When it comes to Viaje Cigars, I think there are two fair complaints: 1) Some blends are often shipped to the retailer “green” and not aged enough; 2) Some blends emphasize strength over body. With the cigars being “green”, I have usually applied an eight to ten week rule of aging Viajes in my humidor. As for the strength over body complaint, in many cases it is unfair. When the Viaje C-4 was released this summer, I heard these exact two complaints about this particular cigar. Therefore, I decided to age my C-4 cigars for a while – about four months to be precise. In the end, I felt it provided the age it was needed. Once I smoked my C-4, after a lukewarm start, I thought this cigar delivered some nice flavor and balanced nicely against the strength.
The C-4 was released in parallel with the Viaje TNT 2011 around July 4th. Both of these cigars had a theme of “explosives” to coincide with the Independence Day holiday. The C-4 has a lot of different features. For starters it is double-capped (something Viaje also did on the 4th release of its Skull and Bones). It also is box-pressed in a Robusto Gordo sized vitola. Finally, it has a band in the center of the cigar.
Like many Viaje releases, these were extremely limited. They were packaged in boxes of 75 and if a Viaje retailer was able to snag one, it was probably one box at most. I used “were” because these cigars have now become extremely hard to find.
Let’s break-down the Viaje C-4 in some more detail:
Like most Viaje Cigars, this is an all-Nicaraguan puro. Also like most Viaje Cigars, most of the details of the origin of the blend are not disclosed.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
As mentioned above, there is only one vitola – a 5 x 56 Robusto Gordo. The cigar is box-pressed with a cap on both ends of the cigar.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my Viaje C-4, I opted to leave the cap on the foot and cut the traditional capped end of the cigar. The pre-light draw treated me a notes of leather and cocoa. I was also able to detect some faint red pepper in the background. I categorized the pre-light draw of the Viaje C-4 as a positive, so it was time to light the cigar and see what would be in-store during the smoking experience.
Since I did not clip the foot, I opted to toast the cigar with the cap on it. The initial flavors of the Viaje C-4 continued the flavor profile that I found during the pre-light draw – leather, cocoa, and some red pepper in the background. The difference is once lit, these flavors had some more depth. The cocoa notes quickly took more of a bittersweet cocoa taste. Eventually the leather notes moved to the forefront early on.
About ten percent into the cigar experience, I was thrown for a slight loop – some floral notes mixed into the flavor profile. These floral notes are not something I’ve commonly detected in a Viaje cigar. They played a secondary role to the leather notes which were firmly in command. Meanwhile, the bittersweet cocoa moved into the background with the red pepper.
Around twenty percent into the cigar experience, the red pepper notes moved up to the forefront and joined the leather notes. I had noticed the floral notes begin to subside at this point. So far, it is safe to say while there was decent variety in the flavor profile early on, it wasn’t having me do any sort of handstands early on.
Around the midway point is when the flavor profile began to change. The cocoa notes that had moved to the background began to break out and move to the forefront. These notes joined the red pepper notes. I found the cocoa notes in the second half very smooth. The Viaje C-4 produced some real good flavors in this part of the cigar. The cocoa and pepper were with the cigar to the finish. The finish was actually smooth at the end. I got a perfect cool and firm nub. In fact, from the picture below, you can see how small I was able to nub this cigar.
|Viaje C-4 finish|
Overall, at the conclusion of this cigar – there were no major signs of this cigar being “green” and the flavors balanced nicely with the strength of this cigar.
Burn and Draw
The burn of my Viaje C-4 was pretty decent. From some the early samples I had seen smoked by other people, the ash seemed black, but my samples had a white and gray ash. (I didn’t take pictures, but you can see the ash color on the nub). The ash was a little flaky as I smoked the C-4. The C-4 also required several touch-ups, but overall it did burn straight.
One note, the C-4 is a very dense box-press. While it didn’t burn hot, it did burn a little on the slow side. This also had some affect on the draw as it made the draw a little tighter. Overall, I thought it had a good burn and draw. While it fell short of “excellent” in these areas, it wasn’t because the cigar was not aged properly.
Strength and Body
From a nicotine standpoint, this is your classic Viaje powerhouse. I would not hesitate in assessing this cigar as full-strength. The body was a different story. The cigar actually starts out medium-bodied in the early stages and slowly builds up to becoming a full-bodied cigar at the end. I’d classify the majority of this smoke as being medium to full in strength. While the first third of the cigar might have had an emphasis on strength over body, the latter stages of this smoke do a better job at balancing strength and body toward the end.
In a lot of ways, I think Viaje is still searching for its next Satori 2010 – because that is one special cigar they did. The Viaje C-4 is not a cigar is going to fit that bill. At the same time, this cigar is not a poor cigar by any means. The flavors in the first half were more average, and in the second half I really enjoyed the flavors. Based on what I saw and heard back in July when this cigar was released, I’m convinced the aging had a positive effect on my experience with the C-4. Because of its strength, I definitely would only recommend this to experienced cigar enthusiasts who appreciate a good full strength cigar. Overall, I’d like to get a few more of these to smoke.
Body: Medium to Full (Medium to start, Full to finish)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.