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Viaje Zombie Natural Box (2013)

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Back in April of 2011, Viaje brought a cigar blend that had never been seen before to an event at Tobacco Grove in Minnesota. The cigar, which was known as the Zombie, was made to be one of Viaje’s strongest blends and was released in a unique vitola: a Robusto with triple caps at both ends.

There was a follow-up release in May 2012. In a short period of time this year, three releases of Zombie were sent to retailers: a hybrid Zombie Super and two traditional releases of Zombies, each with a different blend and each coming in a different box—one in a black box and one in a natural-colored box.

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We also covered the information on the release in a news story back in May:

On Tuesday, Viaje announced the four retailers who will be getting the 2013 edition of the Viaje Zombie, an annual release that has been limited to just a small handful of stores since being introduced in 2011. The announcement was made via the company’s Facebook page.
The 2013 edition of the Zombie comes in two blends and packaging formats, the standard black box and a new, natural colored box. Both boxes will come with 20 cigars and retail for $220, making the per stick price $11, and each box will have what the company describes as a “Zombie collectible.” All that has been said by Viaje is that “black box has 1 of 2, natural box has 2 of 2.”
Each retailer is receiving 50 boxes of one blend; none of the four retailers are receiving both blends. Neither of the blends have been disclosed at this point, though it has been announced that the cigar is a 5 x 52 Robusto with a tapered, unfinished foot, a new size for the project as it had previously been a 4 5/8 x 52 Robusto. Also confirmed is that the black box blend is the same as previous years, while the cigar in the natural colored box is a second blend that was selected for the Zombie project but hasn’t been used up to this point. All that is known about the original blend is that is a Nicaraguan puro.
Getting the natural colored box are Ambassador Fine Cigars in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Crescent City Cigars in New Orleans, La. The Pipe & Pint in Greensboro, N.C.and Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Ill. are receiving the black box. The Pipe & Pint will be hosting a release party with Farkas on Saturday, May 18.
Viaje posted this picture of both boxes on their Facebook page:
Viaje Zombie 2013 Boxes
The Viaje Zombie first appeared in 2011 as a two-store release, going to Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minn., then to BURN Premium in Burnsville, Minn. In 2012, a third retailer was added, as Tower Pipe & Cigars in Sacramento, Anthony’s Cigar Emporium in Tucson and The Humidor Cigar and Lounge in Wichita were selected as retailers. In both years, each retailer received 50 boxes of the cigar. The addition of the fourth retailer this year brings the total production to 4,000 cigars, though split evenly at 2,000 cigars per blend.
Viaje recently announced the release of the Zombie Super Shot, a 3 1/2 x 54 ring gauge vitola that will be packed in 25-count boxes that is supposed to combine the company’s Super Shot and Zombie releases. That cigar began shipping in early May along with the Exclusivo Super Lance and White Label Project Super Shot.

When asked for information about the two different releases, a Viaje representative posted on their Facebook page:

Backstory – When ZOMBIE was first put together 2 blends were selected, but only one was used. Black box contains the original blend; same blend as the last 2 years. Natural box contains that second blend that was selected, but never used. New size for this year as well. In regards to the collectible, black box has 1 of 2, natural box has 2 of 2.

With the addition of the three releases in 2013, there have now been five different releases in the Zombie line. They are:

Viaje Zombie Releases

  • Viaje Zombie (4 3/4 x 52) – April 2011 – 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Zombie (2012) (4 5/8 x 52) – May 2012 – 150 Boxes of 20 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Zombie Super Shot  (3 1/2 x 54) – May 2013 – 400 Boxes of 25 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Zombie Black Box (5 x 52) – May 2013 – 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Zombie Natural Box (5 x 52) –May 2013 – 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 Box 1

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 Box 2

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 Box 3

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 Box 4 

Viaje Zombie White 2013 main copy Recovered

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Zombie Natural Box
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $11.00 (Boxes of 20, $220.00)
  • Date Released: May 18, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Zombie Natural Box is an interesting looking vitola with a normal cap and a tapered foot that is covered with tobacco. The wrapper is a dark coffee bean brown and is fairly toothy to the touch. It has a bit more give when squeezed than I would like and the aroma from the wrapper is strong leather, barnyard, espresso and dark chocolate.

The first third of the Viaje Zombie Natural Box is filled with flavors of dark and chalky cocoa, bitter espresso, gritty earth and leather—along with a significant amount of black pepper on the retrohale. There is a tiny amount of spice that I am noticing on my tongue and a tiny amount of sweetness that comes and goes throughout the first third, never strong enough to pinpoint. The burn is a bit wavy, and the draw is a bit loose, but the smoke production is above average. Overall strength begins at a mild-medium, but gains in strength ending the first third at a solid medium.

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 2

Coming into the second third of the Zombie Natural Box, the sweetness from the first third has really stepped up in strength allowing me to identify it as a nice raisin sweetness, along with flavors of earth, leather, bitter espresso, oak and cocoa. The black pepper has receded somewhat from its high point in the first third, but it is still a large factor in the profile. The burn has evened up nicely, but the draw is still a bit loose, albeit within normal range. Smoke production is still above average and the strength continues to increase ending the second third close to the full mark.

 

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 3

The final third of the Viaje Zombie Natural Box, and the black pepper on the retrohale has increased in strength, although it is not nearly as strong as the first third. The raisin sweetness has also diminished a bit, but is still quite strong and adds a wonderful dimensionality to the profile. Other flavors of dark chocolate, bitter coffee beans, leather, earth and oak ebb in and out. Both the burn and the draw remain unchanged from the second third—as does the smoke production—and the overall strength surprises me by barley hitting the full mark before the end of the cigar. 

Viaje Zombie Natural Box  2013 4

Final Notes:

  • Just to be clear, the Natural in the name above refers to the color of the box, not to the blend. As far as I know, there is no official name besides Natural Box and Black Box, which I find asinine and overly complicated.
  • I find it interesting that this was a blend that was rejected for the first Zombie release, as I found it generally less strong and sweeter than the rest of the Zombie line. The Zombie cigars are meant to be strong and overpowering, so it makes sense that this blend was not chosen at first.
  • Interestingly, the tapered foot is covered with tobacco, the first time I have seen that on a cigar.
  • I am extremely glad that Farkas turned away from using double capped ends on these cigars, as I always thought that it was a gimmicky vitola that ended up hurting the blend since they tended to retain more moisture, thus having more construction issues in general.
  • The raisin sweetness that I picked up was the first time i have tasted that flavor in a Zombie release. The note was strongest at around the halfway point, although it was evident in the final third as well.
  • As part of the recent Zombie releases, Viaje has started shipping Zombie target posters.
  • As far as I can tell from a visual inspection, all of the Zombie releases have had the exact same bands, other than the Zombie Super Shot, which has no band at all.
  • Having said the above, it really does not make any sense to me to release two different blends that look identical in every way. Same bands, same vitola, same size, virtually identical colors of wrapper. In other words, there is absolutely no way to tell the Black and White blends apart just by looking at them. So if you get both releases, make sure to note which one they are somehow before putting them together.
  • The recently released Zombie Super Shot is the first Zombie without a band.
  • We are not sure what the difference in the blend is, but the Zombie White seems to have a somewhat lighter wrapper than the Zombie Black, although I am prepared to admit it was just my mind looking for a difference I could point to.
  • The Natural Box release is also not as strong as its Black Box brother, nor as strong as any of the other Zombies I have smoked in the past.
  • The band on both of my samples used so much glue that taking them off ripped the wrapper.
  • The final smoking time for both samples averaged one hour and 20 minutes.
  • While none of our sponsors were one of the four stores selected for this release, Atlantic Cigar (1.800.887.7877), BestCigarPrices (1.888.412.4427) and Tobacco Grove (763.494.6688) all carry Viaje. Given the limited nature of these releases, it is probably best to call once you are aware of a release that is shipping if you are interested in purchasing some.
89 Overall Score

If you look through each one of our Zombie reviews, you will notice a trend in the profile of this cigar: strong, earthy, gritty, leathery and very dark cocoa. That is what the blend tastes like—and I dare say—what the blend in supposed to taste like. However, it seems to me after smoking a few of the Zombie Natural Box and comparing it with the Black Box release that this blend is not as strong, has less pepper overall and is noticeably sweeter than its brothers, which is a very welcome addition to the profile. In fact, despite the relatively minor construction issues, I enjoyed this cigar quite a bit, and I am happy I have more to put down for a while.

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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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