While most serious cigar smokers are well-aware of Tatuaje, fewer know that brand owner Pete Johnson has an experimental arm called L’Atelier where he produces less traditional, more offbeat products. From that subsidiary came La Mission L’Atelier, a spin-off from the core L’Atelier line. As far as appearance, the La Mission L’Atelier may be a bit curious with its squarish box pressing and pigtail cap, but the 1959 size has proven to be a consistent performer and an ambitious climber. The same size made our Top 25 list of 2015, and was ranked No. 17. This year, it returns to our list 13 positions higher.
Save for the wrapper, La Mission L’Atelier is an arrangement of Nicaraguan tobaccos grown by the Garcia family, including a varietal in the filler known as Sancti Spiritus. The smoking experience is one of contrasts and counterbalance. For every sweet note of caramel, there’s a matching note of salt. Every nutty call has a spicy answer. After a playful back-and-forth, the lasting impression is a precise flourish of chocolate-covered almonds.
The year 1959 marked the end of the Cuban Revolution but it also led to the birth of a new premium cigar industry that invented itself outside of Cuba. Mexican wrapper around Nicaraguan tobacco is a pretty common combination, but here, it’s a creative take with an extraordinary outcome.