Review: Tatuaje Havana VI
So, what happens when the brief music career of a kid from Maine hits the skids in LA? He launches a cigar brand loved by connoisseurs worldwide. Pffft, of course. When the sun began to set on Pete Johnson’s days of rockin’ the Sunset Strip, he worked part-time at a local humidor he frequented mixing pipe tobacco. His love of cigars, circle of mentors and success within the tobacco community fueled an almost compulsory career change. Carlos Fuente, among others, referred to Johnson as “Tattoo Pete”, and the Spanish word for ‘tattoo’, tatuaje, became Johnson’s brand.
Johnson attributes his success to his work with Pepin Garcia, and his first brown-labeled cigars rolled out of Miami in 2003. After slowly growing his brand with 2 lines, Johnson hit pay dirt with the Nicaraguan-produced Havana VI in 2006. Thanks to lofty ratings from Cigar Aficionado along with two Top 25 cigar honors, Tatuaje became a darling of the boutique set. Almost 13 years later, the Havana VI has racked up a mantle of ratings in the high 80s and low 90s in just about every vitola. There are 6 vitolas in the Havana VI line which continue to be produced by My Father Cigars in Nicaragua.
The thin, red band is simple and exemplifies the early days of the then fledgling brand. The torpedo vitola (Artistas has been referred to as a ‘pirimide’ by others – we disagree) is well-rolled, aside from a sloppy triple cap. The lush, pecan-colored wrapper is on the lumpy and veiny side and sports some tooth. The 13 months of aging has reduced the oils, so the wrapper takes on a matte appearance. There is a hearty aroma of dark fruit from the Ecuadorian skin and the foot is awash with fragrant graham cracker and cocoa powder. The draw with a guillotine cut is very good, if not a little on the tight side and there are dry notes of raisins and anise on the palate.
What caught my immediate attention was the delicious draw notes of leather and caramel. Religious. There’s just the right amount of black pepper, spice and floral essence to round things out and the finish begins with savory charred oak, adding notes of black coffee later. Complexity and balance is top-notch – not bad consistency for a 13-year old blend. While not super smooth, medium-bodied transitions feature a very enjoyable and well-balanced mix of woody profiles highlighted by more spice, notes of coffee, toasted cashews, marshmallow, chocolate and long finishes. There’s simply not a single dip in enjoyment from start to finish.
Harshness does rear its ugly snout with about 1.5” to go which was disappointing; however, there is so much to like about the Havana VI you’re more focused on when you might light up another. Combustion begins somewhat uneven, but improves. Don’t rush it too much or she’ll get hot on you quickly. This cigar keeps your attention and delivers throughout the smoke. The flavor palette is wonderful and it is so well-balanced. For those who have not yet tried any of Pete’s stuff, this is the perfect stogey, and price point, to acquaint yourself with Tatuaje. Even after 13 years, the Havana VI still delivers and we think it is boxworthy. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Pete Johnson’s relationship with Pepin Garcia and My Father cigars goes back to 2003.
- Profile: Medium
- Vitola: Artistas [Torpedo]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.125″x52
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaraguan
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Cutter: Xikar xi1
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $8.50
- Humidor Age: 13 mo.
- Box: 24
- Other Vitolas: Hermosos [5.625″x46], Angeles [4.625″x42], Victorias [6″x38], Nobles [5″x50], Almirantes [7″x47], Gorditos [5.5″x56]
Smoke Time: 1:15
Draw: Very good
Build: Pecan-colored wrapper; Uniform give – soft in middle; sloppy triple cap; veiny and lumpy; raised seams; some tooth; semi-oily w/more matte appearance; holds tight 1″ ash.
- Wrapper – Dark fruit
- Foot – Graham cracker, cocoa powder
- Cold Draw – raisins, hint of anise
- Initial: Leather and caramel on draw; floral essence on retro; notes of black pepper; hints of charred oak on finish; light spice; profile becomes woodier; adds black coffee to finish.
- Transition: Smoky, oaky profile; uptick in spice; reduction of caramel notes; marshmallow and coffee finish; notes of toasted cashews on retro.
- Transition: Overtly woody profile; notes of chocolate and coffee bean on retro; spice lingers; earthy, espresso finish; hint of oats on draw.
Touch ups: N/A
Combustion: Very good
Weaknesses: Gets harsh with ~ 1.5″ remaining
Recommendation: 1. Boxworthy
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- Yard ‘gar
- Smoke a banana instead