Viaje Late Harvest 2011
Today I’m hitting up a brand I don’t get to smoke too often. From what I seem to read they are probably the most limited boutique brand I seem to have come across. Even people residing in the US have trouble finding them due to the limited distribution. The brand I’m referring to Viaje, who has Andre Farkas as it’s front man. Both Tony and I have done a few Viaje reviews in the past, click this link to see them all. Hitting the ashtray tonight though, will be the offering from Viaje called the Late Harvest.
The Late Harvest might sound familiar to any wine aficionados we have around here. In the wine world, some grapes are harvested later in the season to produce a slightly different type of wine typically called a Late Harvest. It’s even a popular method of making Ice Wine which is a very interesting dessert wine especially common to the Niagara region wineries up here in Ontario.
Contrary to what the name actually seems to mean, the Late Harvest cigar from Viaje is not actually produced with tobacco leaves harvested later in the season. It’s trademark is actually that the filler being used is sourced from the last priming’s of the tobacco plant. These last priming’s are left on the plant slightly longer and are also exposed to the sun longer, this produces a darker, thicker, oilier and stronger leaf. The blend is said to have about 90% of it’s filler from these last priming’s.
To put the limited blend into perspective, the Late Harvest is made in 125 boxes of 35 cigars each making a grand total of 4375 cigars(if my math is right). The Late Harvest was debuted at IPCPR 2011 and it seems like Andre is planning to make a yearly release of it, although the yield could change from year-to-year. The production factory of these cigars is located in Honduras, the popular Racines Cubanas factory which is part of Casa Fernandez Cigar company.
My one gripe here is that there’s no indication on the band of the production year. Although I know this one is a 2011 release since it’s brand new, I would have liked to see an indication for future years to compare with and keep track of when aging. I guess we’ll have to be vigilant and make note of them if you’re not buying a box. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets see if these cigars are worth aging and worth trying out next year…
Cigar: Viaje Late Harvest
Drink: Wychwood Brewery Wychcraft Blonde Beer
Vitola: Toro (6 x 48)
Price: About $9.00
Burn Time: 1.5 hours
• The Viaje Late Harvest is a bit of a rough looking cigar with a few medium sized veins running up and down along with some bumps here and there
• The wrapper presents with a medium cinnamon brown colour with some dark speckles here and there, it’s also fairly coarse
• The top of the cigar is finished with tight little pigtail on top of a triple cap that looks clean and well applied
• A little squeeze produces almost no give, the Viaje Late Harvest is fairly firm from foot to cap
• With a quick glance at the foot it’s easy to see this is a well filled cigar with almost no gaps to be seen
• Clipping off the cap with my double bladed guillotine cutter was fairly easy and left a nice clean cut
• The foot of the cigar lit up very quickly and easily while toasting
• The initial burn has an interesting zig-zag pattern… let’s hope it tightens up
• Zig zag seemed to calm down and although it’s a bit wavy we’re off to a better start now
• A couple small corrections were needed in the first half but they were very minor and did not affect the flavor of the cigar
• A couple other small touch-ups through the cigar but nothing major, it burned very well for the most part
Smoke & Ash:
• The Viaje Late Harvest is producing a good amount of smoke from each draw, it’s not super-thick and billowy but it’s not light either
• Resting smoke is also fairly moderate, nothing over the top but it is notable
• The ash is looking to be a pretty dark tone of grey as I smoke through the cigar
• I’m also getting some flaking so I don’t think the ash is going to last too long
• It started to look really weak at about an inch so I tapped it off into the ashtray
• As I hit the halfway mark it seems the thickness of the smoke has been slowly increasing, getting a nice billowy thickness now
• The wrapper of the Viaje Late Harvest has a fairly strong barnyard aroma to it, smells like it’s fresh from a farm!
• The foot, on the other hand, is strong with earthy and woodsy aromas followed by just a touch of peppery spice
• Pre-light draw brings an interesting mix of fresh cedar, earthiness and a touch of sweetness
• Initial draws bring more of the woodsy and earthy flavors I caught onto earlier, with a touch of very mild spices
• After a few draws there is a kick of pepper to this cigar, you can feel it on the back of your throat as well
• The Viaje Late Harvest is starting off in the mile-medium bodied range and the retrohale is giving a nice little bite with a smooth cedar finish
• The strong pepper faded as quickly as it appeared and I’m back to a nicely balanced cedar and earthy flavor profile
• There is a touch of tart sweetness that I’m picking up now and again although it’s not too strong right now
• The woodsy flavors are developing nicely and I’m getting a nice bready flavor coming in all wrapped up with a smooth and creamy finish
• The bite on the retrohale is pretty much gone now but it’s still giving me a smooth creamy cedar finish that I’m really enjoying
• As I creep into the final third, some of the spices are starting to make a comeback. It’s not the strong pepper like before but rather a more mild white pepper profile
• The Viaje Late Harvest finished on a smooth medium note with no harshness at all, I enjoyed it’s creamy finish and sweet tart cedar flavors right to the nub
This was an interesting and unique cigar and I’m glad I was able to give it a try. As I mentioned, my access to Viaje cigars is pretty limited so it’s always a treat when I get a few sent to me in a package and this one was not a disappointment. It had an interesting variety of flavors that were very well balanced along with a smooth creamy finish to round it all out. The burn had a couple small touch ups but nothing worth complaining about. Considering the type of filler used here I was expecting a much stronger cigar but I ended up with a smooth medium bodied stick that I really enjoyed. The price on these is also fairly reasonable considering the limited production runs they are offered in. If you can track down some of these they are definitely worth a try. I’m curious to see if they change much from year-to-year…
Today I have another offering from Wychwood Breweries. Just recently, I tried out their winter ale called “Bah Humbug” with the Tatuaje TAA and I’ve also done a full review of their buby beer called Hobgoblin. This particular brew is their Blonde beer called Wychcraft. It clocks in at a light 4.5% alc./vol. and is triple hopped and filtered. It made for a perfect midday beer with lots of citrusy and malty flavors to it. An interesting combination since most blondes don’t carry too much of the malts with them, but I guess that’s where the triple hopped process makes a difference. I found that the Wychwood Breweries Wychcraft paried quite well with the Viaje Late Harvest. The cirtusy sweetness of the beer complimented that tart sweetness that sometimes made an appearance in the cigar and neither of them over-powered the other. I’d recomend sticking with a lighter pairing similar to the Wychcraft with the Viaje Late Harvest, choice such as a thick stout or strong coffee might drown out the cigars flavors.