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Home » Cigar Reviews

Tatuaje Black Label

Submitted by Rob on August 31, 2009 – 12:46 amNo Comment

Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: Robusto (5 x 50)
Beverage: Water
Cost: Not for resale, given out by Pete and Retailers at Tatuaje Events

Tatuaje Black LabelGood evening from the Robusto Room. Tonight I have a very special treat, the exclusive black label from Pete Johnson’s boutique Tatuaje line. Many of you may be saying, “Keith, the black label is old news”. Well, on the heels of the recent IPCPR show in New Orleans, this Cigar has new relevance. Pete has announced that he will re-release the black label in a torpedo vitola and they will be available in tubos. The tubos are gorgeous, simple and elegant in classic Tatuaje fashion. And you might recognize the look of these tubos….Pete has confessed that he ripped off the look from the Partagas Serie P number 2 Tubos. Pete makes no secret of the fact that he is copying the Cuban cigar, he is just trying to do it better than everyone else. Reports say the Black Tubos will be out in the late fall, perhaps as soon as November and they will most likely be packed in boxes of 10 tubes. The perfect Christmas present if you ask me!

If you don’t know the story of the Black Label – perhaps you have been on Desert Island for the last year or so. As the story goes, the Black Label is Pete Johnson’s personal blend. You can read the story here from the Tatuaje website.

Well, as a huge fan of everything Tatuaje, I never had the opportunity to enjoy one of these limited cigars. They had been released earlier in limited edition jars, but these sold out quite quickly. How I came across a coveted 3 pack of these, a pack that is only given out at events with Pete Johnson, is a testament to why its important to build a great relationship with your local tobacconist. I stopped in to see Vartan Seferian, the owner of Ambassador cigars in Phoenix, AZ a few days before IPCPR to discuss what cigars he was looking forward to seeing. Well Vartan knows my love for Tatuaje and we got to talking about all the things Pete is currently working on. When it came up that I had never tried a Black Label, Vartan said this was something he would have to remedy and quickly came back from his personal humidor with a three pack in hand – all for yours truly. Thanks Vartan.

With no further ado, lets get back to the Robusto Room and toast this beauty.


Well, I won’t keep you in suspense friends, this is phenomenal smoke. Jumping to the end of the story – I will be buying a box or 2 of those tubos. Looking over this cigar, to Pete’s point, it’s not a beauty, but it’s unique for sure. The foot is unfinished, not shaggy, it just has some extra wrapper leaf covering the foot. My wife called it uncircumcised – I am going to avoid that terminology and stick with unfinished. Even the unclipped head of this cigar is unique. It comes to a point, almost like a pigtail, minus the twisted pigtail component. When researching this online, I found this style of head is called “Fuma Style”. Who knew?

The black band is very indicative of all of Pete’s lines of cigars – understated, simple, and classic. Pinching the length of the cigar reveals a soft spot near the foot, it doesn’t seem to be loosely packed with tobacco, just a bit soft – nothing to be concerned with. The wrapper actually feels thick and coarse and coats my fingers with velvety oils. The wrapper, although a bit rustic and rough is a beautiful milk chocolate brown. Good thing I already had dinner – I may have mistaken this for a Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar. Even the aroma off the wrapper is reminiscent of cocoa. Even with the covered foot, I am getting strong cocoa notes and toasted nuts. I find myself just savoring this cold aroma.

I clipped the head with my Xikar Multi Tool and no surprise, I get more chocolate on the palette along with rich coffee flavors. It has me really looking forward to setting fire to this beauty as the cold taste is more flavorful than any I can remember recently. Typical of a Pete Johnson and Don Pepin cigar, construction looks to be flawless, the draw is near perfect with just a slight resistance. If you have had a Tatuaje, I am sure you can relate to the description of this draw, as they are quite consistent in this regard.

I used my Blazer pocket torch to set fire to this rare smoke. Immediately my mouth is coated with a peppery spice, typical of a Pepin blend. I am taken a bit by surprise by this as I did not detect this spice on the cold taste, but the pepper tickles my tongue. The complexities of sweet chocolate and an inviting spice play well together and hint at this being a well-balanced stick.

In the first third of the cigar, the flavors are constantly changing, from sweet cocoa, to a pepper spice, to a cedar wood character. I am definitely paying full attention to this stick as I don’t want to miss a flavor characteristic as each puff brings something new. On the retrohale, the pepper tickles the nostrils, but I am able to decipher richer sweet cocoa notes. The resting aroma is intoxicating. The billowing clouds of blue gray smoke fill the Robusto Room and are just as complex as the smoke from each puff. I would classify the first third as medium to full body and the flavors are dense and coat the gums. The burn reminds me of the wrapper, not perfect but uniquely beautiful. It burns a bit wavy, but does not look like it will require a touch up at this point.


I get something very unique with this Tatuaje Black that I can’t say I have experienced before. When I inhale a large amount of the smoke, hold it in my mouth and swirl it around over my palette, I would swear I could feel the flavors melding together. The cocoa, pepper, cedar, and espresso really seem to be competing for attention on my tongue and roof of my mouth.

I can see that the cigar that Pete had back in Cuba truly inspired this smoke. Even the ash reminds me of a Cuban-esque cigar. It is firm, a mineral grey, and although it’s not flaky, its mottled and a bit rustic. The subtle resting smoke from the stick as it sits in my Don Lino ashtray produces hints of soft florals that remind me of a Cuban Romeo & Julieta Short Churchill.

In the second third, everything is still going well. The ash held on for over an inch and needed a gentle tap to escort it into the ashtray. A new flavor has emerged at this point. Green tea and ginger is now predominant along with the cocoa and peppery spice. The green tea adds a refreshing tingle on the palette and when I take a swig of water after a puff, it leaves me feeling refreshed despite the 98 degree smoking weather in Phoenix. As I look down at my iPhone to send a quick tweet, I notice that I have been smoking the Tatuaje Black Label for a considerable amount of time. My hypothesis is that this stick is still a tad wet from my B&M’s humidor, making it smoke a bit slower than most Tatuajes.


Well as this joy comes to a close, I can say it’s not a typical beauty from appearance standards, but it packs a lot of complex and balanced flavors. It already has me wanting to light up another one in the pack to see what I missed on this first go round. The body definitely built to full over the coarse of time that I smoked this, however its not an overtly nicotine rich cigar. I definitely felt a bit more light headed then when I sat down, but it was a relaxing subtle sensation. I highly recommend this cigar to anyone that can get their hands on an original. The strong cocoa complemented by green tea, cedar, and pepper makes for a unique experience and a long finish that I savored long after the cigar was resting in my ashtray. If you can’t get a hold of the original black labels, stop in your tobacconist in the fall and look for the new Tubos – I am confident they won’t disappoint.

Thank you friends for joining me in the Robusto Room and keep puffing cigars!

This guest cigar review and pictures in this post were submitted by Keith Queen.

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