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Tatuaje Cigars
Average Customer Rating:
4.50
13 reviews

Tatuaje Cigars

Tatuaje cigars are created by Pete Johnson and handcrafted in Estelí, Nicaragua. Tatuaje is recognized for producing a number of small-batch cigars that connoisseurs seek out for their rich spices and earthy profiles. Consistent construction and deep flavors are available across a strong variety of wrapper leaves that are patiently aged. Tatuaje cigars are crafted in a number of formats that present hearty and rewarding finishes. 

CIGARS

  • Cabaiguan

    Cabaiguan

    Price Per Cigar:
    $8.28 - $11.00
    4 options available
    Strength: Medium
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
    1 Review
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  • Fausto

    Fausto

    Price Per Cigar:
    $6.95 - $9.00
    12 options available
    Strength: Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
    read more
  • Tatuaje

    Tatuaje

    Price Per Cigar:
    $3.35 - $15.00
    56 options available
    Strength: Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
    2 Reviews
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  • Tatuaje 10th Anniversary

    Tatuaje 10th Anniversary

    Price Per Cigar:
    $8.99 - $10.00
    6 options available
    Strength: Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
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  • Tatuaje Black

    Tatuaje Black

    Price Per Cigar:
    $7.64 - $12.00
    15 options available
    Strength: Medium
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Nicaraguan
    1 Review
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  • Tatuaje Havana VI

    Tatuaje Havana VI

    Price Per Cigar:
    $5.37 - $8.50
    10 options available
    Strength: Medium
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
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  • Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu

    Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu

    Price Per Cigar:
    $4.03 - $10.00
    12 options available
    Strength: Medium-Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
    read more
  • Tatuaje HCS

    Tatuaje HCS

    Price Per Cigar:
    $7.14 - $8.95
    9 options available
    Strength: Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
    1 Review
    read more
  • Tatuaje HCS Maduro

    Tatuaje HCS Maduro

    Price Per Cigar:
    $7.14 - $7.95
    3 options available
    Strength: Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
    3 Reviews
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  • Tatuaje Monster Series

    Tatuaje Monster Series

    Price Per Cigar:
    Only $13.00
    2 options available
    Strength: Medium-Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
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  • Tatuaje Negociant

    Tatuaje Negociant

    Price Per Cigar:
    $7.19 - $12.00
    12 options available
    Strength: Medium
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
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  • Tatuaje Tattoo

    Tatuaje Tattoo

    Price Per Cigar:
    $2.91 - $6.50
    8 options available
    Strength: Medium-Full
    Country: Nicaragua
    Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
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SAMPLERS

  • Pepin Garcia 'Heavenly Blends VIII' Sampler

    Pepin Garcia 'Heavenly Blends VIII' Sampler

    20 Cigars
    Only: $89.95
    5 Reviews
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  • Tatuaje Lancero Sampler

    Tatuaje Lancero Sampler

    Box of 10
    Only: $79.95
    read more
  • Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Cazadores Edition

    Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Cazadores Edition

    Box of 10
    Only: $80.95
    read more
  • Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Lanceros Edition

    Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Lanceros Edition

    Box of 10
    Only: $84.95
    read more

ACCESSORIES

  • Holt's Tatuaje 'Trucker' Hat

    Holt's Tatuaje 'Trucker' Hat

    Only:
    $19.95
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  • Tatuaje 'Area Fumado' Metal Sign

    Tatuaje 'Area Fumado' Metal Sign

    Only:
    $24.95
    read more
  • Tatuaje Black Ashtray

    Tatuaje Black Ashtray

    Only:
    $14.95
    read more
  • Tatuaje Wolfman ST Dupont Maxi Jet Torch Lighter

    Tatuaje Wolfman ST Dupont Maxi Jet Torch Lighter

    Only:
    $233.95
    read more

TATUAJE BRAND HISTORY

Tatuaje, pronounced [Tah-too-AHH-hey], is a well-known boutique brand handcrafted by award-winning master cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia and his family for brand owner Pete Johnson. Tatuaje is Spanish for “tattoo,” a nod to the many tattoos that adorn Johnson’s body. Tatuaje debuted in 2003 and has grown in demand and recognition in tandem with a number of highly rated, sought-after cigars produced by the Garcia family.

Originally from Maine, Pete Johnson relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to pursue a career in music as a bass guitarist. Not long after his arrival, the Sunset Strip’s rock scene diminished in the wake of fast-emerging grunge bands in Seattle. The shift put a damper on Johnson’s music ambitions, however it was playing with a band where he was first exposed to premium cigars. He used to smoke during rehearsals. In order to make ends meet, he took a job working on Sundays at Gus’s Smoke Shop, a cigar retailer in Sherman Oaks he often visited to purchase cigars. Within six months, the part-time endeavor became a full-time job. Johnson immersed himself in the shop, organizing and reorganizing the humidor. He read books, collected memorabilia, and focused on learning the differences between Dominican, Honduran, and Nicaraguan tobaccos. His gravitation to the cigar industry felt completely natural due the welcome he received from those in the business.

Johnson left Gus’s and did a bit of traveling, visiting cigar factories to explore the possibility of getting his own cigars made. In 1996, it was a challenging proposition. The Cigar Boom was in full swing and many brands and factories were already maxed out, unable to purchase or grow enough premium tobacco to meet demand. Inevitably, Pete landed at the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills where he worked for owner Stan Shuster. After a time, he again began to entertain getting his own brand produced. In 2003, a colleague in the cigar business introduced Johnson to Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia during a visit to the West Coast. Pepin rolled a handful of cigars for Johnson to sample, eager to please his tastes. Johnson longed for a Cuban profile. He could not possibly have discovered an individual better equipped to handle the request than Garcia. By the second and third batch of samples, Pete found the results an impeccable reflection of the profile he was after and wondered if the cigars were actually Cuban.

Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia (often simply called Pepin) had only recently left Cuba where he spent decades as a master cigar-maker, having trained some 200 rollers. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2002. In Cuba, Pepin was responsible for crafting a number of iconic brands, including Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Ramon Allones, and more. Pepin’s resurgence as a cigar-maker in the premium U.S. market began in a humble factory on Miami’s historic Eighth Street. Although his start was modest, Pepin’s ascent has altered the landscape of today’s handmade cigars with the kind of depth and dimension that has earned his name a place in an elite tier with the likes of Carlito Fuente, Jorge Padron, and a handful of other prominent masters.

Tatuaje represents one of Pepin’s early commercial successes. Johnson had been given the nickname “Tattoo Pete” from a handful of industry veterans, so he decided to call his brand Tatuaje. Although difficult for consumers to pronounce at first, it harbored an allure. In its debut years, Johnson considered the brand a hobby, but realized he would have to treat it as a full-time business by 2006. Cigar lovers looking for something new to try were soon asking for “Tats” in premium smokeshops. The spicy, Cuban-seed wrappers and earthy Nicaraguan flavors the cigars displayed became a sought-after signature customers identified with Pepin and the budding Tatuaje brand. Retail shops couldn’t keep the complex, peppery smokes Pepin was crafting on the shelves. Cigar Aficionado bestowed 92-point ratings on the brand and it soon began making appearances in the publication’s annual ‘Top 25 Cigars of the Year.’ Boutique enthusiasts in particular grew an affinity for Tatuaje and the brand’s simple brown bands. Johnson was sued over use of the fleur-de-lis on his early cigar bands by Altadis U.S.A., parent company of the Dominican-made Montecristo brand, however, the case was resolved with a moderate design enhancement to the Tatuaje label.

By 2007, the Garcia family had opened a modern, expansive cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua to meet the increasing demand for their own brands, including My Father, Don Pepin Garcia, and Jaime Garcia. The family could also focus on new projects like making San Cristobal for the Ashton portfolio as well as introducing new Tatuaje cigars. Lower labor costs in the Garcias’ Nicaraguan factory meant Johnson could increase his consumer reach with product lines that were more affordable. Tatuaje Havana VI (also called Red Label for its red bands) was among the first Nicaraguan-made cigars in Johnson’s portfolio to gain an audience. Pete was also able to experiment with different branding strategies by resurrecting old, obscure Cuban brand names that were likely made in a series of chinchalles (slang for a small factory) generations ago. He introduced a number of new cigars into the market under romantic, old-world brand names with boxes and bands to match.

Today, Tatuaje accounts for the lion’s share of cigars crafted for Johnson by the Garcia family. A handful of his original releases are still made in Miami, however, those are also his pricier cigars due to the higher labor costs and limited capacity for production. The Garcia family manufacturers a handful of additional boutique brands for Pete and his partners, Sean Casper Johnson, K.C. Johnson, and Dan Welsh. The group’s portfolio includes the L’Atelier brand as well. Between Tatuaje and L’Atelier, Johnson and his company have effectively cultivated a loyal group of cigar lovers called The Saints & Sinners. Johnson hosts well-attended retail events and cigar-smoking gatherings around the country, often traveling in a large black tour bus with the guys in his company. The rock n’ roll, tattooed vibe behind the brand has made Tatuaje a popular name others have attempted to copy, but with less fortune and staying power. A large key to Pete’s success resides in the innate talent the Garcia family expresses in making his cigars. Few cigar-makers possess the scope of knowledge and natural expertise the Garcias reflect in growing, aging and blending premium tobaccos.

TATUAJE BRAND OVERVIEW

The first Tatuaje cigars were made in Pepin Garica’s Miami-based factory. Today, the original brown-banded line is the brand’s best-known. A lustrous Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf embraces an earthy core of aged Nicaraguan long-fillers that deliver full-bodied notes of cedar, leather, molasses, and spice. Some of the most popular shapes include the Cojonu 2003, a beefy Toro; Unico, a pleasantly concentrated Torpedo; and the big-ring-gauge Gran Cojonu. Johnson often subscribes to Cuban tradition when deciding on sizes for his product lines. Long, thin Lancero-shaped smokes like Tatuaje Especiales (7.5 inches by a 38-ring-gauge) can be found throughout Johnson’s brand portfolio. Various smaller Corona shapes, including Tatuaje Petite Cazadores Reserva, and Noellas, are popular with Tatuaje fans. Historically, a number of cigar-makers, Cuban and non-Cuban, prefer formats that would be considered slender by today’s standards. However, these thinner shapes often consolidate a wealth tasting notes to deliver maximum complexity in a given blend.

When the Garcias opened their modern My Father Cigars, S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua in 2007, limits on the family’s potential to produce premium cigars at scale practically evaporated. Father-and-son cigar-makers Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia and Jaime Garcia could expand output on a number of brands that would not only resonate with consumers, but would achieve unprecedented critical acclaim.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Sumatra scored 93-points and a ‘Top 10 Cigar of the Year’ ranking in Cigar Aficionado in 2012. Notes of espresso beans, cocoa, and peppers feature prominently in a recipe of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos beneath a toothy Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf. In 2011, Pete’s Cabaiguan line received 93 points and was ranked the ‘#7 Cigar of the Year.’ A slightly lighter-colored Ecuador wrapper leaf envelops an all-Nicaraguan interior to furnish notes of cedar, leather, black pepper and milk chocolate.

A pair of L’Atelier releases have also performed wonderfully with critics. L’Atelier LAT56 scored an impressive 94 points with a ‘Top 25’ ranking in 2013, while La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 brought home 93 points as a ‘Top 20’ blend in 2015. In addition to cigars, Pete Johnson is an avid Francophile and his love of French wine is referenced in a number of brand names within his cigar portfolio.

The 93-rated Tatuaje La Vérité (French for “the truth”) actually reflects a precedent similar to what vintners must follow in establishing a wine as a true vintage. La Vérité is crafted only from tobaccos grown on a single Garcia family estate in a single year in what Pete identifies as a “true Puro.” Binder, filler and wrapper tobaccos are harvested from the same crop. The blend is somewhat milder than a typical Tatuaje, as the majority of La Vérité fermentation takes place after the cigar has been rolled (which is similar to aging wine in a bottle, according to Pete). The limited edition displays distinctive flavors within each year of release.

Ambos Mundos debuted with back-to-back ‘Top 25’ rankings in its first and second years on the market, earning 93 points, an impressive stat considering Pete premiered the cigar as a less-expensive, value-based brand. A caramel-hued Ecuador wrapper hugs an elegant body of Nicaraguan long-fillers as a testament to Pepin’s remarkable capacity to blend an amazing profile at any price point. Tatuaje Havana VI shows off a similar accommodation with a more approachable price and complex blend of Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos beneath a Cuban-seed wrapper that beams with notes of nutmeg, leather, and spice. Havana VI also scored 93 points.

The Tatuaje Monster Series cannot be absent from any discussion of Pete’s most requested cigars. Boutique fanatics eagerly anticipate the brand’s annual Halloween release, themed each year after a different iconic literary or Hollywood monster. A total of 666 monster-themed boxes are distributed in a lottery among 13 “unlucky” retail smokeshops. There are 13 cigars in each box. Every year the blend changes, as does the monster reference. Past releases include ‘The Frank’ (for Frankestein), ‘The Drac’ (for Dracula), and so on. While the project is considered a major success, it has spawned a distribution nightmare for Johnson and his brand. The boxes are collectible and everyone wants them, but there are only a small number to go around. Pete prefers to keep the attention on the cigars inside. In recent years he’s begun shipping additional quantities of the coveted smokes in bundles to satisfy the demand. For those unlucky enough to miss out on getting an actual box of Tatuaje Monster Cigars, Pete has added limited edition Monster Series lighters from ST Dupont in the popular Maxi Jet model. There are also a handful of samplers like the Tatuaje Skinny Monsters Lanceros Edition, in which you can taste the limited smokes in a long, skinny Lancero shape.

Other notable cigars in the brand’s lineup include Tatuaje Black, which was originally conceived as Pete’s private blend. It has gained a following for its all-Nicaraguan amalgam of dark-roast coffee and leather notes. Tatuaje 10th Anniversary commemorates the brand’s first decade in business with a stunning portrait of cocoa, caramel, and cedar with a peppery zest delivered via a silky Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf over vintage Nicaraguan long-fillers. Pete quietly unveiled El Triunfador in 2008 to mirror the mystique behind the original Cuban Trinidad brand, which was reserved for Diplomats and not available for public consumption. Few product details were provided and no official release accompanied El Triunfador. The strategy generated a lukewarm reception.

Retired Cuban-heritage marks that Pete has reintroduced over the years include the full-bodied and feisty Fausto line, as well as La Riqueza. Pete even makes Tatuaje HCS (which stands for Holt’s Cigar Shop) as a custom blend for our biggest Tatuaje fans. It’s available in either a Cuban-seed or Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

If you’re a fan of any cigar that bears the fingerprints of Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, Tatuaje is a must-try. The brand’s extensive, small-batch portfolio is guaranteed to peak your interest. A value-priced release like the Tatuaje Tattoo could be a good place to begin. With no shortage of options, investigate some of the Tatuaje reviews our customers have left. Pete Johnson is also famous for the popular swag he makes for his brands. Fans of his cigars love the branded ashtrays, lighters, cutters, and apparel they can purchase to show off their loyalty. Smoke a Tatuaje today and find out what all the fuss is about.