El Triunfador No. 4

El Triunfador is made by Pete Johnson, known best for his Tatuaje brand and his partnership with Jose “Pepin” Garcia. The El Triunfador name is an old Cuban mark that Johnson revived, but in order to retain ownership of the name he had to produce a certain number of cigars under that mark. So he made what he described at the time as a Cabaiguan Maduro in a lancero size and released it to a select few in 2009 as El Triunfador.

The blend in production today is entirely different from that original release, though the lancero with a broadleaf wrapper is still made in a limited number. The new blend, originally designed for release in Europe, has an Ecuadorian Habano cover. Under the hood is a Nicaraguan binder and filler, including leaf from Pepin Garcia’s La Estrella farm in Esteli. Seven sizes are in production:

  • No. 1 Lonsdale – 6 1/2 x 42
  • No. 2 Belicoso Fino – 5 1/2 x 52
  • No. 3 Corona Gorda – 5 5/8 x 46
  • No. 4 Robusto – 5 x 48
  • No. 5 Petite Corona – 4 3/8 x 42
  • No. 6 Lancero – 7 1/2 x 38
  • No. 7 Toro Grande – 5 7/8 x 54

The original release El Triunfador is easily distinguished from the No. 6 lancero by the band — the original broadleaf lancero has a dark brown band, while all of the newer numbered cigars have red bands. Both bands are classic and simple, reminiscent of the vintage Havana style. As are the cigars, for that matter.

El Triunfador is made by Jaime Garcia at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua.

Construction Notes

According to the specs on the Tatuaje website, the No. 4 Robusto is a standard 5 x 50, but it seems a bit undersized for a robusto. Maybe it’s because so many cigar makers are inflating their robustos with an extra leaf or two these days, or maybe it’s because of the box press. The roll is solid and the head and cap are classic Havana style, as expected from My Father Cigars. The wrapper is a rich looking colorado maduro with some fine veins. The burn is perfectly even and leaves a solid light gray ash in its wake.

The draw on one of the two I smoked for the review was loose and drew hot in the last third, but the other one was just right. Both cigars seemed to burn very quickly, however. I can usually stretch a robusto sized cigar out to 45 or 50 minutes, but the No. 4 seemed to have only 30-35 minutes in the tank.

Good to very good construction, with possible consistency issues.

Tasting Notes

The styling of this cigar is classically Cuban, so it makes sense that the flavor would be similar, or as similar as possible outside of Havana. It’s a medium-bodied smoke that starts up with sweet cedar and an earthy muskiness eerily reminiscent of the classic Cuban blends. There is a touch of pepper in the first half-inch, but that quickly dies away. The Nicaraguan zing is present on the tongue for the first half of the stick, but eventually that too gives way to a smoother, but less expressive combination of sweet wood and musk. In the last half some saltiness comes through and at the very end are floral notes similar to what I love in La Riqueza, one of Johnson’s other blends.

Conclusion

El Triunfador combines the best of Nicaraguan tobacco and Cuban style into a medium-bodied package that almost anyone will enjoy. It’s mild enough for a mid-day smoke, but will serve medium-bodied cigar smokers well at any time of day.  It appears to be designed as a mainstream cigar, and it smokes like one. It’s very good, but it’s not going to blow away of any of the top tier smokes in Tatuaje’s portfolio.

Going price for the No. 4 is 8 USD. There is a lot of competition in that price range, but El Triunfador is still a blend worth checking out.

Final Score: 88

Advertisements

Ambos Mundos by Tatuaje

ambosmundos

There is no cigar cliché that gets under my skin more than the image of the fat cat lighting up his churchill with a hundred dollar bill. Aside from being moronic (rich people don’t get that way by burning money) it justifies in the minds of many non-smokers the marginalization of cigar enthusiasts and the taxing of cigars. The reality is that most of us checking out cigar reviews and eyeballing the auction sites are doing our best to manage a tight budget in a challenging economic environment.  It’s been a while since I saw any fat cats licking their paws around my neighborhood.

It wasn’t due to the stormy economy that Pete Johnson decided to blend a cigar with affordability in mind, but price control was definitely an objective in developing Ambos Mundos. Tatuaje has been a runaway success for “Tattoo” Pete, but like many Miami-rolled cigars, they’re pricey. By producing this cigar in Nicaragua with lower grade (but still high-quality) tobaccos, he is hoping to keep the price down and fill the bargain cigar niche for his label.

As Pete told Cigar Insider,

This value-priced cigar uses B and C – grade tobacco. In other words, it’s tobacco that was not used on Tatuaje, the premium brand,  which uses A – grade. It’s very good tobacco, but just needs more time to be processed and needs more fermentation, taking a little longer to get out all the impurities. These bales don’t cost as much, so it’s a way to pass on the savings using some really good tobacco.

Ambos Mundos differs a bit from Tatuaje’s other budget-priced cigar, the Tatuaje Serie P, in that the latter is a short filler cigar made from the scraps of the standard Tatuaje line. AmbosAdAmbos Mundos is a long filler cigar that uses tobacco that just didn’t make the cut for standard Tatuaje cigars.

Only two sizes are in production so far (a robusto and a toro) but they are available  in two different wrappers: Ecuadorian Sumatra (red label) and  Nicaraguan Habano (white label.)  They are rolled in Jaime Garcia’s Tabacalera Garcia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Construction Notes

I smoked the Habano (white label) Ambos Mundos Toro first and found that it has just the quality construction you’d expect from Tatuaje and Tabacalera Cubana. A toothy wrapper tops off a solid roll, finished with Garcia’s trademark triple cap. Once lit, the Habano set to building a solid white ash. The burn was steady and even from start to finish. The draw was just a little bit firm, but that was the only demerit it received. Aside from that it was perfect.

The Sumatra (red label) version has a leathery looking wrapper, a little smoother and a little oilier than the Habano. The same good construction qualities were in evidence here, though the draw on these seemed to be a little better, while the burn was more erratic and required a couple touchups. The ash on the Sumatra was more variegated in color, but held just as well as the Habano.

ambos3

Tasting Notes

Both of these toro-sized cigars are lighter in body than the standard Tatuaje line, but the Sumatra seems a little bolder than the Habano version. Both cigars score well in terms of aroma — the Habano had a woody spiciness to it, while the Sumatra was a little meatier with notes of leather. Both versions have Pepin’s characteristic tartness, especially in the first inch or so, but also a sharpness and an irritating burn at the back of the throat, with the Sumatra being heavier, more peppery, and more aggressive in this regard. Some aging might temper this quality.

The white label Habano starts up with an earthy flavor and a good dose of tannin. The aroma is a pleasantly spicy, but for the first couple inches this is a simple and straightforward smoke. It transitions to aromas of hardwood with a touch of caramel and about an inch from the band picks up a good pinch of black pepper. The last third gets fairly sharp, but it’s smokeable. The Habano reminds me of some of Pepin’s milder offerings, but with less complexity.

ambos4

The red label Sumatra starts up where the white label leaves off — with lots of pepper. The difference between the two is immediately apparent. The Sumatra is a meaty and leathery smoke while the white label is woody. The tannins still make an appearance, but they seem to be overpowered by the wrapper’s rich flavor and aroma.  It’s slightly sweet with a dry finish. The last third increases in intensity until it unexpectly sours about a half inch from the band.

Conclusion

Both versions of the Ambos Mundos are good, but not great cigars. Personally I’d rather pony up the full price for an “A-grade” Tat than settle for a C-grade alternative that pales by comparison.  If this were a 2 dollar bundle stick I’d  be impressed, but it isn’t, and my opinion of this cigar suffers for it. For nearly the same price you could be smoking a DPG Black or an Illusione, better cigars that are similar in style as well as price.

Ambos Mundos is a long filler cigar set to retail around 5 USD per stick, or around $115 per box of 25. This stretches my definition of “bargain” a little bit, but it’s still a reasonable price for a premium cigar.  Just remember that there is a fair amount of competition in this price range.

Final Scores

Ambos Mundos White Label Habano: 85

Ambos Mundos Red Label Sumatra: 79

ambos5

Other Points of View

Her Humidor approves of Ambos Mundos as an everyday smoke.

The Great Torpedo thinks the Sumatra version is a decent smoke for its price.

Barry gives the Sumatra an edge over the Habano.

Resident Tatuaje expert Matt lets both wrappers have both barrels.

~cigarfan

Cabaiguan Guapo

Cabaiguan Guapo on Box

Cigar Stats
Brand Owner:
Peter Hassell Johnson – West Hollywood, CA
Factory: Tabacalera Cubana, S. A. (TACUBA) – Esteli, Nicaragua
Factory: Quality Control – El Rey de los Habanos – Miami, FL
Model/Vitola: Cabaiguan Guapo – Limited Edition
Size: 5.625 x 54 (robusto grande)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut – Sun Grown
Filler & Binder: Nicaragua

Original Cabaiguan vitola sizes available:

  • Petite Cabaiguan 4.5 x 32 (small panatela)
  • Robustos Extra 5.25 x 50 (robusto)
  • Belicosos Finos 5.5 x 52 (torpedo)
  • Coronas Extra 5.625 x 46 (grand corona)
  • Imperiales 7.0 x 47 (churchill)

The Guapo is the only “Sun Grown” size offered. It comes in cedar boxes of 20 without cellophane sleeves in a bunch surrounded by a grey satin ribbon and then wrapped in wax paper. The original Cabaiguans are packaged 24 to a box except the Petite which comes in boxes of 50.

Guapo Box Top

The Guapo Experiment

I believe all Pepin fans are quite amazed at the number of cigars he is involved with either directly, as the brand owner himself or for other brand owners. Especially since he has only been at it for about 5 years after leaving Cuba. Pepin’s initial operation established in Miami has been quickly outgrown (discussed in the Serie JJ review) and as Pepin’s business partner and tobacco supplier, Eduardo Fernandez, hails from Nicaragua, it was only natural to set up the next facility there.The success of Tatuaje and Cabaiguan had a major impact on the decision to branch out. Consistency and quality are paramount to any real cigar success and I’m sure Pete Johnson, owner of those brands, enjoyed the control a small operation affords. But then there is the continuing need to create new and exciting products. To facilitate expansion, Pete and Don Pepin decided some production must move to Tabacalera Cubana, S.A. (TACUBA) but it would be necessary to test quality and consistency. Thus the Cabaiguan Guapo experiment was initiated. A limited-edition run of 50,000 cigars “totalamente hecho en TACUBA” and with quality control conducted at El Rey de los Habanos (ERDLH) in Miami. The Cabaiguan Guapo was the chosen guinea pig.

Cabaiguan Guapo (kah-bei-gWAHN goo-ah-poe)

The Cabaiguan brand is named after the purported Cuban home town of Maestro Tobaquero Don “Pepin” Garcia. Cabaiguan is the capital city in the municipality, of the same name, within the province of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. The Guapo — Spanish for “handsome” — is a regular Cabaiguan on the inside with an Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper on the outside. Larger in ring gauge (54) than the others yielding some blending room. Unlike the original, it was rolled with a pigtail cap. It was pre-released to the market in September just before RTDA 2007.

Cabaiguan Location

Both Cigarfan and Lucky7 have sampled the Cabaiguan Guapo and the following review represents a combination of our observations.

Bottom line up front …..
The Guapo is definitely a little stronger than the original Cabaiguan but not by much. Probably a little strong for a breakfast cigar but certainly good any other time of day. Medium body with interesting flavor development through the first half and great aroma. Good construction yielding a beauty to look at as well as good draw and burn. Just a little pricey at $11 but a very good smoke.

Pre-light
This cigar is quite the looker. It sports a smooth milk chocolate brown wrapper with a few veins and an abbreviated pigtail triple-cap just begging to be clipped. Construction is solid with no soft spots and it feels very nice in the hand. Aroma from the wrap is almost non-existent and the foot a grassy tobacco. Pre-light draw was fantastic with just the slightest resistance and a sweet tobacco taste. The aroma from the toasting foot really gets the juices flowing. Lucky7 tried both straight cut with a Xikar and a punch. The punch seemed to limit the ensuing heat towards the nub a little better.

The Smoking Experience
Starts with a little bite then smoothes out quickly to a creamy base of toasty wood and bread with some spice and pepper on the nose. The wrapper imparts more spice than the regular Cabaiguan. Some notes of caramel and vanilla are evident in the first half. Second third ushers in a slight coffee flavor and the peppery edge on the nose subsides. Flavors leveled off at the halfway mark to a creamy sweet tobacco and remained that way to the nub without much additional development. Still a very pleasant smoke.The draw remained fantastic throughout. Burn line was a little bumpy at times but didn’t require the torch. Moderate volumes of smoke remain cool until the last third where it begins to heat up a bit. The ash is a medium gray and holds very well but flakes a bit. Initial ash nearly made the halfway mark and the rest made the nub. As an experiment Lucky7 tried ashing a Guapo every inch or so which seemed to improve flavor development.

Cabaiguan Guapo Ash

Finish is medium in length with a light grassy aftertaste and it gets a little more toasty in the last third. Not much of a nicotine kick evident in this stick. Very easy going. Smoking time ran about an hour 15 minutes.

Our take …..
Lucky7:
A very nice easy going smoke. It made for a successful experiment IMO. Quality and consistency were very good. Think it is probably a little too expensive at $11. Pepin makes some $6-$7 medium-bodied sticks that I would select over this one.

Cigarfan: The Tatuaje family resemblance is clearly evident in this Cabaiguan, but it’s also very distinct from its cousins. Not as powerful, but still very distinguished. To start with, it’s a beautifully constructed stick: solid with a velvety texture, though the wrapper looks light for a sungrown leaf. The burn throughout was good; overall this cigar exhibits very good construction. The flavors and aroma are everything we expect from Pepin and Tatuaje: lots of complexity, starting with his signature spicy opening. Later on we are treated to some interesting citrus flavors (which I always read about but rarely experience in a cigar) and varying shades of cocoa. I found a nice sweet maltiness in the last third. The underlying flavor is a mild woodiness that keeps an even steady beat without ever taking over, preferring to let the accents play the tune. Blending a mildish Ecuador Connecticut Shade with a toned-down version of the Tatuaje blend is an intriguing experiment. My suggestion is for everyone to sign up for guinea pig status. ASAP.

MSRP is $11 per stick. Best online price at the moment is Smoke Inn at $179.95/20 or $9 per stick. At Jack Schwartz Importers you can also buy singles for $10.25. This is a limited edition cigar so if you want to try one and can find them. Now’s the time.

Smoke Til You're Green Like it … Yes
Smoke Til You're Green Buy it again … Probably not
Smoke Til You're Green Recommend it … At least for a try

What others are saying about the Cabaiguan Guapo …..

17 August 2007
Club Stogie Thread
Cabaiguan Guapo

19 September 2007
Moglman – Brothers of the Leaf
(you have to scroll down some)

23 September 2007
Doc – Stogie Fresh
Episode 83: Cabaiguan Guapo

Publications

Tatuaje – Cabaiguan Cigar Selection


… cigarfan & lucky7

“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,and never to refrain when awake.” (Mark Twain)