Cigar Review: Négociant by Tatuaje/L’atelier

  • negociant_straightVitola: No. 3
  • 6.125” x 48 ring gauge 
  • ~$11
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

Along with founding Tatuaje in 2003, Pete Johnson worked with his brother, K.C., and a couple friends, Dan Welsh and Sean “Casper” Johnson, to form L’Atelier Imports. L’Atelier has distinguished itself as different from Tatuaje mostly through the use of Sancti Spiritus tobacco and for the most part the two companies have operated separately, though in parallel, using the same reps and brokers, as well as sharing event space for the last couple years.

At the 2016 IPCPR show, the two companies announced a collaborative cigar, the Négociant, a winemaking term for someone who buys wine or grapes from other growers before turning around and making their own wine with the materials. The cigars are made in the My Father factory in Nicaragua, using Nicaragua fillers, dual binders from Nicaragua and Mexico, and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf.

At Burns we got these in about 12 days prior to the start of the Eastern leg of their “Oh F*ck, I’m Lost” Tour,” and judging from the shipping announcement (on a Wednesday) and the cigars’ arrival (the next day) I’m guessing we were one of the first stores in the country to receive them. I smoked a No. 1 (Robusto) the day after we got them and waited about 9 days before lighting up this No. 3 for review. I bought both at Burns. Multiple news reports all agreed on the basics for this release, so I’m not going to link to any particular one as my source.

If you’re not doing anything tomorrow and you are anywhere near Chattanooga, you really should come on down to Burns East (110 Jordan Drive) for the Tatuaje/L’atelier event. Big names and special cigars…go to the event page on Facebook for all the details. I’m going to do my best to get plenty of pictures…and maybe some video…to post from the event on this blog later this week.

Negociant_inhandPrelight

The Négociant continues the Tatuaje tradition of simple wooden cabinet boxes with dark cliches impressed into them. Despite the “collaborative effort” talk, I found only Tatuaje identifications on the box and band of this cigar. The band in particular is a new take on the black background band they used on the later Black Label release (the plastic jar containing the Corona Gorda size). It uses gold foil instead of silver, but pretty much everything else is identical. Most Tatuajes will not win any packaging awards, but at least they are consistent.

The wrapper leaf of the cigar was a brilliant golden shade with a smooth and slightly oily feel to it. Pete has used Connecticut Shade wrapper on Cabaiguan and a couple other things before, but this may be the best looking Shade I’ve ever seen on his products. If it weren’t for the lumpiness of the underlying binder, it would practically be Davidoff-quality in appearance. It had a nice, clean hay and grass aroma to it, while the foot had notes of earth, wood and cocoa powder.

After clipping with my favorite Xikar Xi cutter, I got a very good cold draw that tasted of molasses, hay, and wood.

Flavor

The Négociant started off with a very cedary note on the palate and a retrohale that was a pepper punch in the nose. The finish of the first few puffs went sweet, with notes of molasses and hay, along with just a bit of white pepper on the tongue. Overall, the start of this blend in this vitola was quite good. The No. 1 I smoked a week or so ago didn’t begin nearly as nicely and never really became anything I felt I hadn’t had before…but a week of resting time after being on the road can do some cigars a world of good.

Finishing up the first third and easing on into the second (it was a lazy Sunday afternoon when I reviewed this…I wasn’t doing anything but easing), I got a citrus snap and more grassy and cedary notes. Nicaraguan earthiness was underlying the whole and there was still a good amount of pepper on the palate and on the nose, along with just a touch of molasses sweetness.

The last third had a mix of pepper and citrus up front with sweetness and earthiness following behind. The retrohale was still very peppery, with notes of cedar and roasted nuts flowing through from time to time.

Negociant_angleConstruction

I had excellent construction the entire way: great draw, solid ash, and very even burn line with just the need for a couple minor touch-ups.

Value

The price point on these is not out of line with other offerings from the Tat and Lat lines.

Conclusions

I have to admit that the first time I smoked this blend I wasn’t impressed; I just felt it didn’t bring anything new to the table when it came to Connecticut Shade cigars. Could be the different size. Could be the resting time in my humidor. Whatever the case, this No. 3 vitola of the Négociant was a very good Conny that I would enjoy smoking again and again. It was medium in body the entire way with more pepper than almost any Shade stick I can remember, as well as a great balancing sweetness. Truly a Conny that Tat fans can dig.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9/10

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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