L’Atelier Imports LAT46 Selection Spéciale
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
L’Atelier Imports introduced the LAT46 Selection Spéciale corona gorda as an extension to its base line of cigars in 2013. The Selection Spéciale uses a higher priming of the Sancti Spiritus wrapper leaf (a hybrid of Criollo and Pele de Oro) than the regular line, with the remainder of the blend being the same. Subsequent releases of the “SS” line include the LAT Torpedo (6×52) and the LAT 38 Special (7.5×38). As with the other L’Atelier lines other than the El Suelo and Trocadero, which are made at Don Pepin Garcia’s Tabacalera Cubana factory, the LAT Selection Spéciales are made at the My Father factory.
I had previously given a little background on L’Atelier in my review of the Extension de la Racine ER13
last year, so I will dispense with that. Suffice to say that I was looking forward to doing this review. I bought this cigar in a L’Atelier sampler pack from Small Batch Cigar, taking advantage of an email special 20% off, along with some Extension de la Racine ER14 that I will review in the future. I recommend getting on their email list, as they have some great deals that pop up from time to time.
Wrapper: Sancti Spiritus Ecuador
Smoking time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Pairing: Fort George Cavatica Stout (8.8% ABV)
The L’Atelier LAT46 comes wearing a dark chocolate brown wrapper with even darker mottling and an oily sheen. The wrapper itself is fairly smooth, but the roll has a bumpy feel to it. It is extremely firm in its pack, with no soft spots. The nearly invisible seams lead up to a nice triple cap with a little flag tail. The band is the same as the core line: black with white, silver, and gold, but with a secondary band that designates it as Selection Spéciale. The aroma off the wrapper is an earth barnyard, while the foot displays rich tobacco and dark wood. Clipping the cap reveals a very snug draw, so a second trimming opens it up a tad more. The cold draw shows not much more than light tobacco and sweet spices.
Despite the rather tough draw, the L’Atelier LAT46 produces a decent amount of smoke, but I’m still hoping that it opens up a bit more. The initial flavors are surprisingly mild with smooth cedar, tobacco, and light baking spices. There is no pepper to be found both on the palate and in the retrohale. The burn line is thick and wavy. After an inch, the draw has now begun to open up and the flavors have consequently gotten deeper, with some pepper finally showing in the retrohale. There is now a creaminess in both flavor and body and a slight bit of earthiness has crept in, while the smoke has become a bit sweeter. Bread notes come in a little further in. The body of the SS is still mild as the ash taps off at an inch and a half. Soon I begin to get a persistent note of a faded hot cinnamon candy in the aftermath of the retrohale.
Into the second section of the LAT46 SS, the hot cinnamon continues to make itself felt (and tasted), while the cedar, tobacco, and bread lay the foundation of flavor on what has become a low medium body. There is also a bright citric acidity lurking in the mix. While the burn has been doing its best to even itself out, it hasn’t quite done so, but I haven’t had to grab my lighter either. At the halfway point, I could sweat that I got a fleeting hit of grape, but it was here then gone. The cigar continues to be very smooth on the palate and a little bitey on the retrohale, which I am enjoying quite a lot.
The LAT46 SS has climbed to a solid medium body, while maintaining all of the aforementioned characteristics and even adding in a bit of light coffee and toastiness with a hint of musk, and the burn line has very nearly evened out. With an inch and a half to go the cigar tips over just to the plus side of medium, the cinnamon sweetness steps back, and coffee becomes more of a player. By the final inch, the intensity builds to nearly medium-full and a small bit of a nicotine hit makes itself felt. The LAT46 SS smokes cool and with no harshness down to the last three quarters of an inch.
Smoking through the first inch of the L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale, I was afraid that I was going to have to report on a dud, but once the draw opened up, the experience turned into a great one. The way the flavors built in intensity and complexity and the contrast of the smooth entry on the palate and somewhat edgy retrohale was something to behold; and despite the initial draw problem and wavy burn, the construction of the cigar was very good. Add to that a nice long smoking time, even though I was enjoying it so much in the middle portion that I was smoking a bit faster than I normally do, and the price is more than reasonable. Now I am really looking forward to lighting up the 38 Special lancero, as well as getting more of the LAT46.
With the weather getting cooler this week than it had been, I wanted to go with a darker beer, so I popped open my last Cavatica Stout from Astoria, Oregon’s Fort George Brewery + Public House. Named after the title character from Charlotte’s Web, this is a smooth medium bodied mouthful with roasty malt, coffee, and a light sweetness that hides its 8.8% ABV dangerously well, and has a nice firm backbone of hops, making for a great match with the flavors of the L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale. I think that a strong ale or a dark Belgian would also make for a great pairing.