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Top 7 Tatuaje Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Tatuaje, pronounced [Tah-too-AHH-hey], cigars debuted in 2003 following a fortuitous encounter between brand founder Pete Johnson and legendary cigar-maker Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia, who was in the process of establishing himself and his family in the States following decades as one of Cuba’s most talented cigar men. Originally from Maine, Johnson relocated to L.A. to pursue a career as rock ‘n roll musician at the end of the glam era on the Sunset Strip. As the music scene migrated north to Seattle in the early ‘90s, Johnson’s infatuation with premium cigars became a full-time obsession as he worked in a handful of L.A.-area smokeshops, eventually winding up the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills.

Johnson immersed himself in the business, learning all he could about cigars and indulging his early passion for Cubans. When he began to explore coming out with his own brand, a mutual connection introduced him to Jose ‘Pepin’ Garcia and his son, Jaime, and daughter, Janny. Johnson and the Garcias, who were making cigars in a small factory in Miami after immigrating from Cuba, became fast friends. The Garcias blended prototypes for Johnson to smoke and imparted their immense knowledge of premium tobacco in the process. “Tatuaje” is Spanish for tattoo, and Johnson, who is covered in tattoos, slowly and steadily grew a following for his burgeoning cigar brand. The critics in Cigar Aficionado took notice of Tatuaje and the Garcias, rating their cigars favorably on several occasions. Johnson classifies his cigars as being for “seekers,” or cigar lovers who are in search of a particular flavor profile and experience. In the case of Tatauje cigars, that would be a full-bodied, full-flavored smoke, and here are the best Tatuaje cigars to add to your humidor.

1. Tatuaje

The original Tatuaje blend is drawn from an oily brown Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf over a robust combination of well-aged Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos. Tasting notes of pepper, molasses, coffee, and caramel weave a rich tapestry over the palate before a hearty finish arrives in several popular shapes, including the Regios, Unicos, and Cojonu 2003.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

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2. Tatuaje Monster Series

Among Pete Johnson’s most successful releases is his annual Tatuaje Monster Series, which comes out around Halloween. Each year, a new cigar is blended and named for a famous Hollywood monster, including Dracula (The Drac), Frankenstein (The Frank), The Wolfman, The Mummy, and so on. Very limited quantities of dress boxes, featuring original artwork that matches the monster each cigar is named after, are available. The boxes are sold through a lottery of 666 “unlucky” retail shops, and Tatuaje fans scoop them up fast. Luckily, Johnson also produces an additional run of Tatuaje Monster cigars in bundles to allow more of his fans a chance to smoke the cigars even if they’re unable to buy a box. The blends change each year, but you can anticipate a fuller-bodied Nicaraguan profile with hearty Cuban-seed or Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

Strength: Medium-Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Varies

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3. Tatuaje HCS

If you love Tatuaje and you shop at Holt’s, there’s no reason not to smoke a Tatuaje HCS (Holt’s Cigar Shop). Pete and the Garcias make this special Tatuaje cigar exclusively for Holt’s customers. It’s not available anywhere else, and it has consistently been one of the most requested Tatauje cigars in our entire warehouse. The original version is blended from a milk-chocolate-hued Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf and smooth and silky core of vintage Nicaraguan long-fillers. Complex notes of pepper, cedar, leather, and earth furnish a plethora of signature Nicaraguan spices. If you prefer a slightly sweeter profile, Tatuaje HCS Maduro is also available and is finished in a toothy Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

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4. Tatuaje Black

Tatuaje Black cigars are Puros drawn from an all-Nicaraguan blend of creamy, earthy, and medium-bodied tobaccos, including a milky brown Nicaraguan wrapper leaf. Notes of leather, espresso, and black peppercorn reveal hints of floral and mineral flavors in handful of classic Cuban sizes. Like most Tatuaje cigars, Black began as a small-batch release before Johnson steadily increased production to meet the growing demand.

Strength: Medium
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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5. Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu

When Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu came out, Tatuaje devotees clamored to get their hands on it. A lustrous Ecuador Habano wrapper leaf envelops a bold blend of earthy Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos handmade in a flawless collection. Dark cocoa, cherry, and wood mingle before a zesty and toasty finish prevails. The red and silver cigar bands with white lettering distinguish the Verocu line from the original Tatauaje Havana VI cigars.

Strength: Medium
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

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6. Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro

It’s easy to a spot Tatuaje Nuevitas Jibaro cigars thanks to their bright-orange cigar bands. Beneath them is a vibrant and full-bodied concoction of one hundred percent Nicaraguan tobaccos, including a dark and oily Corojo-seed wrapper leaf that stops short of the cigar’s foot, leaving a touch of shaggy interior tobaccos exposed. Prepare for a prominent tour of leather, cocoa, almond, and wood awarded 93 points and a ‘Top 10’ ranking by the critics in Cigar Aficionado.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

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7. Tatuaje 10th Anniversary

Tatuaje 10th Anniversary cigars commemorate the brand’s tenth anniversary. Consider the 10th Anniversary blend a special version of the Tatuaje Seleccion de Cazador Brown Label. This meaty and spicy smoke is made from a formidable Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Ecuador and a powerful blend of premium, well-aged Nicaraguan long fillers. Notes of leather, cinnamon, and cocoa add depth to this woody and intense smoke.

Strength: Full
Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

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Discover Our Full Selection of Tatuaje Cigars

We carry a ton of other Tatuaje cigars at Holt’s that deserve your attention. Because Pete Johnson loves to experiment with small-batch projects, it’s wise to keep your eyes out for new Tatuaje releases. Johnson produces a handful of boutique brands like El Triunfador and Fausto. All are blended and handcrafted at the Garcias’ state-of-the-art cigar factory in Estel, Nicaragua, where award-winning My Father, La Aroma de Cuba, and San Cristobal cigars are made.

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