Cigar Review: Henry Clay Tattoo

Altadis USA
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: USA (Connecticut Broadleaf 2010)
Binder: Dominican Republic (2010 Vintage)
Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua (2012 Vintage)
Size: 6” x 52
Strength: full
Price: $9.50

Click here to buy it now.

Overall Rating: 9.1

Perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited cigars of 2015 is the Henry Clay Tattoo, a collaboration between Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and Altadis USA. Pete has said in the past that Henry Clay was one of his favorite brand names and his favorite Altadis product, so it only makes sense that this is the cigar brand that Johnson became involved with. While, until now, Johnson has worked almost exclusively with the Garcia family, the Henry Clay Tattoo is being made in the Dominican Republic by Altadis. Many cigars with this much hype behind them often fall short in reality, but the Henry Clay Tattoo manages to live up to and surpass expectations. There is something about the cigar that is distinctly Johnson, while still differentiating itself from his other cigars. With a production of 50,000 cigars (boxes of 20), the Henry Clay Tattoo will definitely become a collectors item.


Pre-Light: The Henry Clay Tattoo is a cigar that really stands out on retailer shelves. An updated version of the traditional Henry Clay cigar band manages to keep with tradition while adding something new to character of the brand. A secondary band with the word “tattoo” appears in the same font found on the Tatuaje Tattoo, and proclaims this as a Pete Johnson cigar for all the world. The cigar’s square box pressing and long pigtail cap gives it a unique appearance that stands out from both previous Altadis and Tatuaje releases. The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper has a great looking oily sheen to it.


There is a dull earth and wood combination of notes from the Connecticut wrapper of the Henry Clay Tattoo. From the unlit foot of the cigar there is a sweet mix of cocoa, molasses and mild spice notes. The cold draw is a leans towards the firm side, and allows through cocoa, molasses, earth and spice flavors.


Burn: When cutting the Henry Clay Tattoo it’s best to cut it without pulling up the pigtail on the cap, because (in some cases) it is attached to the cigar’s wrapper, and can occasionally take a small piece out of the wrapper right where it touches the lips. (For all ToastedFoot reviews, we always straight cut the cigar, and I strongly suggest doing so to the Tattoo.) The draw on the Henry Clay Tattoo is middle of the road, but tends slightly more towards the firm side until the halfway point of the cigar. From start to finish the burn of the cigar is mostly even, but not real pretty.  A nice white ash holds firmly to the Henry Clay Tattoo.


Flavor: The Henry Clay Tattoo has a very unique flavor profile. The cigar begins with a steak like meatiness that is not to the point of overbearing. Background notes of wood, spice and cocoa are resent during the early part of the cigar. The beginning of this cigar is very smooth. Some subtle citrus notes occur from time to time.  There’s a black pepper undertone to the Henry Clay’s stronger meatiness, cocoa and wood. The transition to the second third of the Henry Clay Tattoo sees leather and almond flavors begin to come to the forefront. Cocoa, wood and almond notes are all still present in the second third of the cigar. A slight spiciness begins to occur by the halfway point in the cigar. The complex retrohale has notes of cedar, citrus and spice. Halfway through the cigar, the strength begins to pick up significantly. During the transition to the final third of the cigar there is a quick growth in spice and pepper that may be too much for some. The spice and cocoa continue on during the final third of the cigar. Almonds, wood, leather and pepper all occur in the background of the last third of the Henry Clay Tattoo.


Overall: They Henry Clay Tattoo is a cigar that has been the subject of rumor for the last two years. Many people thought it would never happen, but Altadis and Pete Johnson set aside their past differences and the result is spectacular. I’ve said it before, and I will likely say it again, but the renaissance of Altadis that began in 2012 has led to the release of some impressive cigars. The Henry Clay Tatoo is one such impressive cigar. What is most interesting about the Henry Clay Tattoo is that it is different from Johnson’s Tatuaje releases while still being obviously a Pete Johnson cigar, and it is definitely not a typical Altadis cigar with still having some characteristics one would expect from the cigar giant. A very smooth meaty cigar, Henry Clay Tattoo is a flavorful cigar that should age extremely well. Personally, I really enjoyed the Tattoo. A box will be making its way to my locker at my local brick and mortar retailer. Fans of Johnson are certain to make the Tattoo a hard to find collector’s item fairly quickly, so it’s worth picking up while you can. Those smokers who’ve avoided Altadis cigars due to their perceived lack of strength (though this is somewhat unjustified lately), will find Henry Clay Tattoo a cigar worth trying.


Pairing: A Bordeaux or California mertiage will pair nicely with the Heny Clay Tattoo. The single malt drinker will find the Dalmore Cigar Malt, Glenfarclas 25 or Macallan 18 will all compliment this cigar nicely. I find that a Dad’s or Chowning’s Tavern Root Beer pair extremely well with the Henry Clay Tattoo.


On a side note: The main reason no one thought a collaboration between Altadis and Pete Johnson was possible is that back in 2009, Altadis sued Johnson for his use of the fleur-de-lis on Tatuaje cigar bands. While it’t true that Altadis used the fleur-de-lis on its Monte Cristo cigar long before Tatuaje existed, but (as the New Orleans Saints have learned) the fleur-de-lis is not copyright or trademark protectable since it is considered a “historically common design”. The fleur-de-lis is used by Monte Cristo, Tatuaje and Cigar Factory New Orleans all use the fleur-de-lis is different ways on their cigar bands, and no one is going to mistake one for the other. Johnson and Altadis settled out of court, and the fleur-de-lis continues to appear on both bands.


Reviewed by Jonathan David (@JonDavid1210)