Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Collector’s Edition 2018 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 56 Perfecto
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $12.50

Today we take a look at the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Collector’s Edition 2018.
Most online stores are out of stock except for those still selling whole boxes. You may want to try your local B&M. I got mine at Havana Lounge and Cigar in West Allis, WI.

“Viaje’s latest Collector’s Edition releases have begun arriving at retail, a pair of 5 x 56 short perfectos in the Exclusivo and Exclusivo Leaded blends, both packed in 40-count humidors.

“The Exclusivo blend is one of the company’s more highly regarded lines, a Nicaraguan puro that debuted in 2010 and became known as being the personal blend for company founder Andre Farkas. The Exclusivo Leaded blend, which debuted in 2014, takes the strength up from the original blend by way of the addition of medio tiempo leaves in the filler, a high-priming leaf not found on all tobacco plants.

“Each version is offered in a 5 x 56 vitola and comes in wide 40-count humidors, with the cigars stacked in two rows of 20. The Exclusivo version is priced at $474 per humidor, or $11.85 per cigar, while the Exclusivo Leaded version is offered at $500 per box, or $12.50 per cigar.

“Both versions were made at the Raíces Cubanas factory in Danlí, Honduras, with 250 humidors produced for each version. Additionally, they were sent to all authorized Viaje retailers.

“Additionally, both come bearing the Collector’s Edition secondary band, a designation that indicates this will be the only release of this size and blend combination.”

A dark, oily, espresso colored wrapper adorns the stick. The stick itself is well constructed with few blemishes and perfect resistance when squeezed. The triple pointy cap is a piece of art.

Aromas of chocolate, malt, espresso, cedar, white pepper, bits of cinnamon and curry, and summer fruit. The cold draw is spicy with dollops of cream, chocolate, nuts, cedar, and barnyard.

I can’t feel the hard spots but clearly there is more than one. The draw is tough and my ownership of a PerfecDraw cigar poker has spoiled me. I no longer settle for a cheek imploding draw. I want a nice clear solution. I allow the cigar poker tool to do its job in simple two quick reams of the poker and now the cigar has a nice easy draw that won’t cause consternation or cause my teeth to hurt.

First puffs are flavorful with elements of chocolate, malt, coffee, sweetie pie stuff, cedar, and some barnyard. The cigar is a barn burner with loads of billowing smoke filling the recesses of John Denver’s mind.

I’ve had the sample for 2+ months. Viaje is somewhere between Old School and New Breed blending. In other words, I’ve never smoked a Fred Farkas blend that was good to go in just weeks. But then most blends don’t need months upon months of quiet humi time either. As Goldilocks once said, “Where are the bagels and cream cheese?” With a name like hers, clearly, she is a member of the Tribe and certainly does not eat porridge for breakfast. Semi-trayf.

The cigar is just jam packed with tobacco. The burn is slow and in no hurry to show off.

And then comes the Viaje magic…bold notes of chocolate, malt, black pepper, creaminess, a mix of salted nuts, dark tea, vanilla, and a touch of fennel.
Strength wastes no time in its goal to induce delirium. We are at an anti-Semitic medium/full.

I’m guessing this blend takes time to warm up. No sudden moves that makes my cat’s merkin twirl. (We rescued him as he was a fluffer [against his wishes] in gay kitty porn. We love him but my little furry perv is banned from licking my face. Sucking on my nose is strictly verboten).

The Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Collector’s Edition 2018 has some burn issues but no reason to panic quite yet. My therapist is in the next room if needed.

There is a deep complexity beginning to show itself. The tobaccos are very much the centerpiece of this blend. The ancillary flavors give the cigar some direction but there is a noticeable passion in the choice of leaves that give the blend a wake-up call to the palate.

There are no real transitions at this early juncture. The finish is somewhat akin to having kissed the bearded lady that lives in the next apartment.

I really like the intensity of this blend. And with only an inch burned, it has become stone cold, full tilt muscle man strong. Not only will delirium be on the menu for the duration but also accompanied by mind expanding views into my next life. If I start writing about 4-star restaurants in Katmandu, run.
The burn is quite unimpressive. Touch ups are the dress code of the day.

And the shit storm begins. The blend kicks in on all cylinders. Flavors erupt like your 4th grade science experiment.

In junior high school (Middle school for you younger than 60), I had a homeroom teacher who was a drop dead gorgeous woman. What a bod. I was a little guy in those days and didn’t have my growth spurt til I hit high school. On the first day of 9th grade, I was stunned to discover that she had gotten married and her name was now Mrs. Broaddus. No shit. And she had gotten a nose job over the summer. What didn’t change was that huge rack.
On that day, she stood at the door as we were excused to start our day of learning. I wasn’t paying attention and as I turned to walk out the door, I slammed my entire face between her breasts. I stayed there for what seemed like hours before I heard the “Ahem.” I looked up and she smiled. I had just enjoyed my first sexual experience. Having your head smashed into 65 year old Aunt Matilda’s boobs while she hugged me didn’t count. And yes, I tried it again but Mrs. Broaddus was as agile as a tight end and got out of the way before I could nest my face in her bosom. She smiled at me with that underlying thought of “Nice try, little perv,”

The Viaje is complex with some nice transitions. The finish has recovered and is chewy with accentuated with small sips of water.

The tobacco is still driving the bus. The flavor profile takes a back seat to the incendiary intensity of well-chosen leaves.

It’s a shame that Farkas only allowed this blend to be sold, initially, in 40 count humidors; thereby making the cigar box purchase a second mortgage endeavor. And only 250 humidors were produced making this an extremely limited offering. Thankfully, B&M’s are doling them out in singles if they are lucky enough to be on the good little boy list from Viaje.

This stick is such a slow burn vehicle that from my vantage point, the upward trajectory of the cigar is meant to be enjoyed by real enthusiasts that can appreciate the subtleties and nuances of a beautifully crafted tobacco snausage.

I’ve made it a new rule. No more reviews of cigars in which I was only able to obtain a single. I rubbed my hands together, out of anxiety, like the three witch’s scene from Macbeth worrying I might be critiquing another bum blend. I lucked out today.

My only serious criticism is the burn. It needs constant touch ups. Nicht gut for a $12.50 limited edition cigar. Exactly the reason, I need to smoke 2-3 sticks before having a very informed opinion. In my next life, I have chosen to be wealthy.

The balance is perfection now.

The Nic puro usual suspects of flavors are all in play but have morphed into one ball of confusion as it wildly meanders from one element to the other in an excellent effort to keep me interested. This is a blend to be savored quietly without interruption. I find that it’s very difficult to truly experience the blender’s intent in a setting with other smokers around me.

Killer blend. The climb from start to halfway point has become deliriously unexpected but heartily appreciated.

You will love this cigar my dears. Finding one or two will be the quest of the ages. Start by trolling the online stores. If that fails, start calling your local cigar shops. Someone will have them. Buy what you can. Do not…I repeat…do not smoke this cigar two weeks after receipt. Give it a couple months…at least.

Creaminess is out of this world complemented by vanilla, malt, cocoa, black pepper, strong coffee, a lovely nuttiness, cedar, and small fleeting hints of tea, floral, honey, and lemon twist.

Yes, $12.00 has become the new norm for a decent cigar; especially in the limited edition category. Based on my reaction to this blend, it’s worth every dime. Wonderful cigar.

Strength is potent.

I’m taking my time with this puppy. I’m following the rule that one should only take a puff every couple of minutes allowing your palate to settle down between those puffs. I am so enjoying this. I should have bought more but Tyler at Havana Lounge and Cigar always charges me 15% more than the other customers. He thinks because I’m a master beggar that I can afford it. If you can’t find the stick, call Tyler. He’ll take care of you.

I sit here like a clam with a big smile on my puss. Definitely ruined for the rest of the day’s cigar input.
Goddam the pusher man. Wow.

Oddly, as strong as the Viaje Exclusivo Leaded Collector’s Edition 2018 is, the level of brain killing nicotine isn’t too bad. By now, I should have already been subjected to an out of body experience.

How many times have you suffered through some expensive limited edition cigar only to be greatly disappointed? Too many times. Farkas really put his heart and soul into this blend.
Get some.


And now for something completely different…

Have you ever wondered why I’ve never been challenged by the people I write about in my rock n roll stories? Or, so far, my body has never been found in an old well in Kansas? Especially, since many anecdotes are very raw, obscene, and drug filled. It’s because they are all true. I know everyone in Curved Air has read these stories. Butch Patrick has read my stories. And every other pissant that fucked with me has read them and they can’t do a damn thing as long as I’m telling the truth. So, the good news is that it’s just not most of the cigar industry that hates me, but my compadres and acquaintances in the music industry, as well, hate my guts for spilling the beans.

I dredged the following anecdote out of retirement. It was the very first story I ever added to the end of a cigar review and remains one of my favorites; about the great Eddie Munster Debacle. It occurred on my first web host, Open Salon…about 10 years ago. I switched to WordPress because Open Salon just didn’t possess the technical elements I needed. Open Salon took down my blog a year after I began with WordPress and now 2 years of reviews are gone forever (Lucky you)…C’est la vie.

And mainly, I just love this story…you just can’t make this shit up…

The Eddie (Butch Patrick) Munster Chronicles…Continued:
The Waldorf Astoria charged $18 ($45.54 in 2018 dollars) for a burger and fries in 1983.
Butch and I ordered one burger extravaganza each. The voice on the other end of the phone said it would take approximately 45 minutes. OK. This would surely be a feast. My God. We were in the famous Waldorf Astoria. I expected a feast to satisfy Louis XIIII.

Butch headed straight for the courtesy fridge with the ridiculously expensive treats. Items that I was not about to pop for, regardless of how much pot we had smoked.
An hour later, no food. I called room service and I was assured that it was on its way.

I had to pry Butch off of the fridge. I had a brilliant idea. A little toot of coke would assuage our appetites until the Waldorf could manage to deliver the sumptuous feast to the peasants. I went over to my suitcase where the drugs were stored for the trip. I removed a small brown colored gram bottle containing the white death.

Payola was still in force in the radio industry. Pay to play. Either money or drugs or go fish. It was out in the open. No one even appeared to hide it. They all had their hands out. I spent thousands in cash payments. I spent thousands in handing out the very hip 80’s drug of cocaine. Everyone in the music industry was a heartbeat away from overdosing on the stuff.

The dilemma: Where do we find a smooth surface to lay the drug out in neat little lines? Butch looked at the wall over the massive dresser. He stood up, walked over to the wall, and removed an enormous mirror. I mean enormous! This piece of art was at least 36” x 60” with an ornate frame making it even bigger.

Slipping and sliding, he waddled over to the bed and lay it down. It took up the entire double bed. Yes, Rocshire Records actually popped for double rooms.

I placed the bottle on the mirror and got up to get my wallet. Within the wallet would be our means to snort the white death; a $20 bill to be rolled into the shape of a tube. When I came back to the bed, Butch had already dumped the entire contents of the bottle on to the surface of the mirror.

A gram, back then, was worth about $100. An entire gram was too much for a little appetite suppressant. This was essentially a heart attack dose.

I had a good friend that was an ex-con. He made his living dealing. And he got stuff that was as close to pure as anything I had ever tried. Rick liked me a lot because I wasn’t one of the many coke whores that surrounded his business. I turned down his constant offers for toots and he just couldn’t fathom it. The rest of his clientele never turned down anything. He found in me a friend not dependent on his drug supply.

This was a man, who once you were friends, was loyal to a fault. He had a big heart. And his prison stint had to do with illegal gambling. He was not a violent man. But he was a huge man. I wouldn’t want him mad at me or to confront me. He actually went on to become part of my Eddie Munster creative team. He was very inventive. Always had good ideas. I lost contact with him in the late 1980’s. I hope he is well. I think about him now and then and worry.

Back to the Waldorf….
I went first, doing a very small amount of coke….maybe a quarter of an inch. Instant wake up and “What hunger?” As Butch leaned over the mirror, there was a knock at the door. Both of our heads jerked up and stared at the portal and then back at each other.

The food!

Obviously, we could not allow the waiter to see the mirror on the bed and the illegal substance atop. I yelled to Butch, “Get rid of it!”

Butch grabbed the mirror, and just like a scene from the Three Stooges, ran towards the open door to the adjacent suite and slammed into it. The dolt was holding the mirror sideways.
The mirror held sideways, in his hands, overlapped the door by at least two feet on either side.

Rebounding from the jolt, he turned the mirror the other way. But the oversized frame would not allow him through. And he couldn’t turn it on its side or all the coke would hit the floor.

The knock at the door was louder and sounded impatient. I yelled that I’d be right there. “Hang on!”

Butch threw the mirror back on the bed. Yes! That’s right. Scoop it up and shove it back in the bottle.
Not Butch.

He grabbed the rolled up bill and proceeded to inhale the entire gram of coke up his nose.
My jaw dropped.

The paramedics would be called. Survival was not an option.

As I waited for him to drop in a heap, twitching and convulsing, the door knock came, for what seemed, one last time. I pulled the comforter over the mirror and opened the door. The food was wheeled in by a disgruntled employee.

Word was out that a pair of Hollywood types wearing T-Shirts was in the prestigious hotel. And no one liked it one bit.

I signed for the food and the waiter left.

Butch’s eyes had no irises left, only pupil. He couldn’t blink. “Still hungry, Butch?”
There was no reply. He had lock jaw.

I was hungry and he did not seem near death…for the moment.

They forgot to deliver one of the burger and fries orders. I shook my head. We waited an hour and a quarter and they fucked up the order.
I called downstairs and bitched at them. Profuse apologies spewed forth. Yeah, sure. The Californians didn’t get their complete meal of burgers and fries. I’m sure the kitchen was in an uproar.
I was assured that the balance of our meal was on its way.

I cut the burger in half with a butter knife, nearly destroying it.
Expecting a beautiful piece of meat piled high with condiments and veggies, I was extremely disappointed at the fare. It looked like a fast food burger.
It felt like we were at some greasy diner in Arkansas. The plate was pitiful. But food was food.

Amazingly, Butch wanted to eat. The natural appetite suppressant of the drug did not seem to cause Butch’s desire to feed his face wane. So, we shared a crappy burger.

An hour later, the second burger and fries arrived. A big smile on the waiter’s face with an outstretched hand urging a big tip…as he proclaimed that feeling badly, the kitchen threw in some extra fries! I shoved him out the door without a tip.
Life at the Waldorf was not cherries and cream.
The “Today” show was waiting for us in the morning.

Butch slamming a lemon cream pie in my face for a video we made for a Halloween special at the Hollywood Palladium:

Butch wearing an “Eddie and the Monsters” tee shirt I had made for the project in 1983. Next to him is Rob Schneider:


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14 replies

  1. I’ve really been enjoying some of the Viaje blends lately. Private Keep Aqua is outstanding! I feel like such a dummy for not getting a box when they were available at my local B&M. Sold out in 2 days. I tried this collector’s edition a couple of weeks ago. Darn good stick! I’m glad they are still available. I plan on picking one up after work today. You provoked my palate.

  2. Phil, your story perfectly captures the insipidness of the 80s. It was an endless late-night stupor: teeth grinding, monkey brain chattering that masqueraded as profound conversation. Hanging around some schmuck’s apartment at 2:30 in the morning , listening to him drone on about his Beemer convertible while listening to an audio version of hell — Journey and Loverboy — and wondering how the hell I was going to be able to work on 3 hours of sleep.

    Farkas makes cigars that have all the soul of that coke-addled era. They may occasionally make you feel great, but ultimately I wish I hadn’t wasted my money. And his insistence on never revealing any useful information about his blends is almost as irritating as his creative facial hair and spectacles.

  3. Yeah but we survived. Others didn’t. I saw that. Thankfully, both myself and most of my friends realized that they got out alive by the skin of their teeth. I don’t regret anything about my life. I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions. I’ve learned more from the bad ones.

    I’ve reviewed 34 Viaje blends. And the variety from bad to great is relatively balanced. It’s not a consistent brand. But I struck gold with this cigar. The last couple Viaje reviews were abysmal…and I’m not just speaking about my writing style. This blend felt like a very serious effort on Farkas’ part.

    And for those who want to correct me about calling him Fred Farkas…that was a joke…not a funny one…Dan Rowan played a character called Fred Farkle in the TV show “Laugh In” and it just came out…my apologies.

  4. Also outstanding: Leaded Exclu Petit Lancero.

  5. I was trying to leave this question on your dry boxing blog but it wouldn’t let me for some reason,but I’m curious,wouldn’t it make more sense to just lower the humidity in your humidor as opposed to dry boxing?I’ve tried dry boxing with horrendous results so I stopped doing it but I still keep hearing how much more amazing the flavors get with it,maybe I just did it wrong?I don’t know

  6. Great review Phil!!
    We still have a couple boxes left.
    If you want some call the shop and ask for Tyler
    414 258-8219
    I work
    Mondays 6pm-midnight
    Tuesday’s 12:00-7pm
    Wednesday’s 2pm-midnight
    Thursday’s 12-7pm
    Friday’s 9am-4pm

    This cigar will never be released in this vitola again.

  7. All depends on where you live. Climates affect dry boxing dramatically. I have zero humidification in my humidors the last month because it is so humid here in Wisconsin, it’s seeping into my “tight seals.” This is the worst summer since we moved here 10 years ago.
    In other words, I am totally unable to lower the humidity other than my method above. Frustrating as hell.

  8. This was by far the best I’ve ever read!

  9. Thank you sir. Who do I make the check out to?

  10. Just one of these cigars would be just fine!

  11. I only bought one stick because I’m stupid.

  12. HAhaha.. Then a check will be just fine!

  13. Thank you for your reply. Have just been experimenting with dry boxing and every cigar I tried it with the wrapper completely disintegrated and caused burn problems so thought I’d ask before I have up on dry boxing

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