A few weeks ago I was contacted by Artesano Del Tobacco, a small boutique cigar brand based out of NYC. You may not have heard this name before, but they have a 25 year cigar history in the greatest city on earth.
They started in the cigar business 25 years ago in New York as New York Cigar Inn which housed the only Cigar Aficionado humidor and lounge in the world. They eventually sold the lounge to Casa de Montecristo and reached out to A.J. Fernandez to form a collaboration to make their cigars. The result of that relationship was the creation of the Viva La Vida (Live the Life) cigar. I received a couple of pre-release samples of this cigar last month, which was described by the company as “ready to smoke”.
The company describes themselves as:
“A boutique cigar company that mixes art, passion and flavor to enhance the cigar smoking experience. Born in New York. Made in Esteli Nicaragua.”
Today I would like to offer my review of the Viva La Vida
The Viva La Vida is described as a Nicaraguan Puro with a blend constructed of:
- Wrapper – Habano Oscuro 2000
- Binder – Corojo 99
- Filler – Criollo 98
All leaf is sourced from and manufacturing performed at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A., The leaf used in the Viva La Vida is aged a minimum of 3 years and there is a limited edition vitola offered that has more aging on the leaf.
The Viva La Vida is available in 5 vitolas:
- Robusto 5 x 54
- Toro 6 x 54
- Torpedo 6.5 x 54
- Grand Toro 6 x 60
- Limited Edition Diadems Fina 6.5 x 52
With the exception of the Limited Edition, the Viva La Vida will come packaged in 20-count boxes. The Limited Edition will be packaged in 10-count boxes. The company has told me the MSRP will be set between $10.50 to $14.50 per cigar.
For this review, I sampled the Viva La Vida robusto, which I stored in my humidor for a few weeks before the review, taking into account the company’s statement that it is ready to smoke. I will say here, as I told them, A.J. Fernandez did them right!
The Artesano Del Tobacco – Viva La Vida is a stunningly beautiful dark brown and silky smooth cigar. It has an nice oily sheen and exhibits minimal veins. Solidly packed it has a decent weight in the hand. The presentation is finished with a well applied cap.
With this being a pre-release cigar there was just a simple white and black band declaring it as such. But the company did send me some promotional material that gives a hint to what the branding will look like and some photos of the production boxes. I have to say it is eye catching.
Looks are important, but now that I am attracted to the Viva La Vida it was time to take my new found date a little further. I ran it along my nose to see what aromas these well aged leafs exude. There was a mildly pungent fermented leaf aroma on barrel and a spicy earth note off the foot.
The intrigue continued as I sliced the cap with my double blade Zikar cutter and took it to the next level. The cold draw had a decent restriction and offered notes of earthiness with a growing peppery spice. Yes, A.J. did a great job on this blend so far.
Now that the preliminaries are out of the way. the proof is in the smoke and burn, so I used my dual flame JetLine lighter to toast the foot, bringing it to an even orange glow, gently blowing on the foot to get the burn just right. As I took in the first puffs of smoke I was hit with a heavy pepper shot to start. Follow along as I break down the Viva La Vida from foot nub.
Cigar Review Notes
- Heavy shot of pepper to start
- An interesting undertone of sweetness – it strangely reminds of those sticks of gum we used to get in pack of baseball cards
- Rich and full creamy smoke
- White ash evolves on a medium char line
- Pepper tones down well giving way to Herbal and grassy notes
- Nice ash growing
- Bit of a tangy fruit note enters
- Butter fills out the profile early on
- Ash finally fell revealing a perfect burn cone
- Mildly bitter coffee notes enter
- Burn starts to develop a waviness
- Smoke smooths out with a gentle spice entry deep in the second third
- Herbal and savory notes with a peppery finish through the final
- Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes to the nub
Overall, the Artesano Del Tobacco – Viva La Vida was another fine example of what small brands are doing with A.J. Fernandez. The Viva La Vida started offer with a shot of pepper and quickly settled into a sweetness and herbal mix. The flavors evolved well eventually ending in a savory and pepper finish. There was a point where I got a bit of bitterness that lasted briefly. The burn was excellent through the first half but it did develop a wavy burn in the second half yet needed no touch ups. In the end I rate this a 94 it is definitely worth picking a fiver.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) Bitter Notes