L’Atelier Selection Speciale
Some of you may be wondering exactly this L’Atelier Selection Speciale is and where it came from. Let’s be honest it’s probably not a household name right now. However, this L’Atelier line is the flag ship line of L’Atelier Imports. One of the co-owners of this line is Mr. Pete Johnson, who also is the create of the Tatuaje line. This specific line though was a chance for him to step out and expand himself in the marketplace. He wanted to see what he could do outside of the Tatuaje line and really explore some more ideas he has running around.
The L’Atelier line is a tribue to the Cuban Behike BHK series. Pete has come right out and said that, he’s not hiding behind anything. Because if you’ve seen this L’Atelier line and you’ve seen the Cuban Behikes then you’ll notice right away they look incredibly similar. So what makes this L’Atelier Selection Speciale different from the others in the L’Atelier line? It’s all about the wrapper and the size. First off the size is slightly small than the other releases. They’ve narrowed it down to a 5 5/8″ x 46 a traditional Corona Gorda size. Then they changed the wrapper. On all the L’Atelier lines they use a Santis Spiritus wrapper. However, Pete noticed that the higher primings of this plant had a darker looking leaf that was closely resembling a maduro wrapper. So that’s what he selected to go on this L’Atelier Selection Speciale. It’s a special selection you see. Well let’s hop into the review and see what else we can learn about this cigar.
This L’Atelier Selection Speciale looks identical to the Lat 52 that Frank reviewed. The first thing you notice is the the band. There is a beautiful golden leaf in the middle of a glossy black backdrop. Around the leaf it is contained by a thing gold box. Below the leaf there is a solid white band that circles the entire circle. It displays the the word “L’Atelier” in a nice bold typeface to really set it off from the background color.
Below the main band is the secondary band that is solid black. There is a fine gold scripting on the band that states Selection Speciale. It’s actually kind of hard to see in these pictures because the script is so fine. But trust me it’s there and it’s glorious.
I think the best thing about this cigar is the pig tail at the head of the cigar. There aren’t too many cigars doing pigtails on a regular basis and I think it adds a nice bit of uniqueness to the line when it’s added.
I wasn’t able to do a side by side comparison of wrapper colors with this L’Atelier Selection Speciale and another L’Atelier blend. So I can’t really speak to the idea that this L’Atelier Selection Speciale actually has a darker wrapper or not. So we’ll just have to take Pete’s word for it I guess.
While giving this stick the pre game warm up. I noticed it wasn’t super spongy. No real soft spots, but overall it didn’t have much bounce back to it. I’ve haven’t ever been blown away by the stuff that Pete does. For some reason I always have burn and draw issues with his sticks. Which is surprising because they come out of the My Father’s factory which makes incredible cigars. So I’m just not sure what the deal is.
Either way this L’Atelier Selection Speciale feels like it’s ready to go. The foot looks great, has a nice proportion of tobacco to it. The head has a beautiful pigtail cap on it. I’ve always said I wanted to pull the pig tail off, but I just can’t. I’m afraid it will ruin the wrapper if I don’t do it right. Then I’m left with a wrapper that’s unraveling at the head of the stick. Nobody wants that! Everything looks like it’s good to go so lets get it into smoking mode!
As I said, I’m not going to bite off the pigtail cap. So I bust out my trusty cutter and nip the cap off. The cold draw is fantastic. Nice easy draw I can pull in quite a bit of air through the barrel and I pick up on some initials flavors that it’s giving off. I held up my flame to the foot of the cigar and gave it a proper toasting. It took a bit for the tobacco to really take to the flame. I was a little surprised. Once I got it toasted I started puffing and it took about 10 puffs before it really got going. I guess I just had to wake up the tobacco a little bit. Once I got it going man did it start smoking!
So I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s October, which means it’s getting colder again. I was sitting out in my garage and noticed this very quickly. Tonight it got down to around the high 40’s which to me was pretty dang cold considering we’re a pretty temperate climate and it’s been in the 70’s consistently. I wasn’t quite ready to bust out my heater just yet, but we’re getting close. I say all that because for some reason I’m going to blame the cold for some of the burn issues I had with this L’Atelier Selection Speciale.
The first third on this cigar was going great until about the halfway point. Then all of a sudden it just went out on me. I’m not sure if I let it set too long on the ashtray. It couldn’t have been more than a minute. So I had to pick it up and purge it and start again. The initial ash fell off after about 1/8″ which is very surprising. The ash seemed incredibly brittle and didn’t hold together that well at all. I continued through the first third without too many problems, but I wasn’t off to the greatest start. Let’s just say that.
The second third of this L’Atelier Selection Speciale did not really improve very much. I was still having burn issues and the ash was crumbling all the time. The burn line was very wavy and I couldn’t hold the ash for more than half an inch. The draw was great I was puffing on it without too many issues and creating a ton of smoke. It’s just the burn issues that were really annoying me at this point.
As I got to the final third it had somewhat lined itself out. Or I had gotten over the fact that it was being annoying. One of those things had happened, still not sure which one it was. Enough about the burn, let’s talk about some flavors!
Because this L’Atelier Selection Speciale is made by Pete Johnson and the Pepins I’m expecting to get some spice here. The great thing about their cigars though is you never know which spice you’ll get and how much of it. That’s the exciting part!
The pre light draw brought out some really nice wood and cocoa flavors. They were rich and deep in character. Not just a few hints of these notes they were very deep. Which is a great sign to me. I also got some sweetness right on the tip of my tongue that followed with some spice on the backend.
The first third didn’t really deliver that spice like I expected. I got a good dose of earthyiness that just coated my entire palate. Again it was very rich and deep in flavor. It’s not overpowering just a very complete note.
The second third brought out a little bit more of the spice. Especially in the retrohale. The nutty flavors are also starting to build. However there is a nice subtle chocolate flavor that is underlying everything which gives this entire profile a nice bit of complexity.
The final third of this L’Atelier Selection Speciale brings it all together. The spice is fully loaded now, the earthiness is full and the chocolate has also built up quite a bit. They’re all working incredibly well together to give this a great sense of flavor. I’m really loving this flavor profile, I feel like it’s really come full circle and created an incredible taste along the way. I wouldn’t say it’s full bodied in terms of strength, but I would definitely say it’s full body in terms of flavor. Especially towards the end.
Would I Buy It Again?
Yes, but I would hope that I don’t have the same burn issues.
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
Possibly, I feel like it’s a special cigar and not just an everyday stick.
Would I Buy a Box?
Yeah I believe so if I came across the right price for them.
I actually really enjoyed this cigar despite all the burn issues I had with it. The flavors made up for all of that and combined to create some pretty fantastic flavors. So I’m giving it a 9 despite construction issues. I think this is probably my favorite stick that Pete Johnson has made thus far. Just some incredible flavors all the way around.