Tatuaje Karloff | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Nicaraguan (Double Binder)

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 6.625 x 49 Grand Corona

Strength: Medium

Price: $13.00

Today we take a look at the Tatuaje Karloff.


Released: October, 2020

Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.

Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes ~ 13 Cigars per box

According to Halfwheel.com (11-21-2020):

“While 2020 wasn’t responsible for the lack of a Monster Series release, it did catch my attention as just another one of those interesting things in a year that has been more than interesting.

“But that didn’t mean that Tatuaje didn’t have anything to ship to retailers in October; quite the opposite in fact. The company released the event-only Shrunken Pumpkin and a pair of new sizes and a new look for Cabaiguan, while November would bring three new sizes for the L’Atelier Selection Spéciale.

“Amidst that, Tatuaje announced the Karloff, a cigar that should have immediately perked up the ears of fans of an early offshoot of the Monster Series. It’s also a cigar with some history behind it.

“Back in 2008, Johnson had plans to create a complementary line to the Monster Series called the Actors Series that would honor those who played the monsters honored by the other line. Since Frankenstein was the first movie monster honored in the Monster Series with The Frank, the first in the Actors Series would be The Boris, a 7 x 49 Churchill named for Boris Karloff, who played Frankenstein’s monster in the 1931 film.

“Except, there was a bit of a snag with that release, as the name Boris was already in use for another cigar, specifically, the Boris 11, which is produced for Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, Fla. As part of resolving that snag, Johnson made an agreement with Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Co., that included a stipulation that Johnson would produce a limited-edition cigar for the store. That cigar was the Little Boris, a 5 1/2 x 49 robusto released in July 2012 and re-released in November 2018.

“The Karloff is a 6 5/8 x 49 grand corona, and less than half an inch shorter than the original Boris. Both the Boris and Karloff use the same tobaccos, at least on paper, meaning an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Nicaraguan double binder and filler. However, Johnson said that the Karloff’s is a tweaked blend that is a little fuller than that of the Boris, adding that consumers shouldn’t expect the exact same profile from this new cigar, even though the ring gauges of the Boris, Little Boris and Karloff are all the same.”


In room light, the wrapper is a slightly oily paper bag brown and hints of red. Under the right light, the wrapper explodes with color. The oily sheen comes from dunking it in olive oil…or so it seems. The colors run the gamut of the orange, brown, and red categories; mingling and morphing into sunscapes on Mars.

The cigar is lumpy and bumpy. Not quite a Rum Crook, but on its way there. Seams are somewhat visible. Lots of twigs on the wrapper giving it a road map scene.

The cigar borders on being hard; but there is just enough give to allow hope, that once lit, it will relax.

And it has a closed foot. I can’t begin to count the cigars I’ve smoked in which I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the cigar had a closed foot…causing consternation during the early draw process. Being a schmuck is not environmental, it is inbred.


I must agree with Halfwheel’s first impression of the aroma: A&W Root Beer. I can almost taste the foam from the frosty mug at their drive-ins. Do they exist any longer?

But Halfwheel’s 2nd and 3rd aromas I do not smell tree bark and cold salami. I do smell similar items as an intense tobacco aroma plus salt, garlic, onion, and apple cider vinegar. And it’s slightly meaty…so when I think about it, cold salami is probably the better analogy. My bad. On the upside, Pete Johnson has blended a very consistent cigar if two reviewers smell the exact same thing. That does not happen often.

There is also some red pepper, creaminess, malt, black coffee, black licorice, and cedar.

The cold draw presents flavors of root beer, creaminess, red pepper, some of the salami spices, black coffee, cedar, barnyard, and strong unsweetened tea.


The draw is spot on. I expected this big stick to have issues. I was wrong…so I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for an ordinary go-to cigar later.

I’ve had a few of these cigars for several months. Should be ready to go.

The first puffs are a punch to the jugular…a blast of black and red peppers. And the cigar’s strength conks me with a frying pan.

Smoke jettisons from the foot like a house on fire. The intake is harsh. Rough start. There is no way this cigar stays at medium throughout the smoke.

The spiciness calms down. Flavors emerge. A sudden complexity has my ‘nads in a vice. The cigar character completely changed over in the first half inch.

Notes of the beloved root beer are present…plus tidbits of creaminess, cinnamon, tea, citrus, cedar, and a nice touch of nutmeg.

Strength is medium+ out of the gate.

I’m listening to something I’ve never heard. Steve Winwood and Rush doing “Gimme Some Lovin” from the soundtrack of the movie, “Rush.” It’s pretty damn cool.

The blend continues to calm down. It is effortlessly settling into a tasty format. Creaminess moves to the forefront. The savory spices are compartmentalized so as not to interfere. The citrus is lime. Very noticeable. Very meaty. Vanilla shows itself to make the blend so very smooth. Wow…what a difference between now and the start. It’s like two different cigars. I guess the first half inch was a vision quest to see if you are man enough to smoke the Karloff.

The strength tapers down to a straight ahead medium. The harshness disappeared.

Not too much in the transition category. The finish is mostly spiciness with a touch of the cream.

I’m a huge Tat fan. Johnson is one of the most consistent blenders around. I love the Black Label.

This is a big honker of a cigar so I need to parse my words and focus on the experience…otherwise, I will ramble on incessantly…more than usual.

The burn is proper.

The flavors and composure of the cigar seems to have found its G spot in the first third. No abrupt changes. I have a long way to go, so I’m sure this is just a tease.

Balance fleshes out. But nuances and subtleties are very much in the background.

An hour ago, or so (around 8am), I went outside my door to check the mail. Naturally, at that moment, my neighbor opened her door to leave for work. And I’m wearing boxers, tee shirt, and a loose robe. We said hello…but she hurried her way to her car. She is a nurse so I can only imagine what she tells her cohorts about the perv living next door.

Well, at least my schlong wasn’t hanging out. It can’t. All the gravity on the planet couldn’t make my peeny hang with any distinction. Don’t get old.

This Karloff is becoming a head turner. It is now in forward progression mode. At 1-3/4” burned, it’s making its move. A lot sooner than expected.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the industry reviewers that must review a cigar before its time in order to be timely. I don’t feel that pressure. I get to allow my cigars a lot more humi time. Of course, I do not believe you can find this cigar any longer…but Johnson hasn’t denied that it might become a regular production cigar.


The ash held steady for the 2.2” first third. Atta’ boy, Pete.

The intense tobacco-ness of the stick is dialing down. It allows some minor influences to participate. Sweet factors such as vanilla ice cream, candied lime, licorice, and cinnamon toast.

It begins to get nutty. Almond marzipan, Brazil nuts, and raw cashews. Nice addition.

Time for my first sip of water which releases flavors that are very meaty, salami spices, a bevy of sweetness, complexity on steroids, and licorice. It took a big dump on my palate with that swig of water.

I smoke cigars during the day and evening. And each beverage influences the taste of the cigar. At night, I like a bit of bourbon with my last stick. It brings out the sweetness of the cigar blend. If you want a realistic flavor sampling, water is your only choice.

“The Weight” from “The Last Waltz” is playing. The Staple Singers are right there. Mavis is a force of nature. Stephen Hodges plays drums for all the current Mavis tours. Well, not in 2020. Hodges and I were friends in high school. I played in a couple bands with him then. I also used him as a session guy when I had my studio 10 years after graduation. He was playing with the blues band The James Harman Band. Stephen is one of those guys that is just a regular Joe and a very sweet guy. I’m happy for him that he could make a living in music…meanwhile, I sit here stewing that I took another route.

The denseness of the complexity is right up front. Transitions begin with all the aforementioned elements. The finish becomes interesting for the first time. A nice lingering of a savory v. sweet combo.

The Karloff is one of those blends that you don’t need a sophisticated palate to enjoy. The complexity runs the show and that’s all you need in life. Ancillary lists of this man’s flavor input are all personal impressions.

The cigar continues to cruise at medium strength.

Not a single touch up of the char line has been needed.

I have some 2019 and 2020 cigars waiting for review. Here’s the thing…I plan on posting my top 25 of the year at the end of this month. Gives me a chance to catch up after being sick for two months. So, I really don’t want to pick cigars I know to be less than stellar. I know I’m more interesting to read if I don’t like a blend; but now I have ulterior motives. But if I keep going on a regular basis throughout January, the devil inside will force me to review a few duds. I think of it as a public service.

Great cigar.

The stick is $13. Normally, on my old man budget, I would not buy a box of 13. But based on the first half of this cigar, I would have snagged me some. I’d have to tell Charlotte that the money was spent on a large Viagra purchase.

The cinnamon ramps up making the tip of my tongue tingle.

Just now, I got a call from my orthopod. I need to see him. I developed tennis elbow. This should be a Nancy Reagan warning…masturbation has its consequences. Just say no…just kidding. Play with yourself all you want.

The Karloff’s flavor profile continues to spread its wings. Elements become more intimate. And a separation of those flavors kick in.

Strength moves to medium/full as the last third quickly approaches.


The masterful construction of this cigar is a wonder. Not a single problem. Moe, Larry…Cheese!

The citrus and creaminess assimilate into a nice key lime pie. The meaty spices are a perfect counterpoint.

Spiciness hangs in the background.

I can’t say enough about the tobacco mixture. Normally, I’d look at the leaf stats and think, been there, done that. How wrong I was. Johnson can be a wizard.

The trajectory of the blend is that one of constant improvement. Nothing linear about the Karloff. The last third is extremely intense and a joyful pleasure.

No additional flavor points…it doesn’t need more. It is coasting on its own merits.

It seems that Halfwheel was the only industry blog that reviewed this cigar because of its limited release. But I’m guessing this is due to the stellar nature of the blend. You just gotta tell people.

When this cigar is re-released, do not hesitate to buy as many as you can afford.

I smoked a Karloff a month in after receipt. It was OK. But an additional 3 months made a huge difference. So, be patient. I expect that some extended humidor time will create a real monster. (Sorry for the pun).

Strength is a potent medium/full.

Dr. Rod has an incredible new product coming. The pandemic slowed down the manufacturing process. But it will make its debut in the next couple of months. If you already own some of his wares, you will definitely want what’s coming up. He made me swear I wouldn’t give away the product. So, he flew to Milwaukee and implanted a small explosive in Charlotte’s molar. He is a dentist after all. If I screw up and disclose the project…no more Charlotte. Hmmm…I’d be a swingin’ 71-year-old. Think of all the pussy I’d be getting. That’s what I tell myself. What I wouldn’t do to snag a hot 65-year-old. Think of all the skin lifting necessary to get to the appropriate places.

We have friends that work in an assisted living facility. They tell us that the old coots are screwing each other like spider monkeys. And they have outbreaks of STD’s. Horny old bastards.

I’m up to 18,000 words now.

I’m nubbing this baby. As the end approaches, not a hint of harshness or bitterness.

And no nicotine! Let’s hear it for those not partial to swooning.


And now for something moronic:
Circa 1966-1969

I had a great job at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California in my teen years. My best friend worked there already and got me the gig.

I had applied earlier at the main personnel office but since they didn’t hire Jews, or any other ethnic group, I was turned down. It seems that Walter Knott was a real bigot. He hated everyone equally. Even the replica of the Independence Hall building had a table with pamphlets from the John Birch Society and other racist organizations. Sort of defeated the purpose of the hallowed building replica.

From Wikipedia:
“The theme park sits on the site of a former berry farm established by Walter Knott and his family. Beginning around 1920, the Knott family sold berries, berry preserves, and pies from a roadside stand along State Route 39. In 1934, the Knotts began selling fried chicken dinners in a tearoom on the property, later called “Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant”. The dinners soon became a major tourist draw, and the Knotts built several shops and other attractions to entertain visitors while waiting for a seat in the restaurant. In 1940, Walter Knott began constructing a replica Ghost Town on the property, the beginning of the present-day theme park. The idea of an amusement park really picked up in the 1950s when Walter Knott opened a “summer-long county fair”.

My buddy, Skip, worked across Beach Blvd. where Walter Knott had erected Independence Hall. There was also a big lagoon, a merry-go-round, a miniature train, row boats, and the steamboat: the Cordelia K. It was named for Walter’s wife.

Knott’s began as a berry stand in the 30’s and blossomed into a fried chicken restaurant and then ol’ Walter built an authentic looking western town. It was super cool and very realistic. It later had all kinds of western themed rides.

Turns out that the rides were owned by a subcontractor, Bud Hurlbut. He just leased the land from the Knotts. It was Bud that hired me giving me the distinction of the first Jew ever to work at Knott’s. Walter was a real SOB. He hated anyone not white. Or not Christian. And by the time I went to work there, he was ancient and decrepit. Occasionally, an employee would give Walter a ride in one of their maintenance golf carts over to the lagoon side where he came to ride the Cordelia K. He never, ever said a word to me.

I thought of pushing him overboard but too many witnesses.

I got hired to be the new steamboat captain. I was thrilled when I found out it wasn’t like Disneyland. No track. I actually drove the boat.

I spent a week in training and then she was all mine. The boat sat around 40-50 people. The price to ride the steamboat was 25¢. In fact, all the rides were 25¢.

I had to wear this stupid captain’s hat that made me sweat. I wore jeans and a nice white shirt with a clip-on western tie. And the Knott’s vest with my name on it. So, I took the hat off a lot. And I got in trouble a lot.
No one ever noticed what I had written where my name was supposed to go.

The steamboat was not run by steam; but rather, a big diesel engine that looked like a steam turbine. And my back was up against it the whole time I drove the boat. And since it was So Cal, it was usually warm all the time. That diesel engine was hot, baby. And it spewed horrible fumes. When I was given a break every couple hours or so, I wobbled off the boat and sat on a bench to get my bearings from the brain damage.

I learned how to run the merry go round, and the train, and sell tickets, and send people on their way in a rented rowboat. But the captain thing was my main gig.

I got really tired of kids asking me if the boat was on a track when they saw me struggling to turn it. So, I told them, “No. The boat isn’t on a track…the water is.” I always got befuddled looks and the questions stopped.

The lagoon wasn’t that big. And it had Duck Island in the middle of it. My job was to do two turns around the lagoon. One was a wide berth and the second was close to the island. That’s what you got for your 25¢. No brilliant repartee or speech. Simply a relaxing ride.
But that 25¢ gave people the impression that I would give some sort of narrative and shoot at rising hippos as we rode along the black water.

They were always so disappointed that all I did was keep my mouth shut and drive.

One of my passions was to ram row boats. People would get into them without the slightest hint of how to row a boat so they would be in one place turning the boat in a 360-degree circle.

So, I aimed for them. I would grab the megaphone and yell at them to get out of the way and they would start screaming in panic. Good times. Really.

I would then pull back the throttle, let the boat slow down to near still and I would climb out of the front of the boat, and on to the bow. I grabbed a long aluminum gaff and would push them out of the way. All the time they were thanking me for not killing them. It broke up the tedium from going in circles all day.

One Easter Sunday, chaos showed up dressed for the prom. The Farm was packed and so was the boat. I had a sharp turn to make to get out of the dock and turn to the left. Sometimes, I couldn’t make it because there were too many people on the boat. So, I’d have to back it up like a big rig and maneuver it back and forth.

I pulled and pulled that damn steering wheel. And on that day, the steering cable broke. The steering wheel spun like the wheel of fortune.

The boat then floated free. I pulled the steam whistle over and over which was the sign for an emergency. I then got on the bow of the boat. Employees ran over and I yelled the steering was broken.

No one knew what to do, and then one of the employees just started walking into the lagoon…that nasty, smelly, black water. With no filtration system and 2 feet of muck at the bottom.
My head dropped in resignation and I leaped into the water. The people on the boat applauded.
A huge Easter day crowd formed at the rim of the lagoon. I’m surprised TV cameras weren’t there.

By this time, the boat had drifted about 40 feet from the dock. There were four of us in the water trying to push it back to the dock. I moved to the stern. I leaped up to grab the back of the boat and was swiftly hit in the chest with the steering system that looked like two ladders…running horizontally about a foot and a half below the water. The water was so black, you couldn’t see them, and I never even knew they were there. I thought the thing had rudders.

I completely submerged into that black morass. Yuck!
I came up covered in muck. This was a bad day.

Me and another fella pushed the stern, and two others pushed the bow and after 30 minutes, were able to get the boat back to the dock. Once locked at the dock, a huge applause filled the air…as hundreds and hundreds of onlookers heard what had happened and lined the shore.

The owner, Bud, showed up and sent all four of us across the street for new clothes. Mind you, no shower, but new clothes. We had to work the rest of our shift doing other things, stinking to high heaven. We were young. So, we didn’t make a fuss.
All this for $1.65 per hour.

Me driving the boat:

Captain Katman, 1967 or 1968:


16 replies

  1. You just can’t help yourself, can you? Ugh! LOL!


  2. I’m too old to change now…maybe in my next life, I will be civil and polite. Of course, I could be plagued by my karma and come back as a dentist. Big smile.

  3. Glad you enjoyed the Karloff Katman. So did I and I readily admit my bias as a massive Tatuaje fan. In a world flooded with gimmicky boutique cigars it’s nice when there is some excellent steak to backup the sizzle and Pete Johnson’s creations almost always deliver. Those of us who revere Tatuaje would be remise if we neglected to give big credit to the Garcia family at My Father Cigars for bringing Pete’s creations to life so masterfully. Can I ask is there any Tatuaje or My Father blends that miss the mark for you?

  4. I’ve reviewed 29 Tats blends. The only one I remember that I’m not that fond of is the Cabaiguan. It’s OK, but not great.
    I’m a big Garcia fan and have beeen for over 20 years. He was my go-to for decades. I always knew I’d enjoy his blends.
    It’s like cigar manufacturers that use AJ Fernandez for his help as they do with Garcia. It’s hard not to put out an excellent cigar blend when you have those two guys in your corner.

  5. I couldn’t agree more.

  6. You’re beyond entertaining, really!

    Still an A&W drive-in over in Hales Corners if you want to swing over, right off the freeway on highway 100. It’s not gonna be as big and palatial as the joints you may remember, but you can still get that fresh fountain root beer!

  7. Excellent, Phil!

    – Average Phil

  8. Ooh, ooh…Gotta go to Hales Corners.
    Once I turned 16, I would take my mother’s 1960 Pontiac Bonneville out to my best friend’s house in Fullerton. Skip’s family moved halfway through high school.
    I’d pick him up and we’d troll old downtown Fullerton starting with the A&W visit for a frosty mug and two taquitos with faux guacamole. I always had to pay as Skip never had any money.
    We’d go into music stores and record stores. Great time to be young.
    And nothing could beat that frosted glass mug of root beer.
    Thank you Drew for the kind words and the heads up.

  9. Around 1980, I started doing bass sessions in Hollywood for this guy, Gary Gladstone, who owned his own studio in Beverly Hills. But he made his dough being a hired gun as an engineer on the board.
    He got me all kinds of gigs.
    But the very first time i worked for him, he stunned me with his hip analogy I did not understand.
    There was a bunch of people in the booth. I was alone in the studio adding a bass line to an already recorded song.
    As I played it, I’d hear “Stop. You’re approaching average.”
    This pissed me off. I had no idea what he was talking about and I was too aware of my surroundings to start a fist fight with one of the mouths that fed me.
    Finally, I’d had enough and future sessions be damned.
    I asked him what the hell he meant by approaching average?
    Gladstone explained…
    “Average is exactly where you want to be. You don’t want to be sub average or above average. Average is perfect for the listener. You are playing exactly what makes the listener think should have always been played…organically.”
    I nodded my head and continued playing.
    After the 15th take, Gary finally said I had done it. I was average.
    Look kiddo…You are unique, clever, smart about cigars, and have great potential. But if you aren’t in the cigar industry with an already built in platform, it takes time. No shortcuts.
    You work clean which should make it easier. I have been a dirty old man from the start which made it harder.
    Be patient. Keep doing what you’re doing. Never give up. After you become sick and tired of not taking off like a rocket because you feel it is overdue, keep doing it.
    Time conquers all critics. Time celebrates the unique. If you want it, you can be as big or little as you want. No one does what you do. That fact alone gives you a leg up.
    Check out Comedy – Cigars – Music by Phil Kurut.
    Hang tight brother,

  10. One last thought…Once you are worldwide and your audience is huge, be ready for the trollers and haters.
    You will be accused of being racist or a bigot. That you are playing stereotypes of different ethnicities or cultural differences.
    Ignore all of them. Do not respond. You know you are not what you are being accused of. But trollers love to make trouble because they have no lives. They live vicariously through others. They are cowards as they never identify themselves.
    Generally speaking, they are all mentally ill.
    Being different and unique does have a price tag. Never give in. If I had listened to all the death threats, haters, and threats to have me banned from the cigar industry, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 years.
    Let the shit roll off your back. It’s not easy. I learned the hard way. I still get trollers insulting me over something that happened 10 years ago.
    Be ready, Freddy…

  11. Phil,

    Giving up and quitting are the only actions that yield a guaranteed result, which is failure. Everything else is work, determination, and grit. Doing it my way is the only way I know how. Some will dig it, some won’t. But, it’s mine, and I can live with that!

    Always a pleasure chattin’, Phil!


  12. Oops! Just drove by earlier today, the A&W is still there, but they’re not a drive-in. You can still get your fix, but the car hop there is no longer. Last few I remember was way back in the day down in Racine/Kenosha area, right off the freeway, and as a kid, I used to live a few blocks from one on Forest Home Ave.

    Those were great places, seems everybody that knew of an A&W near them has at least one good memory of them.

    And now we sit and smoke, reminiscing about the good old days. I often think the phrase is backwards – kids today don’t know how good WE had it!

  13. I love that. “kids today don’t know how to good WE had it!” Like the Katman, I’m 70. And yeah, technology is great, but life was so much simpler and enjoyable back when I was younger. I truly feel that those were the good ol’ days.

    We used to drive from Long Beach, California up to the local mountains (Big Bear) to go skiing, and we always stopped at an A&W drive-in on the way up and on the way back for burgers and root beer or root beer floats. Whoa! The best.


  14. …we’ve turned into our grandparents…and we’re still here.

  15. Rod,
    I have fond memories of that same A&W. I’m from LB as well & we’d always stop there on the way up to & back from summer Scout camp at Tahquitz.
    Good times!

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