|Viaje Summerfest 2013|
Disclaimer: As you will read in this assessment, this author had some input into the size of the cigar. However, there was no further involvement in terms of the blending or testing of this cigar prior to being released. There were no pre-release samples smoked.
The Viaje Summefest 2013 marks the fourth consecutive year that Viaje has released a batch of its Summerfest blend. It also marks the sixth vitola to be released in the Summerfest line. The Summerfest line is known for its Cafe Rosado wrapper and in the case of several of the vitolas, a shagged foot. I was lucky enough, along with Leaf and Grape‘s Stace Berkland to be given an opportunity to select this year’s vitola size – a 5 1/2 x 54 robusto. I recently had an opportunity to smoke the final product. Overall, I’ve always felt the robusto format worked well for the Summerfest and felt validated that the 5 1/2 x 54 was successful.
The story of how we got an opportunity to provide input can be traced back to a conversation that Berkland and I had with Andre Farkas at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. We documented what happened when we previewed the cigar:
During that conversation, we discussed the original release of the 2010 Viaje Summerfest. The original plan was for the Summerfest 2010 to be released as a torpedo with a shagged foot. It turns out that a unshagged robusto vitola was made by mistake. As a result, 50 boxes of that Summerfest 2010 Robusto were released, but the torpedo was still produced. Both Berkland and I were blown away by that particular blend in a Robusto-size vitola. Farkas listened to our feedback in terms of the robusto . He then gave us an opportunity to select the size for the 2013 Summerfest. After some discussion, we agreed on a 5 1/2 x 54 robusto and this one would feature the Summerfest’s trademark shagged foot. Farkas wrote it down on an index card. About six months later, Farkas contacted us and told us that the Summerfest 2013 was a go in the size selected.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Viaje Summerfest 2013:
Like a good number of Viaje releases, the Summerfest blend is a Nicaraguan puro. It s highlighted by its Cafe Rosado wrapper:
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 (Cafe Rosado)
For completeness, we list the incarnations of the Summerfest blend since its release in 2010. All vitolas contain the shagged foot except for the 2010 Robusto.
Robusto: 5 x 50 (Unshagged foot)
Torpedo: 6 1/2 x 50
Torpedo: 5 1/4 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 50
Toro: 6 3/4 x 50
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 54
The Cafe Rosado wrapper is what really stands out. It has a medium-brown color with a colorado red tint to it. The wrapper is not oily and definitely has a slight rough look to it There are very few wrapper seams that are visible. While there are some veins visible, I would not describe this as a toothy wrapper. There is about a 3/4 inch shag which is a rough cut.
The band has a red and gold color scheme. It features “Viaje” in large classic gold font on a red background. Below that text is the text “Summerfest” in red font on a gold background. That gold background is situated right below the red background on the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Summerfest 2013, I went with my usual selection of a straight cut. After clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The pre-light draw was very similar to what I go from the Summerfest 2010 Robusto. It provided notes of wood, cedar, and cinnamon – with the cinnamon providing a nice twist on the dry draw. Overall I found this to be a positive pre-light draw experience. At this point, I was ready to light up my Viaje Summerfest 2013 and see what the overall cigar experience would bring to the table.
There are two variables that factored into the Viaje Summerfest 2013 smoking experience, the first is the shagged foot and the second is the larger ring gauge.
When I started the smoke of the Viaje Summerfest 2013, the shagged foot played prominently into the equation early. This was the section of the Summerfest 2013 where the Cafe Rosado was not in play. Surprisingly without the wrapper, I got some very good flavors from the shagged foot. The flavors definitely had some wood and pepper notes, but I also got some notes of cinnamon, and coffee.
As the transition moved to the Cafe Rosado, the flavor profile smoothed out and changed to notes of cinnamon, natural tobacco, and sugar cane. In the background there was some pepper, coffee as well as a touch of berry sweetness and cream. Throughout the first third, there were times the flavors of coffee, sugar cane, cinnamon, and pepper varied in terms of being a primary and secondary note. The retro-hale had some pepper spice, but there was a very nice sweetness mixed in. The retro-hale had some pepper spice, but there was a very nice sweetness mixed in.
In the second third, the natural tobacco and pepper notes became primary. The sweetness, coffee, and cream notes diminished significantly. This was similar to what happened with the Summerfest 2010 Robusto, but it happened earlier in this smoking experience. The retro-hale lost some of the sweetness as well.
In the last third, the flavor profile still had the natural tobacco notes as primary. There was not a lot of spice at the close of the Summerfest 2013. The resulting nub was on the soft side, but was cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall the Summerfest 2013 performed good with the burn. I will admit, the shag will require a some maintenance at the beginning as this is a very rough shag cut. Once I got past the shagged foot, the burn was sharp and required little maintenance. The ash was white in color – and in the early stages, it was prone to some flaking. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw remained low maintenance from start to finish. This made the Summerfest 2013 an enjoyable cigar to puff on.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, I found the Summerfest 2013 to be very much in line with what I smoked on the Summerfest 2010 Robusto. I assessed this cigar as having medium to full strength. As for the body of the Summerfest 2013, I found the flavors to be a little deeper and bolder than the Summerfest 2010 Robusto. I can infer that perhaps the filler ratio played into this. I assessed the Summerfest 2013 to have just enough strength to qualify for a full-bodied smoke. In terms of the balance between the strength and body, I gave the body an edge.
While the Summerfest 2010 Robusto was originally a factory mistake, it turned out to be an outstanding cigar. As for the Summerfest 2013 Robusto, this definitely ranks as my #2 vitola in terms of the line. There is something about the robusto-size that works very well with this blend. The shagged foot does make for an interesting smoking experience – and while it was a little work at the beginning to get the burn going, I was surprised at the flavors I got from it. Once the Cafe Rosado wrapper kicked in, the magic of this blend soon followed. While it’s on the medium to full-size, I would not hesitate giving this to a novice smoker as they can experience some of the effects of how a wrapper effects a cigar. Experienced cigar enthusiasts will appreciate the flavors and complexity of this cigar. This is definitely a cigar I would smoke again – and keep a several in my humidor.
Strength: Medium to Full
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.