While Viaje wasn’t at the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show, the company had quite an active summer. If you look at the Memorial Day-Labor Day window, there were eight releases to keep cigar enthusiasts interested. For each of these releases, owner Andre Farkas puts his own creative spin and adds different degrees of mystery. 2022 is also a big year for Viaje as the company celebrates its 15th anniversary – and there were three new releases to mark the occasion. Fifteen years in business is a big achievement for a small company that deserves a lot of credit for invigorating excitement and interest in the whole small batch release concept for the cigar industry.
When it comes to trade shows, Viaje’s model is a little different than most. For the most part, Viaje’s business model is built on small-batch releases that are sent to retailers on an almost monthly basis. As a result, the trade show isn’t a place where Viaje has to focus on a product launch. Instead, owner Andre Farkas has used the PCA/IPCPR Trade Show as a place to reconnect with retailers and media – and focus on one or two special offerings. While Viaje wasn’t the booth to see lots of new products showcased, I’ve always enjoyed my conversations with Andre at the Trade Show and have missed them the past few years.
We’ll chronicle the eight product releases in release order:
In June, Viaje would release the Viaje Private Keep Lemon. Viaje launched the Private Keep line back at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show. The Lemon is the fourth installment in the Private Keep Series. The concept behind Private Keep is for Viaje to introduce many of the blends company President Andre Farkas has worked on, but for one reason or another did not get released. Several of these blends ended up as private smokes for him. As with previous Private Keep releases, the blend and origin of Private Keep Lemon have not been disclosed. The cigar is a 6 x 52 Toro that comes in a 37-count cabinet box where the cigars are packaged as a bundle tied with a lemon-colored ribbon.
While the 15th anniversary celebrations were ahead, Andre Farkas also had a birthday to celebrate. As he has since 2016, Andre Farkas has had an annual release to mark the occasion – and that’s the Viaje Birthday Blend. Details of the Viaje Birthday Blend have not been disclosed. The 2022 edition comes in a 6 x 52 Toro. The cigars were packaged in 38-count boxes with limited production for 2022. The Birthday Blend 2022 was released this past June.
The final release this past June saw an old favorite make a return, the Viaje Summerfest 2022. The Summerfest was first released back in 2010. The Summerfest 2022 is the first Summerfest release in two years. While blend details have not been disclosed, prior releases of the cigar have been 100% Nicaraguan Puros. The 2022 Summerfest is a 6 1/2 x 54 Toro Extra. It features the Summerfest’s signature brushed foot cigar. As in the past, the Viaje Summerfest 2022 is sold in 30-count boxes
As July came around, there were a couple of Japanese-themed releases from Viaje. Japanese-themed releases are nothing new to Viaje. For many years, the Viaje Satori was a staple of the IPCPR Trade Show from Viaje. In recent years, there have been several other Japanese-themed releases. One of those releases was the Hamaki Omakase. The Hamaki Omakase is an off-shoot of another Viaje Japanese inspired release, the Hanaki. Like Hamaki, the Hamaki Omakase was inspired by Viaje Cigars’ founder Andre Farkas’ travels to Japan. Omakase is the Japanese tradition of letting a chef choose your order. The word actually means “I will leave it to you” and it fits in with the theme of the cigar (the name Hamaki is the Japanese word for cigar) as the details of the blend have not been released.
Andre Farkas is known to throw a twist into his releases from time to time and did so this year with the Viaje Hamaki Omakase Edición Limitada. The twist is that the Edición Limitada is a 5 x 52 box-pressed vitola while previous Omakase releases were 5 x 52 parejos. The cigars were presented in elongated 18-count boxes.
Also released in July was an all-new line with a Japanese theme known as Geisha. A Geisha is a female Japanese performing artist. Geisha is a set of 6 3/4 x 52 figurados that come in two varietals – Natural (Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 wrapper) or Maduro (San Andres wrapper). Both cigars are made at Aganorsa and feature 100% Aganorsa-grown tobaccos for the binder and filler. Production comes from Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Natural and Maduro cigars are packaged together in 28-count boxes. One side of the box contains 14 Geisha Natural cigars and the other contains 14 Geisha Maduro cigars.
The box itself is meant to resemble a Bento box. When the two lids of each side of the box are closed and put together, there is an image of a Geisha. A total of 400 boxes were released.
Finally, released in August were three Viaje 15th Anniversary blends. The cigars include the Viaje 15th Anniversary Silver, Viaje 15th Anniversary Gold, and Viaje 15th Anniversary Black. Each cigar is a Nicaraguan puro in the form of a 6 1/4 x 52 Torpedo. Each cigar comes in a 25-count box. The cigars were produced at Agricola Ganadera Norteña S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Photo Credits: Viaje Cigar Company