|Viaje White Label Project (WLP) St. Patrick’s Day Candela 2012|
Last year, Viaje released its first candela, the White Label Project St. Patrick’s Day Candela. We were very high on this particular release and ranked it as our #28 Cigar of the Year for 2011. A few week’s ago, we reported on that Viaje was releasing a new candela cigar as a part of its White Label Project series. The Viaje White Label Project (WLP) St. Patrick’s Day 2012 version would feature a new size (this year, a larger 5 x 52 robusto), and a blend modification. The WLP Candela 2012 has made its way to Viaje authorized retailers, and I’ve had a chance to sample this blend. Overall, it’s another solid release by Viaje, and it continues what has been a very good year for Andre Farkas’ brand in 2012.
The White Label
Project was launched about a year ago and has been deemed a series of
experimental blends by Viaje. The original Viaje WLP Candela 2011 was the second release in this series while this year’s Viaje WLP Candela 2012 is the sixth release of the series. In the cases of both of the WLP Candelas, the timing of the releases has been meant to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day as they were both released in the month of March.
Like the rest of the White Label Project releases, these are produced in extremely limited quantities. The packaging (which is done in newspaper wrapped bundles like the other White Label Project releases) indicates that 150 bundles of 25 have been produced. One can expect this will translate into very few bundles (approximately 1 to 2) to authorized Viaje retailers.
Let’s take a closer look at the Viaje White Label Project St. Patrick’s Day Candela 2012 and see what this cigar’s smoking experience is like.
When we previewed the WLP Candela 2012, we mentioned two changes reported by Farkas for this year’s version. The first is the candela wrapper is different than last year, and the second is that the blend itself got a remix. We have not been able to confirm the binder – although we do believe it is Nicaraguan.
Binder: Nicaraguan (unconfirmed)
As we mentioned above, the WLP Candela 2012 is now a 5 x 52 robusto. This is a slightly larger ring gauge from the WLP Candela 2011’s 5 x 50 size. This was the only vitola released for this blend.
From looking at the WLP Candela 2012, there is no doubt that this wrapper is different. It is definitely a deeper shade of green, and actually appears to be less fragile than the 2011 version. The wrapper of the WLP Candela 2012 is smooth and somewhat oily. There are some visible veins present as well.
|Viaje WLP Candela 2011 (Top) and Viaje WLP Candela 2012 (Bottom)|
The band is the usual “White Label Project” band – namely a white
background with “Viaje” visible boldly in black font. There is a thin
black pinstripe at the top and bottom of the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my WLP Candela 2012, I opted to place a straight cut into the cap. When I started with the pre-light draw, I was treated to some bold cream notes. The cream notes had much more body than I expected from the pre-light draw. There were also some hints of cedar on the dry draw.
When it was time to light this cigar, I opted to carefully toast this cigar. Even though the wrapper appeared sturdier, I didn’t want to over-burn this wrapper. The lighting ritual started by gently applying my butane lighter around the circumference of the wrapper on the foot. Once I got a nice amber glow, it was on to toasting the inner foot and beginning the smoking experience.
One thing that stood out from the WLP Candela 2011 was the shot of black pepper I got on the initial draw. The WLP Candela 2012 did not provide such a pepper blast. Yes, there was some spice on the initial draw, but it was more of a cedar/pepper combination, and it was not nearly as spicy. I also detected some cream notes in the background. This seemed to be the reverse of how the spice and cream were positioned from the pre-light draw (which had cream first, spice secondary).
The early flavor profile of the WLP Candela 2012 settled into a combination of cream, cedar/pepper spice in the forefront with a background sweetness. In the WLP Candela 2011, the sweetness that emerged was more citrus-like. For the WLP Candela 2012, the sweetness was more of a natural tobacco sweetness. As the cigar progressed through the first third, some chestnut flavors emerged – this was a similar flavor to what I detected on the WLP Candela 2011.
Toward the latter part of the first third, the chestnut, natural tobacco sweetness, and cream notes converged. This created a nice fusion among the flavors. The cedar/pepper spice took more of a role in the background. This was the flavor profile that held into the second half of the smoke of the WLP Candela 2012.
In the second half, the pepper notes moved out in front. I found the latter part of the second third, and final third to be on the spicier side. While I really loved the flavors of this cigar, toward the end of the cigar, the flavors turned a little harsh. The finishing nub was warm in temperature and soft to the touch.
The 2012 releases (all not just Candela) for Viaje have shown to be more ready to smoke than the 2011 releases (as they seemed to all require 8 to 10 weeks additional aging). The WLP Candela 2012 was ready to smoke out of the box. While the only thing “green” about this cigar was the wrapper, I did wonder if a little more aging would mature the flavors even more – and possibly eliminate the harsher finish.
Burn and Draw
For the most part, the burn of the Viaje WLP Candela 2012 remained pretty straight. The burn got a little crooked at the end, but nothing a butane touch-up didn’t cure. The burn rate was ideal. As for the burn temperature, it remained ideal until the last third. It was in the final third where the burn got hotter than I would have liked. This most likely was a contributing factor to the harsher finish. When I assessed the LFD Double Claro (candela), I had a similar experience, and this could be attributed to the candela being a more delicate wrapper.
The draw was ideal from start to finish – the Viaje WLP Candela 2012 was a low maintenance cigar to smoke.
Strength and Body
I thought the WLP Candela 2012 had more to offer in the categories of strength and body than its 2011 predecessor. From a nicotine standpoint, the WLP Candela 2012 isn’t going to overwhelm you. I assessed it as mild to medium in strength. This was higher on the spectrum than the WLP Candela 2011 which was mild in strength. I did feel the WLP Candela 2012 also had more depth to the flavor notes than the WLP Candela 2011. I did end up assessing the WLP Candela 2012 to be medium bodied. While I also assessed the WLP Candela 2011 to be medium, the needle for the WLP Candela 2012 is a little more to the right in terms of body.
The obvious question to the WLP Candela 2012 is – was this a better cigar than the WLP Candela 2011? I definitely liked the flavors a lot more on the WLP Candela 2012. While it was ready to smoke now, with more age the WLP Candela 2012 could still develop more in terms of flavor. The finish to this cigar was the only drawback. In the end, time will tell if the WLP Candela 2012 will make the year-end countdown, but the potential is there. I do give this cigar a nod over the other major candela release for 2012 – the LFD Double Claro. The WLP Candela 2012 is definitely a cigar that a novice enthusiast will appreciate. Experienced cigar enthusiasts looking for some flavor depth with a candela wrapper will like this. It’s still a cigar I’d smoke again.
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.