This boy is no longer a boy. He’s a brave. He is little in body, but his heart is big. His name shall be “Little Big Man.”
So let’s get this straight. The Tatuaje Havana VI series is a toned down version of Tatuaje, but the Verocu is the “Havana VI on steroids.” Not a big man, but not a small man either. A little big man.
Whatever it is, the Verocu is a little hard to find these days except in the stubby form of the No. 9. The first Verocu blends were regional releases — the 6 1/4 x 52 parejo dubbed No. 1 and sold west of the Mississippi, and the 5 1/2 x 54 No. 2 for those east of the river. Those releases are sold out, but the No. 9 is still available as an exclusive from Holt’s. I picked these up about six months when they were running a special, and I’m glad I did.
But I wasn’t so glad when I first got them. There aren’t too many cigars made by Don Pepin’s outfit that I haven’t been pleased with, but the Verocu No. 9 left a lot to be desired right off the truck. They were quite harsh, unbalanced, and burned terribly. Not what I expected from a Tat at all.
So I did what all hapless victims of the badly behaved box do: I attributed its faults to youth and put it away for a few months. And here I am, a few months later, with another good Nicaraguan puro to crow about.
The Verocu No. 9 is a short rothschild — at 4 1/2 inches long the cigar is almost eclipsed by its double bands, but its 49 ring gauge provides enough girth to keep it from petite corona status.
The first impression this cigar makes is that it is well made, but rustic. The wrapper has a dry leathery appearance with a lot of variation in shade — from a dark brown, maduro-like color, to a ruddy colorado. The roll is solid and the head is finished with a traditional triple-cap. It’s not a gorgeous cigar, but it has redeeming qualities to be found elsewhere.
The draw is excellent, but these bad boys still burn a little off kilter. They behave much better than the fresh ones I smoked last summer, but they haven’t been completely reformed.
Overall good construction, but it has a stubborn wrapper leaf.
The Verocu No. 9 opens with flavors that I usually associate with maduro wrappers — anise and chocolate. Of course it wouldn’t be a Tat without a little black pepper to liven things up, and the No. 9 does not disappoint in this regard. It’s not overpowering, but it spikes the palate in a friendly way. The underlying flavor seems to be leather, and this continues for the duration of the cigar.
The bold corojo heart of the No. 9 beats a little stronger in the mid section, adding some caramel-tinged sweetness to the aroma. It helps to slow down a little with this one to minimize the sharpness of the aftertaste. The resting smoke seems a little sweeter this way as well.
The last stage continues to serve up a base flavor of leather with delicious caramel tones, along with a more assertive spice on the tongue.
Tatuaje’s Verocu No. 9 is a cigar to be savored. It cannot be rushed or all kinds of things go wrong — the burn goes haywire, the flavors get muddied, and the aftertaste becomes burnt tasting. Taken slowly, the flavors are instead quite distinct and enjoyable and the burn is decent (but not great.) They do have a decent kick, but by Tatuaje standards these are still medium-bodied.
This cigar doesn’t really taste like the standard Havana VI (which I think I like a bit better) or any other Tatuaje exactly. It’s a blend unto its own, with its own merits and downfalls. I think any lover of Tatuaje or Pepin Garcia’s blends will find the Verocu No. 9 an enjoyable experience, though it might not rate among the best of them all.
The Verocu No. 9 is a Holt’s exclusive. Boxes of 20 retail for around 130 USD, though that price occasionally drops. I snagged a box for $100 last summer, and I’m not disappointed. The intervening months have done them a world of good, and if they continue on their current trajectory, these could turn out to be bigger little men than they already are right now.