Review: Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito (2013)
Classifying the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito as the company’s most exclusive regular release sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, though in some ways, that’s exactly what it is. Released just once every two years and to just a handful of retailers, this small Figurado isn’t the easiest of the company’s offerings to get your hands on.
Debuting in 2009, the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito was released to just two stores: Tower Cigars in Sacramento and Cigar Masters in Rhode Island. The cigar somewhat fell into the back of people’s memories, as it wasn’t until 2011 that it would return, again to Tower Cigars but with Cigar-Ette City in Newark, Delaware being the other shop to get them. If that name sounds familiar, it should; it’s the shop managed by Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars.
Charlie Minato reported that the cigar would be returning for its third appearance in 2013, though Viaje changed things up a bit and offered the cigar to four retailers as opposed to just two, as they had done in previous years. On April 25, we found out who would be getting the 2013 edition of the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito:
The Humidor — Wichita, Kan. (316) 440-4890
Riverside Cigar Shop — Jeffersonville, Ind. (812) 284-6198
Cigar Pointe — San Antonio, Texas (210) 888-2933
Winston’s Humidor — Midlothian, Va. (804) 379-2985
Other than the stores carrying it, little has changed about the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito since its debut four years ago. Same size, same blend, same packaging, and possibly most surprising: the price is just about the same as the previous versions.
The boxes of the 2013 version look like this:
As you likely know, the Viaje Exclusivo blend is said to be the one that was made for Andre Farkas, and since its 2009 debut, has seen a number of different shapes and price points. The line currently stands at 14 vitolas:
- Viaje Exclusivo Robusto (Jar Release) (4 7/8 x 50) — January 2010 — 100 Jars of 35 Cigars (3,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Robusto (Bundle Release) (5 x 50) — July 2010 — n/a
- Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito (2009) (4 3/4 x 51) — 2009 — 100 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword (5 3/4 x 52) — July 2010 — 125 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,125 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Short (4 1/4 x 42) — March 2011 — 100 Boxes of 50 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito (2011) (4 3/4 x 51) — May 2011 — 100 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Tower 45th (5 3/4 x 52) — April 2011 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46) — 2010 — Event Only.
- Viaje Exclusivo Atlantic Cigar Co. 15th Anniversary Lancero (7 1/2 x 40) — November 2011 — 150 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Robusto (2012) (5 x 52) — May 2012 — 250 Boxes of 25 Cigars (6,250 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Tower 45th (2012) (5 x 52) — June 2012 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito (2013) (4 3/4 x 51) — April 2013 — 100 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Super Lance (7 1/2 x 46) — May 2013 — 400 Boxes of 25 Cigars (8,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II (6 1/2 x 50) –– August 2013 –– 700 Jars of 19 Cigars (13,300 Total Cigars)
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Chiquito (2013)
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Fabrica De Tobacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Size: 4 7/8 Inches
Ring Gauge: 51
MSRP: $8.99 (Boxes of 25, $224.70)
Date Released: Late April 2013
Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The black, silver and cream-colored Exclusivo band is my favorite in Viaje’s portfolio — clean and crisp with good contrast between the elements. Other than a bit of softness in the middle, the cigar feels well filled without being overly hard. The cap is clean though just slightly slanted on one cigar, with the roll tight and clean. The wrapper is smooth and velvety with some small, flat veins and just a bit of tooth and an earthy brown wrapper that has a bit of color variance. The pre-light aroma is warm and rich, like hearty oatmeal with a bit of chocolate thrown in. As expected from the vitola, the cold draw is just a bit tight but is as rich as it smells, with a touch of tree bark, rich chocolate and leather standing out, with one cigar also offering a taste that reminds me of an under-ripe banana.
The first puffs of the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito are fairly peppery and rich with a bit of tree bark providing a tight framework for the rest of the flavors. After the burn line takes a minute to work its way around the bulbous foot, the flavors begin to open up and offer a fantastic richness with just the faintest touch of pepper. Leather, earth, chocolate and a pinch of coffee come together for a complex, full-flavored, and very approachable taste from the cigar. The burn line does a remarkable job straightening itself out, and with almost an inch burned a touch more pepper enters the equation – not enough to make the Chiquito a peppery cigar by any sense, but enough to keep the palate engaged and attentive. If you choose to retrohale, you’ll likely disagree with that as the smoke lights up the nose, but that tends to be the case with most cigars so it shouldn’t be a surprise here. The ash that emerges is a very dark gray, and the smoke that comes off the cigar is thin and dissipates into the air fairly quickly.
Through the second third, the cigar has become steady in flavor, almost to the point of becoming too familiar. The leather flavor is still there, yet subdued, while the pepper has largely backed off until returning just about the midpoint. When the flavor picks back up, it has a much more prominent note of damp wood with just a bit of tanginess and the faintest bit of juicy sweetness in the nose. It’s hard to say that the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito was in need of a respite after the first third, as things never got strong enough to have me hoping for a breather. So far, this has been an easy cigar to smoke—it’s medium-full in strength and flavor, keeping the palate engaged without overwhelming it. The draw has been without issue, the burn line has been sharp and the dark gray, almost black ash has held on impressively. The retrohale continues to be peppery and warrants only experiencing it once per third.
The final third closes with a bit more pepper and a more peppery undertone, with some charred earth notes contributing to the robustness of the flavor and an overall uptick in the concentration of the flavors as the ring gauge shrinks just a bit. The smoke character changes a bit, as in the first cigar it becomes thicker and whiter, while in another it thinned out a bit. though it’s quantity and texture in the mouth hasn’t changed much since the beginning. The cigar stays flavorful, with the increasing proximity of the heat adding just the slightest bit of increasing harshness, but you can take this all the way down to the fingertips if you wish.
- The burn rate in the final third slows down a good bit from where it was in the first two thirds – part of it is conscious on my end because of the shrinking ring gauge, but the tobacco seems to play a role in it as well.
- On one of the cigars I smoked for this review, the tobacco used to create the foot had trouble staying together when it was burnt, though it didn’t create any noticeable issues.
- A retailer in my neighborhood has a section called their “lunch smokes” that features cigars about this size. While it’s too big for a half-hour lunch break, if you have the luxury of a longer siesta from the office, this would make for a great way to break up your day.
- Our review of the 2011 Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito can be found here.
- Brooks Whittington reviewed the most recent installment in the Viaje Exclusivo line, the Double Edge Sword II, here.
- The Viaje Facebook page has been surprisingly quiet since the trade show.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time is about one hour and 30 minutes.
- As mentioned earlier, the 2013 Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito is only available through the four retailers listed above. As of this writing, The Humidor, Cigar Pointe and Riverside Cigar Shop still have them, while Winston’s Humidor is sold out.
The Bottom Line: The Viaje Exclusivo line has consistently earned high marks on halfwheel and in my own experience, and the 2013 Chiquito keeps that trend going. The flavors are bold but not overpowering, and the pepper never gets poured on so heavily that it distracts from what else the cigar has to offer. If there is a knock on the cigar, it’s the second third where the flavors become a bit too familiar, though that complaint has to be taken with a grain of salt. They are still very good, if just a bit too easy to glance over. Add to the equation a size that enables you to get an almost perfect serving size of the cigar’s flavors and strength, and there’s that much more to like about it. The 2013 edition of the Viaje Exclusivo Chiquito easily stands alongside the rest of the line as one of Viaje’s most palate-friendly and enjoyable offerings.
Final Score: 90