Tatuaje is quite the interesting animal. Pete Johnson started the whole thing only 10 short years ago, since then the brand has jumped from being completely unknown, to boutique, and then all the way up to the top of the boutique game. They’re big enough now that it’s hard to even still call them a boutique, but that’s a topic for another time. The other thing that is quite fascinating about Tatuaje is their fans. Individuals who are into Tatuaje are seriously in to Tatuaje, to an extent that I don’t think anybody else can match. The company has an absolute cult following. This type of success can be attributed to a number of variables: e.g., marketing, business strategy, etc, but ultimately all of that is worthless without the core competent – great cigars. Plenty of companies have entered the scene and gained steam, through magazines or social media, before quickly falling to the wayside. The fact that Tatuaje has launched and rocketed to the position that it is now speaks volumes about the caliber of Pete Johnson’s abilities.
This all brings us to the cigar being smoked today – the fabled Tatauje Black Label Corona Gorda. The Black Label Corona Gorda was original designed by Pete as a private blend for himself, but growing interest saw him release small quantities of the blend back in 2007. After the original run, we saw semi regular Black Label releases in a wide variety of sizes. This year however, is the 10th anniversary of Tatuaje, and as such Pete Johnson has opted to release the original Black Label Corona Gorda for one final time.
Cigar: Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda
Size: 5 5/8 x 46
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo, grown in Esteli
Price: $10 MSRP
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
Tatuaje’s Black Label Corona Gorda is a rough-around-the-edges, rustic looking cigar. While these cigars can vary quite a bit as far as just how ‘rustic’ each one winds up looking, generally they’re fairly vein-y and dry to the touch.
Despite knowing in advance that this blend falls a fair bit out of Tatuaje’s profile range, it’s still surprising just how light the overall aroma is. A few whiffs of coco powder, earth, light grass, and leather. There’s a fair bit going on, but again, it’s all surprisingly soft.
The first thing to note is just how distinctive the flavor profile as compared to any of Tatuaje’s current offerings. The body is slightly coarse across the palate, being creamy while also fairly dry. The profile has quite a bit of what might be described as a musky leather, with lighter earth notes layered in. As one might expect, there is plenty of pepper in the profile, but it’s substantially toned down in intensity from what you typically find in Pete Johnson’s blends. The further you smoke into the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda you can really start to feel it saturate itself into the back of the tongue, making for an exceedingly long (but quite enjoyable) finish.
Some definite evolution in the profile into the second third. The profile has mellowed a bit, allowing some lighter fruit notes to emerge, as well as more woody and floral notes. It’s still fairly pungent as far as musk and leather go, with a bit of tangy cedar. One thing that really needs to be spoken to is the complexity and balance of this blend. There are quite a few cigars that offer this, but this is at another level. The Criollo wrapper is pretty apparent in the flavor; creamy with a bit of bite on the front end.
The Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda is arguably at its highest intensity, although that isn’t much past medium +. The smoke and flavor are still extremely dense, every puff is a solid wall of flavor. Lots of nuts, wood, leather and floral earth, with some hints of soft coco. The profile is just meaty all around, despite not being overbearingly strong. Again, it really stands as a testament to Pete Johnson’s prowess that this cigar can execute so much flavor and complexity while still remaining so balanced.
Burn and Construction:
The burn is sharp all the way through, and smoke production is great. The draw is about as good as it gets; smooth and open, with just the right amount of resistance. The tobacco in this cigar does seem to be naturally a bit on the dryer side of things, and I found that it burned a bit quicker than I anticipated. Nonetheless, that is a only a minor gripe.
Construction is also top notch, but the wrapper can be a bit fragile. Tatuaje’s Black Label Corona Gorda is a lot like high-end watch; it’s made to be enjoyed, but you’ll be in a real sore mood should you have the misfortune of dinging it.
Let me first be straightforward in saying that the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda was definitely a different experience than what I was expecting. I never had the pleasure of smoking the original, but had heard the stories of its greatness like everyone else. When the new Black Label Corona Gorda came around, I knew I had to try one. I must admit that I was a bit dumbfounded as to what to make of it the first time I smoked one. The cigar itself is fantastic – the flavor is rich, the profile balanced and complex, and the burn and construction are sublime. That being said, had I been blindfolded I probably wouldn’t have guessed that this was a Tatuaje product.
Altogether, this is a fantastic cigar for a variety of reasons, from its heritage to its flavor, but most importantly – it doesn’t taste like anything else out there. That alone is enough to garner the attention of myself and many, many others. A must try for everyone, though I advise Tatuaje fans to be prepared for something different.
4.5 out of 5.