Tatuaje HCS #2 Toro Grande

The Cigar Nut

Size: 5.625 x 54
Wrapper: Hybrid Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Criollo
Binder and Filler: Nicaraguan
Strength: Medium
Price: ~ $8.00 USD each

Behind The Stick:

In 2010 Pete Johnson produced an exclusive cigar for Holts Cigar Company in the Garcia factory and named it the HCS. Within this line three sizes are available, the Robusto Larga (5.25 x 50), Toro Grande (5.625 x 54), and Torpedo Cubano (6.125 x 52). News on the street is that this release was based on the Verocu blend and only 1500 boxes ( 500 of each size in 20 count boxes ) were produced. I know how you all love Tatuaje cigars, and a group of 3 of these cigars have been sitting in my humidor for just shy of a year, and I figured – it is time to sacrifice these to the cigar gods.

According to the Holt’s website, “Our good friend Pete Johnson has hooked us up with another outstanding gem! Tatuaje HCS is ”Tattoo” Pete’s latest project out of the Garcia factory and it could be the finest cigar he’s ever made. It could be the silky-smooth Ecuadorian wrapper he chose to finish the cigar with, or the aged Nicaraguan fillers that create the foundation of these treats, but whatever it is these cigars are a delicious, absolute must-try. A rich, earthy-core of flavor gives way to sweet notes of cedar, creamy leather and spicy pepper as you revel in the full-bodied smoke. Pete may be kicking himself for making this masterpiece a Holt’s exclusive, but we aren’t complaining.” Lets see just how well these cigars perform!


Just like every Tatuaje I have ever had – construction was top notch. Evenly packed from head to foot with the perfect amount of give at the foot. The darker brown wrapper carries a few oils, minimal veins and this bright gold band that just jumps out at your against the brown wrapper. The band itself is a little understated – a few people have asked what it was I was smoking simply because the band is not very forthcoming – gold with a raised relief image on the front does not give much away to what it is but I will admit, I kinda like it and know that now I could pick it out of a crowd. Staying with the whole band thing – this one pissed me off when it came to removal. All three of the cigars I smoked gave me problem after problem with the band removal – one was damaged but the other two were just filled with cuss words and an increased heart rate.


I am not one to usually buy into the hype and hysterics of advertising on new cigars, but to me, this Tatuaje HCS hit their description right on the nose. Lots of pepper start this bad boy – not a bad thing but with the sweet barnyard smell coming off the wrapper I was not expecting the spicy start. Gotta love surprises! This pepper was offset by a pleasant mix of primarily earth and wood but the smoke had this tang to it that I just can’t put my finger on. It kind of reminded me of the same metallic tang that I get from some Davidoff cigars. I have to admit, I’m pretty excited right now.

This flavor combination only held on for 10 to 15 minutes – a token, not a demonstration. The transition was slow and actually caught me off guard on my first smoke because when I ‘noticed’ the change it almost seemed as if it was a flick of a light switch. Wood, leather and sweet ‘cooking’ spices take control of the situation and definitely do their part in adding to the drying sensation from the smoke. The smoke has this thick, creamy feel to it which makes it very enjoyable but by the half way mark the dry mouth is starting to become an irritant. Bring a little more whiskey, soda or water with you and you will be fine.

The finish got longer as I smoked into the cigar – not like a build up of tar on your lips that you taste when you lick your lips but when you exhale the smoke, the flavor seems to ‘cling’ to your taste buds. Again, this carries a drying out sensation but I am enjoying every puff more and more. The final portion of the cigar doesn’t have the ‘grand finale’ I was expecting – it wasn’t a fizzle out but each one I tried kinda left me wanting / expecting more. Maybe it is intentional!


For me Tatuaje is either a love it or hate it type brand. The Tatuaje HCS #2 Toro Grande was another one of Pete’s ‘limited’ or ‘exclusive’ releases – aside from the consistent type of releases these cigars do prove to be ones that you need to find. I wish this was a cigar that would be put into regular production or at least a limited number of boxes released each year because I would honestly save and splurge on a box of these. Yeah – they dried out my mouth but whenever I smoke I usually have a nice whiskey, beer or cold water near me and taking a couple extra sips really doesn’t bother me too much. The flavors were rich, distinctive and enjoyable and as long as you can get over the dryness – these might just be a ‘box buy’. If you have had the luxury to give these a shot please let me know what you thought!

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

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