Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles
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Okay, so I’m reviewing two aged Don Pepin Garcia smokes in a row. Kind of a cop-out, I know. But I am still craving predictability. In the process, I’m earning my stripes in the DPG/Pete Johnson kiss-ass brigade.
So it’s without hesitation that I reached deep into the end-table humidor for my box of Tatuaje Havana VI Nobles date stamped SEPT 2006.
For the uninitiated, the Havana VI (aka “Red Label”) was Pete Johnson’s first extension of his Tatuaje brand. It was designed to be a cheaper, readily available alternative to the Miami-made Cabinet (aka “Brown Label”), crafted at Don Pepin’s then-new TACUBA factory in Nicaragua. Like the Brown Label, the Havana VI is a Nicaraguan puro, but the blend is markedly different, featuring a darker, more oily corojo wrapper.
The pre-light draw is tight. This is a nagging issue with the Havana VI when stored at “normal” relative humidity. These beg to be stored at 62-65% instead of the usual 68-70%. Fortunately, the draw loosens up a few minutes after lighting, though it remains on the firm side.
From the start, the Havana VI is notably different from other Pepin Garcia blends. Where the Brown Label has a dry texture and a leathery core, this is slightly sweet and chewy. The flavors are uneven for the opening third, though it has a pleasant, semi-sweet chocolate note on the finish. There’s something maduro-esque about the profile, minus the peppery zip.
Approaching the halfway mark, the sweetness intensifies and the flavor rounds out. While dark chocolate remains the base flavor, it picks up white pepper, leather and a hint of nuts. I would still characterize it as medium-bodied, though it’s developing the richness typical of a DPG blend. The draw remains firm. Not enough to make me want to lay it down, but a constant annoyance. The burn is average.
It is more robust in the final third, with the addition of earth, more pepper and concentrated nuttiness. The close is every bit as good as the middle third, without noticeable bitterness or tar buildup.
To my surprise, two years of age has had no effect on the Nobles. They smoke much as they did right off the truck in fall of 2006.
CONCLUSION: Those who complain about the sameness of Don Pepin Garcia’s blends need to revisit the Havana VI. These are sweeter, chewier and altogether different from anything else in his portfolio. The Nobles is a medium bodied robusto that impresses on flavor but falls short on construction. Storing at a low RH helps, but doesn’t quite alleviate the issue. The value is so-so at about $6.00/stick. Still, the unique flavor profile makes up for this smoke’s singular shortcoming.