August 9, 2010

SERIES REVIEW: Tatuaje Havana VI Gordito (Pre Release)

Today's Pete Johnson pre-release cigar review comes from a stick that is an extension of his Havana VI line.  The Havana VI, better know as "red label", is often seen as a slightly lower line than the brown label in the Tatuaje catalog, mainly because of its lower price tag. However, to me, it houses some of my favorite sticks from Pete. Havana VI cigars are very affordable and still have the same high quality construction and tobacco well known to Johnson/Pepin sticks.

Some background information on Havana VI from New Havana Cigars: Havana VI was created in 2006 and boasts six vitolas (thus the VI in the name).  Referred to as the 'Red Label', the band duplicates the classic Cabinet band in red.  It is made in Esteli Nicaragua at the Tabacalera Cubana factory.  It is medium to full bodied and is truly a Nicaraguan Puro, consisting of Nicaraguan filler, binder and wrapper 

It is kind of funny that this line is called the Havana VI now, because with the Gordito release, there are now seven cigars. Really though, who cares what the name is? The real question is: how does it smoke?  Let's get started with the review.

Vitola: Robusto extra?
Length: 5 1/2
Ring Gauge: 56
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $9.00 in full boxes
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water

The Tatuaje red label Gordito is another BIG cigar. My stick was nicely packed and with a 56 ring gauge -- this vitola has some serious weight to it. The light brown wrapper on my sample of the Gordito had lots of big veins and a pretty prominate seam where the leaf wrapped around the binder. Overall, it was a pretty natural looking cigar. The aroma coming off the unlit stick was faint, but what I could detect was just some natural tobacco notes, mixed with a stronger peppery note at the open foot. The cold draw was a little loose for my preference and had a sweet, almost gingery taste.

First Third 
The first puff on my Gordito after evenly toasting the foot, was strong in flavor. The profile on the front of the draw was a mild black pepper and on the finish were flavors of bread and some other spice that I couldn't nail down. The black pepper was not mild in strength of flavor, just mild in the heat I sometimes associate with that taste. For such a large cigar this stick was very relaxing from the get go and not overpowering at all. Even with the massive amounts of smoke this cigar was producing, the body was in the medium range. One thing to note: if you are going to smoke this cigar inside, make sure you have a lot of ventilation. Like I wrote above, this cigar puts out a lot of smoke, even while resting. As you can see in the picture, the ash was compact, but what you can't see is how easily it falls. The next time I lifted this stick after the photo that ash fell right into the tray without any tapping.

Second Third  

The second third of my Tatuaje red label Gordito started out similar to the first third, except for the finish, which got a lot sweeter. The front still had that very tasty, tingly mild black pepper, and on the finish were still some of the bread flavors, but as I burned more and more into the second third, a caramel sweetness crept up and started taking over the finish. This was sweetness at its finest for me; the balance of pepper and caramel is one of my favorite combinations. Getting close to the end of my second third, I did have a few burn issues, but nothing that couldn't be corrected easily enough with my torch. The body in the second third might have been slightly stronger, but nothing enough to make my head spin or get the jitters.

Final Third and Final Thoughts  

"Here comes the black pepper" is what I have written down in my cigar journal for the start of the final third of my Tatuaje red label Gordito. As I recall, the black pepper is what dominated the final third. The main difference was the pepper was a little spicier this time than it was in the first two thirds. On the finish, the bread flavors had dissipated, but the sweet caramel was still prominent, and mouth-watering good. After the slight burn issues I had in the second third, the cigar preformed beautifully all the way to the nub. The body again ramped up slightly, so I would rate the end of this stick more in the medium to medium-full range.

My final thoughts on the Tatuaje Havana VI Gordito?  I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the best Tatuaje red label to date. I know that is a big statement, but this is a big cigar and it tastes amazing. I loved the balance of the peppery front with the sweet caramel on the finish so much that I really had to pace myself from not rushing to take puff after puff. This stick is in the top 3 best of the new Tatuaje releases in my opinion, so don't look past it because of the size.

Would I buy it again? Another great cigar for tailgating because of how long it smokes. I would say it took around 2 1/2 hours to nub it. I will be getting more.

Would I buy a box? This is 100% box worthy.  


  1. I was a fan of the East/West Coast blends of the Red Labels. I'll definitely have to give this one a try. It has been awhile since I've reached for a Tatuaje.

  2. Great review! Thanks.