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Viaje is a brand that I have not smoked a lot of. In fact, this is my first cigar from the brand. Viaje has a reputation for experimenting and creating some unique limited blends; most notably the Zombie line and the Daisy Cutter. Will Cooper from Cigar Coop was able to fill this gap in my humidor with the Viaje Friends and Family. This blend started out as a personal blend for Andre that we would give out to close friends and family; hence the cigar’s name. This is similar to Drew Estate Liga Privada offerings, which started out as private blends. I am excited to try one of Andre Farkas’ cigars, so let’s get into it. 

The Basics:

  • This is a 5″ x 52 box pressed Robusto
  • The blend originally released in 2012 in the Cadeau vitola. This is a 7″ x 48 box pressed Churchill
  • The Cigar for this review is the Le Joueur, which released in 2013.
  • Will Cooper reports on Cigar Coop (cigar-coop.com) that at IPCPR 2014 Viaje announced that it will release a third vitola in the line.
  • The blend itself was not officially released; however, it is understood that the wrapper, binder and filler are Nicaraguan
  • This was a gift from Will Cooper of Cigar Coop and he is the best.
  • This review is based on only one cigar, which is unlike other reviews where I base the review after multiple cigars. This is dues to the cigar not being readily available in Australia and that it is a limited release.

Draw and Burn:

At first the draw is a bit loose for me. I like the draw to be smooth with a little bit of resistance. In this case, there was not enough resistance in the draw for me. Having said that, the draw did not have a large impact on my experience of the cigar. I found that the draw evened itself out by the end of the second third. This could indicate that it was an unique issue for this particular cigar and not indicative of the line. I will need to smoke some more to test this theory out.

Now, the burn did give me a little trouble. The burn on the Viaje Friends and Family was wayward the entire smoke and needed to be corrected quite often. It never really burned straight for me and tended to wander for most of the smoke. The burn itself did not become an issue until the final third of the cigar. I had to fight the burn during the final third and had to correct it quite a lot. Once again, I am not sure if this is a problem with the line or with just this specific cigar. Basing a review off of one cigar is difficult, because there is nothing to compare this experience to. In fairness to Viaje, I will score this section accordingly, but I will cut them a bit of slack. I definitely have to find another Friends and Family yo smoke and compare this to….hint hint Will Cooper….

Final Grade: B / B-

Construction:

I loved the look of this cigar. It is a nice box press with a dark chocolatey looking wrapper. It has a protected foot and the cigar itself looks amazing. It is nice a supple with a slightly oily wrapper. A nice raisin sweetness comes off the cigar when you smell the wrapper. All and all, the pre – light look of the cigar is looking great.

The cigar itself performs rather well during the smoke. The box press stays firm and the cigar keeps its shape the entire time. It does not soften up in the final third and there were no major problems with construction. The cigar itself puts out a ton of smoke, which I really like.

It is hard to say how much the burn and draw is due to the construction. Some of it could be operator error and I either tried smoking it too fast or I did not light it evenly. However, I can not ignore that the burn and draw may be related to the cigar’s construction. Therefore, the burn and draw will impact the construction’s score, but it will not play a major part.

Final Grade: B+

Flavor:

This is where the Viaje Friends and Family really shines. There are a lot of flavors that balance really well. There are some spice and raisin sweetness during the first third. The spice tingles your lips and the dark sweetness balances that out well. I really like this combination and I enjoy the level of spice in this third. The raisin sweetness could also be described as a dried fruit. It was hard for me to put my finger on this sweet note, but I think raisin or dried fruit is pretty close describing it accurately. There are slight roasted notes on the retrohale and that is a welcomed addition to the finish. The final stages of the first third brings out some rich creamy notes, which adds a nice texture to the finish. All and all, this is a fantastic way to start a cigar.

The second third picks up the creamy finish that started at the end of the first third. The spice becomes more of an afterthought as coffee and dark chocolate gain prominence. These flavors work really well with the cigar’s overall creamy texture. Near the end of this third spice, wood and earth notes begin to amp up. I also found that the strength amps up as you approach the final third as well. Overall, their is a good balance between strength and flavor. This is not an overpowering cigar, but there is a kick to it. I really love the cocoa coffee cream flavor that defines this third of the cigar.

The final third becomes more savory. There is a kind of peppery and meaty flavor in this third, which is reminiscent of the Debonaire line. There are some more cinnamon and nutmeg spice near the end with toasted and chocolate notes. Even though there are a lot of flavors going on, they all balance well and do not fight against each other. At the very end, like the last four drags or so, there comes a very unique flavor I loved. A toasted nut / salted caramel flavor jumped up at the end of the cigar. It was like one last charge before the cigar finished. Most importantly, the cigar was never harsh on the palate and was quite pleasant to smoke.

Final Grade: A

Overall:

Similar to Drew Estate’s Undercrown Gran Toro, the flavor really makes this cigar. Issues with the burn and draw are overcome by the complex and enjoyable flavors found in this cigar. I will need to have a few more of the line before I can accurately evaluate the draw and burn deficiencies in this cigar. I look forward to the new vitola announced at IPCPR 2014.

I think beginner cigar smokers and experienced aficionados will both enjoy this cigar. I will not go as far as a humidor necessity; however, I think it is definitely worth buying a box if you can. I think this is a Viaje offering everyone needs to try and be sure to pick up the line extension.

Overall Grade: B+ / A-

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