|Tatuaje TAA 2014|
The Tatuaje TAA 2014 is one of eight cigars that were released in 2014 exclusively for retailers who are members of the Tobacconist Association of America (TAA). This marks the fourth consecutive year that Tatuaje has made available a cigar to the TAA realizers. For the Tatuaje TAA 2014, brand owner Pete Johnson returns to the original Broadleaf blend that was used on the 2011 and 2012 editions that his company made (the Tatuaje TAA 2013 version was based off the Tatuaje 10th Annversary line), but in a different size. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Tatuaje TAA 2014. Overall, this is a solid cigar, but like most of the 2014 TAA releases, it lacked some “wow” factor.
As for the TAA, this represents a small group of retailers (at press time the TAA web-site lists a total of 76 members). For the past several years many manufacturers have made available cigars that are exclusive to TAA member retail shops. As per their web-site, the TAA is defined as:
“The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.”
This is the eighth of the eight assessments on Cigar Coop involving the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series and we are proud to be one of the few media outlets to assess all eight releases in this set. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Tatuaje TAA 2014 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As mentioned, the Tatuaje TAA 2014 returns to using a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan tobaccos – and similar to what was featured on the TAA 2011 and TAA 2012 releases by Tatuaje.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Lik the Tatuaje TAA 2011 and TAA 2012 releases, the TAA 2014 returns to a box-press format that was used on those releases. For completeness we list the three sizes of the Connecticut Broadleaf blend (as mentioned the TAA 2013 was a completely different cigar based on the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary series).
The ring gauge to the 2014 release falls in between the 2011 and 2012 releases.
TAA 2014: 6 x 52
TAA 2012: 6 1/4 x 50
TAA 2011: 5 5/8 x 54
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of the Tatuaje TAA 2014 has a classic coffee bean color. It has some dark spots on it. Depending how the light is shining, it may give off more of a rosado / colorado tint. The wrapper is somewhat oily and has a slightly rugged feel. There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams. The cigar itself is a box-press with a covered foot. While it wasn’t the tightest packed box-press I’ve seen, there were no soft spots. either.
The band itself is a variation of the bands that Tatuaje for many of its “Exclusive Series” (i.e. limited, retailer-exclusive) releases. It features the red, white, and sky blue stripes found on those bands. There are also gold and black stripes across the top and bottom. On the white stripe it says “TATUAJE” on both the left and right side in black font. On the blue stripe, it says “TAA EXCLUSIVE” in white font. On the front of the band is the TAA Indian logo in black. Around the logo it says “TOBACCONISTS’ ASSOCIATION of AMERICA, LTD” in black font arranged in a circular fashion. Below the logo is the text “2014” in red font. A gold ring surrounds the logo and text on the front.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my Tatuaje TAA 2014, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I moved on to the pre-light draw. A closed footer can sometimes mute the flavors of a pre-light draw. With the Tatuaje TAA 2014, this is pretty much what happened. While I did get notes of coffee, leather, and pepper – they were more on the subtle side. Overall while not a bad pre-light draw, it wasn’t having me do handstands either. Given we don’t score the pre-light draw, there was no loss of points here. At this point, I was ready to light up the Tatuaje TAA 2014 and see what the cigar experience would have in store.
There were some parallels to the Tatauaje TAA 2011 and Tatauje TAA 2012. Overall I found the TAA 2014 to have a simpler and somewhat dialed-back profile. This was a cigar that did not undergo a lot of flavor transitions, but it did deliver flavor nuances.
I didn’t get as much as a black pepper blast as I did with the TAA 2012 cigar. There was a mix of coffee, black pepper and earth to start. On the retro-hale, I also picked up some black pepper notes. As the smoking experience of the TAA 2014 progressed, I found the coffee and earth notes to interchange as the primary note with the pepper a secondary note on the tongue. The coffee notes had a nice amount of variance. This particular note varied between espresso, classic black coffee, and cocoa. The sweetness from this cigar seemed to be derived from these coffee notes, but this is a cigar that doesn’t deliver an overwhelming amount of sweetness.
I found this pattern to remain consistent throughout the smoking experience. At the midway point there was some cocoa present with the pepper on the retro-hale. Meanwhile on the tongue, the profile got more earthy in the second half with more of a pepper kick in the last third. This is the way the flavor profile remained until the end of the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
From a construction standpoint, I found the Tatuaje TAA 2014 to be the best when compared to the other two Connecticut Broadleaf Tatuaje TAAs. I also found this one to perform best in terms of burn and draw. I found the Tatuaje TAA 2014 had a straight burn line from start to finish. The resulting ash was on the firm side and not prone to any flaking. The ash had a salt and pepper color to it. The burn rate and burn temperature was ideal.
|Burn of the Tatuaje TAA 2014|
Overall I found the draw to the Tatuaje TAA 2014 to be excellent. The draw was not too tight nor was it too loose. I found the TAA 2014 to be a low maintenance cigar to derive flavors from.
Strength and Body
As mentioned I found the Tatuaje TAA 2014 to be somewhat dialed-back of the three Broadleaf Tatuaje TAA released to date. The strength level started on the medium area of the spectrum. There was a gradual increase along the way and toward the later part of the first third the strength progressed into medium to full territory. I found the slow but steady increase of the strength continued, but the strength level didn’t quite make it full strength.
In terms of the flavors, I found they started out in the medium to full-bodied range. I also found a slow but steady increase of the body and by the last third, it crossed into full-bodied territory. When comparing strength versus body, I did find the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
I’ve been on the record stating I think most of the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series has been a disappointment. It isn’t that the cigars have been bad, but they just aren’t at a level I would expect for what I consider to be an elite limited edition series. I’d put the Tatuaje TAA 2014 in that same category. It’s a good cigar, but not one to do handstands over.
The Tatuaje TAA 2014 delivered what I term a very classic Connecticut Broadleaf profile – namely the notes of earth, coffee, pepper, and some sweetness – which was a positive. On the other hand, there was nothing terribly revolutionary about this flavor profile. While I enjoyed this cigar I felt there was something missing from this cigar when compared to the TAA 2011 and TAA 2012.
This is still a cigar I’d recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast as opposed to a novice, but wouldn’t discourage a novice from trying. As for myself, I’d smoke this again – and give it a fiver.
Strength: Medium (First third), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium to Full (First 2/3), Full (Last third)
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
News: Tatuaje TAA 2014 To Become Fourth Tatuaje TAA Release
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Thanks for the honest review Coop. Just wondering how many of the 2014's you have smoked. Excuse me but I have to get back to my handstands.
Nice review! The taste of earth, dark milky chocolate and coffee linger through the end with the pepper.