Review: Viaje Late Harvest LH 648 (2012)
Last week, alongside a new Exclusivo Robusto, Viaje retailers began receiving the latest shipment of Late Harvest in the same two sizes it debuted in last year.
Charlie explained what Andre Farkas told him about the Late Harvest blend at the IPCPR show in 2011, right before the original release was shipped:
Andre’s ode to the wine industry was an interesting project. He was looking at crates and decided that it would make a perfect box. Farkas explained that he comes from a family of collectors, so the idea of a wine cigar was always something he was interested in doing. The cigar uses the highest primings, as he explained that if he mirrored the late harvest technique from the wine industry, he would end up with bad tobacco.
Like the first release in 2011, the Late Harvest comes in two vitolas: the LH 648 (6 x 48) and the LH 550 (5 x 50), each priced at $8.85 per stick. Only 200 boxes of each vitola were released, but each box includes 35 cigars, meaning a total of 14,000 cigars across the two vitolas.
Here is a photo of all of the Late Harvest releases so far:
- Late Harvest LH 648 (2011) — 6 x 48
- Late Harvest LH 550 (2011) — 5 x 50
- Late Harvest LH 648 (2012) — 6 x 48
- Late Harvest LH 550 (2012) — 5 x 50
The boxes that the Late Harvest come in do in fact remind me of crates — solid wood and quite heavy with five rows of seven cigars in cello, and a piece of wood to hold them all in place.
The boxes look like this:
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Name: Viaje Late Harvest LH 648 (2012)
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $8.85 (Boxes of 35, $309.75)
- Release Date: May 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 35 Cigars (7,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The Viaje Late Harvest is an impressive looking cigar with an excellent slightly reddish medium brown wrapper containing a bit of oil on it, along with a few veins here and there. You immediately notice the cute pigtail on top, along with the slightly larger Viaje band. The cigar has a great give when squeezed and the wrapper smells strongly of barnyard, leather and dark chocolate.
The first third of the Late Harvest starts off with flavors of rich oak, leather, espresso and even a bit of a nutty note. It has close to the perfect amount of spice — both on the lips and on the tongue, but I am not noticing any pepper at all, even on the retrohale. There is a nice buttery sweetness that comes and goes reminding me of something like a honey butter you would put on biscuits in a Southern restaurant. The draw is a bit loose to start, but not bad enough to worry about, an the burn is wonderful through the first third. Strength is a bit below medium, but the Viaje seems to be increasing slowly.
Coming into the second third of the Viaje and the profile turns creamy with earth, leather and dark chocolate leading the way. There is less sweetness and less of that buttery note, but they are still in the background seemingly ready to jump back to dominance at any moment. The spice has died down a bit, but remains a player in the profile and there is still almost no pepper at all in the Late Harvest. Construction remains fabulous, and the draw has become almost perfect. Strength hits a solid medium by the end of the second third, and is only getting stronger.
The final third of the Late Harvest sees a return of the buttery sweetness to the forefront, albeit more of a general sweetness, as opposed to the honey from the first third. In addition, the creaminess from the second third sticks around as well along with flavors of oak, espresso, coca powder and earth. The spice is also a bit stronger, but never reaches the levels of the first third. Burn and draw continue to impress, although the cigar does get a bit hot and slightly bitter at the end. Strength ends the smoke at just shy of the full mark, but never goes over line.
- I have smoked about ten of the Late Harvest from the original release since they were released last year and these taste as close to when the 2011 version were released as I can remember. Farkas has been raked over the coals many times for the fact that quite a few of his second or third releases don’t live up to the debuts in a specific blend, a charge that I think is fair, for the most part, but honestly, this is not one of those releases. The 2012 version of the Late Harvest is every bit as good as the original release, in my opinion.
- The band is similar to an Oro (gold trim) band with Late Harvest in script on the bottom and a drawing of a man in a field, as well as a much more ornate back, but has no year. As far as I can tell, there is no difference at all between the bands on the 2011 version and the newest release.
- The Late Harvest is the only Viaje blend to be released in boxes of 35, although the Exclusivo Jar release was also 35 count.
- Viaje is in the habit of shipping different blends with each other, and this time was no different. Along with the two new Late Harvest vitolas, Farkas also released a new size of the Exclusivo line, a 5 x 52 Robusto. Interestingly, all three of the new releases have the same pigtail on top of the cap, despite the different blends.
- Construction and the burn were wonderful for the whole cigar and the draw was great after the first third, and quite honestly was really not that bad to begin with.
- Smoke production was excellent.
- The final smoking time was one hour and 15 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase some of the Viaje Late Harvest, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Casa de Montecristo (630.834.7777) & Tobacco Grove have them in stock in various quantities as of this moment. Don’t forget to tell them halfwheel sent you.
The Bottom Line: I have always been impressed with the Viaje Late Harvest blend, although I can not tell if I love the flavors more or just the fact that the profile is so different from just about anything else that Farkas makes. Whatever the reason, these are easily one of the best blends Viaje has released to date: creamy, complex, medium-bodied, but full-flavored and with a wonderful amount of spice to bring everything together. Add the almost perfect construction and very unViaje like price of $8.85, and you have a winner no matter which way you slice it. I purchased a box the 2011 648s, but if I did not still have some, I would buy a box of these without a second thought and will get a few more of the new release, just because.
Final Score: 91