For the follow up to 2013’s Guerrilla Warfare, Jason Holly of Viva Republica took an approach not often seen in the cigar industry: keeping the wrapper of the initial cigar while giving it new insides. In this case, the Ecuadorian Sumatra capa remains, while the dual binder of tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Mexico has been replaced with  Connecticut broadleaf, and the filler swaps Brazilian tobacco for Pennsylvania, while keeping Dominican and Nicaraguan in the mix.

The result is said to be a stronger cigar—substantially stronger, by some accounts—while maintaining two small vitolas. Like its predecessor, Advanced Warfare is being released in a Corona (5 1/4 x 43, $6) and Petit (4 x 41, $5), both in 50-count boxes.

The Warfare collection was launched as a project to create flavorful, short smokes that pack a little punch to the market. Holly is a fan of smaller vitolas, citing that he prefers them when visiting retailers and in his travels when time only allows for 20-30 minutes to smoke a cigar. As you may know, Holly is a retailer himself, owning El Humidor in Plains Township, Penn.

Viva Republica Advanced Warfare Corona 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viva Republica Advanced Warfare Corona
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, USA (Pennsylvania)
  • Size: 5 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 43
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $6 (Boxes of 50, $300)
  • Release Date: July 27, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

While I love the rather petite size of the Advanced Warfare, to say I’m disappointed by certain aspects of the cigar would be both accurate and a mild assessment. On the first cigar I smoked part of the wrapper was peeled back and stuck to the band. Think of laying a sheet on your bed and then pulling the corner back a bit, and you should have an idea of what I’m talking about. Taking the band off revealed just how bad the issue was and managed to make it a bit worse as the two were adhered together. Thankfully that was an isolated incident, but it wasn’t the best first impression. Some sizable veins also detract from the physical presentation and have me thinking of a topographic map based on the ridges it creates. The cap is also a bit problematic; while laid well it looks like it was cut too big, resulting in it laying unevenly on the head of the cigar. The wrapper is a slightly mottled shade of dark brown, a bit rough and dry in the hand and sitting on top of a firmly rolled core. The foot presents an almost deceptively sweet first note: a bit of warm chocolate chip brownies that lures you in before adding a touch of peach jam, but it with a coy suggestion that there’s spice waiting down the road thanks to just a touch of pepper at the end. The cold draw is a little more upfront with that hint but doesn’t give up on the brownie bait, with the air flow even, with samples falling on both the slightly loose and slightly firm sides.

If you’ve read the backstory on this cigar, you’re aware of the promise that Advanced Warfare is stronger than Guerrilla Warfare, and the first puffs certainly show that the cigar could live up to that promise. It’s a combination of pepper in the nose and earthiness and dry pepper on the palate to start off, and the right breeze could get the potent smoke in your eyes to complete the trifecta. It’s one of the slower burning cigars I can remember having in recent memory as the burn line moves along evenly yet ever so slightly with each puff. As is the case with many strong cigars such as this, there’s a touch of sweetness lurking in the background, and in this case the it adds depth and complexity to the profile while not softening the pepper and strength too much. For a small ring gauge, the ash does a good job holding on for the first inch or so, yet falls after a puff and a flick of the wrist. While the cigar hasn’t dropped a pepper bomb yet, it does leave a lingering, heavy tingle on the tongue, with each passing second helping the pepper turn darker and more intense until it gradually fades away.

Viva Republica Advanced Warfare Corona 2

The sweetness is the first variable in the flavor to back away, creating space for the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper’s flavor to become more of the focal point. The flavor dries out a bit and picks up touches of wood and dry earth, while keeping the pepper the lead note. Through the first two inches or so, the Advanced Warfare is well-balanced for packing so much strength, and while it challenges the palate at times, refuses to launch a full frontal assault on the tongue or nose. As the burn line progresses deeper  into the second third of the Advanced Warfare, I find myself waiting for the flavor bomb to drop, yet it’s nowhere in sight, and if anything the intensity has settled down just a touch. Past the midway point, combustion becomes a bit of an issue as the cigar needs a bit more encouragement to put off any substantial amount of smoke, and on occasion requires a relight to get things going again. The second third closes out with the addition of a strong espresso note as well as an uptick in strength, suggesting that the final third might deliver the goods that the cigar has been promising up to this point.

Viva Republica Advanced Warfare Corona 3

While it doesn’t feel like I’ve been at war with the cigar, the effects from this small stick are certainly felt after some 90 minutes with it, and it feels like a new wave of nicotine is starting to be deployed. There is a touch of tangy sweetness in the aroma, a clever cover for the cigar’s inherent strength and something that keeps calling me back for one more puff despite another side of me saying I’ve had enough. Combustion can also be a bit of an issue here, as it feels like there might be a touch of residual moisture left in some samples, and when it creeps up it makes it a challenge to get the cigar smoked down as far as you want, which assuming your palate hasn’t tapped out can be fairly far down.

Viva Republica Advanced Warfare Corona 4

Final Notes

  • Cigars such as this are a great reminder that even smaller lengths and ring gauges can still take some time to get through because of the thickness and oiliness of the leaves. A person could certainly rip through this in 30-40 minutes, but I shudder to think of what it might do to the flavor.
  • Jason Holly of Viva Republica gave a quick introduction to the cigar during a video we shot at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
  • Also at the trade show, Holly was discussing a new project called Ivy that is said to be limited to approximately 100 retailers across the country. While Holly says more details will be coming out soon, Jason Wood of Miami Cigar & Co. recently posted this picture:

  • There was also a new Churchill size added to the Viva Republica Propaganda line at IPCPR, with Holly calling the 7 x 50 vitola Bandwagon.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average. Like Brooks Whittington noted in his review of the Guerrilla Warfare, this is way above what I was expecting, and I have a hard time imagining myself getting through this cigar much quicker.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Jason Holly of Viva Republica at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. Miami Cigar & Co., Viva Republica’s distributor, advertises on halfwheel.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries the Viva Republica Advanced Warfare.
87 Overall Score

If you’re in the mood for a full bodied cigar in a small package, the Viva Republica Advanced Warfare certainly delivers. It’s not the pepper bomb I thought it might be, but rather delivers big on flavor while using a good amount of pepper to complement and enhance those flavors, rather than letting it do all the heavy lifting. With a decent burn and plenty of balance, it’s a solid option that will keep you engaged from start to finish--a process that takes longer than you might think given the cigar’s size—but time you certainly won’t complain about spending.

Avatar photo

Patrick Lagreid

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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.