Cigar Review: The Michael by Tatuaje Cigars

  • TatMichael_straightVitola: Toro
  • 6.5” x 52 ring gauge 
  • ~$15
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

It’s become tradition…every year, Pete Johnson and the Tatuaje Cigar group release a new Monster Cigar blend in October. Each year, I get my hands on them in the second half of that month, then review one sometime during November, only to eventually post it around some other holiday than Halloween…typically Thanksgiving!

This year the Monster blend is The Michael, named after the maniacal, but silent, psycho killer from the grandaddy of the modern slash films, John Carpenter’s Halloween…also one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I’m looking at the list of “Unlucky 13” retailers and realized that Pete missed a big opportunity…he not only didn’t choose a retailer in Haddonfield, Illinois (the setting for the movie), but also didn’t choose a retailer in Pasadena, California (where the movie was actually shot).

This year’s blend consists of Nicaraguan filler and binder, along with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. I was able to pick up a few at Burns, where I work.

Prelight

Michael_boxThere are no surprises in the packaging or banding of the Michael. There were 666 (or so) “dress” boxes, shaped like coffins and containing 13 cigars. Then there were a lot of 10 count “non-dress” boxes. The band is a dark blue (to match the coveralls that Michael Myers steals from the tow-truck driver he kills on his way home to Haddonfield) and looks good against the medium-brown Habano wrapper leaf.

The wrapper had a little reddish coloration under certain lighting and a few “large-ish” veins, but overall looked pretty much the same to me as the Habano Ecuador used on the Reserva sw release of the Tatuaje Brown Label (Selecciones de Cazadores)…which is to say, slightly lighter than the regular Brown Label wrapper leaf that you would see on the Cazador, Unico, or 7th Natural cigars. The aroma from the leaf was slightly woody, with notes of natural tobacco and leather hanging around, as well. The foot was rich with ripe earthy notes.

After clipping a sliver of cap from the head, the cold draw was very good and tasted of earth, tobacco and cedar.

TatMichael_hatFlavor

The Tatuaje Michael fired up with a tremendously cedary flavor up front, backed up with notes of earth and black pepper on the palate. The pepper was more prevalent on the retrohale. The smoke was in the medium-plus range as I started off. As I made my way through the first third, I continued to get more cedar, earth and pepper. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the standard Tatuaje Brown Label, especially the Reserva sw, which is a little lighter in body than most of the rest of the line. A friend of mine agreed, saying he thought it was like a cross between the sw and the 7th Natural.

There was a muted, but very welcome, sweetness that came through in the second third. Almost a citrus, but not entirely. It melded very well with the cedar and earth notes that still held sway, as well as the pepper that had backed off a bit.

The citrus notes became more pronounced in the last third, with an excellent balance of sweet and tart flavors that eclipsed the earth and cedar, pushing them down to minor supporting roles. The pepper continued as a nice burn on the palate and nose.

Construction

Build quality was as good as you would expect on a Tatuaje: great draw, even enough burn line, long and solid ash.

Value

You pay more for a limited edition cigar and hope that it’s worth the price. This one was…but not by much, if I’m being honest.

Conclusions

In the end, I can’t change my assessment that this latest Tatuaje Monster installment is very much like a large ring gauge version of the Reserva sw. That’s not a bad thing…it’s just that usually the Monsters are something a little different blend from the regular releases, not just a different size. The Michael is definitely a solidly good cigar, but for me it doesn’t rise to the level of greatness that we want to see in this annual limited series.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 3.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 8.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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