No. 1, 5.625" x 46 ring gauge / approx. $9.25 at Silo Cigars
Viaje founder, Andre Farkas, was out with some friends and smoked a couple of his favorite cigars. "Wouldn't it be great if I could get the essence of these two sticks in one stogie?" he thought. And so the 50/50 Black Label was born. Two distinct blends are represented in the first and second halves of the cigar, surrounded by two binder leaves and a dark, oily wrapper leaf. All tobacco is sourced in Nicaragua. If you want to read more about Viaje Cigars, Andre Farkas, and the blends he has made, I encourage you to pick up the latest Cigar Press Magazine (Vol. IV, Issue II) which has a very good interview with Farkas. I smoked a No. 2 vitola previous to this review, but this was my first experience with the No. 1
As mentioned before, the wrapper was dark in color and very oily to the touch and the eye. The veins were visible but not that large to the touch and the seams and triple cap were expertly constructed. The aroma from the wrapper leaf was pretty faint--I really got nothing but a hint of leather. From the foot, I got compost and cocoa aromas even though the wrapper leaf was folded over it. The cold draw was very good; I got chocolate mostly with just a little pepper spice.
After sparking up, I tasted chocolate and coffee on the palate along with a decidedly peppery retrohale--so peppery it was painful at times! It was a good balance of bitter and sweet in what was, even at this point, a very full-bodied cigar. The first third was almost too full-bodied to take seriously. The smoke was thick and oily with an extra-long finish and it was reminding me in some ways of a Cain, but with more interesting flavors--and the word is that this stick would get even more full in body at the halfway point! Strangely, I do not remember my initial experience with the 50/50 to be such a full-bodied spice bomb. Maybe the larger vitola is actually easier to smoke than the one I chose for this review.
As advertised, the second third started as nothing more than a continuation of the first. Just a little way in, though, I started detecting the change--mostly a big reduction of pepper spice, but also more leather and earth to go along with the chocolate and coffee. The draw had been flawless so far and the burn line was very even. Soon it became clear what the change had done--leather, earth, and cedar along with a dash of black pepper, was the new flavor profile. It was still very full, but not nearly as overwhelmingly spicy.
In the No. 2, the second half of the 50/50 seemed quite mellow, but that was not the case in this No. 1. The last third was--again, as advertised--more full-bodied than the first two thirds. There was very little spice but it was earthy and leathery. The best way I can think to describe it was "dark and heavy." Was this a great cigar? Yes. Is is everything promised? Absolutely. Will I smoke it again? Sure--but only rarely. The 50/50 Black is probably the fullest-bodied cigar I have ever smoked, especially in the second half. It was also quite powerful in the nicotine department, although I have had stogies with more kick. It is a very interesting experiment in the manufacture of cigars and it makes me look forward very much to the 50/50 Red Label which is supposed to be Medium-to-Full instead of Full-to-Fuller. This cigar should come with a warning label advising new smokers to stay far away; even many experienced smokers may have trouble enjoying this one, to be honest--it's a full-bodied, full-strength body-slam of a cigar.
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