|Viaje White Label Project (WLP) 50/50 Red.|
If you have been following a lot of the Viaje reviews that I have been posting lately, one thing is clear that most of what Viaje does is micro-batch releases (small production boxes that provide each retailer an average of 1 to 2 boxes). The part of the equation that often gets forgotten is that Viaje is doing some innovative things behind the scenes. While Viaje chooses to keep the details of their blends close to the vest, many of the releases are using innovative techniques within the seed to store process (i.e. the Viaje Late Harvest Estate – picking the last primings of the tobacco plant). This brings us to blend that has some unique attributes to it – the Viaje White Label Project (WLP) 50/50 Red. The end result of anything involving innovative techniques in the cigar-making process is how good the cigar is. The WLP 50/50 Red might utilize innovation, but this cigar is still a classic case of “See What You Think”.
The use of “White” and “Red” in the title of this cigar is confusing, so it deserves a little time to distill this. The WLP 50/50 Red brings two concepts done by Viaje together. First up, the White Label Project is a line that has been released by Viaje this year. The cigars in this line are considered somewhat experimental to varying degrees. One such blend was the Viaje WLP Candela released earlier this year. Another White Label Project blend is the WLP 50/50 Red. This is a variation of a cigar released last year called the 50/50 Red (label) – thus bringing us to the second concept. The 50/50 series is a proprietary concept by Viaje that involves taking two blends and blending them into a single cigar. This starts by using two different fillers in each half of the cigar. The WLP 50/50 Red takes the 50/50 Red and changes the wrapper to a Nicaraguan Criollo.
Ultimately the names provide some confusion. The original 50/50 Red has a red label, while the WLP 50/50 Red has a white label that (at this time) is common to all cigars in the White Label Project series.
While the concept seems innovative, I mentioned this cigar falls into the “See What You Think” category, so let’s take a closer look why.
I described this above, but essentially this takes the 50/50 Red cigar and changes this to leverage Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper. It is an all-Nicaraguan puro. The Criollo wrapper is very oily in appearance.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
The WLP 50/50 Red is currently available in a single vitola – a 6 x 48 Corona Gorda. I mention currently because Viaje is known to do releases of vitolas in batches of one or two at a time.
The vitola featues a pig-tail cap (see above picture at beginning of this assessment). The foot is covered (see picture below):
|Viaje WLP 50/50 Red – covered foot|
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I usually am not one for pulling a pigtail cap off, so I placed a straight cut into the cap of the WLP 50/50 Red. The pre-light draw was not too exciting as it gave me notes of leather with some salt. Normally, I don’t put that much stock into a pre-light draw as I consider it more of a “bonus” to the smoking experience. Therefore, it was on to light up the WLP 50/50 Red and see what it would bring to the table.
Unfortunately, the flavors from the pre-light draw continued on the initial draws once I lit the WLP 50/50 Red. The salt notes were a lot more prevalent on the start of the smoke. A lot of times a salty start will dissipate quickly, but this was not the case with the WLP 50/50 Red. There are certain tobaccos that can lend themselves to notes of salt, and it was quite clear this was one of them.
For the first half of this cigar, the salt and leather notes moved in and out as to which one was in the forefront. In the background I did detect some coffee notes in the background. It almost seemed like the coffee notes were trying to break through, but the salt notes were not allowing it to. No doubt in my mind, the first half of this cigar was disappointing.
It was at the midway point where things changed with this cigar – the leather and coffee notes finally eclipsed the salt flavors and push them to the background. The flavors had now gotten much better. Toward the end of the smoke of the WLP 50/50 Red, nut flavors emerged. This cigar actually had a very good finish – considering how disappointing it started. The nub on my cigar was firm and cool.
Burn and Draw
If you have read many of my Viaje reviews, you know that I have found many Viaje cigars need about 8 to 10 weeks aging minimum before smoking. The WLP 50/50 Red was one of those cigars that I aged for that long. There is a part of me that wonders if some more age would have helped the flavors. This is because the ash on the burn still was blacker than it should have been. The actual burn itself was very good – and required few touch-ups. The WLP 50/50 Red burned at a good rate and steady temperature. The picture below illustrates this. There was some resistance on the draw, but I don’t mind this as it prevents me from drawing too hard on a cigar.
|Burn of the Viaje White Label Project (WLP) 50/50 Red|
Strength and Body
I had been told the WLP 50/50 Red offered a lot from a nicotine profile, but in my book this was not a full-strength cigar. I think it has enough firepower to just qualify into the medium to full range of the strength spectrum. As for the body, while the first half had a salty profile, there was depth to that flavor. A flavor does not have to be positive to have body – and the salt flavor note is an example of one. Overall, I assess the body as being in the medium to full range of the spectrum.
With many cigars, they often start out promising and by the midway point of the smoking experience, they don’t live up to the way they started. The Viaje WLP 50/50 Red was the complete opposite. If you can get through the first 40 to 50 percent, the second half has more to offer. However, the first half is nothing short of a disappointment. If the whole cigar smoked like the second half, this assessment would have a very different feel. I mentioned the black ash might be a reason for some more age and for this reason I am willing to give it another chance – but then again should I have to wait 8 to10 weeks to smoke this to begin with? The “net/net” of this assessment is to “see what you think”.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: See What You Think
Source: This cigar was purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina