Viaje Holiday Blend 2012

The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 marks the fourth consecutive year that Viaje has created December seasonal release.  This cigar is a Nicaraguan puro that features a criollo wrapper.  In typical Viaje fashion, a single batch is released in the December timeframe and once they are gone, they are gone.  Each year there has been changes to the vitolas released.  While it has never been confirmed if the blend has varied or been tweaked, it is our experience that each year’s Holiday Blend has brought its own profile to the table.  The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 is no exception.  I recently had an opportunity to sample this cigar.   This proves to be another solid release in what has proven to be a very good year for Andre Farkas’ company.

For the first time, the Holiday Blend series has actually been released in two different blends.  In addition to the Nicaraguan Criollo blend, a second blend was done called the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane.  The Candy Cane is unique in that it features two wrappers arranged in barber pole fashion.  In this particular assessment, we will focus on the core Nicaraguan Criollo blend.

In the four years, we have found the 2009 and 2011 editions of the Holiday Blend to be the standout editions of this series.  Let’s take a closer look at the Holiday Blend 2012 and see how it stacks up.

Blend Profile

As mentioned, the core Holiday Blend 2012 is a Nicaraguan puro consisting of a Nicaraguan puro wrapper.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

The core Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 blend is available in one vitola, a 4 3/4 x 54 robusto.   The cigars are packaged 30 per box.  As with most Viaje releases these are small batch. The end result is that authorized Viaje retailers will probably average one to two boxes per shop.

Holiday Blend 2009
Robusto: 5 x 54

Holiday Blend 2010
Short Torpedo: 5 x 54
Petit Robusto: 4 x 54

Holiday Blend 2011
Torpedo: 5 1/4 x 54
Petit Robusto: 4 1/4 x 54

Holiday Blend 2012
Robusto: 4 3/4 x 54
Candy Cane (*): 6 x 54 
* Different blend with wrappers arranged in “barber pole” fashion.


The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 features an oily wrapper that has been common on each of the three previous editions.  The cigar has a dark roasted coffee bean colored wrapper.  The only difference is the 2012 edition seems to have a little more colorado red in its coloring.  There are some visible wrapper veins, but the wrapper seams are well hidden.  The cigar seems to have a very tight pack to it – something common to many of the other previous editions.   There is also a covered foot.

Covered foot to the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012

The 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.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Viaje Holiday Blend 2012, I went with a straight cut into the cap of the cigar.   After the cap was removed, it was time to begin the pre-light draw.  Despite the fact that the Holiday Blend 2012 had a covered foot, I was still able to get a very good dry draw from the cigar.  The dry draw notes consisted of coffee and pepper.  The 2012 blend didn’t really have the cherry sweetness on the dry draw like the 2011 version.  Still this was a satisfactory dry draw.  At this point it was time to toast the foot and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Overall, I found some parallels between the Holiday Blend 2011 and Holiday Blend 2012.  At the same time, there were some differences.  The big overall difference is that there is less cherry sweetness (like the dry draw), and some more chocolate flavors in the 2012 edition.

The start to the Holiday Blend 2012 has a quick blast of pepper.   Once the pepper subsides the flavors settled to roasted coffee, wood, leather, and black pepper.   The wood notes dissipate rather quickly.  In the early stages, the coffee and leather notes moved into the forefront.  Some dark chocolate notes emerged as a secondary flavor.  There is a little bit of cherry, but I categorized it more as a tertiary flavor.

As the Holiday Blend 2012 moved into the second half, the pepper notes became a little more prominent, but more on the retro-hale.  Eventually the pepper moved into the forefront joining the coffee notes.  The leather notes first diminished to a secondary note, and this was soon followed by the coffee flavors.  The dark chocolate notes also remain secondary.  The tertiary cherry notes pretty much dissipate by the end of the second third.

Toward the end of the cigar experience, the pepper notes take center stage.  There is a little bit of harshness toward the end.  The resulting nub is soft to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

From a burn standpoint, I was quite pleased with the way the Holiday Blend 2012 burned.  For the most part the burn remained sharp requiring minimal touch-ups.  The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color and was not as gray as many Viaje ashes tend to be.  The ash was on the firm side with minimal flaking.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

As mentioned above, the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 had a tight pack.  This is something that seems common across the Holiday Blends over the years.   This has also resulted in a tight draw in each of the  editions.  The Holiday Blend 2012 was no exception.  While its not a terrible draw, this is a draw one will have to work a bit.

Strength and Body

Like the Viaje Holiday Blend 2011, the 2012 edition is going to pack a punch.  The Holiday Blend 2012 packed a punch.  This is definitely a full strength cigar from start to finish.  As for the flavors, they have some nice depth to them – making the Holiday Blend a full-bodied smoke.   The strength and body of the 2012 seemed to be fuller than the 2011 edition (which was also full strength and full-bodied).  The only difference is that we assessed the Holiday Blend 2011 based on three months of age, so it is possible there was some mellowing on that blend. The 2012 edition is being assessed shortly after release.

The strength and body of the Holiday Blend 2012 balance each other very nicely.  There might be a slight edge to the strength, but nothing to throw the equilibrium way out of kilt.

Final Thoughts

The Viaje Holiday Blend 2009 and 2011 editions were the standout editions of this series with the criollo blend.  The Holiday Blend 2012 is a nice addition to this series.  There is enough nuances and differences to try this one and not feel like you are smoking a re-run of last year.  I scored this one slightly below the 2009 and 2011 editions, but its not a large gap.   I still wish the draw was just a bit looser.

The other blend in this series, the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane will probably sell a lot quicker because it is a barber pole.  As a result, it might take some attention away from this criollo blend version.  This cigar is certainly worth trying to get.  Overall, this cigar will be too strong for the novice, but experienced cigar enthusiasts who like full smokes will like this one.  As for myself, I enjoyed this smoke and look forward to smoking it again.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Good
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Full
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 91

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