Recently Villiger North America has announced it was re-introducing the Villiger 1888 line into the U.S. market. The Villiger 1888 was introduced several years ago as a limited production offering to commemorate the Swiss-based company’s 120th anniversary (1888 represents the year the family-owned company was founded). The line is now back – keeping the blend intact while introducing new packaging and banding for the line. The new-look Villiger 1888 was quietly launched at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show. It was also showcased at InterTabac 2016 in Dortmund, Germany. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Villiger 1888 in the Robusto size. Overall I found this cigar to deliver an excellent all-around cigar experience.
The re-launch of the Villiger 1888 is the first release since the company restructured earlier this year. The restructuring included moving the U.S. Headquarters from Charlotte, North Carolina to Miami, Florida. The restructuring included the hiring of Rene Castaneda, a longtime industry veteran as the new President of Villiger North America.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Villiger 1888 Robusto and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Villiger 1888 features the same blend components as the original limited production one. This was a blend developed by Villiger Chairman Heinrich Villiger. Production is being handled at ABAM Cigars S.R.L. located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (ABAM Cigars S.R.L.)
The Villiger 1888 is available in five sizes – each in 20 count boxes.
Corona: 6 x 43
Robusto: 4 7/8 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50
Torpedo: 6 x 52
Toro Gordo: 6 x 60
The Ecuadorian wrapper of the Villiger 1888 Robusto has a medium-brown color with a slight cinnamon-colored tint. The wrapper also had a light coating of oil on the surface. While there were visible veins, most of the wrapper seams were on the thins side.
The new band to the Villiger 1888 is similar to what was introduced with the Villiger San’Doro series.The upper part of the band has an almost reddish mahogany-wood style background surrounded by gold and red trim. The center portion of the band has a semi-circle shape to it. Sitting on that semi-circle, is the Villiger coat of arms – and just below that is the text “VILLIGER” in gold font. The lower portion of the band is bright red in color with gold and black trim surrounding it. Sitting on that portion of the band is the text “1888” in gold font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Villiger 1888 Robusto, 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 delivered a mix of natural tobacco, floral, and a slight fruit sweetness. Overall this wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw, but since the pre-light experience is not scored, there was no loss of points here. At this point I was ready to light up the Villiger 1888 Robusto and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.
The start of the Villiger 1888 Robusto delivered notes of natural tobacco and fruit. Complementing these flavors were a mix of floral, chocolate and baker’s spice notes. The floral note seemed to be the most prominent secondary flavor. Throughout the first third, there were times the baker’s spice had a bit of sharpness and intensity, but for the most part this flavor remained in the background. Meanwhile, I also picked up some black pepper notes in the background.
During the second third, I found the chocolate note increased in intensity. By the midway point, the chocolate moved into the forefront joining the natural tobacco. Meanwhile, the chocolate notes seemed to displace the fruit sweetness in the forefront.
As the Villiger 1888 Robusto burned past the midway point, there was an increase in the spices as some notes of cedar and black pepper emerged on the tongue. The cedar also mixed in with the retro-hale. There was also a decrease in the floral component. Toward the later part of the second third, there was a rapid increase in the cedar.
The last third saw the combination of the cedar and natural tobacco as the primary notes. I still picked up some subtle chocolate, floral, black pepper, and baker’s spice. While there was more spice during this phase, it was not overpowering. This is the way the Villiger 1888 Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Villiger 1888 Robusto maintained a straight burn path. The burn line was relatively straight. This was a cigar that required what I term a normal amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color to it. This ash wasn’t overly firm, but it was not a problematic / flaky one either. Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw performed quite well. It seemed to maintain the right amount of resistance from start to finish. This was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, the Villiger 1888 Robusto started out on the lower end of medium. There was a slight increase in intensity of the strength, but at the end of the smoke it was still in the medium range. Meanwhile the body of the Villiger 1888 Robusto also started out medium. There also was an increase in body and by the second half, the flavors crossed into medium to full-bodied territory.
Overall, I consider the smoking experience of the Villiger 1888 Robusto to be positive. This is a cigar that not only had good flavor, but it’s one that has plenty of complexity. If you like a cigar that changes up and has plenty of flavor nuances along the way, this is going to be the cigar for you. On top of that, the Villiger 1888 Robusto has a very good price point as it comes in at $5.95. This is a cigar I would recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast. It’s also a great cigar for a novice to “graduate” to something medium / medium plus. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s one worthy of a box split.
Key Flavors: Floral, Chocolate, Baker’s Spice, Cedar, Fruit
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted
* Villiger Cigars North America is a sponsor of Cigar Coop and Stogie Geeks