The other week I was out with some friends and my wife called and said my friend Brad stopped by and dropped off a very special cigar I needed to try. Knowing Brad I figured this would be something good but little did I know, until I got home that the cigar he dropped off was an Atabey. Now, you either know about this cigar or you don’t, and I am the first to say I did not. It certainly looked nice and it had some enticing aromas on the foot. So I donned by space suit and off to cyber space I went crawling through the ether, for data on the Atabey.
To my surprise, this is the highest rated cigar in the universe. Multiple sites have it rated a 100 or 10/10. Seriously? A 100 rated cigar? As I came back to earth,I knew right then and there this cigar was not going to last long in my humidor. I had to turn this to ash and if it was that great I would write about it, if it wasn’t well it would be just grey matter in the ash tray. Since you are reading this, you know it was worth writing about.
A little background on the Atabey:
According to my first stop in my cyber journey, Wikipedia notes:
One of two supreme deities in the Taíno religion (pre-columbian era), Atabey is the supreme goddess of the Taínos. She is the female entity who represents the Earth Spirit and the Spirit of all horizontal water, lakes, streams, the sea, and the marine tides. Atabey defines prime matter and all that is tangible or material and has several manifestations…This deity was one of the most important for the native tribes that inhabited the Caribbean islands of the Antilles,..
Ok that is cool, I like ancient history, by why the name Atabey for a cigar? Well back to my internet spaceship to make a few more stops. I land on planet Coop, ruled by William Cooper otherwise known as Cigar Coop. He did a review of the Atabey back in 2013 and best explains the origin of this elusive cigar:
She (Atabey) 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.
Breaking this passage down a bit you will notice an interesting relationship, starting with the word Bejique which you may know as Behike. Yep the same name as the famed Cuban cigar. Also note that the natives carried tobacco leaves which in the Taino language is Cohiba, another famous Cuban cigar. So if you were to name a cigar and the words Behike and Cohiba are already taken, why not use Atabey. That my friends, is exactly what Nelson Alfonso, the man behind the Atabey line did. It should also be noted that Alfonso was the graphic artist for the Cohiba Behike brand.
Back to the my ship, I fly through a wormhole and find myself at The Cigar Authority outpost to learn more about this elusive cigar:
..they are available in only 28 stores in the United States each of which are certified by the manufacturer. The selling of Atabey cigars began in 2011 in selected specialized stores of California, United States.
The brand ATABEY belongs to “Compañía Mercantil San Antonio S.A.” from Costa Rica and it is distributed in the United States by “United Cigar Retailers” under supervision of Selected Tobacco S.A.
Great, now back to the ship one more time and I ricochet around the nearest star and am propelled to the United Cigar Group constellation and learn that the Atabey blend is fairly secretive except that the leaves have many origins, they are from Caribbean and Central America countries. The Atabey is produced in Costa Rica by Selected Tobacco and they are available in 4 different vitolas:
- Divnos (4.5 x 50)
- Brujos (4 7/8 x 52)
- Delirios (5 3/4 x 55)
- Ritos (6 1/8 x 55)
A quick stop over at the 2 Guys Cigar Shop, I learned that the Atabey is not a cheap cigar. 2 Guys have these priced out as; Divnos $19,99. Brujos $24.99, Delirios $29.99, Ritos $33.00
Wow, they better be great at that price, Brad I owe you something good, how about a fine dinner at DiaVita sometime for you and your lovely family?
After a long cyberspace journey I made it safely back to the Stogie Press Lounge and grabbed that Atabey to relax and enjoy.
For this review I sampled the Atabey Ritos which had a light tan satiny wrapper finished with a perfect triple cap. It has a slight sheen to it when held in the light. The cigar has a heavy weight to it and is solid in the hand with tight seams, no soft spots, and practically no veins.
The wrapper is sweet to the nose and the foot exudes a most delectable sweet chocolate aroma that I could sit and smell all day.
There are two bands on the Atabey. The primary band is certainly a nod to the Alfonso’s Cohiba Behike design work. It has a black, gold, and white motif with an array of black dots on the gold background and an image of the Atabey Goddess centered with the word ATABEY underneath. There is also a secondary gold, white, and black band that declares this as Selected Tobacco product and includes the words “SELLO DE GARANTIA” which is a stamp of guarantee. In the background is an etching of a Caribbean harbor port.
I chose to use a punch to open this up and was greeted with a perfectly restricted draw that delivered notes of raisin, pepper, and chocolate.
Given that the examination was as enticing as the story, I proceeded to fire up the Atabey to see how it performs.
Cigar Review Notes
- Pepper and mouth-watering sweetness begin the journey
- Smooth retro-hale with just a tinge of pepper burn
- Smoke is medium body to start
- Solid well-formed light grey ash with a fairly thick char line
- Vanilla cream and fruit enter after an inch
- Smoke volume is getting closer to full
- Peppery aroma
- Long sweet cedar finish
- Citrus builds deep into the first third and a slight dry cocoa powder develops on the tongue
- The burn is spectacular and the wrapper shows a touch of oiling
- The cedar increases as does the coca powder
- Roasted nut aroma develops
- Second third brings an increased maple sweetness
- So far a medium strength smoke
- Perfect solid ash fell after two inches revealing a perfectly centered burn cone
- Savory notes enter in the second third adding an almost meaty texture to the flavor profile with the cedar centered in the profile
- Smoke has become quite smooth and almost ingestible
- Spice enters at the half way mark
- Earthy notes blend in
- Aroma shifted to a Cuban floral note than back to the roasted nut
- So much going on with this cigar!
- Cedar moves up front again at the end of second third
- Butter cream and spice enters in the final with a hint of sweet syrup
- Down to the nub, the smoke gets a tad hot as does the touch
- Strength moved up to closer to full
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes
Overall, the Atabey was an awesome cigar with deep flavor complexity, perfect draw, and an absolutely pristine burn. I don’t put numbers on my reviews and I have to say only one cigar in my life did I ever feel was a close to a 100 and that was a Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro which I enjoyed immensely back in Germany 9 years ago. The Atabey Ritos certainly ranks up close that!