Both the Regios and Especiales were absolutely fantastic cigars. I won’t spend too much time insulting your intelligence with what you already know: Tatuaje is one of the finest cigars available today, and the Cabinet (or “Brown Label”) edition may be the best of the best. Produced in Don Pepin Garcia’s Little Havana El Rey de los Habanos factory; the Regios and Especiales both exhibited the “Calle Ocho Gut Check” that Garcia’s blends are known for. Each cigar is outstanding in its own right, but lets see how they compare. In keeping with our commitment to the Scientific Method; we’ll begin with our control, the Regios.
Appearance: The wrapper of this cigar was very finely veined and almost seamlessly applied. A gentle roll between the fingers revealed a firm yet resilient cigar, clearly the work of a master.
Pre-light Draw: Smooth yet spicy with hints of lemongrass. Perfect in its resistance.
First Third: We are off to a rip-roaring start! Immediate spice explodes on the palate carrying with it notes of leather and a mild sweetness. Plenty of smooth, creamy, smoke adds to my impression that this just might be one of my top ten cigars this year.
Second Third: Strong vegetal notes develop in this middle period, but the creaminess continues. The solid background of power amounts to a kind of “velvet hammer”, coming on slowly but steadily and mounting with each passing puff.
Final Third: As is typical of full-bodied cigars the power increases(!) toward the end. The once subtle vegetal notes develop into a strong, classic tobacco character. As the Regios is nubbed, my head is swimming and a mildly comatose, yet sublime visage was noted by observers. Out with a bang.
Overall Impression: This was a really excellent cigar. Immense in its flavor, gentle and tantalizing in its finish, and precise in its burn. The only thing that could possibly be said to be lacking is complexity. In the future we’ll take a look at the role of the puro in the cigar world, and compare puros to cigars whose tobaccos originate in differing countries. Generally speaking for now, and certainly in this instance, very consistent excellent flavor in a puro is often purchased at the expense of complexity. I’m not complaining; the Tatuaje Cabinet series, and indeed the Regios itself, could very well be in the running for my “desert island” cigar. And now, on to the lancero.
Pete Johnson’s self-confessed love of lanceros mandated their inclusion in this series. In a piece for Cigar Aficionado he relates; “[I] love lanceros. They were part of my original six brown-label sizes five years ago. I was making this in early 2003 when everyone was running from them, except maybe Carlito.” Thank god for that. Let’s fire this one up.
Appearance: Another beautifully constructed cigar. The walnut brown wrapper had no flaws whatsoever and terminated in a perfectly executed triple cap with a pigtail. Gorgeous.
Pre-light Draw: Some very strong cinnamon notes came through in the not-unexpectedly perfect draw of this lancero.
First Third: The cinnamon flavors of the pre-light draw were not just a figment of my imagination, they came through quite clearly in the opening puffs of the Especiales. A distinct buttery creaminess could not be ignored while the absence of in-your-face spice did little to reign in the power of the blend.
Second Third: An increase in smoke volume brought with it some subtle anise flavors on the finish. We wave farewell to the cinnamon flavors early in this part of the smoke. Despite the Especiales’ position on the vitolas.net Tatuaje Relative Strength Chart, I’m definitely feeling the power here in the second third.
Final Third: Anise notes take prominence and amazingly, some of the lemongrass flavors that we saw in the pre-light draw of the Regios now appear at the end of this lancero. I took this cigar all the way down to “roach clip” status. Unequivocally good to the last drop.
Overall Impression: Another great cigar with excellent flavor. The cinnamon and anise notes were very interesting and unambiguous. We’ll definitely be back for more of these.
Well friends, I’m not sure we’ve yet arrived at the end of the tunnel. Both cigars were outstanding smokes with a similar profile yet different characteristics. While in absolute terms, the Especiales is not as strong as the Regios, its power is even more sneaky in its accumulation. The elegance of the lancero belies its strength. The Regios, of course, had all the power we expect from Tatuaje, but differed from the Especiales in the amount of spice on the palate. Both cigars had excellent flavor. Could it be that much of the power of these puros emanates from the Corojo 99 wrapper? Perhaps the spice we so enjoyed in the Regios came from the filler that is less represented in the Especiales. These, I believe, may be trends that we will continue to take note of as this series progresses; each little discovery a piece of a gigantic cigar-shaped puzzle. More may be learned in part three of our lancero comparison series. As one of our finest modern poets, Neil Peart, once penned; “The point of a journey is not to arrive”. Stay tuned…anything can happen.