Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero

I’m back from IPCPR in Las Vegas (perhaps you noticed a mention of it or two in the past few weeks?) and it’s time to get back to doing what we do the other fifty-or-so weeks a year: reviewing cigars. But it’s a little too soon to break into the random samples I picked up at the show. In addition to the Vegas climate being about the worst there is for cigars, the sticks I shipped home took two weeks to get here. It’s a good thing I had plastic bags and humidipaks. Instead I’m getting back into the swing of things with a stick that hit shop shelves mere days before the trade show, the eagerly anticipated Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero.

By now, most have heard the Tatuaje Black story and many have had an opportunity to sample it in some form. For those who don’t know, it started out as a private blend for Pete Johnson. Then in 2008 he decided to release a limited run of Corona Gordas to shops, which quickly sold out. In the years since them, the Black Label has continued to make brief humidor appearances in different shapes and sizes, often with an unfinished foot, and never with any commitments about when they’d be back, or what they’d look like next time.

That all changes this year, with the Petite Lancero which will now be a regular release cigar, a pleasant surprise in a market that favors massive ring gauges. Why now, and is the same blend the same? Are questions that come to mind when a very limited cigar like this goes into regular production. To paraphrase Pete, the answers are, because he has enough to tobacco to do it now, and yes, it is the same blend, respectively. You can expect to find it in upright black boxes of 25 cigars, retailing for around $212.50 for the box, or $8.50 a stick. (Plus whatever else your state, county, city or retailer has tacked on, of course.)

Now that were all on the same page, it’s time for me to apply the torch.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 38
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo Esteli
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: ~1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $8.50

The Pre-Smoke
Pete seems to have a thing for making his special smokes look a little ugly, thinking back on both the Monster Series (which makes sense) and some of the earlier releases of the Black Label. That makes the overall attractiveness of the Petite Lancero so surprising. No wide variations in wrapper hues, no holes or blemishes, and with one exception, the sticks I selected were smooth and lump free. They did have their share of veins, but they tended to be very fine. I think the decision to go with the cleanly-cut foot helps with the overall appearance, and frankly, I prefer it that way.

Aside from the vein-caused lumpiness in one stick, the cigars were pretty uniform in firmness. Instead of the compost aroma I usually smell on the wrapper all the sticks had a sweet, almost floral aroma. I was tempted use my V-cutter on these, but I opted for the traditional straight cut with my scissors for consistency stake. Once clipped, the cold draw had a leathery raisin flavor.

The Burn
The Black Label Petite Lancero continues to looks good as it burns. It produces reasonably solid, white ashes from even burn lines. However, there were some issues. I usually had to relight at the beginning of the final third, and in one case the cigar burned erratically for the entire last half. In all, these were minor nuisances and the average combustion was very good.

The Flavor
The Black Label Petite Lancero began with a rich, almost syrupy team of leather and roasted nut flavors. Spice kicked early, but never became the in-your-face upfront blast for which Pepin is known, but it also never completely faded out. The initial profile transitioned quickly into an equally rich combination of coffee, chocolate, and leathery wood.

Around the beginning of the second third I started to pick up salt caramel and graham flavors in addition to the coffee, leather and wood flavors. The spice continued its subdued presence, but took on an allspice quality.

As the cigar drew to a close, the roasted nut flavor returned, and the profile turned to dark chocolate, espresso and slightly charred cedar.

The Price
A good petite lancero for $8.50? Seems reasonable. A great one at that pice? All day and all night, baby.

The Verdict
Get out your toothpick and burn ointment people, the Tatuaje Black Label Petite Lancero is so good you might set yourself on fire nubbing it. From foot to cap, it’s all rich, mouth-coating complex flavorS, and depending on your local taxes, it can be had for under ten bucks a stick. And let’s not forget one of my favorite characteristics, it’s not a jaw-busting 6 x 60 smoke. Also, did I mention it’s delicious?

Though it’s now a regular production stick, don’t expect to see full boxes of Petite Lanceros on the shelf year round, the numbers will be pretty limited. My recommendation is to buy it by the box if and when you can, that way you can be assured of having some around during the Petite Lancero lean times.

Liked It: Box-worthy
Buy It Again: Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.