At the 2013 IPCPR trade show Pete Johnson’s L’Atelier Imports offered retailers an exclusive cigar only available to show attendees: the L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER13, a limited edition line extension modeled after the popular Cohiba Siglo VI from Habanos S.A. This morning, after much anticipation, I finally had a chance to spark one up.
This stick has a great look to it, with its bright metallic red and gold band really popping in contrast to the cigar’s clean-looking sun grown wrapper. Pre-light draws gave off a taste of creamy cedar with just a faint hint of leather.
The cigar lit up to a full, smooth taste of smoky cedar and cocoa with some sharp black and red pepper quickly moving into the mix. Lots of creamy smoke was pouring from the stick with each draw and continued to leak out even between puffs. Around a 1/2 inch in a subtle wave of creaminess joined the fold, working to take some of the “edge” off of the peppery spice.
In the 2nd third a chocolaty sweetness became apparent as the spice fell to the background during this particularly smooth portion. Refined flavors of cocoa, leather, and nutmeg began to fuse together here, resulting in one layered and interesting, unified taste. I was now halfway through the cigar and had experienced no performance issues; the draw was ample and the burn was straight. Though this section of the cigar was remarkably easy on the palate, a quick retrohale assured me that this was indeed a full-bodied smoke.
The final 3rd of the Extension de la Racine was where the real magic happened: the profile deepened to an unexpected new level of complexity with subtle notes of bread, raisin, soft black pepper, leather, and caramel popping up in rapid succession. The aforementioned cream note maintained a presence all the while, serving as a base for the flood of poignant flavors at play. I had enjoyed the cigar adequately up to this point, but had now reached the stick’s true reward- a last third filled to the brim with a bevy of great compatible flavors. I proceeded to take my time finishing out the cigar.
Going into this review I was already a fan of the original L’Atelier line and had high hopes for the Extension. While it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it didn’t let me down. This cigar was all class, showcasing the kind of refined taste and flavor subtleties that are possible through careful blending of high quality tobaccos. And- if the first two thirds were a graceful ballet, the last was a rodeo, where the blend’s full potential was finally unleashed in an action-packed finale. If a time-displaced cigar lover from 25 years ago showed up in 2014 curious to see what modern-day cigars were like, I would hand him the L’Atelier Extension de la Racine and just smile as he lit up to have his mind blown. This stick is exemplary of the high art form that today’s premium cigars have evolved to, and it gets an easy A grade from me. Hats off to Mr. Johnson and the team at L’Atelier for another job well done.