Viva Republica’s third release was strong. The Guerrilla Warfare gave Brooks a fight that was memorable, particularly for the small vitola. That’s why when brand owner Jason Holly indicated he would be making a cigar that he assumed would be “full/full plus” it was a bit of a head scratcher. The company, which hasn’t even been on the market for a year, now has two cigars—or half of its profile—that are probably too strong for 99 percent of cigar smokers.

The fourth line from Viva Republica is Thrice, we broke the news on it earlier this week:

A year after making his debut on the manufacturing side of the cigar industry, Jason Holly of Viva Republica is prepared to show off his fourth release, Thrice.
The cigar uses as a Cuban-seed Brazilian wrapper, known more commonly as “cubra,” over a filler blend that explains the name.
“(It) comes from the trio of Ligero fillers I used in this blend,” Holly told halfwheel. “Pennsylvania ligero, Dominican piloto cubano ligero and Nicaraguan ligero from the Estelí region.”
Holly is still finalizing the sizes, but tentative plans include a Toro (6 x 54), Lonsdale (5 1/2 x 44) and a Short Robusto (4 x 56).
While pre-orders will be taken at the 2013 IPCPR trade show and convention, the cigars will not ship until late August or early September. Price points are between $9.50 and $11.20 with boxes of 20 slated for the project.
“I wanted to use three Ligero from three regions but the idea was more to showcase the various flavors of the three different plants,” said Holly. “I assumed the body would be full/full+ — and in the end this ratio of ligero to seco/viso was the balance I was looking to achieve since the project was started.”
In addition to the trio of ligero, the blend uses Dominican criollo ’98, which Holly says adds to the flavor profile.

As mentioned above, much of this release is still up in the air. 

Viva Republica Thrice Toro 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viva Republica Thrice Toro
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
  • Wrapper: Brazil Cuban-Seed
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina, Dominican Piloto Cubano & Criollo ’98, Nicaragua (Estelí) & Pennsylvania
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro
  • Est. Price: $10.00
  • Release Date: August 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2

In a world where most of these reviews start out waxing poetic about how good a cigar looks, Thrice is an exception. It’s rough and ugly—and not in a rustic manner. Veins aside, the rolling lines on the cigar are some of the ugliest I’ve seen and the cap is applied in a manner that almost looks like the cigars Brooks and I rolled on Cigar Safari. The Brazilian wrapper has a bit of a leathery aroma, although the lack of cellophane has meant most of this whatever aroma was there has disappeared. From the foot, there’s a roasted salty peanut and dark spice mixture, unique. Cold draw is open, muted, but still full. There’s a really distinct barbecue note with some smokiness, a touch of citrus and pepper in the back, once again: unique. 

Thrice begins the first third with a strong and sharp pepper, but its time as the dominating note is short-lived as sweet toasty notes take over the profile. After a few puffs there’s some sweet cocoa moving in, although it’s not chocolate bar that many Nicaraguan cigars seem to provide. I’ll admit there’s some strength up front, but I’m not running for a glass of water as some might suggest. The flavor settles to a roasted and toasty mixture, mainly sweet, albeit some bitterness and black pepper towards the back and nose. While the upfront flavors of the Viva Republica are good, the finish is where the cigar shines through the first third: dark grass, toasted graham cracker, a sharp pepper—all things that appear 15 or so seconds after the smoke hits the palate. Construction is great with the Toro holding the ash all the way through the first third and an uncontrollable level of strength.

Viva Republica Thrice Toro 2

It takes some additional time, but an inch before the halfway mark, a second third appears. There’s a crazy popcorn note that comes from nowhere and sits on top of the profile from the first third, and then it hits: saltiness. There’s still sweetness and toastiness, but the Thrice is presenting a saltiness that is strong and dominant, something I rarely can pick up, particularly on anything outside of Cuba. While this is going on, strength levels have accelerated deep into the full category. Popcorn, toastiness, saltiness, some generic sweetness and hints of grass and pepper make up the core—a transition, but definitely a cigar that builds. I lose the ash at a little over two inches, the draw is still a bit open, but the smoke production is still crazy.

Viva Republica Thrice Toro 3

The final third of the Thrice gets saltier. There’s no longer a sweetness to add to the contrast, but the roasted notes that return help to make more sense of the profile. Strength is continuing to build, definitely on the upper ends of full, but it’s not the largest aversion to me nubbing the cigar. Somewhere at the inch and a half mark, I start to lose control of the draw, which makes keeping the cigar lit a much more difficult task, particularly when saving the cigar—via multiple deep draws back-to-back—delivers a heavy dose of nicotine. As is customary, at around the inch mark I lose interest in trying to save a cigar that isn’t getting any better—perhaps youth, perhaps something else.

Viva Republica Thrice Toro 4

Final Notes:

  • After a few conversations with Holly about this release, it seems like many of the details behind the sizes aren’t entirely finalized. As such, we are classifying this review as preproduction. 
  • Last Friday Holly told me he was likely to box-press Thrice. By Tuesday, he had changed his mind. Paging Mr. Howard.
  • I am honestly not sure what’s going on, but I’ve been reviewing a lot of cigars people would describe as on the fuller side of full of late. Thrice, Cain FF, Craft 2013, etc. In my opinion, Thrice was the strongest. 
  • Honestly, this review probably makes more sense in halves, or quarters, albeit, unequals halves, quarters, etc.
  • Turns out the Guerrilla Warfare and Rapture Maduro are both now on sale. Probably the quietest national release from any company in a while.
  • I’m not sure if it was because it was a sample, but the Thrice samples I got were ugly as can be. We take for granted how well cigars are made these day, but it makes you notice things like that.
  • For those wondering why more manufacturers are not using tobacco from Brazil, it’s because the cost has skyrocketed lately. 
  • Holly also owns the Pennsylvania-based El Humidor.
  • One day Jason Holly will send us samples with bands so the feature images for his releases will look different.
  • Not only does Gurkha own the cubra trademark, it also owns the Triple Ligero mark. We reviewed a TripleLigero cigar earlier in the year.
  • Strength is full to full-plus. It doesn’t start out as a nicotine bomb, but there’s no point of even attempting to call this medium anything.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Viva Republica. The company is a sponsor of our forum.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries Viva Republica, although the Thrice is obviously not out yet.
90 Overall Score

If you want unique cigars, Viva Republica might honestly be the place to go. While I have not had the company's Rapture Maduro, the three lines I've smoked are all very unique. If you gave these cigars to a random retailer or sales rep and asked them which factory made them, La Aurora is probably the last place they guess. As for Thrice, it's strong, very strong. But it's also smooth, layered and flavorful. So oftentimes, when manufacturers chose to focus on a unique feature—like the three ligero fillers—so much as to name the cigar because of it, the cigar becomes a one-trick pony. This is not. The question here is simple: will the cigars be able to retain the unique flavor with any sort of time in the humidor. If so, it's a winner.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.