Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo/ Nicaraguan Corojo
Size: 6 x 54 “Toro-Barber Pole”
Price: $11.50 (In 2012)
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 0
Accompanying Libation: Manischewitz Wine
Today we take a look at a rare cigar these days: Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012.
This was a gift from a very kind and generous man who single handedly put me back in business for a while. Many thanks to dear BOTL Joseph Talotta.
Joe sent me a boat load of cigars that I can review and some I can smoke for my own pleasure. The photos below are less than half of what he sent me:
I also want to talk about something for a moment.
This cigar will probably only cross your path if you were lucky enough to snag a few when they came out, someone gifted a couple to you, or the Cosmic Muffin smiles upon you and you get an opportunity to buy one.
I am reviewing this rare cigar for two reasons. The first is that in order to fully enjoy a cigar, it must be the first stick of the day. No breakfast. No coffee. Nothing. Not even a bowl of cereal. Why? Because all of that affects my palate. The only thing I do is rinse my mouth with hydrogen peroxide to get all the nasty overnight stuff out of my mouth.
And then, I could sit in front of the TV smoking this unique cigar all to myself and never being able to describe my experience to another person.
Secondly…if I have only one of these cigars and see no opportunity for another ever coming my way, I want to document the process of smoking a quite possible great cigar.
The very first Holiday Blend came out in 2009.
The first Holiday Blend Candy Cane came out in 2012. It was released in December of 2012. 250 boxes of 20 were produced.
The cigar was made at the Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas
Each year two varieties of the Holiday Blend are released.
The 2014 Candy Cane is also $11.50.
For those naysayers who want to correct me about the barber pole wrapper, I did my research and discovered during the review of the 2014 Candy Cane, Halfwheel confirmed what I have described.
The cigar is a solid baby. But with the right amount of give when pressed gently. Seams are dead tight. There are lots of veins, both big and small. The wrapper has a semi-oily quality. The triple cap is nicely done with the top having a yarmulke made of the darker Nic wrapper.
AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
The cap is clipped and lots of barnyard and hay smacks my nose. Along with spice, chocolate, cinnamon, a touch of floral, and earthiness. The rest of the cigar smells of the same ingredients but not as potent as the freshly clipped cap.
The cold draw is rather bland. A bit of chocolate, hay, and sweetness.
The draw is excellent. The flavors are mostly hay and earth. And a slight touch of sweetness.
Spice comes roaring down the alley.
The char line is getting out of control. I’ve smoked several of the cigars that JT sent me and not one had this problem. Go figure it happens on a cigar I review.
I am forced to torch the run into submission.
And then the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane blossoms with flavors: Creaminess, spice, chocolate, sweetness, cinnamon, citrus, dried fruit, earth, and leather.
So it seems that the Candy Cane could withstand the onslaught of my torch lighter to correct its misdeeds.
The strength is on the mild side of medium body.
Coffee enters stage right. There is just a hint of some floral notes.
The Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 has had around 2-1/2 years of aging. I think some of the oomph has been depleted. The flavors are subdued and mild. I expected a stronger cigar. It is a complete crap shoot when aging cigars. Some prosper and others mellow out considerably.
The burn issues have corrected themselves.
I go to the playbook. I decide to only take a puff every two minutes. And no retrohaling.
Of course, I rarely report the effects retrohaling has in my reviews because not everyone can do it. It is difficult to learn and I was only able to master the technique when I was one on one with an expert. All the YouTube videos in the world didn’t help me.
The cigar has an interesting finish. It doesn’t contain that kitchen sink list of flavors. But instead, it is mostly sweet, chocolaty, and earthy.
Complexity sinks in at this point. Flavors remain subtle. No boomers here.
As I am smoking slowly, I roam around other reviews that occurred when the cigar was released. About half of them report the same burn issues. Others report perfect char lines. But as far as the flavor goes, I am just mimicking what they report. This is not a BIG cigar. Flavors don’t explode. The blend is for the experienced palate.
Most of the reviews happened shortly after the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 was released. They may have had a month’s humidor time if Farkas threw them a bone with a freebie. But Farkas rarely gives out freebies to reviewers. I read that just about everyone that reviewed this cigar paid for it out of their own wallets. Lots of reviewers are close to owners of B & M’s or work for them. So it is easy to grab a few sticks when they arrive.
I lose control of the burn line again. Way too much canoe.
The point of all this is that Viajes are typically known to need a lot of humidor time. So I take the view of the reviews I read that occurred pretty much at the same time as the release as the reviewers reporting the cigar’s potential. Not the final intent of the blend. I do it myself. I’m not judging.
My experience is very close to what the others described. Except for one thing….There is a richness and complexity that they never got to taste due to their rush to review.
Here they are: Spice, creaminess, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, leather, citrus, dried fruit, leather, and rich earthiness.
The burn issue is relentless. It won’t settle down. It is ruining this for me. This is quite possibly the worst battle with the burn I’ve had in recent memory.
Yet, the flavor profile of the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 is warm and delicious.
Strength is a solid medium body. I would have liked to have seen a stronger punch. Clearly, the extended aging time has mellowed the advertised strength of medium/full right out of the blend.
I’m sure that the blend would have been 50% better if not for the constant repair of the burn.
The sweet spot has been found right here. Flavors come out of their shell and dance the light fantastic. There is sparkle in all the aforementioned flavors.
And the strength makes its first bold move to a tick above medium body. I do believe that the next couple of minutes will see it hit medium/full.
The burn issue finally resolves itself and the flavors come out to play. Now we’re talking.
None of the other reviews reported what I am this very moment. They all pretty much said the last third was the same as the second third. Here is where extensive aging comes in to play. There is an extreme richness now. Flavors are thick. The spiciness makes a big resurgence. While the others reported more of the same, I taste a new universe of flavors intensity. It is a shame that most Viaje cigar blends take a long time to really mature. I’m as guilty as most reviewers but the thing is I rarely, if ever, get a new Viaje when it comes out. I’m reviewing it a long time after it has fizzled and died. I’m the last guy chosen for dodgeball. So I don’t worry about being the first on the block to review it.
Which means that I am here to document that the cigar was here rather than be a teacher to my pupils about something brand spanking new.
I jinxed it by speaking too soon. Another touch up is needed. Oy Gevalt.
The Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 finishes very cool to the touch. No harshness. Not a bitter note to be found. It remains smooth and delectable.
The construction was gawd awful. The burn problems really sank the ship for me. In spite of that, the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 was a wonderful tasting blend. Of course, it would have been better if I had not had to put flame to foot a dozen times.
I’m very grateful to Joe Talotta for gifting me such exotic cigars. Joe and I communicate every day. He is a good young man. Although, at 38, he doesn’t feel young due to some health issues. But even so, he is positive and very good natured. I admire Joe. This man is a real mensch.
I’ve become close to several readers. I consider myself a lucky man. (And oh yes, fuck you ex-FB phony fiends)
It was a real shame that I had to deal with those gol durn burn issues. But the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane 2012 blend is so complex that it managed to come through like a champ.
And now for something completely different:
The most embarrassing moment of my life.
Back around 1972, I met a Martian. His name was Tim K. A guitarist.
He was a couple years older than me…but looked ageless. He was around 5’-6, fit, slim, and always had the same long pony tail. To this day, he hasn’t changed in appearance. He still has the pony tail He is still fit and trim. He ALWAYS wears a leather vest. And he just doesn’t fucking age. It is uncanny. I say he is a Martian for the reason of not aging but there is one other reason: He has the look of the cartoon masters’ version of what an alien should look like with that long face and big eyes and small mouth and no nose.
He has rented the same house in Anaheim since 1973. Lives there today.
When I first met him, he was living in an apartment in the shitty area of Santa Ana. You don’t want to go out alone at night.
But here is the kicker. Tim was a very strange looking dude. Not a handsome man. He did have a quiet charm and charisma that drew you to him. And yet, back then he had the most gorgeous looking girlfriend I had seen.
It was as if the Head Council of Mars sent Tim a beautiful woman to propagate the Martian species on Earth.
Her name was Marci. She was tall; maybe 5’-9. She had untouched blonde hair down to her ass. Her legs were taller than Tim. A very pretty face. And the BOOBS! She was slim, a nice rear end, but giant, natural boobs. Ahhh…youth.
The entire circle of friends drooled when they saw here. We all stared and got an elbow in the ribs from our girlfriends.
Tim introduced me to modern/progressive jazz. Because of him, I got the gig in Curved Air. Two years before I went to London, he and I and a drummer named John would spend 8 hours jamming at John’s house.
We would listen to Tim’s CTI label records. That’s Creed Taylor. He brought together the finest young jazzers in the world to record for him. Plus his albums were all artwork. The most beautiful presentation I’ve seen. He had: George Benson, Bob James, Walter Wanderley, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Deodato.
We studied these people. And it is where I learned the art of woodshedding (Improvisation.)
When we jammed for 8 hours, we never played a song. We let the music take us away and as a result, I became a bass player 10 times the player I was before I met Tim.
Shortly before I left for London, I stopped at Tim’s. Tim always had great weed. And he was generous. He had a nice half dozen rolled and laid neatly on the coffee table ready to torch.
Marci had a girlfriend over. Another knock out and Tim wanted to get them in a ménage à trois. No luck.
Marci suggested a game of Strip Spin the Bottle. Poor Tim kept losing and pretty soon he was naked while us other three were mostly clothed. He delicately tucked his penis in so he looked like the serial killer Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs.”
We kept on playing when all of a sudden; Marci jumped up and ran to the bedroom. She returned with a condom in her hand.
She grabbed my hand and yanked me towards the bedroom leaving Tim and the other girl to their own devices.
I saw the Martian smirk on Tim’s face as I looked behind me as I was dragged to the bedroom. Tim wasn’t getting his ménage à trois but he was going to have sex with some strange.
Marci ripped my clothes off. She threw me on to the bed; then on my back and got on top. She slowly removed her clothes. And there they were: Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello. Those young magnificent breasts that age hadn’t touched yet.
Before I could say a word, she went down on me. I returned the favor.
And then we screwed like bunny rabbits. All of this was done in about 20 minutes. We got dressed and went out to the living room.
I almost shat myself from what I saw.
On one end of the long couch, sat Tim fully clothed. On the other end, sat the girl. Fully clothed.
She had rejected him. So they sat there listening to Marci and me.
I was mortified. I just screwed Tim’s partner and he had to listen.
Of course, I told all of my friends and I was their hero for 15 minutes. They wanted to know every detail of what Marci’s breasts looked like. I obliged them.
Tim and I never spoke of this again. The next day, it was as if nothing had happened.
40 some years later and this subject has never come up when we talk.
I screwed Marci and he taught me to be a killer bass player.
That’s a friend!
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS