Went out of my way to pick up any Viaje while going thru San Antonio earlier this spring after smoking the 10gauge super shot was left disapointed.
Review: Viaje Summerfest 2013
In reality, Viaje’s shipping pattern now looks like some craft breweries. There are a few true one-and-done limited editions, bust most everything is a seasonal release. Nowhere is this more obvious than Viaje’s traditional summer shipment which includes C-4, Summerfest and TNT.
More so than just about any, these releases have varied less over the years in terms of the size and blend with C-4 remaining the same 5 x 56 vitola over its three-year history and TNT staying at 6 1/4 x 54 for all of its four releases. Summerfest is however the exception.
While originally intended to be released only in a 6 1/2 x 50 Torpedo, Raíces Cubanas, the factory responsible for virtually all of Viaje’s production in the company’s six-year history, made Robustos as well, which were released with the Torpedoes when the cigar debuted in 2010. The following year, the Torpedo vitola returned in a different size and with a Churchill as well. Last year, Summerfest was only offered in one form, a slightly shorter Churchill than the year before.
This year was again a single size, this time, one with input from two cigar bloggers, Stace Berkland of Leaf and Grape and William Cooper of Cigar Coop. Cooper explained the story behind the cigar on his site:
The genesis of this cigar release can actually be traced back to a conversation that Leaf and Grape editor Stace Berkland and myself had with Andre Farkas at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show. During that conversation, we discussed the original release of the 2010 Viaje Summerfest. The original plan was for the Summerfest 2010 to be released as a torpedo with a shagged foot. It turns out that a unshagged robusto vitola was made by mistake. As a result, 50 boxes of that Summerfest 2010 Robusto were released, but the torpedo was still produced. Both Berkland and I were blown away by that particular blend in a Robusto-size vitola. Farkas listened to our feedback in terms of the robusto . He then gave us an opportunity to select the size for the 2013 Summerfest. After some discussion, we agreed on a 5 1/2 x 54 robusto and this one would feature the Summerfest’s trademark shagged foot. Farkas wrote it down on an index card. About six months later, Farkas contacted us and told us that the Summerfest 2013 was a go in the size selected.
With this year’s release, Summerfest is brought to six sizes, they are:
- Viaje Summerfest 2010 Robusto — 5 x 50 — 50 Boxes of 30 Cigars (1,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2010 Torpedo — 6 1/2 x 50 — 150 Boxes of 30 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2011 Churchill (7 x 50) — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2011 Torpedo — 5 1/4 x 52 — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2012 (6 3/4 x 50) — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2013 (5 1/4 x 54) — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
The boxes of the Summerfest 2013 look like this:
(Image via Facebook/Viaje)
And the particulars.
- Name: Viaje Summerfest 2013
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99 (Café Rosado)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $9.47 (Boxes of 30, $284.00)
- Date Released: June 6, 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
The cigar is a bit spongy when squeezed, but it’s nothing overly concerning. The wrapper looks familiar to the rest of the Summerfest I’ve smoked, a bit lighter than just about anything you will see on any other Viaje and definitely with a touch of reds. There’s an interesting contrast of barnyard and an acute sweetness coming from the cigar, not really something I find on a whole lot of AGANORSA tobacco. Cold draw is slightly open with a mixture of fruits, pepper, dry cinnamon and a generic sweet woodsiness.
Fortunately, the Summerfest 2013 starts better than any Summerfest I’ve smoked. It’s quite open as far as the draw is concerned, but there’s a pleasant mixture of sweet woods chalkiness and a touch of spice with an enjoyable finish containing hearty cedar and cocoa. Unfortunately, as the first third comes to an end, there’s a mild harshness starting to take hold, and one that’s not for the better. I’d peg construction at average: normal smoke production, decent burn and a still open draw.
Things are falling apart by the middle of the second third. While the cigar is literally intact, the flavor profile is crumbling. The harshness has become the dominant note overpowering the roasted woodsiness and peanut notes. There’s also a bit of a vegetal note on two of the cigars, it’s mild and on the finish, but not adding to the enjoyment. Construction is actually generally the opposite, while the smoke is getting noticeably warmer despite my slow pace, the burn, draw and smoke production have all improved leaving little to complain about. Strength-wise it’s hard to describe this as anything but medium, par for the course as far as I’m concerned with Summerfest.
The final third was a story of two very different cigars. On two samples, the harshness remained, but with a creaminess and grassiness joining the roasted cedar note, making for something that was in certain places enjoyable. The other cigar? Just harsh. All three definitely required me to pick up smoking pace in order to prevent the cigar from going out, but I wasn’t puffing any quicker than every 45 seconds.
- Somehow I haven’t mentioned the brushed foot yet. As long as shards of tobacco aren’t falling into my humidor, I don’t really care. As for the 2013, this is a far more conservative attempt than the first two releases and as such, I don’t think the shards of tobacco would really be a big problem.
- Interestingly, the release size of Summerfest has always been 6,000 cigars.
- The brushed feet aren’t part of the official measurements of Summerfest.
- We are looking for a Summerfest 2011 Torpedo to complete our collection. If you have one that you are willing to part with either for sale or trade, please contact us.
- Some people have pondered cutting the brushed foot, I don’t get that. There’s definitely a slightly different flavor for the first inch with the covered foot, and in my case, that was the most enjoyable part of the cigar. I’ve always been part of the school that believes that cigar makers release cigars as they intend them to be smoked, outside of removing the cap.
- This is quite possibly the lightest Viaje on the market. In my mind it’s between Summerfest and Late Harvest, although it might be a push. It’s no stronger than medium, although it’s still is a big cigar. If you are used to mild Robustos, this might still be too much nicotine, but strength-wise it’s the best option as far as the Viaje portfolio is concerned.
- I actually like the simpler packaging of Summerfest. Although the red and gold bands could be improved in my opinion.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes.
- At this point, I believe all of our site sponsors are sold out of Summerfest 2013.
The Bottom Line: I was actually supposed to review last year’s version of Summerfest, I have no clue why that didn’t happen, but I looked at my notes from the three cigars I smoked last year. From what I can tell, while the flavor profile was quite a bit sweeter in 2012 form, it was a similar story. One third was enjoyable—in last year’s case, the second third—while the other two were difficult to get through. Some part of me will say the 2013 version has been the most enjoyable version, but none of the cigars have been positive enough for me to recommend. There seems to be a group of people that like these, from what I and some of our retailers tell me, it’s a small percentage of the Viaje faithful. That being said, three of our normal sources for Viaje were sold out rather quickly, which says something. While I don’t recall smoking the second Summerfest Torpedo, this line has been far and away the most disappointing from Andre Farkas as far as I’m concerned.
Final Score: 70