Both Tatuaje and L’Atelier Imports are owned by the venerable cigar man Pete Johnson. This has always allowed for collective benefits such as shared cigar events, where you may find personalities such as Pete Johnson, or other L’Atelier representatives like Dan Welsh in attendance—with both Tatuaje and L’Atelier cigars being offered. But the sister brands had never truly taken full advantage of their situation until the debut of Négociant Monopole at IPCPR 2016.
In short, the cigar is a collaboration (or, as Pete Johnson describes it, “an incestuous creation”) between Tatuaje and L’Atelier Imports, with the final marketing falling under the Tatuaje Cigars brand. Earlier this year, in our collection of The Most Exciting New Cigars from the First Half of 2017, we described the project in more detail—
[Négociant is] a French term that details a process in the winemaking world where grapes, must, and/or wine are bought, tweaked, and sold under the purchaser’s own label.
How does this translate to cigars? This is where Pete shows off some clever creativity… Story goes, L’Atelier Imports had been working on a new blend that itself was somewhat borrowed from a certain preeminent cigar manufacturer, as they have been know to do (see: Surrogates). The blend utilized a Mexican leaf for one of the cigar’s two binders and was wrapped in Ecuadorian Connecticut. The resulting performance was allegedly so good that Don Pepín García (owner of My Father Cigars and manufacturer of Tatuaje and L’Atelier products) himself raved of its unique characteristics. This is where Pete steps in, whom is the founder (and co-founder) of both brands. Pete saw the perfect opportunity to become the négocier of his own brand, banding the golden-hued cigar in a matching, gold iteration of the prolific Tatuaje label and presto, Négociant was born.
The cigars are among the lightest ever introduced by Tatuaje (known for Nicaraguan habano puros and Broadleaf maduro blends), with a wrapper that is most comparable to the original Cabaiguan cigars. The cigars were introduced in three sizes: Négociant Monopole No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. Monopole is French for “Monopoly,” meaning an area controlled by a single winery. Négociants are typically required in order to bottle commercial quantities of a wine from monopole vineyards. La Mission and La Tâche are known as a monopole vineyards, both names are seen on previous L’Atelier releases.
As mentioned, three cigars were introduced at IPCPR 2016; though a fourth vitola was on the way, debuting as Négociant Monopole No. 4 at IPCPR 2017.
Click images below for full resolution
Négociant Monopole No. 4 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Mexican San Andrés | Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 4⅛″ × 46 “No. 4” (Petit Cazadores)
- Price: $8.00 (MSRP)
Négociant Monopole No. 4 is the smallest/most-affordable size in the lineup, using the same mold as Tatuaje’s limited edition Porkchop cigar (basically a petit cazadores or rothschild). According to Pete Johnson, the Négociant blend had to be tweaked in order to subdue the dominant qualities of the cigar’s San Andrés binder (which is one of two binders in the blend, the other being Nicaraguan).
The previous three sizes officially hit the market in spring, 2017, and Négociant Monopole No. 4 followed in August, being released shortly after the trade show.
Tatuaje Négociant will quickly stand out among the brand’s large collection, showing a rare sight for the brand—a Connecticut shade-grown wrapper. This is complimented beautifully with a gold-accented version of Tatuaje’s standard, thin-style band. The band is actually more on par with more limited versions of their core-line cigars, such as the Private Reserve Corona Gorda. Compared to the traditional Tatuaje label, these bands feature a gloss finish, embossing, and metallic foils. The gold highlights of the band compliment similar hues on the cigar’s wrapper, giving a very attractive appearance.
The cigar’s wrapper is dark and splotchy for a Connecticut, having a look more on par with a Cuban habano than your average, silky smooth Connecticut. As expected, the construction appears solid, with no thick veins, very tight seams, triple cap, and an overall sturdy feel from a perceived medium-firm bunch.
On the wrapper, there are loads of aromatic nuances, showing cedar, sweet musk, and an overall Cuban-esque vibe. The foot is surprisingly less so, with a more straight-forward hay note. The pre-light draw is medium/firm and offers a spicy, white pepper flavor in the throat.
Négociant Monopole No. 4 begins like most-any García-made cigar does, injecting zesty spices into the retrohale. To be fair, this is actually a little different than usual, as the spices are more white pepper side (compared to the usual, intense, black pepper), accompanied by a velvety smooth texture on the palate. Pepper is not a dominant quality, balanced nicely by notes of caramel, butterscotch, and a soft vanilla on the finish.
Through a slightly tight, medium/firm draw, the cigar unveils medium-plus volumes of smoke (more than expected); showing a dead-medium on all fronts of the profile (flavor, strength, body). The zest of white pepper spice dips and climbs sporadically, leaving you guessing whether each new puff will be smooth and nuanced or sharp and nostril-biting.
Flavors develop past one inch in the form of buttered crackers and mellow notes of honey and black tea. There are loads of enjoyable flavors abounding on each puff, including a decent amount of complexity for the cigar’s Connecticut style.
In the beginnings of the final portions of the smoke, the cigar’s creaminess takes on a unique, horchata-like complexity. This is rounded out by an earthy tea, doused with a generous splash of whole milk, as well as toasted bread and buttermilk.
Click images below for full resolution
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
No doubt about it, I’d smoke this one on the regular. Even though it’s fairly small and burns for only one hour, the cigar provides enough enjoyable flavors, progression and complexity to give you more than your money’s worth. Smoke this for breakfast with a spicy meal (go nuts on the Cholula hot sauce, or perhaps an English-style grilled cheese, complete with Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar cheese and a healthy dose of freshly cracked black pepper) and pair it with an old-school black tea and milk and sugar, and life should be treating you pretty darn good…
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: New England-style IPA, wheated bourbon, breakfast tea, cream soda
- Purchase Recommendation: box purchase
- Balance of flavor and complexity
- Near-perfect burn and construction
- Fuller-body Connecticut style without losing sweet, creamy nuances
- Draw on firm side
- Despite being fairly complex, deeper complexities are lost compared to the cigar's full-sized brethren