|Tatuaje Avion 11|
In 2011, Tatuaje put some focus around their regular production core lines. One of those core lines, the Fausto was released shortly after IPCPR. While the Fausto is a regular production cigar, Tatuaje also made a decision to issue an annual limited release vitola of the Fausto blend. For that vitola, Tatuaje also made the decision to give that it a separate name and a unique band. As a result, the Tatuaje Avion 11 was born. With cigars, it is not uncommon for the taste profile to differ from one vitola to another. This not only has to do with the shape, but the proportions of the tobaccos in the blend. In the case of the Fausto blend, I particularly loved the FT153 (the Toro). In the case of the Avion 11 – which is a box-press perfecto grande, I did not feel this lived up to what I tasted with the parejo-shaped vitolas in the core Fausto line.
I will state up-front, I am not a big fan of perfecto vitolas – although I do love box-press cigars. At the same time, I will admit the Avion 11 is a visually stunning looking cigar. Let’s take a closer look at this cigar:
Like the Fausto, the Avion 11 derives its strength from using higher primings of the tobacco:
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan including Jalapa/Esteli Ligero
Given the Fausto and Avion lines were launched this year, there is only one vitola in the Avion line. I’ve also included the four Fausto cigars which have the same blend. As mentioned, the current plan for Avion is to produce a different vitola from year to year.
Avion 11 – Perfecto Grande: 6 3/4 x 48/52
FT127 – Robusto: 5 x 54
FT140 – Robusto Extra: 5 1/2 x 52
FT153 – Toro: 6 x 50
FT166 – Short Churchill: 6 1/2 x 48
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For the Avion 11, a placed a straight cut through the perfecto tip. The pre-light draw provided me notes of earth, hay, and some pepper. On the Fausto, I had found some cocoa on both the dry draws and the actual smoke. For the Avion 11, a common theme was that the cocoa seemed to be drawed back – and it was non-existent on the pre-light draw. This pre-light draw didn’t wow me, but the Fausto’s pre-light didn’t have me doing handstands either. It was on to fire up the Avion 11 and see what it would bring to the table.
The initial draws of the Avion 11 continued the notes of earth, hay, and mild pepper. I did get some notes of cocoa early on as well. As I said above, the Fausto seemed to provide more pronounced cocoa notes than the Avion 11.
About one third of the way into the smoke, the sugar cane sweetness that also was present on the Fausto emerged. This sweetness layered over the earth and hay notes nicely as it did with the Fausto. By the midway point, the cocoa and sugar cane notes moved to the forefront. One thing I liked about the Fausto is how the cocoa took on more of a classic chocolate feel. I did not get this experience with the Avion 11.
The last third of the Avion saw the pepper notes move into the forefront. The Avion finished more spicy each time than the Fausto had done for me. The finish to the Avion 11 did not provide an ideal nub as it was warm and soft. The finish was a little rough to the Avion 11, but I would stop short of saying it was harsh.
Burn and Draw
I smoked three samples (from two different locations) of the Avion 11 in a week and each time I had similar burn issues. Each time I fired up the perfecto tip, I had a tough time getting it to burn straight. This seemed to carry over to the rest of the cigar as it required multiple touch-ups. While the Avion 11 burned at a steady rate, it seemed to burn a little warm. I did find the draw of the Avion a little loose. These attributes are not what I expect from a Tatuaje cigar. While I know a vitola shape can affect burn and draw, I was still surprised by the Avion 11 given the Fausto had glowing grades in these attributes.
Strength and Body
From a strength profile, I felt the Fausto started medium to full and immediately went to full. The Avion 11 was strong right from the start – and from a nicotine standpoint, this vitola seemed to eclipse the Fausto in terms of strength. The odd thing is I thought the body of the Avion 11 really didn’t reach full-bodied until the last third as a good chunk of this cigar was medium to full.
There are three fundamental issues I had with the Avion 11 when I compared it to the Fausto: 1) The Avion 11 had more issues around burn and draw than the Fausto; 2) The strength of the Avion 11 seemed to overshadow the flavors at times – the Fausto seemed to do a much better job at balancing things out; 3) The Avion 11 lacked some of the complexity of the Fausto. I think this is because the strength of the Avion 11 was pretty potent at times. Overall, if you got to have a limited edition Tatuaje, you probably are going to want to try this one. If you are looking for the best of this blend – stick to the Fausto as I think that will provide a better smoking experience.
Body: Full (Medium to Full for first 2/3)
Assessment: See What You Think
Source: The cigars for this review were purchased at W.Curtis Draper in Bethesda, MD and one was provided via a split purchase among friends.