Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda (Jar Release) 2013
The Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda Jar Release 2013 had been on our radar for quite some time, but it took a while for us to get out hands on them. Luckily for me, I was able to pick a handful of these bad boys up at Monte’s Cigar Shop in Albuquerque, NM the last time I was up there. You can follow Monte’s on both Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the wonderful people at that shop.
The Good Stuff:
Tatuaje’s Black Corona Gorda is the second release from Pete Johnson celebrating the format and blend. The initial release took place in mid 2008 and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one in which I reviewed here thanks to Brooks over at Halfwheel.com. I also reviewed the Tatuaje Black Tubo a while back which is the same blend, but obviously a different format. We’ll stick with information on the Black CG for now. As stated, Pete released the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda Jar in 2008 which carried 19 sticks per jar, and only 1,000 jars were released which almost instantly sold out. Before the Jars were released Pete actually released some rare 24-25ct bundles. The Black Label cigar was created by Pete in collaboration with Don Pepin Garcia to mimic a cigar blend that Pete enjoyed while on vacation. Pete would enjoy coffee, a newspaper, and a cigar each morning and wanted to recreate that experience, thus, the Private Reserve, or Black Label was born.
After the success Tatuaje has seen lately, and the 10th anniversary of the blend, Pete decided to reintroduce the Black Jars to the public shipping 10,000 of them to retailers towards the end of last year. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the occasion. The Black Label Corona Gorda is Pete’s own personal cigar and probably one of his most talked about to date. Halfwheel.com had a great story in which Pete talked about the blend:
On a recent trip to a famous island known for historic cigar making, I spent my time in a small town enjoying the simple life. Every day was peaceful and every night was festive, with both having cigars involved throughout. My favorite cigar was not a cigar bought at the local store or factory, but a cigar that was handed to me every morning.
Mornings, after taking a shower with a bucket of water warmed with what looked like a curling iron, I would walk to the front of the house and sit on the fence to get some sun and take in the fresh air. I also took in the fact that I was miles from home and no one knew where I was. My phone didn’t work and I had no cares in the world other than trying to decide what to smoke.
My first morning on the island an older gentleman came along on his bike. This was not a motorcycle but something like an old Schwinn that he had likely been riding for decades. This gentleman was well dressed, almost dapper, and I probably appeared to him to be a strange character. My usual outfit of jeans, t-shirt, loads of silver jewelry, and an arm full of tattoos didn’t seem to faze him. He saw I was enjoying myself so that morning, and every morning after that, he would stop and give me a cigar from his shirt pocket.
This cigar was far from being a ‘pretty’ cigar but that did not bother me a bit. It was a treasured and unexpected gift that I was thrilled to be given. After smoking this cigar I realized that this was one of the best cigars I smoked on the island. Later that day in speaking with my host on this trip I came to understand that these cigars were something special to every person who carried them. They were cigars that they made for themselves. Even the guys who worked hard in the cigar factories all day would return home at night and make their private cigars. Simple cigars with flavors they personally enjoyed. Over the course of the next few days my host and I visited his friends and asked for cigars that they made. Before I left I had cigars from a few locals who all used different tobaccos from the different growing regions. They were all great but there was one that really stood out for me as special.
I decided when traveling to Nicaragua to work with the Garcia family that I would try to recreate this special cigar for myself. Together we spent quite some time working on the blend and looking at different leaves for wrapper. The marbled toothy wrapper was perfect for this cigar, rustic looking but with tons of aroma. After smoking the first sample, I was immediately brought back to that island relaxing on a fence, enjoying life, smoking a great cigar. A great cigar that will always in my mind represent the place, the time, and the experience of the purity of the simple life. This cigar may be considered ugly by some but inside that surface roughness it contains such rich flavor and aroma.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. This is a tribute to that cigar.
Size: 5 5/8 x 46
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo Esteli
Pairing: Brooklyn Local 2 (Belgian Style Strong Dark Ale 9% ABV)
The Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda carries a really old looking, rustic, almost beat up looking wrapper. I know that Pete had made mention that this was done in part to resemble the crude cigar in which he enjoyed on vacation, but it also showcases how beautiful the natural characteristics of the leaf really are. The wrapper is very splotchy with a medium brown tone and lots of darker and lighter brown areas throughout with splashes of orange here and there. The wrapper sports some rather large veins, a folded over unfinished foot, and a shallow, pointed cap. The construction on the Black Corona Gorda is flawless. The body of the cigar is perfectly straight, there are no soft spots at all, and the cigar feels really well packed, and tight. The wrapper feels very dense with some great toothy texture and quite a bit of oil especially in the upper region towards the cap. The Black Corona Gorda is finished off with a modified Tatuaje band. While it sports the same, simple, elegant design that we are all used too there is the inclusion of some silver metallic accents surrounding the band and the print. It’s a great little touch.
Tatuaje’s Black Corona Gorda’s wrapper doesn’t give off more than a soft sweetness, and a bit of dark chocolate aroma while the foot of the cigar leads with a nice burst of spice. The cap cut very cleanly, and very easily using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw is very spicy with some strong pepper, deep coffee, and light tobacco flavors.
The Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda leads in with some solid black pepper backed by a ton of potent spice. The pepper wasn’t nearly as strong as I was expecting and didn’t last very long. As the pepper faded the spice became more of a nutmeg flavor blending in with the black cherry, dark chocolate, and espresso flavors that the Black started out with. The draw on the Black is absolutely fantastic. The density of the output smoke is incredible and it doesn’t take much effort to get a perfect draw. The burnline is rocking solid and razor sharp despite the unfinished foot leaving behind a nice zebra-striped black and light gray ash which held on for a bit over an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Into the second third of the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda and an awesome fruit/plum flavor has become a pretty dominant flavor along with the awesome nutmeg, dark chocolate, and subtle notes of cherry and espresso. This cigar is a long smoother than I expected while still pumping out some great, bold flavors. The retrohale really shows some of the sharp, hidden spice deep in the flavor profile. The retrohale is actually wonderful on this cigar and I find myself resulting back to it after every handful of draws. The burnline is still perfect and as sharp as ever as I feel absolutely no nicotine while closing out the second third.
The strength in the final third of Tatuaje’s Black Corona Gorda has really ramped up and is now reached the medium/full level. White the ramp of the strength the flavors became a bit deeper as well. The plum and spice are still the leaders in the flavor category while some deep cedar has come in with force. The cherry, dark chocolate and espresso are still there but they are more of an afterthought in comparison to the stronger flavors. The burnline got a bit wavy towards the end of the smoke, but I never once had to break out my torch for any relights or touchups. The Black Corona Gorda took me about an hour and forty five minutes to take down. While I was left with a slight nicotine kick thanks to the strength in the final third of the experience, there was no real harshness or heat even down to the nub. And believe me, I took this cigar down as far as I could until I could no longer hold it in my chubby little fingers.
The Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda is one of Tatuaje’s most popular releases for a reason. That reason being is its just a fantastic smoking experience. This all starts with a great, natural presentation, flawless construction, ending with an absolutely solid, and great flavor profile with an excellent burn and draw. While these cigars may be hard to come by, you’d be silly not to pick them up if you found them. I know for a fact that Monte’s still had a few of these in stock even after I grabbed a bunch of them. Treat yourself, the price and effort in finding these are well worth the trouble.
I decided to pair the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda with a beer I consider a perfect cigar pairing beer. Brooklyn Brewing’s Local 2. The local 2 is the second in the series (after the Local 1….obviously). It’s a Belgian style Strong Dark ale brewed at Brooklyn’s Brewery in New York. Coming in at 9% ABV this ale leads with strong fruit and spice while finishing smooth and clean with some slight citrus and lots of apple and spice. The mouthfeel is real light an thin resulting in a very easy drinking experience. You really don’t taste the alcohol this brew carries. The spice and fruit married up very well with the spice and cherry/plum that the cigar had to offer while the cedar from the cigar added a bit of an aged feeling to the beer. I think this beer pairs well with most medium or full bodied cigars that carry spice or sweetness while the Black would also pair perfectly with some black coffee, black tea, port wine, or and dark Belgian Ale.