For those of you that don’t know…
This past year, Viaje has started to release cigars in a new series. Dubbed the White Label Project, these cigars are meant to be basically one off releases that most likely, unlike most of his other cigars, which are released around the same time every year.
As Andre Farkas has said:
WLP is the vehicle by which we will release experimental blends, shapes, mash ups, factory errors, etc. It’s a peek behind the factory curtain. This is WLP’s purpose. Blends, shapes, etc. that would normally never get released will be available under this label. We will also be listening to your ideas. If we hear something suggested that might make a good cigar you might see it released under WLP.
With the newest cigar, there have been three separate White Label Project releases to date…They are (left to right in order of release):
The packaging for all three of the WLP releases has been the same: Bundles of twenty-five cigars wrapped in what looks to be newspaper. (One note however: both the WLP and the WLP Candela came in cello, while the WLP Fifty Fifty Red does not.) Here is what the bundle looks like:
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje White Label Project Fifty Fifty Red
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Grand Corona/Toro
- MSRP: $9.75 (Bundles of 25, $243.75)
- Release Date: June 2011
- Production Numbers: 200 Bundles of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The cigar is an almost perfect specimen to look at, with a dark mocha brown wrapper, a pigtail and an unfinished (wrapped) foot. There is a bit of oil on the wrapper, and the cigar is just shy of rock hard when squeezed — there is a tiny bit of give, but not much. The wrapper is almost perfectly smooth to the touch, and smells like a combination of leather, hay, dark chocolate and wood.
The First Third starts with a just a bit of pepper, oak, leather and earth. There is a bit of saltiness on the tongue as well, not a bad thing at all, but interesting. There is almost no spice at all at this point, and the draw is just a bit tight, but not overly so: a very nice, albeit mellow, start, but nothing we have not seen or tasted before.
The Second Third continues the same trend, with that same saltiness on the lips, and basically the same flavors: wood, leather and earth — although there is a strong, rich tobacco note now as well, still almost no pepper or spice, but there is a sweetness in the background that is very faint. The strength is also ramping up a good bit from the first third as well.
The Final Third was more of the same flavors, but with more sweetness and quite a bit more strength. The cigar hit “full” pretty easily at the end. Still salty on the lips, with core flavors of a stronger leather, earth and wood. Unfortunately, still almost no spice or pepper. I was really hoping for some towards the end, but was disappointed in that regard.
- Andre has said that the WLP Fifty Fifty Red is the last WLP release of the year, and that he purposely pushed up the release date, due to the delays in shipping the VOR and VPR.
- Each of the White Label Project releases has exactly the same band.
- The ash of the WLP Fifty Fifty Red was a very dark gray, speckled with white.
- Andre said he was going for a stronger version of the Fifty Fifty Red blend and I believe he nailed it, as this cigar is firmly in the “full minus” range, strength wise, especially at the end of the cigar.
- The other releases in the WLP line have gotten better with a bit of resting time (to varying degrees), and I expect these to as well.
- The draw was a bit tight, but nothing that really bothered me. However, I had to relight a few times, the wrapper seemed a bit thick to me. That will most likely not be the case after sitting for a while.
The Bottom Line: If you look at our reviews of the other two Viaje WLP releases, you will see that we were fairly disappointed in what we tasted. While I liked it more than the other two releases in the WLP line, the WLP Fifty Fifty Red was still not as good as some of the more recent cigars Viaje has released, i.e. Zombie. I have always liked the Fifty Fifty blend, although it is tough to find on shelves given it’s only released once a year, and this cigar definitely has a few similarities in flavor, but sadly, none of the spice or pepper that really keeps you interested. A good cigar, but mellow, not overly complex flavor wise and not one that is going to blow you away. However, put these away and forget about them for six months, as with more Viajes, it seems, and I think they will get better…
Final Score: 83