Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013

As a part of Tatuaje Cigars’ tenth anniversary, company founder Pete Johnson announced the return of the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda. Sometimes referred to as the Tatuaje Private Reserve. The line made its debut back in 2007 in a corona gorda format.  It was sold in a ceramic jar and was made in limited quanities. While there have been other Black Label vitolas released since then, the Corona Gorda has remained one of the most sought after vitolas in the line. Given that the Corona Gorda was the vitola that started it all, Johnson made the decision to do a large one time limited production run as a part of the company’s 10th anniversary celebration. This time the cigars would come in melamine jars as opposed to ceramic jobs. I recently have had an opportunity to smoke the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda in its 2013 form. Without a doubt, this is the best vitola I’ve had in this blend to date – and it marks a landmark cigar for Johnson and Tatuaje.

We’ve talked about the background of the Tatuaje Black Label before.  Here is what we wrote:

The background to the story of the Tatuaje Black Label goes back to where Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson visited an “island famous for its cigar making”.  Apparently Johnson had been given a cigar made by one of the locals and would smoke it each morning.   He felt that this was one of the best cigars he ever smoked.  After returning home, Johnson set out to recreate this cigar with his blending partners, the Garcia family, but using Nicaraguan tobaccos.  The end result was the Tatuaje Black Label was born.  It originally became Johnson’s private blend before eventually being released on a limited basis (more on a vitola by vitola basis).

As ;mentioned Johnson is planning a large production run for the Black Label Corona Gorda. There will be 10,000 jars of 19 cigars produced.  At press time the jars are scheduled to be released later this year.  However, Johnson opted to release 500 bundles of 19 prior to the release of the jars.

The Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda jar design being
shown off at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show

Without further adieu, let’s break down the Tatuaje Black Label Lancero and see how this cigar smoked:

Blend Profile

The Tatuaje Black Label series blend is a Nicaraguan puro utilizing a Nicaraguan Sun-Grown Criollo wrapper.  As with most Tatuaje cigars, this cigar is made by the Garcias at the My Father Cigars’ factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun-Grown Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

The following are the frontmarks for the Tatuaje Black Label series:

Corona Gorda: 5 5/8 x 46

Lancero: 7 1/2 x 38
Culebra: 7 1/2 x 38
Petit Robusto: 4 3/8 x 52
Petit Lancero: 6 x 38
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50 (released for the Cigar Rights of America sampler pack)
Torpedo (Tubo): 6 1/8 x 52


The wrapper to the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013 has what I would term a “rustic brown bag colored” wrapper.  The wrapper has a slight amount of oil on it.  There are visible veins and visible wrapper seams on the surface of the wrapper.The cap has a “fuma-style” cap.  There is also a covered foot to the Corona Gorda.

Fuma cap of the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013


Covered foot of the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013

For the 2013 edition of the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda, Johnson decided to go with a jazzier version of the traditional black label.  The band itself has a “shinier” black background with silver trim. The “Tatuaje” scripted logo is in silver with the text “HECHO A MANO” in a small silver font on the left and right

Preparation for the Cigar Experience<

Prior to lighting up my Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013, I went with a straight cut and removed the fuma cap in its entirety.  I then moved on to the pre-light draw.  The cold draw treated me to a host of flavors consisting of notes of wood, cedar, nut, and a little cherry sweetness.  Despite the fact that the footer was covered, the cold draw did yield some bold flavors.  Overall, I was quite pleased with the pre-light draw experience with the Corona Gorda.  It was now time to light up this cigar and see what the smoking phase would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda flavor profile has parallels to the other vitolas, but the best way I would describe it is that the Corona Gorda takes things to the next level.

The Corona Gorda starts out with some notes of wood, nut, and pepper.  After several puffs, the flavors then explode.  Notes of orange sweetness and chocolate soon entered the equation.  The flavors settle into an early pattern where the orange and pepper are primary notes while the wood, nut, and chocolate notes were secondary.  The retro-hale was amazing as you could detect the orange, spice, and wood notes.

By the midway point, the orange sweetness became a little more layered and turned into more of a mixed fruit flavor.  The sweetness dialed back slightly, but was still in the forefront with the pepper.  The secondary notes still had the chocolate flavors, but now was also joined by some notes of raw caramel.

By the last third, the pepper notes ramped up a bit and became a primary flavor.  The mixed fruit, chocolate and caramel notes were secondary, but balanced the spice nicely.  The flavors were bold right until the end. The Corona Gorda never got harsh and the nub was a true finger-burner as it was firm and cool.

Burn and Draw

The Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda gets near perfect scores when it comes to its burn and draw.  This is exactly what I would expect from a special limited release.  The burn line remained razor sharp for the duration of the smoking experience requiring minimal touch-ups  The ash was mostly white in color with some gray streaks that almost gave the ash a cloud-like look.  The ash was tight with virtually no flaking.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda 2013

The draw to the Corona Gorda was stellar.  It was not loose and not tight.  It made this cigar a joy to smoke from start to finish.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, I found the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda to be slightly dialed back when compared to some of the other Black Label vitolas. I assessed the Corona Gorda as falling right in the middle of the medium strength range.  The flavors were very bold and robust.  I assessed the Corona Gorda as being a full-bodied smoke.

Normally I don’t enjoy a smoke that has a big gap between strength and body. With the Corona Gorda the body definitely had a big gap as the body had the edge here.  However given the flavor profile of the Corona Gorda, the medium strength, full-bodied profile worked extremely well here.

Final Thoughts

Prior to this assessment, I talked about this cigar on our Stogie Geeks podcast and rated it as an Oasis level smoke – which is the highest rating given to a cigar on our Stogie Geeks brand.  This cigar is the real-deal.  The Corona Gorda definitely stands at the top of the Black Label line, and this cigar also ranks among the elite cigars in the Tatuaje portfolio.  I would recommend this cigar to a either a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast who wants a cigar loaded with excellent flavors. As for myself, this is not only box worthy, but multiple box worthy.  It’s definitely a special cigar.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 95

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Mr J’s Havana Shop in West Warwick, Rhode Island.