The Tobacconist Association of America (TAA) is a select group of retailers committed to providing cigar enthusiasts with courteous service and outstanding products. Every year, this elite group of retailers comes together, combining their collective buying power to create TAA exclusive sizes and blends of the cigar industries most well known names. From La Flor Dominicana to Drew Estate, it seems that there is a TAA cigar available for every type of aficionado. Pete Johnson, of Tatuaje, is a veteran of the TAA program. His Tatuaje TAA blends are some of the most sought after cigars to be released for the TAA. For 2013, Pete decided to shakes things up a bit; instead of falling back on the popularity of the 2011 and 2012 blends, he decided to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Tatuaje with one of the blends that helped start it all. Pete’s 2013 TAA became known as the Grand Chasseur. A slightly modified blend of the Tatuaje Seleccion de Cazador (Brown Label) , the Grand Chasseur measures in at a respectable 6 3/8 by 54. A crowd pleaser for both fans of large ring gauges and enthusiasts who enjoy a more traditional size, the Grand Chasseur can best be described as a beefier toro. Now that we have gotten the specs taken care of, let’s dive into the cigar and have a look at what makes the Grand Chasseur tick.
The first thing I notice about the Grand Chasseur is the flawless tan appearance of Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Seamless in feel and consistent in appearance, the cigar is complete with a close foot that gives enthusiasts a chance to experience the flavor of the wrapper without any of the binder or filler elements of the cigar. Removing the cap of the cigar and taking a quick draw test highlights the latent flavors of cedar and earth with a slight hint of pepper.
The opening moments of the Grand Chasseur are controlled by a wonderful earthy spice with a lingering finish, which is the result of closed foot of Ecuadorian Habano tobacco. Once the cigar begins to burn its way into the meat of the first third, the palate reviving spice of the closed foot has dissipated and has been replaced by a wonderful balance of cedar, cream and spice. The draw is perfect and the burn of the cigar is maintenance free.
As the Tatuaje TAA 2013 burns into the second third, the cream notes of the first third disappear and are replaced with amped up pepper and spice notes. While these notes begin to dictate the pace of the cigar, they never become overpowering and are kept in check by the cedar element of the cigar. The retrohale of this portion of the cigar is extremely complex with a powerful black pepper note in the beginning and ending with a semi-bitter dark cocoa note. Up to this point, the smoke production has been off the charts and the flavors have been fantastic.
Midway through the second third, there is a slight drop in the flavor profile. The pepper note begins to drop drastically becoming a shadow of its former self, with the rest of the notes following shortly after. I’m not sure if this is intentional or a mishap, but the drop in flavor does not have an impact on the overall experience of the cigar.
As I approach the end of my journey with the Tatuaje TAA 2013 Grand Chasseur, I notice a return of the phenomenal flavors of the second third of the cigar with the addition of a slightly sweet cocoa note. The pepper notes that were present in the two previous thirds of the cigar make their triumphant return, turning the cigar from a solid medium bodied smoke to a true medium-full bodied cigar. There is definitely a lot to enjoy about the Grand Chasseur. The larger size almost forces it to be smoked a little slower than the Noellas or Regios creating a cooler more aromatic smoke. While the blend is similar to the regular production Seleccion de Cazador, the cigar’s size gives it a more dynamic profile of spice, which can get a little lost in the regular Seleccion de Cazador sizes. The overall performance of the cigar is one that any aficionado who enjoys Tatuaje cigars would enjoy. Look for the Tatuaje TAA 2013 Grand Chasseur at you favorite Emerson’s Cigars location as well as online at emersonscigars.com.