In 2009, Viaje Cigars unveiled its first Viaje Holiday Blend release. The Holiday Blend was designed to be a seasonal release to coincide with the Christmas and year-end festivities. The cigar, which was a Nicaraguan puro featuring a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper became an instant favorite amount Viaje. Each year since 2009 (with the exception of 2013), Viaje has had an annual release of the Holiday Blend. Along the way, these annual releases have come out in different sizes. Through last year, the blend has remained the same, but the vintages of the tobaccos changed from year to year. For 2015, the Viaje Holiday Blend would undergo some changes. First up, it would be one of the cigars Viaje would shift production to the PDR Cigars factory in Nicaragua. Secondly, the blend itself was completed changed up from the previous editions. Finally, the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 would be the first box-pressed release of this series. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015. Overall I’ve been pleased with Viaje’s work with PDR Cigars and the Holiday Blend 2015 is no exception.
There have been some other releases by Viaje that have been released along the way with the year end holiday theme. This includes 2013’s Viaje Holiday Christmas Tree, and the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane. The Candy Cane is a barber-pole wrapped blend that was released in 2012 and 2014. Like the Holiday Blend 2015, the Candy Cane 2015 underwent similar changes – namely a new factory, new blend, and a box-press released.
Without further ado, let’s explore the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The shifting of some production to PDR Cigars has given Viaje found Andre Farkas an opportunity to play with some new tobaccos. For the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015, the cigar features a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. From all indications this appears to be the first time this wrapper has appeared on a Viaje blend. The other components of the blend were not disclosed.
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (PDR Cigars)
The Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 is packaged in 30 count boxes. It was produced in one size – a 5 x 54 box-press robusto.
The Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 has a dark roasted coffee bean color. Upon closer examination, there is some darker marbling that can be seen on the surface. The wrapper has a coating of oil on it. There are some visible veins, but the dark color of the wrapper does a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. Keeping to the tradition of the Holiday Blend Series, the Holiday Blend 2015 features a covered foot. As for the box-press, it is a softer Cuban press style.
The band is the same as the previous Viaje Holiday Blend ones – olive green and silver in color. It features “Viaje” in large classic silver font on an olive background. Below that text is the text “Holiday Blend” in olive font on a silver background. That silver background is situated below the olive background on the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I normally do, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015. Once the cap was removed, I commenced with the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered a mix of coffee, floral, and cedar notes. Despite the covered footer, I found this cigar still delivered a nice amount of flavor on the pre-light. Overall I considered this to be a very good pre-light draw. At this point I was ready to light up the Holiday Blend 2015 and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 started out with a mix of coffee, cedar, red pepper, and cream. The coffee and cream notes moved into the forefront while the cedar and red pepper became secondary notes. The combination of the coffee and cream notes had an inherent smoothness to it. Meanwhile, while red pepper and cedar was in the background on the tongue, the retro-hale was a different story – namely. I found the red pepper to be prominent on the retro-hale and to a lesser extent I picked up some cedar notes.
During the second third, the coffee and cream notes still were prominent. I also detected some generic wood notes in the forefront. There was a slight musty component sometimes I get from Brazilian Arapiraca, but in this case I found it complemented the flavor profile nicely.
As the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 moved into the last third, the coffee and generic wood notes still were the primary notes. I found the cigar lost some of its creaminess. There also was an increase in the red pepper and cedar, but these spices never eclipsed the coffee and generic wood notes. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Construction-wise, I’ve been pleased with what Viaje has been doing with PDR Cigars. The Holiday Blend 2015 is no exception. Overall this is a cigar that took a straight burn path. There was a slight waviness on the burn line, but this didn’t warrant any excessive touch-ups. The resulting ash was a silvery gray color with some darker spots. While the ash was primarily firm, there was some minor flaking along the way. Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Holiday Blend 2015 was open, but not loose. I did find that this cigar had a large number of smoke production.
Strength and Body
Over the years, Viaje has been known for several full strength, full-bodied smokes. I’ve always found when it comes to the Holiday Blend series, this is one that often gets overlooked in terms of delivering a full strength, full-bodied smoke. When it comes to the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015, the changes to the line did not affect this cigar from falling in this category. I found the Holiday Blend 2015 to deliver a full strength, full-bodied smoke right out of the gate – with the attributes even increasing in intensity along the way.
When it comes to strength versus body of the Holiday Blend 2015, I gave a slight edge to the strength.
Quietly, Viaje has delivered some very nice releases with the PDR Cigars factory. I chalk the Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 as another very good cigar to come out of this factory. I liked the fact that this edition of the Holiday Blend maintained the power and robustness of the ones that have come out of Honduras. Flavor-wise, the coffee notes did remind me of some of the previous iterations of the Holiday Blend. At the same time, the use of the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper was clear on this cigar – namely with some of the woody and musty notes. Finally, the box press was a nice change of pace for this cigar.
Since this is stronger, bolder cigar; this is a cigar I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and its worthy of a box split.
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
News: Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 and Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada 2015 Coming Soon
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 190
Stogie Feed: Viaje Holiday Blend 2015
Brand Reference: Viaje