Surrogates Tramp Stamp by L’Atelier Imports

The Surrogates Tramp Stamp is one of four cigars making up the Surrogates line for L’Atelier Imports.  L’Atelier Imports is a spinoff company to Tatuaje Cigars that made its debut at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show.  Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson was involved with the launch of the company, but the operations would be separate and run by Johnson’s brother K.C. Johnson, Johnson’s friend Sean “Casper” Johnson, and Dan Welsh of New Havana Cigars.   The Surrogates line featueres two different wrapper options and four different blends.  I recently have had an opportunity to sample the Surrogates Tramp Stamp and found this to be a solid cigar, and part of the portfolio to this new startup company.

The Surrogates line actually has its origins prior to the launch of L’Atelier Imports.  Surrogates was sold as an exclusive blend to Welsh’s New Havana Cigars company.   At the time, Welsh kept much of the information low key.   There were two cigars initially offered – the Skull Breaker and Bone Crusher.  Both cigars had a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.   When L’Atelier Imports was launched, the Surrogates line was moved under the L’Atelier umbrella and now was made available to authorized L’Atelier retailers.   As this happened, two additional offerings were added – the Crystal Baller and Tramp Stamp.  These two additional offerings leverage a Habano Ecuador wrapper.   It is worth noting there are four distinct blends in the Surrogates line.  While there might be a similar blend composition for the Connecticut Broadleaf and Habano Ecuador options, each blend has been tweaked and modified for the vitola designed.  The cigars in the Surrogates line are made in Nicaragua by the Garcia family at the My Father Cigars factory and blended by Pete Johnson.

The name “Tramp Stamp” does poke some fun at the company that L’Atelier Imports was spun from – Tatuaje.  After all, Tatuaje is spanish for “tattoo”.

In this assessment, we will pay attention to the Habano Ecuador option of the Tramp Stamp. Let’s peel the onion on this cigar and see what it brings to the table.

Blend Profile and Vitolas Available

Normally we separate out the sections of “Blend Profile” and “Vitolas Available”, but we will combine them here as this will allow us to better give an overview of the Surrogates line.

As mentioned, the Tramp Stamp is one of the two Ecuadorian Habano wrapper blends in the Surrogates series.  As mentioned above the blends were made to match the vitola, so these are considered two separate blends.

Ecuadorian Habano Offerings
Wrapper: Habano Ecuador
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Crystal Baller: 5 3/4 x 54 (box-press)
Tramp Stamp: 5 1/4 x 48 

Connecticut Broadleaf Offerings
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Skull Breaker: 5 1/4 x 52 (Belicoso)
Bone Crusher: 5 1/4 x 55

Surrogates Line:  (From Left to Right):
Crystal Baller, Tramp Stamp, Bone Crusher, Skull Breaker
(Cigar Coop photo from 2012 IPCPR Trade Show)


The Surrogates Tramp Stamp has a medium brown-bag colored wrapper.  The wrapper itself was quite oily in complexion.  There were some visible veins, but there were no significant wrapper seams that were visible.  The Tramp Stamp also has a covered footer.

Like all of the blends in the Surrogates series, the Tramp Stamp consists of two bands.  Each band has a black background.  The top band has a blue tattoo flanked by the words “TRAMP” and “STAMP” to the left and right in a two tone black/white font.  The second band has “surrogates” written in more of a classic styled white font. 

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoke of the Surrogates Tramp Stamp, I went with a straight cut into the cap of the cigar. When I commenced with the pre-light draw, I was surprised as I got a little more complexity and flavor than I expected. This was a surprise to me because the footer was covered and that typically this can somewhat mute the pre-light experience. The dry draw notes produced some solid flavors with notes of pepper, cherry, leather, and some unsweetened cocoa. With a nice pre-light draw to start, it was time to light my Tramp Stamp and see what the actual smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Overall, I found the Surrogates Tramp Stamp to have less in the way of flavor transitions, but does a very good job at providing a lot of flavor nuances.

There is a definite Garcia family feel to the start of the Surrogates Tramp Stamp as I am treated to a dose of pepper at the start. The pepper does subside quickly. A flavor profile emerges early on consisting of earth and chocolate notes as primary flavors with cherry, pepper, and grass notes in the background.   This cigar showed a nice array of flavors early on.

As the Tramp Stamp moved into the second half, the earth flavors took over as the primary note. The chocolate, pepper, and grass notes remained secondary. The cherry notes had pretty much dissipated. At the Tramp Stamp moved into the final stages, the pepper notes did move center stage. There was a definite spicy finish to the Tramp Stamp. While the resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature, there was some harshness at the end.

Burn and Draw

The Tramp Stamp scores very well with the attributes of burn and draw.   The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was white in color and tight – with only some occasional flaking.   The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal from start to finish.

The draw also scored equally well.  I found the Tramp Stamp to be a low maintenance cigar to puff on.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, the Tramp Stamp does have a little bit of pop – and I assessed it to be medium to full in strength.   The depth of the flavors also start out medium to full-bodied.  By the second half the flavors did transition to full-bodied.

Back when I smoked the Surrogates Skull Breaker, I found that particular cigar had more of an emphasis of strength over flavor.  With the Tramp Stamp, I found this to be a much better balanced cigar with more emphasis on the flavor component.   The first half of the smoke has a very good balance between the strength and body.  In the second half, the body has a slight edge.

Final Thoughts

When I first smoked the Surrogates Skull Breaker, I thought it was a good smoking experience, but  I wanted to see more in flavor depth and complexity.  The nice thing is that the Surrogates Tramp Stamp does seem to deliver that – and do it well.   I found this to be an excellent smoking experience.   This is probably a cigar I would recommend to the more experienced cigar enthusiast because it does have some pop.  There are cases that I might recommend a novice try this cigar to try something fuller in strength and body.  As for myself, this cigar delivered a nice smoking experience for me – and it is one I would definitely smoke again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium (low transitions, more nuances)
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have 
Score: 90
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois.