Surrogates AKC by L’Atelier Imports | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Nicaraguan (Double Binder)
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 55
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $10.00

Today we take a look at the Surrogates AKC by L’Atelier Imports.
I’ve been training at a new cigar lounge gig and I’ve been put under the tutelage of Tomás de Torquemada, Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Ottoman Empire, and others. Great place: but I believe it has brought my life expectancy down to just another 6 months.

I am throwing you a curve today. I am reviewing a cigar that only New Havana Cigars sold for L’Atelier. You can’t buy them any longer. But you may have some in your humidor right now.
Not one review; written or video of this cigar. I expect this is due to its limited production. So, now everyone must endure my version of the cigar unfiltered by sane reviewers with better attitudes.

The review may take longer than usual as I am using a walker along with a winch and pulley system to get out of my chair. I tied my nads over my shoulder and Charlotte kindly duct taped them in place. You never want to get a testicle caught in a winch. Unless that’s your thing.

From (11-25-2019):
“The cigar is a nod to Dan Welsh’s dog, Kenji, who passed away earlier this year. As Welsh explained, the dog was a “Mastador,” a mix of Mastiff and Labrador, a breed that is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. As such, the idea to use AKC was born, and “when I realized that it could also stand for ‘A Kenji Cigar,’ it was set in stone,” he added.

“The blend is described as full-bodied and features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper that Welsh said reminded him of Kenji’s brindle coloring. Underneath that is a dual binder of two Nicaraguan binders while the filler is all Nicaraguan. Welsh told halfwheel that he wanted the cigar to be the fullest in the Surrogates portfolio, and he believes that goal has been achieved, adding that it has become his new daily cigar.

“It is offered in a 5 x 55 a robusto gordo vitola and is finished with a fuma head, while MSRP is set at $10 per cigar and $200 for a box of 20. The cigar is produced at My Father Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua.

“Additionally, the cigar is designed to poke some fun at the Surrogates brand by making this cigar an actual limited production. While the company has often made cigars in the style of limited editions, they have all been regular productions.”

In room light, the cigar is slightly oily with a mottled wrapper hue of espresso.
In intense light, the cigar shows off all its organic beauty…no eye liner. It is super toothy. The wrapper gives up some dark and light spots that combine mottled dark spots on a coral/salmon oily wrapper. Seams are visible but tight. Veins are captured and held at bay by the extreme toothiness.
The little nipple, or outie belly button, cap states that construction of this cigar was done with serious intent.

Fat floral notes spew into my nostrils. I don’t wear a mask when I review. Right behind are notes of dark chocolate, malt, caramel, creaminess, black pepper, cedar, barnyard, green apple, and raisins. It is, after all, a Nicaraguan blend with a Mexican wrapper so we have been down this road before.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, creaminess, black pepper, caramel, apple, cedar, chocolate covered cherries, and those raisins.

The draw resistance is perfect. I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for another time.

Hang on…I need to adjust my Demerol to the Sid Vicious level.

Holy crap…the smoke pours from the stick like a 1932 Ford. The burn starts off with a bit of a wonky start. Touch up required.

Upfront is an interesting combination of both black and red peppers…one attacks the back of my throat and the other sets my tongue on fire.
Strength already feels like kick ass.

And then merely half an inch in, complexity jumps aboard this moving train.
The spiciness calms down but is still throwing coal into the fire. Other flavors appear: dried fruit, creaminess, espresso, a healthy dose of malt, a meaty charbroiled steak influence, salted licorice, and a subtle root beer thing.

The burn is funky. No major runs but must be attentive so as not to let this stick run amok.
Strength is medium plus.
Delicious blend that wastes no time in showing off its wares early.
Transitions are limited. The finish is mostly the double peppers…with a touch of vanilla ice cream.

The influential creaminess is manhandling the spiciness to bring it into submission which helps the overall balance greatly.
The character of this blend now improves with each puff. This is a definite ‘E’ Ticket.
For $10, a damn fine stick.

Only took around 20 minutes to get through the first third. It is going to be a quick one-hour smoke.

Complexity continues on its heading. Subtle notes and nuances begin to appear. Rich tobacco notes that taste of olive oil and earth coat my lips. The spiciness has relented and now morphs with other flavors to an even playing field. I taste fresh rye bread. There are little Tinkerbells of intertwining butterscotch and caramel. Chocolate covered raisins make their move and dance between the leading elements.

Meanwhile the transitions begin. The AKC is now in search and destroy mode. Flavors are moving at the speed of a younger me. No winches required.

First sip of water and the bloody blend explodes with flavor bomb status…even if it is momentary, it puts a stupid grin on my puss.
Oh man, I’m digging the shit out of this cigar blend. I hope lots of you were able to score some of these.

Drat. Nicotine. I immediately crouch into the fetal position. I hear a screech of pain. I must have laid on the cat…Nope. That screech was from me.

Once again, I have Pandora on the Allman Brothers Band channel. Can’t stop bopping.

The first third must have been insufficiently filled as, now; the cigar has slowed the fuck down in its journey to disappear into the ether. My first memory in life was as a 4-year-old…lying in a hospital bed while a screen was put over my mouth and nose and then the smell of ether. I woke up minus tonsils with plenty of ice cream in front of me.

Either the nicotine has eased up a bit or the acid I took before the review is kicking in.
The halfway point is upon me and I want to put a Christmas star on the top of my menorah.

Look here, my dears…a 2019 blend that doesn’t scream at you with the bogus PR and is priced fairly. Pete Johnson could have added $2-$3 easily.

The burn has slowed down to an easy pace that allows puffs to be taken only every minute or two. The in between time is filled with exotic complexity and a sexy bevy of flavors.

I will put this blend up against any new $16 release. Impressive only begins to describe the edges of this stick. The smoky meatiness is lean muscle with a big outdoor impact.
I feel my fro growing back.

The nicotine has disappeared. Shhh…don’t jinx it.

“Wasted Words” by the Allmans is playing. Why does that phrase seem so familiar?

This should have been a regular production cigar…or at least, brought back for another go.
Ever pack shisha into a hookah? On lord, it is disgusting. And everything tastes like a Jolly Rancher.

“The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel is playing. Are you there, Ricky?
I learned the entire S&G’s catalog on my 5-string banjo in the mid 60’s.

I’m bummed as I could have smoked this bratwurst of love for another hour.
Speaking of bratwurst of love…I got nothing. (I check my I.V.).
“Red House” by Jimi. What is there to say?
It takes an oxy fuel cutter to get the double cigar bands removed.

Utter smooth-ocity along with a perfect balance. Strength is medium/full. No nicotine.
Individual flavors are now part of some one big master plan. The cigar is whole. You don’t need a sophisticated palate to appreciate how good the Surrogates AKC is.

The char line issues went away half an hour ago.

A leap is made and strength is now full tilt. Nicotine returns to blind me in one eye.

The flavor profile is through the roof of complexity. I have a couple other sticks and I shall let them sleep a while longer. This is a true treat of a smoke.

And the cigar goes out. I look at the clock and 20 minutes have passed unbeknownst to me. Must have passed out. I have cat kibble stuck to my forehead…at least I hope that’s what it is. Wait. We don’t own a rabbit. I’m good.

There are no significant changes. Which is fine. The cigar has found its sweet spot and is content to sit on the peyote cactus and just gloat.
Speaking of peyote…who doesn’t like to hallucinate but vomit your toenails up first?

I got my flu shot. That is what Charlotte called it as she inserted the syringe into my neck before I drifted off last night. She is always looking out for me.

I’m going to pass on a rock n roll story today as I’m exhausted. Tomorrow is another day.

If you don’t possess one of these blends, I recommend you go on a mission from God to rummage through your friends’ humidors so as to steal theirs.

I know you are all exceptionally interested in how my diet is going. 45lbs in 3 months. I’ve had to buy 3 new outfits. Everything hangs on me. I just bought a couple pairs of jeans a week ago and they are now too big. Thank God I’m a rich man.

* A reader alerted me that New Havana Cigars still has boxes and fivers for sale.

If I were any more relaxed, I’d be a carpet stain.


Next month is Charlotte’s 70th birthday. 35 years married. My best friend in the world. This photo was taken a week ago.


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14 replies

  1. Another fine review. Phil, I am glad you found employment in a smoke shop. It seems like such a natural for you. Also, I listened to a couple of Curved Airs songs on YouTube. Definitely different from what I was expecting. Keep carrying the torch (lighter that is) and writing about it.

  2. Fellow bass player here.
    Love your reviews bro

    Mike Sain | President
    1121 Elm Hill Pike| Nashville, TN 37210
    615-445-4550 ext. 4901 | Cell: 615-306-2544
    Serving Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and North Georgia since 1975


  3. Hi Arless,
    Thank you.
    If you really want to hear my influence on the band, you must listen to Tracks 4 and 5.
    I recorded this album a few days after we began our tour and I didn’t know the songs for shit.
    The improv came out nicely.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Thanks brother.
    You wouldn’t be using my site for a plug, would you?
    It’s cool.

  5. Happy Birthday to Charlotte.

  6. Hey Uncle Phil, I actually do have one of those in my NC humidor! No idea where I got it, but possibly from you. ?? Gonna have to pull that one out soon. 96? Nice.

    You’re gonna be great at the new job. Congrats to you! ❤

  7. Hi Max,
    Thank you. I will tell Charlotte of your birthday greetings.
    Of course, at her age, she could go at any moment.
    Big smile,

  8. Hi Kellie,
    I don’t remember. I kept telling them at the cigar lounge, the last three days, I remembered everything they told me.
    All I remember is I was trained by a bunch of beautiful women. Everything else is blacked out.
    Still…I know you will dig that cigar.

  9. They’re still available on NHC’s web site. Just ordered myself a 5 pack.

  10. Phil, you are one lucky lansman to have convinced such a lovely Fraulein to choose Hebrew National over bratwurst.

    And where else can I get a great cigar review AND a link to buy that used forklift I’ve been dreaming of? 😃

  11. Hey Petey boy…
    You are not allowed to be much funnier than me.
    I think it is my duty to bring the opportunity to my readers that they may have access to heavy equipment for any emergency.

  12. I think the forklift link is for your cojones. Happy Birthday to Charlotte she was probably a Saint before she met you, but after 35 years there can not be any question. Best to both of you.

  13. Hey Andy,
    Fortunately, while my love shack may be a bit longer than usual due to age, it is actually very light and I can lift the entire package using tweezers and a toothpick.

    A saint? Oh lord.
    The woman was a wild cat. She was engaged to San Franciso Giants’ pitcher John Montefusco.
    I stole her.
    You want to hear sordid stories about the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres…she has a million of them.
    This photo was taken when I met her in 1984.
    char 1984

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