It’s rare that I wait just over five years to revisit a cigar, yet that’s exactly the case with a redux of the Viaje 5th Anniversary, though it certainly wasn’t planned this way.
In the spring of 2012, Viaje announced a new cigar that would be released at that summer’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in celebration of the company’s fifth anniversary. No details were given, just where it would be released. While he had no hesitancy to talk about it at the show, it would only appear once on Andre Farkas’ Facebook page, and when he was asked about why it seemed like the cigar might not be getting the attention it warranted, he said there was no real reason behind it.
We’d come to find out that it was a Nicaraguan puro being made at the Raíces Cubanas factory in Honduras, home to many of the brand’s other projects. Additionally, it comes in a single vitola, a box-pressed perfecto measuring 6 1/4 inches long with a 52 ring gauge.
As is not just the case with Viaje but limited editions in general, it seems like the cigars were destined to come and go, snapped up by those who wanted to smoke one now and those who wanted to put some away in the humidor.
But last year, Viaje not only celebrated its 10th anniversary with a trio of cigars, it once again celebrated its fifth anniversary again with the re-release of the same cigar used for that milestone. There’d also be more to go around this time, as the company released 500 boxes of 25 cigars, up from 300 in the original release, and while the original all-white embossed band remains, the boxes have a more distinct design than the all-white version in which the originals came. This new box is a more traditional wood color with the fifth anniversary logo on the top.
It’s also important to note that while the blend is the same, the cigars come from different vintages as opposed to being rolled at the same time and then put into the aging room.
Here’s what I said about the Viaje 5th Anniversary when I reviewed it in September 2012:
One of the things I often struggle with is band bias – the expectations that a cigar carries with it based on its brand, packaging, name and marketing. The Viaje 5th Anniversary had a bit of that based on the company’s track record, but there was also a tremendous amount for the cigar to prove on its own, thanks to its somewhat nondescript name. While there’s still a lot of the traditional Nicaraguan strength and characteristics, it also ventures off the beaten path a bit, seemingly seeking more balance and finesse than outright strength. There are points that the 5th Anniversary achieves that, as well as a few points where the pepper takes over and returns to the familiar Viaje profile. It’s not as nuanced as the Platino Corona Gorda, but for me it doesn’t disappoint and shows a different and very enjoyable side of what the company is capable of producing.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje 5th Anniversary (2017)
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $13.20 (Boxes of 25, $330)
- Release Date: Sept. 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 25 Cigars (12,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
The re-released Viaje 5th Anniversary has a wrapper with just a bit of red clay tint to it, otherwise, it’s an even shade of brown with the only difference found in the wrap at the foot. The leaf is smooth to the touch with a fine velvet feel, small veins and no tooth. Not only is the roll clean, the box press is done well and results in just a bit of pillowy give when the cigar is squeezed. Despite its small opening, the foot reveals a bit of orange zest sweetness, while the wrapper has more of a neutral pizza dough with hardly any pepper. A small clip of the cap reveals an ideal amount of airflow with a bit more creaminess to the cigar than I would have expected, enhanced by a bit of almond and underlying lumberyard woodiness.
The cigar opens with an easy, medium-bodied and slightly creamy profile that shows much of what I picked up on the cold draw, with woods leading, then almonds and some unsalted nuts, followed by a bit of baking chocolate that I was not expecting but am quite enjoying. There’s some subtle pepper and spice beginning to manifest, as well as flamed orange rind in the aroma, and I have to admit that I am quite enamored by what the cigar is putting off as it rests. The first inch of ash drops off unexpectedly and opens up the draw just a bit, while the flavor and strength hold more or less steady. As the ash builds, so does the pepper, particularly through the nose, getting medium-plus in strength but never commanding the overall profile. Sweetness is beginning to fade on the palate, though the aroma is holding on to just a bit of the citrus. The flavor dries out a bit more approaching the midway point, with another clump of ash coming off unceremoniously mid-puff.
There’s not much in change past the midway point, though I sense just a bit of sourness beginning to creep out from the very back of the profile, and it’s something that manages to continue doing so without affecting the other flavors, rather just mucking up the overall profile, both on the initial puff and the finish as it seems to be what lingers longest. It continues to be part of the profile, while the ash continues its slump of landing in the ashtray, as a third clump finds itself on my shirt just before the band needs to be removed. The sourness morphs into a bit of wet chalk and some metals with the burn line squarely in the final third, and now is leading the profile instead of simply being a component. Just as the sourness has finally begun to fatigue the palate, sharp pepper enters the nose via the aroma and retrohales, with a stinging finish on the tongue capping things off and bringing the cigar to a close after two hours. Even with the flavor issues, the cigar continued to burn flawlessly, though none of the ash made into directly into the ashtray.
Given that this is a vintage release and not an aged version of the original Viaje 5th Anniversary, the comparisons are a bit tough to make, and perhaps even unfair to attempt. While I liked but wasn't enamored by the original release, I'm downright puzzled by this re-release. It starts off on track to make it box-worthy by way of its creamy, nutty, medium-bodied, balanced and complex first half, then finishes on a final third that had me wanting to put it down much sooner than the requirements of a review would allow thanks to a prolonged sourness and a finish of stinging pepper. If you're looking to try it, I encourage you to savor every puff of the first two thirds, as you'll be longing for them not long after the final third begins.