Size: Culebra; a variation of a lancero
Length: 7 1/2in or 191mm
Coming in at number 5, in my top 5 cigars of 2012 was the Tatuaje Black Label, Old man and the C Culebra. Now Pete gave a back story about this cigar a while back so here it is from the man himself,
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.
Now that saves me a lot of the story lets get to why this is such an amazing smoke. The coffins contain 4 cigars, 1 culebra containing 3 lancero size cigars twisted together and a full size black label lancero. The culebra is bound together by two white strings tied at each end. It produces the “snake”, the cigars should be separated by cutting the string and smoking the cigars individually.
The wrapper is a beautiful even brown leaf, with little veins and a large amount of tooth to it. The cigar is fairly squishy in places but I think that is because of the twist required to form the culebra. The cold draw produces some wonderful wood notes and some peppermind.
The first third I am hit with a blast of cinnamon heart flavour, as well as a peppermint or mint flavour present, but more cinnamon in my opinion. There are also some woody notes present to start and a nice blast of pepper to the mouth, lips and tongue to the finish.
Into the second third, this cigar is burning perfectly, the ash holding into the twists with ease. The cigar is producing a large amount of smoke, almost like a Liga Privada. The flavours are fairly similar to the first third, with the intensity of each changing consistently. The complexity is one of the things I appreciate about the Black Label. Spice really comes alive but the cigar is always smooth and you almost never really notice it’s intensity in a bad way. The cigar is such a perfect burn, laser sharp.
The final third really what makes this cigar perfect, the sweet aspect of the blend comes into play, almost like drinking a warm cup of coffee, with cream and sweet dark chocolate notes taking over the palate. The cigar burns very cool and has remained very sharp burn, never once needing to be relit. I smoked this down to the very end, although due to the pure bliss and enjoyment, I forgot to capture a picture.
Overall I rate the cigar a 95 out of 100 a great example that Nicaragua has some amazing cigars being produced at this time. I find the complexity and depth of flavours in such a unique vitola make it deserving of the number 5 cigar of 2012 from A Canadian Gentleman.
Final Score 95/100