Viaje Fifty Fifty Black

The Viaje Fifty Fifty series is intended to be somewhat of a unique cigar experience.  The concept behind the Fifty Fifty is to bring two different flavor profiles together into one cigar.  This is done by utilizing two separate fillers, brought together within double binders and covered by a single wrapper.  There have been cigars that use a segmented wrapper such as the Joya de Nicaragua Cabinetta Serie and the La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros.  The Fifty Fifty series takes more of an internal approach to the segmentation as the blend differs under the wrapper.   Recently, I have finally gotten around to assessing one of the blends – the Fifty Fifty Black.  In the end, I don’t think this cigar provided two distinct smoking experiences, however I can say that the Fifty Fifty Black was a pretty good smoke.

The Fifty Fifty series was introduced back in 2009.  It is intended to be an annual limited production release.  Like most Viaje cigars, the production totals are limited – resulting in authorized Viaje retailers receiving one to two boxes of each size.   The Fifty Fifty Black is one of two Fifty Fifty blends that are released.   The other blend is a variation called the Fifty Fifty Red.   The difference in the Fifty Fifty Red as opposed to the Black is that the Red has “tamer” fillers and is intended to be a smoke that falls more on the medium-side of the spectrum in terms of body (Update: After smoking the Red, I found this to be more medium in strength as opposed to body).  There also is a third version of this cigar – the  Viaje White Label Project Fifty Fifty Red. That cigar is similar to the Fifty Fifty Red, but uses a different (Criollo) wrapper.

Let’s take a closer look at the Viaje Fifty Fifty Black:

Blend Profile

While this does use a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper, the specifics of the internals of this blend are kept confidential (as is typical with Viaje blends)

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan (Double)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Two Distinct)

* This is a similar profile to the Red, but obviously some tweaking with the specifics of the blend to create a fuller smoke.

Vitolas Available

Both the Viaje Fifty Fifty Red and Viaje Fifty Fifty Black are available in the following vitolas.  These vitolas are the same as what was released in 2010.   The vitolas have the same names and sizes for both Red and Black.  All vitolas in the Fifty Fifty series currently feature a pig-tail cap.

No. 1: 5 5 /8 x 46
No. 2: 6 x 50
No. 3: 7 x 47

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For this cigar experience, I opted to go with the Churchill-size No.3  The pre-light draw did not have a lot of depth in terms of the dry flavor notes.  The only flavor I was able to detect on the pre-light was cocoa.  Overall, the pre-light experience didn’t wow me.  It was now onward to light my Viaje Fifty Fifty Black and see what was going to come to the table.

Flavor Profile

After lighting my Viaje Fifty Fifty Black, I was treated to notes of leather and cocoa.  Early on, I was also treated to some pepper notes. The pepper moved to the front early on, with the leather and cocoa playing more of a secondary role.   By the midway point, the pepper had somewhat subsided and the leather and cocoa notes maintained their depth.  

As the second-half came, I wondered if I would detect any major changes   There really wasn’t much in terms of flavor, strength, or body that changed in my book   The pepper notes did re-emerge and the cocoa moved back into a secondary role (the leather flavors dissipated in the second half).  The Fifty Fifty Black had a spicy finish.   The finish was a little rough.  The resulting nub was not ideal as it was soft and cool.

From an experimental standpoint, I don’t feel the Fifty Fifty Black set out what it was intended to do – deliver two distinct smoking experiences.  Given that most flavor for a cigar comes from the wrapper, I was a little skeptical from the start whether this would provide two distinct smoking experiences in one cigar or not.  In the end, my feeling is that this cigar does not achieve that from a flavor perspective.  At the same time, the flavors I did get from the Fifty Fifty Black were positive ones.

Burn and Draw

This is often the section I get critical of Viaje on.  A lot of times, the burn is often less than stellar and results in a black ash.  This is due to the Viaje cigars being “too young” or “green”.  In this case, my Fifty Fifty Black was aging about six weeks.   The resulting burn was pleasing – it burned extremely straight and at an ideal rate and temperature.   The resulting ash was not only white, but tight.   The draw was one of the better ones I have gotten on a Viaje – making the Fifty Fifty Black a joy to smoke.

Strength and Body

This is one of the better Viaje smokes when it comes to balancing strength and body.  While the Fifty Fifty Black was intended to be the “stronger” blend, I still think this fell a little short of being full strength.  A similar case with the body of this cigar.  I did feel the Fifty Fifty Black flavors had some depth to them, but also fell a little short of being full-bodied.   In both cases, I assessed strength and body as the upper end of medium to full.

With some cigars, I do see the strength and body move up or down as the smoke progresses.  In the case of the Viaje Fifty Fifty Black, I really did not detect anything noticeable in terms of the change of these attributes.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned above, from an experimental standpoint, I don’t think the Fifty Fifty Black hit the mark. However looking at this cigar on its own this was still a very good cigar.  Earlier this year I smoked the Viaje White Label Project Fifty Fifty Red – and did not enjoy it.  However, the Fifty Fifty Black was another story.  It has good flavor and nice balance between the strength and body.   The only other knock is that I didn’t find this the most complex cigar.  I would recommend this to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast, and in some case I would recommend this to a novice if they are looking for more strength and body.   As for myself, I look forward to smoking another one.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: Nice to Have

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.