If you took all of Viaje’s releases over the years and put them on a table without bands, I’d struggle to identify a lot of them. The one series that would—mostly—be easy to separate from the rest would be Summerfest, due to one distinctive feature.
While there’s been some variation in the vitolas over the years, most of Viaje’s Summerfest releases have had a brushed foot. This is the seventh time there’s been a Summerfest release since it was introduced in 2010, and the ninth cigar in the series, as the first two years of its release offered two sizes.
- 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) — Not Disclosed
- Viaje Summerfest 2018 (6 x 54) — Not Disclosed
- Viaje Summerfest 2020 (6 x 54) — Not Disclosed
As has been the case with many Viaje releases, we don’t know much about the cigar and the company wasn’t willing to answer our questions. What we do know is that Summerfest 2020 is a 6 x 54 toro with a brushed foot, and it’s made at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) factory in Estelí, which likely means the cigar has Nicaraguan tobacco from AGANORSA in the filler, though that’s not confirmed. Pricing is $10 per cigar and it is sold in boxes of 30.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Summerfest (2020)
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Not Disclosed
- Binder: Not Disclosed
- Filler: Not Disclosed
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro Gordo
- MSRP: $10 (Box of 30, $300)
- Release Date: June 21, 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Not Disclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I’m not sure there’s a cigar that I associate more with a brushed foot than Viaje’s Summerfest, and the slightly tan wrapper and red and bold band are a familiar pairing with the feature. I can feel the oils when I run my fingers down the cigar, though I’m not sure how visible the oils are in pictures because it doesn’t look all that oily in person. Once the cigar is removed from its cellophane there’s a full mixture of leather, some barnyard, some chocolate and touches of raisin sweetness. The foot is also full and smells like a room full of raw filler tobacco that is almost ready to be bunched into a cigar. There’s a lot of sweetness, chocolate, leather and some ammonia. The cold draw is a mixture of chocolate ice cream, lots of barnyard and a bit of a generic fruit flavor. It’s a bit milder, around medium-full.
The Summerfest 2020 begins with charred earth, leather, some lemon and white pepper. I’m not sure if it’s a mental trick because of the lack of the wrapper, but it definitely feels a bit incomplete. It’s also got a much different texture without the wrapper, which is really the thing I notice most once I get to a point where the wrapper is burning. As is almost always the case with cigars with a brushed foot, the ash falls a bit earlier than normal and is messier than most cigars. The profile settles into a mixture of earthiness, leather and some semi-sweet chocolate. Retrohales are sharper with pizza crust, some acidity, a bit of a cedar and a chalkier finish that has a defined stone characteristic. It finishes with lots of cedar, some acorns, a butter-like creaminess, some chalkiness and saltiness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Two samples have great construction but one sample is in need of touch-ups to help keep up the smoke production.
There’s a distinct flavor of roasted nuts that reminds me of the American Airlines nuts that many, including myself, aren’t eating at the moment. In addition, the second third gets a more defined creaminess and some leather. There’s also a bit of addition by subtraction that takes place. Retrohales are quite a bit different with lots of apple cider before a creamy and nutty finish. Like before, retrohaling leaves behind a much crisper finish even if the initial retrohales themselves are quite sharp. The finish is super nutty but brings me back to a smell that reminds me of the birdfeed that my grandfather used. It smelled like a mixture of fennel, some nuttiness and peanut butter. That’s what’s is more or less happening on the finish of this cigar. For whatever reason, each cigar is now having burn issues. The cigar that was struggling to produce consistent smoke production is still struggling to stay lit, the other two are just getting uneven, one of which is very uneven. Flavor remains full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full.
The final third of the Viaje Summerfest is dominated by a duo of earthiness and stone. It’s an enjoyable sensation, though I would be lying if I said that I could have used a more dramatic change. In addition, I find some lemon and creaminess upfront. Retrohaling produces sharper earth, lemon, green grapes and a meatiness. It lacks the crisp finish that retrohaling previously produced and I find myself less enthralled about doing it this time around. Without a retrohale, the finish has a lot more of a mineral flavor—more generic than before—along with some creaminess and a bit of black pepper. Flavor finishes full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full, though a bit lighter than before. Construction woes continue across all three cigars, though it’s nothing a well-filled lighter can’t address.
- This year’s release is completely overshadowed by another cigar that was included as part of the June Viaje shipment, the return of what I consider Viaje’s most iconic cigar: the Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter.
- I’m not sure what about this says, “this is the cigar I’d like to smoke in the middle of summer.” Viaje’s Instagram account said the brushed foot is supposed to signify “the shedding of clothes for the warm months ahead.”
- Editor’s note: Charlie thought that Viaje’s Instagram post said that the brushed foot was supposed to signify “the shredding of clothes for the warm months ahead.” His original bullet point added the following: “I suppose that’s a play on words, unless you actually put your winter clothes through a shredder. If you do, please leave a comment. We should talk.” See? We do have a copy editor, at least sometimes. And if you do put your winter clothes into a shredder, he would still very much like to talk to you.—PL
- If I was going to blend a cigar for summer I suppose it would be a relatively mild Churchill-size cigar. Maybe something made to pair with a lighter beer or a shandy.
- The stone characteristic that was present through much of the cigar was very defined. It was different than the marble-like flavor I remember tasting a couple weeks ago.
- I’m not sure why it happens, but cigars with a brushed foot tend to produce flaky ash even after the brushed foot has been cleared.
- One sample I smoked had the wrapper begin to unravel in a manner that looked like I dropped it on the ground midway through smoking it. I did not. Ironically, this sample burned the best of the bunch.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
While I have enjoyed Viaje’s Winterfest, Summerfest has been amongst my least favorite Viajes since it was released. Fortunately, it has gotten a lot better. The first couple renditions of the blend had a distinct sour characteristic that isn't my cup of tea. That’s no longer here, but the 2020 version isn’t a great cigar. I’d be curious to know what this would taste like without the brushed foot. I suspect the burn issues would largely go away and I imagine the flavor would change a bit. Unfortunately, as it stands, this improved version still isn’t worth it.