Review: Viaje Exclusivo Collector’s Edition 2013 Double Edged Sword II
In July of 2010, Viaje Cigars released the fourth vitola in the Exclusivo series, the Double Edged Sword, a 5 3/4 x 52 Double Torpedo with closed ends that was sold in boxes of 25 and limited to just 3,125 cigars. It was the company’s first use of the vitola, made in what is described as the personal blend of the company’s owner, Andre Farkas.
A little more than three years later, Viaje has released the follow-up to the Double Edged Sword, the aptly named Double Edged Sword II, as part of the annual Collector’s Edition. While it has a Torpedo head, the DES II measures 6 1/2 x 50 and is open at the foot. In addition, instead of boxes, DES II is presented in ceramic jars. The release is also four times larger than the original with over 13,000 cigars being released.
The jars are made by the same company that makes Habanos S.A.’s Cohiba jars, they look like this:
With the addition of the DES II, there are now 14 releases of the Exclusivo series. They are:
- 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)
Collector’s Edition is a really cool project and it was started by the fans of Viaje. We started getting, about a year or two years ago, we started getting pictures of people showing me their stash of Viaje. They had stuff that I don’t even have anymore, they had stuff from back when we started five years ago. I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to come out with a cigar every year that’s just for the collectors?’Anyone can smoke it; obviously you don’t have to be a collector.
It’s made just for them, it’s truly a one-and-done. We’re going to come out with a shape, put it in the collector’s edition packaging and then… done.
The Collector’s Edition also has its own secondary band, which both releases have featured:
- Viaje Oro Collector’s Edition 2012 Fuerza (5 x 52) — August 2012 — 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Collector’s Edition 2013 Double Edged Sword II (6 1/2 x 50) – 700 Jars of 19 Cigars (13,300 Total Cigars)
But enough about that, lets get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $18.63 (Jars of 19, $354.00)
- Date Released: July 22, 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: 700 Jars of 19 Cigars (13,300 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II is covered in a milk brown chocolate wrapper that is fairly smooth to the touch and has a closed Perfecto tip for the cap with an open foot. There is quite a bit of give when the cigar is squeezed and there are a couple of soft spots that are easily apparent. Aroma from the wrapper is strong sweet chocolate, cedar, earth and barnyard. Cold draw notes include spicy wood, sweet hazelnut, leather and earth.
The Viaje Double Edged Sword II starts off the first third with fairly bland flavors of oak, leather and a touch of earth. There is just a touch of black pepper on the retrohale that comes and goes, but at this point, it is just not strong enough to really impact the profile all that much. There is a noticeable note on the finish that is sour at times, bitter at other points, sometimes distracting and worse, occasionally detrimental to the profile. The draw is a little tight until the burn line hits the end of the Perfecto tip, then it becomes as perfect as you can imagine, while the burn is decent so far. Smoke production is enormous, and the overall strength ends the first third very close to the medium mark.
There are quite a few major changes in the second third of the DES II, not the least of which is a significant and welcome increase in black pepper on the retrohale. The sourness from the first third is also long gone by the halfway point, replaced by extremely rich flavors of coffee beans, creamy leather, earth, cinnamon and cedar. There is also a distinct, yet not overly strong, floral sweetness that comes and goes throughout the second third. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw are now excellent, and the smoke production continues to flow out well above average. While the strength increases a bit, it still is only slightly above the medium mark by the end of the second third.
The sweetness from the second third morphs into a distinct caramel note in the final third while the floral note has all but disappeared. The amount of pepper on the retrohale remains fairly constant until the end of the cigar, and other flavors of cocoa, coffee beans, leather, cream and earth ebb and flow throughout the last third. Both the burn and draw have evened up and the smoke production shows no sign of decreasing anytime soon. Strength-wise, the Double Edged Sword II ends up well short of the full mark.
- Lets get this out of the way. Yes, there are 19 cigars in these Viaje jars, and there were 19 cigars in the Tatuaje Black Label Corona Gorda jars. No, I don’t think that Andre Farkas intentionally chose to put 19 cigars in his jar—or even make a jar at all—in order to copy anything that Pete Johnson has done. Jars have been done long before either of these (see Cuba) and will be released again.
- For those wondering about the number 19 cigars, Farkas told halfwheel it simply had to do with how the cigars fit in the jar, i.e. three layers of cigars.
- This is the second time the Viaje has released an Exclusivo blend vitola in a jar. The first time was in 2010 when the Exclusivo blend was first introduced in a 4 7/8 by 50 Robusto vitola.
- While this is the second release of the DES, this is not the second release of the shape for Viaje. The company released the size in its Oro Reserva and Platino Reserva blends in 2011.
- The ceramic jars these come in are extremely well made and will easily be in the running for packaging awards.
- I am really not sure why Viaje decided to call it the Double Edged Sword II, since they have almost nothing in common other than that the two cigars incorporate the same blend: they come in different containers, are obviously a different size and incorporate a cut foot vs. a closed foot.
- Andre Farkas told halfwheel that the main reason he cut the foot on this release because triple capping both ends as he has done on a few past releases tends to lead to moisture retention and burn issues.
- If you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard of the major shipping problems with this release: people with cracked jars, and quite a few retailers—I talked to three—that had to send jars back due to cracked feet on multiple cigars caused from damage in shipping. In fact, seven of the cigars in our jar were damaged. The problem seems to be that the bundle of cigars was placed in the jar with no extra padding all, so the bundle itself was free to bump against the top and bottom of the jar. In fact, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar opened every jar they received, repackaged the bundles that were not damaged, and put extra padding in the jar before they shipped to customer.
- In the above photo, there is also a very noticeable color difference on some of the feet of the cigars, something I have not seen very often. Honestly, I am shocked that they made it past quality control at the factory, as color matching of wrappers is really Cigars 101, or should be. This is probably one of the reasons that Andre Farkas has publicly stated he is looking at using other factories in the future.
- Interestingly, the jar itself has not seemed to have been as affected in shipping, despite the fact that it is made of glass and I have only heard of two being broken when the box was opened.
- Having said all of the above, I know there are some collectors out there that bought the jars to keep sealed, and knowing what we know about the possible damage to the cigars, I would urge those people to open the bundles to check them.
- Along with the color, there is also noticeable variation in the size of the opening and where it was cut on the length of the cigar. When you look close, the issue actually more seems to be with consistency of the molds than anything else as some cigars are more angular than others.
- The factory apparently ran out of foil that is wrapped around the bundles inside the jars, so there are some bundles that were wrapped in tissue paper instead.
- The sour/bitter note on the finish is interesting to me: a few times it was so strong as to make the other flavors pale in comparison, but at other times it actually seemed to enhance the other notes in the profile. The typical Exclusivo blend profile does not really show up until the second third, but when it does, it comes with a vengeance. After I realized that the profile was the same on each of the samples, I seriously considered just cutting a third of the cigar off of the cap end and gluing the wrapper.
- For those wondering, the shipping and color issues had no effect on the score of this cigar.
- The smoke production on both samples was extremely copious, almost overwhelming so at times.
- The construction on all three samples was decent, although the draw as bit open on one and a bit tight at first on another. They were not any better than that, but these days, it seems decent construction on a Viaje cigar should be considered a victory.
- The final smoking time on all three samples averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
- If you are looking to purchase any of the Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II jars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Best Cigar Prices, Tobacco Grove and Superior Cigars all have them in stock. Don’t forget to tell them halfwheel sent you.
The Bottom Line: Knowing that the original release of the Double Edged Sword was one of my all-time favorites from Viaje, I was really looking forward to seeing how the new version would stack up. The answer, as so often seems to be the case with Viajes these days, is mixed. While most discussion online about this cigar has centered around packaging, shipping issues and inconsistency in appearance, the actual flavors and profile—sourness and blandness in the first third notwithstanding—were both extremely good and the construction was decent on all of my samples. If the first third was not as bland as it was on all three samples I smoked, this score would have been quite a bit higher.
FInal Score: 87