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Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada (2018)

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To close out 2018, Viaje shipped out one of its more decorated holiday-themed releases, the Holiday Blend Candy Cane.

Last seen in 2016, this most recent version comes wearing an Edición Limitada band around its foot, which indicates that this specific size—a 6 x 54 box-pressed toro—won’t be produced again in this blend. However, it’s the same size at the 2016 release, as well as the 2015 release.

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When asked about the specifics of the cigar, a spokesman for the company declined to provide details, but the 2015 version used Brazilian arapiraca and Ecuadorian habano leaves to create the barber pole—or candy cane—design, while both the filler and dual binder uses leaves from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. That 2015 version was made at PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic, but the origins of subsequent releases have not been disclosed.

  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2009 (5 x 54) — December 2009 — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Petit Robusto (4 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Torpedo (5 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Petit Robusto (4 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Torpedo (5 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Petit Robusto (4 3/4 x 54) — December 2012 — 250 Boxes of 30 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane (6 x 54) — December 2012 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2013 Christmas Tree (4 x 60) — December 2013 — 400 Boxes of 20 Cigars (8,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2014 (4 1/2 x 56) — December 2014 — n/a
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2014 Candy Cane (6 x 54) — December 2014 — n/a
  • Viaje Holiday Blend 2015 (5 x 54) — December 2015 — n/a
  • Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada 2015 (6 x 54) — December 2015 — n/a
  • Viaje Holiday Blend Edición Limitada 2016 (5 x 58) — December 2016 — n/a*
  • Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada 2016 (6 x 54) — December 2016 — n/a*
  • Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada 2018 (6 x 54) — December 2018 — n/a

*Not pictured.

The Candy Cane is an offshoot of the Viaje Holiday Blend, which debuted in 2009 and has generally been an annual release, minus the 2013 version which was skipped due to production delays. In its place, the Viaje Christmas Tree was released. As for the Candy Cane, it was teased in 2011 but didn’t come until 2012, being produced at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras and using an undisclosed wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and filler. It also received a release in 2014

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane Edición Limitada (2018)
  • Country of Origin: n/a
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Gordo
  • MSRP: $11 (Bundles of 20, $220)
  • Release Date: December 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Given that the cigar is completely in the silver and red wrapping paper there is nothing to be gained from at first glance at it. Removing the paper requires either a blade to slice the tape or tearing it off as none of the three samples wanted to slide out. The foot of the cigar is more of a smushing of tobacco rather than a neatly folder covering, an interesting combination of colors that reminds me of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and which extends up the cigar though in a much tidier presentation. On the first cigar, the primary band is upside down, a rather surprising discovery that doesn’t affect anything other than my surprise, and something not found on the other two. The lighter tobacco shows more visual notes with some dark specs and mottling, whereas the darker leaf has some small veins but is a bit more uniform. The first sample is about as firm of a box press as I can recall smoking recently, with just the slightest amount of give, while the second is much more what I expected with its firm, pillowy density, and the third in between those two. The foot of the first cigar has a sweetness that is both earthy and creamy, an interesting and impressive duality. The second sample keeps that core but adds a bit of baking spices which gets picked up on the palate as well, and then the third once again falls in between in terms of aroma intensity. The cold draw is firm but not impeded, showing more creaminess though with less sweetness, as well as a bit of a Frosted Flakes combination of sweetness and corn, flavors that are much more consistent among the three samples.

The 2018 installment of the Viaje Candy Cane gets going on a medium-bodied strength and body note that seems centered on a wood and cereal grain combination with just a bit of pepper in the background, though it gets largely overshadowed by the reaction the previous two flavors generate on the front third of the tongue. There’s a bit of creaminess that develops as well and, were that physical reaction not part of the first inch, I’d consider calling this a pleasantly mild-plus profile, something I don’t generally associate with Viaje but that works very well. Retrohales have some variance in the amount of pepper they contain, again a bit of a Goldilocks phenomenon where the first sample was rather mild, the second rather strong and the third a happy medium. While an ash drop can bring about some changes to a cigar’s profile, the Candy Cane doesn’t pivot much once its first inch falls, staying fairly restrained and surprisingly appropriate for an early morning cigar, though the pepper in some samples does nudge the physical effects up the scale a few marks. There’s a bit of subtle white pepper through the nose, while creaminess, wood and cereal continue to be the primary flavors on the tongue, though a bit of black pepper is beginning to emerge. The combustion and smoke production have both been quite good, while the burn line has stayed very even.

The second third of the Viaje Candy Cane comes about fairly quickly and without much in the way of changes, and as such I find myself beginning to write about it usually when the burn line is near the midway point as nothing has stood out enough to caught my attention despite the cigar being quite enjoyable. While there is some pepper to be found, there is no harshness or roughness on the palate or in the nose. The real change comes past the burn line, as whatever creaminess and smoothness the cigar begins to slowly disappear, and towards the end of the second third it is nearly gone. The profile turns quite dry with a kindling-like flavor hitting the front of the palate, sprinkled with a bit of white pepper to add to the sensation, which isn’t harsh but is much more textured and stimulating than the first half of the cigar. The combustion remains quite good with no issues whatsoever.

The Viaje Candy Cane continues with its very dry profile at the start of the final third, and while the profile isn’t much stronger than it had been earlier, the finish is much more stimulating and lingering on the tongue, though I’d argue it’s not for the better. Thankfully the sweet cream flavors aren’t completely gone, reappearing around the band line, though as the first thing to hit the palate they get dashed away rather quickly by the rest of the profile. The dry profile takes the cigar to its conclusion, with an increasing bite on every puff and the cigar in desperate need for some balance and softer flavors to keep the tongue from experiencing the stinging tingle the cigar is now imparting. The finish has me wanting to put the cigar down with about an inch left to go despite it still continuing to burn well, but it feels like every puff in this section erases a memory from the better ones offered in the first half.

Final Notes

  • There are a lot of colors going on as soon as the cigar comes out of the wrapping; the two shades of the wrapper, plus white, red, green, silver and gray. It makes for an interesting visual composition that feels cohesive if not completely in harmony.
  • I’ve always been fascinated by the discussion about how to remove wrapping paper from gifts: neatly or by ripping through it? I’ve seen both in celebrations and have been amazed by how delicately some people remove the tape, almost as if to reuse the paper.
  • Given where legislation is regarding flavored tobacco and marketing towards children, there is a side of me that is concerned about calling a cigar Candy Cane, even if it’s not a flavored cigar or even remotely geared towards children. It seems like one of those things that would show up on a bullet list of examples by anti-tobacco people looking to prove a point.
  • The band being upside down on the first sample I smoked didn’t affect the individual cigar’s score or the overall score. However, it did give me the same kind of excitement I had when I was a kid and found an error on a baseball card.
  • The regular Holiday Blend line has also received an Edición Limitada in 2016.
  • There’s not much nicotine in the Viaje Candy Cane Edición Limitada 2018, meaning there’s not much lingering feeling from the cigar. However, there is a good bit of bite still on the palate, which I could do without.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
87 Overall Score

The 2018 edition of the Viaje Holiday Blend Cane Edición Limitada is one of the milder offerings from the company that I can recall, and for two thirds of the cigar the results are quite impressive. The high points of creaminess and just a bit of pepper are perfect for easing into the day with, or when a milder cigar is simply in order. The final third is easily the low point of the cigar, with the cigar shedding most if not all of its sweetness and cream, leaving a dry and biting profile that gets more intense and thus less enjoyable with every puff. I can’t say that I think it aging the cigar in hopes of getting rid of that sensation would be worth it, especially if it costs the first half anything of what it currently has to offer, which leaves a cigar more or less ready to be smoked, with two-thirds quite good and a final third that will likely get cut short.

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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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