It’s Monster season again. If it feels more foreboding than your typical October that could be because the cigar I’m reviewing today, the Tatuaje Monster Series The Bride, is the terminal release of the popular series. We got on this spooky train back in 2008 with The Frank, and fittingly The Bride is our final destination. There’s a nice symmetry to it all.
But before we stitch together the meat of this review, sad fans of the Monster Series have a reason to be optimistic. I heard a rumor from a guy with an eye patch, a hook for a hand, a peg leg, and several missing teeth named Lucky that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Monsters. Legend has it, we’re in for another terrifying circuit through the Monster Series in coming years, and we may even see full dress-box releases for The Chuck and The Tiff. (Monsters back from the dead? Inconceivable. If only there were a word for that sort of thing.) In all seriousness, Pete Johnson was the source, and kudos to the Cigar Dojo guys for getting him to talk about the future of The Monsters on camera. (If you’d like to see more Tatuaje talk, check out our IPCPR 2018 interview with Pete here.) But enough chatter, let’s burn it down like the lab at the end of The Bride of Frankenstein.*
Size: 7 1/8 x 49
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Rosado
Price: MSRP $13
The Pre Light
The wrapper on The Bride is a little unusual, in that it is Connecticut Broadleaf, but not the maduro that was featured on the Frank Blend or many popular cigars these days. It’s a lower priming rosado, and the leaf does have a dark reddish appearance. On closer inspection, it’s a little rustic, with darker markings and the occasional lump from a thicker vein in the wrapper. For the most part, the veins were few and medium in size or smaller. There was also some fine tooth, and in a couple of cases pieces of tobacco that could either be patches, or bits that accidentally stuck to the cigar.
The First Third
The Bride began sweetly, with creamy notes, almond, a hint of cedar (which may have come from the Darkfire Cedar Spills I used to light them) and a little vanilla. After a few puffs, spices and pepper appeared. A little deeper in, the sweet creaminess coalesces into a proper caramel flavor. As expected, the spice backs off considerably, pepper lingers, and deeper earthy notes begin to appear. The cigar burns perfectly in this third, producing solid white ashes of a respectable length.
The Second Third
There are definite transitions in flavor as The Bride burns. Caramel noted in the earlier section turns into salt caramel, and a separate candy sweetness appears. In one case, I also detected some nice berry flavors, in another, more of an anise note. There are also more deeper, darker flavors in this part of the cigar, like earth, chocolate, coffee, toast, and dark herbal notes. Spice hits its lowest point here, but never completely disappears. And lingering pepper notes continued to warm the throat. The Bride still has top marks for combustion characteristics at this point, and I was particularly pleased with how well it burns even when smoked really slowly. Because sometimes I smoke really slowly.
The Final Third
Around the beginning of the final third, creaminess made a surprising return, and for a while I tasted things like sweet cinnamon, almond, and nougat. But that did not last very long. Woody notes appeared just before the profile was absolutely dominated by an explosion of spiciness. In my opinion, the spice was too much too fast, and the magic was gone. Well, the flavor magic, anyway. The Bride continued to burn perfectly until the end.
I’ve had a bunch of people ask me what I think of The Bride, and specifically how it compares to the rest of the Monsters Series. As well as I can remember of my Monster experiences over the past ten years, The Bride is one of my favorites. Especially right off the truck. I probably would have bought a box of The Bride anyway, but in this case, I bought one after smoking about half of the first stick. I had to have it, it’s a box-worthy smoke. And I stand by that decision.
And a thought about the way the cigar ended. Could we have really expected a different outcome? Rejection from The Bride was inevitable. The Bride hissed at me with intense spices and pepper, much like The Bride hissed at the monster at the end of the movie. So I appreciate the way cigar concluded in an artistic sense, even if I didn’t enjoy that part as much as the journey to that point.
Some thoughts on the score. (Oh yeah, we do those now, FYI.) The tail end of this cigar did cost it a few points. If you’re the kind of person that only smokes a cigar to the band, you will probably enjoy The Bride more than the rating below indicates. I was tempted to bump it up a few points, because I appreciate the appropriateness of how the cigar ended, even if I didn’t exactly like that aspect. Also, everything that lead up to that was excellent. But our shiny new rating system doesn’t factor in that kind of artistic expression. Blame the formula, not the creator.
Final Score: 92
* Yes, yes, it was more of an explosion. Shh.