In 2012, Pete Johnson of Tatuaje cigar fame launched the brand L’Atelier (French for “The Workshop”), a name which, according to Tobacconist Magazine, “refers to the company’s role as a separate experimental laboratory for bringing out cigars that aren’t constrained by public expectations.” Like with the Tatuaje brand, Pete Johnson teamed up with the Garcia Family to have the L'Atelier Identité (“identity”) series produced at the My Father Cigars S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, one of the finest cigar producers in the world.
L’Atelier released the Identité series in April 2017 which uses a unique type of tobacco known as Sancti Spiritus (Latin for “Holy Spirit” and the name of a tobacco-growing region in Cuba). The tobacco is a hybrid of Criollo and Pelo De Oro tobacco seeds that you'll only find in cigars from L'Atelier. While the L’Atelier brand uses Sancti Spiritus tobacco in all of its cigars, the Identité series is the first time it has been included in all three portions of the blend, with the wrapper grown by the Oliva Tobacco Co. in Ecuador and binder and filler grown by the Garcia Family in Nicaragua.
The L’Atelier Identité Melangé Spécial No. 3 is toro size cigar with a dark, oily wrapper. The cigar has a mounted Cuban-style three-seam cap on its head, is consistently tightly packed, and the wrapper leaf is thick enough to cause the seams to feel slightly raised to the touch.
The cigar is full-bodied, initially offering a powerhouse of rich and smooth flavors of dark cherry, cocoa, and creamy coffee. The bouquet of the smoke is pleasant with floral cedar notes. An inch into the cigar, the flavor remains rich and meaty. The middle of the cigar is packed with flavor, featuring prominent notes of cedar with raisin, dark cherry, cocoa and cream in the background. The last third of the cigar is less rich, but still flavorful, offering woody and leather notes.
The draw remained perfect throughout and the burn was slightly wavy, but never ventured more than a quarter of an inch apart. The ash was white, indicating that the tobacco leaves were grown in rich, fertile soil. The ash consistently lasted about three-quarters of an inch before falling off.
The L’Atelier Identité Melangé Spécial series comes in three vitolas: No. 1 (4⅞”x 50), No. 2 (5⅝” x 46) and, reviewed here, the No. 3 (5⅞”x 52). James & Sons also carries a special limited edition Robusto size that is only made available to retailers for L'Atelier events.
The cigar would pair well with a chocolate stout or cappuccino.
In addition to the Identité Melangé Spécial series, cigars created by Pete Johnson that James & Sons has in stock include La Mission du L'Atelier, Tatuaje Havana VI, Tatuaje Reserva, Tatuaje Seleccion De Cazador, Tatuaje Seventh Capa Especial, and Surrogates brands.
The review portion was a blind tasting completed without any information on the cigar, its tobaccos, or manufacturer. The cigar was intentionally smoked slowly (two or three draws per minute) to avoid the burn getting overly hot and negatively affecting the taste and only water was consumed while smoking.
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