|Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012
The Viaje Exclusivo series was launched a couple of years ago. Originally the Exclusivo was intended to be a private blend for Viaje founder Andre Farkas. The cigar soon began to gains some momentum and Farkas made a decision to make some releases available to the general public. Once Exclusivo joined the Viaje family, it is been integrated into Viaje’s small batch, limited release model. For 2012, Viaje has added another release that has been made available to its authorized retailers. This release is a robusto vitola. Overall, I have yet to get hooked on the Exclusivo like I have Farkas’ other personal blend, the Viaje Friends and Family (but as you probably know, the Exclusivo is much easier to obtain). I found the Viaje Exclusivo to be a cigar where I liked it, but didn’t love it.
Last year when I smoked the Viaje Exclusivo Short (for 2011), I went through a period of 8 to 10 weeks of aging. This is because of (in my opinion) many of the 2010 and 2011 Viaje cigars being shipped were a little green. My experience was that aging the Exclusivo Short helped. It seems in 2012, most of the new Viajes have been much more ready to smoke, so I decided not to use the 8 to 10 week rule for the Exclusivo Robusto 2012. In the end, while the Exclusivo Short was not in dire need of more age, I don’t think it would have hurt to have given this cigar some more aging.
Let’s break down the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 and see what it brings to the table.
Like most Viaje releases, the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 is a Nicaraguan puro.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
This batch of Viaje Exclusivos, released in May 2012 consists of a single vitola, a 5 x 50 robusto. This is not the first robusto as there there were 2010 releases, but the 2012 release is slightly longer. Here are the other Exclusivos that have been released in the series.
Short: 4 1/4 x 42
Robusto (2010): 4 7/8 x 50 (released in jars and bundles)
Chiquito: 4 3/4 x 51 (Two retailers)
Double Edged Sword: 5 3/4 x 52
Tower Cigars 45th (Boxpress): 5 1/2 x 52 (Retail Exclusive to Tower Cigars)
Corona Gorda: 5 5/8 x 46 (Event Only)
Atlantic Cigar 15th Anniversary (Lancero): 7 1/2 x 40 (* Retail Exclusive to Atlantic Cigars)
The wrapper of the Viaje Exclusive Robusto has a coffee bean colored wrapper with a colorado red tint to it. The wrapper itself also has a slight oily sheen to it. There are some visible wrapper seams, and very few visible veins. There is a pig-tail tie at the cap.
The band features the classic Viaje leaf logo with a black, silver, and ivory color scheme. The actual Viaje logo and name are in black text sitting on an ivory background. The remainder of the band is adorned with silver. To the far left and right are the text (in black font) “Nicaragua” and “Hand Made” respectively.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
With pig-tail caps, I know there is a tendency to pull the pig-tail off, but I typically do not do this and will still go with a default straight cut. This is exactly what I did with the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto. The pre-light draw had a combination wood, cedar, black pepper, and a hint of unsweetened citrus. Overall it wasn’t a bad dry draw. At this point, I was ready to fire up the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto and see what the cigar would bring to the table.
The Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 provided a pepper blast to start. Last year, when I smoked the Viaje Exclusivo Short, I felt the pepper blast was much more pronounced, but I would still categorize the start of the Exclusivo Robusto 2012 as a pepper blast. The pepper moved to the background and gave way to notes of grass, coffee, and chicory. The coffee and grass notes were in the forefront, while the chicory and pepper were more background notes.
In the late stages of the first third, the pepper notes joined the coffee notes in the forefront while the grass joined the chicory in the background. The other observation is while I could detect the pepper as a primary note, it also was very present on the after-draw. I also detected a slight hint of cinnamon as a tertiary note but this flavor note did not stay around long.
Overall, there were times where the pepper was more present than the coffee and vice versa. By the second half of the smoke, the pepper notes took control. The coffee notes joined the grass notes in the background and the chicory notes faded. I also began to detect the pepper more in the nostrils. While there was definitely pepper on the finish, it was not a harsh finish. The resulting nub was warmer than I would like, but still firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
As mentioned at the start, I did not follow my self-imposed 8 to 10 aging rule for this Viaje cigar.
As I mentioned, it probably would not have hurt to age the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto more. The burn did require more touch-ups than I preferred in order to keep the burn line straight. The burn rate was ideal, but I felt the burn temperature was warmer than it should be. It never really created a soft cigar, but you can just tell this was a hotter burn. In the end, it did not result in any harshness. However if this was a toro vitola, I feel eventually harshness would have been the issue in the late stages. On a side note, the resulting ash was more salt and pepper colored.
The draw was a little tighter than I preferred. Normally I like some resistance on the draw, but this one was definitely tighter. In the case of the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto, it wasn’t quite a situation where it was a losing battle with the draw, but it was not one of the cigars that not ideal either.
Strength and Body
From a nicotine perspective, the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 definitely has a decent amount of pop. I categorize this cigar as medium to full in terms of strength. As for the body, there also is a nice amount of depth to the flavor notes. I also categorized this as medium to full. Many Viaje cigars are accused of being skewed more toward flavor over strength. While the Exclusivo Robusto is medium to full in terms of strength and body, I still would give the strength a slight advantage over the body here. I wouldn’t categorize this balance as being completely out of whack, but definitely is slight edge for strength here.
I mentioned in the introduction that the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 is a case where I would say “like it, but didn’t love it”. It had good flavor and a decent amount of pop. The burn and draw issues did not create an ideal situation. I also mentioned that imposing my 8 to 10 week aging rule probably would not have hurt. Is this a case where the cigar was green? No. Could aging have developed the flavors better? Probably. Could aging have helped the burn and draw issues? Jury is still out, but my gut is telling me no here. The Exclusivo Robusto carries a higher SRP (around the $10.00 mark). We don’t factor price into our assessment ratings and scores, but this is still worth noting. I probably would steer this cigar more toward the experienced cigar enthusiast as opposed to the novice. While it’s not my favorite Viaje blend, I’ll still smoke the next incarnation of the Exclusivo when its released.
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigar(s) for this experience described in this assessment were purchased at Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.