I hope everyone had a safe Halloween. We’ve all been in lockdown here so it was lots of video games, drinks, and laughs with my wife. This week, I take a look at Tatuaje’s annual kinda-monster release of the Karloff, paired with a bottle of Prairie Artisan Ale’s Snickerdoodle Vanilla Noir imperial stout beer.
The Good Stuff:
Easily one of the most anticipated releases year after year is the Monster Series from Tatuaje. Released on Halloween each year since 2008. This cigar is released around Halloween every year in very limited quantities. 13 “Unlucky” retailers across the nation each year receive 13 count dress boxes which are heavily designed and themed versions of the packaging while other retailers receive the standard 10 count brown boxes. I’ve been lucky enough to smoke each one, and review almost all of them to date:
- 2008 – The Frank
- 2009 – The Drac
- 2010 – The Face
- 2011 – The Wolfman
- 2012 – The Mummy
- 2013 – The JV13
- 2014 – The Jekyll
- 2015 – The Hyde
- 2016 – Krueger
- 2017 – The Michael
- 2018 – The Bride
- 2019 – Chuck and Tiff
As the 13 Monsters came to a close it left a lot of cigar enthusiasts wondering what would become of the series. Well, Pete Johnson wasn’t ready to give up on it yet expanding the series to include actors as well. Enter, the Karloff. The Karloff is the first cigar in the Actor series which pays homage to the actors who played the monsters from the iconic monster movies. This release is named after Boris Karloff who played Frankenstein, which is actually a slightly tweaked blend of the Boris, one of my favorite Tatuaje inventions to date. It is unclear if this will be an ongoing project or not at this point.
The blend features an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers while the Karloff is offered in a single 6 5/8 x 49 size. Foregoing the traditional dress boxes the original monster series came in, the Karloff are all packaged in boxes of 13 running $13 per stick with only 4,000 boxes being produced. I got mine over from our great friends at Fox Cigar Bar.
- Size: 6 5/8 x 49
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Body: Full
- Strength: Medium/Full
- Price: $13
- Pairing: Prairie Artisan Ales Snickerdoodle Vanilla Noir (Imperial Stout 14.4% ABV)
The Tatuaje Karloff starts out with a very, very dark brown wrapper. The wrapper is pretty consistent color with only a few lighter, orangish areas scattered throughout. The wrapper’s texture is very dense and hard with a good amount of gritty tooth and a whole mess of oils coating it. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself as the cigar showcases a good amount of soft veining and webbing leading up to the cigar’s round, double-wrapper cap. The Karloff is then polished off with the simple, elegant white and back Tatuaje band a design similar to that of the Boris.
The wrapper on the Karloff gives off a great oak and rich chocolate aroma while the foot is much of the same with a small amount of spice and natural tobacco making its way through the covered foot. The cold draw produces a whole mess of dark chocolate over oak, and natural tobacco flavors as well matching up pretty when with the raw aromas.
The Tatuaje Karloff starts with a good amount of black pepper which really hangs around for a while leaving my tongue and lips tingling. Once the pepper fades I am left with a heap of dark chocolate and coffee notes over pecan, cinnamon, plum, and musk. This cigar starts out with a bang. The draw is beautiful as every little puff kicks out a huge cloud of thick, gray smoke while the cigar releases a good amount of stationary smoke while it rests in my ashtray. The burnline is a bit wide, and slightly wavy, but nothing too concerning and I am sure the breezy weather has a lot to do with that. The ash left behind is dark gray and black and very tightly compacted as it drops in my ashtray at around the 1 inch mark.
Into the second third of the Tatuaje Karloff and the cigar is really pumping out a ton of flavor. The dark chocolate and coffee still lead the way backed by a good amount of sweetness, pecan, and cinnamon over light musk and a great dark berry/plum mixture. The retrohale brings back a lot of the pepper that has been completely taken out of the mix after the first few draws so I don’t really find myself going back to it very often. The cigar is still burning like a champ and I close out the second third with only a very minor nicotine hit.
Into the final third of the Tatuaje Karloff and the flavors are still kicking it off. Chocolate and coffee are still the dominant ones backed by musk, pecan, sweetness, and cinnamon over light dark berry and plum. The flavors really haven’t changed up a whole lot since the start, and that’s ok cause I am loving them just the way they are. It took me two hours to take this cigar down the nub, and I never wanted it to end. There was no harshness, nor extended heat and the cigar only left me with a very minor nicotine kick.
The Boris was one of my absolute favorite Tatuaje cigars released to date. While the memory is distant, reviewing my notes and what still exists up in my brain this cigar feels very similar, only with a bit more body to it. Taking the Boris out of the equation, the Karloff is an incredible experience. The flavors are incredible, well balanced, and just complex enough to keep me on my toes. On the subjective side those flavors really appeased my personal palate, especially the sweetness the cigar offered. The experience was perfect with not snags at all, and the price is well worth it. The only gripe, as you’d guess it, is the availability. That just means I gotta throw in a little more effort to pick up more of these before they are gone.
I wanted to go with something pretty sweet on this pairing to match up with the holiday, as well as a lot of the sweetness packed into the Karloff. My poison, Prairie Artisan Ales Snickerdoodle Vanilla Noir. Coming in at 14.4% this offering is a spin off of one of my favor Prairie beers, the Vanilla Noir. Aged in bourbon barrels this imperial stout is brewed with Snickerdoodle Chia cookies and vanilla. The beer leads with heavy amounts of vanilla, malt, milk chocolate, coconut, and just the right amount of sweet cinnamon. The mouthfeel is extremely heavy and stick before finishing with more vanilla and cinnamon over chocolate, toffee, and light plum. It easy to see why I paired this cigar with the Karloff as it shares so many of the same flavors. While the beer’s sweetness may overpower many cigar, the Karloff carries enough sweetness to hold it’s own with out muddying up the flavors.