Cigar Review: Tatuaje El Triunfador

El TriunfadorSize: 6.5×42, No. 1

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Strength: Mild/Medium

Price: Box of 25, $168.75 (here)

Grade: 9.3

Ok, ready yourself for a long introduction; there is a good bit to mention here since there is an “old” version, a “kinda-new” version, and a “brand-new” version of the El Triunfador! Pete Johnson found the El Triunfador brand name, an old Cuban line, and revived it in 2008, offering only one size, the Lancero. Then, in March of 2010, he made another adjustment and extended it to six sizes with a brand new blend. Confused? Let’s take a look at the 2008 and 2010 version.

The original resurrection of the El Triunfador name by Pete Johnson came in one size and utilized the same blend as the Cabaiguan Maduro, a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and filler, and a medium to full body; this version is still available. The basic idea was to get something out there to save the old name and then figure out what to do with it later. The packaging was very similar to the original Cuban line. To learn more about this release, check out Jerry’s video from The Stogie Review (here).

The latest revision, released in March of 2010, is a totally new blend, with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and filler, and a mild to medium body. The new blend was originally intended to be an international release first, but Pete decided to release the sizes to the States at the same time. The first 100 boxes released contain a seal on the box to commemorate the release. The Seco leaves are from Don Pepin Garcia’s La Estrella farm in Esteli. The six sizes are:

No. 1, 6 1/2 x 42
No. 2, 5 1/2 x 52
No. 3, 5 5/8 x 46
No. 4, 5 x 48
No. 5, 4 3/8 x 42
No. 6, 7 1/2 x 38 (no cello)

There is a very interesting post on the BOTL forum, dated October 3, 2008. Pete Johnson answered some speculative questions about his 2008 release of the El Triunfador, and hinted about what may come of the future release, which of course, has now arrived (here).

This is a small run of cigars to protect the trademark. Each year we will make up to 25,000 sticks or 1000 boxes for sale to protect this mark and have enough to cover the demand.

There are no secrets about this cigar. This is a small run compared to others we make. I originally was only going to have them available to a small group of retailers until Cigar Aficionado wrote about it and blew my little secret. Truthfully, Dan from New Havana could have purchased all of this year’s production and sold it over the next 12 months without a problem.

I am making this size only until I figure out what I am doing with (the) brand. When will I have a full line around the name? I do not know. Could be next year, could be 2010, but I am not sure. I have no real grasp of what I want to do with the brand name yet, other than protect it. The blend is very simply a Cabaiguan Maduro in a Lancero size. I have no plans to make a Cabaiguan Maduro Lancero ever, and I thought this was a perfect cigar to use for the El Triunfador. When and if I do come out with a full line of El Triunfador cigars, this cigar might go away and the blend and sizes will be different.

So, the new blend is here, which may be all anyone reading this cares about, so without giving any more background on what, to me, is fascinating, let’s get on with the toast! Oh, and thanks to Dan at Crooked Burn for sending along the El Triunfador for me to try!

El Triunfador_2Pre-light, 1.8:
Pete Johnson has done an excellent job at maintaining the integrity of the original El Triunfador line. He has provided a very Cuban-esque feel with a simple, yet elegant band, a medium brown wrapper, and a very rugged and veiny exterior. The PHJ on the back of the band was a very nice touch. The triple cap was flawless and the raised white veins were very intriguing, in what is usually a turn off for me. The bottom third of the cigar was a bit spongy but the remainder of the stick was well packed. The aroma was oaky with notes of sweet cedar and a slight pepper. The draw was medium with some spice and hay on the tongue.

Burn, 1.7:
The ash on the No. 1 was loose, which is expected on a 42 ring gauge. The ash was also a bit flaky, but it was a beautiful white-gray and it stacked very well after moving through the first third. The overall burn required some attention – this wasn’t a smoke that you can put down in between puffs and not worry about grabbing for it again to maintain the burn.

Flavor, 3.0:
This felt like my personal blend from Tatuaje! I love a good mild to medium cigar that still entertains you, and this is exactly what the El Triunfador delivered. The first third began with a burst of mild spice with background notes of chocolate and sweet cedar. The pepper stayed around just long enough to remind you that you’re dealing with Don Pepin and Pete Johnson. The second third mellowed out and was extremely smooth with some creamy undertones. The final third brought a slight return of spice and remained very creamy with sweet notes of espresso. The transitions and the complexity on this stick were excellent. There is not one thing I would change about the flavor on this smoke.

Overall, 2.8:
At just under $7, this is a little beyond my comfort zone for a daily smoke, but I would definitely keep a box of these on hand. The burn could use a bit of improvement, but the flavor was spot on, which is what I ultimately use as my determining factor. I am happy to have found a comfortable smoke within the Tatuaje arsenal.

(Total: 9.3)

Question of the Day: Are you a fan of Tatuaje cigars? If so, what is your favorite blend?