|L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale|
The L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale (LAT46 SS) is a line extension to the core L’Atelier line of L’Atelier Imports. While the LAT46 SS can be considered the fourth vitola of the core line in the form of a corona gorda, it also comes with a slight change to the blend – namely a priming change to the wrapper. Since the launch of the L’Atelier line, I have found this blend to be one of the best aging blends in the past nine months. I was more than curious to see what the priming change and the corona gorda format would do to this cigar. I was not disappointed – and this proved to be and outstanding addition to the brand’s portfolio.
L’Atelier Imports and its core line 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. The name L’Atelier is French for “the workshop”. The L’Atelier core line is rolled at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua by the Garcia family.
Let’s break down L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale and see what this cigar brings to the table:
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. Sancti Spíritus appears to be something that the Garcias will be using in future blends. It was recently announced this tobacco would be part of the L’Atelier Maduro and El Centurion (2013) blends.
TThe key difference with the LAT46 SS is that the Sancti Spíritus uses a higher priming – resulting in a wrapper of that has a darker appearance.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian (Sancti Spíritus)
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.
LAT46 SS: 5 5/8 x 46 (Corona Gorda)
For completeness we reference the other vitolas. These other vitolas use a lower prining than the LAT46 SS and thus have a lighter wrapper. The sizes of the frontmarks of these other vitolas 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
Another difference it the LAT46 SS is packaged ten cigars per box while the other sizes are packaged 15 to a box.
The priming of Sancti Spíritus wrapper used on the LAT 46 SS is almost a chocolate Maduro color with a nice oily sheen to them. There are visible veins on the surface of the wrapper. There are a couple of visible wrapper seams although the color hides it well. The wrapper surface is slightly bumpy. There is a small pigtail cap – keeping true to the line’s Behike style design. There also is a nice barnyard aroma from the foot.
There are two bands on the LAT 46 SS. The primary band is common to the entire L’Aterlier core line. 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.
There is a secondary band just below the primary band. This band is black with Selection Spéciale in gold scripted font. There is a gold stripe that goes around band at center.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I normally do with a cigar with a pig-tail cap, I still opted to use a straight cut. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. I found the LAT46 SS to have a very different dry draw than the remainder of the core line. The flavors I detected were coffee, cedar, and pepper. Overall it was an excellent pre-light draw. At this point I was ready to light up the L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
Like the pre-light draw, I found the overall flavor profile to the LAT46 SS to vary greatly as well. I’ll infer this is because of the higher priming wrapper and blen adjustments to the corona gorda.
The start to the LAT46 SS treated me to a blast of pepper – Garcia family style. The pepper definitely was more of an exotic pepper and how it remained during the smoking experience of the LAT46 SS. Once the pepper settled, notes of coffee and nut emerged. These coffee and nut flavors became primary and the pepper settled as a secondary note. The pepper could be detected on the retro-hale – along with some of the nut flavors.
As the LAT46 SS moved through the first half, the nut flavors became the primary flavors. The coffee joined the pepper in the background. I also detected a tertiary natural tobacco sweetness. All of the flavors complemented each other very nicely.
In the second half, the coffee, pepper, and nut flavors began to inter-play and alternated between primary and secondary flavors. The natural tobacco sweetness remained in the distant background.
Toward the close of the cigar experience of the LAT46 SS, the coffee and pepper took center stage – and eventually the pepper won out. The close to the cigar had spice, but was not overly spicy. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature – an ideal nub for the end of a cigar.
Burn and Draw
I’ve always been impressed with the construction attributes of the core L’Atelier line – and the LAT46 SS does not disappoint here. The burn to the LAT46 SS was outstanding requiring few touch-ups. While the burn line did get a little jagged from time to time, it still was an overall straight burn that never had any serious meandering. The resulting ash was firm and white in color. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale|
The draw was equally outstanding. It had a tiny touch of resistance – which in my book is ideal. This made the LAT46 SS an enjoyable smoking experience.
Strength and Body
I was most curious to see how the LAT46 SS stacked up against the core L’Atelier line in terms of strength and body. I had assessed the LAT52 as being a medium strength, medium to full-bodied smoke. From a strength perspective, I felt the LAT46 SS had a little more kick. I’ll infer this is due to the higher priming and the smaller ring gauge. I assessed the LAT46 SS as being medium to full in strength.
The flavors to the LAT46 SS had a little more depth as well, but I still assessed the cigar as being medium to full-bodied. Overall, I felt the balance to the LAT46 SS between strength and body was stronger than the remainder of the core line.
Sean “Casper” Johnson of L’Atelier recently said on Kiss My Ash Radio that Sancti Spíritus would be used as a binder for the soon to be released L’Atelier Maduro. He also said that this tobacco would somehow always be a part of the core line. If the Garcias continue to leverage this tobacco, the L’Atelier core line might be looked upon as a game-changing cigar since it was the first to use it. In my opinion, I loved what this higher priming did with for this blend. The LAT46 SS looks a bit like a maduro, and it has some maduro-like flavors, yet it isn’t a maduro.
This is is a very enjoyable smoke. While it is medium to full in strength and body, it’s not too much cigar and it is something a novice cigar enthusiast can still very much enjoy. Experienced cigar enthusiasts will also appreciate this cigar for its flavor and construction. The L’Atelier core line has really grown on me. In my book, the LAT46 SS took L’Atelier to the next level. It’s a cigar I’d smoke again – and even go for a box purchase of.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Smoke Inn Cigars in Boynton Beach, Florida and Pipe and Pint in Greensboro, North Carolina.