Viaje Exclusivo Robusto (2012)

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News of the latest Viaje releases surfaced in early May, as retailers began receiving a trio of new cigars from Andre Farkas: a pair of Viaje Late Harvest, one of which was reviewed here, and today’s cigar, the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto.

Shipped in metallic bundles of 25, this latest installment of the Exclusivo joins a pair of Robustos released in 2010 – one 4 7/8 x 50 in a Jar in January 2010 and the second coming in bundles in July of that year at 5 x 50.

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The 2012 version of the Robusto marks the tenth release for Viaje’s Exclusivo line.

Viaje Exclusivo Vitolas

Here’s a picture of the bundle of Viaje Exclusivo Robustos.

Viaje Exclusivo Bundle

(via Atlantic Cigar)

While Brooks Whittington raved about the packaging of the Late Harvest, the Exclusivos fall on the opposite end of the spectrum. Simply packaged in a silver metallic paper with a black sticker on them, they are slightly more sophisticated than White Label Project’s signature newspaper, although more reminiscent of a bag of coffee than a premium cigar. While the price difference isn’t much, the Late Harvest, fancy packaging and all, actually costs about 40 cents per cigar less than the Exclusivo.

Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Exclusivo Robusto (2012)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $9.20 (Bundles of 25, $230)
  • Date Released: May 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 250 bundles of 25 cigars (6,250 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The length of the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto is a bit misleading, as the tightly wound pigtail is about 1/8” long, so by the time you clip the cap you’re down to 4 3/4 inches or so. There’s a good bit of pepper coming off the foot before being lit up and while it’s not the first note you pick up, it’s the most lingering. There’s a combination of wood (sometimes dry, sometimes damp) and a sweet yet spicy note – think sweet chili sauce, especially when it comes to the syrupy component of the smell, from the foot. The cold draw is surprisingly easy given that the cigar doesn’t feel underfilled, showing a singular milk chocolate note in two of the cigars with a smokier Worcestershire sauce note in the third.

The Viaje Exclusivo Robusto wastes no time once the first third begins in getting the spice component onto the palate — though it is much more rooted in soil and minerals than it is in pepper, baking spices or other similarities. There is a chalky undertone that provides the foundation of the first third past the initial puffs, which seems to then develop in its own way in each of the three cigars smoked, either with a coffee note, a woody note or a more pepper-driven flavor.

Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 2

Into the second third and the Exclusivo Robusto is still developing. When the pepper leads the charge, it is by far the most engaging, as it provides a driving flavor that is much easier to follow. However, the coffee note is one the most hard to place out of the bunch, as it reminds me of Vietnamese pressed coffee, where the grounds have a tendency to slip through the filter and into the drink, adding just a bit of texture and raw flavor. It’s a familiar and very enjoyable sensation on the palate, though it might be a bit unfamiliar for those who have never tried this finely ground style of coffee. There’s no complaints on technical performance to this point – the burn lines are even, smoke volume is good and the draw has been just easy enough.

Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 3

Continuing the ramp-up in strength that happened in the second third, the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto takes the training wheels off in the final third and goes full bore pretty quickly, though the crescendo happens right where the band is and the flavor deflates and returns to the chalky note that was so prominent early. The coffee note stays in play as well, though the cigar that showed a more dominant woody note early didn’t return that for a curtain call. While there is definitely body and strength in the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto, it finishes cleanly with no lingering harshness or unpleasantness.

Viaje Exclusivo Robusto 2012 4

Final Notes

  • I’m always intrigued when one cigar stands out distinctly from the others, and in this case it was the first one that generated the most intense flavor sensations, and was the one I liked best of the three, by far. It set a pretty high bar, and while the remaining two cigars did their best to match it, they weren’t able to provide the quick building symphony of flavors that the first offered.
  • Thanks to some gusty winds that rolled through Phoenix, the smoke didn’t get captured as well as it should have in the photos – but it was there, alright.
  • Strength-wise, the Viaje Exclusivo Robusto falls at a medium-plus to full-minus, though that’s for someone who smokes a lot of cigars and likes big, bold flavors. Fans of milder flavors will likely be overwhelmed.
  • I’ll be the first to admit I have a hard time keeping all the Viaje releases straight, but one thing I can say with confidence is that the Exclusivo is one of Andre Farkas’ best blends. While I haven’t smoked them all, I can’t recall having a bad Exclusivo.
  • There’s no doubt that people will balk at the price of these and at $10 it’s understandable. However, given my previous comment, I think it’s worth it and will be even more worth it in a few months.
  • When I spoke with Paul Palmer of Casa Fernandez in February, he spoke highly of Andre Farkas’ design aesthetic, and this band makes me want to agree with him. While it looks fairly simple, the clean lines, colors and fonts are what give it a great look.
  • Final smoking time is one hour, 15 minutes.
89 Overall Score

Consistency of flavors from cigar to cigar is a big thing for me, more so within small batch releases like this than from year to year or release to release. While I expect the Viaje Exclusivo to have similar notes from batch to batch, I'm fine with a bit of deviation here and there. However, the 2012 edition seemed to wander just a bit farther off the established path than I'm generally comfortable with. Don't get me wrong, all were good and maybe a few weeks of rest in the humidor would help get all these flavors to come together. For now, a very good cigar with the distinct possibility of becoming, well, very very good.

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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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