Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra

At the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, we first reported on a series of planned limited edition projects by Viva Republica. One of those projects is a cuelbra offering called the Viva Republica Edicion Limitada Culebra. The Culebra is the second of these projects to be released in 2015 following up the innovative Viva Republica Jailbreak (which features a cigar within a cigar). While the culebra is a very classic Cuban vitola, Viva Republica once again does something innovative. What makes this culebra different is that each component is made of three distinct blends from Viva Republica’s regular production lines: Rapture, Rapture Maduro, and Guerrilla Warfare blends. Recently we’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. Overall not only was this a fun series to smoke, but it delivered an excellent offering as well.

Culebra is a style of cigars that was started in Cuba that involves typing three “twisted” vitolas together. It is believed this started because rollers in Cuba were limited to taking one cigar home a day and the culebra was a way to skirt the rules.

For the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra, each culebra is packaged in an individual coffin. Production has been limited to 1,000 units.  The coffins are shipped to retailers in five pack units.

Coffin box of Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra

 

Open coffin box of Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra

Let’s take a closer look at the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra and see what this set brings to the table. This will deviate slightly from the usual formula in that we will assess each component (blend) individually, then provide an overall assessment rating for the Culebra as a whole. As a disclaimer one cuelbra set was used for this assessment.

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra: Rapture

 

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra – Rapture Component

Blend Profile

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana Vuelta Abajo
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Brazilian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian

Vitolas Available

Culebra: 5 3/4 x 39

In addition to the Culebra, the Rapture is available in the following sizes:

Perdition: 4 1/2 x 50
Revel: 5 1/2 x 54
Exodus 6 1/4 x 52 (Torpedo)
Harasha 6 x 58

Appearance

Like most culebras, the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra is beautiful when all three cigars are twisted together.  When you pull the culebra apart, they don’t quite look as pretty. I still think the individual components have a rustic look with some charm.

The wrapper of the Rapture Component is light brown with a cinnamon colored tint to it. The complexion of the wrapper is sandy and not oily. There are some visible wrapper seams. The wrapper itself has a “scrunched” look as a result of the twisting of the Culebra.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

I went with a straight cut to clip the cap of the Rapture component of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. Once the cap was clipped I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided a mix of cedar and pepper spice, a slight raw sugar cane note, and some natural tobacco. Overall I was quite pleased with this pre-light draw. At this point I was ready to light up the Rapture component and see what the smoking phase would deliver.

Flavor Profile

I found the Rapture component to start out with a mix of black pepper, wood, sugar cane, and some background cream notes.  Early on the pepper and sugar cane became primary. The wood and cream notes were secondary. There also was a slight fruit sweetness in the background. Meanwhile the retro-hale produced a strong black pepper note.

By the midway point, the wood notes developed a bit of a grainy profile. There also were some notes of natural tobacco. The black pepper notes were still very much a part of the picture. The sugar cane notes floated in and out of the forefront.  The fruit notes were still very distant. The cream notes dissipated.

The last third of the Rapture component had a very peppery component. This is the way the experience of this component came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The Rapture component of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra maintained a relatively straight burn path. There were some touch-ups along the way, but they were not an abnormal amount. I did find this wrapper blistered easily – and the curves of this component made it hard not to blister the wrapper. The resulting ash was a silver gray. It was not a tight ash, but not a loose one either. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra – Rapture Component

The draw of all three components was pretty much in the same wheelhouse. For the Rapture component, this was a draw that was not too tight, nor too loose and this made for a low maintenance smoking experience.

Strength and Body

Overall I found the Rapture component to offer the most in strength and body of the three components of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. I found this component started out medium to full in strength and body. By the second half, both attributes crossed into full territory. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute having a significant edge.

Rapture Component Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Good
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 90

 

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra: Rapture Maduro

 

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra – Rapture Maduro Component

Blend Profile

Wrapper: San Andres Negra (Mexico)
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Brazilian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian

Vitolas Available

Culebra: 5 3/4 x 39

In addition to the Culebra, the Rapture Maduro is available in the following sizes:

Perdition: 4 1/2 x 50
Revel: 5 1/2 x 54
Exodus 6 1/4 x 52 (Torpedo)
Harasha 6 x 58

Appearance

The wrapper of the Rapture Maduro Component has a dark espresso bean color to it. The complexion of the wrapper is not oily.  There are some visible wrapper seams. The wrapper itself has a “scrunched” look as a result of the twisting of the Culebra. This was probably the most “scrunched” component.

Upon separating this component, there was a slight peeling of the wrapper toward the middle of the cigar. This was easily fixed with some pectin.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

I went with a straight cut to clip the cap of the Rapture Maduro component of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. Once the cap was clipped I moved on to the pre-light draw. The cold draw was pretty simple as I got notes of earth and chocolate. Overall I considered this a satisfactory pre-light draw. It was now on to light up the Rapture Maduro component and see what the smoking phase would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The Rapture Maduro component started with a mix of black and white pepper, earth, and some dark chocolate notes.  The chocolate and earth notes became primary early on.  The pepper notes became secondary.  The retro-hale produced a black pepper note.

Throughout the first third, the chocolate and earth remained primary. The pepper notes became secondary. I found some cedar qualities to mix in with the pepper spice. There was also a slight citric component in the background.

During the second third, the citrus notes mixed in with the earth notes up front. The chocolate notes floated in and out of the forefront. The cedar and pepper notes were more distant.

The final third was more earthy and spicy. The citrus moved back to the background. Some chocolate notes were still present.  Despite the wrapper repair, the resulting nub firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The Rapture Maduro component had me a little worried about the burn because of the repair done to the wrapper, however this proved to be no problem. I found the Rapture Maduro component maintained a straight burn – requiring occasional touch-ups.  The resulting ash was a silver gray. It was not a tight ash, but not a loose one either. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra – Rapture Maduro Component

The draw performed very well. It was not too loose, nor too tight. This was a low maintenance draw to derive flavors from, thus making this an enjoyable smoking experience.

Strength and Body

From both a strength and body perspective, I found the Rapture Maduro component to be in the medium to full range.  Both attributes stayed in this range for the duration of smoking this component. Both the strength and body countered each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other components.

Rapture Maduro Component Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 91

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra: Guerrilla Warfare

 

Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra – Guerrilla Warfare Component

Blend Profile

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Dominican Republic, Mexican (Double)
Filler: Brazilian, Dominican, Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

Culebra: 5 3/4 x 39

In addition to the Culebra, the Guerrilla Warfare is available in the following sizes:

Petite: 4 x 41
Corona: 5 1/4 x 43

Appearance

The wrapper of the Guerrilla Warfare Component has a light roasted coffee bean color with a rosado tint to it. The complexion of the wrapper is not oily.  There are some visible wrapper seams. This was definitely the most toothy wrapper of the set, however this was the least scrunched of the three components.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Like the other two components, I went with a straight cut to clip the cap of the Guerrilla Warfare component of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. After clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a nice mix of wood, pepper, and natural tobacco sweetness.  This component produced a favorable pre-light draw experience. I was now ready to fire up the Guerilla Warfare component and see what the smoking phase would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The Guerrilla Warfare component started out with notes of natural tobacco, hickory, and black pepper. Like the other two components, the Guerilla Warfare had notes of black pepper on the retro-hale.

The first half of the Guerrilla Warfare component saw the hickory and natural tobacco notes as the primary flavors. There was a tangy sweetness to the profile early on.  The black pepper was secondary.

The second half saw the tangy sweetness and hickory notes diminish, but not totally dissipate. The natural tobacco notes held on as the primary note.  There was a slight increase of the black pepper, but this did not become overwhelming. This is the way the Guerilla Warfare component finished up. The resulting nub was soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

The Guerrilla Warfare component was the straightest of the three components of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra. I was extremely surprised how well this burn performed considering there still was some curvature to this component. The burn path stayed practically razor-sharp requiring minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was tight with a nice white color. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. This burn earned our highest “Exceptional” rating here.

Burn of the Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra –
Guerilla Warfare Component

I found the draw to be solid. This was not too tight, nor too smooth and it made for an enjoyable smoke from start to finish.

Strength and Body

The Guerilla Warfare component delivered a medium to full strength cigar from start to finish.  As for the flavors, I found they had just enough depth to qualify as a full-bodied smoke. In terms of strength versus body, I gave the edge to the body for this component.

Guerilla Warfare Component Summary

Burn: Exceptional
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Score: 90

Final Thoughts (Overall)

This is a great concept for a culebra. I like the fact that I had three different options with the culebra as opposed to one. It was a fun project to smoke. Each of the three components represented the brands well and produced enjoyable smokes. Each also produced a nice set of surprises – this includes the strength of the Rapture, the performance of the Rapture Maduro – despite a slight wrapper repair, and the exceptional burn of the Guerrilla Warfare. In terms of what was the best component, I gave the Rapture Maduro one a slight edge. This surprised me too because of the wrapper repair.  At the same time, it didn’t totally surprise me because it is an excellent blend.

The one drawback is it was hard to distinguish what the actual components actually were.  There was some guidance to look at the wrapper colors and going from lightest to darkest the components are: Rapture, Guerrilla Warfare, and Rapture Maduro. Using this technique, I found it easy to pick out the Rapture, but it was a little tougher for me to tell the other two apart. While I realize there is some fun in guessing, I think tagging the components benefits a project like this.

Overall this is probably a set I’d recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. These are blends that are a little stronger and a culebra is not something I would gear toward a novice. This is a set I’d easily smoke again. If we were normalizing these to ten count sets of culebras, I would recommend this as a box split. Hopefully this will be one of those limited sets that comes back again.

Overall Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Overall Score: 90

References

News: Viva Republica Edición Limitada Culebra
Price: $18.00
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
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