Back in July, Brooks reviewed a cigar that he came across “tucked inside the La Aurora booth at IPCPR 2012” from a company who had been sending out letters to retailers and media outlets (including halfwheel) announcing Projekt Rapture. The company? Viva Republica. The cigar? The Rapture, which promised “intense flavor with a medium-to-full body.”
Charlie broke the news about it on July 10, where he mentioned their pending debut, that they were being made by La Aurora, as well as blend notes and sizes. Via the BOTL.org forums, Jason Holly, owner of Viva Republica, described the project in this way:
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 110-year-old factory for producing.
With the original Rapture line launched, Holly has announced the upcoming release of the Rapture Maduro. This new addition not only changes the wrapper from an Ecuadorian Havana Vuelta Abajo to a Mexican San Andrés Maduro, but also gets a new binder, as the Dominican Corojo Seco is out in favor of a Dominican Corojo Ligero. What does stay the same are the sizes, MSRP and 20 count boxes for this Maduro release:
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)
If you wondering how you’ll be able to tell them apart from the original release the boxes will come with a sticker on them indicating that the cigars inside are a Maduro.
Cigar Reviewed: Viva Republica Rapture Maduro Revel
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Binder: Dominican Republic Corojo Ligero
Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina, Dominican Corojo Ligero, Nicaragua Viso Condega & Peru
Size: 5 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 54
MSRP: $8.20 (Boxes of 20, $164.00)
Release Date: Late March/Early April 2013
Number of Cigars Released: 46,000 Total Cigars*
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
*The 46,000 cigars released are split between the four sizes.
The first impression of the Viva Republica Rapture Maduro Revel is that it’s not the prettiest cigar I’ve ever seen — while the wrapper is smooth and has a nice sheen to its dark brown color, it’s also bumpy in spots and has some sizable veins. When the light hits it at the right—or in this case wrong—angle, the slight unevenness in the wrapper and roll gets magnified even more. It’s also a bit to squishy at points, showing a fair amount of give when pinched. The pre-light aroma off the foot is immediately enjoyable, leading with a milk chocolate and cocoa powder note that is backed by some aromatic coffee. A slightly larger cut than normal seems needed to clip off the underlying tobacco, which when removed reveals a cold draw a slightly mellower but darker chocolate note with hardly any spice to be found. The air moves well with just the right amount of resistance.
A pungent aroma of barnyard and chocolate jump off the cigar as soon as the flame hits the foot. Smoke doesn’t billow out in the first third, and if anything feels just slightly restricted as far as capacity. The smoke here is incredibly smooth and has no real spice to speak of—making for a flavorful yet mellow opening. The first clump of ash drops off having burned about three-quarters of an inch, and the draw seems to open up just a bit as the smoke production increases slightly. There’s a touch of earth starting to creep out of the background and with it, the first semblance of any kind of spice. It seems to be more of a clay note, however; the retrohale is fairly easy and has a slight chalkiness to it.
The second third of the Viva Republica Rapture Maduro comes about without much distinctive change as the flavors continue to be present if fairly inauspicious. At the midpoint some notes of wet tree bark emerge and there is a building of body as the smoke becomes a bit thicker and chewier. The clay note and its back of the throat sensation comes back just past the midpoint and the smoke picks up an aromatic note of damp soil with a touch of pepper. The smoke production still seems just a bit governed – while steady, it has yet to fully open up and billow. The burn line remains fairly sharp and even and only one touch up has been needed to encourage the burn.
Flavor intensity builds steadily through the final third, as the earthy robustness increases at a slow but steady rate. The Viva Republica Rapture Maduro has yet to deliver much in the way of sweetness, but where it lacks in that department it makes up for it in terroir, offering a rich, concentrated presentation of the flavors generally associated with Mexican San Andrés leaf. The nicotine also seems to increase in the final third, as the cigar becomes heavier on the palate and delivers more oomph with each puff. The final inch and a half brings a drastic increase in flavor intensity and pepper, with the proximity of the heat multiplying the effect.
- Short of the noted issues with smoke volume, the cigar burned beautifully.
- In his review of the natural version, Brooks managed to get an impressive amount of ash built up. I wasn’t so fortunate, as mine didn’t seem comfortable hanging on for more than half an inch at a time.
- The kick from the final third of the cigar stayed with me for a while — it’s a lot stronger than you’d anticipate, especially given the relatively medium-medium full body leading up to that point and the lack of spice.
- Given the new wrapper and binder, I wonder if it is a disservice to call this a Rapture Maduro. You can only change so much about a cigar before you have a completely new cigar.
- While the box stickers for the Maduros will be helpful, you shouldn’t have any trouble telling this apart from the original.
- Production for the Rapture Maduro increases by 1,000 from the number of original Raptures made: 46,000 for the former and 45,000 for the latter.
- Brooks also noted some upcoming projects from Viva Republica, including projects called the Black Mamba, Projekt TDP and Projekt Verde. According to Holly, those names have changed. The next project will be called Guerrilla Warfare and is slated for April, while two new releases are planned for IPCPR plus “probably” a holiday release. Trademark issues forced the renaming.
- Incidentally, there was no mention of a Maduro version of the Rapture mentioned in Brooks’ review. Why did it come out ahead of the other releases? “Rapture sales have exceeded expectations,” said Holly.
- The cigar for this review was provided by Jason Holly of Viva Republica, who is now a site sponsor.
- Final smoking time is about two hours and 20 minutes.
The Viva Republic Rapture Maduro made a very impressive showing, delivering good flavors, aromas and technical qualities. The smoke was one of the smoothest I can remember having, save for that clay like note that didn't always agree with me, and the change in smoke texture was phenomenal. The only thing this cigar lacked was that somewhat intangible quality that helps it rise out from its peers – maybe some complexity, an additional flavor transition, or some flavor that I'd never tasted before. Regardless, it's an impressive follow-up to the original Rapture and suggests that Jason Holly could have some more interesting Projekts up his sleeve.