Review: Viaje Roman Candle

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In mid-2010, Viaje released its first summer release, the aptly named Summerfest. Following closely behind was the first release of the TNT, a cigar that was shaped to look like an actual stick of TNT. Both Summerfest and TNT have been released every summer since 2010. In 2011 Viaje added the once-again-aptly-named C-4 and in 2012, Viaje has added yet another cigar to the growing pack, the Roman Candle.

We first broke the news that Viaje was going to be adding a new size back in May, when Farkas told Patrick there would be an additional size added to this year’s release of C-4, Summerfest and TNT. Then last month, Farkas released the first photos of the Roman Candle and confirmed it would be a 9 x 50 Gran Corona vitola, also known as an A.

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Each Roman Candle is individually wrapped in red tissue paper and sold in boxes of 15. The Roman Candle features a very short fuse and comes unbanded, reminiscent of the TNT release, which makes sense given the Roman Candle is based on the TNT blend.

 

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The boxes that the Roman Candles come in look like this:

Viaje Roman Candle Box

(photo courtesy Viaje Facebook page)

 

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But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we? Viaje Roman Candle 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Roman Candle
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 9 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Gran Corona
  • MSRP: $14.00 (Boxes of 15, $210.00)
  • Date Released: June 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 125 Boxes of 15 Cigars (1,875 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1

The Roman Candle is an imposing cigar, both in size and color. Honestly, the length is almost comical. Color of the wrapper is a very dark espresso brown with an oily sheen to it. The cap has a very short pig tail on it and it has a covered foot as well—a bit different than the TNT. The Viaje is a bit spongy when squeezed and there are a few soft spots—but nothing bad enough to get overly excited about. The silky smooth wrapper smells strongly of coffee beans, cedar and leather, with a touch of spice.

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The first third of the Roman Candle starts off with nice flavors of cocoa powder, leather, bitter espresso and generic wood. There is almost no spice at all present, and while I am getting a bit of black pepper on the retrohale, it is not strong enough to bite. There is a general sweetness that comes and goes, but it is never strong enough to place accurately at this point. The burn is somewhat erratic, albeit easily fixed and the draw is a bit spongy, but not bad enough to really effect the profile. Strength starts out as a mild-medium, but it does seem to be slowly getting somewhat stronger. Viaje Roman Candle 2

Coming into the second third and the profile of the Roman Candle is much the same with leather, bitter coffee and wood leading the pack. Still no spice at all and the black pepper has receded to almost nothing as well. The sweetness from the first third is still around ,but has not increased in strength, and I still can’t really clarify what it tastes like yet. Construction in improved from the first third with the draw of the Viaje firming up a bit and the burn evening out nicely. As expected, the strength has increased, but only to a solid medium and I would be surprised if it goes much further.

Viaje Roman Candle 3

Sadly, the final third of the Viaje Roman Candle, which starts almost exactly two hours after I started, has almost nothing in the way of changes. The flavors stay the same, the profile stays the same, the strength stays the same and the construction stays the same. One good thing to note however: the cigar is easy to nub, if you can actually smoke it down that far—and it never got hot or bitter at the end of the smoke.

Viaje Roman Candle 4

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Final Notes:

  • This cigar is a monstrosity, and I felt like an idiot to even have something that big in my mouth. It honestly felt like I was smoking a tree branch. Having said that, the ring gauge is small enough that it only feels awkward lengthwise—not girth wise.
  • I have never hid my bewilderment at larger cigars, both in ring gauge and length—but I was really hoping that Viaje would make a blend that used the Gran Corona vitola to its advantage. That sadly did not happen—but I know it can be done, as my review of the La Sirena A attests to.
  • As has become Viaje’s modus operandi lately, the Roman Candle cigars were sent to retailers at the same time as three other new releases: the second release of the C-4, the forth release of the Summerfest, and the third release of the TNT.
  • The Roman Candle is the longest, at 9 inches, and at $14 a piece—the second most expensive Viaje to date.
  • This is the second time a 15 count box has been used, the first time was the Friends and Family release back in February of 2012, which incidentally is the most expensive Viaje to date.
  • I ended up being the one to do this review because my lens is the only one that is wide enough to actually get the entire cigar in the frame for the photo of the first third. Crop frames and macro lenses couldn’t do it.
  • Along with the above, the boxes for the Roman Candle were apparently nailed shut, causing some trouble for a few people who opened them.
  • Knowing that Viajes tend to ship wet, I dry boxed the Roman Candle I smoked for the review for two days. Honestly, I am not sure it helped much. If you bought any of these, I suggest you smoke one of them to get a baseline and put the rest away for at least six months.
  • Like the TNT release that shares its blend, the Roman Candle comes sans band, and with a short pigtail on top. The fuse protruding from the cap is shorter than all  of the TNT releases.
  • I know I should know better by now, but with a name like Roman Candle, I was really expecting more spice, pepper, strength—or a combination of all three.
  • In typical Viaje fashion with the Forth of July releases, the boxes of the Roman Candles show nothing on the outside about being cigars. In fact, the only thing that is on the box are the words: Viaje Fireworks, 15 Candles, 9×50 and Roman Candle.
  • Interestingly, the real Roman Candles are actually banned in some countries, and are illegal in some states due to their propensity to being misused and causing accidents.
  • The final smoking time was as bad (long) as I thought it would be, and ended up a at three hours and seven minutes.

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The Bottom LIne: I will never understand why Viaje chose one of it’s blandest blends to fill their first A-sized release in the companies history. It is a monotonous, fairly boring and predictable three-plus hour smoke with a profile that never really changes for that entire time. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad cigar overall—in fact, I enjoyed it for the first hour or so—but it is neither complex, strong, nor even interesting. Basically, if you are looking to smoke a three hour cigar the size of a walking stick in which you don’t have to think about the flavors at all, then this is the release for you.

 

Final Score: 73

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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