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Viaje Exclusivo Lancero (2014)

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As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That seems to be the case with the return of the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero to Atlantic Cigar, the Folcroft, Penn. retailer who debuted the cigar November 2011 as part of its 15th anniversary, though the event was held at the Elmsford, N.Y. retail store known as The Cigar Republic.

In April, it was announced the the Exclusivo Lancero would be returning to Atlantic Cigar Co., though without any event attached. While the original was limited to 150 boxes, the second installment was even more so, with production capped at 96 boxes of 25. Combined with the fact that these were sold online and without restriction, the supply was depleted rather quickly. The fact that this year’s release came in a bit more expensive than the original release didn’t seem to deter its desirability. The 2014 model is $9.60 compared to the original’s $9.20 price tag, a change attributed to a pigtail cap as opposed to the fantail cap.

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It should be fairly well known by now that the Exclusivo blend is said to be Andre Farkas’ personal smoke, and wasn’t released commercially until 2009 when the Exclusivo Chiquito debuted. With the rerelease of the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero, the total number of vitolas and editions in the line grows to 17, and it joins the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded and now regular production Exclusivo Corona Gorda as being 2014 releases.

Viaje Exclusivo

In addition, the company shipped Trifecta, a sampler of three different lanceros, shortly after, meaning Viaje has released a lancero in four of it blends.
Viaje Lanceros

Exclusivo was presumed to be part of Trifecta in 2011, but it was then released to Atlantic Cigar Co., presumably removing it from the sampler.

Viaje Exclusivo Lancero 2014 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Exclusivo Lancero (2014)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 40
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $9.60 (Boxes of 25, $240.00)
  • Date Released: April 22, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 96 Boxes of 25 Cigars (2,400 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I am struck more by the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero’s length than its slightly bigger than standard ring gauge; chalk it up to smoking this after a lot of shorter and stubbier cigars in the days leading up to this. The rich coffee brown wrapper is very attractive and almost surprisingly uniform in color, capped off by one of the most tightly rolled pigtails I can recall seeing; a wire thin coil that stacks between three-and-a-half and five wraps high. The leaf itself has a bit of dry texture to it, but not from big veins or lots of tooth. There is a touch of give to the cigar in the middle section but otherwise feels uniform, and no section feels particularly under– or over-filled. The aroma from the foot is very dry, showing notes of wheat toast with a touch of tart sweetness and hardly any spice. The cold draw is just a touch firm with a cooling note that greets the tongue first and is followed mainly by very neutral flavors that offer little in the way of clues as to what the cigar itself might hold, with the occasional touch of berry jam sweetness.

The first few puffs of the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero range from fairly neutral to a note of dry earth driving the flavor but nothing beyond that really standing out, and the first retrohale is very passable with a thin smoke not carrying much beyond a trace amount of pepper. With the burn line about half an inch along, the pepper shaker comes out and a hearty amount is added to the flavor and aroma, a step forward in strength and sensation that makes another retrohale near impossible but also gets the cigar closer to the signature Exclusivo taste that has garnered such high praise. The tight and dark gray ash starts to curve fairly quickly, and shows no objection to breaking off with a quick shake before it reaches an inch in length. One thing that becomes readily apparent in the first third is that this is a slow burning cigar, and I find myself continuously looking at the cigar and feeling like I should be farther along than I am. A cocoa powder note comes along in the transition to the second third that adds a distinct touch of sweetness without abandoning the earth note that been so prevalent, though there are also the first notes of harshness to appear.

Viaje Exclusivo Lancero 2014 2

I find myself doing my dutiful puffing at regular, paced intervals and wanting to find some marked advances in flavor, but they just don’t seem to be happening and the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero holds its course of dry earth and touches of pepper. In an area with even the slightest breeze the pepper doesn’t become much of a factor beyond the nose and palate, but in stagnant air it starts to get into the eyes and flex some of its muscle. At the midpoint, the palate continues to get somewhat earthy, somewhat peppery notes but with a cloak of restraint that keeps the cigar from stepping forward. The retrohale remains a challenge to execute without flinching due to the earth and a more white pepper note that offers sharpness more than a peppery tingle. The one notable change is that the brightness of the smoke seems to expand at certain points, shedding the previously mentioned cloak and letting the flavors explode and project onto the palate, providing an enjoyable wake-up to the senses.

Viaje Exclusivo Lancero 2014 3

There is just the slightest advancement of flavor in the final third, and it evokes the notes of the robusto and corona gorda sizes that have become personal favorites, offering more notes of wood and leather while still keeping its earthy, peppery base. While the burn line remains sharp and even, the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero seems to show a good amount of fickleness with staying lit in one cigar, much more so than in the first two thirds. In the first cigar smoked, it got so bad that it was futile to think I could smoke it farther than about an inch and a half from the end without constant relighting. While a bit of dry boxing helps, taking it down to the nub has to be done slowly lest you wind up feeling the heat of the cigar both in your fingers and on the palate, the latter of which comes with increased harshness to the flavors. The conclusion to the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero is a tough one to resolve, at times showing the notes that made the Exclusivo line so desirable, at others becoming too harsh for enjoyment and at others becoming too much of a challenge to keep lit and deliver a proper finish.

Viaje Exclusivo Lancero 2014 4

Final Notes

  • One thing that caught me off guard was that these came in cellophane, as I don’t consider Viaje a brand that generally ships its cigars in cello. This isn’t the only release to come in cello and it seems to be getting more and more common, but it still caught my attention.
  • While I wasn’t in the mood to see just how far I could get the ash before it fell off, it did seem to hold on better than most average lanceros.
  • The increase of $0.40 over a two-and-a-half year period doesn’t seem like that much of an increase – it’s just under five percent.
  • The previously event-only Viaje Exclusivo Corona Gorda is now a regular release, having shipped to Viaje retailers in April.
  • The Viaje Exclusivo line now has its own off-shoot, called Leaded.
  • While the original release was an event-only release that was only available by walking into The Cigar Republic, the re-release was available via Atlantic Cigar Co.’s website.
  • The Exclusivo band continues to be my favorite of the company’s versions, as I find the black and silver stand out so crisply and cleanly against the off-white background that it creates a bold yet restrained look that clearly identifies the cigar at hand.
  • I do find it interesting that a store lists the MSRP of a cigar and then discounts it, particularly when it is a store exclusive.
  • Brooks Whittington reviewed the original release of the Viaje Exclusivo Atlantic Cigar Co. Lancero here and reduxed it here.
  • Both versions omitted the secondary band that was included on the Viaje Exclusivo Tower 45th.
  • Final smoking time was just over two hours on average.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co.
  • The only way to get the Viaje Exclusivo Lancero 2014 is from Atlantic Cigar Co./The Cigar Republic, which currently lists it as out of stock.
87 Overall Score

With the Viaje Exclusivo line expanding to more than a dozen releases, the opportunity to compare vitolas and ages is somewhat readily available, and I have been fortunate enough to sample more than half of the line. This incarnation of the Exclusivo Lancero left me lacking in a few ways, but mostly from the finish that seemed to be aiming for full-bodied but ended up in harshness. Age may resolve this, and if experience is the guide it should, which would turn this into a much more elegant cigar that delivers a more pure flavor experience without sacrificing the strength that it has. Good for now, hopefully great before long.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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