Box Press Podcast

Get Up Close & Personal with Cigar’s “Tattoo Pete” | Ep. 15

BOX PRESS WITH BOVEDA’S ROB GAGNER

From bouncer to blender to brand builder, Pete Johnson, president of Tatuaje Cigars dives deep into his life to date. Surprised that this cigar innovator is really more of a traditionalist? His passion for the art of cigars, music, fashion and wine reveals what a genuine artisan Pete truly is. (And the dogs. Just wait until you hear about his dogs.)

  • Heading down the cigar rabbit hole—from a $2.50 liquor store buy to a $50 box of Davidoffs
  • Launching a business, learning in night school
  • Revealing what roller helped Tatuaje Cabinet Tainos capture #4 in the world in Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 of 2005 (Who run the world? (Girls))

“In the early days, I was the only guy with tattoos.”

Explore cigars, cigar life and cigar enjoyment with Rob Gagner, host of Box Press, Boveda’s cigar podcast. Subscribe to the Box Press podcast on the Boveda Cigar YouTube Channel or on iTunes.

WHO’S YOUR FURRY CIGAR SMOKING BUDDY?

Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson reveals his loves for animals—specifically the canine variety—in this Box Press episode. Many a Tatuaje is named after or inspired by the great dogs of Pete’s life.

Indeed, an evening dog walk is a great excuse for a good cigar. (If you need an excuse, that is.) In honor of these cigar smoking companions, Pete and Boveda have teamed up to raise money for two pet rescue organizations. Funds will be split 50/50 between the two groups:

  • Pete & Tatuaje: Gulfstream Guardian Angels Rottweiler Rescue
  • Box Press & Boveda: Secondhand Hounds

Both Tatuaje and Boveda will each match up to $2,222. Give to the Boveda+Tatuaje pet rescue fundraising campaign at BoxPress GoFundMe(Then revisit the episode at 1:01:26 to learn more about the significance of Pete’s 222 Angel Number.)

FANS OF CIGARS & CANINES: SHARE A PHOTO OF YOUR POOCH(ES) & LIGHT UP THE LIFE OF A HOMELESS PET

Box Press fan Kyle Victor donated on behalf of Mason and Angel, shown here. Thanks, Kyle.

BOX PRESS UPDATE: Condolences to Pete Johnson on the passing of his pup

“This contribution is for our puppy Loki who passed at 13 weeks of age from a rare condition called Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP). Even in his short time with us he changed our lives forever.”

-Pete Johnson

Here’s where you can donate to the Boveda+Tatuaje pet rescue fundraising campaign. Do it in memory of Loki or one of your own beloved companions.

“You know, this is pretty peaceful.”

Peaceful is how Pete Johnson described his first cigar smoking experience. (Doesn’t that just make you want to light up a Tatuaje La Riqueza right now?) This cigar artist learned early on that if a cigar smells really good, then that cigar usually tastes really good.

But cigars don’t have to be pretty to be sensational, Pete pointed out. Case in point—Henry Clay Brevas. “Trust me,” Pete said. “When you try this cigar, you’re going to enjoy it. …but don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I want the cigar you have in your head, not the cigar that people are asking you to make.

In the early days, it took only three tries before Cuban blender/roller José Pepin Garcia created the perfect sample cigar for Pete. Pepin knew what a good Cuban cigar was supposed to taste like, Pete said.

Tatuaje was the cigar maker’s first client. Pepin’s My Father Cigars (formerly called El Rey de los Habanos) is headquartered in Doral, Florida, which is northwest of Miami. Most of the cigars, however, are produced in Nicaragua.

GET TO KNOW THE MAN BEHIND TATUAJE CIGARS:

  • What new Tatuaje Cigar are we smoking? (Fresh cigar, medium full, out of Miami.) (2:53)
  • José “Pepin” Garcia’s method of acquiring tobacco. (4:35)
  • Tatuaje Cigar’s Origin Story. (6:50)
  • “Havana Famous” cigar rollers. (18:20)
  • Pete is a connoisseur of Cuban cigars. (19:40)
  • Pete slinging Cuban Cigars. (21:00)
  • Who translated Tatuaje for Pete. (22:30)
  • What drew Pete to cigar smoking. (25:30)
  • What was the first box of cigars that Pete bought? (29:30)
  • Pete’s first job in the cigar industry. (31:10)
  • Why to try the Henry Clay Brevas cigar. (34:00)
  • Pete Johnson’s Bus Tour and $1,000 lesson. (37:30)
  • Pete’s Wine, Bone Ami. (44:15)

WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN AT A CIGAR CLUB

Pete Johnson's Bone Ami wine

What have you heard in your herf lately? A fellow cigar smoker told Pete about Viniv, a Bordeaux winery where you can create your own wine. Pete has made several private vintages including Bone Ami, in honor of one of his Rotties. P.S. Zoom in on the back label. Before you read it, grab a handkerchief.

MORE FROM PETE JOHNSON:

  • How wine and tobacco are similar. (45:30)
  • There is too much BS in the cigar industry. (52:00)
  • Pete creates cigars for himself. (55:10)
  • The connection between Tatuaje Cigars and Pete’s dogs. (57:35) 1:01:26
  • Angel Numbers. (1:01:26)
  • Finish the Quote. (1:03:55)
  • Pete’s Desert Island Cigar. (1:05:27)
  • The Monster Series Nightmare. (1:05:40)
  • Where the cigar industry is headed. (1:14:00)
  • What’s Pete’s next gig? (1:17:00)

WATCH CIGAR DISRUPTORS (Crowned Heads & Tatuaje Cigars at IPCPR)| EP. 14

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