Viva Republica is a fairly new brand produced out of La Aurora’s E. León Jimenes Tabacalera factory in the Dominican Republic. Its first release, the Rapture, was launched at the IPCPR show in 2012 and the company has quite a few more blends in the pipeline for release in 2013.

We broke the news on Guerrilla Warfare last week:

Jason Holly of Viva Republica will be the latest to enter the small and full market when his latest cigar, Guerrilla Warfare, lands in retailers in mid-April. The 4 x 41 Petit Corona and the Rapture Maduro are only two of the handful of products Holly is working on, the former will likely be the first to see the market when it lands in mid-April.“Guerrilla Warfare was conceived as a project to put together a flavorful short smoke that packs a little punch,” said Holly. “I personally love the smaller vitola as I move around from place to place when visiting retailers and I sometimes only have 20-30 minutes to spend on a smoke.”
The Pennsylvania retailer cited other small cigars like the La Palina Kill Bill and Tatuaje Petite Cazadores as part of the inspiration for his cigar, but noted that Guerrilla Warfare would be different—it would be stronger, a lot stronger. To achieve this strength the Guerrilla Warfare uses a mixture of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers underneath Dominican and Mexican binders and an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. According to Holly, it took only three tries to get to the final blend.
“The purge grades of the Nicaraguan filler were fantastic, but when I tried the Dominican filler as a pure grade, it was incredible,” said Holly. “It shifted the perception I had that Nicaraguan tobacco had an edge when it comes to strength while maintaining flavor notes.”The Guerrilla Warfare, like Viva Republica’s freshman release, will be made at La Aurora’s E. León Jimenes Tabacalera factory in the Dominican Republic. Holly worked alongside Guillermo León to create the Guerrilla Warfare which will be limited to an initial production run of 20,000 cigars divided between 50 count cabinets and packs of five.
Holly said the name is a tribute to the “small, but fierce outfits of freedom fighters that operated in Central and South America during the second half of the 20th Century.”

Viva Republica Guerilla Warfare 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viva Republica Guerrilla Warfare
  •  Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Dominican Republic & Mexico
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 41
  • Vitola: Petit Corona
  • MSRP: n/a
  • Release Date: April 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 20,000 Total Cigars
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

The Guerrilla Warfare is a well made cigar, with a mottled brown wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch, but has multiple obvious veins running down its length. It is fairly spongy when squeezed, but that is probably a combination of the small ring gauge and short length more than anything. The aroma coming off the wrapper is a strong cedar, leather, barnyard and pepper.

The first third of the Guerrilla Warfare starts out with strong flavors of chocolate, bitter espresso, creamy cedar and just a tad bit of nuttiness. There is a great amount of spice on the lips that sticks around through the first third and a punishing amount of black pepper on the retrohale that slowly starts to recede pretty quickly, but does stick around. Underneath the other flavors is a wonderful vanilla flavor, sometimes strong, sometimes light—but always present in some amount. Smoke production is insane—white and billowy—and the draw and burn are excellent. Overall strength ends the first third just below medium.

Viva Republica Guerilla Warfare 2

While the second third of the Viva Republica starts out the same as the first third, it quickly shifts gears right before the halfway point with the spice almost disappearing and the black pepper receding even more—although it is still noticeable on the retrohale. The flavors morph into more of a leather and oak dominated profile with just touches of mint, espresso and chocolate and the sweetness that was so strong in the first third has been cut in half—albeit still noticeable. The construction remains excellent and the smoke production continues to be well above average. In fact, the biggest change is the strength—which has ramped up significantly—and ends at just under the full mark by the end of the second third and only seems to be getting stronger.

Viva Republica Guerilla Warfare 3

Coming into the final third of the Guerrilla Warfare the strength has now easily pushed through the full barrier and seems determined to stay there for the duration of the smoke. Flavors of bitter espresso, creamy cedar, nuts, cloves and a tiny amount of licorice flit in and out, none of them overly dominant at any specific point. The vanilla sweetness from the first two thirds is a bit stronger here, but seems overwhelmed by the strength, especially at the end. The profile does turn harsh at the very end of the cigar, but it was well past the point that I should have put it down anyway. The construction remains constantly wonderful to the end, and the strength is solidly in the full camp by the time I put it down.

Viva Republica Guerilla Warfare 4

Final Notes:

  • I love the size of these, and in my opinion, there are just not enough of the vitola being made these days. Yes, we always have the Tatuaje PCR and the Kill Bill plus a few others, but I have always thought that this size is extremely underdeveloped at this point, and it is great to see a change in that, especially coming from a new company.
  • Despite the fact that these are made at La Aurora factory, these taste absolutely nothing like anything that La Aurora makes.
  • Both the burn and draw were fantastic on both samples I smoked.
  • Selling these in cabinets of 50 is all kinds of awesome.
  • Do not smoke this cigar too fast, or you will be punished for it, especially at the end where it can get harsh fast if you are not careful.
  • The strength starts ramping up significantly at around the halfway point, and becomes close to full by the end, a shocking trend for a small vitola.
  • Viva Republica has an ambitious release strategy for the next year or so. Their next cigar to be officially released will be the so called Insurrexion (formally called the Black Mamba), which uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Cameroon binder and Dominican Ligero, Estelí Ligero, Brazilian Bahia Mata Fina different fillers and a hybrid Ecuadorian seed. Another project upcoming soon is the Rapture Maduro, which should be dropping in late March.
  • I was shocked at the full strength of this blend, especially for such a small cigar. The first time I smoked it, I knew it was going to be a full stick by the halfway point, and it did not disappoint. It does not start out that way, so be aware of it. It WILL get stronger.
  • Along with the above, I am really interested in how these will age, especially in a cabinet of 50. I am thinking I will be buying a cab and keeping it sealed just to see.
  • If you are wondering about the name—Holly says, “The name is a tribute to the small but fierce outfits of freedom fighters that operated in Central and South America during the second half of the 20th Century.”
  • Having said the above, I think the name can also be in reference to the fact that the strength literally sneaks up on you, taking you by surprise, almost so quickly you don’t see it coming.
  • The owner of Viva Republica, Jason Holly, also owns El Humidor in Northern Pennsylvania.
  • The Viva Republica Rapture box took ninth place in our Best of 2012 Packaging Awards.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Viva Republica.
  • The final smoking time for both samples averaged one hour and five minutes, way above what I expected from the size. It is a very slow burner.
90 Overall Score

The Guerrilla Warfare is an extremely interesting cigar, almost at odds with itself. At different points in the smoke, this cigar is sweet, peppery, spicy, strong and even a bit nutty. While not the most balanced of profiles, it is fairly complex, especially for such a small vitola. I absolutely adore the size, and it is interesting that it is such a full strength blend, not something I am used to in a 4x41 cigar. Well worth picking up and proof that Viva Republica is moving in the right direction.

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Brooks Whittington

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.