L’Atelier Imports is known for it’s inspiration from both a classic, Cuban approach to cigar craftsmanship, as well as its French and wine influences. It’s no coincidence that lead brand-runner Pete Johnson has become known for the same qualities in his products and is in the process of entering into the wine market. For L’Atelier’s newest release, La Mission du L’Atelier, the brand has taken the wine theme to the next level.
La Mission draws inspiration from a winery in the Pessac-Léognan region of France, called Château La Mission Haut-Brion. As this winery is known for its full-bodied wine, the cigar is intended to take on a similar, full-bodied characteristic. On top of this, the cigars’ sizes receive their names in a similar fashion. Each size in the line is named for a year when the Château La Mission Haut-Brion winery received a perfect 100 point rating from renowned wine critic Robert Parker (La Mission 1959, 1989, 2009). There are currently three sizes in the line, but will soon expand to seven, matching the number of 100 point wines from the winery.
La Mission du L’Atelier Breakdown
- Wrapper: San Andrés Mexico
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua, Sancti Spíritus
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Estelí, Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular release
- Vitola: 6 1/2″ x 56 (La Mission 2009)
- Price: $9.50
As far as the theme, packaging, and presentation of La Mission goes, I’m certainly not sold. Often, L’Atelier plays with French and wine terms, but here it feels a little too deep for a regular release cigar—unless you’re a pretty hardcore wine enthusiast, you probably won’t connect with La Mission’s backstory. The band, at first glance, appears very similar to a My Father cigar. Although, after holding the cigar, I couldn’t help but see a resemblance to a cheaper, “knockoff” look you’ll often find in cigar catalogue offerings. Sure, the band is a high quality paper, but the design feels lacking, perhaps it was the bland “M” that seems as if it were thrown on last minute.
The cigar itself has a nice looking construction, as you’d expect from anything to come out of the My Father factory. The packing feels solid, and the shape feels good in the hand; it is soft-pressed, looking similar to the San Lotano Oval. The wrapper quality wasn’t the most attractive on the samples I smoked—each seemed to differ pretty drastically in shade, with multiple blemishes and water spots. On the foot there is a wet earth and tobacco aroma, and on the wrapper there are notes of polished leather.
The cigar cuts clean and is ready to light, there are smokey and savory notes on the pre-light draw. After lighting, La Mission shows a different profile than I expected. Initially, there is a flavor I can’t quite identify, this is joined by chocolate and quite a bit of anise (black licorice) in the retrohale. Soon there is a sweetness of powdered sugar and a classic tobacco note on the center of the palate—surprisingly, there is almost no spice (isn’t this a Pepín blend?!).
La Mission feels well-balanced, nothing is shouting out, no bombs of flavor, no spice or pepper attacks. It’s medium bodied with a medium strength. The construction is performing on point thus far, with a wavy burn (nothing to worry about) and a medium-firm draw that produces sightly less than ideal smoke output. The flavors are best described as warm, with creamy, easygoing flavors, butter being the most recent addition.
Interesting, a small, quick puff gives a more interesting flavor profile, compared to the usual long draw. Here, there are subtle coffee and toffee nuances, compared to the spice, anise, and funky grass-like flavors (what I noticed at the cigar’s start) on the long draw.
Moving into the cigar, there are added flavors of cherry wood and tang that builds on the finish—the initial milk chocolate, anise, and savory elements are there as well. Here, the flavors composed a perfume-like makeup, as opposed to the warmth from before, which I personally found distasteful; this is similar to a beer that has been flavored, say vanilla, rather than letting it age naturally on vanilla beans…
After the midway point, the strength/body finally seem to amp up to their advertised level of power, still never reaching an actual full body, in my opinion. Spices and herbs now creep into the mix—there is an organic element that has woven its way throughout the cigar, and it’s now more a part of the profile. Anise is the most notable flavor constant throughout, and it is now joined with hearty, earth and mushroom flavors, making for a nice final twist before the cigar’s conclusion.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Probably not, there just weren’t enough interesting flavors/complexty for me here. If chocolate and anise are your thing, you may have fun here, just make sure to buy one of the smaller sizes. I do think this is a great cigar for someone getting into the hobby—having a fuller body without being too intense (exactly what the newly-christened cigar fanatic craves!). All things considered, this is my least favorite L’Atelier Imports cigar thus far.
- Lots of familiar, identifiable flavors (chocolate, coffee, tobacco)
- Good construction
- Inconsistencies between cigars
- Lacks complexity
- Lacks direction (flavors jump in and out)