|Viaje White Label Project (WLP) Super Shot 12 Gauge|
Last month, Viaje announced there would be a special version of the Super Shot that would be released under its “White Label Project” (WLP) umbrella. The Viaje WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge was born as a result of a sizing error during production with the 2012 version of the Viaje Super Shot 12 Gauge. As a result these “mistake” cigars were moved into an aging room. Recently company President Andre Farkas made a decision to release the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge. I recently had an opportunity to sample this “mistake” size that had been aging for several months. Overall, I found this to be another great option to the 2012 Super Shot line.
In early 2012, Viaje launched its Super Shot series. The name for the Super Shot comes from Farkas’ interest in clay shooting. Farkas was hoping to create a short smoke while taking a break in between shooting. The cigars are shaped and sized similar to a shotgun shell – and are named 10 Gauge and 12 Gauge to represent the shell size.
The White Label Project was launched over two years ago and has been deemed a series of experimental blends by Viaje. It is in this line where the Super Shot 12 Gauge “mistakes” were put in. The “mistake” made was that when Viaje originally ordered the Super Shot 2012 in the 12 Gauge, it came in a 1/4 inch too big – with the cigar measuring 3 1/2 x 52. The actual Super Shot 12 Gauge was to measure a 3 1/4 x 52.
Without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at the Viaje WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Viaje WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge is based on the 2012 Viaje Super Shot blend. This is a Nicaraguan puro featuring a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper. It is worth noting that 2013, Viaje released two versions of the Super Shot – one with a Criollo wrapper and one with a Corojo wrapper. The WLP Super Shot was produced from that 2012 batch.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
|Packaging of Viaje WLP Super Shot|
Consistent with the rest of the Super Shot series, there is no band on the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge. On the other hand, this is the first cigar in Viaje’s White Label Project series to not contain a band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Viaje WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap. After clipping the cap, I proceeded with the pre-light draw ritual. The dry draw was almost identical to what I got on the 10 gauge (2012 version). It started with some wood and pepper. As the the pre-light draw progressed, there were some sweet notes (that I could not draw an analogy to) that emerged. Overall, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. Considering the foot was covered, I was pleased with the flavors I got on the pre-light. At this point it was time to fire up the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge and see what this cigar would deliver.
There were some parallels between the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge and the Super Shot 2012 blends. At the same time the WLP Super Shot does deliver its own story.
There was a pepper blast to start. The pepper blast was somewhat dialed back to when I first smoked the 2012 10 Gauge. Once the pepper subsided, there were notes of earth and pepper that entered the equation. The earth notes were something more noticeable on the WLP Super Shot. (When I first smoked the original 2012 Super Shot had more of an oak note quality in its place). Meanwhile the retro-hale had a cedary spice quality to it.
The coffee notes slowly increased. Later in the first third, the coffee notes became primary and took on some of the deep espresso notes I had grown to love on this blend. There also was an underlying sweetness that seemed to be a cross between natural tobacco and sugar cane. The sweetness was complementary and never overpowered the smoking experience. With the coffee notes in control, the pepper and earth notes played a secondary role.
In the second half, the pepper notes increased – joining the coffee notes and eventually eclipsing them by the end. The end of the cigar had spice, but it was not harsh (something that was a slight issue on the original 2012 10 Gauge). The resulting nub was outstanding – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge performs very well when it comes to burn and draw. The burn line remained relatively straight during the cigar experience – requiring only some occasional touch-ups. The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color – skewed a little more toward the grayer side. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The Super Shot series always had a a bit of a tighter draw than most cigars. The WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge had a little less resistance than the 2012 Super Shot 10 Gauge. At the same time, there was still just enough resistance on the draw where I considered this to be ideal (normally I like a little resistance on the draw). At the level the draw was at for the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge, it prevented you from smoking this cigar too fast – which I thought was a good thing since this is a short smoke.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, I found the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge to be slightly dialed back compared to when I originally smoked the 2012 Super Shots. The WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge started out medium to full strength. By the midway point, it reached the full strength area of the spectrum that I was accustomed to on this blend. As for the flavors they remained full-bodied from start to finish. The first half of the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge has a slight advantage of body over strength. By the midway point, the strength and body both are well balanced.
All Viaje Cigars are released in small batches. The WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge was released in a batch with some higher profile Viaje releases such as the Viaje Zombie Super Shot, the Viaje Zombie, the Viaje Exclusivo Super Lance, and the 2013 Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito. Given these other releases were high profile, it seems easy for the WLP Super Shot to have gotten lost. However this was a real hidden gem. While I missed some of the power up-front, I did like how the WLP Super Shot 12 Gauge “smoothed the rough edges” of this blend’s flavor profile. Finally I liked having that extra 1/4 inch on the 52 ring gauge with this blend.
I’d probably still recommend this an experienced cigar enthusiast who likes a full strength and full-bodied smoke. I’d say this is still too much cigar for the novice cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is definitely a cigar I would definitely smoke again and one that I would consider picking up a bundle of.
Strength: Medium to Full (to start), Full (2nd Half)
Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.