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Cigar Review: Viaje Fifty Fifty Black Label No. 1

7 Jun 2011

Viaje is a brand I’ve never fully gotten acquainted with. Maybe that’s because none of my regular shops seem to carry it, or because buying this brand is a significant investment (especially by the box), or because with, so many limited releases, it’s difficult enough to keep track of Viahe, let alone track it down.

Still, there’s a lot going for Viaje, not the least of which is a small but growing group of loyal fans. Further, Viaje is made by the same people behind Casa Fernandez, who, addition to their own cigars, make such highly regarded smokes as Illusione, Padilla (1932 & Miami), and Alec Bradley (Tempus and Prensado) at their Raices Cubana factory. Fernandez is also the original partner of Don Pepin Garcia with whom he co-owns the El Rey de Los Habanos factory in Miami (though that is the subject of a current legal dispute).

The Fifty-Fifty concept is a unique idea, with the premise being that one cigar contains two distinct blends, which transitions from one to the other at the halfway mark. According to Viaje creator Andre Farkas, “Each cigar is carefully crafted taking triple the amount of time a normal cigar takes to roll. The cigar comes wrapped in a dark, oily Nicaraguan cover leaf with two binders holding the filler in place.”

The Black Label aims to transition from full to fuller, while the Red Label aims to be a more balanced transition from medium to full body. Like the Red Label, the Black comes in three sizes selling for around $9-10 per cigar and upwards of $200 for a box of 25. For this review I smoked several No. 1s (5.6 x 46). The Nicaraguan puro features a oily wrapper with a small pigtail cap. It has a slight give when you give it a squeeze, but no exterior indication that inside there is a change in blend.

When I finally lit this corona extra I found a medium- to full-bodied blend (though I can certainly see how some would consider it full-bodied). I was struck by the sweetness that this cigar displayed in the first half. Cafe au lait, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla bean, and subtle leather notes were all apparent. However, when I got to the second half (and presumably second blend), that sweetness disappeared entirely. Here the cigar is a truly full-bodied smoke. It’s leathery, earthy, and heavy with significant “mouth feel.” In addition, there’s some charred notes and a subtle peppery spice on the retro-hale.

One of the four samples I smoked required a few touch-ups to counteract an uneven burn, but the construction was mostly maintenance-free. That’s impressive given the two separate blends. And while some have criticized the transition from the first blend to the second as too abrupt, I didn’t find that to be the case. I may have liked the profile of the first half better than the second, but the transition was smooth enough to make it a largely seamless and enjoyable smoke. That, combined with good construction and the successful execution of a unique concept, earns the Viaje Fifty Fifty Black Label No. 1 a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Cigar Review: Viaje Fifty Fifty Black Label No. 1”

  1. Slappy DeLight Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    IMO, Viajes are overpriced and overhyped… not to mention knocking off Tatuaje and Illusione's style.

  2. Bugbear Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I agree 100%. The Fifty Fifty Black No.2 and Satori Zen are among my favorite blends that Viaje has put out. These also seem to be aging fantastically. Cannot wait until they are re-released.


  3. Orion Friday, March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    I smoked one of these last night and I had no info on the cigar and noticed the transition. I really enjoyed the first half and thought the second left a bit to be desired. It's not often to get that wonderful sweet spiciness in an NC. I'd give it 90 points.