--> Cigar Coop: Cigar Review: Atabey by Selected Tobacco

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cigar Review: Atabey by Selected Tobacco

Atabey by Selected Tobacco (Brujos Vitola)
The Atabey is probably a cigar most people have not heard of.  It is one of three blends made by a company called Selected Tobacco.  Selected Tobacco makes three brands: Bandolero, Byron, and Atabey Cigars.  The company launched their line at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. The company is run by Nelson Alfonso.  Alfonso started out as a graphic artist by trade, and was behind the branding of the famed Cohiba Behike.  For his lines, Alfonso manufacturers his brands in Costa Rica.  The lines from Selected Tobacco are limited production and the lines can be ultra-premium.  The Atabey is priced between $20.00 to $30.00 per cigar (and on the web-site it is mentioned the SRP is much higher $50.00 to $100.00).  Many who have smoked that Atabey have had very positive things to say.  While we don't factor price into our assessments, there was a lot of curiosity in my book to see if this cigar lived up to the high expectations.  After smoking this cigar, the Atabey delivered with flying colors.  This is truly one of the hidden gems in the marketplace.

First up, we should give credit to the Cigar Authority Radio Show.  Many cigar enthusiasts who know of this cigar learned about it because of this show.  In fact, they thought highly enough on it to name it their Cigar of the Year for 2012.  The host David Garafolo also owns Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire, which is one of the few retailers to carry this cigar.

As for the name of the cigar, the company web-site says the Atabey is the Supreme deity of the Taino Indians.  The Atabey web-site gives some background of the name:

It was the name of a female divinity of the extinct Taino people, who occupied a large part of the Caribbean islands.

In Taino mythology, Atabey was the first female in the world and was the mother of Yucahu, the main male god of the Tainos. Besides being the mother goddess, was Atabey divinity of the Moon, the Sea of Fertility and Birth.

Her figure is also associated as "Mother of Waters", associating it with rivers, lakes and seas to give life to the cultivation of cassava, tobacco and agriculture in general.

The Tainos paid their respects to the goddess personified by the frogs, to protect women in labor and facilitate childbirth. Hence goddess images in the caves drawn by the Indians with large eyes and with her legs spread showing her sex.

She is worshiped at night with full moon ceremonies, where through unique rituals performed by men of the tribe whose body were drawn and dressed witch-like, solemn dances performed around the leader and wizard of the tribe, called Bejique. All of them carrying in their hands tobacco leaves rolled as a cigar.

When they went into a state of delirium by excessive smoke which they aspired, he blew the smoke over the wise leader, who was in the middle of the circle, so that with his divine powers raised to heaven, through the smoke he received, the deaths that tribe asked the goddess idol ATABEY.

There's a lot more background to discuss on the Atabey.  Without further ado, let's break down the Atabey and look at this cigar a little more closely.  As disclaimer, this cigar experience is based on a single cigar smoking experience.

Blend Profile

The tobaccos of the Atabey are unknown.  The only thing disclosed on the web-site is that the tobacco comes from Caribbean and Central America origins.  According to the Cigar Authority, while the cigars are made in Costa Rica, they contain Costa Rican tobacco in the cigar.

Vitolas Available

The Atabey comes in six sizes.  All six sizes are in a parejo shape.  The names of the six vitolas are associated with spiritual cermonies around the Atabey deity.

Ritos: 6 1/8 x 55
Delirios: 5 3/4 x 55
Sabios: 5 1/4 x 52
Brujos: 4 7/8 x 52
Divinos: 4 2/5 x 50
Idolos: 4 1/4 x 55

There are three packaging options for the Atabey.
Appearance

For this cigar, I smoked the Brujos - which pretty much comes close to a classic robusto shape. From examining the wrapper, you can see this is a high quality tobacco.  The wrapper itself is light brown and I'd categorize it as a shade darker than most Connecticut Shade wrappers.  The wrapper is oily and has a nice shiny gleam to it.  There are some visible veins.  For a light colored wrapper, the seams are well-hidden.  The cigar is finished with a Cuban style cap.

On the band is an silver colored image of the Atabey deity.  Under that image it says "ATABEY" in silver font on a black background.  The image sits on a thick gold stripe on the stripe is a pattern of black colored dots.  There is a thick white stripe sitting under the thick gold stripe and separated by a thinner black stripe (where the "ATABEY" name sites).  The top and the bottom of the band have gold and black trim.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoke of the Atabey Brujos, I went with my usual selection of a straight cut to remove the cap. After the cap was successfully clipped, I proceeded to begin the pre-light draw.  Right out of the gate, the dry draw had some unique characteristics.  It was a combination of wood, floral, and a slight amount of hickory.  Overall, it was a solid pre-light draw.  I was now ready to light up my Atabey and see what the smoking phase would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Atabey Brujos did not start out pretty generic with notes of wood and pepper. However it didn't take long for the flavor profile to develop.  A unique and very different natural tobacco sweetness entered the equation.  At the same time, the retro-hale also had its only unique spin as it produced a hickory spice.  The Atabey is one cigar you want to experience on both the tongue and the retro-hale.

As the Atabey moved through the first third, the natural tobacco sweetness and pepper were the primary notes.  The background notes had a nice nut flavor to it.  The nut flavors also made their way into the retro-hale producing a nutty spice through the nasal passages.

In the second third, the nut flavors moved to a primary flavor.  These notes were also joined by some toast notes.  Meanwhile the natural tobacco and pepper dialed back and became a (close) secondary note.

By the last third, the pepper flavors emerged again joining the toast and nut flavors.  The natural tobacco sweetness was still a (close) secondary flavor.  This is the way the flavor profile held until the very end.  There was no harshness at the end.  The resulting nub was ideal - cool in temperature and firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The Atabey is as well-constructed a cigar as I've seen - and this is clearly reflected in the attributes of burn and draw.  Both attributes scored extremely well here.  The burn line remained razor sharp from start to finish requiring minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was tight and firm.  The ash color was on the darker side - with more of a charcoal and white color.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Early stage burn of the Atabey

Burn in the later stages of the Atabey

The draw was outstanding as well.  The Atabey is not a cigar that requires a lot of maintenance to puff on - making it an enjoyable smoke from start to finish.

Strength and Body

The Atabey is not going to set any records when it comes to strength and body.  This is going to be a classic medium strength and medium-bodied smoke from start to finish.  In particular the flavors that are produced seem to work very well with this "medium / medium" smoke.  Both the strength and body balance each other extremely well with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

The Atabey is a complete cigar in just about every attribute - from flavor to construction to complexity. From an intangibles standpoint, it also brings a lot of what I term the "wow" factor.   It smokes exactly how I would expect an ultra-premium cigar would smoke.  This is a pricey cigar, and while this didn't factor into our rating or score, we mention this because this will most likely be a factor if you will pick up this cigar.  There are only a handful of U.S. retailers that have the Atabey, but this cigar is obtainable.  I would recommend this to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. It certainly would be a special occasion cigar.  This is certainly a cigar I'd smoke again, and if budget allows, a box/jar-worthy purchase.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Excellent
Score: 95

Source: The cigar for this assessment was purchased from Two Guys Smoke Shop in New Hampshire.

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