March 3, 2014

Cigar Review: Viaje Exclusivo Leaded


When individuals talk about tobacco and the position of leaves on the plant the most common names you hear of are seco, viso and ligero. Most people know that seco is at the lowest and ligero is the highest, but in reality there are more breakdowns than that. That does not take into account volado or even corona, and you can even have further breakdown with that. There are typically 5 to 8 primings on a tobacco plant, and it takes around 5 to 8 weeks to harvest the tobacco. You work your way up until you are in the corona phase, and during that time more sunlight and nutrients are making it to the top leaves which is making them richer and stronger. There are occasions however that there are two additional leaves above the corona phase. They are not always there, and the leaves are very small and special. These leaves are called medio tiempo and they are very limited. Not all tobacco plants have them, and they are leaves that are incredibly flavorful and have a nice bit of strength with that. They have been used for sometime, but it really wasn't until 2010 when Habanos S.A. announced the Behike that they began grabbing attention. Since then manufacturers have stated that they are using it in the blend, and this year Andre Farkas announced that he would be using the tobacco in his new Exclusivo Leaded. 

Based off of the limited Exclusivo line, the Leaded is an amped up version of the blend. The cigar remains a Nicaraguan puro, and it features medio tiempo leaves in the blend. The wrapper is Corojo '99, and as always the cigar is AGANORSA tobacco. The cigar measures 5" with a 52 ring gauge, and is finished with a nice pigtail cap. Like all releases from Viaje, the cigar is made in Honduras at Raices Cubanas, and this is a factory that has been getting a bad name in some ways of late. They have shown some problems with construction for manufacturers, and some manufacturers have left the factory with new lines. The Leaded sports a light Colorado coloring to the wrapper, and it is a very traditional and old school coloring. There are some soft gritty aspects, and with the veins present it is slightly familiar to a Cuban cigar. The color is really a light reddish clay coloring, and it features a solid pigtail cap. The band is very Exclusivio/ 50/50 Red Label, and it has an aroma of hay, wood, tobacco, pepper and leather.

Lighting up the cigar, it begins by showing some dry notes, and it is showing some amazing tobacco and spice notes. There are bits of pepper present with that, and it has some leather, coffee, hay and strong wood notes as well. There is this unique bitter chocolate notes present as well, and it is on the finish which is very tasty. I would say the cigar is smoking at level right around medium to medium full, and that is the case for both body and strength. The construction on the smoke is phenomenal, and if anyone said Raices was not showing positive quality control, this cigar would prove that wrong. The cigar has a razor sharp burn line and with that is a wonderful charcoal colored ash that is holding on firmly. I am honestly loving this cigar right now, and it is a very unique smoke. The use of medio tiempo tobacco is wonderful, and it brings this cigar to a whole new level.

When I get into the second third I see a growth from the first third and it is showing a change in the strength, body and flavors. I am getting a nice tobacco, coffee and spice flavor profile with the cigar in this third and it is showing some wonderful leather qualities with that. There is a bit of pepper with that, and it has that nice bitter chocolate flavor on the finish. The construction remains wonderful through the second third and it is showing an even burn line with a nice charcoal ash holding on firmly. I get a draw with the cigar and a lot of wonderful smoke being produced. I am having fun blowing smoke rings and this is a wonderful cigar to sit back and enjoy while watching some hockey. The body is smoking at a solid medium full level, strength as well, and this is a perfect cigar for a guy like me. I really enjoy how the cigar has grown in this third and look forward to the final third.  

The final third shows a strong finish and this is a cigar that grows in strength and body as the cigar progresses. I am finding that it is showing a lot of leather notes and with that some solid tobacco and spice notes. The cigar is showing lots of pepper qualities and it has a finish of hay and wood. The change throughout the cigar has been amazing and it is a complex smoke. The strength and body are now smoking at a medium full level and it is a great level for a cigar to end with. I like when cigars grow in those areas as they progress, and this cigar has that. The construction is wonderful throughout and it ends by showing a wonderful burn line with an amazing ash. The ash has a nice charcoal coloring and with that is a nice bit of smoke and a cool draw that is flavorful. This is a great smoke that shows the wonderful blending of Viaje and the great construction of cigars coming out of Raices.

This is a great release and a wonderful addition to the Viaje brand. I am a huge fan of this cigar and think it to be one of the best releases that he has had recently. I have had a great amount of consistency from stick to stick, and with that terrific construction which is not always the case with Viaje. I think the cigar will age wonderfully, and this is a cigar that shows great flavors from beginning to end. I am looking forward to future releases from Viaje while using medio tiempo tobacco, and I think he used just enough in this blend. The Leaded is quite different from the Exclusivo line in my opinion, and it is a blend that is more my speed. I am a huge fan of the Exclusivo line, but this cigar brings it to a whole new level overall. If you have the opportunity to pick up a box of these, I recommend you cease it. I am giving this cigar a solid 92 rating and look forward to smoking it throughout the year.

Seth's Humidor Rating: 92

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