Nearly a decade ago, a new black and silver banded cigar from Viaje made its debut, one said to be the personal blend of company founder Andre Farkas, made its debut on the market: the Viaje Exclusivo.
Initially released in a small figuardo vitola known as the Chiquito and in a small quantity—just 2,500 cigars—the line quickly captured the attention of a good number of cigar smokers as the then two-year-old company continued to build and develop its portfolio. An all-Nicaraguan cigar using AGANORSA tobacco, the cigar was produced at the Raíces Cubanas factory in Danlí, Honduras.
The Exclusivo line would steadily grow in the decade since its release, with more than a dozen releases that spanned a range of sizes. Then, in February 2014 the line got its first extension, the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded, a modified blend that added medio tiempo tobacco to the blend, using the highest priming of a tobacco plant to add strength and additional flavor. To differentiate the two lines, the bands would change to make the Viaje word mark red, a seeming indicator that the new line was stronger than its predecessor.
The line would grow once again, adding a new extension in October 2016 with the release of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua, which used a new, all-Nicaragua blend that would be made at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua, owned by AGANORSA Leaf. It would debut in three sizes, Robusto (5 x 52), Toro (6 x 50) and Double R (5 1/2 x 54), which were the same three sizes that the original Exclusivo line came in when the company moved it to regular production status in 2015. It would be differentiated this time by the leaves on the band going to a blue and white color scheme, a nod to the colors of the Nicaraguan flag.
When announced, Farkas was certain to note that the new Exclusivo was not replacing the original one, saying it is intended to complement the original.
Then in November 2018, the company announced that it was bringing the two offshoot lines of Exclusivo lines together by way of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded. Once again, medio tiempo was added to the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua’s blend for additional strength, and once again it would debut in the robusto, toro and double robusto sizes in which the other two variants debuted. But they wouldn’t be the only three releases in the line’s debut, as the company added a fourth cigar, the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada. Like its predece,ssors it would get a unique band, with the black and silver base of the original Exclusivo, the red wordmark of the Exclusivo Leaded and the blue and white leaves of the Exclusivo Nicaragua.
That brings the total number of Leaded releases to nine cigars.
- Viaje Exclusivo Leaded (5 x 52) — February 2014 — 500 Boxes of 25 Cigars (12,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Leaded (5 x 52) — May 2016— 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (12,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Double Edged Sword (5 x 52) — March 2017 — 500 Boxes of 25 Cigars (12,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Petite Lancero (6 x 40) — April 2018
- Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Short Perfecto Collector’s Edition 2018 — July 2018 — 250 Humidors of 40 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada (6 x 46) — December 2018 — n/a
- Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Robusto (5 x 52) — December 2018 — n/a
- Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Double R (5 1/2 x 54) — December 2018 — n/a
- Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Toro (6 x 50) — December 2018 — n/a
The 6 x 46 vitola would come wearing a secondary Edición Limitada band, which indicates that the production numbers of the particular size is smaller than the other sizes in a release. It is a designation that has been given to multiple cigars in Viaje’s portfolio, including the Satori, Skull & Bones Daisy Cutter, Friends and Family, Holiday Blend Candy Cane in 2015 and 2017, and Full Moon, once in 2015 and again in 2017.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $8.80 (Boxes of 25, $220)
- Release Date: December 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
One of these days I’m going to put a couple of Viaje’s releases side by side to see the range of wrapper colors that the company uses, as the capa on this cigar is what I would call almost stereotypically Viaje, a bit darker than medium brown but not notably dark, with just a bit of redness in certain lights, something reinforced with the additional use of the color on the bands. The wrapper leaf has a bit of mottling towards the foot on the first sample, but otherwise it’s a uniform color. There’s generally one prominent vein on each cigar with some smaller offshoots that criss-cross the leaf, though those bigger veins are hidden on the side opposite the direction the bands face. The wrapper has a bit of very fine texture on the fingers, and while it looks like it would have some oils, the feel doesn’t quite match up. The cigar appears to be rolled well with a consistently firm density, flat seams, no visual issues and a tidy, well-applied cap. The foot of the cigar has an aroma that is very soft on the nose initially, almost like brown sugar, building into something drier and more complex with a bit of dry tree branches, root beer and a touch of pepper. Air flow on the cold draw is quite good, while flavors remind me of a warm Dr. Pepper due to a mix of sweetness, some herbs and a dash of pepper, with a wood-forward finish closing things out to slightly bite the lips.
The opening puffs of the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada start with some peppery earth and terroir, with a bit of a red chili pepper flake finish in the throat that’s by far the most lingering component of the smoke. At its fullest, it can be a bit rough on the palate, but shouldn’t be out of the area of expectations for a Viaje cigar. Pepper through the nose can also be a bit overwhelming if not expecting it, but it is incredibly clean and bright, and dare I say with just the right amount of sting, sort of like a pleasingly spicy dish of food. I’m impressed myself by the balance that the cigar is able to achieve before the first clump of ash breaks off, never overstepping in any of the flavors yet keeping the profile clean and engaging. A bit of sweetness comes out in the aroma for a few puffs, before retrohales pivot and shed the spicier pepper in favor of a drier white pepper. The burn, draw and smoke production of the cigar are all quite good, which help get the cigar off to a fantastic start.
The profile gets a bit more robust as the burn line progresses through the second third, yet never gets rough or grating on the palate. Pepper becomes a bit more assertive, the earth notes become a bit more distilled, and there feels like just a touch more nicotine is beginning to come through. While the flavor’s profile doesn’t change drastically in this section, the cigar continues down this road of getting more amplified throughout the second third. On the occasional retrohale I begin to pick up some subtle berry sweetness, which adds complexity to the otherwise bright white pepper that has been the central feature of passing smoke through the nose. The cigar has flirted with being what I would consider to be truly full-bodied up to this point, and I’d say it crosses that line in the second third with some potential to go even stronger in its final third. The burn line, draw, smoke production and overall construction remain excellent.
The texture of the smoke thickens up just a bit more in the final third, getting more dense and chewy, while the flavors stay well-balanced if now a touch more restrained. There’s just a smidge more sweetness here, almost a light honey note but with a bit of red apple as well. Retrohales are still quite peppery and will wipe away pretty much any of the other flavors I’m picking up, yet the finish is tight and brief, hardly lingering around with much tingle. A few combustion issues arise in the final third and require a touch-up or occasional relight, but those don’t seem to be adversely affecting the flavor, which is now more wood-forward with a bit of damp earth, black pepper and general terroir flavor, all accented by the stronger medio tiempo, which is now the most tangible it has been thus far. The draw feels like it is tightening up, particularly in the second sample, where each puff is considerably more labored than they had been previously. In the final inch, the cigar gets a bit too hot and sharp on the palate to be enjoyable, signaling that the time has come to put in the ashtray after burning near flawlessly from the start.
- I’ve always really liked the black, silver and cream band that graced the Viaje Exclusivo, and long thought it to be one of the cleanest and best designed bands out there. I find it interesting to see it has been adapted to now include both the Nicaragua and Leaded line extensions.
- While Viaje’s portfolio can be a challenge to keep track of, one of the things I have struggled to keep straight is the difference between the Edición Limitada and Collector’s Edition programs. The former just designates that fewer were produced of that particular size compared to the others, while the latter is a designation that the cigar is a unique size for the blend which will only be produced once.
- If there is one Viaje release that I have very fond memories of, it is the early releases of the Exclusivo, particularly in the corona gorda vitola. While I don’t think I ever considered it a perfect cigar, I can’t say I could come up with a lot of things it was missing.
- There is a bit of nicotine strength in the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada, though not enough in my experience to have you feeling wobbly or overwhelmed. Certainly, if you have a lower tolerance for nicotine you might feel different, but for me this was a full-bodied cigar without the gut punch. That said, I would hesitate to smoke two of these back-to-back.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and JR Cigar carry the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada.
There’s rarely been a Viaje Exclusivo that I haven’t enjoyed, and the Viaje Exclusivo Nicaragua Leaded Corona Gorda Edición Limitada is no exception to that trend. As I mentioned above, there was little that I thought could be added to the original Exclusivo to make it a better cigar, but it is interesting to see how this new extension takes the blend in a slightly different direction. It’s definitely fuller and at time more robust and fuller-bodied than what I’d expect from the original Exclusivo in the same size, which ultimately leads the choice between the two to come down to personal preference. I’d still take the original blend as I don’t think the blend shines any brighter with the added strength of the medio tiempo, and for the handful of times when it does, there are just as many where the added strength leads to some roughness and grating of the throat from the pepper and overall strength. Either way you go, though, both blends show just how good what I consider Viaje’s best blend can be.