Five years ago Pete Johnson launched L’Atelier Imports with brother K.C. Johnson and friends Dan Welsh and Sean “Casper” Johnson. One of the company’s first releases was an eponymous release known as L’Atelier. What makes the L’Atelier unique is it incorporates a wrapper known as Sancti Spiritus. Sancti Spiritus is a tobacco that is a hybrid between Criollo and Pelo de Oro seeds. It was designed to be a replacement to Pelo de Oro which was being produced in low quantities because it was susceptible to mold. As L’Atelier grew, the company expanded to many different brands, but one thing remained a constant – every release with the L’Atelier name would incorporate Sancti Spiritus in at least one component of the blend. Today we take a look at a cigar known as the L’Atelier Identité, the most ambitious Sancti Spiritus project by L’Atelier Imports to date. The L’Atelier Identité uses Sancti Spiritus in all three components – wrapper, binder, and filler. Today we take a closer look at the L’Atelier Identité in the Mélanage Special No. 2 (Corona Gorda) size. In a cigar industry that has been somewhat stymied to innovation due to FDA regulations, I found the L’Atelier Identité to be a nice refreshing change of pace – and one that delivered a very nice smoking experience.
The term Identité is French for “identity”. Since Sancti Spiritus is very much associated with the L’Atelier brand, this was an appropriate name for this particular cigar. While Sancti Spiritus is used in the wrapper binder and filler, this cigar is not 100% Sancti Spiritus. And while Sancti Spirtus is a part of all three cigar components, it is not an exclusive tobacco to the blend. Each of the vitolas uses a Mélange ,which is French for “mixture”. Again it is appropriate for the line given the fact that while Sancti Spiritus is incorporated with other tobaccos for the filler and binder.
Without further ado, let’s break down the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The L’Atelier Identité is produced at the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua by the Garcia family, Typically for blends utilizing Sancti Spiritus, the factory sources the wrapper from Ecuador. When Sancti Spiritus is used in the other parts of the blend, it comes from the Garcia’s family farms in Nicaragua where it is grown. This holds true for the L’Atelier Identité.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sancti Spiritus
Binder: Nicaraguan, Includes Sancti Spiritus
Filler: Nicaraguan, Includes Sancti Spiritus
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (My Father Cigars SA)
The L’Atelier Identité is available in three sizes – each packaged in 20-count boxes.
Mélange Spécial No.1: 4 7/8 x 50
Mélange Spécial No.2: 5 5/8 x 46
Mélange Spécial No.3: 5 7/8 x 52
The Sancti Spiritus wrapper of the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 had almost a maduro look to it. It was dark brown in color with a nice Colorado tint. Upon closer examination, some mottling can be seen on the surface of the wrapper. This was a wrapper that was smooth with a light coating of oil on it. There were some visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams on the surface.
The band of the of the L’Atelier Identité has a black, gold, and silver-gray scheme. The background of the band is black with gold trim on the top and bottom. The center of the band has a gold L’Atelier logo (a gold leaf surrounded by a gold square). There are four silver-gray leaves that surround the logo to the right and left with the text Melangé Spécial (also in a silver-gray font) just below them. The lower portion of the band has the text “L’ATELIER” in large gold font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Before I lit up the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2, I used a straight cut to remove the cap. I then proceeded to the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of sweet natural tobacco, leather, and red pepper. Overall I considered the pre-light draw experience of this cigar to be satisfactory. At this point, I was ready to light up the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 and await what the smoking experience would have in store.
The start to the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 delivered a blast of red pepper. As the red pepper subsided, notes of chocolate, leather, and red pepper surfaced. During the early stages of the first third, the chocolate notes moved into the forefront while the natural tobacco, leather, and pepper settled into the background. Simultaneously from time to time, the natural tobacco notes also made their way into the forefront. Meanwhile, the red pepper notes remained prominent on the retro-hale.
As the Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 moved into the second third, the chocolate notes remained primary, but the presence of the natural tobacco increased in the forefront. The red pepper notes remained in the background while the leathery component diminished.
By the last third of the Identité Mélange Spécial No.2, the natural tobacco notes took over as the primary flavor. The red pepper increased in intensity, but never overpowered the blend. Meanwhile, there still were some chocolate notes present. This is the way the smoking experience of the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The burn of the L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 performed quite well. The cigar maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. There was a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line, but this was more cosmetic than problematic and was easily remedied with a touch-up. Overall I didn’t find the Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 to be a cigar that required frequent touch-ups. The resulting ash was tight and firm with a nearly white color. The burn rate and burn temperature were both at ideal levels.
I found the draw of the Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 to perform equally well. The draw had an agreeable touch of resistance to it. Overall, this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The L’Atelier Identité Mélange Spécial No.2 delivered a medium strength and medium-bodied smoking experience. Throughout the smoking experience, I found there wasn’t much variance in the intensity levels of strength and body. In terms of strength versus body, I definitely found the body had the edge. I also found the strength and body levels worked pretty well in terms of the flavors produced by this cigar.
I mentioned at the start of this assessment that it was a good thing to see some innovation come from the cigar industry. Other than the L’Atelier Identité, I don’t think there is another cigar using Sancti Spiritus on the wrapper, binder, and filler. The L’Atelier Identité has a wonderful story around its blend. Yet for some reason, this cigar has flown under the radar and the story just isn’t out there – and that’s a shame because it’s a very good cigar.
I found the Mélange Spécial No.2 size of the L’Atelier Identité to work quite well. I also found this to be a cigar that had significant aging potential. I’d recommend this cigar to either an experienced cigar enthusiast or a novice looking for something on the medium plus side. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again – and it’s worthy of a fiver.
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.0-The Fiver
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop