I look forward to the Tatuaje TAA release every year and the 2014 edition was no different. This all started for me when the TAA 2012 blew me away. This prompted me to seek out the 2011 which was also fantastic. The 2013 was good, but not on the same level as 2012. So I was eager to see if the Tatuaje TAA 2014 lived up to its predecessors.
As you probably know, TAA stands for the Tobacconist Association of America. Ever year they have some exclusive releases from different manufacturers and these cigars are only available at shops that are members of the TAA. Tatuaje has been producing a TAA exclusive since 2011. Click here to get a brief look at the TAA exclusives from 2013 and 2014
Here is a look at the specs on all the Tatuaje TAA releases:
Tatuaje TAA 2014 Exclusive
Size: 6 x 52
Vitola: Box Pressed Toro
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper
Samples smoked for review: 2
Samples for review acquired via trades with CigarFederation members
Note: I used the CigarFederation Rating System
Pre-Light: I love the look of the Tatuaje TAA bands. It features the Indian head TAA logo and distinguishes itself with the year of production below the logo. The 2013 band is different as it was designed to fit in with the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary look. The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper is a thing of beauty with it's deep brown color and oily feel. The cigar is box pressed and features a closed foot.
The wrapper gave off some notes of earth and leather, but they weren't very defined. The cold draw was smooth and tasted of tobacco and baking spice. There was also a prominent black pepper taste on the lips.
Beginning: The Tatuaje TAA started off really well. On the first puff I was hit with bold notes of earth, molasses, black pepper and a mild milk chocolate sweetness on the finish. The pepper was sharp on the lips and retrohale, but calmed down after the first few puffs.
After the first inch a beautiful dark chocolate note showed up. This played well with the molasses and black pepper to create a rich and satisfying flavor profile. The strength settled in at medium while the body was heading in the direction of full.
Middle: Things started to go wrong about 2 1/2 inches in. The only way I can describe it is the profile got dirty. The great balance and complexity of the first third was clouded over. It was like throwing a blanket over a speaker. You can still hear the music, but it's muffled. The same thing happened to the profile, but instead of a blanket, it was a layer of dirty flavor. This happened with both cigars that were smoked for this review and each cigar came form a different source. So, the middle portion of the Tatuaje TAA was a disappointment. It wasn't horrible, but it was a big step down from the first third.
End: Thankfully, the profile cleared up a bit. The dirty flavor subsided a bit (without ever going away) to allow the initial profile to shine a bit more. It never got back to the levels of the first third, but the dark chocolate, molasses and black pepper were brought back and the final third was more enjoyable.
Final Thoughts: This was almost a REALLY good cigar. The Tatuaje TAA started off with great promise, but really let me down in the middle. It ended strong though and overall was a decent smoke. I smoked two cigars for this review and I have since smoked a third and the exact same thing happened all three times. After the first experience, I thought it was an anomaly, but that has proven to be incorrect. I think this cigar will benefit from some aging, so I have set a few aside to see what happens. If that middle portion can calm down a bit, then this could be an amazing smoke. As it is now I have to say it was just alright and nowhere near as good as the 2012 iteration.
Rating 86 AKA "I'd buy a couple"
This is not a cheap cigar, so I'm simply "buying a couple" to see if it gets any better with age. If it does, then I'll have a few more to smoke and enjoy. If it doesn't, then I'll leave them in the humidor or trade them to someone who wants some. Overall, I was let down by this cigar.