|Viaje 5th Anniversary|
One cigar that was front and center at Viaje’s 2012 IPCPR booth was the 2012 IPCPR was the Viaje 5th Anniversary. The name of the cigar is exactly what it says – it is meant to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of Viaje Cigars. The Viaje 5th Anniversary has been released in a single vitola size – a box-press perfecto. If you have followed Viaje Cigars very closely, it probably is a good assumption that the perfecto is a favorite of Viaje president Andre Farkas – so it shouldn’t be a surprise this was the vitola of choice for this commemorative cigar. The Viaje 5th Anniversary has recently made its way to its authorized retailers. I recently had a chance to sample this cigar, and found it to be a good cigar – and one that might appeal to a different segment of Viaje’s cigar enthusiasts.
As with all Viaje cigars, the 5th Anniversary has been released in a model consistent with Viaje’s small batch concept. This usually means that Viaje authorized retailers will receive one to two boxes for a release. When I spoke to Farkas at the 2012 IPCPR trade show, he hinted to me that this would not be a “one and done” release and that there would be additional batches released in the future.
Let’s break down the Viaje 5th Anniversary and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As with most Viaje cigars, the Viaje 5th Anniversary is a Nicaraguan puro.
At this time the Viaje 5th Anniversary is available in a single vitola – a 6 1/4 x 52 box-pressed perfecto. The cigars are packaged 25 to a box. The box features almost a “kitchen cabinet” look with a white matte gloss finish and features a sliding top. This is definitely a unique styled cigar box.
|Box of the Viaje 5th Anniversary (Cigar Coop IPCPR Photo)|
The wrapper of the Viaje 5th Anniversary has a milk chocolate color with a slight colorado red tint. As mentioned, the vitola is a box-press. This particular box-press had a looser feel than most box-press vitolas, but I would not categorize the cigar as being “spongy”. The complexion of the wrapper isn’t all that oily or silky. The 5th Anniversary has some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.
The band is a unique for Viaje in that it is an all white band with white etching for the font. The etching is a little difficult to see, but nonetheless makes for an attractive band. There are two concentric etched circles on the band. Toward the top of the inner concentric circle is a large “5th”. Below the “5th” is the text “ANNIVERSARY” on a ribbon going across the inner circle. Below the ribbon in a smaller etched font is “EST 2007” – representing the founding year of Viaje Cigars. Outside the inner circle, toward the top of the band is the etched text “VIAJE CIGAR CO”. Below the inner circle are the years commemorating the five year anniversary – “2007 2012” (also in etched text). An outer circle surrounds everything on the front of the band just described. The remainder of the band has a leaf design etched around it in a wallpaper mode.
|Front view of the Viaje 5th Anniversary band|
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Viaje 5th Anniversary, I went with a straight cut. I then proceeded to start the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes of the 5th Anniversary yielded some cedar, wood, and some light pepper. Overall, it wasn’t the most exciting pre-light experience, but since we don’t factor this into the final assessment or score, there was no loss of points here.
With the latest cycle of Viaje releases (the Viaje Oro Collector’s Edition, Viaje Honey and Hand Grenades), I have been getting into a better habit of toasting the whole foot. This is because each of these cigars have a perfecto/torpedo footer – and these footers lend themselves for doing this. This habit has seemed to have a positive experience on the burns of those Viajes, so I figured it couldn’t hurt here.
Several times I’ve assessed cigars that are Dominican and have made the comment “This is a Dominican that smokes like a Nicaraguan”. In the case of the Viaje 5th Anniversary, the roles are reversed. I feel this is a Nicaraguan that smokes a lot like a Dominican. This comes from the flavor profile below.
The start of the Viaje 5th Anniversary yielded notes of cedar, wood, and light pepper. The pepper slowly got bolder. I also detected some hints of hickory in the background and this would be a note that would be subtle and present throughout the smoking experience. As the footer burned, the flavor profile gave way to pepper and grass in the forefront. There were also floral notes present with the hickory in the background. As the cigar progressed through the first half, the floral notes varied in the degree of depth.
Around the midpoint, the pepper and grass notes dialed back a bit. These notes were joined by some natural tobacco sweetness. At the same time the floral notes emerged in the forefront. The pepper, grass, natural tobacco sweetness, and floral notes all fused nicely – all evenly providing flavor contributions. Meanwhile, the hickory notes still maintained a subtle role in the background.
In the last third, the pepper and grass moved back into control. The natural tobacco sweetness was secondary, and the hickory was tertiary. This was the way the cigar came to a close. The 5th Anniversary had a nub that was softer to the touch, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Earlie I made the comment that I felt this was a looser (but not soft) box-press. However, this didn’t seem to be a cigar that was under-filled by any means. There were also no adverse effects on the construction attributes of burn and draw as the Viaje 5th Anniversary held up flawlessly. The approach I took for burning the entire tip seemed to work well. The burn line remained sharp from start to finish with minimal touch-ups. The resulting ash was gray and black (something common to Viaje Cigars). The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. The draw was also very good. Again, I the looser pack had me concerned up front, but this cigar was a joy to puff on from start to finish.
Strength and Body
Viaje Cigars have garnered a reputation for many full strength, full-bodied releases. This cigar is not going to approach that area of the spectrum. The Viaje 5th Anniversary starts out as a medium strength cigar. By the second half of the cigar experience, it progresses into medium to full territory for strength. The body of the cigar follows a similar pattern. The depth of the flavors are medium-bodied in the first half, and then graduate to medium to full in the second half. Throughout the smoke the strength and body balance each other very nicely.
While I didn’t think this cigar suffered from lack of aging, I do think a little more age may help develop the flavors even better on this cigar. I know I might be generalizing a bit by saying this cigar smokes like a Dominican, but ultimately the smoker will be the final judge. Overall this was a positive smoking experience. I found this to be a good change of pace cigar in the Viaje line. This is a cigar I would recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. I would also encourage those who like Dominican cigars and have not given Viaje a try to start with this cigar. As for myself, I would reach for this cigar again as I do think it has some nice attributes to offer.
Strength: Medium (Medium to Full in second half)
Body: Medium (Medium to Full in second half)
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, NC.