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L’Atelier, which translates to “workshop” in French, is the first cigar blended by Pete Johnson for his new company L’Atelier Imports. This flagship line is made by the Garcia Family at the My Father Cigars factory in Esteli, Nicaragua using a new wrapper that was grown in Ecuador by the Oliva tobacco family. The wrapper is Sancti Spiritus, a hybrid of Criollo and Pelo de Oro, the “lost seed of Cuba”, and L’Atelier is the first cigar ever to use it. Compelled by the notion of sampling a brand new variety of wrapper, on a Johnson/Garcia creation no less, I selected the LAT52 (4 3/4x 52) for review.
The cigar’s unique wrapper was light brown in color with thin veins throughout. Construction looked to be solid all the way around with a spiffy little pigtail cap in place up top. The stick had an overall “Cuban” look and feel to it, which came as no surprise considering that the L’ Atelier was somewhat “modeled” after the much sought-after Cohiba Behike. Pre-light notes were woody and creamy with a slight vanilla tinge.
After a quick toasting on the ol’ AB Burner, the initial flavors of the cigar were a bit more mellow than I was expecting. The profile consisted of notes of cedar and earth with a savory underlying black pepper spice, and also a bit of malty sweetness. The cigar was pouring out clouds of dense, chewy smoke and the burn was fairly straight with just a slight lean.
In the second portion the smoke continued to flow generously, giving off balanced flavors of wood, earth, and spice through an appropriate draw. The burn-line had evened out by this point, and I was really beginning to feel the strength of the cigar. There wasn’t much transition in taste here, but the flavors became much fuller and richer, and I was now rocking a thick dark-grey 2” ash.
In a welcome change of pace, the final third of the cigar came across a bit more mellow than the previous two. Here the flavors remained deep and rich, but a new creaminess had emerged that worked to smooth out the profile nicely. With about 1 ½ inches remaining I decided to end my session with the LAT52.
The L’Atelier really surprised me in that it didn’t have the flavor profile that I would normally expect from a Pete Johnson cigar. Supremely balanced notes of slightly sweet woodiness took precedence here, and the peppery spice played only a supporting role. The result is a full-flavored, medium-bodied cigar that would pair well with a good beer, maybe a nice hoppy IPA. The burn and draw on this stick were exemplary, just as I thought they would be. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Garcia-made stogie that really had any sort of burn or draw issues. All in all I have to say that the L’Atelier LAT52 is worth checking out, and today I give it a solid B+. I’m looking forward to see what other good things will come from Pete’s new project in 2013.
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