|Viaje Zombie Maduro 2014|
While Viaje Cigars has built its business model on small batch limited production releases, the Viaje Zombie series is considered one of the most limited of all of their lines. The series was introduced in 2011 and each year has been released to a handful of retailers in small batches. Back in February, Viaje President Andre Farkas was a guest on our Stogie Geeks show and broke news that the company would also be offering its first maduro in the Zombie series to go along side the traditional Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper offering. The Viaje Zombie 2014 series would only be released to R. Field Wine in Honolulu, Hawaii, New York / Connecticut retailer The Cigar Republic, and online retailer Atlantic Cigar. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to sample the Viaje Zombie Maduro and without a doubt this represents the best offering in the Zombie series to date.
When Farkas was a guest on our show, he explained the Zombie was tied in with a story with another blend. The story goes that Viaje Skull and Bones WMD (Weapon Mass Destruction) explodes. Because of radiation from the explosion, people would mutate into “Zombies”.
As mentioned there are two offerings in Viaje Zombie 2014 batch. The first is the traditional Nicaraguan Criollo in the blend that has been released this year. This is being referred to as Viaje Zombie 2014 (Green Label). The other is the maduro offering – known as Viaje Zombie Maduro 2014 (Red Label). Both are in the same tapered footer robusto size and shape.
|Viaje Zombie 2013 (Criollo Blend – Top); Viaje Zombie Maduro (Bottom)|
There have been several offshoots of the Zombie as well.
- Viaje Zombie 2013 Natural Box: This was an alternate blend that was released in 2013 along with the core line Viaje Zombie 2013 (Black Box) offering. This was only released to two retailers.
- Viaje Zombie Super Shot: This is an extension to the Viaje Super Shot line using a blend based off the Zombie blend. It was released in 2013 and again in 2014 and is available to all retailers.
- Viaje Zombie Antidote: A new release planned for 2014 and will be made available to all Viaje retailers.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the Viaje Zombie Maduro 2014 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
In addition to a maduro wrapper, the Zombie Maduro features Nicaraguan tobaccos for its binder and filler
The Viaje Zombie Maduro is available in one size – a 5 x 52 robusto that features a tapered foot giving the cigar an reverse torpedo look. This size was introduced with the Viaje Zombie 2013 releases and returns for the Viaje Zombie 2014 releases.
The Viaje Zombie 2014 Maduro blend has a coffee bean colored wrapper with a touch of colorado red mix in. This wrapper is slightly darker than the normal Criollo wrapper and definitely has a maduro look to it. The complexion of the wrapper is slightly oily. There are visible veins and visible wrapper seams on this cigar. As mentioned, the foot is slightly tapered and has an open footer.
The band is black in color with the text “ZOMBIE” in a red haunted-styled font, thus this cigar gets the name “Red Label”. The traditional Criollo offering continues to have the label with the green font and thus has been called “Green Label”.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As I normally do, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap of the Zombie Maduro. Once the cap was clipped I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw provided a mix of coffee and floral spice notes. While it wasn’t the most complex pre-light, I still found it to be satisfying. At this point I was ready to light up the Zombie Maduro and see what the forthcoming smoking phase would bring to the table.
The start to the Zombie Maduro provided a mix of red pepper, natural tobacco, and coffee notes. The coffee notes became primary very early on. The red pepper notes were a close secondary note and the natural tobacco notes were a little more distant. The red pepper notes could be detected on the retro-hale.
Throughout the first half, there were times the red pepper had almost an herbal spice quality. There were also other times some chocolate notes emerged with the coffee flavors. The chocolate notes provided some sweetness and by the midway point, they had displaced the coffee notes.
As the second half of the smoking phase began, the chocolate and pepper notes were now primary. Toward the last third, the spice was now firmly in control. This is the way the cigar experience finished up. The resulting nub was outstanding – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
I found the Zombie Maduro performed very good in terms of both burn an draw. The burn line remained straight from start to finish – requiring only an occasional touch-up. The burn also performed very well on the tapered end of this cigar before it reached the main base. The resulting ash was not overly tight, but still was firm. The ash had a typical charcoal gray color common to many Viaje cigars. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Viaje Zombie Maduro|
The draw was outstanding. It was very similar to my experience with what I recently reviewed Viaje Zombie 2013 – namely not too tight and not too loose. There was a decent amount of smoke produced from this cigar. Overall, I found the Viaje Zombie Maduro a low maintenance cigar to puff on.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, the Zombie Maduro started out in the medium to full range. However, the strength increased and by the start of the second third, this was operating a full strength level. The strength remainder at full strength for the duration of the smoking experience. As for the depth of the flavors, the Zombie Maduro is going to weigh heavy on the pallet – making for a full-bodied smoke from start to finish. In terms of strength versus body, I’d say this cigar emphasizes body over strength in the early stages, but strength over body in the latter stages.
It is worth noting that this assessment was done a couple of weeks after the release of the Viaje Zombie Maduro 2014. While age cannot effect strength and body on any release, I am curious to see how these smoke a year from now – especially since I thought the Viaje Zombie 2013 (Black Box) had mellowed nicely.
While I haven’t smoked every Viaje Zombie release, I have enjoyed the ones I smoked. At the same time, the ones I had smoked are not ones I would have put in the upper echelon of Viaje releases. With the Viaje Zombie Maduro 2014 – it is a different story. This one stands out very nicely. Releases such as the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan and Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery BP have been shown Viaje has done some nice things with maduro wrapper – and the Zombie Maduro now joins that club. This is not a cigar for the novice cigar enthusiast. As for experienced cigar enthusiasts, I would recommend this for someone who wants a full strength, full-bodied cigar experience. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and its box worthy in my book.
Strength: Medium to Full (1st Third), Full (remainder)
Assessment: 4.0 – Box Worthy