Atabey Brujos by Selected Tobaccos | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Caribbean
Size: 4.875 x 52 “Robusto – Brujos”
Body: Medium
Price: $24.99 @ Two Guys Smoke Shop ~ $60.00 MSRP with cigar in a Humitube

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Today we take a look at the Atabey Brujos by Selected Tobaccos.
Thanks to Nathan (Sorry Nathan. I can’t find your last name. Email me please)
I read a few reviews and was blown away. A couple Big Guy reviewers gave the cigar a perfect rating of 100!
One thing I noticed was that the blend is described as very Cubanesque.

BACKGROUND:
Distributed by United Cigar
Atabey Cigars launched their line with three blends: Bandolero, Byron & Atabey at the 2012 IPCPR trade show.
Atabey is sold in 51 B & M’s in the States according to the Atabey Cigars Retailer Page. And one online store (Two Guys Smoke Shop) that carries all three lines: Atabey, Bandolero, and Byron. See the Retailer’s Page on the Atabey Cigars web site.

There are six sizes and priced from $20.00 to $30.00 per cigar. These prices do not include the fancy shmancy Humitube. On the Atabey web-site, the MSRP is $50.00 to $100.00.

From the Cigar Aficionado web site (2-6-2015):
“Packaging is part of the entire experience. If you have a quality product, you want it to be confirmed by a tactile and visually appealing exterior. Good cigars deserve good, conscientious packaging. That’s where it starts. And not everyone can do it effectively. Most cigar makers know this.”

“Nelson Alfonso knows this. You might not know the name, but many in the industry do. He’s the imagery and creative director for the Golden Age design firm. They handle most of the major branding for Habanos S.A. and Alfonso has been instrumental on the Cuban Cohiba design since 1999. While he didn’t design the original logo, he has developed it over time and brought it to where it is today. And Nelson Alfonso also designed Padron’s 50th Anniversary humidor.

“Atabey, in Cuban mythology, was a female goddess of the Taino tribe. Makes sense. If Habanos is going to claim a Taino as their own with Cohiba—and also take ownership of the Taino head priest (Bejique. Or Behike), then I guess Atabey is up for grabs.

“If you’ve never heard of Atabey, let me acquaint you as best I can. They’re made in Costa Rica. The blend is one that’s pretty popular these days in premium cigars: Ecuador Havana wrapper and mostly Nicaraguan guts. And they’re distributed by a company called United Cigar Group, which is owned and operated by David Garofalo. You know Dave. He also owns Two Guys Smoke shop in New Hampshire. Atabey cigars have been around for a few years, but distribution is now in United’s hands.

“But here’s another notable fact. The Atabey Divinos retails for $19.99 each. And that’s the smallest size. The largest size, Delerios (5 3/4 by 55) retails for $29.99 each. And now the question I’m often asked about any cigar that retails for more than $10: Is it worth it? That question is impossible to answer. Budgets are varied, personal and arbitrary. Value calls are even more personal and arbitrary, so I can’t answer it definitively. What I can say about this cigar is that it’s interesting, enjoyable and definitely worth trying. But only you can make the value call.”

From the Atabey Cigars web site:
“The ATABEY cigars are produced in limited quantities by the “Selected Tobacco” factory in Costa Rica. The leaves of these cigars have many origins, they are from Caribbean and Central American countries.
“These luxury cigars only can be bought it in few stores around the world which are certified by the manufacturer. The selling of Atabey cigars began in 2011 in selected specialized stores of California, United States. By February 2012 the amount of stores was 20 spread across the United States.

“You can find these stores in our Distributors section. Any Atabey cigar sold outside this authorized stores, is not genuine.

“During 2012 we are selling the very exclusive luxury porcelain jars of 25 cigars, also the gift pack of five cigars provided with the Humitube R technology. The range of prices of Atabey cigars is from 50 USD to 100 USD, according to the size a kind of presentation, thus a packaging of 25 cigars can cost around 1000 USD.

“The brand ATABEY belongs to “Compañía Mercantil San Antonio S.A.” from Costa Rica and it is distributed in the United States by “Cuba Rica, Inc.” under supervision of Selected Tobacco S.A.”

UNITED STATES EXCLUSIVE RESELLER:
David Garofalo, President (Two Guys Smoke Shop)

From the Cigar Federation web site:
“Alphonso ages his cigars for three years post rolling, and blends cedar for his aging cabinets.

DESCRIPTION:
Thanks to Nathan, I have two sticks to compare. One is almost flawless with nearly invisible seams and few veins. The wrapper is the color of caramel with a touch of oil on its surface.
I checked out a couple reviews because in my naïveté, I had never heard of this cigar until I received it in the mail.
All of the reviewers say the cigar band looks like the old Cuban Cohiba. I can see some similarity but not that much.
Photo courtesy of Cigar Aficionado:
cohiba_genuine

The stick is firm but light in the hand. The triple cap is perfect.

SIZES AND PRICING:
Ritos: 6.125 x 55
Delirios: 5.75 x 55
Sabios: 5.25 x 52
Brujos: 4.875 x 52
Divinos: 4.25 x 50
Ídolos: 4.25 x 55
See Two Guys Smoke Shop for Pricing.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell floral notes, honeysuckle, and wood.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell a wonderful hickory wood note, molasses, floral notes, honeysuckle, and cedar.
The cold draw presents flavors of spice, floral notes, hickory, molasses, and cedar.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is very good. Lots of smoke.
And then a blast of power from an overload of red pepper. Love it.
Following the pepper is a big dose of creaminess, caramel, sweetness, hickory, and cedar.
Strength is medium body.

I don’t know how long Nathan had these cigars in his humidor but I’ve had them for about two months. The presentation is nuts. Certainly not aimed at the group I hang with.
At $25 a stick, I do expect some sort of miraculous, mystical journey.
So far, the cigar hasn’t hit me in the puss with a pie.

This morning’s musical accompaniment is Stevie Wonder. Disc 3 of the Best of Stevie Wonder. Starts with “Sir Duke.” That incredible horn line makes it impossible not to sing along. It’s a shame he lost that prolific period in his life. Clearly, he can stand alone on his past works.

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The char line is near perfect. Considering the issues I’ve had with my cigars since Wisconsin weather has become sub-arctic, that’s quite the accomplishment.
7/8” into the cigar, some generic nuttiness appears along with the molasses turning to maple syrup.
The spiciness has all but disappeared. Too bad.
I smoked a Cuban El Rey de Mundo that Charles Lim sent me. The Atabey Brujos has a similar flavor.
I see the comparison now. The wrappers look very similar:
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The Atabey Brujos is a damn fine cigar but I don’t see a rating of 100 in its future.
The char line is now wavy.
There are no real important transitions. Complexity is minimal. Balance is fine. The finish is long. But at less than 5” long, it has a lot of catching up to do.
A dark espresso enters the picture. Along with white chocolate. The floral notes become stronger.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 20 minutes.
Good cigar but at this point, it doesn’t deserve more than a 90.
The blend finds a very buttery toast element.
And then the Atabey Brujos makes its move. The spiciness returns. Strength hits medium/full body.
Flavors become buoyant and bold. (Yes, they bob and weave).

6third

A fruity note pops up. Can’t discern what it is yet.
As nice as this cigar blend is, it should have come out of the gate with guns a’blazin. It didn’t. It built slowly. Not the character one expects from a $60 or $25 cigar.

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t deserve the high praise of the big guys. Don’t get me wrong, I like it a lot. But to be perfect? It has to provide more blending essence than it is providing.
A rating of 100 should knock me out cold and I don’t wake up for two days.

I got fooled by the reviews that gave it 100. My expectations were so high that I’m having trouble enjoying the cigar for what it is. An excellent, Cubanesque, flavorful blend.
There is this thing going on in the back of my throat that happens with Cuban blends. It is sort of a raspiness. I find it difficult to describe.

The halfway point is here. Smoke time is 30 minutes.
The burn line needs minor touch ups here and there.

Strength settles back down to medium body. Maybe a couple of big puffs and let’s see what happens…Spiciness, creaminess, cherries, hickory, maple syrup, cedar, espresso, white chocolate, floral notes, nuts, toastiness, and very smooth going down my gullet.

I don’t know how they did it, but the folks at Atabey Cigars managed to pull of something very few Central American blenders have done….they have recreated a Cuban blend using CA leaves. Now if they can do it, why not others?
You can see the start of some minor wrapper cracks below:
7half

This Ecuadorian wrapper is very, very thin. And prone to cracking.

Here’s the thing. You can buy authentic Cubans for what the Atabey Brujos goes for. Now if Atabey had made this an affordable cigar, I’d say go for it. But what Atabey is selling is the ornate presentation and a good cigar.

Let’s face it, the Humitube with a cigar in it is strictly for the polo pony set. I think my fellow mallet playing millionaires would be just as happy smoking a Behike or RASS.

The problem with the Humitube is I really doubt that the cigar can age properly. Cigars need to breathe and encased in glass makes something happen…where does the excess moisture go? The cigar, of course. So if kept in these contraptions too long, you are going to get mold on the stick. Anyone that has been foolish enough to buy one of those desktop plastic humidors knows this. (This counts me too).
So what do you do? As one photo above shows, you are supplied with “Humidor solution.” This means you can replenish the PG into the tube. But again, how does it breathe? The best part of keeping your cigars in a humidor is that it melds with your other cigars to bring about a nice rounded flavor that comes with being mixed with other blends.

The Atabey Cigars web site explains how the technology works. Check out this diagram:
graficotubo_en

The retail is $50-$100 per cigar in the Humitube. This is nuts. Thank goodness that Two Guys Smoke Shop sells the cigars with or without the chazerai. A jar of humitubed Brujos is $625.00 for 25 cigars. You won’t pay this in a B & M. It will be $1,500.00 for the jar…plus state taxes.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is 45 minutes.
A big crack forms near the foot. Can’t blame it on the cigar. It’s just too cold in our house. We’re heating two floors and a basement. We are in the midst of finding a small apartment to live in. What a hassle.

8third

The Atabey Brujos finds its golden spot right here and now. Flavors explode into bold and intense components.
This is how the cigar should have started; not finished.

We now have full complexity in motion. Balance is perfect. And transitions come fast and furious.
If the Atabey Brujos had begun this way, I’d be tempted to give it a very high rating. But not now as it winds down.

I’m really digging the blend now. All the aforementioned flavors are swingin’. Especially, the floral notes, cherries, toasty and nuttiness, espresso, and creaminess.

The final smoke time is barely going to crack an hour. And that’s if I smoke it down to a mere nub. Which I rarely do.
Strength is a solid medium body.

The glue seems to have done the trick on the crack; although, it’s ugly.

I’ve only got a handful of cigars left to review. And none are brand new. I’ve gotten some emails urging me to buy new cigars. I wish I could, brothers.

I’m going to review the Ezra Zion Doxology even though you can’t buy it any longer. Only 1005 cigars were produced. Because they are so terrific, I want to document the flavors for posterity.
And thanks to Miguel Castro for providing those to me.

I also want to review the Behike 52 that Charles Lim sent me as I have a serious lack of Cuban reviews.

9

The Atabey Brujos is an excellent blend. But it’s not worth $25.00. I don’t want to hurt David Garofalo’s business. But your money can be better spent on blends just as good for much less. And if you want Cuban, it’s just a trip away from Switzerland or Spain.

Final smoke time is 55 minutes.
The Atabey Brujos is a just a tad bit harsh at the end.

RATING: 93

10

And now for something completely different:
“How I Became a Temp Rock Star-1974”

“Would you like to come to Europe with us this summer?” asked Skip and Debbie?
“Huh?” I replied with exact articulation.

“We are going to buy one way tickets and go. We thought that we would form a trio of you, me and Travis and head for Greece. And live off of our music. Whatcha’ think?”

My head spun. What a nutty idea. But I was 23 and stupid. I had a steady girlfriend, 3 years younger than me, and she had a 2 year old daughter. I called her and told her of my plans. And then asked if she wanted to come with me? She said yes. Oh God. In retrospect, that was a huge mistake. If they weren’t with me, I wouldn’t have felt the need to come home after I was fired from Curved Air and left broke. But I loved her so my decision made no sense for my career; which was in England.

We landed in Amsterdam with our one way tickets. And not enough cash on us to turn around and fly back. Make or break.
We figured it would motivate us more if were stuck and penniless. A really stupid plan.

After 6 weeks in Europe, we were broke. We figured the dough we brought with us would last for months. Man, were we wrong.

With what little dough we had left, we decided that if we were to be poor, and on the streets, better we were in a country that spoke English. So we took the ferry from Calais, France to Dover, England….everyone puking the whole way. The English Channel is one of the roughest waterways in the world.

After a few weeks of spinning our wheels and checking “Melody Maker’s” musician want ads every day, we were really, really broke. The girls found gigs as maids in a hotel. So we were able, at least, to eat. We lived in a dungeon flat on the west side of London.

I called a phone number for a roadie gig, but it was also the phone number for a bassist wanted gig. I was dying for any job.
The voice on the other end suggested that I try out for the band and if I didn’t make it, I could look at the roadie gig. So an audition was set.

There was trepidation from my friends. We had come as a group…sort of. Prior to leaving for Europe, Travis got drunk and wrapped his bike around a tree, a block from our house one late night, and splattered his leg into a million pieces. He spent months in a VA hospital and our plans got all fucked up. But the tickets were paid for and we decided not to scrap the plan.

I had 5£ left on me. I spent half of it getting to the audition in St. John’s Wood. The home of Miles Copeland III. It was a block away from Abbey Road (EMI) Studio. (Stewart lived a couple doors down in a flat. And we would sit on the stoop and watch tourists trying to get that famous crosswalk photo….but it was a busy street and English drivers made it a point to run down tourists.)

I was ushered downstairs to the practice room. It was encased in glass and I saw the band playing with another bassist. As I entered the lounge, my heart sank. There had to be at least 20 other bassists waiting their turn. As I sat and listened to the same songs being played over and over again to test the bass players, I played my own versions in my head. Time dragged on unmercifully.

I could hear the whispers of the other guys as they discussed who was sitting, and waiting, with us. Apparently, players of note had arrived and the other players felt it was becoming a waste of time. So did I. So I got up, grabbed my bass, and left.

I got as far as halfway down the driveway when Stewart Copeland came after me.
“Hey douche bag! Where do you think you’re going?”
I told him I didn’t do cattle call auditions. He insulted me again and grabbed my arm and pulled me back downstairs. He told me: “Sit down and shut the fuck up.”

My turn finally arrived. With the words, “You know, we’ve been playing the same shit all day. Why don’t you give us something to play?” The color and blood drained from my body.
So I tied my balls to the hitching post and played something very jazz fusion-like. They joined in and we went to town.

At the time, every bassist in England sounded like Chris Squire of Yes. Very technical, but no soul. I on the other hand, had been playing like the players on the CTI label in America. Funky and jazzy. Very Stanley Clarke-ish, Ron Carter, James Jamerson, and others.

They went nuts over me. We kept playing and I played my ass off in the time allotted.
When we were done, I was introduced to everyone. The keyboard player was Darryl Way. A very famous violinist with the group Curved Air.
Who?

I had no idea who that band was. That’s because, while Curved Air, was huge in Europe, they had bombed in America. They sounded like a cross between “Jefferson Airplane” and “It’s a Beautiful Day.” Both bands had chick singers and were considered progressive rock.

But this was not Curved Air. Curved Air had folded two years earlier. Miles grabbed Darryl from Darryl’s own band, “Wolf,” and said he’d build a great band around him. The band was formed and a singer was the last member needed. We became “Stark Naked and the Car Thieves.” We played out a couple times for a pittance. In small clubs.

One day, Darryl comes to rehearsal and says we have to put the band on hold for a couple of months because Curved Air had a record deal that had to be completed with Decca… so they figured the easiest approach was to do a live album. Go on tour as Curved Air with the original members, record a couple of gigs and voila! An album.

“Kohn. You’re going to be the bassist.”
Huh? (My favorite expression.)

Rehearsals began in Covent Garden (London’s vegetable warehouse section) where a very cool rehearsal studio existed. They knew the music. I didn’t. And it was complicated. All the players had serious classical backgrounds. The violinist and keys player are now world famous composers of symphonies and operas.
So most of the rehearsal time was spent drinking tea and eating biscuits (cookies).

I thought we were doing club gigs until we drove up to the Round House in London. It seated thousands and we headlined.

I remember freaking out because since I didn’t know the songs very well, I had cheat sheets on a music stand. No music stands at the Round House would look very good for a rock n roll band.

And then I remember, “Ladies and Gentlemen….For the first time in 2 years…CURVED AIR!!!!
“1-2-3-4,” screamed Darryl.

(As it turned out, the best album I did with Curved Air was the “Live” album -still available new on Amazon, eBay, and everywhere else. Type in “Curved Air.”)

To be continued…

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2 replies

  1. Nelson Alphonso says in the CA web site interview that “The blend is one that’s pretty popular these days in premium cigars: Ecuador Havana wrapper and mostly Nicaraguan guts.”
    Where did you find information that says some of the leaves are Cuban?

    • The leaf stats may have been unknown at the time of his review but I have to imagine that CA giving the stats must have known something or they wouldn’t have named them.
      But as the cigar does have a Cubanesque flavor, what you are saying is very possible.
      It still doesn’t justify the price point.
      You can get a very real, very bona fide Cuban for what they charge.