JC Newman

June 15, 2024

Viaje Birthday Blend Collector’s Edition Criollo 2024 (6 1/4 x 54)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Halfwheel.com website)

One month ago, Viaje announced that it would once again celebrate company founder Andre Farkas’ birthday with a new installment of its Birthday Blend Release. In particular, a 6 1/2 x 54 torpedo that earned the cigar the company’s Collector’s Edition tag, identifying it as a one-and-done release.

Yesterday, the company announced that it is keeping the celebration going with the Birthday Blend Collector’s Edition Criollo, which swaps out the Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper for a criollo 98 wrapper of undisclosed origin. Previous versions of the Birthday Blend have used a Nicaraguan criollo 98 wrapper.

It is also being released in a 6 1/2 x 54 torpedo vitola that is priced at $12.88 per cigar and $322 for a box of 25 cigars.

The cigar is nicely made and the wrapper is a medium to dark brown. It has a nice feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were lemon citrus, brown sugar, nutmeg, and leather. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. The flavors are very Viaje-like. Pretty good start.

At the first third (33 minutes) I still have lemon, brown sugar, and nutmeg but the leather is very high. Very high. I decided to smoke this cigar extremely slow to see if the flavors improve. So, at this point they are ok. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is leather with good lingering black pepper. I rated the first third 91.

As I moved through the second third (1 hour 12 minutes) a surprising thing happened. The flavors actually improved. Going ultra slow has helped. In this third the lemon and brown sugar came out more, especially the brown sugar. The leather dropped back to a manageable amount. The cigar is still medium bodied. The finish is unchanged. I guess going ultra slow is the key to Viaje's. I mean, I always go slow but with this cigar I am going slow to the point it almost goes out. I rated the second third 93.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. The Maduro version had a time of 1 hour 30 minutes and I went slow on that one. So as you can see I really slowed down for this cigar. But the flavors went back to the way they were in the first third; lemon, brown sugar, and heavy leather. Big change from the second third. I can't remember a cigar that had the middle section as the best section. I rated the final third 91. This cigar was a bookend scored cigar; 91-93-91. Very different from most. But going ultra slow paid off. Coincidentally, this cigar has the same core as the maduro. I will revisit the Maduro and go just as slow to see if it also improves. But, if you're a Viaje fan you'll probably not go wrong with either.

Overall Score: 91.67

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