterious cigar in that there are flavors lurking beneath the surface that, for me, are difficult to detect. As a whole, they add a new dimension to the flavor profile. I’ll get it…hopefully.
The fruitiness eludes me a bit. I can taste plum, raisins, and I know this sounds nuts…dried pineapple. Just a hint.
If it’s not pineapple, it is some sort of exotic fruit like mango or Asian pear. Like I said: mysterious.


The cedar is very potent. And I can taste a hint of Worcestershire the makin’s: malt, molasses, tamarind and garlic. The malt is the strongest of the flavors pairing with the chocolate beautifully.

Strength started out at classic medium body and remains there 25 minutes in.

I believe that Pete Johnson may have been the first of the New Breed style of blenders. He designs his cigars so that 2-3 weeks of humidor rest and they are ready to smoke. And with a few months of humi time, they are screaming laughter. I saw some comments about the Oliva Serie V Melanio on a FB cigar group yesterday. The complaints were all the same. Why does this stick take so long before it’s ready to smoke. Simple. Oliva is Old School. I don’t know specifics but I’m sure that part of the equation is the aging of the tobacco. Just spit ballin’.

Here they are: Chocolate, spice, malt, coffee, exotic fruit, molasses, dried fruit, very nutty and toasty, cedar, leather, earthiness, and summer fruit.


2” in, the La Mission du L’Atelier becomes super complex. A great balance. And long finish.
The beautiful cigar band comes off without a hitch. Makes my camera happy.


Out of nowhere, smokiness arrives with a flourish. Mesquite. Shoots the flavor profile up a couple of notches.
No sun this morning. It’s raining pretty hard. If the sun was out, you’d see how gorgeous the wrapper is.
Construction is top gun. No char line issues.

Smoke time is 40 minutes.
My lord what a delicious blend. The La Mission du L’Atelier is a killer cigar. But I can’t count on too many fingers of the blends that the Dynamic Duo produce that aren’t spectacular.

Both Small Batch and Cigar Federation carry the La Mission du L’Atelier in stock. And both offer a 10% discount. For SB, it is leafenthusiast and for CF it is Fedhead614. With CF, you must become a member..for free. SB even offers a sampler. Check it out and tell both the Katman sent you. Neither acknowledges the promotion I give them quite often.

In a flash, the strength hits full body. And with it, the dreaded Vitamin N. Wooo..
Now the La Mission du L’Atelier is a mamajamma of a blend.

Holy cow! This strength is a testicle dissolver. Fortunately, at my age, my ball sack hangs down to my ankles.
I’m pretty sure I’m delirious now. Am I on Uranus. Or Myanus?

The strength has a deleterious effect on the flavor profile…and my skills as a typist.

Writing my reviews is just about the only time I am really lucid these days. I went to the bank to deposit my huge Curved Air royalty check and I could barely speak to the teller. It was so embarrassing that I had to tell the teller what my issue was. Damn embarrassing.

The complexity is very strong. But some of the flavors have fallen off the edge. Like the exotic fruit and dried fruit. It leaves us with chocolate, spice, coffee, smokiness, toasty and malt.

I can’t taste any wood. It’s OK. I’m straight.
With 1-3/4” to go, smoke time has been 45 minutes.

Side Note: I received samples of the entire collection of Outlaw Cigars yesterday from Kendall Culbertson. I reviewed the Gunslinger Drifter Aug. 3. Kendall liked the review and showed some real generosity. These are huge cigars! Will take a while before they are ready to review.


The rain stopped and the sun has come out. Now you can get a glimpse of the multi colored wrapper.


The nicotine has settled down a bit. Flavors come rushing back. A sip of water and it’s a Palate Attack.
All that wonderful fruity sweetness is back.
The smokiness and mesquite flavors are back in force. Very meaty savory element.
The chocolate and coffee are on the wane though.


The spiciness is extremely potent. My nose is running.
The finish is ridiculously long. The La Mission du L’Atelier is so strong that I’m sure it can strip wood.
But as I come close to nubbing it, no harshness or heat. Cool as a cuke.
What a wonderful cigar.

While I think the recently released L’Atelier Côte d’Or is priced at a ridiculous $15.20 per cigar, the La Mission du L’Atelier is a godsend in terms of price. $8.00. No sweat and worth every shekel.
Even the bigger sizes going for $9 and $10 are worth it. This is a premium blend of the highest order.

The price is right. But not for newbies. They will have to make out their will before smoking one.
The experienced palate will have a field day with this blend.

As every other Pete Johnson blend, the construction is flawless. No issues.
I’d like to snag the bigger sizes. Even at a final smoke time of an hour or so, I could go on and on.

Flavors are bountiful and I doubt I got them all. Once a cigar settles into super complexity, distilling the flavors becomes difficult.
My only reservation is that because the cigar blend is an homage to vintage wines, should I have tasted wine? If there was that component, it was buried amongst the other flavors.

The last comment is that there were plenty of transitions throughout the cigar experience.
You may go ahead and buy some La Mission du L’Atelier now.


And now for something completely different:

I just watched the movie, “Rock Star” with Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston and made me think. I’ve been telling wonderful stories about the really fun part of being a demi god in a big English rock band.

But I never really spoke of the excess on the road.
I was so lucky to be in the right place at the right time. That’s all it was.

The first couple of tours were magnificent. All those countries in Europe and the big headlining concerts. It was too good to be true.
Months earlier, I was practicing with a band in a living room and then Bang!
What you don’t know is that as time passes, things change.

You spend 2 hours out of 24 hours playing music.
You spend 22 hours in cars, hotels, and restaurants.
And it is true. Some mornings you wake up with a terrible start. You sit up in bed and go, “Where am I?”
The hotels all look the same.
The arenas all look the same.

And you are stuck with four other people you didn’t know a year ago.
What are the odds that 5 people from all walks of life are going to get along?
Pretty slim. This is the reason bands break up or change members like they change their underwear.

It’s even worse if you have members who think they are the true definition of rock stars. They drank the Kool-Aid.
If you are down to earth, like I was, you have to juggle the personalities in the band. I ended up being the peacemaker. I was the UN.
And of course, that backfires on you eventually as camps develop.

And then there are the performances.
I came from the school of improv.
Curved Air played the same damn song list every single night. Including the 5 encore songs.

That really gets dull. Sure. You are playing to thousands of adoring fans but they begin to look all alike.
This happened all the time….A guy wheedles his way into the dressing room after the gig. He whispers in my ear that he has a song he would like to give us. “The chords are E-A-D.” And then he steps back and smiles.

Or I can’t count how many times I collapsed in a big overstuffed chair in the dressing room and a crowd of 6 young men would form a semi-circle around me.
They would just stare.
At first, I was polite and asked them about themselves.
Then, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I would just stare back at them waiting for them to speak. Not once did they utter a single word.
They just stared expecting me to continue to entertain them.
Finally, I made sure the main roadies knew to keep these arse holes away from me.

It was no different with women. Skanks. I wouldn’t put your dick into them.

Back in the 70’s, few restaurants stayed open late. So there we were. 1am and no place to get a bite.
So we noshed on leftovers in the dressing room.

On the nights we had to travel, we would stop at rest stops positioned every 25 miles on the English motorway. They were identical. It had an all-night cafeteria that served the same thing….Eggs, sausage, bacon, chips, and toast.
Once in a while, they had stewed tomatoes and I had them cover my fried eggs with them. That was the high life. Stewed tomatoes.

I remember getting some criticism in the press for being a zombie on stage. This was near the end of my couple year tenure with the band.
Of course, I was a zombie. Playing the same 20 songs every single night. The only fun occurred in two songs. In both of them were long extended improvised instrumentals. I went nuts. I lead the band. They went exactly where I wanted them to go.

And besides, ask any real pro musician and he will tell you the leader of the band is the bassist. Very true. Very true.
I got all the warning signs as the two camps formed and I was left out in the cold. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just didn’t take sides and that made me an outside. Simple.

So when RCA rejected my second album with the band, they fractured into those same camps and tried to figure who to point the finger at. Me. Of course. It was the bass player’s fault that the engineer did a lousy job. That the newly written songs were junk.
It was my fault.

So it was no surprise when a closed meeting was held and I wasn’t invited. Didn’t know about it til it was a couple days old.
Our manager came to my house and told me I was out.
He felt bad. I felt worse.

They left me, my girlfriend, and her 3 year old girl strapped in a foreign country. I got no severance. No good bye English Pounds. Just a hearty hand shake and good luck to ya’.

I just got my latest royalty check. $104.78. The albums still sell all over the world. The band still tours.
And I get paid for sales that come from Germany only. Germany. How perfect.

I can’t afford a lawyer to chase an English lawyer to get what’s coming to me. Or am I already getting what’s coming to me?
But here is the magic. I got to do what none of my friends got to do. I was the only one.

I had the opportunity to experience something that few people can claim. Rock god status.
I’m all over Google if you type in “Phillip Kohn bass.”
But more than that, it’s the memories. The fun. The expression of my talent. The appreciation of my talent. No one can take that away.
And so as my brain fades away and my bass playing skills are gone, I can say that I had a great 50 year ride. Wouldn’t change a thing. Protection Status


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