|Viaje Exclusivo Leaded – Pre-production|
The Viaje Exclusivo Leaded is a new cigar that is about to be released later this month by Andre Farkas’ Viaje Cigars. The Exclusivo Leaded is an off-shoot of the Viaje Exclusivo line – one of the more popular lines released by Viaje. The Leaded is different than the rest of the line in that it incorporates medio tiempo tobacco, one of the highest priming leafs that only grows on a small percentage of tobacco plants. Medio tiempo is known to provide strength, body, and flavor. Back on the 12/7/13 edition of Kiss My Ash Radio, Farkas briefly talked about the project and mentioned it creates “a more robust version of the Exclusivo”. I couldn’t agree with Farkas more. The addition of the medio tiempo leaf really works with this blend – creating another special release by Viaje.
Being medio tiempo is a high priming leaf, it is a leaf that gets the most sunlight and nutrients, so it tends to produce a fuller strength, fuller-bodied cigar. The Aganorsa farms in Nicaragua, for which Farkas uses for his blends is known for growing this leaf, thus it makes sense for Farkas to incorporate this into the blend.
The Exclusivo line was intended originally to be Farkas’ personal blend. Over the past few years, it has become one of Viaje’s more active line.
At this point, let’s explore the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded. As a disclaimer, this cigar is based on a pre-production sample I received back in July. We intend this assessment to give an idea to get an idea for this cigar. We know its quite possible the final product to be different. As a result, we will default to our pre-review format to share our thoughts and perspectives here. Once the final product is released, we will smoke again and then come up with an assessment rating and score.
At this time, Viaje has not received specific blend information on the Exclusivo Leaded. We do know that the original Viaje Exclusivo was a Nicaraguan puro with a Criollo wrapper. We can only infer this blend is close and most likely is a Nicaraguan puro as well.
The Viaje Exclusivo Leaded is being released in a robusto – which is the size of the pre-production sample smoked. The robusto we smoked measures approximately 5 x 50.
The wrapper of the Viaje Exclusive Leaded has a medium brown colored wrapper. Upon closer examination, there are some darker marbled spots to it. The wrapper has somewhat of an oily complexion. There are some visible wrapper seams, and very few visible veins. There is a pig-tail tie at the cap and a covered foot.
The band features the classic Viaje leaf logo with a black, red, silver, and ivory color scheme. The actual Viaje logo and name are in red sitting on an ivory background. The difference is the logo is red versus black. 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. The red color on the band is appropriate because leaded gasoline pumps often had a red color to it.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up my Viaje Exclusivo Leaded, I opted to use a straight cut as opposed to pulling the pig-tail cap off. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw ritual. The pre-light draw wasn’t the most exciting. I detected some notes of wood, coffee, and light spice. The covered foot might have thwarted a little of the flavors on the dry draw. While it wasn’t the most exciting, it still wasn’t a bad one either. At this point, I was ready to light up the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded and see what the overall smoking experience would have in store.
Right out of the gate, the Viaje Exclusivo Lead provided me with a strong blast of black pepper. I also detected the pepper prominently on the retro-hale – where it remained throughout the smoke. In the first five percent, notes of coffee and earth emerged and eventually these went on par with the pepper notes.
In the middle of the first third, the coffee and earth notes went primary while the pepper became a close secondary note. There was also an underlying natural tobacco sweetness that surfaced in the forefront with the coffee and earth.
At the start of the second half, the pepper notes re-emerged and once again moved on par with the coffee, earth, and natural tobacco sweetness. There was some varying degrees of these four notes, but at this point I would say there was not a dominant flavor over the others.
Toward the last third, the pepper, earth, and natural sweetness moved out in front. The coffee notes became a distant secondary note. Overall, I found the Leaded to be flavorful right until the end. The resulting nub was on the lukewarm side, but it was still firm.
Burn and Draw
The burn line of the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded remained relatively straight. – not requiring an abnormal amount of touch-ups. The ash was slightly loose, but wasn’t prone to any major flaking. The ash had more of a darker color to it with a lot more black than gray to it. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded|
The draw to the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded also performed very well. The draw was not too loose and not too tight. Overall the Leaded did not require a lot of effort to derive flavors from this cigar.
Strength and Body
Given there is medio tiempo in the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded, this was the area I was most interesting in. I found the leaded to really have some kick to it. I’ve been in possession of the sample for almost eight months, and overall I found this cigar to still have plenty of fire-power. This was a full strength cigar – and I found this to be one of the strongest Viaje cigars I have smoked.
The flavors had a little more depth, however I still founded the Leaded to be a medium to full-bodied smoke. This is a cigar where the strength has the advantage. In the case of this cigar, while the strength had the edge, I still liked what this cigar was delivering.
Overall, I liked what Farkas did with this particular blend. The incorporation of the medio tiempo worked real well here. I liked how this cigar had some amp’d up strength. At the same time, I liked the flavors this cigar delivered. I would have liked a little more body on the flavors, but this cigar still did well. This got me wondering – what would some of the other Viaje blends be like with medio tiempo tobacco? It also made me think what some of the vitola sizes of the Exclusivo would be like with the Leaded blend. I’m also curious to see if this cigar would maintain its power with more age on it. This is a cigar for an experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, I hope the final blend smokes like this pre-production one. It has the potential to be one of Viaje’s best.
Body: Medium to Full
Source: Samples provided by Manufacturer (*)
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* The cigar for this assessment was provided by Viaje Cigars. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but in no way does this influence this write-up.