Originally released in 2010, Summerfest was one of Viaje’s most consistent releases until last year, when it was dropped from the companies release schedule. In June, Viaje announced it was making a return, but with three major changes: a different blend, a different size and made at a different factory.
The first major change was the blend: while the wrapper remains a Nicaraguan Corojo 99, the filler tobaccos have been changed to a combination of tobaccos from Condega, Estelí and Jalapa. In addition, the 6 x 52 toro vitola is unique to the line, and while previous releases were rolled at Raíces Cubanas in Danlí, Honduras, the newest incarnation is being produced at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua.
While production numbers have not been released, the new Summerfest is being sold in boxes of 30 with each cigar carrying an MSRP of $9.47.
The Summerfest line now includes seven different vitolas.
- Viaje Summerfest 2010 Robusto (5 x 50) — 50 Boxes of 30 Cigars (1,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2010 Torpedo (6 1/2 x 50) — 150 Boxes of 30 Cigars (4,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2011 Churchill (7 x 50) — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2011 Torpedo — 5 1/4 x 52 — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2012 (6 3/4 x 50) — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2013 (5 1/4 x 54) — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Summerfest 2015 (6 x 52) — n/a
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Summerfest 2015
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo 99
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $9.47 (Boxes of 30, $284.10)
- Release Date: June 4, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Visually, the Summerfest is quite different than previous incarnations. Gone is the wild filler that is left free on the foot; now the binder is left on as well, streamlining the look of the entire cigar. The wrapper is a light mocha brown and fairly smooth to the touch, although there are some obvious veins running up and down the length. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong peanuts, sweet tobacco, leather, dark chocolate and black pepper, while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy cedar, leather, bitter cocoa and peanuts, along with a touch of spice on the tongue.
Starting out, the Viaje Summerfest features immediate creamy oak and gritty earth as the dominant flavors, along with lessor notes of espresso, wheat, grass and cloves. There is some very aggressive black pepper on the retrohale at first, and although it does begin to recede after about 15 puffs, it remains a major player in the profile through the first third. In addition, I am noticing a very slight nutmeg sweetness on the finish, but it does not seem to be getting much stronger. The burn is a bit wavy before the line reaches the wrapper, but that is expected, and it evens nicely after that point. Smoke production is massive off of the foot, and the draw has an excellent resistance so far. Strength-wise, the Summerfest 2015 is fairly light, but does manage to reach a point close to medium by the end of the first third.
Unfortunately, the flavor seems to drop dramatically in strength and distinctness as around the start to the second third. There is still a nice creamy oak as the dominant flavor, but it is really difficult for me to pinpoint specific notes other than than until around the halfway point, when things pick back up again. With that said, the black pepper on the retroahale remains constant, as does the slight sweetness on the finish. Construction-wise, the Summerfest features an excellent draw through the second third, with the burn giving me no problems as well. The strength does increase noticeably, ending the second third just a touch above medium, and the smoke production continues to impress.
Coming into the final third, and the flavors are back to normal levels of disctintness, with a oaky coffee bean flavor leading the way, followed by dark cocoa, hay, barnyard, oak and slight walnut nuttiness. The nutmeg sweetness is still present, although it is still a minor part of the profile, and the black pepper on the retrohale has calmed a bit after hitting its high point in the second third. Both the burn and draw continue to be excellent, and the smoke production has calmed down a bit, although it is still well above normal. The overall strength stalls out a bit higher than medium, and I put the cool to the touch nub down with about an inch left.
- The profile of the cigar is significantly better once the burn line hits the wrapper: sweeter, creamier and more complex overall. In my opinion, Viaje should get rid of the open foot altogether, it is not helping to sell the cigar when the best part of it is 20 minutes or more into the smoke.
- As has been the case with quite a few of Viaje’s different releases in the past, Summerfest shipped with two other blends: the 2015 versions of TNT and C-4, both of which featured new blends and both of which were rolled at PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic.
- I covered the Viaje Cigars booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, you can see it here.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar Hustler and Serious Cigars have the Viaje Summerfest 2015 in stock, while STOGIES World Class Cigars (713.783.5100) is a Viaje dealer.
I made no secret of how much I disliked the original Summerfest blend, and I was interested to see what the reblended version would bring to the table. I can safely say that the new incarnation is noticeably better than what it used to be, both in terms of the amount and number of flavors in the profile. Having said that, it is still a fairly predictable blend, and the blandness that reared its head in the second third of each of the samples—however briefly—did impact the enjoyment I got out of the cigar. Anyone who was disappointed in the first versions should definitely give the new blend a try, but I'm still far from a box buy.