You might have read my pre-release review of this amazing blend from Artesano Del Tobacco known as Viva La Vida. While the company and blend is new to most cigar enthusiasts, the faces behind this cigar are veterans in the industry. To start with, the Viva La Vida is manufactured at AJ Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua. The brothers behind the brand started in the cigar business 25 years ago in New York with the 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 Artesano Del Tobacco Viva La Vida has a bold blend described as:
- 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 is packaged in 20-count boxes. The Limited Edition is packaged in 10-count boxes. The company has told me the MSRP is set between $10.50 to $14.50 per cigar.
For this review, I sampled 3 Viva La Vida Toros which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The Viva La Vida is a beautiful medium brown cigar with a nice oily sheen. The wrapper has a fine toothy feel to it. There are minimal veins and no bumps along the barrel. It is finished with a well applied double cap. The cigar is packed solid with a decent weight and no soft spots throughout.
The Viva La Vida is adorned with a beautiful band that shouts – Live the Life! The design of this band is one of the more attractive ones I have seen and the Black Box, with the same logo on it, will pop on any humidor shelf.
The pre-light aromas on this beauty, are what one would expect from a properly aged cigar with sweet and pungent notes along the barrel coupled with a pungent and malty foot.
Once I opened the cap, with a straight cut using my double blade Xikar cutter, I drew in a few cold puffs that offered a perfectly restricted draw that was just a bit earthy with a sprinkle of pepper.
Having already enjoyed the pre-release variety of the Viva La Vida, I was chomping to fire the production version up and burn it ash. So I grabbed my dual torch lighter and warmed the foot, twirling the cigar between my fingers and took in the first puffs of an earthy and pepper smoke to start the journey.
Cigar Review Notes
- Earth and pepper fire up the palate on the first light
- The pepper is quickly distinguishable as white pepper notes hitting my nose and edge of the throat
- Thick and creamy smoke is pulled on each early puff
- The early pepper morphs into a cooking spice
- White ash evolves on a thin to medium char line
- Pepper and spice begin to ratchet down as wood and dark chocolate take the stage
- Cedar and light citrus fill in the profile
- The smoke has an excellent smoke ring texture
- Strength moves up after first third
- Mild off burn/jag begins to develop
- The ash eventually fell in a big chunk revealing a well formed and centered burn cone
- The second third introduces buttery and cocoa notes with a gentle spice backdrop
- Overall this is a smooth and refined smoke so far
- Dry fruit enters to add to the pleasure
- The burn evened out well in the second third with no touch-up required
- Strength moves up a notch to medium plus
- Spice is increasing along with an increased earthy note moving into the final third
- Ash has rebuilt nicely after the first fall
- White pepper notes re-emerge
- Burning a bit hot to the touch
- A spike of licorice nuance and savory notes take it to the finish
- Medium Plus in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes
Overall, the production version of the Viva La Vida Toro was even more pleasing than the pre-release when it comes to flavor and aromas, which evolved in a pleasing and refined manner through the journey. As with the pre-release, there was a bit of a jaggedness early that did correct eventually, without a touch-up. This is certainly box worthy and I rate this 1 point higher than the pre-release at a 95.
Point Deductions: (-1) Early Jagged Burn; (-2) Burned a bit hot to the touch in the final
Bonus Points: (+1) Buy a Box; (+1) Long Ash