At the end of 2015, Villiger North America, the U.S. operation of global tobacco giant Villiger Sons Limited, reached a crossroad. For several years, Villiger North America had been tasked to make an impact in the premium handmade cigar market. The effort was proving not to be profitable and was disconnected with its customers. Villiger had to decide whether to shut down the U.S. operation or make some changes. The tobacco giant opted for the latter and decided to restructure. Early in 2016, Rene Castaneda, a longtime industry veteran, was named the new President of Villiger North America. Castaneda’s job would be to execute on the new strategy and assess Villiger’s position in the U.S. market. Castaneda spent over a year meeting and reconnecting with retailers and consumers. In 2017, the next phase of his plan was put in place as he spearheaded the resurrection of an old Villiger brand called La Flor de Ynclan. This proved to be a huge success for Villiger and it was capped off with earning Cigar Aficionado’s #10 Cigar of the Year rating. Riding a wave of momentum, Villiger kicked off 2018 by releasing another line called La Vencedora. La Vencedora would be a very different cigar than Villiger had released before. Today, we take a closer look at the Villiger La Vencedora in the Churchill size.
The name La Vencedora translates to “The Victor” and it paid homage to the highly successful year Villiger Cigars North America had in 2017. As mentioned, La Vencedora was a different cigar than Villiger had released before in that this line was positioned as a full-bodied smoke. It would not only fill a gap Villiger had in the portfolio, but it would allow the company to address a segment of the market it had not before.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill and see what this cigar brings to the table.
To make the vision of La Vencedora a reality, Villiger turned to Fabrica de Joya Nicaragua. It’s a factory well known for making full-bodied cigars. At the same time, it’s not a new factory for Villiger, as the company has worked with it in the past – most notably with the La Capitana line. As for the cigar, it’s a 100% Nicaraguan puro highlighted by a Habano Oscuro wrapper.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Joya de Nicaragua SA)
The Villiger La Vencedora is available in three sizes – each packaged in 25-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50
Churchill: 7 x 50
The Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper of the La Vencedora Churchill has a dark coffee bean color to it. Upon closer examination, some darker mottling can be seen on the surface. I didn’t find this to be a very oil wrapper. While there were some visible veins and visible wrapper seams, I still found this wrapper to be on the smoother side.
La Vencedora uses a similar banding design to what has been used on several other recent Villiger releases, but with a different color scheme. The upper part of the band has a gray background surrounded by silver and red trim. The center portion of the band has a semi-circle shape to it. Sitting on that semicircle is the Villiger coat of arms – and just below that is the text “VILLIGER” in silver font. The lower portion of the band is black color with silver trim surrounding it. Sitting on that portion of the band is the text “LA VENCEDORA” in white font.
Preparation for Cigar Experience
I commenced my cigar experience of the La Vencedora Churchill with a straight cut to remove the cigar’s cap. Once the cap was clipped, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of cocoa, dried fruit, and a slight tingly spice that had both cedar and pepper qualities. This was an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the La Vencedora Churchill and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Villiger La Vencedora Churchill started out with notes of cocoa powder, earth, cedar, and white pepper. The cocoa and earth notes moved into the forefront very early on, with the spices settling in the background. Meanwhile, on the retro-hale, I picked up an extra layer of white pepper with some cedar notes mixed in.
Toward the latter part of the first third, I found the earth note had a slight damp quality to it. The cigar was not wet, but it was more in the way I perceived this particular flavor note. During the second third the damp earth slowly started to have the edge over the cocoa powder notes in the forefront. There also was a slight increase in the cedar and white pepper on the tongue.
Just past the midway point, some citrus notes emerged in the background with the cedar and pepper. These citrus notes imparted more in the way of sweetness and were not heavy on the acidity. Slowly, the citrus began to increase in intensity along with the spice notes. Meanwhile, the damp earth and cocoa powder notes remained in the forefront.
The last third of the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill saw the spices, citrus, and damp earth in the forefront. There also was some cocoa powder flavor in the background that helped round out the flavor profile. Normally that would not be a combination of flavors that would work for me, but somehow things clicked. This is the way the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
In terms of burn, the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill scored very well. It maintained a straight burn path and had a relatively straight burn line from start to finish. The resulting ash was light gray. This was an ash that was tight and firm. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
Normally I like a little snugness on the draw, however, there were points of the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill where the snugness was a little more than I prefer. On the other hand, I did not find this to be overly burdensome.
Strength and Body
When it comes to the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill, there three things I will say about these attributes: First, if you have smoked a lot of Villiger, this is going to deliver a bolder smoke; Second, this won’t be as strong or full as some other things on the market; Third, the Churchill, while still bolder by Villiger standards, was a little more dialed back when compared to the other two sizes.
I assessed that the Villiger La Vencedora Churchill started out medium strength and medium-bodied. By the second half, there was a spike in the intensity levels of the attributes and both the strength and body progressed to medium to full.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had a slight edge throughout the smoking experience.
La Vencedora is a home run for Villiger Cigars. While I was quite pleased that Villiger has a bolder offering in its portfolio, that is not the reason this cigar is a home run. The bottom line is this cigar excels in the category that matters most – flavor. When it comes to the flavor profile of the La Vencedora Churchill, I think this is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Finally, when it comes to Churchill cigars (or any vitola 7″ or longer) I find they can run out of gas flavor-wise before the end. No such case when it came to the La Vencedora Churchill, as it produced great flavor right until the end.
While this is a cigar I would recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast, it’s also the perfect cigar for the novice looking to graduate to something on the medium plus to full side. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again. It is one I would also purchase a box of and even fight the legendary Chuck Norris for it.
Key Flavors: Chocolate, Damp Earth, Cedar, White Pepper, Citrus
Draw: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Fight Chuck Norris for Them
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.