I have to agree with this review completely. I let my box rest about a month hoping to avoid any burn issues, and excepting a worry-some start which self corrected it burned fine. The cigar starts off very well with the flavors described, but then that harshness sneaks in. It doesn't last longer than a couple puffs at a time, but it keeps coming back throughout the second third. The last third improves, when some of the cocoa flavor returns but it isn't much to get excited about. It's an ok cigar, I'd rate it slightly lower, maybe an 84. Hopefully that harshness will disappear with some more age.
Review: Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades The Rapier
The first time we heard of the interestingly named Honey and Hand Grenades from Viaje was at the IPCPR show in Las Vegas in mid-2011. Farkas was seen handing out samples to a few people to try with no other info given except the name, the interesting vitola and the fact that it was supposedly based on the Exclusivo blend.
Flash forward to March of 2012, and Andre Farkas sent stickers to retailers in the shipment of the Super Shot 10 Gauge reading, “VIAJE HHG THE SHIV THE SHANK THE RAPIER IPCPR 2012.″ The logo was that of an insect with a grenade in the place of its abdomen.
Then in April of 2012, Farkas posted some photos of the stickers on Facebook with that peculiar logo on them that were stuck on some cigar molds and other cigar related stuff.
Not much more was said before the release, but at the IPCPR show in Tampa, Farkas said this about the blend in the interview that Stogie Review posted:
A lot of time went into this cigar… I have been blending it for a long time. It took about four or five months to blend it. It has a unique shape, a Torpedo foot and a round head. All of the names are all names of weapons… after you stick someone, well, the blade gets red, so there is the red foil.
The Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades shipped in three different violas. They are (top to bottom):
The Shank (5 1/4 x 52) — $10.00 (Boxes of 25, $250.00)
The Shiv (6 1/4 x 50) — $10.16 (Boxes of 25, $254.00)
The Rapier (6 1/2 x 44) — $9.36 (Boxes of 25, $234.00)
The Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades come in boxes of 25 with only 300 boxes of each vitola released. The boxes look like this:
But enough of that, lets get down to business, shall we?
Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades The Rapier
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Size: 6 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 44
MSRP: $9.36 (Boxes of 25, $234.00)
Date Released: September 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades is a sight to behold and will never be mistaken for another cigar on the market on looks alone. The first thing you notice is the bright, metallic red wrapping that covers the cigar from the bottom of the band to the end of the foot. Then, you notice the vitola, which is a cross between a Figurado and a Lonsdale with a pointed foot and round cap. The wrapper is a dark espresso brown color and is almost devoid of oil, but fairly smooth to the touch. It’s spongier than normal, but seems well rolled. The aroma off the wrapper is a combination of manure, barnyard and coffee.
The first third of the Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades starts off with a distinct flavor of wheat cereal, a dark chocolate, wood and a slight meatiness that adds some interest. There is a nice amount of sharp pepper on the retrohale and just a little spice on the lips — enough to notice — but not much more than that. Smoke production is above average and the burn and draw are excellent so far. Strength starts out at just under medium and is only getting stronger from there.
Coming into the second third of the Honey and Hand Grenades, the flavors remain the same for the most part, but the amounts shift so that the meatiness becomes dominant with the wheat note receding to the background. The major change is a noticeable about of harshness that comes and goes throughout the second third. It is not bad enough to affect the profile in a negative way, but it is noticeable. Other flavors include oak, leather and bitter espresso. The burn and draw continue to impress, and the strength takes a major jump ending the second third at just under full.
The final third of the Honey and Hand Grenades stays the course profile-wise, pretty much in line with the second third — strong meatiness, oak, leather and coffee along with just a touch of generic sweetness. There is substantially less pepper on the retrohale and the spice on the lips from the second third has all but disappeared. However, the strength in the blend continues to increase and ends the cigar well into the full category. Construction is fine and the nub is cool to the touch when I put it down for the last time.
- The prerelease cigar of this blend that was given out at the IPCPR show in 2011 was measured by me at around 5 3/8 x 44, which is not one of the final release sizes. It did have a white Viaje band, much like the WLP, although it featured additional identifiers such as, “HHG.” There may have been other sizes in the same blend given out at that time, but if so, I did not see them or hear about them.
- I have to admit, I love many things about the marketing of this blend. Frankly, the logo is kickass, nails not withstanding, the boxes are solid, the vitolas are unique, and the presentation is quite memorable. The bands are extremely well-made and very high quality.
- Farkas did mention to us at IPCPR that the name “Honey and Hand Grenades” referred to the fact that there was both an underlying sweetness and a noticeable strength to the blend. The strength is hard to deny, but I just did not notice as much sweetness as I was expecting considering the name. And no, I tasted absolutely no Honey in the profile, not that I actually expected the name to be the literal description of the flavors, mind you.
- I talked to multiple retailers who all complained extensively on the packaging of the Honey and Hand Grenades. As you can see from the photos above, the box is actually secured closed with one inch roofing nails and is apparently extremely difficult to open without the proper tools . The same retailers mentioned that they damaged some boxes actually getting them open.
- It is not a coincidence that all of the vitolas are named for knife like weapons especially considering how the vitolas look physically. For those of you that may not be aware, both the terms shiv and shank refer to a improvised weapon made of various parts, usually in a prison setting, while a rapier is a slender sword used mostly in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.
- The box looks to be made out of the exact same wood as the crate for the TNT release. I measured the width of the wall of the box, and came up with just shy of an inch thick.
- As with many Viajes, I can’t wait to do a redux review of this particular blend.
- Much like with the Zombie release, I was seriously at a loss on which end to cut and which end to light, since both ends are capped. On the one hand, the round end is the closest to the band, but it is also the end with the pinhole in it, which was the end that you cut and lit on the 2012 Zombie. On the other hand, I have almost never seen a Figurado cigar that you cut and light on the pointy end, and the wrapping was on that end as well. So, I ended up cutting the round end, which I am 99% sure is the right end.
- Along with the above, I saw one video review where the reviewer thought that the hole in the cap was a beetle hole.
- The pinholes in these cigars are only the third time they have been present in Viaje releases, with the previous two releases being the 2012 C-4 and the 2012 Zombie. An interesting note is that on both of those cigars, both ends were triple-capped. Farkas has told us before that the reason for the pin hole is to help with the drying out process on cigars that have both ends closed. The Honey and Hand Grenades is the only cigars to have the pinhole in the four newest releases that shipped at the same time.
- As has been the modas operandi for Viaje recently, the Honey and Hand Grenades shipped with four other releases: three different vitolas of the 2012 Satori EL, 5th Anniversary, Oro Collectors Edition and the annual shipment of Oro and Platino.
- All of the cigars smoked for this review were purchased by the reviewer.
- The final smoking time for all of the Rapier samples averaged around one hour and 20 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades (or any of the other recent Viaje releases), site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Casa de Montecristo (630.993.1234) and Tobacco Grove and Tobacco Locker (1.800.474.4795) have various amounts in stock now.
The Bottom Line: While this blend is supposedly based on the Exclusivo blend, I honestly noticed very few similarities between them. The Honey and Hand Grenades is quite a bit stronger than the Exclusivo, and has a charred meatiness note that I have never tasted in any of those blends. There is no doubt that this is not the most complex of blends and there is also no doubt that they are young, although the youth seemed to manifest as more of a harshness in the profile as opposed to a bitterness. Having said that, I enjoyed the cigar, I will be picking up more of them and I think that the Honey and Hand Grenades have quite a bit of aging potential down the road, which can’t be said of all of the recent blends Farkas as released.
Final Score: 86