Tucked inside the La Aurora booth at IPCPR 2012 will be a new brand, Viva Republica. The company is owned by Jason Holly and over the last few years he has been working on bringing Viva Republica to life—something that will come to fruition at IPCPR.

Charlie broke the news on most the details last week:

Republica Cigars will be launching its first line, Rapture, at IPCPR 2012. The cigars are made at La Aurora’s E. León Jimenes Tabacalera factory in the Dominican Republic for Jason Holly, who also owns El Humidor in Northern Pennsylvania. Rapture uses a Cuban-seed Ecuadorian wrapper over a blend comprised of tobaccos from Brazil, the Dominican, Nicaragua and Peru.

Rapture will launch with four sizes:

  • Perdition (4 1/2 x 50) — Robusto
  • Revel (5 1/2 x 54) — Toro
  • Exodus (6 1/4 x 52) — Belicoso
  • Harasha (6 x 58) — Gordo

Pricing is expected between $8.00-9.00 and the line will be distributed by Holly.


Viva Repbulica, which means, “long live the republic“—will soon be sending out letters to retailers announcing the release of Rapture. We posted the first picture of one last week:

Republica Cigars Projekt Ratpure


Says Jason Holly, owner of Viva Republica:

Several years ago I was involved as a producer of a movie (La Soga) in the Dominican Republic. As an avid cigar enthusiast, I made some great new connections during the three months I lived in Santiago. When I returned home I purchased an existing retail store, El Humidor, and have since doubled it in size and sales. This did not satisfy my hunger for the cigar world, in fact, now I craved more…

This is the genesis behind the idea of creating a new cigar. At first just a “house line” but then I realized I had way too much energy, drive and ideas to be constrained by a small project.

What started out as a concept has blossomed into a full scale brand with my mentor Guillermo Leon, the owner of La Aurora. Guillermo has given me access to the factory to work on projects as I see fit and develop concepts and short runs using the library of tobaccos at La Aurora’s disposal. Along with Guillermo and Manuel Inoa — I have already created three solid releases that are in the pipeline. These aren’t what you’ve come to expect from La Aurora in terms of names, sizes and strength. However, they have the signature level of high quality everyone has come to know this 109 year old factory for producing.

The initial run of Rapture will be 45,000 cigars, split between four different vitolas and sold in 20 count boxes. The initial sizes are:

  • Perdition (4 1/2 x 50) — Robusto — $7.80 ($156.00)
  • Revel (5 1/2 x 54) — Toro — $8.20 ($164.00)
  • Exodus (6 1/4 x 52) — Belicoso — $8.40 ($168.00)
  • Harasha (6 x 58) — Gordo — $9.00 ($180.00)
Here is what the band for the Rapture will look like:
Viva Republica Rapture Band


But enough of that, lets get down to business, shall we?

Viva Republica Rapture Harasha 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viva Republica Rapture Harasha
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana Vuelta Abajo
  • Binder: Dominican Corojo
  • Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina, Dominican Corojo Ligero, Nicaragua Viso Condega & Peru
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 58
  • Vitola: Gordo
  • MSRP: $9.00 (Boxes of 20, $180.00)
  • Release Date: August 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 45,000 Total Cigars*
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1
    * The 45,000 cigars released are split between all four sizes.


The Rapture is a nice looking cigar with a wonderful slightly red milk chocolate brown wrapper exhibiting a bit of oil. It feels like satin when you run your finger over it. There are some veins present, but they are not distracting and it is just short of perfect when squeezed—perhaps just a bit spongy. The wrapper smells of oak, sweet hay, marshmallows and nuts—but there is no pepper to be found as of yet.


The first third of the Viva Republica Rapture Harasha starts out sweet and nutty with flavors of oak, marshmallow, milk chocolate and a touch of coffee. There is a nice amount of spice on the retrohale, but it is not strong enough to feel on the lips so far. Smoke production is ridiculous from the outset and only seems to be increasing. Construction is phenomenal with a straight burn line and an ash that held on well past the halfway point. Strength starts at a slightly less than medium, and increases to a solid medium by the end of the first third.

Viva Republica Rapture Harasha 2

Starting off the second third of the Harasha and the profile is much the same, although I am tasting more nuts (almonds) and oak, but less chocolate and coffee. The sweetness and creaminess are still very much evident as well and for fleeting moments I taste some sweet floral notes—but it does not stick around long at this point in the smoke. The ash is still on the cigar past the halfway point, and that is all I need to say about the construction. Strength keeps building and reaches a strong medium by the end of the second third.

Viva Republica Rapture Harasha 3

Into the final third of the Viva Republica release and the floral sweetness note and nuttiness ramp up, while I am also tasting some earthiness, oak and citrus, which works well in combination with the other flavors. Surprisingly, the strength finished just under the full mark, and I can feel the effects by the time I put it down. Smoke production continues to impress and the construction remains excellent to the end, but the Rapture does get a bit hot at the nub.

Viva Republica Rapture Harasha 4


Final Notes:

  • The Ecuadorian wrapper really is a thing of beauty and also really hard to describe. The best way I can put it is that it feels almost like elastic satin, like if you were to take it off the cigar and pull it taunt, it would snap back into place.
  • Please do not actually try the above if you smoke one of these cigars, and I am pretty sure that is not what will happen.
  • Construction is absolutely ridiculous for the entire cigar—both burn and draw are perfect. As seen in the photo above, the ash stayed on well past the halfway point before falling for the first time.
  • Viva Republica has an ambitious release strategy for the next year or so. Their next cigar will be the so called 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. Two other projects in the works are Projekt TDP, a 4 x 80 Box-Pressed cigar using a mix of ten leaves for the filler and Projekt Verde, a Candela-wrapped Figurado.
  • For the record, I think a 4 x 80 RG cigar is insane, but oddly, would love to see what 10 filler leaves tastes like.
  • Using a “k” in “Projekt” instead of a “c” might be distinctive—but it is a pain in the ass to type, especially with autocorrect on.
  • The strength in this cigar will reach out and bite you if you are not careful. I was surprised at how strong it was by the end of the smoke, as it seemed to creep up on me out of nowhere.
  • As constant readers of this site may know, I don’t normally smoke larger ring gauge cigars when I have a choice, but this specific vitola was extremely flavorful and I can’t wait to try the blend in the other sizes that are being released.
  • This sample was sent to us by Viva Republica.
  • The final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes.


The Bottom Line: This is a very good debut for a company. The profile is fairly complex and the flavors it does have are excellent: sweet, creamy and nutty with more strength than I was expecting on the outset. However, perhaps the most interesting thing about this cigar is that no one who ever smokes it blind would ever be able to tell it came from the La Aurora factory. A great first blend, and I am really looking forward to see what they come up with next.

Final Score: 89

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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.