- Vitola: Porkchop
- 4” x 46 ring gauge
- MSRP ~$9
In 2009, I was busy with moving and getting settled in to my new home so much so that I wasn’t really well-plugged-in to the cigar industry. Actually, I didn’t start writing about cigars on a regular basis until the middle of that year and didn’t take it all that seriously until very late in 2009. All that to say, I missed out completely when the original Tatuaje Porkchop release happened. Porkchop was produced as an exclusive for Gloucester Street Cigars (now defunct) in Boston. The cigar was named for the store owner, Jose Agosto, who was nicknamed “Porkchop.”
Late in 2016, Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje, announced a tour that would see the return of the Porkchop (and the Pork Tenderloin, but that’s another review). The first leg of the tour was on the west coast and had 9 stops. The second leg of the tour started in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Burns Tobacconist on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. We were privileged to be able to host Pete, along with his brother, K.C., Dan Welsh (manager of the Surrogates brand), and Sean “Casper” Johnson…and we sold a buttload of pork product. Working at the store, I was unable to buy the cigars that evening, but I did receive some as gifts from various people later on. I have smoked one each of the Porkchop and Tenderloin before setting out to review them.
According to an old review on halfwheel (but originally published on Smoking Stogie), the Porkchop blend is a Nicaraguan puro, using Estelí and Jalapa tobaccos and a wrapper very similar to the one used on the J21. The original was made in Miami, but the new version was made in Nicaragua at the My Father factory.
The packaging is fairly typical for Tatuaje…plain wood cabinet box, this time with a pork chop image stamped on the side. The box lists the cigar as part of the Selección de Cazador family, so the brown label on the cigar is not a surprise. The secondary “Reserva” band is old-school and made me wonder if this was a Broadleaf wrapper or not…and the wrapper itself is so dark that it reinforced the questionable nature…but it’s not a Broadleaf.
Whether you would call this Nicaraguan wrapper leaf a “Maduro” or not is debatable, too, I guess. I’ve not seen it referred to as such. It was a rich dark milk chocolate color with a couple larger veins in evidence, along with a closed foot. The wrapper itself had an aroma that mixed earth, coffee beans, and cocoa powder. The foot wasn’t really any different since it was so highly influenced by the wrapper being wrapped around it.
The cold draw was good enough…slightly tight, but with a closed foot that’s frequently an issue before lighting. The cold flavor had a lot of coffee and earth flavor.
Once lit, the Porkchop started off with a great earthiness, backed up with some unsweetened cocoa powder and pepper spice. The retrohale was very peppery. The draw became completely fine as soon as I got the cigar fully lit. This is a small cigar, so the first third didn’t last all that long. What it did give though, was a great full-bodied earthiness with just a touch of cocoa powder.
The second third saw an increase in the cocoa powder with a corresponding decrease in raw earthiness. By the end of the third, it was a strong unsweetened cocoa flavor backed up by a good peppery heat.
The last third had more earth and cocoa powder, in an almost perfect balance this time. The pepper actually faded a little during this time.
Both examples of Porkchop I’ve smoked have had a great draw, solid ash and even-enough burn line.
Determining value is tricky on these…$9 is a little much for is typically considered a “short smoke,” but these are extremely hard to get your hands one, so exclusivity is something you pay for. I’d call it about right for the experience delivered.
The Porkchop was simply one of the best Brown Label Tatuaje cigars I’ve ever had. While most of the time I enjoy the regular Brown line and love the Reserva Broadleaf versions, I tend to be a little cold on the non-Broadleaf Reservas. This is a fantastic exception to that rule. It was full-bodied and punchy without being overwhelming at any point. I still might prefer it with a Broadleaf wrapper…but that’s what the Petite Cazador is for (though in a slightly smaller ring gauge). Great smoke…get some if you can!