The FRANK by Tatuaje (Guest Review)

This guest review comes from our friend
Rich Meade of the Stogie Review Fan Forums.

Happy Holidays everyone!

I have been exploring the bottom shelf at my b&m for a good month now. Smoking bundled sticks, bargain sticks, and anything that strikes me as interesting, while remaining under $3.00. So to show my gratitude to myself (on behalf of my wallet, may it rest in peace), I decided to smoke one of the “über premiums” I have in my aging box and thought I would review it for the site. I posted a poll asking what everyone wanted to see a review of, and by a landslide, the Frank by Tatuaje won!

The Frank by Tatuaje, is part of the Monsters series Pete Johnson is releasing every Halloween. 666 boxes of 13 are released for Halloween, bearing the name of a Halloween monster, Frank aka Frankenstein. Next years release is to be the Drac (Dracula…duh). Now… you aren’t going to find these in your local store unless you happen to live near one of the 13 selected shops that received these (and word has it most if not all have sold out). Your best bet is to know someone who knows someone, who…. well you get the idea. Your other option is to to pay a severe markup at the only online retailer I could find that has them ($20). I got mine as a kind yet misguided gesture of my significant other. I am a staunch opponent of price gouging, and would never patronize an establishment that does so. Yet my girlfriend surprised me with 2 of these sticks. Prior to the sticks arriving, I had written a strongly worded email to said dealer, chastising them for their outrageous markup. They were kind enough to actually comp us the order, which resulted in me feeling like an ass, but whatever. Enough of this… onto the review!

SHE’S ALIVE!!!!……………….ALIVE!!!!!!!!

The FRANK by Tatuaje
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Cigar Stats:

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Size: 7 5/8″ x 49 (box-pressed)
Price: $13 MSRP ($20 at one online retailer)
Location: Office
Drinking: Sweet Tea and Water

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Appearance:
This stick has a very unique look to it. Perhaps its because of its size in combination with being box-pressed, or it could be the olive green label. It bears the usual Triple cap, it is really tightly packed, and is very heavy in the hand. The box-press isn’t a sharp one, its actually a fairly round box-press, if that makes any sense. The wrapper is a very rustic looking leaf, with splotches of dark brown mottled throughout, quite veiny, but all are smooth to the touch and has no softspots to speak of. The wrapper is a deep brown color, it doesn’t really scream out that it is in fact a Maduro. The foot looks like its packed loose, but isn’t springy, and you can clearly see the super dark ligero leaves in the center.

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First Impressions:

The wrapper has a light scent of sweet cedar, and the foot has aromas of cedar, hay, and a touch of cumin. The cold draw is free, and is slightly woody. The first couple puffs give a full woodsy flavor with a dry spicy finish and is a little harsh. The smoke is hard through the sinuses, but gives some hints of fruit, nuts. Its pretty void of the typical “blast” of pepper I personally associate with a Pepin stick. About a quarter inch in, it smooths out considerably! Its now taken on a very creamy character. Flavors are not so much woodsy, as they are toasty, and nutty. The smoke is slightly sweet on the tongue and lingers like a layer of syrup on the finish. The smoke when blown through the sinuses has eased up some, and now reveals a very subtle herbal hint that I want to call ginger. When the smoke hits the tongue it gives a outright full feel to the stick, yet its smooth character and subtle flavors are a little deceiving. My gut wants to say this is medium-full, tiptoeing the line of being all out full bodied.

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1/3 (30):
The flavors are a little more forthcoming with their identities now. I definitely get nuts, I want to say almonds. Its still sweet on the tongue and extremely smooth. There is little spice on the palate, and the finish still lingers, but has returned to being slightly dryer. I thought, being a Maduro, I would be picking up some chocolate/coffee notes, but funny enough there really aren’t any. The ash on this puppy is not the most attractive. Its a light grey, but has a gnarled appearance and has a couple flaking and flowering issues. It held on for nearly 2 inches, but I was being very careful with it. The burn is pretty good, tho not the prettiest either. Its what I would consider very wavy, but it constantly corrects itself with a little turning. I guess it fits with the whole “Frankenstein” theme, that it has a smooth and sweet inner smoking character, but an ugly scary outward appearance. If this was intentional… KUDOS to both Pete and Pepin… if not… its a nice line of BS to feed people. The body has picked up a little more, and is definitely in the full spectrum now. It gives a nice heavy feeling on the palate, and with some subtle spice working its way in on the finish near the end of the first 3rd, it is most definitely in the full flavor realm. Tho the strength is yet to be determined. When it hits the tongue it feels strong, but no buzz as of yet.

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2/3 (1hr):
Well just as I was noting the lack of cocoa in the first third, it shows up in the 2nd. The creamy character still remains, along with the nutty almond’esque flavor, but is now accented by a dry cocoa flavor near the finish. I also am getting a touch of leather through the sinuses and on the back end of the finish. Oddly the spice that was creeping in at the end of the 1/3 is no longer present. The finish now has a slight bitterness that lingers for bit, which no doubt encourages me to label the flavor as leather. The burn has straightened up a bit, and the ash has a more flattering appearance, but has lost its strength… My laptop can attest as it plopped heavily onto the “F” key only an inch into the 2/3. Nearing the end of the 2/3, the predominant flavor is now leather. There are still some hints of almonds through the sinuses tho, and guess what…. the spice has returned to the finish. Man this thing is confusing. I do get whiffs of cocoa from the resting aroma of the smoke… which is nice.

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Last Bit ( 1.5hr):
Going into the last bit, the cigar switches flavors again. Now its acting more like a maduro. Cocoa and a dry nuttiness are front and center, and the leather has slacked quite a bit, and is only really noticeable on the finish. The smoke is still sweet on the tongue, and the retrohaling still yields some almond hints. The burn has straightened up to near perfection, and the ash… well is still weak (my lap was the unfortunate recipient of yet another falling ash). The body hasn’t really picked up any more from the 1/3, but is still in the full range. The subtle spice is still noticeable on the finish, which is slightly sweeter than the last 3rd, and is characteristic of the finish of the first third.

Final Thoughts:
Those of you who have seen my reviews, and are a little familiar with my tastes know that I love cigars that have what I call a “schizophrenic” personality. What I mean is they change, almost constantly. This one falls into that category. I didn’t particularly like the start of the smoke, but once into the stick around a 1/4 inch it was great! I really liked the smoothness of the flavors, and the balance the spice on the finish gave. The prevailing almond flavors were pleasant and consistent throughout. The arrival of the leather around the 2/3 was a nice change. Tho if you aren’t a fan of leather as a cigar flavor, it might turn you off. Finally the maduro character came through in the end, with aromas of cocoa, and flavors of chocolate and nuts, combined with a slight leathery finish really made for a complex end to this stick.

Now reading into this a little bit…
This cigar is pretty representative of Frankenstein’s monster. Big and ugly in appearance, but when you get to know him, is calm and sweet.
The only real problems I had were with the ash. It was pretty flakey at the start (and ugly), but still was firm. But it changed into what I call a typical looking ash (pretty), but lost all resiliency, dropping twice unexpectedly.

Its not as strong as I thought it might be (nicotine wise). Finishing up the cigar I found I only had a slight buzz, but I think others may find it more potent.
All in all, this was a very interesting smoke that really enjoyed! Is it worth $13… absolutely! Is it worth $20+ maybe… I wouldn’t call this a “classic” cigar, that you must try, but its definitely different for Tatuaje and if Pete and Pepin’s intention with this cigar was to have it characteristic of Frankenstein (ugly, yet sweet at heart), then it is a masterpiece! And if the MSRP was indeed $20, I would say it is worth it. But I would never tell anyone to pay for a stick that is being priced gouged as much as this one is.

To me, its worth whatever Pete decides its worth!

Liked it: Yes! Very complex! It falls right into line with my preferred “schizophrenic” smokes.
Buy it again: I would if they were readily available, but I’d rather pay MSRP.
Recommend it: Absolutely… If you can find them get it, but I urge you not to patronize the price gougers.