The Art of the Good Cigar

A Matter of Taste

Herfing at Empire Cigars with the Tatuaje J21 Reserva

Posted by herfergrrl on July 6, 2009

My herfer girl nose was set a-twitching by some helpful  inmates from the Cigar Asylum who pointed me in the direction of the best smokes to be found in my new neighborhood. So it was off to Empire Cigars for a scouting mission. A tasty, tasty scouting mission.

I had my traveldor packed with assorted goodness, mostly island products from various eras, in case I didn’t find any domestic smokes that appealed.  After tasting (and surprisingly enough, enjoying) a Gurkha Crest, I snapped open my traveldor and was considering what to fire up next. I’d packed some fairly decent choices, including a 1950’s Dunhill Shakespeare, a 1962 Flor de Ramon Allones, a 1970’s double claro Dunhill Montecruz, and assorted fresher Cubans from the 1990’s. As I was lovingly eyeing my pretty babies and considering who might be next in line for infanticide, a fellow herfer decided to make the bold statement that he could point me to something in the shop that would be as good or better than anything in my little humidor.

I have to admit that I snickered just a wee bit and cast a raised eyebrow towards the shop owner, who had earlier seen the contents of my unobtrusive little case. But the gentleman was quite, quite certain, so I snapped my traveldor shut and merrily agreed to go with him on this voyage of discovery. A large part of the fun of herfing for me is learning from other people’s palates and being turned on to new discoveries, so this was right up my alley. I was somewhat skeptical as he continued raving about this particular cigar, stating that it was comparable in taste to the older Cubans and better than any of the modern Cubans.

Admittedly, output from the island has been fairly horrendous for most of this decade, but that hasn’t really impacted me personally as I have plenty laid down from much earlier eras for my own minimal needs. I am not a daily smoker by habit, though I do love the leaf. As a result I’m really not all that familiar with the domestic brands and how they have evolved in the past decade. I greatly enjoyed a few hours of fascinating and educational conversation with some more knowledgeable fellow herfers that convinced me that the domestics were currently very much worth smoking, in many cases more so than the current island output. I largely quit buying stocks to lay down from the island after being burned by a few boxes of undoubtedly genuine but also undoubtedly inferior modern Cubans.

What they had me lighting up was a Tatuaje Reserva J21. My skepticism vanished completely with the first few puffs, and I was slowly trickling smoke out my nose and licking my lips to savor every bit of the taste and the mouthfeel of this rich, oily, delicious smoke. It was like being served freshly roasted coffee and cream while sinking into a cloud-soft overstuffed sofa covered in new Spanish leather. In this sumptuous imaginary room, there were hazelnuts toasting in the fireplace, and every so often their savory aroma wafted deliciously through the gentle smoke. I was sad to be awakened from such a luxurious reverie by the cigar burning to a nub between my fingers.

I have a good palate. Really I do. But I have to admit that if someone handed me this cigar blind and said it was a fresh Monte #4, I might have been completely rooked. Going back to my tasting notes for that stick back in the 1990’s, they are close to identical in terms of my notes on the flavor profile. I’m going to have to hunt through the coolerdors and see if I can run a side by side taste test sometime.

Definitely two thumbs up on the Tatuaje J21 Reserva from the herfer girl.  Stock up on this stick while you can.


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