The Viaje Exclusivo line is one of the most well-known lines in the Viaje portfolio. The Exclusivo blend is a Nicaraguan puro that started out as a personal blend for company founder Andre Farkas. Over the years, Farkas has done many different sizes of the Viaje Exclusivo blend in limited editions, small batches and shop exclusives. In 2016, the company announced it would release several sizes of the Exclusivo as a regular on-going production. At the same time, Viaje has continued to do small batch limited offshoots. Last Fall, Viaje unveiled one of those offshoots known as the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua. While the original Viaje Exclusivo is a Nicaraguan puro, it is a cigar made in Honduras at Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L. (i.e Raices Cubanas). With the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua, this is a cigar made in Nicaragua at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa SA (Casa Fernandez’s TABSA factory). As for the cigar, it is also a Nicaraguan puro, but features a different blend from its Honduran counterpart. Recently I had an opportunity to smoke the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua in the Toro size. Overall I found this to be an outstanding release by Viaje.
There’s been some confusion about the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua line and the original Viaje Exclusivo line. The Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua is not a cigar that is replacing the original Exclusivo line, but one that is meant to complement it. This probably stems from the fact that Casa Fernandez, Viaje’s manufacturing partner has moved production of many lines from Honduras to Nicaragua. Even Viaje has done this as it has moved production of the 2015 edition of the Viaje Summerfest out of the Raices Cubanas in Honduras to TABSA in Nicaragua.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
As mentioned, the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua is a different blend than the Honduran made Exclusivo. Like the original Honduran made one, the Exclusivo Nicaragua features 100% Nicaraguan tobacco. How the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua differs from the Honduran-made one has not been documented.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (TABSA)
The Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua is available in three sizes – each packaged in 25 count cabinet boxes. These three sizes reflect the three regular production sizes for the U.S. of the Honduran-made Exclusivo line
Robusto: 5 x 52
Double R: 5 1/2 x 54
Toro: 6 x 50
The wrapper of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro had a mix between a medium brown and a colorado red color to it. The surface of the wrapper had a light coat of oil to it. There were some thin visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams, but overall I considered this to be a smooth wrapper.
The band of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua is a variation of the one found on the rest of the Viaje Exclusivo line. This is a band that features the classic Viaje leaf logo with a black, silver, and ivory color scheme. The difference is the Viaje lead logo has two blue leaves and white leaf representing the colors of the Nicaraguan flag. The actual Viaje logo and name are in black text sitting on an ivory background. The remainder of the band is adorned with silver. To the far left and right are the text (both in black font) “Nicaragua” and “Hand Made” respectively.
Prior to lighting up the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was detached, I commenced with the pre-light draw experience. The pre-light draw delivered a mix of cedar, generic wood, natural tobacco, and a slight bit of cocoa. Overall I considered this to be a very good pre-light experience. At this point, I was ready to light up the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Out of the gate, the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro treated me to a combination of cedar, nut, natural, red pepper, and citrus. It didn’t take long for the natural tobacco, red pepper, and citrus to fuse into what I call a “twang”. This “twang” along with the nut and cedar notes became the primary flavors. In the background, I also picked up some cocoa powder notes. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, I also picked up some additional red pepper notes.
Later in the first third, earth notes surfaced joining the nut, cedar and twang flavor. The cocoa notes started to increase and by the start of the second third these notes began to surface in the forefront.
During the second third of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro, the earth and cocoa notes seemed to be the primary flavors. The cedar, “twang”, and nut flavors moved into the background. In particular, the “twang” began to come apart and I started picking up more in the way of red pepper.
The last third saw the earth notes resume control as the primary note. At times the red pepper and cedar notes made their way into the forefront. Meanwhile, the cocoa receded into the background while the nut flavors pretty much dissipated. This is the way the cigar experience of the Viaje Nicaragua Exclusivo Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro to be a well-constructed cigar and this was reflected on the burn draw. For the most part, I found this cigar to maintain a straight burn line and straight burn path. The ash produced from this cigar wasn’t the firmest ash, but it was not a loose or flakey ash either. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
I also found the Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro to have an excellent draw. This had a touch of resistance on it – which is something that I like.
Strength and Body
With the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro, I found this cigar to be somewhat bolder than the Honduran-made Exclusivo line. From a strength perspective, I found the Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro started out medium to full in strength. There was a slight increase in the strength along the way. Toward the end of this cigar, it was very close to being full strength.
As for the body, the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro started out in the full range. There was a slight increase in body, thus it remained in the full range right until the end. In terms of strength versus body, I found the body to have the edge.
Typically I am not a big fan of the twangy notes, but when it came to the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Toro, there was enough going on in the flavor department that balanced things out. Once the twang diminished and dissipated, I found the flavors really opened up – particularly in the second third. I also liked the that this cigar had some additional strength and body compared to its Honduran-made Exclusivo sibling. This is not only a cigar that has responded nicely to aging thus far, but I think it’s one that will continue to get better with age.
Given this is a bolder cigar, it’s probably one that I would steer to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s one worthy of a box purchase.
Key Flavors: Earth, Coffee, Cedar, Red Pepper, Nut, “Classic Twang”
Strength: Medium to Full
Assessment: 4.0-Box Worthy