Just finishing up a holiday blend. Very enjoyable cigar from beginning to end. My only complaint, touch ups towards the end. That being a very minor problem. I'm gonna keep these on hand.
Review: Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane
Several years ago the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane was talked about however multiple delays caused this cigar to be pushed back until this year. We talked about this in a few news stories last month. Patrick had this to say:
On Monday afternoon, Andre Farkas of Viaje showed off the new Candy Cane cigar that will be part of the company’s 2012 Holiday Blend release.
In the accompanying comments on the photo, Farkas said that he started working on the Candy Cane several years ago, and that “delay after delay killed the project last year. After numerous setbacks, Im happy to say it has finally arrived.(sic)” The Candy Cane was discussed at the 2011 IPCPR convention as a release for that year’s Holiday Blends, before it became apparent that the cigar would not be making an appearance at retail.
No specifics about the cigar were released, though it is clearly a dual-wrapper barber pole that comes wrapped in a candy cane striped foil wrapper, seemingly similar to the Honey & Hand Grenades. Also visible in the background is the 2012 Holiday Blend, again with no details on that cigar released at this point.
It is the second picture of the Candy Cane project to emerge in the past two weeks, with Farkas posting a picture of the Candy Cane box on November 15.
Here is the image of the box that was posted to Facebook on November 15th:
Viaje introduced the Holiday Blend in 2009 in a single 5 x 54 size. Since then, the company has released two vitolas of the cigar each year. This makes the 2012 Holiday Blend and Holiday Blend Candy Cane the eighth and ninth releases of the series.
They are, in order of release date:
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2009 (5 x 54) — December 2009 — 100 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Petit Robusto (4 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2010 Torpedo (5 x 54) — December 2010 — 125 Boxes of 30 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Petit Robusto (4 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2011 Torpedo (5 1/4 x 54) — December 2011 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Petit Robusto (4 3/4 x 54) — December 2012 — 250 Boxes of 30 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Holiday Blend 2012 Candy Cane (6 x 54) — December 2012 — 200 Boxes of 30 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
Now you know the background, so let’s get to the review.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: n/a
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $11.50 (Boxes of 20, $230.00)
- Date Released: December 5, 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 250 Boxes of 20 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
Even though the first thing most people will notice about the Viaje Candy Cane is the barber pole style wrapper the first thing that stood out most to me is the white Candy Cane label. The wrapper however is impressively applied with the seams only being visible simply for the fact that there are two different colored wrappers. There are a couple of visible veins but overall the cigar has a smooth and ever so slightly oily wrapper. Squeezing the cigar reveals very little give overall. The cold draw is slightly hindered by the covered foot but I still was able to detect some cinnamon, cocoa powder, and light hay notes.
The first third begins with an overall sweet profile including some of the previously stated cinnamon, milk chocolate, and a bit of lemon and fruity undertones dancing around in the background. Having some sweetness is a bit of a relief because a cigar named “Candy Cane” should have a certain level of sweetness to it. The draw has opened up perfectly after the covered foot has burned off and the burn line is wonderful not needing any touch ups. Smoke production is significant with the cigar continuing to billow smoke long after the draw.
I don’t know if it’s the placebo effect of the name or if I’m actually tasting it but the second third has developed a fantastically fitting new flavor – peppermint. It’s not strong though and definitely takes a backseat to the sweet chocolate and cinnamon that are still dominating the rest of the notes. The burn has needed a slight touch up here and there but otherwise is still performing great. Overall construction is impressive with the brownish dirty gray ash holding on to nearly an inch. The flavor profile stays fairly consistent without much change throughout this part with the chocolate and cinnamon dominating while the peppermint and lemon zest notes continue on in the background.
All of a sudden the final third turned noticeably harsh and unpleasant masking much of the enjoyable flavors from earlier. The burn has gone slightly uneven as well with one half burning much quicker than the other requiring frequent touch ups. On the good side it continues to burn cool, even until the end.
- Both samples I smoked were very consistent in the above assessment - smoking great through two thirds of the cigar only to fall apart in the flavor department in the final third.
- Notable barber pole style cigars that have been released include the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Between the Lines, Camacho Liberty 2007, the NUb Live 2009 event cigar and the CAO America line.
- In addition to WLP Stuffed Turkey, the December 2012 Viaje shipment included Friends and Family.
- The Candy Cane is the first, and only Holiday Blend to date, to feature a secondary band and come in boxes not of 30.
- Whether or not it was the intent the candy cane colored foil wrapper makes this much like a present you would open on Christmas morning. Tearing into it and fighting with the tape keeping it wrapped reminded me exactly of that.
- These were released alongside the regular Holiday Blend release and not in place of them despite carrying the Holiday Blend label.
- This is the second time red foil has been used by Viaje. Earlier this year the Honey & Hand Grenades was partially covered by red foil.
- I really enjoyed the look of the band and how the red in the candy cane lettering matched up nicely with the green Holiday Blend label to create a festive theme. Here is a shot of the band flattened out since it is hard to see the full thing when wrapped around the cigar:
- Final smoking time was just under two hours.
The Bottom Line: It’s always hard for me to score cigars that are enjoyable for two thirds and then just turns into a mess in the final third. The flavors in the first two thirds were enjoyable, smooth, and matched the naming of the cigar perfectly. The theme and outcome make it a great cigar to either enjoy yourself or gift out around the holidays. With it changing to the opposite of enjoyable at the end though it leaves a literal bad taste in your mouth, tarnishing my memory of the cigar. Time may change how this cigar smokes, but for now it falls short in my opinion. Finding them will probably be hard to near impossible with such a small release, so if you can find some I can easily suggest picking up two or three to try for yourself but limit yourself to that. Hopefully your experience is better than mine.
Final Score: 85