Review: Viaje White Label Project Stuffed Turkey Dark Meat
Earlier this month, Viaje shipped retailers two versions of the second release of its WLP Stuffed Turkey, White Meat and Dark Meat. Brooks reviewed the former recently and I decided to tackle the latter of the 5 x 60 vitola and the latest entry into Viaje’s White Label Project series.
Andre Farkas, owner of Viaje Cigars, described the idea behind the “White Label Project”:
WLP is the vehicle by which we will release experimental blends, shapes, mash ups, factory errors, etc. It’s a peek behind the factory curtain. This is WLP’s purpose. Blends, shapes, etc. that would normally never get released will be available under this label. We will also be listening to your ideas. If we hear something suggested that might make a good cigar you might see it released under WLP.
As Brooks explained last year:
The story behind how this Stuffed Turkey got it’s name is as unlikely as it is amusing. Apparently, while Jerry Cruz and Brian Hewitt were interviewing Farkas for the blog, Cruz joked that since Viaje was big on specific holiday releases (i.e. St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, etc) the company should release a cigar for Thanksgiving called the Stuffed Turkey. Well, apparently Andre took it to heart, as the joke has now become a reality.
Jerry Cruz describes it:
In the video we were joking around with Andre about all of the Viaje seasonal releases and I made a comment about how he was just missing a Thanksgiving themed release. That was July. Fast forward to today and I get an e-mail from Andre as well as a mention on his Facebook page confirming Charlie’s post and our inspiration for theViaje WLP Stuffed Turkey.
The 2012 version was delayed until December. We covered the delay in an article on November 12th:
Viaje has announced the 2012 release of the WLP Stuffed Turkey has been delayed until “Christmas.” A message on Facebook blamed a “shipping delay.”
Stuffed Turkey is the Thanksgiving release for the WLP series, inspired by a conversation with Stogie Review at the 2011 IPCPR and was expected to add a second release with brand owner Andre Farkas hinting there would be “white meat” and “dark meat” versions for 2012.
The message read:
UPDATE – Due to a shipping delay, WLP Stuffed Turkey will be released for Christmas this year opposed to Thanksgiving as originally planned.
A December release of Stuffed Turkey would mean a roughly nine month gap between Viaje White Label Project releases with the most recent release being the WLP St Patrick’s in March.
The Stuffed Turkey White Meat, like most Viajes, is a Nicaraguan puro with a Corojo wrapper and like most Viaje Maduros, the WLP Stuffed Turkey Dark Meat features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper over Nicaraguan fillers:
The 2012 renditions of the Stuffed Turkey are the seventh and eighth incarnations of the White Label Project. In order of release, they are:
*The number of bundles was misprinted as “200″ in the original release of the Stuffed Turkey.
The Viaje Stuffed Turkey Dark Meat is packaged in the basic White Label Project packaging, in black paper, as opposed to the White paper of the WLP White Meat.
(Image via Viaje/Facebook.)
And the particulars.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje White Label Project Stuffed Turkey Dark Meat
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas)
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $9.80 (Bundles of 25, $245.00)
- Date Released: December 2012
- Number of Cigars Released: 150 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
While it’s not entirely apparent in the photographs, under neutral light the San Andrés wrapper has a bit of a green tint to the otherwise dark wrapper. The cigar is cleanly rolled on the outside and the Mexican wrapper has nothing to complain about. Aroma-wise there’s some barnyard, joined by pungent nuts on the foot and somewhat of a cedar. The cold draw of the WLP is tight, somewhat fruit and a bit sweet with some nice pepper underneath. Overall, a pretty good cold draw.
The first third begins with some sweet cedar and a decent nuttiness. Flavor is not the issue as it eventually develops into a mild cedar note, earthiness, grass, leather and fruit through the nose with a consistent pepper on the back of the tongue. “Ridiculously tight” and “unfortunate” are the two ways my first third notes describe the draw. It’s that bad. Bad enough that this goes down in the “cigar is getting smoked solely for review” category. Into the second third and the most pressing issue—the draw—is unresolved. There’s some added greenness, possibly due to some developing tar, but I notice it on the second Dark Meat I smoked, which doesn’t suffer from the tar problem. The fruitiness disappears, but the cedar notes gets bigger. While no flavor is particularly dominant, the overall flavor is full and leads me to believe tasting the second cigar of the day would be challenging. Smoke production is below average and inconsistent, likely due to the aforementioned draw. It’s usually not a good sign when the final third gets described as “relieved” in my notes, but the draw is really that bad. Flavor-wise the Viaje hasn’t changed much, an enjoyable grassiness, but each puff as the two hour mark nears becomes a larger struggle. Outside of complaining about the draw, it’s apparent the flavors are not as developed as some other Viajes—they are there and full, but not complex, individually or together. I smoke one past the inch mark, but this photograph doesn’t need to show much more than the below. It was a struggle.
- I smoked three of these. All overfilled.
- The best draw I got on all three was “barely smokeable.” It was a consistent near plugged experience.
- I should clarify, I clipped the third cigar and smoked an inch of it. After a few pokes with the draw tool I just gave up. I also cut the cigar on two occasions far past where I normally would, which is less than most people take off, it didn’t help.
- The one WLP Stuffed Turkey White Meat I smoked was not only more flavorful, but also had a pretty good draw. Needless to say, I liked it a lot more.
- Strength is south of medium-full.
- To be honest, when I first went to go smoke one of the Stuffed Turkeys, I grabbed the White Meat by mistake. I had to go to my humidor and compare the five Stuffed Turkeys I had and separate the White and Dark Meats. The Dark Meat is clearly darker and clearly San Andrés, but the White Meat is still a pretty dark wrapper. Personally, Ecuadorian Connecticut would be a great idea as far as appearances are concerned.
- I enjoy most of Viaje’s bands, at least when there’s not three covering the face of the cigar, the WLP is no different. Simple, great contrast, easy and well done.
- For those wondering, the date on these indicates “6/20/2012.” It’s unclear if that’s the date the cigars were rolled, bundled or what.
- If you are going to do a seasonal release, it needs to come out on time. Plain and simple.
- That being said, at least these weren’t wet, an issue that many complained about all throughout 2011 with Viaje. Credit where credit is due. Viaje seems to have largely fixed this issue and it has not been a theme of 2012. Given how much itwas mentioned in 2011, it seems right to mention how much the issue has been fixed.
- I was going to write something along the lines of: if someone makes a cigar called ‘Mashed Potatoes’ I might just quit. And then I remembered.
- Everything is affected by the draw: flavor, burn, smoke production. Unfortunately, no matter how great every other part of this cigar could have been, the draw killed it.
- The flavors could use some developing. Even outside of the mortal draw, the flavors were just pretty bland, but by no means offensive.
- As has become the case with almost every Viaje release this year, Farkas decided to ship multiple different cigars to accounts at the same time. Along with the two versions of the Stuffed Turkey, this shipment included the 2012 Holiday Blend, the 2012 Holiday Blend Candy Cane and another release of the Friends and Family.
- Tight draws are largely absent from $10 premium market, definitely not something I’d state as a problem for the known factories outside of Cuba, including Raíces Cubanas. Most will agree, Cuba’s draw issues have also been fixed over the past few years.
- I don’t have an issue with wrapping something in newspaper, putting a basic band on it or being simple. But I completely understand the frustration retailers have selling these with a near $10 MSRP.
- The best thing I can say about the cigar is that the flavor was very full without being overwhelming while smoking. That being said, i can’t imagine smoking another cigar afterwards, my palate was noticeably affected by the end.
- Final smoking time was two hours on average, pretty lengthy for a five inch cigar and yet another thing the painfully tight draw affected.
- If you would like to purchase some of the Viaje Stuffed Turkey (or any of the new Viaje releases), site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and Tobacco Grove both have them in stock as of this moment.
The Bottom Line: José Blanco has a saying, “nothing ruins a good cigar like an asshole.” The footnote to that has to be, “nothing make a cigar more difficult to smoke like a bad draw.” We live in age where there is not an abundance of poorly made cigars amongst the recognizable brands and as such, experiences like this stick out. Flavor-wise, the Dark Meat version of the Stuffed Turkey was average at best, but that’s secondary issue. The draw of the Stuffed Turkey was consistently in a place that would see me normally chucking the cigar. Different cuts, more cuts—even a draw tool didn’t change the cigar and I think the picture above shows why. As a champion of the Lancero vitola and small ring gauges in general, I’ve heard my fair share of the criticisms regarding thinner cigars and problematic draws. As you might expect, it really doesn’t matter the shape of the cigar when a cigar is overfilled—it’s just bad. I’m all for the fun regarding releases like this, but like most things in life, you have to do the basics right first.
Final Score: 67