Cigar: Atabey Ritos
Size: Ritos (6 1/8 x 55)
Body 1-10: 3.5
Selected Tobacco and Nelson Alfonso are two names that you probably are not familiar with but have no fear, you will be soon. Alfonso has been instrumental in the branding for many of Habanos S.A. cigars since 1999. He is responsible for the branding in particular of the Cuban Cohibas that we all know and love as well as the Padron 50thanniversary humidors that are absolute works of art. Alfonso has since created the Selected Tobacco group based out of Costa Rica and in my humble opinion makes some of the finest cigars (and boxes!) on the earth today. If you couldn’t tell already, the Atabey blend is one of the most stunning cigars I have ever had the opportunity to smoke. The experience that Alfonso wanted to convey starts the moment you open the box though. While many cigar boxes are beautiful, not many could put several hundred-dollar humidors to shame as well with a simple but elegant design. The minute that you see this box of 25 exquisite cigars it is very clear that no corners were cut. The boxes that the cigars are shipped in are a simple white color with the Atabey logo inlaid in silver. This makes for an extremely appealing, simplistic design. With most boxes I purchase I generally give them back to my local store or friends, but these particular boxes I decided to hold on to. They are basically humidors! All seem to have an excellent seal on the wood and when tested with boveda packs and several digital hydrometers they hold humidity very well. Just another way that Alfonso creates value for his clients.
Full Disclosure: This is one of my favorite cigars of all time and in my opinion is some of the finest tobacco in the world. This may not be my most unbiased review ever.
First Third: The foot and cold draw both have distinctly earthy and nutty aromas that are almost unmistakable. The beautifully smooth, waxy wrapper has no issues lighting up. Almost immediately after light though you are hit with a healthy amount of spice that mellows out almost as quickly as it showed up. While it is extremely mellow primarily with earth tones the spice is still there as a secondary flavor. One of the aspects that sets this cigar apart from others is its immediate room presence. I have had my fair share of these surrounded by non-cigar smokers and almost every time without fail someone asks to try it because the room presence is just that enjoyable! It gives that distinct Cuban tastes that leaves you wondering where this tobacco really comes from…
Second Third: Near the end of the first third and in the beginning of this section the nutty, earthy and spice flavors remain but here a sweetness of sorts prefaces almost every draw and is very pleasant. Additionally at this point the cigar has almost an inch and a half of gray ash—excellent construction. No new flavors are introduced here but rather the ones already introduced continually rotate roles in who or what is the first hand and secondary flavors. This makes it a very interesting smoke that is not necessarily complex but stays very interesting throughout.
Final Third: Extremely enjoyable continued blend of earthiness, nuts and spice all the way to the very nub of this cigar. The Atabey is another one of those cigars that has no problem smoking all the way down as far as your fingers can take the heat
Thoughts: My personal love of this blend is because it seems every $25+ is a deeply oily, complex maduro. The Atabey breaks away from that notion and offers a premium cigar experience that even the most novice of smokers could pick up and enjoy its bold and unique flavors. In my opinion, this blend is the most similar cigar on the market to a classic Cuban that many Americans want.
This cigar does have two negatives though. First and most obviously the price point, it is not something all people could smoke daily. At 34 dollars it is a stretch to seriously be worth it but that could be said for any stick that retails for north of 20 dollars. Number two is the glue used on the bands. Every time removing them they take a small piece of the wrapper with them no matter what. Fortunately this has little to no impact on the cigar, just something I think they should fix on an ultra premium cigar.
With all this being said, The Atabey is one of the most unique blends I have ever had and that alone clearly justifies the price point. My goal in life is to get to where I can enjoy this perfect cigar over coffee every morning. If you have never had one of these, pick one up from your local shop, burn it with a black cup of coffee and be extremely content with life.