June 8, 2010

REVIEW: Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite (Pre Release)

Today's review is a pre-release stick of the Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite. The actual release date has not been announced, but I am hearing it is due to be in shops hopefully in early July. This stick has a lot of rumors going around about it, but mostly about how much it is going to cost. Pete Johnson (@tatuajecigars on twitter, owner of Tatuaje) has not been shy with telling people that this might be his most expensive product to be brought to the market. I've heard that the cost isn't going to be as high as once thought, but really we won't know until they arrive.

Here is some more information on this cigar from the New Havana Cigars web page:
L'Esprit de la Verite is the brainchild of Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and has received a lot of attention from many who had the opportunity to experience one at IPCPR this year.  This limited release is made entirely from tobacco from Pepin's Finca La Estrella (Star Farm) all from the same vintage, 2008. The cigars are currently rolled and resting in the drying room at the factory. 

This cigar was generously given to me by Dan (NHCDAN on twitter) and, when I asked him if there is anything I should know about it he responded with, "Just smoke it. I think you'll like it". Dan knows what sticks I like, so hearing that was good news.

On to the review.

Vitola: Robusto
Length: 5
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Binder: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Filler: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Price: $??
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water

The first thing about the L’esprit de Verite that stands out to me is the band. Unfortunately for me, this is a bad thing because I am not a fan of the design. I understand what Pete was going for with the date being the main focus of the band, and being one very distinguishable characteristic to use to not confuse these sticks from year to year, but for me it seems unfinished. I was actually surprised to hear that this was the final design and not just a mock up for the pre-release. With all of that said, I'm not smoking the band, so my judgment of the stick will not be swayed by this one detail. The wrapper of my L’esprit de Verite is very smooth and dry. Not dry because it was not stored properly, it just seemed to lack any oils like some sticks do. Squeezing the vitola from head to foot the cigar is very fully packed. I was concerned about this until I took the cold draw, which was just fine and free with a slight resistance. This stick has the perfect draw for my taste. Speaking of taste, the cold draw flavors were very earthy, mixed with hints of mild oak. The pre-lit aroma of the cigar was similar, leaning more towards the oak scent.

First Third

My L’esprit de Verite lit easily with my triple torch and produced lots of smoke from the get go. Even with being outside, the resting smoked filled the area of my deck where I was sitting. The initial flavors were spicy on the front, with some oak notes cooling it off, and a nice sweetness on the finish. The spice wasn't really that peppery flavor that I am accustomed with Tatuaje products, but more of a cinnamon spice. The oak flavors were nice, but what really got my palate interested was the sweetness on the finish. The finish didn't stick around all that long, but was a really great flavor while it was there, and it came back with every puff. The body of the cigar was hovering around the mild/medium range. About an inch into my cigar, I ran into a little problem...

CRACK! was the sound I heard after take a big puff. Turning the stick over, I saw that the wrapper had split right along one of the veins in the leaf. Luckily the split stopped half way down the stick and, due to the amount this stick is packed, I was able to burn right through it with a little loosening of the draw as the only setback. I must say that I have had very minimal construction issues with Tatuaje products in my time smoking cigars, but it does happen. And it happens to all companies. Cigars are a hand made product. Errors and mishaps are going to happen. Moving on to the second third.

Second Third
After burning past the crack in the wrapper my  L’esprit de Verite was right back on track. The flavors were consistent with the first third, with the spice up front, creamy oak flavors in the middle, and the sweetness on the finish. Again that sweetness is what really kept my interest and kept me from getting bored. I have tasted that flavor before, and I was trying to think of another cigar that has that same sweetness on the finish, but it wouldn't come to me. If I think of it I'll edit this post and add it in. The body of the cigar ramped up a little more into the medium range, but nowhere near something like the Tatuaje brown label products.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
There is not much else to report in the final third that hasn't been said in the first two thirds. The flavors were the same, and the strength consistent with the second third. The burn was perfect after the crack, and the smoke volume never slowed down from the first draw to the last. As you can see in the picture I smoked this stick to the nub, and I'm happy to say it never got hot or harsh, right down to the last puff.

Final thoughts on the Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite? Dan (NHCDAN on twitter) was right. I liked this stick. Other than the one construction flaw, and it not being the most diverse flavor profile, this is a solid, consistent, and good tasting smoke. In my opinion it's not a "wow best Tatuaje ever!" but it's not one to pass up. I think if the rumors are true, and the price is not as high as once thought, a lot of people will pick these up to try and a lot of people will be happy with the smoking experience. I know this won't be the last one I smoke.

Would I buy it again? I will buy more of these, and can't wait to see if the full release is the same as this pre- release stick.

Would I buy a box? These will be a great cigar to have around and pass out to friends, so a box purchase would suit that situation well. A lot will come down to the price for me.



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