Atabey. A cigar crafted by the brilliant mind of a man named Nelson Alfonso. Although the average consumer might not know who he is, Nelson is a legend in the Cuban cigar industry. He played and essential role behind brands such as the Cohiba Behike and even designed the humidors for Padron’s 50th Anniversary cigars. His specialty is visual design, but Nelson Alfonso also has a rich experience in tobacco blending, spending years working alongside some of the most talented cigar makers in the world. Today, I’m taking a look at one of his most premium cigars. The culmination of his expertise. This is the Atabey Ritos.
What am I smoking?
Cigar Review: Atabey Ritos
Country of Origin: Costa Rica
Length: 6 1/8″
Ring Gauge: 55
Vitola: Toro Grande (Ritos)
Packaging & Design
Before I even start talking about the cigars, I need to talk about Nelson’s packaging design. Now, I’ve heard plenty of people say “Who cares about packaging when the cigar is what really matters?” Well, whether it be an ornate box or fancy bands, your brain subconsciously cares about those details. You interpret it as a precursor to the overall quality of the cigar inside that box you’re about to enjoy, which in this case is an accurate representation. And that idea doesn’t just pertain to cigars.
Do you think Apple would sell their top-of-the-line iPhone in a Cracker Jack box? No. Because they want the quality of their product to be reflected in the packaging it comes in.
The Atabey Ritos arrive in pre-seasoned Spanish cedar humidors of 30 cigars with built in humidification. The white high-gloss humidors are protected in black velvet bags, which are inside of a high quality composite box around that. The cigars inside are fitted with eye catching white, silver and gold bands that have a luxurious feel to them. As an added bonus, you’ll find one of those cigars sealed in what’s called a Humitube.
The Humitube, which is a patented design by Nelson Alfonso, has multiple functions. First and foremost, it protects your Ritos from damage should you be taking one for the road. Also, on the top side is a built in punch cutter which is exposed after spinning off the brass topper. Lastly, at the bottom of the Humitube is a built-in, reusable, removable foam humidifier that releases humidity by way of a vented double barrel chamber that surrounds the cigar. I took a few detailed pictures that you can see below.
Now that I’ve covered the packaging side of things, it’s finally time to check out the cigar itself. And let me tell you, the Atabey Ritos looks and feels as impressive as the packaging we talked about. The construction is flawless, there are no veins to speak of nor seems that are immediately visible. The foot is densely packed with light and dark tobaccos that give off a rich aroma. Notes of sweet cedar and must are prevalent, and the prelight draw offers up that alongside notes of white pepper and earth.
After toasting the foot, the smoke starts to build in volume after each puff. Nuances of that same white pepper and cedar are balanced by a toffee like sweetness that comes from the wrapper. The finish is incredibly complex, seeming to change drastically as it fades away. There is certainly a Cuban style influence to this blend.
Into the second third, the body picks up slightly and notes begin to evolve into a more woody and earthy profile. Nuances of citrus and salted caramel are noticeable in the background of the smoke, complimented by a soft mouthfeel. The Ritos is performing exceedingly well in the construction department as well, showing off a burn line that hasn’t wavered one bit since the start.
Finishing up on the cigar after about the one hour forty five minute mark, and it’s still getting more complex as I work my way to the nub. Notes of raisins and toasted bread are in the lead as hints of more white pepper give the smoke texture. The finish lasts for quite some time, bringing it down slow for a memorable experience.
All in all, this cigar is an absolute must try for any enthusiast. The Atabey Ritos is one of the finest hand made cigars I’ve smoked to this day, and I’m sure you’d feel the same way should you decide to grab a few. And although they are not a cheap cigar by any means, the value, quality, and sheer enjoyment you get out of the Ritos far exceeds the price. Especially when shared with a friend or two.