In 2011, Viaje released the first of what has since become one of the company’s most recognizable lines. The Viaje Zombie began as an exclusive release for Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minn. and BURN Premium in Burnsville, Minn., both of whom split the 100 20-count boxes that were produced.
Since then, the Zombie line has grown substantially, not only with more versions of the original green label blend but also by adding numerous other incarnations such as Zombie Red, Zombie Black, Zombie Natural, Zombie Biohazard Red and Green and even a version that was originally made as an exclusive for the Chinese market.
In the storyline that Andre Farkas, Viaje’s founder, put forth, the Viaje Zombie is a creation that was always meant to be released after the Skull and Bones WMD and Skull and Bones MOAB cigars and refers to people’s transformation into zombies “after being exposed to radiation from the WMD release.” The multiple line offshoots that share the Zombie moniker then fill out the story: after the people hit with radiation from the WMD and MOAB bombs turn into Zombies, the survivors use shotguns loaded with Zombie Super Shots to kill them while also taking the Zombie Antidote—which is rolled in a vitola that simulates a syringe—to cure themselves if they happen to be bitten or infected, which apparently is exactly what happened to both Farmer Bill Hatchet and most recently, Zombie Farmhand Andre.
However, in September Viaje announced that this year’s three different releases in the Zombie line would also be designated as Collector’s Editions, which indicates that the exact blend will be made in one size only one time.
So far, Viaje has released very little information about the Zombie Collector’s Edition cigars, but we do know there are three different blends—Red, Green and Black—all rolled in the same 6 x 52 perfecto vitola. All three feature the same tapered foot and are being sold in 20-count boxes. In the past, the different colors on the bands have indicated different wrappers, with the Green band signifying the blend is made with a criollo wrapper while the Red band means it is rolled with a maduro wrapper and the Black band indicates it incorporates a natural cover leaf.
There have been, at least, 24 different releases under the main Zombie line so far.
- Viaje Zombie (4 3/4 x 52) — April 2011 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie (4 5/8 x 52) — May 2012 — 150 Boxes of 20 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Black Box (5 x 52) — May 2013 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Natural Box (5 x 52) — May 2013 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — April 2014 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — April 2014 — 100 Boxes of 20 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — April 2015 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — April 2015 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — March 2016 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — March 2016 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Biohazard Green (5 x 52) — May 2016 — 49 Boxes of 20 (980 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Biohazard Red (5 x 52) — May 2016 — 49 Boxes of 20 (980 Total Cigars
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — March 2017 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — March 2017— Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Biohazard Green (5 x 52) — May 2017 — 49 Boxes of 20 (980 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Biohazard Red (5 x 52) — May 2017 — 49 Boxes of 20 (980 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — June 2018 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — June 2018 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Jiangshi Black (5 1/2 x 52) — 2018 — 88 Boxes of 20 Cigars (1,760 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Zombie Green (5 x 52) — March 2019 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red (5 x 52) — March 2019— Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Green Collector’s Edition (5 1/2 x 54) — September 2020 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Red Collector’s Edition (5 1/2 x 54) — September 2020 — Undisclosed
- Viaje Zombie Black Collector’s Edition (5 1/2 x 54) — September 2020 — Undisclosed
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Zombie Collector’s Edition Red (2020)
- Country of Origin: Not Disclosed
- Factory: Not Disclosed
- Wrapper: Not Disclosed
- Binder: Not Disclosed
- Filler: Not Disclosed
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $16.50 (Box of 20, $330)
- Release Date: September 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Not Disclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Viaje Zombie Red Collector’s Edition is covered in a silky smooth dark espresso brown wrapper that looks like it was dunked in oil. The cigar is a bit lighter than I expected when held in my hand and one sample features a very prominent bump just under the secondary band. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet earth, creamy oak, leather tack, barnyard, black pepper and indeterminate sweetness while the cold draw brings flavors of aged oak, leather, raisin sweetness, earth, tobacco and slight spice.
The first third of the cigar starts with a dominant combination of anise and earth, followed by flavors of generic nuts, leather, hay, bitter dark chocolate and espresso beans in various amounts. While the profile is fairly gritty overall—which is not helped by the abundance of black pepper on the retrohale and spice on my tongue—there is a fleeting floral note on the finish as well as a generic milk chocolate sweetness on the retrohale, both of which are barely strong enough to keep me interested. Construction-wise, the burn has issues out of the gate meaning I have to touch it up early on, but the draw is excellent so far after a straight cut and the smoke production is well above average. The overall strength starts with a bang and is well on its way to the medium mark by the time the first third comes to an end.
Unfortunately, the milk chocolate sweetness present on the retrohale—which was already mild to begin with—fades a bit more during the second third of the new Zombie, leaving me with more spice, more black pepper and a dominant flavor that has shifted to gritty earth. Secondary flavors include leather, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, cedar and toast, while the floral note on the finish has faded a bit as well. Thankfully, the burn has evened out nicely and the draw continues to be excellent, but the strength has continued to increase noticeably, ending the second third well past the medium mark and knocking on the door of full.
Although the experience of the Zombie Collector’s Edition in the final third is virtually identical to the preceding third in most ways, there are two obvious differences: the overall profile has become more creamy as opposed to gritty—albeit with the same earth as the dominant flavor—and the floral note on the finish has become quite a bit more aggressive, to the point where it becomes a major player. Additional flavors of cinnamon, dark chocolate, leather, creamy cedar and toast flit in and out, while bot the black pepper and milk chocolate sweetness present on the retrohale remain about the same level. In terms of construction, both the burn and the draw continue to give me no issues, while the strength ends up just under the full mark by the time I put the nub down with about an inch remaining.
- Those of you that were smoking Zombies back in 2011 and 2012—i.e. the first two releases—may recall that the original release of the blend featured both a cap and foot that were completely closed. This led to some moistures issues with that first version, prompting Farkas to put a pin-prick into the foot of the 2012 incarnation in order to alleviate the issues, before changing over to a tapered perfecto foot.
- Along with the above, the feet on two of my Zombie Red Collector’s Edition were totally closed off—I decided to cut both the cap and the foot of them both for simplicity’s sake—while the third featured a small hole that allowed a little airflow.
- Long-time fans may also remember that there was some controversy surrounding Viaje’s Zombie line and Tatuaje’s Monster Series, the latter of which had debuted four years before. Members of Tatuaje’s fan base thought that Farkas was using a name that was a bit too close to the ones used by Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson. Various comments were left on numerous websites, chat boards and Viaje’s Facebook page, which eventually prompted Farkas to explain that the two series were not meant to compete with or be compared to one another. Of course, that was only one of a number of instances where Viaje was accused of ripping off Tatuaje.
- The combination of the almost cartoonish red “Zombie” logo and the infinitely more classy silver and white “Collector’s Edition” secondary band are jarring really do not combine very well from a visual aspect.
- Overall construction was decent enough, although each sample needed at least one touchup to keep on course.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 28 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Viaje Zombie Collector’s Edition cigars, site sponsor JR Cigar has them in stock here.
While they have definitely on the stronger side compared to most of Viaje’s other creations, I have enjoyed a number of different Zombie releases over the years and was looking forward to what the Red Collector’s Edition had to offer. Unfortunately, what I ended up with was a cigar with a very linear profile that had too much dominant earth on the palate and not nearly enough sweetness to compensate. In addition, the close to full strength in the final third proved costly to the balance, and each of the three samples had at least one burn issue that needed correcting. Viaje has made some very good cigars, but the Zombie Red Collector’s Edition is far from the best Zombie.