Review: Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial
In 2006, Havana Cellars released some of the first of what would eventually become dozens of single store releases. Each release consisted of a unique cigar, either in blend and size, and were available at a different store from a different part of the country.
- Tatuaje La Maravilla (5 5/8 x 46) — Leaf & Ale — 70 Boxes of 25 (1,750 Total Cigars) — $9.99 (Boxes of 25, $249.75)
- Tatuaje El Cohete (4 x 50) — Tower Pipes & Cigars — 50 Boxes of 25 (1,250 Total Cigars) — $9.00 (Boxes of 25, $225.00)
- Tatuaje Bombazo (4 x 46) — FUMARE — 50 Boxes of 25 (1,250 Total Cigars) — $7.50 (Boxes of 25, $187.50)
In June of this year, there was a post on the BOTL.org forum from someone who had picked up a previously unknown Tatuaje cigar from Dion Giolito’s, of Illusione fame, store FUMARE in Reno, Nevada. At that point, there was almost no information at all on the cigar as there was no fanfare or pre-warning like nearly every other Tatuaje.
The Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial is based on the original Bombazo released in 2006, but the Corojo ’99 wrapper is replaced with the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper Pete Johnson has used on some of his more popular limited releases of the last two years. Only 48 cabinets of 50 cigars were released to FUMARE and Giolito decided to make them available to in-store purchasers only.
Johnson told halfwheel this about the Bombazo Capa Especial blend:
Dion asked me to make some for him as a secret with the Sumatra that we use on all the other Sumatra cigars. We were trying to keep it low key so he could just sell them at his store. Same blend just with Sumatra. He didn’t want anyone to know about them outside his store. We both thought it would be cool to pack them low key so they wouldn’t stand out. I made a total of 50 50 count boxes. He got 48 and I kept two.
Here is a comparison photo with the original Bombazo (bottom) and the Bombazo Capa Especial (top):
Here is what cabinets of the Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial look like:
But enough about that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Petit Robusto
- Est. Price: $6.85 (Cabinets of 50, $342.50)
- Date Released: June 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 50 Cabinets of 50 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)*
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 9
The Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial is quite compact with lots of veins present along with some oil. The Ecuadorian wrapper is smooth to the touch, while the cigar itself is very hard when squeezed, just short of rock hard with no soft spots. The mottled brown wrapper smells strongly of sweet oak, pepper and leather.
The Bombazo starts off the first third with the perfect amount of spice on the tongue, along with flavors of sweet wood, leather and earth. The smoke is extremely dense and think on the palate coating my mouth wonderfully. There is some pepper on the retrohale, but not overwhelming at all. Interestingly, the spice and pepper combine together and reminds me strongly of the same profile as jalapeño with a lasting heat that lingers on the retrohale. Construction is fabulous and the strength starts off a solid medium, but is only getting stronger.
At the middle of the second third of the Tatuaje, the jalapeño note peaks before receding little by little. Flavors have also changed a bit with a really great sweet cotton candy note coming and going, but never overly strong. Other flavors of sweet cedar, earth and a nice floral note just underneath the surface come and go. Interestingly, the strength of the cigar starts to increase in leaps and bounds, and is a nice medium plus by the end of the second third. The burn and draw remains excellent in all respects, just a joy to smoke in that regard.
The final third of the Bombazo Capa Especial stays the course, which is not a bad thing at all. The jalapeño note is still very much evident, as is the sweetness from the second third. Other notes of earth, leather, espresso and that same floral note ebb in and out as well. Construction remains excellent, but the Bombazo gets a bit hot at the end. The strength ends just below the full mark, never quite going over.
- This Bombazo has such an interesting profile with the overt jalapeño note on the retrohale and the sweetness on the palate, but neither one is present in the other location. In other words, I never tasted the sweetness on the retrohale and I never noticed the jalapeño on the tongue.
- Honestly, I was a bit taken aback by the fact that there was an official Tatuaje release that we did not know about before it was made available.
- I did smoke one of the original Tatuaje Bombazo releases to get a feel for the differences in how they taste and compare. They are fairly similar in profiles, however, the Capa Especial is creamier and sweeter, while the original version still has quite a bit more pepper and spice, is noticeably stronger and does not have any trace of the jalapeño note.
- If you had given me both cigars blind and told me that they were the same other than the wrapper, I would have had a hard time believing you, which could also be explained by the large age gap.
- Along with the aforementioned three single store releases, Johnson also released another limited edition in 2006, the original Tatuaje Noella Reserva. Only 200 boxes of 25 cigars were released, although he has mentioned that he kept some overrun boxes for himself.
- The original Bombazo and both versions of the Cohete came with a regular Tatuaje brown band, but the La Maravilla was released unbanded and wet packed in foil.
- Pete Johnson played a role in the beginnings of Illusione. In Giolito’s explanation of the brand, he told the story:
In 2004 after almost 12 years of working at (Tinder Box), I decided to go out on my own. I got a SBA loan, did it on a shoe-string budget and opened my own store. It was the following year that I decided to bring in a cigar that Pete Johnson had bought from Tabacalera Tropical to liquidate and make a couple of bucks on. I bought practically everything he had. When supplies dwindled, I asked him if he could get me more. 50 boxes were the minimum purchase. “F* me!” I thought.” Oh well, I’ll do it.” I had the cliché on the box changed to 88 – the year I decided to come to Reno. I was a BIG fan at the time of the AVO ~22~ packaging. I designed my private label 88 to resemble that type of cliché, even though my packaging was different.
- On each of the three single store releases in 2006, Johnson is quoted as saying he kept an extra 10 boxes of each for himself. I would be quite interested to know if he has any of those left six years later.
- According to Johnson and a representative of FUMARE, there was not an official MSRP for this release, but I remember paying about $6.85 each for them.
- The Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especial is not the only single store release that is reletively unknown. In 2009, Pete released a box-pressed version of his Noella blend called the Noella Cuadrado that used a darker wrapper for Cigar Shop & More, now Elite Cigar Cafe, in Addison, Texas that literally took three years to sell out, mostly due to the fact that almost no one knew they existed.
- Having smoked many of the Bombazo Capa Especial and the Little Boris, which shares the same wrapper, I am hard pressed to choose which one I like better. There are both excellent examples of blends that take advantage of the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.
- The original Bombazo is one of Tatuaje’s more legendary releases, although it can be argued that is more because of its rarity than the quality of the smoke, since so few people have actually smoked one.
- Johnson has said multiple times that he only has a limited amount of the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper he has used over the past two years and that he is being judicious on what he uses it on. For reference, here is a complete list of Tatuaje cigars that use Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper:
- 7th Capa Especial
- Ambos Mundos Sumatra
- Bombazo Capa Especial
- The Boris
- Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial
- Little Boris
- Little Wolfie
- NHC Capa Especial
- Series P Sumatra
- The Wolfman
- The Cohete was rereleased in 2009 as well, making the La Maravilla the only blend out of the three released in 2006 that has not been rereleased in any form.
- The Cabinet these come in is surprisingly bare with no indication that this was a Tatuaje product other than the tax label. There is no logo on the top, no name, etc. There is a white band around the top right of the box with the words “Capa Especial” printed on it, but you really have to know your Tatuaje facts to know that a white label almost always indicates a Sumatra wrapper.
- As mentioned above, these were released with no fanfare at all, much like the Tatuaje Mexican Experiment, which almost no one knew about before they were actually released.
- Unlike the original release of the Bombazos, the Capa Especial comes unbanded. Also, the newer release comes in cabinets of 50, while the original release was in boxes of 25.
- Sadly, the original allotment of Tatuaje Bombazo Capa Especials sold out within about two weeks of the release, so if you would like to purchase any of them at this point, your only option is to find them on the secondary market.
- The final smoking time for all samples averaged about one hour and five minutes.
The Bottom Line: Knowing how much I love Tatuaje’s use of Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, I was really excited when I heard about this release, especially since the original Bombazo is one of Pete’s legendary releases. I am happy to say that the Bombazo Capa Especial more than lived up to my expectations. The strong jalapeño note — spicy and hot on the retrohale — combined with the wonderful creaminess and sweetness of the Sumatra wrapper on the palate was a very unique combination that I have not tasted in any other cigar in recent memory. Throw in the amazing construction and this is a winner. Having said that, the there is a slight problem: the fact that in order to actually get one, you had to walk into the store and buy them and with them being sold out for quite a while now, you now have to pay the secondary market prices, assuming you could even find them. Even with that annoyance, this is easily one of Johnson’s best releases of the year and that is saying quite a bit.
Final Score: 93