The Viaje Holiday Blend debuted in 2009 with a single 5 x 54 size but has since evolved to be a release comprised of two vitolas each year. In 2012, Viaje added the first barber pole version with the Holiday Blend Candy Cane and Holiday Blend 2012 becoming the eighth and ninth releases in the collection.
They are, in order of release date:
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2009 (5 x 54) — December 2009 — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Petit Robusto (4 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Torpedo (5 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Petit Robusto (4 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Torpedo (5 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Petit Robusto (4 3/4 x 54) — December 2012 — 250 Boxes of 30 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane (6 x 54) — December 2012 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 was shipped in December 2012 along with the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane, a second batch of the Viaje Friends & Family and the delayed-from-Thanksgiving White Label Project Stuffed Turkey in both White Meat and Dark Meat. Needless to say, this standard Holiday Blend release was sort of an afterthought of Viaje’s winter shipment to retailers, only being mentioned or featured in the background of the Candy Cane photo that Andre Farkas posted to Facebook on Nov. 15, 2013.
Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Petit Robusto
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Size: 4 3/4 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
Vitola: Petit Robusto
MSRP: $9.35 (Boxes of 30, $280.50)
Date Released: December 5, 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 30 (7,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 wrapper is an oily, rich brown with spots of toothiness and a few well-defined but sleek veins. It’s firmer in some spots than others, but never shows a particularly underfilled spot. The pre-light aroma is both sweet and saucy, reminiscent of a steak marinade or teriyaki sauce as well as fresh beef jerky—all very enjoyable and seeming to scream complexity. The cold draw is easy, a bit spicy but no real pepper, heartier and meatier than the pre-light aroma was.
While it wasn’t noticeable on the pre-light aroma or cold draw, notes of rich barnyard come off in the smoke as soon as the first third is lit, backed by a hearty amount of both spice and pepper. There is also a bit of umami flavor here, a not outright but definitely savory component to the flavor profile in the first inch or so. The flavor quickly adds a chalky note and becomes a bit airier and drier before the burn line has progressed even quarter of an inch up the foot. Clouds of white smoke billow off the cigar when it’s being puffed on and for a few moments while it’s at rest before the valve seems to close up and it’s hard to tell that the Viaje is even still lit. The burn line gets a bit wavy about half an inch in as a dark gray and black ash is revealed. About an inch in, the flavors have mellowed noticeably, reminding me of aged red wine that has had the chance to get out of the bottle and rest in the glass. The retrohale still has a decent yet tolerable amount of pepper.
A faint of hint of dark fruit sweetness starts to come out in the second third of the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 – maybe it’s that wine note that’s lingering in my brain planting a suggestion, but there is a distinctive note that has started to emerge. With the ash stretching to almost the midpoint before finally giving way to its own heft, the flavor shift continues into a dry spice before picking up some earth and additional pepper. There is also a very faint lemon note that seems to be lurking in the background and is more noticeable in the nose than on the palate. It’s so faint that it’s hard to tell if it’s coming from the cigar or might just be something in the ambient air, but either way is both unexpected and enjoyable.
Changes are few as the band comes off, and it’s not until you realize you’re in the home stretch of final third that the Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 ratchets up the pepper, particularly in the nose. Smoke production has tapered way down from where it was early on, though the other technical aspects have been very good overall. No touch-ups have been needed so far, and the burn line has been by and large straight and sharp. Chalk enters the equation in the final inch and a half, providing one more flavor transition along with a significant increase in smoke production pushes the cigar to the point where it’s too hot to smoke any further.
- Here’s a pic of the foot:
- When I mentioned the smoke valve shutting off, I wasn’t kidding. The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 billows and billows, and then all of a sudden just shuts down the smoke production.
- The ash on the first Holiday Blend 2012 smoked was incredible, going almost to the halfway point of the cigar before finally breaking off.
- While the flavor profiles between the two cigars smoked were similar, the first offered much more fullness and richness. If the second had the same intensity of flavors as the first, it would have given the cigar an extra point on the final score.
- Given the very good flavors of the Holiday Blend 2012, I’d recommend smoking it either indoors or in warmer weather. I’d hate to think about being outdoors in the cold trying to enjoy one of these.
- Holiday Blend is one of Viaje’s two seasonal releases, with Summerfest being the other. For me, Holiday Blend is by far the better of the two.
- It seems that there’s been consistent mentions of burn issues with Viajes, but there wasn’t a single one to be found in the Holiday Blend 2012.
- In his Ten Questions for 2013, Charlie mentioned some problems at Raíces Cubanas, but judging on this cigar alone, you sure wouldn’t know anything was wrong.
- Until seeing Brian’s review of the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane, I’d forgotten that all the Holiday Blends have been a 54 ring gauge. In this era of 60+ ring gauges, 54 feels downright tiny at times, but seems very fitting for this blend.
- Final smoking time is about one hours and 40 minutes.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar & Tobacco Grove both have the Holiday Blend Petit Robusto 2012 in stock. Don’t forget to tell them halfwheel sent you.
Viaje has accumulated a fair number of connotations, both good and bad, in its relatively short history. The Viaje Exclusivo remains a personal favorite and a regular go-to, whereas other cigars have had burn problems that made the cigar almost unsmokeable and others lacked any real flavors or complexity. The Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Petit Robusto has neither of those problems and delivers flavors that are almost on par with the Exclusivo. It's not quite as refined, but the flavors are very, very good, the transitions are pronounced, the pepper is prominent in all the right places and the technical aspects are about as good as you could ask for. While I don't know where I would rank this in the grand scheme of all things Viaje, I do know that it would rank fairly high.