Bite Size Review: Tatuaje El Triunfador Lancero (Original)
Next time you’re thumbing through your Twitter or Instagram feeds, provided you’re following an ample supply of cigar lovers, see how many lanceros you can spot. I’ll bet all the money in my 401k it’s not more than one or two, if any at all. Why? Well, it’s complicated. It may be counterintuitive to some to learn that the lancero vitola is actually one of the newer sizes of cigars. Favored by Castro himself, the lancero was developed in the 1960’s with the Cuban dictator in mind and for many years you wouldn’t find a Cuban lancero made by anyone other than Cohiba.
Lanceros, technically classified as panetelas, are typically around 7 ½“ long with a ring gauge hovering around 38. The small diameter gauge allows for a more even wrapper-to-filler ratio and thereby puts more emphasis on the wrapper flavor. For this reason, the lancero is often associated with the erudite set and true aficionados. Over the years, more Cuban and non-Cuban manufacturers began making the size, but it wasn’t because lanceros were gaining in popularity, in fact for the last 50 years, lanceros have enjoyed only a cult following at best.
The lanceros are often more expensive ($15 and up) than their shorter, stockier bretheren largely because they are difficult to make. Only a handful of skilled torcedores are trusted to roll the sleek stogeys since it is easy to mis-bunch the filler leaves resulting in a blocked draw, an unsettlingly common tale. Those entrenched in the machismo factor of larger ring gauges may be put off simply because of the lancero’s slender, almost effeminate shape. There’s just something odd about puffing on an elongated, slim cigar, I can’t help but feel like Cruella DeVille.
Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson is a big fan of the lancero and he included the vitola in his first brown-labeled brand. Johnson launched the El Triunfador (trans. winner; victor) line, originally a Cuban trademark, back in 2008, but changed things up when it was targeted for the EU market. It was later brought to the US and went from limited release to periodic small releases. We sourced our El Triunfador early last year to many “oohs” and ahhs” since this is the first lancero we’ve reviewed. Like any shiny object, it was difficult to pass up anything sheathed in Connecticut Broadleaf.
The deep, cinnamon color and triple cap topped with a classic pig tail or “flag” add to the lancero mystique. While smooth and firm, the toothy, veiny exterior impart a rustic appearance. Pleasant floral and leather tones emanate from the wrapper while there’s chocolate and graham cracker notes detected at the foot. The cold draw, sadly, is tight – as mentioned previously, an avoidable, but common trait – which dusts the palate with a plumminess along with hints of raisins.
Once greeted by a most delectable profile introduced by notes of cinnamon, leather and graham cracker, tight draw or not, I knew something special was brewing. The graham cracker notes exxtend into the finish along with hints of wood. The chocolatey draw does improve somewhat which allows the senses to detect a light spice and a velvety smooth texture. The nuanced-packed initial profile settles into an enjoyable mélange of dark cherries and wood with hints of cinnamon. The first transition also packs a flavorful punch mixing it up with a robust mix of salt, herbs and wood intonations, a fruity draw, and a finish of espresso with a dab of leather.
While the draw does improve appreciably, there just isn’t much going on in the last transition other than increases in body, strength and spice. Malty and peaty, our lancero takes a bow with a pervasive ashy, bitter flavor. Combustion is stellar and despite the tough draw, our lancero is a good smoke producer. The El Triunfador is priced under $10, is light in the hand and easy on the eyes, and produces a strong, contrasting white ash. There’s much to enjoy in the first 45 minutes making the last 20 a bit disappointing in comparison. Nonetheless, El Triunfador is a unique, enjoyable smoke and at the end of the day, that’s what matters to true cigar lovers, even if you’re not a fan of lanceros. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: During an interview with Cigar Aficionado, Nat Sherman VP Michael Herklots (then GM of the NY Davidoff shop) was asked what type of customer smokes a lancero and he said: “An educated one. A confident one. A lancero smoker is the same type of customer who buys a Schrader RBS Cabernet—he doesn’t need a trophy that other people recognize as great. He or she knows it’s great, and that’s enough.”
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Lancero
- Length / Ring: 7.5″ X 38
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Production: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $9.50 [Box $237.50]
- Humidor Age: 15.5 mo.
- Box: 25
- Other Vitolas: N/A
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:05
Construction: Pigtail triple cap; solid, even firmness; veiny; visible seams; toothy; smooth to touch; matte finish; rich, cinnamon color; good smoke producer; holds 1″+ white ash.
- Wrapper – Light leather, floral
- Foot – Hint of graham cracker, chocolate
- Cold Draw – Plummy / raisins
- Initial: Profile of leather and cinnamon; notes of graham cracker on retro; sweet, woody finish with hints of graham cracker; chocolatey draw; light spice; medium-bodied; settles into a core of dark cherries, wood, cinnamon and leather; finish becomes charred; nuances are magic.
- Transition: Uptick in spice; fruity draw; savory, herbal nucleus of salt and wood; notes of espresso on finish with a db of leather; hints of dark cherries on retro linger; a little earthy.
- Transition: Woody core; more body, full strength; heavy spice on tongue; malty and peaty; very little complexity; finish becomes ashy and bitter.
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Complexity hiatus in last transition; tight draw
Recommendation: 2. Boxworthy
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]