L’Atelier Imports – El Suelo Prado
With having two youngsters in the house, I am always on the lookout for a great value priced cigar. Through my constant search for an affordable, everyday stick, I have come across very few that have hit the spot. Having a few dollars left over after Christmas, I went into a blind purchase of a bundle of the El Suelo Prado. In the best case scenario, I may have discovered a great everyday cigar. And in the worst case, I have humidor full of cigars to pass out during parties. Either way, I figured, I didn’t break the bank.
I picked up the bundle at newhavanacigars.com and it just happens that Dan Welsh, owner of New Havana Cigars LLC, is a co-owner of L’Atelier Imports. His site has this to say about the El Suelo:
Branded as “From the Makers and Creator of Tatuaje”, the offerings by L’Atelier Imports are all made by the Garcia Family and blended by Pete Johnson. L’Atelier Imports was created in 2012 by Pete Johnson and industry friends Dan Welsh, K.C. Johnson and Sean “Casper” Johnson with goals to make premium cigars that are “Consumer Price Conscious” and to raise the expectations of cigar smokers at every level of experience.
El Suelo from L’Atelier Imports is being made at the Garcia’s other factory, Tacuba. This “Budget Premium” brand is very exciting as it is Blended and Branded and are being made available at an insane price point of $3.75 – $4.75! Created to raise the expectations of those who reach for sticks in this price range, you may find yourself thinking that you would love it just as much if it had a much higher price point.
Price Paid: $76.99 for a Bundle of 20
Vitola: Prado – Belicoso
Size: 5 ¾ by 58
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua and Connecticut Broadleaf
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 25 Minutes
The band on the El Suelo Prado is very basic and Cubanesque, which I love. The company name, L’Atalier Imports, is stated nowhere on the band, but the back of the band contains the company’s tobacco leaf logo. There are some medium to large veins, and the wrapper seam is easily noticed. Other than the larger veins being much lighter in color, the rest of the wrapper is a consistent brown with a reddish hue. This is one rustic looking cigar.
As I feel up and down the cigar, I encounter no soft spots on this firmly rolled El Suelo. The wrapper aroma is of cardboard, earth, and a slight hay. The earth aroma off the fully packed foot is much more pronounced. Clipping the neatly applied cap reveals a decent draw with some resistance which I expected in this vitola.
Lighting this 58 ring gauge El Suelo took some time but my Zippo Z-plus! got the job done. The draw is snug requiring a firm pull before my mouths fills with smoke. Right away, I pick up on a familiar Nicaraguan pepper along with earth, dry cedar, and a bitter coffee. The earth, almost in the dirt range, and bitter coffee begin to dominate the other flavors. The retrohale brings out flavors of pencil shavings and pepper with a spicy finish. The smoke is very light in the mouth. The thick burn line is leaving behind a firmly packed, light grey ash. The flavors are on the low side of medium and I am feeling absolutely no nicotine.
As I enter the second third, the ash is still holding strong without any evidence of falling off. Better safe than sorry, I knock off the ash well past an inch and a half. The cigar has begun to cone, which means I am probably smoking this cigar a little too fast. Spacing out my puffs, I notice a more balanced profile. The profile contains notes of cedar, pepper, coffee (without the bitterness), earth and additional notes of cocoa. The cocoa is not sweet but somewhat dusty in the mouth. The flavors have increased to a steady medium along with the strength. The burn has become wavy, as well as the ash becoming quite flaky but still holding strong.
The burn has been deviating off course, but, after a few minutes, arrives back in-line. So far, I have only had to ash the cigar twice. Sweetness comes into play, along with cocoa becoming more full and lingering on the palate during the finish. Along with an enjoyable coffee flavor, a black tea flavor has entered the flavor profile. As I approach the final inch, an astringent tartness jumps in and out along with some bitterness. The retrohale delivers sharp pepper making it hard to push a large amount of smoke through my nasal passage.The smoke production has increased throughout the cigar. Now a copious amount of smoke enters my mouth with each draw. Putting an end to the smoke, the flavors are at the high side of medium and strength in the medium range.
The El Suelo delivered dark, earthy flavors throughout the cigar. While the flavors were muddied in the first third, they really found their pace in the middle and final third. It was nice to see some flavor change ups, especially in such a value priced cigar. The construction was superior to a lot, and I mean a lot, of other value cigars I have smoked. The El Suelo may be a great candidate for a long ash contest. I have smoked close to half a bundle of these cigars and each one has been consistent and performed excellent. If you enjoy dark flavors of earth, coffee, cedar, and pepper this may be a great everyday cigar for you to consider.