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First Look at L'Atelier, Pete Johnson's Newest Cigar

Andrew Nagy
Posted: June 19, 2012

Pete Johnson, the owner of Havana Cellars and the Tatuaje cigar brand, is starting a new company, and Cigar Insider has all the details on its flagship brand.

Called L’Atelier Imports, the new company will be headquartered in Miami, rather than Los Angeles, where Havana Cellars is based. The company plans to debut a flagship brand, also called L'Atelier, that will be rolled at My Father Cigars from all-Nicaraguan filler and binder and wrapped in Ecuadoran leaf.

L'Atelier cigars, side

The brand will be medium to full bodied, according to Johnson, and the sizes are a take on the Cohiba Behike BHK trio launched by Cuba in 2010. There will be a LAT52 (4 3/4 inches by 52 ring), LAT54 (5 5/8 by 54), and a LAT56 (6 1/2 by 56), virtually identical to the trio of sizes in the Behike line, right down to the pigtail caps. L’Atelier will sell for $8.50 to $10 and will come in boxes of 15, and boxed samplers of nine cigars with three of each size. The line will debut in August at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in Orlando, Florida.

“[The company is] a chance for me to expand my footprint in the cigar industry without adding to the Tatuaje portfolio, which is already at capacity,” said Johnson in a Cigar Insider interview. Tatuaje has made Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 list for eight straight years—Cabaiguan Guapo is the current No. 7 Cigar of the Year—and now includes 12 full-production lines as well as a host of limited-release cigars, such as the Monster Series.

In addition, the company will be revealing three other brands at the trade show, including two bundle lines. For the complete details on all of Johnson's new cigars, as well as more on his company, see today's Cigar Insider.

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Comments   46 comment(s)

JESUS Calderon — Bakersfield, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  June 19, 2012 4:57pm ET

I hope Pete doesn't run into trouble as he did with Altadis! These Look like awesome smokes!!!


J R — UNITED STATES,  —  June 19, 2012 4:57pm ET

Is he serious??? Does Pete have no shame in his wholesale
theft of Cuba's ideas?


Kelley Schmidt June 19, 2012 6:59pm ET

Just meeting that guy and you realize he has no shame in what he does, Sexy looking cigars Pete! Can't wait to try them!


Waylon Coyne — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,  —  June 19, 2012 8:54pm ET

Um, he's ripping off the Behike. Rubs me the wrong way.


Jeremiah Wood — Athens, GA,  —  June 19, 2012 11:35pm ET

Johnson has been somewhat vocal on Twitter about his thoughts on Cubans (they aren't the best). This seems like a fairly blatant attempt to continue that argument.


PETE JOHNSON — LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  June 20, 2012 1:54am ET

Waylon,

I am only paying homage to the sizes of Behike. Why not, they already copied my Cabaiguan Guapos size (5 5/8 x 54 - with a pigtail) that has been around for far longer...

The flavor of course is nothing like it, as I believe that Newer Cuban cigars are still not comparable to what Nicaragua is putting out today.


Stephen Gartner June 20, 2012 6:04am ET

Go Pete!!! You're creating some excellent cigars. Cuba can keep their cigars as far as I'm concerned.


J R — UNITED STATES,  —  June 20, 2012 8:59am ET

Pete, you're joking right? After you've ripped off the cubans ideas for everything from the use of jars to the limited edition bands and regional editions. Let's not forget your Cojonu book. Where have we seen that before? Fleur de lis as a cigar logo? Hmm can anyone say Montecristo. You blatantly steal their ideas for just about everything and your excuse is that they copied a size of cigar. Of course you're going to say that Nica tobacco is better it's in your interest as a seller of Nica cigars but lets be honest for a second. If you truly thought that you wouldn't constantly be using terms such as Cubanesque etc. to describe the flavors of your cigars.


Scott Haines — Simi Valley 93063, ca, usa,  —  June 20, 2012 10:37am ET

Great job Pete! These look fantastic!! Can't wait to smoke em! Love your cigars and love what you do for the industry!


Doug " THE 44" B — Nashua, NH, United States,  —  June 20, 2012 11:00am ET

Yesterday I had a Fantastic Sandwich for lunch... And several cigars after! None were Cuban and 1 of the 3 was a Tatuaje Mexican project The other was a Little Mum but the Last was a new cigar called C.O. Jones (Cojones)... Now that's clever! It was a Dominican cigar that had some balls to it! I think Pete's new line sounds great... It is what it is ... People draw inspiration from all walks of life in the things we create... Who is right or wrong here... Who cares... Just enjoy the products or don't... Life is too short to sweat the small stuff (Kevin James) so smoke em if you got em and enjoy life!


Gregg Catlow — Coventry, RI, United States,  —  June 20, 2012 11:49am ET

There is always the chance it will be better than the Behike...and more affordable....and more available...and less counterfeited.

I'm sure it will taste completely different, so who cares where Pete gets his influences for his work. The entire NC industry is based on its Cuban roots.

I'll be trying them for sure!


PETE JOHNSON — LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  June 20, 2012 3:13pm ET

JR, I believe that Cuban cigars of old are an inspiration to all of us in the USA cigar business. I believe in tradition and love old packaging. This is a big reason why my packaging looks the way it does. Plus the fact that I own 7 trademarks that were old Cuban brands. It's hard to ignore the original art of the brands I own.
Lol about the Fleur de lis, I can list a dozen brands that use FDL's in the logos. It's not original. Heck, there was a brand called Fleur de Lis that sat on shelves next to Montecristo in Cuba. They both had the same band.

Listen I wasn't the first to mimic Behike and I am sure I won't be the last.




Mark Chirtoaca — Montreal, Canada,  —  June 20, 2012 4:27pm ET

Pete i think it is a very bright idea to do a cigar like the Behike with a resonal price ot 10 $ and i think its a very good idea. You make good cigars and continue !!!!!!


BigSticksFineCigars June 20, 2012 6:25pm ET

There is nothing new under thr sun. I'm not sure who said that originally, but it has been said hundreds of different ways since. Is everyone who makes a churchill a copycat? These cigars are obviously not a copy of the Behike. The word Behike appears no where on them, the tobaccos used are clearly different, the packing can in no way be mistaken for the Behike's packaging. What's all the fuss? I challenge anyone to create a cigar that is truly "unique" without being an all-out gimmick. Instead of slamming Mr. Johnson for his efforts, why don't you just buy and smoke the cigars that you like and let others make their own choices. In the words of the late Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?".


Jonathan Edgar June 21, 2012 8:44am ET

Go Pete, met you at the Prince last December Great tasting cigars at great prices cigars.


Benjamin Carter — Argyle, Texas, United States,  —  June 21, 2012 1:58pm ET

TO all HATERS on Pete Johnson and these cigars. I think PETE grabbed a hold of an idea to bring the luster of Cuba to those who cant enjoy Cuban cigars regularly in the U.S. Let face it the guy makes awesome cigars and is trying to bring a taste of Cuban flare to the U.S. market and i think this cigar will be a great success. And who are you guys to mock a industry professional ? you hide behind a comment blog when hes out making an impact in the cigar industry, you guys are all jokers compared to him, and he tried to give an respectful response and you mock him like you guys are something? LOL, and if you met him you who know he is a really great guy. Keep up the good work Pete !


Steve Bonin — Duluth, MN, USA,  —  June 21, 2012 2:39pm ET

Pete:

Are you featuring the medio tiempo leaves in this? Keep up the high quality work! You are appreciated.


Mark Britt June 21, 2012 5:40pm ET

Interesting to use a French name..."the workshop, the studio". I like it.


Todd Jeffries — Boynton Beach, Florida, USA,  —  June 21, 2012 8:57pm ET

...cue all the Pete Johnson fan boys!


PETE JOHNSON — LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  June 21, 2012 10:26pm ET

No medio tiempo in this cigar. We are not trying to make a Behike just using the sizes.


Canada Cigar Forum.com — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,  —  June 22, 2012 12:59am ET

...and the pigtails and the gold labels. To everyone defending Pete, how would you feel if you had designed the Behike branding?

Apple, Microsoft, Samsung etc. spend millions every year to protect their ideas. A classless act by Pete.


Rob Cameron — Knoxville, TN, USA,  —  June 22, 2012 12:10pm ET

Rock on Pete! I'm pretty sure there are other sticks with gold bands and the same sizes as the Behikes. And I had been smoking several different pigtailed brands before I ever heard of Behike. I'm guessing if you hadn't said anything about Behike all the haters on here wouldn't have been sharp enough to notice the similarity.


George C — Commack, NY, USA,  —  June 22, 2012 4:35pm ET

J . R. You must be part of the Canadian cigar forum. Lighten up, it's a cigar and probably a good one. Keep up the great cigars Pete.


PETE JOHNSON — LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  June 22, 2012 4:49pm ET

Thanks Rob for the comment. All bands with gold on them I guess are copies of Behike. LOL If the article read that I was playing off my Cabaiguan Guapos brand, nobody would have thought Behike..

Canada Cigar Forum.com,

The pigtail is nothing new and I have been making a 5 5/8 x 54 with pigtail since 2006, which is a Behike size many years before Behike.

BTW, my Guapos 5 5/8 x 54 with pigtail has made the CA Top 25 list twice. Once being before Behike was released. Maybe Habanos was taking notes...



shawn taylor — uniontown, pa, usa,  —  June 23, 2012 8:10am ET

while I do take a second look when seeing those pictures, pete has been playing a part in making some of the greatest cigars in the market. this is just my opinion of course. If it wasnt for the price tag on the miami line I would have boxes of most of them. My biggest concern comes from the fact that the my father group has soo many cigars out there now. I just dont know how so many different cigars can be made from one 'group'. quantity over quality would be my concern. pete, you do a great job, I was on your site and didnt see any link to contact you directly and would like to ask you a couple of questions. side note; pete, any way you could lower the prices? Im just a poor guy with champagne taste on a beer budget :)


Alex Anderl — Crystal Lake, Illinois, United States of America,  —  June 24, 2012 9:08pm ET

Whether you guys think Pete's stealing ideas or whatever you want to believe obviously you have the right to do so,
but it isn't the art of cigars and smoking them just about the enjoyment?
And besides if Americans can't legally get Behikes, why not have something similar that we can purchase?


Will DellErba — shrewsbury, MA, United States,  —  June 24, 2012 11:40pm ET

Haters gonna hate.

Pete consistently puts out great cigars, I don't see why these will be any different.

I for one am eager to try these and see how the are vs. the behike.

keep killin it pete!


Chris King — cordova, tn, USA,  —  June 25, 2012 12:23pm ET

Pete,

I guess everyone will say since your sticks are round they copy some other stick.. no worries bro.. love your brand. keep on making quality sticks, bro..

ps.
come to memphis!

chris


FRANK HERRERA — WELLINGTON, FL, UNITED STATES,  —  June 25, 2012 12:26pm ET

To each of you that find it necessary to condemn Mr. Johnson for his use of Cuban references in his cigar work I offer you the following words: get a clue. Please let go of the mythical idea that Cuba's cigar industry is to be coveted and protected. Cuba's cigar industry is a sham, just like its government. Mr. Johnson is a clever and creative capitalist. Since there exists a trade embargo with Cuba, Mr. Johnson is free to utilize any ideas, trademarks, or other "inspiration" from Cuban culture and history. Soft leaning Canadians or others that are defending Cuban tobacco can simply continue to purchase Cuba's subpar products from questionable online retailers (that are based out of the United States and therefore add no value to the US economy). Rather then support cigar makers like Mr. Johnson, you are supporting a sick and depraved regime that systematically denies human rights to its citizens. There is no freedom of press. There is no freedom to associate. There is no regular Internet access to communicate and exchange ideas with the world.

These are not the ramblings of a disillusioned Cuban exile. Rather, I have personally litigated against Corporacion Habanos, S.A. and Empresa Cubana del Tobaco for over 10 years. I have deposed executives of those companies. I have read the documents. I am intimately aware of their business.

Keep kicking ass Pete.

Frank Herrera


Zander Goss — Chicago, IL,  —  June 25, 2012 4:29pm ET

Hemingway Short Story: presumably not the first cigar to take its size and shape, but certainly the best known petit perfecto on the market.
Carbon Copy Shorties: is it a BLATANT emulation of Short Story, down to the name? Yes. Is it a fantastic cigar? No, but it's really not that bad, either. It has its own, unique character, as do numerous other Carbon Copy cigars. SO WHAT?! Enjoy the cigar!

I think the parallel in this case speaks for itself. Sizes and shapes (and the number of vitolas in a linea) are not legally proctected (unless your Litto Gomez....), and if Pete leaves his own imprint on the final character of the cigar to differentiate it from Behike, I am confident people will stop moaning about his inspiration.


Sean Corwen June 25, 2012 6:00pm ET

Thanks for making great cigars, Pete.


dan g — ma, usa,  —  June 25, 2012 9:51pm ET

When and where can we buy these beauties Pete? Looks like more great work by tatuaje!


Steve Costin — Aventura, Florida, US,  —  June 26, 2012 4:17pm ET

What a bunch of grouchers!
I think the best cigar I've ever smoked is the Gran Cohonu. Balls to the wall!!
Any combination of Pepin, Jaime, Janny and Pete is worth my time. I've been smoking the Tainos for years. The new Faustos (also a rip from an old Cubano name)are fantastic. He doesn't make a cigar I don't love.
Keep on keeping on Mr. Pete. Love those sticks. The more they complain about you, the higher you raise the bar.
Steve from Miami and an ardent fan of Cuenca Cigars in Hollywood, Florida.


Steve Costin — Aventura, Florida, US,  —  June 26, 2012 4:19pm ET

Pete J.:
Stop by Cuenca Cigars some Wednesday night and I be glad to share some Langavulin from my locker and toast to all your new issues. Just keep 'em coming.


jeffreyrbryan@comcast.net June 28, 2012 12:00pm ET

Pete:
Please keep up the magic and don't let the "Cubafiles" dissuade your efforts.

What are they really upset about? That they just shelled out $500 for (probably counterfeit) Behikes and a better alternative is available for about 1/3 the coin?

Cabaiguan kicks butt, El Triunfador kicks butt, Tatuaje kicks butt. Those that talk trash are usually jealous, ignorant, or both.

Hope to see you at Cigarnival.


D. Griff — MELBOURNE, FLA, USA,  —  June 28, 2012 4:57pm ET

PJ, keep on keeping on brother! Love your blends and your style. Frank Herrera is DEAD RIGHT! Know the hx b4 you make false statements! It was Castro who STOLE ALL the successful businesses from their owners. Why do you think Cuba has lost every legal battle regarding trademark infringement @ the World Court level! You Cannuks should do your homework first. Proverbs: It is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth & remove all doubt!


Valley Beverage Co. July 11, 2012 5:43pm ET

Castro STARTED Cohiba!

And Pete, wasn't it you that said you were just trying to copy Cubans better than anyone else? I can link to that video, if you would like. This is a knock off of BHKs, plain and simple. As a business man, I have nothing negative to say about starting that brand but don't try to defend taking somebody else's idea. Come on, Pete


kenneth fuller — stone mountain, georgia, U.S,  —  July 21, 2012 3:42pm ET

Im sure this will be at least a good cigar, maybe great. as far as the bands looking like others... who cares(they all do it!).
i love most of Tat's stuff. my only issue is all the hype that gets built up around releases. the cigars never live up to it!!
but no cigar would. im not sure any of that is petes fault! so, he's all good w/me.


Anthony Amato — Soldotna, Alaska, USA,  —  August 5, 2012 4:33pm ET

I wonder if these haters will boycott buying these cigars? I bet they're the first ones to try them.


Victor Austin September 3, 2012 6:48am ET

No mames Pete, your straight up copying the behikes. You say you are not trying to copy the flavor of the real behike, but you know people are not smart enough to know that, they just see a similar looking cigar with a similar band and assume you are aiming for the behike flavor.

Why don't you just come out and say it that you are trying to show up the 1 cigar of 2010, by making a brand in the same sizes from nica tabacco.... To prove nica is better.


Abe Dababneh — West Palm Beach, FL, USA,  —  September 24, 2012 4:10pm ET

Seriously FOLKS,

He blatantly stated he was making the sizes in tribute to a brand that cannot be purchased here in the US. The bands really have no similarity other than color. Look this industry is hundreds of years old...everyone is using something from some one else at this point. How many companies make a 6x50 toro??

Inspiration, emulation....bottom line...make good smokes that people want to enjoy. Is that not what is important here?

-Abe
Smoke Inn Cigars


Larry Mcsheffery October 9, 2012 2:03pm ET

Picasso said it best....Good artists copy, great artists steal. I can't wait to try them!


H F — INDEPENDENCE, KENTUCKY, United States,  —  October 11, 2012 11:32am ET

LMAO. I just had to sign up here and comment on the post by the ever so famous Pete Johnson.

"I am only paying homage to the sizes of Behike. Why not, they already copied my Cabaiguan Guapos size (5 5/8 x 54 - with a pigtail) that has been around for far longer...

The flavor of course is nothing like it, as I believe that Newer Cuban cigars are still not comparable to what Nicaragua is putting out today."

I really love the part where Pete says "Cuba" is copying his products.

So Pete, how many more new lines you have set to launch this year? 25-30 in the last two months or so? Ever thought about focusing on 5-10 and producing real quality cigars? Rather than an LE every other week?


RT Elkin — Coram, NY, 11727,  —  December 19, 2012 12:28am ET

Nothing matters except the taste and the price. Sure, I like original-looking cigar wrappers, it's a bit of an art to me, but that's just my sense of anti-capitalist aesthetics. To be fair, I've nothing bad (or good) to say about Johnson's work; I've tried nothing more than "The Old Man and the "C," and one Cabaiguan from a sampler, and cannot afford Tatuaje (by choice, with Padron & Fuente making such incredible sticks at such low prices).
Good luck in your atelier, & may you never be cursed badly by lespirit de l'escaler.


chinappinick@yahoo.com March 12, 2013 8:17pm ET

I'm walking in on an old conversation but I don't care, tatuaje is my favorite brand of cigars. Pete made it clear that he was merely paying homage to a cigar, not copying it. I am smoking this cigar right now, which is how I ended up here. It tastes nothing like the behike, so if he was copying it, he did a crappy job. When a band covers another bands song, they aren't copying, they're paying tribute. Stop hating and smoke it. You'll see what the buzz is about.


Rudi de Groot — CALGARY, AB, CANADA,  —  April 4, 2013 1:11pm ET

I just picked up a box each of LAT52's and LT 54'S based solely on reviews, and the fact that every PHJ cigar I've ever had has been exceptional. I'll post back when I light on of these puppies up!

Pete, I also wanted to note that the El Triunfador PL and the Black Label PL blew me away!

Rock on!
®


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