Sunday, March 13, 2011

Herf 43 – Joe Delivers

March 6th, 2011 – Shoreline, WA

Herf-43_051_100In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Joe, Tom, and Patrick (in AZ via Skype). As usual, we gathered to enjoy a recently recommended cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group-tasting' following dinner.

The four of us meeting for dinner at Fernand’s house were in for a real treat, courtesy of club charter member Joe, or rather his lovely wife. The day before, she had thrown a 40th birthday bash for him which included a bounty of ribs and the customary side dishes. They were left with so much food that they needed help getting rid of it all. Far be it from The Cohiba Club to not help a BOTL in need.

Our selection for this herf was the Viaje Oro Fuerza. This attractive robusto is a Nicaraguan puro (all-Nicaraguan leaves). The ‘fuerza’ holds a current published rating from Cigar Aficionado of 88 (Aug, 2010).

From the Manufacturer’s website:

“Viaje is a boutique cigar company specializing in the small batch approach to cigar making. Viaje represents the idea that quality is better than Quantity. That small is better than big. That few are better than many.

Why small batch? Well, here are many reasons. Quality, consistency, and most importantly, this is where I get my inspiration. If you enjoy mass produced cigars, you are in the wrong place. We use tobacco sparingly to execute our vision of what a cigar should look and taste like. Viaje represents the boutique in every sense of the word. This is what I enjoy, this is what I provide, and this is my promise. Join us in the revolution against mediocrity.“

On the ‘Oro’ line in particular:

“Hand-crafted in the Raices Cubanas factory, this Nicaraguan puro is a full bodied cigar with a select Corojo99 wrapper surrounding Nicaraguan double binders and a blend of Nicaraguan grade "A" long fillers which make for a rich, complex smoke. Viaje Oro is rolled in the classic Cuban tradition finished with a Cuban triple cap.”

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we gathered under Fernand’s back deck to begin the herf. Also taking part in this tasting, on their own, were club co-founder John, charter member Patrick, and club member Bruce.

Herf-43_053_800Admittedly a new cigar to us, we went into this experience with little preconceived notions about Viaje. Simply put, it’s a good looking cigar. We liked the band and the yellow foot-ribbon. The wrapper was dark and rich looking, with a nice healthy sheen to it. There’s a little veining, but nothing excessive. One of our eight samples had a damaged wrapper which was just starting to unravel, but clearly this was not the norm.

Herf-43_054_600The roll quality was quite good with each cigar feeling firm and substantial. It’s a nice hefty robusto which feels good in the hand. The cold draws were all sufficient and offering sensations of chocolate and savory spices.

Every one of these sticks drew great! That’s something we can’t say very often. Usually, you get a couple that are a bit ‘off’, but that was not the case with these Fuerzas. We wish we could say the same about the burn, unfortunately. A few burned well, but at least half of them exhibited some kind of burn difficulty. A couple were so problematic, as to require multiple relights. The smoke output was pretty good, for the most part, and the ash was so-so in both color and stability, but we don’t eat it, so who cares.

Now for flavor: Some of the guys preferred the initial taste profile, perhaps the first inch or two. Others preferred the middle over the first third. The tasting notes didn’t really refer to any discernable flavors worth noting. What some of the guys called ‘consistent’ others described as lacking in complexity.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Viaje Oro Fuerza is 85. A very good, but not excellent, cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 29 pts (83% of the points possible)

We really wanted to like this cigar, but burn problems detracted from the experience enough to affect not only our scores, but also our likelihood of buying more Fuerzas. Nevertheless, we do hope you try it for yourself. We’ll be on the lookout for other Viaje products as we continue to try new blends and enjoy the good times that come along with them.

See you at the next herf, April 3rd.

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