I get the name but I still think the band is a little wierd. The bright yellow does provide a nice contrast to the dark wrapper though.
Review: Viaje Satori Zen
Sit down and relax, this is going to be a long review.
During the IPCPR show in New Orleans in August, Viaje was showing off another one of their Limited Releases. Dubbed the “Satori”, which is named for a Japanese word that means “sudden spiritual enlightenment”, they were released last week, and sold out pretty much immediately. However, unlike some of the llimited releases from Viaje, the Satori is supposedly going to be released every year, in roughly the same numbers, at around the same time, right after the IPCPR show.
This year, the Viaje Satori was released in 3 different vitolas, with each size only including 150 boxes of 25. The three vitolas are:
- Karma — 5 x 52 Robusto
- Nirvana — 6 x 50 Toro
- Zen — a 6 3/4 x 52 Box-Pressed Double Torpedo
Here is what the boxes for the Zen look like:
When opening the box of Zen that I purchased, I found a insert that had the following message on it, which I think does a great job of describing the thought process Andre had when putting together this release. It says (in part):
“Satori is the Japanese word for enlightenment, used to refer to a deep or lasting realization of the nature of existence. Experience has shown there are many paths to enlightenment: some may meditate, while others may practice Yoga. For me, cigars have often been the catalyst for achieving heightened awareness and a greater understanding of our complex and changing world. I have had the good fortune to meet many interesting people with whom I have spent countless hours deep in conversation with a fine cigar in hand. The experiences they shared with me, while we enjoyed our fine cigars, have truly enriched my life. This Cigar is a tribute to the enlightenment one can achieve while indulging in one of life’s great luxuries.”
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Satori “Zen”
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Oscuro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Box Pressed Double Torpedo
- Est. Price: $11.76 (Box of 25, $294.00)
- Number of Cigars Released: 150 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The first thing you notice about this cigar is the absolutely coal black wrapper. It is almost unnaturally dark, and the color is quite even as well over the entire cigar, more on that in the final notes. In fact, I shot a photo of one of the Satori next to one of the DES, to give you an idea of the extreme difference in the color of the wrapper.
I love the vitola of this cigar, there is just something cool about a box press double torpedo. The wrapper is totally seamless, and smells of cedar, spice and a bit of chocolate. It is very firm when squeezed, almost hard really. The predraw is slightly muted with flavors of tobacco, spice and a bit of leather.
The First Third starts out with a small amount of pepper, leather and a VERY strong meaty profile. My notes say “kinda like smoking a pepper crusted steak”. It is not a Bad profile, but it is slightly overwhelming. At the end of the first third, a slightly “charred” flavor is also introduced.
The Second Third does not add much. The meaty profile seems just as strong, but also a bit more creamy, however, about halfway through the second third, the flavors start to lose their punch, and start to become more muted. Same flavors, just less and less intense as the cigar continued.
The Last Third was just more of the same. The profile pretty much thesame charred “meaty” flavors, with a bit of leather include.. The cigar got quite a bit stronger as the cigar came to an end, and also more and more harsh at the very end. A fairly disappointing end.
- I have to say that I love the logo (below) of a Buddha in yellow, red and blue colors for this release. It fits the name, and purpose, according to Andre, of the cigar perfectly, and looks great on a cigar band and box.
- This is a solid medium+ bodied smoke, never getting stronger then that, even at the end.
- Both ends of this double torpedo are closed, so you have to cut both ends in order to smoke it unless you like a REALLY tight draw.
- I have heard that Viaje will be releasing each LE blend at the same time every year: ie, the Holiday Blend around Christmas time, the Satori around IPCPR, etc.
- If you are a fan of a very “meaty” profile, you are going to love this stick, since that is basically all it has, flavor wise, at least in the Zen vitola. The taste is interesting, but not interesting enough or good enough to carry an entire cigar.
- There is a rumor, and until I get confirmation, it is just that, that the process used to put the gold onto the boxes for the Satori is illegal in the U.S., and as a result, the boxes were made elsewhere.
- I had heard about the “wrapper transfer” before I smoked any of these, and knew it might be an issue. Now, Andre has made it clear that he does not dye his cigars (and for what it is worth, I believe him, as I just can’t imagine that he would risk his reputation by doing something like that). In fact, he had this to say about it: “In order to produce Maduro or Oscuro leaf the tobacco must undergo long fermentation at high temperatures. This type of fermentation produces rich oils. What you experienced is completely normal for this type of leaf. My factory practices only time honored traditions. Viaje or Raices Cubanas would never do ANYTHING artificial to the leaf. Our cigars are rolled using only natural processes. I might add I chose this special leaf for Satori due to its rich flavors and abundant oils. Satori was held up for some time because I couldn’t find the right wrapper to compliment the blend. When I found this Oscuro I knew I had something special. Needless to say I’ve secured this wrapper for future production.”
- I have talked to quite a few people who have told me that while the Zen is the way I describe it, the Karma vitola is quite a bit better tasting and more complex. I could not get a hold of any of the other vitolas in the line to compare before this review, however please remember that every vitola is different and has different characteristics, and this review is valid for the Zen size only. I will update yall after I get a few of the Karma to compare.
- If you are looking to purchase some of the Viaje Satori, they are pretty much sold out everywhere, but the amazing Empire Cigars has a few boxes of each size in stock (or did when I published this review). Just call them up and ask for Hal.
The Bottom Line: I have grown used to being impressed, albeit to varying degrees, with the ViajeLEs , but quite honestly, the Satori Zen did almost nothing for me. While the flavors it had were interesting, the lack of any real complexity in the blend, the “interesting” meaty flavor, the muted profile of the last two thirds and yes, the wrapper color transfer (no matter how natural, it is still annoying to have stains on your fingers while smoking) really killed the experience for me, and left me wanting much more then I was getting. While the look of the cigar and the construction were all great, I found myself wishing I was smoking a Skull and Bones, or Double Edge Sword, or even a Exclusivo or Holiday Blend. All in all, an ok cigar, but unlike most of the other Viaje LEs, just not worth the hype.
Final Score: 79