L’Atelier – LAT52 vitola

The L’Atelier cigar line is the flagship cigar of L’Atelier Imports.  This cigar line (as well as the company) made its debut at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson was involved with the launch of the company, but the operations are separate and run by Johnson’s brother K.C. Johnson, Johnson’s friend Sean “Casper” Johnson, and Dan Welsh of New Havana Cigars.  Over the past several weeks, I have been smoking the L’Atelier line of cigars.  With the LAT52, a petit robusto, I think the blend has found its sweet spot as this is a very good cigar.

The name L’Atelier is French for “the workshop”.  As mentioned this is a separate company from Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje/Havana Cellars.  While Tatuaje remains headquartered in California, L’Atelier Imports operations will be based in Miami.  The L’Atelier core line is rolled at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua by the Garcia family.

In this assessment, we will break down the 52 ring gauge, L’Atelier LAT52 and see what the experience delivers.

Blend Profile


The L’Atelier core line uses a special wrapper called Sancti Spíritus.   It was a tobacco leaf grown by the Oliva family with a seed from the Garcia family.  It is a hybrid of Criollo and Pelo de Oro and was designed as a replacement seed for Pelo de Oro.  The wrapper itself has a strong resistance to mold.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian (Sancti Spíritus)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

When launched in 2012, the L’Atelier was launched in three sizes.  The sizes of the frontmarks are similar to the Cuban Cohiba Behike BHK trio.

LAT52: 4 3/4 x 52
LAT54: 5 5/8 x 54
LAT56: 6 1/2 x 56

The cigars are packaged fifteen per box.  There is also a nine cigar sampler containing each of the sizes.

L’Atelier Sampler box – Cigar Coop IPCPR 2012 photo

Late last year, it was announced a fourth vitola, the LAT46SS (5 5/8 x 46) would be added.  It would also use the Sancti Spíritus but it would be taken from a higher priming from the plant.

Appearance

In addition to the L’Atelier cigars being a similar size to the Cohiba Behike BHKs, there is also a resemblance in appearance.  In my opinion, these cigars have their own identity and their own charm as well. 

As mentioned, we will look the LAT52 vitola in this assessment. The Sancti Spíritus wrapper has a medium brown color with a nice oily sheen to them.  There are visible wrapper seams and visible veins on the surface of the wrapper.  There is a small pigtail cap – a-la Behike style.  There also is a nice barnyard aroma from the foot.

The band is equally as impressive.  It has a black, gold, white, and silver color scheme.  The top and bottom of the band have a gold trim to it.  The majority of the band has a black background. It has the gold L’Atelier logo in the center of it (a gold leaf surrounded by a gold square).  There are four silver leaves that surround the logo to the right and left.  Below the black background is a white stripe with the name L’ATELIER in black font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

When I have a cigar with a pigtail cap, I typically still go with a straight cut.  I didn’t break my rule here, and stuck with my usual ritual for the L’Atelier LAT52.  I then proceeded with the pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes treated me to a combination of earth, natural tobacco sweetness, red pepper, and nut.  Overall, I found this to be an excellent pre-light draw.  At this point, it was time to light the L’Atelier LAT52 with my butane lighter and see what the overall smoking experience would provide.

Flavor Profile

Upon lighting the L’Atelier LAT52, I was treated to some pepper on the tongue.  The pepper was still on the red pepper side.  The pepper wasn’t quite a Garcia family pepper blast, but it was still on the spicier side to start.  At the same time, there was a strong pepper aroma that I could detect.  The pepper would subside to the background and some nut flavors would emerge first.   The nut flavors would be joined by citrus and natural tobacco sweetness in the forefront.  The combination of citrus and natural tobacco was very good on this cigar – each flavor note seemed to enhance the other.

Around the ten percent mark, the L’Atelier moved into a flavor rotation with the nut, natural tobacco, citrus, and pepper notes all taking turns at being in the forefront.  It was really hard to pinpoint as to what flavor stood out as I could make a case for all of them.

In the last third, the pepper spice did pick up a notch.  The nut flavor is still very present, but the citrus and natural tobacco were greatly diminished.  There was some spice at the end of this cigar, but I wouldn’t categorize it as a spice bomb – and the spice did not get harsh.  The resulting nub was cool in temperature and was soft on the touch.

Burn and Draw

Overall the burn performed relatively well with the L’Atelier LAT52.  The burn line remained pretty straight and did not require a large number of touch-ups along the way.  The ash was mostly white in color.  While the ash was relatively firm, there was some occasional flaking along the way.  The flaking did not prove to be a major nuisance.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw was outstanding.  This made the L’Atelier LAT52 an enjoyable cigar to puff on from start to finish.

Strength and Body

The L’Atelier LAT52 is not a cigar that will overwhelm you with nicotine.  This cigar has a real sweet-spot when it comes to strength.  It provides that “just right” amount of strength.  I assessed the L’Atelier LAT52 to be a squarely in the middle of the medium range of the strength spectrum. From a flavor perspective, the notes have some nice depth to them.  I assessed this cigar to be on the medium to full side.  The balance between strength and body attributes definitely leans to the body side.

Final Thoughts

I admit, the blend for the L’Atelier took a bit to grow on me, but each time I smoked this cigar, I found something else about it that I liked.  Of the three current sizes, I seem to gravitate toward the LAT52 the most.  From an intangible standpoint, this cigar isn’t going to have the feel of a Tatuaje while you smoke it.  In a nutshell, the L’Atelier has its own unique identity.   This is a nice cigar for a novice enthusiast looking to graduate to something on the medium strength, medium to full-bodied side.   Experienced cigar enthusiasts will enjoy the complexity of this cigar, and should appreciate everything it brings to the table.  As for myself, this is a cigar I would definitely smoke again.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 92

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from both Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina and Smoke Inn in West Palm Beach, Florida.