Today's review excites the hell out of me, for several reasons. First, because I love smoking and reviewing sticks that are in unusual vitolas (shapes/sizes), that are unsually large, or that are rare and difficult to come by. Second, because I love smoking cigars that connect with some other important aspect of my life (for example, El Artista's Big Papi by David Ortiz). Third, because smoking tobacco has been a spiritual practice since it originated with the indigenous peoples of the Americas. And I have been fortunate enough to come across a cigar that covers all three of these.
The Viking is one of three lines of cigars manufactured by E.P. Carillo for Viking Cigars of Norway (the other two are called Nordic Warrior and Norseman, and I fully intend to try those as well!). They presently are available only to a Central and Northern European market, but, hopefully, they'll make their way to America eventually, as did the warriors the cigars are named for (looking at you, Leif Erikson). As a result, in order to try them, I had to order them from a shop in Germany, and then wait several weeks for the shipment to arrive here in Hawaii.
Once they got here, it was important to me that they be blessed and consecrated to the Old Gods, so I called upon a very dear friend, who happens to be a Norse Góði (priest) to do the blessing. As such, the entire box of 25 sticks has been blessed before the gods, particularly Heimdallr, Father of Men, and the one who calls to me most loudly. The very act of smoking them is a spiritual experience. It certainly also doesn't hurt that they taste fantastic!
But enough of my prattling. You're hear to get my thoughts on the cigar, not on Norse religion. So let's get to it.
Cigar: Viking Cigars' Viking
Price: € 9,50 (approx $10.36 USD)/stick
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: USA Connecticut Broadleaf (Maduro)
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
Rating (out of 10): 9.9
The Viking is both beautiful and rugged in appearance; it features a metal band, and a dark, oily Maduro wrapper with plenty of tooth, and several pronounced veins. It somehow just looks like a warrior's cigar.
Construction on this thing is excellent; everything I would expect from the expert rolling hands at the E.P. Carillo factory. Nice and firm throughout, with just the right amount of give. No cracks or tears, and and expertly applied triple cap,that cuts perfectly with the wide punch (which is pretty impressive right now, since my wide punch is in need of replacement; the adhesive that has held the blade in place for the past year and a half has finally given way, and it has a habit of coming loose, getting stuck in the head of a cigar when I try to get a cut).
The barrel smells strongly of chocolate and peaty earth; and the foot is straight chocolate.
The cold draw is open with a slight resistance, and is sweet and chocolatey. Better line up some Wardruna on the ol' Spotify before I get this thing started...
Once lit, there's a very slight salty note to it, and a maple sweetness that emerges early on.
The burn is mostly even, and produces a strong, white column of ash. I've smoked one of these on a daily basis since having them blessed, and the ash has been consistently firm, often holding out to the halfway point or farther.
As we near the second third, the flavor gets slightly woodier in nature, while retaining its predominantly chocolate and maple profile.
The flavors are mostly consistent in the second third, though the sweetness of them does come through much more; the salty notes have mostly faded.
Though it was much woodier in nature coming into the second third, it's much sweeter again on the way out. Much more chocolatey, with a sweet, almost syrupy maple.
Of course, I made note that the saltiness had mostly faded, but it comes back in the last third, even stronger than before. This chocolate and maple is fantastic, and the salt balances perfectly against the sweetness.
I really do wish this cigar was easier to get here in the U.S. It almost instantly climbed to the top of my list of favorites, and is fighting for that top spot with the Alec Bradley Mundial. Hard to say which one wins, since I've been out of Mundials for a hot minute, and I still have more of these within arms' reach. I guess that makes the Viking Robusto my current favorite.
And I will definitely be ordering more.