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In a never ending quest to conquer the summer cigar market, last year Viaje added a new cigar to their mid-year releases, a uniquely shaped cigar with a triple cap on both the head and foot and named for a popular and highly-charged explosive: the Viaje C-4. The cigar joined an existing lineup of the Summerfest and TNT, a 6 1/2 x 54 Double Robusto with a long pigtail designed to look like a fuse.

Like most annual releases from Viaje, not much has changed from the 2011 edition, which Brooks reviewed here. The cigars are packed in 75–count industrial-looking crates with stenciled writing, and the band is once again placed in the middle of the cigar with just the name of the cigar printed on it. There’s no mention of Viaje on the cigar, just on the box in the form of Viaje Demolition Co.

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Viaje C 4  2012 Pinhole

The C-4 was the second Viaje cigar to feature triple capped ends, with the first being the 2011 Zombie. Like the recently released 2012 Zombie, the capped foot now has a pinhole in it, an addition designed to help rid the cigar of some of the moisture that it accumulates during the manufacturing process. Criticism of overly wet C-4s and Zombies was fairly prevalent in 2011, so Farkas and the team at Raíces Cubanas thought the pinhole would help alleviate that problem. Farkas told me that the pinhole helps the cigar breathe and allows the excess moisture to escape, although not enough of it escaped to prevent burn problems with the 2012 Zombie. He added that the the idea of a double-capped cigar is so new that they are still learning about the particulars of such a stick.

Viaje C 4  2012 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje C-4 (2012)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Vitola: Box-Pressed Robusto Gordo
  • MSRP: $10.40 (Boxes of 75, $780.00)
  • Date Released: June 22, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 125 Boxes of 75 Cigars (9,375 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Viaje C-4 has one of the more interesting shapes for a cigar – an extreme box press with a capped head and foot. Minimal veins and oils really compress the look of this cigar and the matted brown color doesn’t help. The pre-light aroma shows wheat toast and a note that varies in my mind between a steak with A-1 Steak Sauce or HP Brown Sauce. Even with the foot cap in place, the cold draw remains surprisingly agreeable, with a meaty note that has just a bit of spice that lands on the tongue. What I had originally noted as a bit of a flavor tinge in the cold draw seems to be a repeat of that steak sauce note. It’s not sour or bitter, but if you think of the flavor sensation from eating A-1 straight, you get the picture.

As the Viaje C-4 is being lit, the pinhole provides an escape valve for the smoke to come out of, providing a visual not seen in many cigars. The initial puffs of the first third are surprisingly meaty but only one of the three cigars offers much in the way of pepper or spice, despite smoking through the closed foot cap which has generally added quite a punch to Viaje offerings. It takes about 10 puffs before the pepper really starts to kick in, ramping up quickly before backing off and returning soon thereafter. The ash in the first third is a dirty gray that is surprisingly strong and the foot cap stays attached, something I recall having a bit of an issue with when smoking the Zombie. Burn line problems start to emerge within the first inch and a half, as things get off track and the infamous cigar mustache starts to appear.

Viaje C 4  2012 2

Towards the end of the second third of the first cigar, an unburnt patch of wrapper leaf clings to the ash, a wart of unburnt tobacco that showed up again in both of the other cigars smoked. This blemish is a detriment to what has been an enjoyable cigar to this point, as it leads to questioning the care of the leaf in the fermenting and aging processes. Sharp pepper notes return but hit more in the back of the throat, causing an irritation more than a pleasant palate sensation.

Viaje C 4  2012 3

Despite some burn problems in the transition to the final third, the pepper and nicotine kick up a notch or two and deliver the explosiveness that would seem fitting for a cigar called the C-4. There’s a leathery, chewy texture that starts to emerge as the Viaje C-4 is starting to show some honest flavors for the first time. The heat also picks up a bit in the final inches, getting almost too hot to hold in my fingers, which is a shame because a bit of sweetness started to emerge in the final two inches and provide a balance to the pepper and spice that had been dominating the cigar.

Viaje C 4  2012 4
Final Notes

  • By my count, this is the second Viaje cigar to use a pinhole in the capped foot. The Viaje Zombie 2012, which came out in May, has the same feature, with Farkas telling me that it’s to help the cigar lose some of the moisture it carries out of the factory.
  • A customer at the shop I purchased these at told me the C-4 would knock me on my ass, but after the first one, such was not the case. It’s got some kick, mainly with a stronger nicotine level than spice and pepper, but it didn’t sit me down. It’s certainly full-bodied and has some big flavors, but it wasn’t a knock-me-down cigar. Or maybe my tolerance has just been built up.
  • Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but like most of Viaje’s new releases, these need to be dry boxed before smoking to fully enjoy. I’m beginning to think that Viaje should just start putting this disclaimer on the cigars.
  • With that being said, there were two points where the burn line jumped around and created a little pocket of burning tobacco. One was in the first third and the other in the final third. Both were about the size of the pinhole on the foot.
  • For the burn problems with the Viaje C-4, the ash on the third cigar smoked made it all the way to the band in tact and held on when the band was removed. Impressive to say the least.
  • The burn issues I’ve had with Viaje cigars lately are starting to have a cumulative effect on my opinion of the brand as a whole.
  • While I’ve been fairly generous with my praise of some Viaje bands, the C-4 bands are about as basic as you can get, almost looking like they came off a laser printer. While Viaje doesn’t have truly ornate bands, some are very eye-catching –  such as the Exclusivo and Late Harvest – while others look like they were made at home – this one and the White Label Project stand out as prime examples.
  • This is one of the larger year-to-year production increases I can recall for a Viaje cigar – as they went from 3,750 total cigars last year to 9,375 total cigars this year.
  • If you’re not an explosives expert, C-4 (or Composition C-4) is a common variety of the plastic explosive known as Composition C. Among it’s advantages: it can be molded into a desired shape, it’s very stable and insensitive to most physical shocks. Read more on Wikipedia.
  • While I was writing up this review, I happened to be watching an episode of NCIS, and C-4 was featured as an explosive device being used by a terrorist organization sleeper cell.
  • Viaje added another cigar to their summer releases this year, a 9 x 50 cigar called the Roman Candle.
  • Final smoking time is just shy of two hours.
  • If you would like to purchase some of the Viaje C-4, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Casa de Montecristo (630.834.7777) & Tobacco Grove have them in stock in various quantities. Don’t forget to tell them halfwheel sent you.
83 Overall Score

The Viaje C-4 is a good cigar for the moment, although I don't think it's something I'd run out and buy a bunch of to age. While I'd be interested to see how the spice and pepper mellow in six months or a year, I don't think the mellowing of those two components would allow other flavors to come out and redefine the profile of the cigar. I could be wrong, but I don't think I'll hedge my bet with a few in the humidor.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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