Pete Johnson is a name that comes with a lot of buzz in this industry, even considering his short time as a cigar manufacturer. Having built a huge following with his brand Tatuaje, Pete continues to create great cigars each and every year. Working with the famed Garcia family to produce his equally famous brand, Tatuaje has grown tremendously over the years. That’s why in 2012 Pete joined forces with his brother and 2 close friends to create a new cigar company. Finding inspiration in his love of wine, the company was named L’Atelier Imports, the French word for “the workshop”. L’Atelier Imports allowed Pete to work closely with those closest to him and expand his cigar repertoire without further diluting the already packed Tatuaje lineup. Releasing 4 different lines under the L’Atelier brand right off the bat, the LAT series is the flagship line. Made in sizes identical to the BHK lineup from Cuba and using a similar band design, the LAT 52, 54 and 56 were sure to create buzz around the cigar world from the get-go.
Size: LAT52 4 ¾ x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sancti Spiritus
Strength: Medium Plus
Cost: $8.00/stick or $107.95/box of 15
Appearance: The first thing you notice about the L’Atelier LAT52 is the pigtail cap that adorns this beautiful robusto. The wrapper is a succulent looking cocoa brown with a slight veined look to it. Some oils on the wrapper give it a nice sheen and there is even some noticeable tooth on the wrapper as well. The band stands out with it’s high gloss black and white with gold trim and a tobacco leaf in gold over the black. Overall it is a beautiful cigar, with the wrapper color really standing out and making you take notice.
Pre-light Aroma: Before flame touches the L’Atelier LAT52 I can smell a very sweet aroma on the foot, almost like plum or blueberry. Very sweet and fruity, a wonderful aroma that leaves me intrigued as to what to expect once lit. The wrapper provides a light oak scent without the sweetness that comes off the foot, a stark contrast that could provide some intriguing flavor combinations once we take fire to this beauty. Like most cigars with a pigtail cap, you can simply twist and pull the pigtail to open the cigar enough to draw on it but I still prefer a simple straight cut. Once cut, I find the draw is just how I like it, easy enough to provide ample smoke output but with just a slight resistance so I don’t feel like I am breathing through a straw. Flavor wise you can taste a floral spice with the oak and earth flavors from the wrapper very apparent on the lips. There is also a light tea flavor on the pre-light draw, adding to the complexity I am expecting once started.
The first puff of the L’Atelier LAT52 hits my tongue with a heavy oak flavor that I smelled from the wrapper. There is a spice present in the smoke as well, but it is so faint I cannot pinpoint what it is. It is just there, lingering on the palate ever so lightly. Through the nose you can pull out some sweetness that I liken to maple syrup, a fun combo that mixes nicely with the strong oak on the tongue. Towards the end of the first third the oak settles down and allows the maple syrup to come through in the mouth. The burn line is straight and the ash strong, a great indicator of the quality construction on this line.
Once into the 2nd third, the L’Atelier LAT52 really sweetens up, with a dried fruit flavor along with the maple syrup taking over your palate. There is a peppery spice through the nose though it isn’t very heavy. The sweet flavors really linger after each puff and the smoke is thick and chewy in this portion. Strength at this point is about as strong as it will get, sitting on the medium-plus side, and the burn continues to shine.
The L’Atelier LAT52 finishes so smooth and with so much flavor, I could easily pick up another and smoke it right after. The flavor on the end is slightly nutty, cashew in taste, and still sweet on the finish. The strength stayed right at the medium-plus point from start to finish and was never overpowering. This is a cigar that could be smoked at just about any part of the day and deliver enough flavor to satisfy the palate. The changes from start to finish made for a nice experience in complexity while keeping you interested the entire time. I would say this definitely stands up to being the flagship line in the L’Atelier Imports portfolio and gives them a great footing in the market.
Cigar King Staff Quotes:
Gary: “It’s tough to not look for comparisons to Tatuaje with L’Atelier. This does a great job of standing on it’s own and shining under the L’Atelier flag.”
Kole: “Flavorful, solid strength level, good to the last puff.”
Paul: “The flavors really stand out in each third, giving a distinct smoking experience.”