Tatuaje TAA 2011 Exclusive

Each year, the Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) makes selections to manufacturers blend a special cigar that is made available to retailers that are members (this is not a large volume of retailers).  For 2011, one of these cigars is being produced by Tatuaje.  Typically these are extremely limited in production and are often sought after by cigar enthusiasts. Given that Tatuaje is this year’s offering, I imagine that this cigar might be the most sought after of the TAA releases to date.  Today, I’ll assess the Tatuaje release – the Tatuaje TAA 2011 Exclusive. (Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore some of the other TAA releases of the past)  2011 has been a busy year for Tatuaje, and while this isn’t the strongest release I’ve seen from Pete Johnson and company this year, it still is a solid release.

There are a couple of distinguishing characteristics.  The cigar is box-pressed and contains a closed foot.  The cigar is also advertised as being “wet packed”. Wet packing involves wrapping cigars in foil shortly after being rolled as opposed to taking them to the drying room for fermentation.   I recently learned this was not a new thing done by Tatuaje – namely I have heard the Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero was also wet-packed.

Closed foot of the Tatuaje TAA 2011 Exclusive

Let’s explore the details of the TAA 2011 Exclusive and see how it smokes.

Blend Profile

The blend is a classic Pete Johnson blend – with Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and Nicaraguan binder/filler:

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

For the Tatuaje TAA 2011 Exclusive, a single vitola was released -5⅝ x 54 box-press vitola.   The cigar is sold in boxes of 20.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my TAA 2011 Exclusive, I placed a straight cut into the cap.  The dry notes were not very complex on the pre-light draw.  It basically provided me hints of cocoa and pepper.  While it wasn’t an exciting pre-light draw, it was still a satisfactory one.  It was on to light up the TAA 2011 Exclusive and see what it would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Given that this is a Don Pepin Garcia blended cigar, I was not surprised that the initial draws of the TAA 2011 Exclusive treated me to a dose of pepper.  Shortly afterward the spice was joined by some raw sugar cane, coffee, and chicory notes.  These four flavor notes would set the bar high in terms of complexity, and would remain throughout the first third of the smoking experience.

As the smoke moves into the second third, the raw sugar cane does get a little sweeter.  At the same time the spice became more of a mix of cedar and pepper.  I also felt the spice seemed more present on the after draw. At this point, the spice was not overwhelming and played more of a complementary role to the coffee and raw sugar cane notes.

Around the midway point, the coffee notes were replaced by more of an earthy flavor.  At this point, the raw sugar cane sweetness were still present.   By the last third, the cedar/pepper spice became more of a classic pepper spice.  The pepper, earth, and raw sugar cane notes were present as the smoking experience comes to a close.  The finish wasn’t the smoothest one, but it was far from harsh.  The resulting nub was firm and cool – the ideal way a cigar should nub.

Burn and Draw

In general, I’ve always felt Tatuaje cigars have been outstanding in terms of the attributes of burn and draw.  From a draw standpoint, the TAA 2011 Exclusive was solid.   The burn was another story.   I felt the TAA 2011 Exclusive required more touch-ups than it should have.  t also produced a very loose and flaky ash.  I will say, I do believe this cigar could have benefited from some more age, so perhaps this could change.

Strength and Body

From a nicotine profile, the Tatuaje TAA 2011 Exclusive is going to deliver some power.  It’s not quite as strong as this year’s Tatuaje Fausto and Avion, but it still will provide some nice strength.   I assessed the strength profile on the upper end of the medium to full range of the spectrum.  As for body, the flavor notes definitely had some depth.  This fits the classic mold for a full-bodied smoke. Overall, the TAA 2011 Exclusive provided a good balance between the strength and flavor – something Tatuaje is well-known for.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned during the burn assessment that I felt that this cigar could still benefit from some age.  I do think the age issues would probably have fixed some roughness around the burn, and that in turn could have led to an even better flavor profile.  I don’t want to give the impression this cigar was very “green” – because this was not the case. I feel I was able to detect a lot of the subtle complexities that this cigar brought to the table and there was good flavor.  This is definitely a cigar for the more seasoned cigar enthusiast as opposed to the novice.  As for myself, I would definitely give one another try.


Burn: Fair
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Full
Assessment: Nice to Have

Source: The cigar for this assessment was purchased by Up in Smoke in Irving, Texas.