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

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 Arguably the most sought after cigar of 2008, this cigar was originally made as Pete Johnson’s private cigar.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.