For many of us, the holiday season is a time of… let’s call it “joyous stress”. We have kids with their endless lists for toys, the family pulling us this way and that; what to eat, where to go, santa is at this mall but not that one. At some point, wouldn’t it be nice to step back in time and revisit a more relaxed holiday? Halloween, for example, only a few weeks past but long forgotten. Sure Halloween is a trick or treat for the kids, but if you remember there was one special treat for us tobacco dilettantes… remember what it was? Yup, you got it… the Tatuaje JV13, otherwise known as “Jason”.
Pete Johnson, Tatuaje’s brand owner, chose Friday the 13th as the theme for this, the 6th annual Halloween release of the Monsters Series, and named his creation “Jason” according the movie series’ main character, Jason Voorhees. Each year, six hundred and sixty-six (666) dress boxes (the Drac had 1300 to its release) have been allocated to 13 different retailers—known as the “Unlucky 13”. With the exception of the first two Monsters, The Frank and The Drac, an additional number of non-dress boxes have also been made available. This year that number was something like 4,500 boxes of 10 (dress boxes have 13 cigars in them). To date, this is the largest of all the Monster releases.
But enough of a history lesson, on to the cigar. These things are huge, a double corona measuring 7 ½ x 52, but they seem even bigger than that. The first thing I noticed was the unevenness of the roll. It’s very lumpy and bumpy and very much looks like the completely hand rolled cigar that it is. The conneticut broadleaf wrapper reminded me of tree bark. It’s a thick leaf that is milk chocolate brown, with deep, brown (bordering on black) splotches all over; and a very rough exterior that shows flecks of gold sparkle when held up to the light. It’s been explained to me that these sparkles are minerals that the plant has extracted from the soil. The cigar shows an excellent vein structure, with only one major vein running along a third of the stick. Packed firmly, there are two noticeable hard spots near the head and about a third of the way in from the foot.
The initial nose off the foot is a very pleasing barnyard, chocolate and sweet tobacco. My mental impression from it is chocolate chip cookies. The wrapper has a light tobacco aroma with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Clipping the head initiates a draw with just a slight bit of resistance and tastes much like the foot smells.
If you’ve read my reviews previously, and you have… right… you’ll know that I expect the flavors of the first half-inch of a cigar to be somewhat different than the rest of the cigar; it just takes a cigar a while to settle down from the shock of the initial light. So when the first flavors in this beast were harsh, I tried not to panic. With our tobacco tax in Minnesota, this stick cost me $18 and I didn’t want to even imagine this same flavor permeating the entire stick. So I continued to puff away with great hope. Yet as the cigar progressed, the flavors actually regressed. I found the full first inch to be harsh, mouth drying, and worst of all, filled with a chemical and ammonia bitterness. To the positive though, the smoke was quite light on my palate, and deep in the background there was a strong-brew espresso coffee note.
Past the first inch the flavors did change—to a basic, bland earthiness. Here also the cigar began to give up a chimney of foot smoke, it looked just like chimney smoke from a blazing hot, wood-stoked oven. The smoke emanated right out of the center of the ash with velocity, yet I had to work hard to get any smoke in my mouth. The barrel of the cigar, just behind the cherry, was quickly very hot—having the hallmarks of a cigar that was tunneling. But in my opinion it had more to do with the knot in the bunch that was causing me to puff rapidly (the draw still had a good, light resistance) to get any smoke in my mouth. The body, if it can even be called that through all this, was mild. So far, no strength.
Once I got past the knot, things got better, the burn evened out and the cigar cooled down. The smoke became more plentiful on the correct end, and the “chimney effect” on the other faded. The ash was quite flowery (go figure, after all that), but the body was now in the medium range and I was now able to slow my draw rate, bringing out some very pleasant caramel and vanilla flavors. The strength shot quickly to a solid medium as soon as the burn settled down—just into the second third. Through the middle of the stick, the strength continued to ramp up and soon was a very formidable medium-full. It’s a slow burner, too—if I let it sit for more than 20 or 30 seconds it wanted to go out. The coffee notes I experienced earlier faded away, but backing the caramel and light vanilla was a smooth, thick cream.
All along, the mouth feel had been very drying, I needed constant sips of water to keep my palate refreshed. Continuing through the cigar, nothing much changed. It stuck to a medium-bodied caramel and slightly sweet vanilla blend, with a very solid medium-full strength profile. The strength of this cigar never reached an overpowering full, but the accumulation of effects from this big cigar staying at a strong medium-full for so long did, in the end, take its toll. When I finally put it down, just before the band point, I had begun to sweat and I was surely feeling the nicotine.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
The short answer to that question is: no. The flavors were enjoyable but not prominent, and considering the cost ($13 – $18), there are a number of blends on the market at a much more wallet-friendly price that equal or surpass this stick in flavor. Besides, I’m just not a fan of the power sticks. But having said that, if you are into the big hitters, this certainly something you may like to try. I will also say, I think these will be so much better in a year or two when they have had time to mature. I believe this stick has enough strength and character to stand up well to even long term aging. This may be the Monster everyone is talking about in years to come as the one that really stood the test of time.
Till next time… Dojo Mojo, ya’ll
Guest reviewed by David Moon (aka Criollo Katana, Smokin’_Cubans)
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- Espresso & Vanilla flavors
- Terrible burn
- Lack of full flavors