Review of American Viking Cigars
By: Dr. Mitch Fadem
These cigars are the creation of Tim Swanson and Jim Cambell of Cigars Daily (CigarsDaily.com). Jim has been in the business for more than 40 years and Tim has been an avid cigar smoker for 15 years. The American Viking Cigars are their own signature blend of cigars that cover the range from their Rico Barato Cuban Sandwiches ($2.70) to a premium long fill Dama Valada ($10.00). All of their blends use the best tobacco they can find from all over the world. This is a very huge undertaking for a small business. Yes, Cigars Daily is a small business with a brick-n-mortar shop in Phoenix, AZ.
Tim hosts a great VLOG on CigarsDailyPlus.com where he reviews cigars, humidors, and everything cigar related. The American Viking Blend caught my attention while watching one of his reviews. When I checked them out on their website and they were offering one cigar from each of their 7 blends for under $50 (at the time of this review they were on sale for $42.28), I figured this was a great way to try something new.
I have only smoked 2 so far and I have to say that they both had a great draw, good smoke output, interesting aromas and flavors and a nice variety from to medium to bold. Neither of these cigars needed any relights and both smoked from 60 to 90 minutes. The first I tried was their Liga Zebra Barber Pole ($7.31) with a Honduran wrapper and a blend of Dominican and Ecuadorian for their filler. This was a bold cigar for me with flavors of Spanish Cedar, nuts, earthy undertones and white pepper on the retro-hale. I don’t usually smoke bold cigars but I just could not put this one down and I smoked it to the last inch.
The second cigar was their Box Pressed Rebellion ($7.76). This is a Nicaraguan Puro with a very easy draw but not too light. The flavors on this were quite complex with strong coffee, dark chocolate, a hint of leather and a bit of savory spices that I could not quite identify. Even though Cigars Daily say this is a medium to full-bodied cigar, I found it to be very medium but with the variety of flavors and aromas. It was another cigar I had to smoke until my fingers were burning. Again, nice smoke output and solid ash.
I will follow up with some short reviews on the rest of the blends. I chose these two at random and I am really impressed with the quality, flavors, aromas and construction. Their sampler is a great way to try all of their cigars at a very reasonable price.
I give their 7-stick sampler a solid 4 out of 5 stars for value. If the remaining 5 cigars are as good as the first two, that rating could go up.
I grabbed a few more cigars at random to smoke…the Rico Barato Maduro and Connecticut torpedos. Both cigars look good but most of the Cuban Sandwich cigars I’ve smoked have looked a lot better than they smoke. The Rico Barato’s were a split. The Maduro was a very decent cigars and the Connecticut was not.
The Maduro had a great draw, lit easily, had a solid ash and overall good flavors and aromas which ended up really just coffee, wood and a bale of fresh hay. The coffee overpowered the other aromas and remained so for the entire smoke, which lasted 65 minutes. I really liked this cigar and if I didn’t know it was a Cuban sandwich I would never have guessed. I’m going to keep several of these in my humidor and remove the bands. When I offer one to a friend he’ll think I just gave him an $8 stick (that cost me under $3).
The Connecticut was a totally different story. It lit okay but all I could smell was a bale of dried up barnyard hay, with the same flavor to match….and a hint of dirty socks. I was not enjoying this. The burn was funky, the ash dropped off after 1/2” and at the midpoint the wrapper exploded. I left it to die on its own in the bottom of my Stinky brand cigar ash-tray bowl. Stinky is not really how it smells. The design has a very deep bowl with places for you and 3 friends to put your cigars, or maybe you smoke 2 or 3 at a time. They are made here in Las Vegas by a retired engineer and can be purchased at stinkycigar.com. Back to the cigar…it was terrible. The Maduro was a solid 4 stars out of 5 and the Connecticut was a negative 2.
Are you keeping score? I smoked 4 out of 7, and 3 were excellent with one for the crapper. I decided to move on to one of their top rated cigars next just to give my pallet something better. I lit up the Darma Valada, a $10 robusto. I can’t really tell you much about it because it wouldn’t stay for even a minute. The draw was way too tight. I even tried to get it to draw better with my ‘Perfect Draw’ tool but it didn’t help. I finally gave up after 15 frustrating minutes. I doubt I will give them a second look.
A few of the comments on the CigarsDaily website got me to try The Filthy Viking next. Some were even saying it was their favorite cigar. I was bored with it. The blend is Honduran tobacco and described as 'creamy butter flavor…with notes of cedar, nuts and earth’. Sorry, not for me. There was nothing creamy about it. Is this supposed to be a great stick for the beginner cigar smoker? It was very metallic tasting and the aroma was like trying to burn fresh cut grass. My throat totally dried out and I put it down before the end of the first third. Well 6 sticks out of 7 and we are at a 50% approval. That 4 star rating is starting to slip.
It is the next day and a beautiful 70F here in Southern Nevada so I am sitting outside ready to smoke my final cigar of the sampler. I wasn’t expecting much. The last cigar is the Obrigado, which means ‘thank you’ in Portuguese. This is a Habano wrapped Nicaraguan Puro and yes, it turned out to be one of the best of the sampler. A nice looking wrapper, good draw and great smoke output. There is a definite sweetness in the aroma and the flavor but just enough to go well with the wood and earthy notes I picked up on. It actually was the first cigar that Tim and Jim blended and they hit this out of the park. It is a nice smooth medium smoke with all the flavors and aromas complimenting each other. I was happy to have the final cigar of the sampler come out with a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
So, 4 cigars out of 7 from the sampler are actually okay. It gave me a chance to try all of the blends from The American Viking Cigars. The top ones were the Liga Zebra ($7.31), Box Pressed Rebellion ($7.76), Rico Barato Maduro ($3.00) and the best was the Obrigado ($7.50). All of these are a great value and the best value is the Rico Barato Maduro that smoked just as good as the others at less than half the price. I will certainly be getting more.