Viaje Cigars have built a reputation for its seasonal small batch releases. In 2011, the Viaje Stuffed Turkey cigar made its debut and started a tradition of an annual seasonal release for Thanksgiving. Since that initial release, the Stuffed Turkey expanded into White Meat (Natural Wrapper) and Dark Meat (Maduro) offerings. By 2014, a third cigar was introduced known as the Viaje Farmer Bill Hatchet. As much as Viaje is known for its seasonal releases, it is also known for putting twists into the themes and blends around these releases. One example of this happening was back in 2016 when the brand’s “Zombie” theme was incorporated into the Farmer Bill Hatchet release – and thus the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet was born. Today we take a closer look at the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet from that initial 2016 release.
Viaje founder Andre Farkas has a story for how the Zombie concept ties several Viaje releases together. Here is how we described it in the past.
This year, Viaje announced that the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet would be a part of the 2017 Thanksgiving Seasonal releases.
The cigars used for this assessment are from the original 2016 release and have had about 12 months of age on them in the Cigar Coop humidor. Without further ado, let’s break down the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet 2016 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Because the details of the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet 2016 have not been disclosed, we can’t give our readers information about the blend or country of origin (Viaje has used cigar factories in four countries).
Wrapper: Not Disclosed
Binder: Not Disclosed
Filler: Not Disclosed
Country of Origin: Not Disclosed
Box Pressed Robusto: 5 1/2 x 54
The original Farmer Bill Hatchet was a box-pressed Churchill measuring 7 x 52, so the Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet also introduced a new size with the 5 1/2 x 54 box pressed Robusto.
Packaging-wise, the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet is sold in 30-count boxes. Each box contains six 5-packs of the cigars. When the Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet was released, some retailers only sold the five packs while others sold the cigars individually.
The Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet I smoked had a dark chocolate-colored wrapper with some Colorado red mixed in. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling on the wrapper. There was also a light coat of oil on the surface of the wrapper. This was also a relatively firm box press with a smooth surface. The wrapper had some thin visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams. The cigar also featured a covered footer.
The band has a similar design to the original Viaje Farmer Bill Hatchet release, but with a different color scheme. The upper portion (approximately 2/3) of the band has a charcoal background and the lower portion of the band has a pale green background. The upper portion is highlighted by a character that looks like a “mutated” farmer – complete with a red checkered shirt, blue overalls, a severed hand, an ax, and a pale-green face. To the left and right of the image are a series of white cross-bones. The lower portion of the band has the text “VIAJE” logo text in white font. Below that text is the text “FARMER BILL HATCHET” in larger white font – sitting on a black background that looks like a piece of wood.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet, I used a straight cut to remove the cap of the cigar. It was then on to the pre-light draw phase. The dry draw delivered a mix of wood, cinnamon, and a slight cherry cream note. Overall, I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet and awaited what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start of the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet 2016 seemed to pick up where the pre-light draw left off. I detected more notes of wood and cherry cream. The cherry cream notes became primary early on. During this time there was a nice (but not overpowering) amount of sweetness on this cigar. At the same time, there was a layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
By the second third, the primary notes morphed into a creamy earth note. The cherry receded into the background where it was joined by a note that could best be described as slightly charred wood. There were also some notes of subtle black pepper that emerged. As the Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet 2016 moved past the midway point, there was a slight increase in both the charred and pepper notes while the cherry flavor continued to diminish.
The last third of the Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet 2016 saw the creamy earth and char notes on-par. The pepper notes were still present in the background. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
I deemed the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet to be a well-constructed cigar and this reflected nicely on the burn and draw scores. The Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet had a relatively straight burn line and had little trouble maintaining that. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t a loose one either. The ash was light gray with some darker speckling mixed in. The burn temperature was ideal. I found this to be a slow burning robusto (I had no trouble going two hours on one sample), but this resulted in no adverse effects of the smoking experience (except if you were in a rush).
The draw to the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet was open, but not loose. This was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
I assessed the Viaje Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet as being a medium strength, medium-bodied cigar from start to finish. The intensity of both attributes increased along the way, but in the end, the cigar still stayed in the medium range. This cigar did lose a little bit of its strength and body since last year, as both attributes were closer to medium to full when this cigar came out.
As for strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other very nicely with neither one overshadowing the other.
From the pre-light draw and the initial phases of the Viaje Farmer Bill Hatchet, I was quite high on what the cigar was delivering. However as the cigar progressed and some of the char notes surfaced, this cigar just seemed to lose something in my book. To quote my old Stogie Geeks colleague Stogie Santa, this cigar could not figure out what it wanted to do. The flavors weren’t bad, but something just wasn’t clicking for me with this blend.
In the end, there was enough going on with this cigar where I still would encourage one to pick one up and try it. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would revisit again – especially with the 2017 versions now hitting the market.
Key Flavors: Cherry, Cream, Charred Wood, Black Pepper, Earth
Assessment: 2.5-Try One
News: Zombie Farmer Bill Hatchet Heads for Release
Brand Reference: Viaje
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted