Tatuaje (Black Label) Private Reserve

Tatuaje (Black Label) Private Reserve

TatuajeOrigin : USA
Format : Corona Gorda
Size : 5 5/8” x 46
Wrapper : Nicaraguan
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Nicaraguan
Hand-Made
Price : $13 each
More info about purchasing Tatuaje cigars...

The mystical, almost mythical Tatuaje Private Reserve, or as it is more commonly referred to the Tatuaje Black Label. Arguably the most sought after cigar of 2008, this cigar was originally made as Pete Johnson’s private cigar. It just seemed natural to me (after much internal debate) that I mark my 100th cigar review here at Matt’s Cigar Journal with a review of a rare and highly coveted Tatuaje. After all, it is my favorite brand of cigar, and I did obsess and dream of the Black Label and its beautiful Jar for 6 months before I finally got my hands on it.

Tatuaje Black Label

The Black Label was rumored to be available only if you met Pete Johnson and he gave you one. When the announcement that the Black Label would be sold to the public in a limited release, packaged in a collectible ceramic jar, the frenzy began. First we were given a teaser, a little taste of what was to come. Many of the Tatuaje vendors received one or two cabinets of 24 Black Label cigars. These were quickly sold off and they served to heighten the anticipation of the release of the Jar. Finally in early 2008 the Jar hit the shelves and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to purchase one.

Tatuaje Black Label Jar

Tatuaje Black Label Jar

Tatuaje Black Label cigars with jar

Tatuaje Black Label cigars from jar

It comes with 19 of the cigars inside, secured with a yellow ribbon and then wrapped in foil. The Jar is a work of art. Yeah, I was/am a little obsessed with the Jar. The Black Labels are still hard to find, but not impossible if you search hard enough. They are even available in a second size now. Black Label Robustos can be purchased in packs of three if you attend a Tatuaje event.

It is immediately apparent that this cigar was not designed to be “pretty”. It was made to look tough. The wrapper is rustic and bumpy, spider-webbed with small veins. The color is a dark mottled brown. It has a rough fuma style head that comes to a slight nipple and the foot is closed with a shaggy bit of wrapper covering it up. And then there is the band. Simple, black, classic. It just adds to the toughness of this cigar. Its overall appearance seems to compliment the look of its creator, Tattoo Pete. The Black Label may look a little rough around the edges, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is anything less than a top shelf cigar. It is very well put together. It burned straight with a firm ash that just did not want to fall off. The draw was perfect as was most everything about this cigar. Putting the foot to flame you are hit with an initial burst of black pepper that quickly subsides. Initially the flavors were mild spice and leather with a subtle sweetness on the lips. This cigar is constantly changing as you smoke it. I picked up notes of ginger, oak, earth, nuts, cocoa and an occasional flash of hay early on… all weaving in and out around a spicy, leathery core. It was a medium to full bodied smoke with a rich tobacco aroma boasting some decent strength, but it isn’t a cigar that will knock you down. The dichotomy of the cigar is amusing. It looks rough and rustic but it smokes like a refined and elegant cigar, rich and complex. The cigar was always changing, always doing something that demanded my undivided attention.

This was the third Black Label I have smoked and each one has been better than the last. I can definitely say this cigar is a favorite of mine and it probably deserves a spot in my Top 5 the next time I update that list.

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10 Comments on “Tatuaje (Black Label) Private Reserve”

  1. Matt, I always enjoy your reviews.

    I’ve smoked my fair share of the blacks in 2008 and have to say that they are one of my favorite PJ smokes.

    Happy New Year, Brother!

  2. Why do you like these so much?

  3. @Dore
    That’s a question with a long answer, but I’ll see if I can simplify it a bit and condense it here.

    For me there is a lot to like about Tatuaje cigars but in the end, flavor and enjoyment of the cigar is what really counts and that is why I’m a fan. The construction on the Tatuaje cigars is superb. I rarely ever have any issue with burn and have only once had a cigar with a bad draw. That’s pretty good for a hand made product and it speaks to the quality control the brand implements. Also, I enjoy full bodied robust cigars and I like them to be like little events. Tatuajes tend to be very complex with a lot subtle flavors that develop and fade as you make your way through the cigar. That is what makes a cigar enjoyable for me. It has to take me on a ride and hold my attention. I also like a cigar to challenge me occasionally and a Tatuaje Cojonu is a powerhouse cigar that will try and knock you on your butt.+

    When I take the time to sit down with a smoke I like to devote my attention to it so it has to be interesting and keep me from getting bored with it. Tatuajes have never disappointed in that regard. Especially the Brown Label line. I have adopted a cigar philosophy that has served me well…

    Life is too short to smoke crappy cigars.

    That is why I like Tatuajes.

    There is also a lot of history and background on these cigars that helps add to the mystique and my enjoyment of them. Also I could go into a discussion on presentation and asthetics. I could spend time discussing the kinds of tobacco that is used to make them and the region they are grown in. All of these things add to my enjoyment and appreciation of these cigars. But like I said. The cigar’s flavors and the enjoyment of it during the actual smoking of the cigar will trump all that other stuff in the end.

  4. Matt
    Discovered the Tat’s here and as a new cigar smoker found some in Atlanta. They are above all the best out there for the price. I have ordered several boxes and tend to the Regios and the Unicos. Also here learned of 601 and Pepin Black Cuban Classic–both great.
    Have a box of Padilla 1932 and Black Cubans coming. My golf buddies with the Ashton VSG and Cohibas from Cuba are now Tat boys.
    I like your taste.
    Also picked up 3 Black Tats. Great sticks.

  5. First smoking Tatuaje Black:
    Not impressed at all. Plain in taste, little chocolate, little leather. It seems like the flavor was muted by something. It didn’t have the wow factor for me although the cigar was very smooth. I would put this in med body smokes.

    Second smoking Tatuaje Black:
    Wow… This cigar smell so good even when not lit. I light it up, and another wow! Flavor was rich, perfect balance of chocolate, nut, and little floral. It makes me want to keep smoking these little suckers.

  6. I am smoking the Tatuaje Black Label from the CRA sampler I got a couple of months back and it tastes – and looks – just like you described it. It’s an awesome cigar and your review is great as well.

  7. I picked up the black label tubo from my local shop Cigar Pointe a few weeks ago and I was so excited to smoke it, but…

    The draw was loose, and the flavor was lacking from the beginning to the end. The flavor never developed and tasted dry. I was extremely disappointed because all of the Tatuajes I’ve had have been outstanding, especially the band-less Gran Cojuno which was impeccable.

    Now please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the “black” label supposed to be better then the “red”? I know the “brown” labels are of higher quality then the “red”.

    Also, what’s your opinion regarding the difference between the 03′, 06, and 09′ cojuna’s? I think the 09′ is just slightly better than the 03′, with the 06′ in the back.

  8. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a good experience with the Black Tubo. I have heard lots of stories of problems with both of the tubos and I have also heard lots of stories from people saying how much they enjoyed them. I personally enjoyed the Black Tubos I smoked better than the red but I also feel that both really need a long rest in a good humidor to reach their potential. I think they suffered greatly in all the shipping from Nicaragua to LA and then out across the country. I personally, ( and this is just my personal preference) take any Tatuaje box purchase I make and I don’t open it and smoke them until they hit the 1 year anniversary of their box date. Not necessarily because they need it, but I just like to give them time to settle in to my humidor and the conditions I like to have my cigars stored at. In the case of the Tubos cigar I think they will benefit the most from this.

    As for which is better, I’d say the better one is the one that suits your tastes best. The Verocu blend is supposedly a “premium” blend in the red label line and the Black is another “premium blend” as well. They are very different cigars so I don’t think it is as simple as one supposedly being better than the other. I think they are both great in their own way, but the Blacks tend to suit my tastes more.

    On the cojonu’s I have found I like the ’09 best. I personally felt there was little to no difference between the ’03 and the ’06. All three cigars use the same blend and wrapper. The years on them simply denote the new vitola. I did a review of the Cojonu 2009 here. All 3 are excellent cigars though.

  9. King Heatly says:

    Great Smoke!!! By far one of my favorites. Great taste of chocolate and a hint of raisins.

  10. The Corona Gorda, the first release, is by far the best of the Tat Blacks IMO. Only have a few left from the initial release; wish they would revisit this format.

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