Origin : USA
Format : Double Corona
Size : 7 5/8″ x 49
Wrapper : Sun-Grown Broadleaf
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Nicaraguan
Price : $13 each
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Plucked from its blood splattered coffin, it is time to put this green banded monster to flame. OK, the truth is I couldn’t bring myself to break into the coffin yet so this one is an extra single I picked up but it came from a coffin too, just not mine. The Frank is a special ultra-limited release from Pete Johnson and his Tatuaje brand. Using the blend for the Tatuaje Taino, the corojo wrapper is replaced with a sun-grown broadfleaf wrapper and in place of the brown band is a ghoulish green band adorned with the Tatuaje name and trademark flor de lys. They were released as a first in a series of 13 special Halloween cigars from Tatuaje. Only 666 boxes were made and they were released to just 13 retailers selected by lottery throughout the States. In the coffin shaped box are 13 monstrous cigars. I was lucky enough to have my local cigar shop, Empire Cigars, selected as one of the 13 retailers to get The Frank. What makes me even luckier is that I was able to get myself a box of these rare and special treats.
Since Empire was one of the 13 to get The Frank, they will not be eligible for next year's release which will be “The Drac”. The Drac is reported to be a torpedo that is banded at the foot and placed into their coffins upside down just like the way Dracula was reported to like sleeping in his coffin. We’ll have to wait and see how lucky I am next year at trying to get my hands of a box of those. For now, it is time to get back to The Frank…
The Frank is a box pressed double corona, but it is only a slight box press and rather irregular at that. Some of the sticks don’t even look like they are box pressed at all. I am guessing the point of the box press was to square off the look of the cigar to match the squared off look of Frankenstein’s Monster’s head. They kind of missed on the execution though. The coffin is really just a uniquely shaped slide-top cabinet. Box pressed cigars are usually in a dress box which is where they typically get their pressed shape from. The Frank is packaged loosely in a bundle secured with a ribbon and then wrapped in paper. I don’t know how the cigars were pressed, but the way they are packaged for sale would account for why the press looks so irregular and why some of the sticks in my box look to have lost their box press shape altogether.
The wrapper is a dark beauty. It is oily and toothy, capped in the Cuban style like all Tatuajes. The cigar smells of cedar no doubt due to the cedar coffin it sleeps in. I used the “three match” technique to slowly light the foot to be sure to take my time and enjoy the experience of this rare smoke from start to finish.
The Frank starts off like just about any other Tatuaje, delivering a blast of black pepper that dominated for the first inch or so. Once the pepper started to mellow the effect of the wrapper on the Taino blend becomes very apparent. Along with the black pepper there is what I like to refer to as “sun-grown twang”. It is a slightly sweet flavor with a kick of spice to it and it is a major reason why I love cigars with sun-grown broadleaf wrappers. This wrapper completely changes the flavor profile of the blend compared to when it is wrapped in a corojo leaf for the Brown Label Taino. The black pepper combined with the sun-grown twang remains the core of the cigar intermingled with notes of coffee and earth as I approached the halfway mark. This is a monster of a cigar not just in its imposing size, but also because of its full body and stout strength. Not quite as powerful as its corojo wrapped brother, it is still a fairly strong cigar. Just past the halfway mark I started to pick up some cocoa along with flashes of coffee. The pepper is always present but the “twang” subsided a bit. It also got very creamy with a nutty flavor on the finish. Unfortunately this was short lived. Inside the last third it begins to pick up again. Lots of black pepper and the sun-grown twang is back as well until you get into the nub territory and then it’s all black pepper all the time for that last couple inches. It was in the last couple inches where I found the only negative thing I have to say about the cigar. At the end, it really began to show its youth as I caught a few strong blasts of ammonia. Thinking back on the rest of the smoke I think I may have been catching subtle hints of this once and a while as I thought I detected something “funny”. It was so subtle though that I dismissed it. I think it may have been little hits of ammonia. The good thing is youth is a fixable problem. I’ll give them plenty of rest and give that ammonia some time to work itself outta there.
I have to say I was pretty impressed with The Frank. It is an excellent, complex smoke and I am amazed by the effect the sun-grown broadleaf wrapper had on this blend. It is a completely different monster than the Taino even though it utilizes the same blend for the filler. I look forward to slowly enjoying these over the next several years.
Update: I revisited this cigar in April 2011. Check out the Redux review.