Viaje Zombie Antidote (2014)

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In the summer of 2014, Viaje released an interesting addition to its Zombie line of cigars, the Zombie Antidote. The original Zombie line was said to be born out the company’s WMD line, given its name for the effect that smoking a Viaje WMD or MOAB has on an individual, and was released in April 2011, making a second appearance the following year.

In 2013, Viaje added the Zombie Super Shot, a petit and pudgy version that shared a concept with the company’s Super Shot line, and seemingly implied it would be the size of the bullet used should one find himself needing to put down a zombie. The line grew again that year with two versions of the Zombie being released, one in a black box and the other in a natural box, while in April 2014 the line changed to green and red banded versions, with the Zombie Super Shot returning once again along with the next logical release, the cure for the previously mentioned effect that the line has on people.

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The release was the ninth in the Zombie series.

Viaje Zombie

The cigar is a departure from the rest of the line in a few ways; first in terms of its size, as the other Zombie releases had all been 52 or 54 ring gauge sticks, yet the Zombie Antidote was a slender 44 ring gauge, complete with a figurado foot that plays into the idea of the cigar being a “single dose syringe” supplied by Dr. A. Farkas of Viaje Pharmaceuticals. The band is also different; while it incorporates the Zombie logo, the white band with a splattered blood graphic leaves no room for confusing this cigar with others in the line.

Here’s what I said about the first edition of the Viaje Zombie Antidote when I reviewed it in June 2014:

While I haven’t smoked all of the other eight Zombie releases, I have had numerous good experiences with the Zombie Super Shots and have generally found the other Zombie releases I’ve smoked to be enjoyable. The Zombie Antidote is no exception, particularly when the chocolate sweetness comes out and gives the cigar its highest level of complexity. Parts of the final third did leave a bit to be desired, though given how Viaje’s releases tendto go through pretty noticeable flavor shifts in the first three to six months following release, I’m really hopeful that time will work its magic and even that portion out a bit, which will in turn boost the overall impression of the stick. That said, this is a cigar that is pretty enjoyable at the moment and does an admirable job pushing the Zombie story forward, if nothing less than by its departure in vitola and the way that the profile is affected. With the relative availability of the Zombie Antidote, it’s certainly worth giving a try if you like the earthy, peppery and sometimes gritty profile that the full-bodied Zombie blend offers. Would I go so far as to say it is a special cigar from Viaje? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still enjoyable.

While the Zombie Antidote is a limited edition, like the Zombie Super Shot it was made available to all Viaje retailers, as opposed to the very limited release of the original Zombie lines, which were only released to a handful of stores. Both the Zombie Super Shot and Zombie Antidote returned in 2015, for their third and second release, respectively.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Zombie Antidote (2014)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Lonsdale
  • MSRP: $8.92 (Jars of 24, $214)
  • Release Date: May 29, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Jars of 24 Cigars (12,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1

I’m a bit surprised by how soft the Viaje Zombie Antidote is when I take it out of the cellophane, as a soft squeeze reveals much more give that I would have expected for the cigar, though a glance back at my notes from when I first smoked it revealed the same impression. It’s an interesting vitola, effectively a lonsdale that has a tapered foot and a very well-capped head, with a band that has a good bit of design but feels a bit lacking due to a lack of embossing or heavier material. There is also a distinct change in the shade of the wrapper leaf at the foot, something that if intentional works pretty well, while if not is a bit head-scratching. That aside, this particular sample looks well-rolled with small veins and clean seams, offering no visual turn-offs for my eyes. With the small opening at the foot it’s a bit more challenging to get an accurate pre-light aroma, though I’m able to pull out a bit of sweet peanut that has an almost oily backing note to it that leads towards thoughts of peanut butter, along with a bit of kettle corn and a few other notes that are hard to pin down but lend complexity to what the nose is presented with. The cold draw shows no restrictions as far as airflow and is a bit mellower than the pre-light aroma but shows many of the same attributes, as well as just a touch of pepper that wasn’t found with the nose.

The first few puffs of the Viaje Zombie Antidote are a bit more upfront than I was expecting; certainly not harsh or strong, but rather sharp, with a bit of pepper leading the way of an underlying taste that has a bit of rocky earth and minerality that combine to give the it a biting start, but one that certainly works for this cigar and particularly the Viaje Zombie line. The flavor progresses quickly and sheds that initial note within half an inch or so, moving towards a slightly cleaner yet still earthy profile with the pepper more towards the background and used as an accent, rather than the lead note. There’s no shortage of stimulation on the taste buds and in the nose, yet the cigar for me is far from overpowering; it’s engaging without being dominating. The cigar burns well through the first half, albeit it a bit quicker than I had anticipated, and does a good job staying consistent and not taking much more of a step forward in terms of strength. While I could certainly stand a bit more body, the balance between the two is appreciated, as I don’t think the somewhat thin texture of the smoke could support much more pepper without falling out of balance.

Viaje Zombie Antidote (2014)

I find myself caught off guard by how quickly the Zombie Antidote is burning, though given the flavors that are definitely in line with my palate, I’m certainly not easing my way through it. While I’m expecting some sudden ramp up in some component of the cigar, I simply don’t find it, as it stays fairly linear in terms of strength and body past the midpoint and into the final third. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s much mellower than it was when I smoked it just about a year ago, it has lost much of the less than pleasant parts and turned into a cigar that I find myself returning to with a much quicker pace than average. The retrohales are also a bit tamer, though that’s relative given where this cigar was and how it compares to other cigars on the market. It’s only in the final inch and a half that things get a bit challenging as heat becomes more of a factor, though with a bit of pacing it can be kept under control.

88 Overall Score

I noted how Viaje's releases tend to under go a good bit of transformation in the months following release, and the original Zombie Antidote is no exception; gone is the chocolate sweetness that the original had, as well as many of the peaks that the pepper created and which carried some harsher notes that didn't do much for me. It's a much more even-keeled cigar at the moment, which overall is more appealing than where it was a year ago, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss that bit of sweetness the cigar once had.

Original Score (June 2014)
86
Redux Score (June 2015)
88

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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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