Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Size: 4 x 60 “Short Torpedo”
Price: $10.20 (If you can find them)
Numbers of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 0
Accompanying Libation: Water
Today we take a look at the vintage 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree.
First, I’m baaaack. But for only 5 or 6 reviews. Thanks to John Piette of Prime Cigar Co. here in the Milwaukee area. Johnny dug into his stash and sent me some killer vintage or impossible to get cigars. He also sent me a new Isabela Serpentine but it needs some rest so it will be a few weeks before I review that stick.
NOTE: I have one or two other cigars I can review but I plan to space them out to once a week.
This is a vintage Viaje blend part of the Holiday Blend series and this particular blend released in late 2013. The series first began in 2009 and has been a Christmas time tradition since.
Only 400 boxes of 20 were released; or a total of 8,000 cigars. Only the lucky few still have their hands on a few.
The cigars were produced at Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas). Cigar makers to the Stars.
The initial presentation is a little cheesy. It looks like a Xmas tree ornament from the Dollar Store. Peeling back the green wrapping paper and one discovers a very simple but classy central and secondary set of cigar bands.
The dark brown wrapper oozes oil. It is very toothy to the touch. Seams are visible but not obtrusive. Lots of wrinkles and veins. The triple cap is just OK looking. This little firecracker is going to be a bitch to smoke due to the pointy cap and short height. No chomping.
AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
There is a heavy milk chocolate aroma on the shaft. Even Charlotte, when asked, said she smelled chocolate. I am making a break through with the old bird. In the last 30 years, cigars under nasal scrutiny have only smelled like horse shit to her. So a little progress is good.
At the foot there is a sweet cereal element as well as a more defined cocoa aroma. Clipping a bit of the cap makes no further inroads into the aroma.
The cold draw is extremely earthy with a touch of spice and cocoa.
First puffs are a quickly building body of red pepper. And speaking of which, I have had a subscription to Cigar Aficionado forever and I don’t recall, even once, them describing a cigar with “white pepper” influences on a cigar rated cigar. I keep telling myself I have to buy some white pepper so I know what that tastes like.
Back to the 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree. It is a hearty blend with a big influence from the earthiness of the tobacco and bringing with it a touch of mineral.
And then BLAM! Everything kicks in at once:
Creaminess, Extremely potent red pepper, chocolate, ginger bread, roasted nuts, marzipan, sweetness, molasses, cedar, and a touch of floral notes.
A few moments later, coffee enters the fray.
So this is what a nicely aged cigar tastes like. I get it.
The 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree is jam packed. And therefore, a slow smoke for such a small cigar. It’s taken 15 minutes to burn away half an inch.
Of course, having a 60 gauge ring doesn’t hurt.
Charlotte asked how do the blenders manage to get all those kitchen sink flavors into a blend? I have absolutely no idea. She thinks its chemicals. And of course, we know she is wrong. Only Acid exposes their tobacco to natural occurring oils and the such for an unusual taste. I’ve never had anyone explain this to me in a satisfying manner.
Reaching ¾” burned, the sweet spot has made touch down. Very creamy. Very spicy. And all a’ blossom with assorted flavor elements.
I can see underneath the cigar band that a seam has come loose. This will require delicate surgery.
This is like the most divine, dahlings, French dessert. The complexity is so deep that you need spelunking gear to find the bottom. The balance is wonderful and it leaves a nice chewy finish.
I wish I had the dough to buy something and then put it away for a year(s). Johnny even sent me a 2009 Arturo Fuente Reserva Xtra Viejo. I removed it from the cello and the cello is so yellow that it is almost brown. Woo Hoo.
All of the handful of sticks he sent me are very difficult to find information about. It is taking me longer than expected and the frustration rate is high.
Some of these cigars require a lot of research. For some reason, a lot of boutique brands use cigar bands so similar that only the size gives them away.
John sent me a 2012 Viaje WMD. He also sent along a couple unreleased sticks from Isabela Cigar that will debut in June.
There is a monstrous influence of cashews now. In addition to that, there is now honey, black walnut, strong coffee bean, full on dark chocolate, hickory, black tea, and toast.
The strength started out at classic medium body. With 1-3/4” burned, it is full bodied with a healthy dose of nicotine.
The first half took a good 25 minutes to devour.
I remove the main cigar band and as I expected, cigar band glue had attached itself to a seam. Luckily, the flap was big enough to glue so all is well.
I read a lot of early reviews of this cigar. They truly missed out on all the 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree is capable of giving.
None of the myriad of flavor components have diminished. Each and every one is still in place and plugging along with some ferocity all their own.
The 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree is a flavor festival. I cannot thank Johnny enough for always keeping me in cigars for review. What a pal!
Charlotte feels sorry for me. So she is allowing me a small budget so I can buy cigars for my own consumption. They will all be sticks from Cigar Monster and the Daily Deals. I won’t do the auction houses because it is too unpredictable and the chance of going over my budget is high. So the good news is that I can continue to smoke cigars. And there are lots of great cigars for the getting in the $4 range.
Tomorrow’s review will be whichever one I can get the research right on. It is the date of release that is difficult to verify. Especially, since the boutique cigars Johnny sent me all look the same from year to year.
While being full bodied, the 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree is very smooth. The nicotine has bottomed out and my motor skills are intact.
This stick has been a joy to smoke and review.
I don’t need to list all of its attributes since I’ve already done a good job of that.
I have zero criticisms.
Getting the package from Johnny was a godsend. I can’t expect manufacturers to keep their word. Although, Natasha at Gran Habano seems to be in earnest about sending me a nice package. But Johnny always keeps his word.
The 2013 Viaje Holiday Blend Christmas Tree is a stunning blend. The two years of humi time made it a shining star. I never would have smoked one if not for Johnny.
And now something to annoy my readers:
I got an email from my daughter, Katie, this morning. She referred me to a YouTube music video from the band Fall Out Boy. The song is “Uma Thurman.”
In the song, the boys sample the theme from “The Munsters” TV show. She seems to be literally jumping up and down because I can sue them for using “my” song: “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”
When Butch Patrick came to me, in 1982, at my Long Beach recording studio, he had this idea for a gimmick song. Take the theme from The Munsters” and write timely lyrics. And build a kitschy band around it.
I am a chess player, not a checkers player. I thought immediately that if we could get a big gimmick going with the band and the whole theme of the song, maybe we could get a TV show about Eddie and the Monsters along the lines of The Monkees. I eventually wrote a movie script.
The band members were handpicked and all were good looking guys that would make the tweens swoon in their classroom seats.
Even Butch was a handsome man back then. But weren’t we all? I was 32 and Butch was 30…I believe.
The first thing I did was approach Universal Studios. I needed a license to use the music. They were not about to sit back and watch us get a hit song with their copyrighted music. (We did sell 181.000 units before the record company Rocshire Records went to prison for embezzlement.)
I got a two year license for the song.
But dear Katie, what you don’t know is that I had the presence of mind to get a federal copyright on the music video. This is why you don’t see it anywhere.
Plus, the copyright is good for my lifetime plus 65 years. So after I’m gone, Katie can use that copyright to claim rights to the video if someone wants to use it or tries to steal it.
Again, you don’t see it on YouTube either. Several people have tried to upload it but I stopped them in their tracks by filing a copyright infringement with YouTube. The video was always taken down immediately.
Here is the thing. If I allow it on YouTube, it becomes public property. And I lose my rights for sole ownership. I still get copyright fees now and again when a TV show wants to do a child star “Whatever happened to…?”
I get an average of $2500 for a two year license. And the production company will probably use it twice. One original screening and then in rerun.
But I can make no claims to the original theme song…just the music video.
I used to sell packages of the project on eBay. For $100, the buyer got the DVD, 45 single in mint condition, a mint condition Eddie and the Monsters T Shirt, and a Butch autographed 8 x 10 promo photo. I’ve managed to keep everything in air tight storage all these 35 years. I stopped selling them. Too many went unsold.
Since butch spent a lot of time being drunk, I figured he was going to have an accident and die. THEN! I would have a real package to sell to the highest bidders.
The DVD even has an out take reel.
Butch never speaks of this project anymore because he knows I will profit by it. The only time I hear from him is when he wants something. I finally confronted him and he stopped tracking me down.
I have all the original ¾” video rough cuts, the final ¾” video, DVD’s, about 50 singles, maybe 100 promo photos, the unmixed audio on 8 track, the final stereo ¼” reel to reel tape, and eight T shirts. The only T shirts I have left are small.
If you look for Butch pics online, there are lots of them with him wearing the T shirt. I always refused to give him the raw video.
Now that Butch is clean and sober, I doubt his death is imminent. But at some point, Katie will probably be able to make use of the copyright and all the chazerai left in my possession. She will make a killing. So to speak.
NOTE: I have one or two other cigars I can review but I plan to space them out to once a week.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS