Like many companies, Viaje has released its share of single-store exclusive cigars. One could even make the case that a good bit of the company’s early success could be attributed to these releases, creating excitement around new releases when limited editions were all the rage in the cigar industry while simultaneously helping retailers that supported the brand move a good bit of product and increasing their national exposure.
In March 2014, Viaje created another single store release, though this time the retailer was one who seemingly needed little to no help in getting its name out there: the online and catalog behemoth Cigars International. Except the cigar wouldn’t be for the catalog or website, but rather for the company’s superstore in Bethlehem, Pa.
The Viaje Platino El Gallito, a fairly petit figurado, was released rather quietly and was limited to in-store and phone sales only. It got little if any social media attention from Cigars International, which didn’t list any Viaje products on its website at the time.
The cigar, which bears a name meaning the rooster or the little rooster—or other words for rooster, depending on your translation—was the latest in a series of single store exclusives for the Viaje Platino line, which along with the Viaje Oro line, had been getting single store exclusives on a nearly annual basis since 2009.
The Viaje Platino—and Oro, for that matter—are not blends that are in my regular rotation, though more because of the nature of what being part of halfwheel entails and not for lacking merit. The El Gallito was a very pleasant reintroduction to the line, with some solid notes of earth and pepper that played very well on the senses if lacking at times for transition and depth. The format of the cigar is also a winner, as its short length and medium ring gauge provide just enough room for the blend to breath a bit while not overpowering the palate. Given its size, the very mild and nondescript start was a bit of a letdown, though the remaining two-thirds of the cigar did an admirable job making up for it. A solid release that has me rethinking the Viaje Platino line.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Platino El Gallito
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua (Corojo 99)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 4 7/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 51
- Vitola: Figurado
- MSRP: $8.40 (Boxes of 25, $210)
- Release Date: March 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
Having been more than five years since I last smoked this petit figurado, I’m not going to pretend to be able to accurately compare much of anything to the original from memory. The wrapper is mottled enough to capture my attention but otherwise looks good with a few small veins and just a bit of texture on the fingers. It’s well constructed, rolled firmly but leaving a bit give, and the work at both the head and foot look stellar. I’m not getting much out of the foot of the cigar for aroma, something no doubt due to the very small nipple style opening, but what I do get reminds me a bit of cork, root beer without the overt sweetness, some cake donut and subtle baking spices, the combination of which is quite good both on its own and due to its familiarity. The cold draw is a touch firm, again something I am inclined to attribute to the foot, though there is no issue moving air through the body. It too has a bit of a lightly sweetened donut flavor at first, though I can’t get it to develop much beyond that. I’m surprised that there is no pepper to be found anywhere, though I have to think the cigar will offer some once it gets burning.
The Viaje Platino El Gallito gets started on a fairly mild foot, though it’s not boring. There’s a bit of campfire that stands out in the first puffs, followed by the beginnings of a warmed version of the aromas I got prior to lighting the cigar. There’s still not a lot of pepper to be found, but rather the baking spices step in until the burn line gets around the curve of the foot and the cigar begins burning along its main body. When it does that, it picks up a bit of dry, dusty earth with some faint clay notes in it, though I’d argue the addition’s benefit is almost a push. As for whether it tastes aged through the first inch or so, I’d be inclined to say yes due to the relative mellowness of the flavors so far, or at least the absence of any signs of youth. Where this is even more noticeable is through the retrohales, which still have some white pepper but are now smooth and easy through the nostrils. A bit of cedar and damp wood comes along not long after the one-inch mark to give the flavor some new depth and complexity, while also balancing out the previous earthiness with some sweetness. Its contributions come and go as the burn line approaches the midway point, seeming to dance with the earthiness for dominance in the profile and me cheering for it to win as the cigar is that much better when it does. The burn is quite good through the first half; the draw is still just a tick tight, but the burn line and smoke production are more than satisfactory.
The halfway mark is where I find the first real, appreciable amounts of pepper in the Viaje Platino El Gallito, and even then it’s on the milder side, especially when compared to the mental image of a Viaje pepper profile. That change has also carried over to the nose, where black pepper begins to get more dominant on retrohales and is being complemented by cedar, campfire and just a bit of branded wood, not charred or burnt, but rather given a quick searing to impart a mark. Were I to call the cigar slumbering in the first two thirds, it quickly becomes wide awake in the final third, brightening up with some rejuvenated black pepper for both the nose and tongue. The cedar from earlier returns but only to transition into a bit of maple wood that feels a bit fuller and more developed on my tongue, but without that same style of sweetness. The cigar closes with some of the earth returning as well, though with heat beginning to impart more of an effect, it becomes harder to separate out the flavors, let alone enjoy them without a bit of bite on the front of the tongue. Overall, however, a very enjoyable hour of smoking time from this five-year-old cigar that shows it still has plenty of life left in it.
I was incredibly surprised to see that I had one of the Viaje Platino El Gallito sitting in my redux humidor, and then doubly surprised to see it had made it more than five years without a redux. As I mentioned above, the cigar certainly seems to start off on a bit of a slumbering note, but when it wakes up in the second half it shows it is still plenty full of flavor, but without the overt strength and occasional youth that Viaje releases fresh off the shelf can contain. While the cigar does well on the whole, where it shines are on its transitional notes, quickly layering depth and complexity into the blend seemingly from one puff to another without seeming to sacrifice anything in the process. A very good cigar when it was released and one that has held up well with an extended slumber. Hopefully it's able to maintain that trend for those people with them sitting in their humidors, but if you have one, I certainly don't think you'd be missing out by firing one up sooner than later.