Each year numerous manufacturers are given an opportunity to make exclusive cigars for the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA).  While some cigars are made available on a recurring basis, others have been made available as a one time release.  For 2014, seven manufacturers produced a total of eight different cigars that would be only available at TAA shops.  Over the past 10 months, we have taken a look and assessed this series.  In fact, we at Cigar Coop / Stogie Geeks believe we are the only media outlet to review the entire series.  Today we recap this series and give some thoughts on the release as a whole.

The TAA is a small group of retailers 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.

For the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series, we ranked the cigars from 1 to 8.  Here is how they fell into place for us.

1. Padron 1964 Anniversary Belicoso TAA Exclusive Maduro (2014)

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Tabacos Cubanica S.A.)
Size: 5 x 52 (Box Press Belicoso)

Original Assessment Date: September 14, 2014
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy
Score: 93

This one should be no surprise. Of the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series, this one stood head and shoulders above the other releases.  In fact, this cigar was named the Cigar Coop #1 Line Extension for 2014.  This one is off the famed Padron 1964 Anniversary Maduro blend.

Padron is known for its ongoing Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) releases with the Padron 1964 Anniversary Toro TAA Exclusive. The difference is the Belicoso TAA is intended to be a one time release for 2014 while the Toro TAA is on-going.  True to Padron form, the TAA Belicoso is available in a natural as well as a maduro.

Padron hit one out of the park with the Belicoso TAA Exclusive Maduro. This cigar has a much more creamy and sweet profile than most of the 1964s. There was a point that it almost had the flavor of a chocolate covered cherry. There is a unique pepper spice that layered over the other flavors throughout the smoke. The flavors are medium to full-bodied and the strength is medium.

Long term aging will be an interesting question.  I’ve typical found the 1964 Anniversary Maduro blend is smoked best right off the shelf, so time will tell if this holds up to the level it smoked at in 2014.

2. My Father TAA Exclusive 2014

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado/Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (My Father Cigars SA)
Size: 6 x 50 (Box-Pressed Toro)

Original Assessment Date: May 26, 2014
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 91

The My Father TAA Exclusive 2014 isn’t the first cigar made by My Father Cigars for the TAA, but it is the first TAA cigar to carry the My Father name.   The company has made Tatuaje’s four TAA releases, including this year’s Tatuaje TAA 2014.  Under its Jaime Garcia brand, it also released the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial TAA Edition box-pressed torpedo.  For the My Father TAA Exclusive 2014, it introduced a box-pressed toro based on the core My Father blend.

For the most part, this isn’t going to be a radically different cigar than the core My Father line. It is going to deliver the blend’s classic flavors of nuts, cedar, pepper, and some caramel. The strength and body are in the medium to full range except toward the end where both cross into full territory. If you like the My Father blend and you like a box-press this cigar is going to be for you.

3. Padron 1964 Anniversary Belicoso TAA Exclusive Natural


Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Tabacos Cubanica S.A.)
Size: 5 x 52 (Box Press Belicoso)

Original Assessment Date: October 23, 2014
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 91

As we mentioned above, Padron Cigars had two cigars in the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series as the Padron 1964 Anniversary Belicoso TAA Exclusive was released in both a Maduro and a Natural.

The Natural isn’t quite going to be at the level of its Maduro counterpart, but its still very good. This will deliver notes of natural tobacco sweetness, nut, coffee bean, and pepper. It did find some harshness at the end of this cigar. The strength and body start out medium and progress to medium to full. The burn of this cigar was excellent. It seemed to have a more open draw than I prefer for a box-press and this could be a reason why I got some harshness at the end.

Overall a good cigar. While it’s not at the level of the maduro, it is still one of the better cigars in this series. This is still worth getting a box split here.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (My Father Cigars SA)
Size: 6 x 52 (Box-Press Toro)Original Assessment Date: January 2, 2015
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
Score: 88 (*)
* Scored using a slight modification introduced for 2015.

For the fourth consecutive year, Tatuaje has an installment for the TAA retailers. 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.  Like the 2011 and 2012 sizes, it is a box-pressed Toro which is slightly wider (6 x 52) than the 2012 (which was 6 x 50)

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. The TAA 2014 delivered notes of espresso, black coffee, cocoa, earth, and black pepper.  The profile turned more earthy and peppery in the second half – with a stronger pepper kick at the end. The flavors start out medium to full-bodied and go to full-bodied in the final third.  The strength starts medium and progresses to medium to full by the second third.

While it was nice to see a return to the Broadleaf box-press, something was missing from this cigar compared to the 2011, 2012 (and even 2013) releases. Still, this is still a release I’d recommend – especially for Tatuaje fans.

5. La Flor Dominicana 2014 TAA Exclusive – The 707

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Seed
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera La Flor)
Size: 7 x 70

Original Assessment Date: May 12, 2014
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
Score: 89

This was La Flor Dominicana’s first 70 ring gauge cigar as well as the first 70 ring gauge released for the TAA. Since this release a regular production 70 ring gauge by La Flor Dominicana called the La Flor Dominicana 707 Ligero. The 707 Ligero differs from the TAA version in that it uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper as opposed to a Sumatra wrapper.

This cigar delivered some nice complexity upfront as it had classic LFD notes of earth, cocoa, natural tobacco, grass, and black pepper. The retro-hale was quite nice as some of the cocoa mixed in with the pepper. As the cigar progressed the cocoa receded and it took on more of an earthy, grass, natural tobacco quality. The end of the cigar was spicy, but not harsh. I found this to be quite a strong cigar by LFD – full strength and full-bodied.

This one took me about 3 hours to smoke.The burn required frequent touch-ups – more than I prefer and the ash was prone to some minor flaking..This cigar isn’t going to make a fan out of someone who is not a 70 ring gauge fan. However if you are game for a 70 ring gauge, this was a nice smoke.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Corona Gorda: 6 1/4 x 47

Original Assessment Date: August 14, 2014
Assessment: 2.5 – Try One
Score: 89

This is the second cigar released by the Avo Cigar brand for the Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) and its Davidoff’s lone entry into the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series.  The Avo 2nd Movement is a different blend and a different size than the previous TAA release; the Avo Movement. Both the Avo Movement and Avo 2nd Movement pay homage to brand ambassador Avo Uvezian’s roots in the music industry. A “movement” is a musical component that part of a larger musical performance that can stand on its own. A 2nd movement typically follows a first movement when played in succession.

The Avo 2nd Movement is a completely different cigar than its 2013 predecessor, the Avo Movement – which was a top five cigar in my book for 2013. This cigar has much more the way of spice. The spice was very tangy, but not a “fire cured” type of tangy. There are also notes of grass, coffee, and earth. This is a medium strength, medium-bodied cigar. The construction was excellent.

This cigar was missing something. Perhaps it might have been too much of that tangy spice, but I don’t think it was “young either”.  While it’s a good cigar, it lacked a “wow” factor. It’s still a cigar I would say to try one and see what you think.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (Tabacalera La Alianza)
Churchill: 7 1/2 x 49

Original Assessment Date: August 25, 2014
Assesment Rating: 2.5 – Try One
Score: 88

Crowned Heads – The Angel’s Anvil TAA 2014 marks the first release by Crowned Heads for the TAA. This one is made at Crowned Heads’ long-time manufacturing partner,  Ernesto Perez Carrillo”s Tabacalera La Alianza in the Dominican Republic. This marks the first time Crowned Heads has produced a blend. The name The Angel’s Anvil is a play on the TAA acronym.

The Angel’s Anvil delivers a mix of natural tobacco, toasted cedar nut, floral, and pepper notes. The flavors meshed quite well, but they just did not have me doing handstands. I found this smoke to be a medium strength – medium-bodied cigar in the first half, and one that progresses to medium to full in the second half. The construction was excellent.

This is another case with a nice cigar, but again lacking wow factor – something I would expect from a TAA cigar.  It’s still a cigar I’d encourage folks to try and make their own assessment.

8. H. Upmann Bank Note TAA Exclusive

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Not disclosed
Filler: Not disclosed
Country of Origin: Not disclosed
Corona: 5 1/2 x 48

Original Assessment Date: May 15, 2014
Assessment Rating: 2.5 – Try One
Score: 88

Altadis’ release for the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series is a corona-sized cigar called the H. Upmann Bank Note. While not much is known about this release, it is believed to be different than the 2014’s H. Upmann – The Banker.

This cigar delivers notes of leather, chocolate, and spice. The spices were a mix of pepper, herbsl, and cedar spices. I found the first half to have more leather and chocolate. However this wasn’t a rich chocolate note, but more of a subtle variety. The second half saw an increase of the spices. The strength and body were medium to full.

This wasn’t a cigar that underwent a lot of flavor transitions, but it wasn’t a cigar that had me doing handstands with the way the flavors played with other.  It’s still a cigar I’d recommend checking out.

Final Thoughts

For the eight releases, we calculated the average Assessment Rating and Numerical Score.  This is how things fell into place for the 2014 TAA Exclusive Series.

Assessment Rating: 3.0625
Score: 89.625

On the surface an Assessment Rating that translates to slightly above a fiver and a score just under 90 is not bad.  However, much of that is due to the very high rating the Padron 1964 Anniversary Maduro had.  Taking out this rating, the series falls short of a Fiver average, and a score just above 89.

Assessment Rating: 2.929
Score: 89.143

These are not bad numbers, but it is indicative that this was as a whole the TAA cigars scored good, but not great.  Somehow I’ve come to expect more from one of the most premier exclusive releases in the cigar industry.  This is where I would expect to get the best of the best.  I just think the 2014 series fell short.

The other problem is the number of TAA releases – namely a total of eight.  To me this seems way too high, and I think the greater the number of cigars in this series, the more it dilutes the series.   Right now I’m seeing many of the 2014 Exclusive Series cigars still on shelves – telling me that series might already be diluted. Personally, I’d love to see a single manufacturer selected each year to have the honor.  To go a step further, I’d even like to see the “winning” manufacturer selected in a competitive fashion.

At the same time, there have been some great TAA releases in the past and it’s unrealistic to knock it out of the park every year.  Thus, the expression “wait till next year” will take some meaning for 2014.