Throughout its history, if there is one type of cigar that was missing from Viaje Cigars’ portfolio, it was a Connecticut Shade cigar. I’ve interviewed Viaje founder Andre Farkas several times, and I’ve asked him the question multiple times on when he was going to release a Connecticut Shade cigar. Andre’s answer could be summed up best that he couldn’t find the right blend that would hit him. 2020 saw a change as Viaje would enter the world of Connecticut Shade cigars. After a small batch release for a single retailer, Farkas would unveil the Viaje Black and White to its authorized retailers. It’s a line that consists of two blends – a Maduro (Black) and a Connecticut Shade (White) – each released in an identical perfecto size. As with the lion’s share of Viaje release, the Black and White was a small batch release. Today we turn our attention to the Viaje Black and White Connecticut.
The concept between Viaje Black and White is based on the Black and White Cookie. An argument has been whether to eat the black (chocolate) side or white (vanilla) side first. In the end, the two sides of the cookie are meant to complement each other. With the Viaje Black and White, it uses a similar concept – you can either smoke the Black (Maduro) first or Connecticut (White) first. In either case, the two cigars are meant to complement each other.
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the Viaje Black and White Connecticut.
Blend and Origin
Farkas is known to keep an element of mystery when it comes to his releases and the Viaje Black and White is no exception. The only information disclosed is the Viaje Black and White Maduro uses a maduro wrapper and the Viaje Black and White Connecticut uses a Connecticut Shade wrapper. The country of origin and factory for the Viaje Black and White are unknown.
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Country of Origin: Unknown
The Viaje Black and White Connecticut is offered in one size – a 6 3/4 x 52 perfecto. The cigar is presented in 24-count canisters. The Maduro and Connecticut releases are packaged separate canisters. The Maduro is packaged in a black-colored canister while the Connecticut is packaged in a white-colored one.
The perfecto shape of the Viaje Black and White tapers sharply to a tip at the head of the cigar. There is a nozzle-like shape on the footer that has a gentle taper leading to an open footer. The Connecticut Shade wrapper of the Black and White Connecticut is definitely on the darker side. On the “nozzle” the wrapper on each of the samples had a light color. The wrapper itself had some subtle mottling and a light coat of oil. There were some visible veins and most of the wrapper seams were not noticeable.
The band to the Viaje Black and White Connecticut is all white. Embossed on it is the Viaje logo also in a white-colored font.
A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the Viaje Black and White Connecticut. The cut was placed a little more than halfway down from the tip to allow for the tapering effect of the cigar. Once the tip was removed it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of cream, cedar, and citrus. To me, this was a straight-forward and satisfying pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the Viaje Black and White Connecticut and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Viaje Black and White Connecticut kicked off with notes of cream, citrus, red pepper, and cedar. There was a deep creaminess out of the gate with this cigar. In the background the citrus, red pepper, and cedar were present. This was joined by a natural tobacco component with a slight bitter component to it. The retro-hale delivered a layer of cedar and a black pepper varietal.
Throughout the first third, the natural tobacco notes increased in intensity. By the midway point of the first third, the natural tobacco joined the cream notes in the forefront. As the Black and White Connecticut moved into the second third, the cedar notes increased and by the midway point, they displaced the cream notes. The cream settled in the background with the citrus and red pepper notes.
The last third saw the cedar and natural tobacco remain in the forefront. The red pepper notes increased in intensity, but did not take over as a primary note. There still were some notes of cream and citrus rounding out the flavor profile. This is the way the Viaje Black and White Connecticut came to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
There were some touch-ups required on the Viaje Black and White Connecticut in order to maintain a straight burn path and straight burn line. While the touch-ups required kept the burn on track, there were more touch-ups needed than I prefer. The resulting ash was firm. This was an ash with a salt and pepper color scheme. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw to the Viaje Black and White Connecticut had a touch of resistance – resulting in an ideal draw in my book. The tip of the cigar did not get soft during the smoking experience. Concurrently, this was a cigar that was low maintenance to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
There are the traditional milder Connecticuts and then there are more contemporary ones that deliver a bolder experience. The Viaje Black and White Connecticut is right at the entry point of being on that bolder side. It is a cigar that is medium in strength and body. There wasn’t much in the way of variance of the intensity level of these attributes. At the same time, both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
The big question on whether or not Viaje could deliver a quality Connecticut Shade cigar to market is answered with the Viaje Black and White Connecticut. The flavors delivered were classic in terms of a Connecticut Shade, yet there was enough boldness to put it right on the edge of being a more contemporary smoke. The perfecto shape made the Black and White Connecticut a fun size to smoke. This is a small batch release that I sincerely hope makes a return.
At $14.00 per cigar, the Viaje Black and White Connecticut isn’t an inexpensive one. At the same time, this is a cigar I could recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would buy and smoke again. At 90 points, this cigar qualifies for the Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence.
Key Flavors: Cream, Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Citrus, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted