Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane

The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane marks the first barber pole cigar by Viaje Cigars.  It was at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show where during an interview we did with Viaje president Andre Farkas, he confirmed the Candy Cane would be released this year. However, it wasn’t until several weeks ago where we actually got confirmation that this was going to be a barber pole. It is our belief that 2013 could mark a resurgence in barber pole wrapper cigars to the marketplace. This author recently had an opportunity to sample the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane, and there is no doubt that this cigar was worth the wait.  This is an outstanding release by Viaje.

We do believe that 2013 could mark the return of the barber pole cigar.  In addition to Viaje’s release, there are other significant releases in the short term by 7-20-4, Asylum Cigars and a retail exclusive release by La Flor Dominicana. We are anticipating we will see this trend continue throughout 2013.

The Viaje Holiday Blend series was introduced as an annual small batch release by Viaje in 2009. Each year has seen one or two vitolas released as a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapped cigar. 2012 will also feature one of these type of cigars, but the Candy Cane will be released as a second offering in this series. When the Candy Cane was announced Farkas explained this was a long-delayed project and that it would be released with the a traditional Candy Cane.

“A few years back we started planning for Candy Cane’s release. Delay after delay killed the project last year. After numerous setbacks, Im happy to say it has finally arrived. Candy Cane is coming along with Holiday Blend 2012. Happy Holidays!”

In the end, it is this author’s feeling this cigar was worth the wait.  Let’s break down the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

At press time, there is not any specific information released on the blend breakdown of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane. We do know that Viaje Cigars are primarily Nicaraguan, so it is safe to assume that Nicaraguan tobacco plays a key role with the Candy Cane. We won’t try to guess the blend at this time, we will list it as “Not Disclosed”.

Wrapper: Not Disclosed (Two tobacco types for barber pole effect)
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed

Vitolas Available

The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane is available in a single vitola – 6 x 54 toro size. The cigars are packaged 20 per box. As with most Viaje Cigars these are produced in small batches resulting in a  allocation of about 1 to 2 boxes per authorized Viaje retailer.


Barber pole cigars usually consist of two wrappers – a lighter wrapper and a darker wrapper arranged like a barber pole or candy cane. A classic barber pole will have a light natural wrapper and either a dark natural or maduro wrapper. The Viaje Candy Cane is going to have less contrast between the two wrapper colors. It has what I would term a medium brown wrapper and a dark brown wrapper arranged in the barber pole fashion. The wrapper leaves have a slight amount of oil to them.  There are several visible veins on the surface. Given the contrast in colors, the wrapper seams are visible.   Like the core Viaje Holiday Blend releases, there is a covered foot.

Covered foot of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane

Each Candy Cane cigar is wrapper in red and silver foil, thus giving an the appearance of a Christmas-styled Candy Cane.

“Candy Cane” styled foil wrapper of the
Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane

There are two bands to the Candy Cane. The primary band is the same as the previous Viaje Holiday Blend ones – olive green and silver in color. It features “Viaje” in large classic silver font on an olive background. Below that text is the text “Holiday Blend” in olive font on a silver background. That silver background is situated below the olive background on the band. Below that band is a secondary band. The secondary band is white with olive pinstripes on top and bottom. The text “CANDY CANE” is prominently displayed in a “candy cane” styled font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoke of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane, I went with a straight cut into the cap. I then proceeded to start the pre-light draw. Given the Candy Cane had a covered foot, it was a little difficult to get a good dry draw and get some flavors. After working the dry draw a bit, I picked up subtle notes of leather, wood, and pepper. While the notes were subtle, I still considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to toast the foot of my Candy Cane and see what the cigar experience would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane started with a quick pepper blast.  The pepper quickly subsided and gave way to notes of chocolate, earth, and pepper.   The early stages also saw an interesting herbal note on the retro-hale. This was the first Viaje I had smoked where I detected anything resembling an herbal note. There was no dominant flavor note in the early stages.

By about the five percent the earth notes took over as a primary flavor note. The chocolate notes became a secondary note. I particularly liked how the chocolate notes gave just enough sweetness to the earth notes.  The pepper notes also joined the the herbal notes on the retro-hale. This flavor profile would hold for most of the first third.

Toward the beginning of the second third of the Candy Cane, the pepper and herb notes moved into the full draw. The pepper notes increased somewhat and joined the earth notes as primary flavors. The herbal notes joined the chocolate as secondary flavors.

In the second half of the smoking experience of the Candy Cane, the chocolate notes moved into the forefront and the earth notes receded. The cigar never got overly sweet, nor overly spicy.  This is the way the Candy Cane would smoke until the end. There was a little more pepper at the end, but again it was not overwhelming and it was not harsh. The resulting nub was soft to the touch, but cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

From a burn standpoint, the Viaje Candy Cane’s burn was good, but fell short of being what I consider an excellent burn.  The main issue was that this cigar required multiple touch-ups. While the touch-ups did the trick, there were more touch-ups needed than I would have preferred. This could best be summed up as a nuisance more than a major issue. While this cigar showed no signs of being young from a flavor standpoint, it is possible this was due to the fact these cigars were recently shipped.

The resulting ash was a grayish salt and pepper color. This was not as gray as many Viaje ashes. The ash had some minor flaking to it, but it was tight for the majority of the smoke. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

The draw had a touch a resistance to it. I like when a cigar draws like this, so I feel this made for an excellent draw in my book.

Strength and Body

Many Viaje releases have an emphasis on strength. In some cases the strength overpowers the flavor.  In other cases, the flavors are as bold as the strength. In the case of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane, this cigar is going to emphasize body over strength.

The strength to the Candy Cane is not overpowering at all. I assessed this cigar to be medium strength from start to finish. As for the flavors, the Candy Cane starts out medium-bodied. In the middle of the first third it progresses to medium to full-bodied – and stays there until the late stages. In those late stages (last 1/4), the flavors move to full-bodied.

Final Thoughts

It should be good to see more barber poles emerge in 2013.  There haven’t been many released lately.  From a Cigar Coop standpoint, this marks our 444th assessment (review and preview) since our inception, yet this is the first barber pole we assessed.

While some may consider this a gimmicky cigar, this cigar backs up its marketing with a very good smoking experience. Normally I don’t go for a cigar with a lot of earth notes, but somehow things work very well with this blend.  I don’t think age is going to radically change the flavor profile radically, but as with any Viaje cigar, it will always be interesting to see. From a Viaje standpoint, the herbal notes gave this a different feel from most other Viajes.

This is a very good cigar to give to the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, I liked the way this cigar came together. I’d smoke it again and certainly consider it a box purchase candidate.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium to Full (Medium to Start, Full at very end)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

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