The release of the Tatuaje TAA 2016 marked the sixth consecutive year that Tatuaje Cigars provided an exclusive cigar as a part of the Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) Exclusive Series of cigars. It was back in 2011, when Tatuaje Cigars Owner Pete Johnson launched the Tatuaje TAA 2011, the first Tatuaje release for the TAA. The cigar became a huge hit and many consider that release as one that gave the TAA Exclusive Series a much needed boost. Each year since 2011, there has been a Tatuaje cigar as a part of the annual TAA Exclusive Series. After the first four annual TAA releases, Johnson decided to go back to the beginning and re-release the 2011 cigar as the Tatuaje TAA 2015 cigar. For 2016, Johnson continued his journey back through the series and brought back the Tatuaje TAA 2012 as the Tatuaje TAA 2016. Last year, I found the Tatuaje TAA 2015 to be the best of the 2015 TAA Exclusive Series. The Tatuaje TAA 2016 is another winner and best of class for the 2016 TAA Exclusive Series.
In terms of the TAA as an organization, it is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. 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.
Exclusive cigars for the TAA are nothing new, but over the past few years the number of offerings offered per year has grown quite large. 2016 included ten new limited offerings, six on-going exclusive offerings, and the event-only La Flor Dominicana TAA 48 Celebration Limited Edition Maduro. This brings the total cigars for 2016 available to TAA members to seventeen.
The following new cigars have been released for the 2016 TAA Exclusive Series (displayed from left to right in the photo that follows):
- Quesada Reserva Privada Oscuro Robusto
- CLE Azabache
- Crowned Heads – The Angel’s Anvil 2016
- Padrón 1926 Serie No. 48 Natural
- Padrón 1926 Serie No. 48 Maduro
- La Palina Bill’s Blend TAA Exclusive 2016
- Tatuaje TAA 2016
- My Father El Centurion H.2K.CT Box Pressed Torpedo
- Herrera Esteli TAA Exclusive by Drew Estate
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 48
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 48 Celebration Limited Edition Maduro (Event Only)
In addition to the offerings introduced in 2016, the six blends used as on-going releases exclusive for TAA retailers are:
- Ashton VSG Robusto Especial
- Drew Estate Acid Big Bang
- Padron 1964 Toro TAA Exclusive Natural
- Padron 1964 Toro TAA Exclusive Maduro
- Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Robusto Grande
- Nat Sherman Panamericana
As mentioned, the release of the Tatuaje TAA 2016 marks the sixth annual release for the TAA by Tatuaje. Plans are to release a Tatuaje TAA 2017 later this year.
- Tatuaje TAA 2011
- Tatuaje TAA 2012
- Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Grand Chasseur TAA 2013
- Tatuaje TAA 2014
- Tatuaje TAA 2015
- Tatuaje TAA 2016
- Tatuaje TAA 2017
Without further ado, let’s break down the Tatuaje TAA 2016 and see what this cigar brings to the table:
This is the blend used by all of the Tatuaje TAA releases except the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Grand Chasseur TAA 2013 (which was based on the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary blend)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (My Father Cigars SA)
For completeness we list all of the cigars released by Tatuaje over the past six for the TAA.
TAA 2011 /TAA 2015: 5 5/8 x 54
TAA 2012 / TAA 2016: 6 1/4 x 50
TAA 2014: 6 x 52 *
* The Tatuaje TAA 2017 is slated for later in 2017 and it is expected to be a re-release of the TAA 2014 cigar.
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper of the Tatuaje TAA 2016 has a rich coffee bean color to it. Upon closer examination, some darker marbling can be seen on the surface. Depending on how the light shines on it, the wrapper may give off a bit of colorado red. This was a wrapper that had a rugged Connecticut Broadleaf look to it. This is a slightly bumpy surface with some visible veins that are borderline toothy. There are also some visible veins.
As with all of the Tatuaje TAA releases, the footer of the TAA 2016 cigar is covered.
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 “2016” in red font. A gold ring surrounds the logo and text on the front.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I normally do, I started the cigar experience with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once I clipped the cap I moved on to the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw was classic Connecticut Broadleaf as it delivered notes of coffee, earth, and a slight black pepper note. Overall I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I lit up the Tatuaje TAA 2016 and awaited what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Tatuaje TAA 2016 started off with notes of coffee, earth, black pepper, and a subtle maduro sweetness. Maduro sweetness is a term I use to describe a cross between natural tobacco and dried fruit. The retro-hale delivered a nice layer of black pepper spice to the flavor profile as well as some additional coffee and sweet notes.
During the first third of the Tatuaje TAA 2016, the coffee notes moved to the forefront. At times these notes had some dark chocolate mixed in – giving it almost a mocha quality. There were other times the maduro sweetness popped into the forefront as well. Meanwhile the black pepper and earth receded into the background. I also found during this stage to be a nice smoothness to all of the flavors.
When the Tatuaje TAA 2016 moved into the second third, the coffee notes were still in the forefront, but no longer had the mocha qualities. I also found during this stage of the cigar experience that the earth notes started to surface as another primary note. The pepper and maduro sweetness were in the background with the pepper increasing and the maduro sweetness decreasing. At times I also detected a slight cedar note.
The last third saw the earth and pepper take hold as the primary notes. There still was a touch of maduro sweetness and coffee in the background. This is the way the Tatuaje TAA 2016 came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Tatuaje TAA 2016 cigar to have excellent construction and this was reflected on the burn and draw. The TAA 2016 had no problem keeping a straight burn path. There was a slight curvature on the burn line, but this was remedied with a few touch-ups. This didn’t prove to be a nuisance while I smoked the cigar. The resulting ash was tight and firm with a salt and pepper color complexion. Meanwhile the cigar burned at an ideal temperature and maintained an ideal burn rate.
The draw to the Tatuaje TAA 2016 was not too loose, nor too tight. This was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
When I smoked the Tatuaje TAA 2012 I had assessed that cigar as full strength and full-bodied. However, I smoked the TAA 2016 edition with considerably more age (about 8 months in the humidor). Body-wise, I still found the TAA 2016 to be full-bodied smoke. Strength-wise, it was pretty close to the 2012 as the cigar started out medium to full in the first half and progressed to full strength in the second half.
As for strength versus body, I gave a slight edge to the body in the first half with both attributes pretty much on par with each other during the second half.
Our review of the Tatuaje TAA 2016 brings to a close a full set of reviews we have done for each of the new cigars in the 2016 Exclusive Series. As mentioned, this is the best cigar in the 2016 TAA Exclusive Series. It is everything I would expect a TAA cigar to be – namely special. This is something that many other TAA releases have fallen short with over the past few years. While it scores one point less than the Tatuaje TAA 2012 (92 vs 93), our scoring has changed considerably over time so that shouldn’t be used for comparative analysis. I’ll still give a slight edge to the Tatuaje TAA 2015 as the best Tatuaje TAA release, but this is pretty close.
Given this is a fuller cigar, this is a cigar I would recommend for a more experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s something I would smoke again – and it’s one certainly box worthy.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Earth, Black Pepper, “Maduro Sweetness”
Complexity: Medium +
Strength: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Assessment: 4.0-Box Worthy