They were selling these at my local smoke shop marked down to 7 bucks on a blowout because they haven't been moving. This is the most intense cigar I've ever smoked. If you like drinking strait expresso and eat snacks of raw onions dipped in horseradish, this may be your thing, but a way too strong for my tastes. Didn't seem like a cigar I would normally pay double digits for, either, I'm glad I bought it on sale. I agree with the score in this review.
Review: Viaje Skull and Bones “?” Box-Pressed (2011)
Today we will be taking a look at an annual release from Viaje, the Skull and Bones “?”. In May 2010, Viaje released the very first Skull and Bones cigar called the Daisy Cutter, a 4 x 54 Petit Robusto made with a Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo wrapper and a heavy leaf Nicaraguan blend, only 150 boxes of 25 cigars were released. We reviewed the cigar and were blown away, quite frankly I still think of it as one of my absolute favorite cigars.
Only a few months later in October 2010, we saw the second release of the Skull and Bones, coming in at 4 ½ x 54, just a bit longer than the Daisy Cutter, with an unfinished foot, however, this one was being dubbed “?” or “M?stery” for the fact that most everything about the cigar would be held as a surprise for retailers. You literally had no idea what size or shape this cigar would be until it hit the retailers hands and it would come bearing glow in the dark style bands. This was the first Skull and Bones release to have a secondary band showing the words Skull and Bones and this was also the first Skull and Bones to take on a Halloween style release as from here on out Skull and Bones “?” would be released annually at Halloween. 150 boxes of 25 were officially released.
While we did not formally review last years Skull and Bones “?”, I certainly smoked many of them and felt there was a drastic change between them and the original Daisy Cutter. The blend seemed to take on a much harsher tone and there was much less balance and overall flavor. If I had to guess I would say that while it bears the same Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo wrapper as the Daisy Cutter, the blend is much different. I don’t see a half and inch in length altering the cigars profile that much, however, Viaje has told us that the Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter is the same blend as both of the Mystery releases. I am baffled by this information as they do not taste similar at all in my opinion.
This brings us to this years Skull and Bones “?” 2011 release which officially hit stores around October 19th, a 4 ½ x 54 Torpedo with 250 boxes of 25 being released. Also included, for the first time, was a secondary release, the very same cigar only box-pressed with an unfinished foot. Viaje released 125 boxes of 25 the box-pressed version bringing the total release to 275 boxes of 25 making it not only the biggest Skull and Bones release, but the biggest Viaje limited release. I am told by Viaje that this years Skull and Bones “?” is the same exact blend as last years Skull and Bones “?” release.
Here is a photo of the two releases side by side:
And here is what the boxes for the Viaje Skull and Bones “?” Box-Pressed vitola look like:
In case you are wondering about the other, stronger red label Skull and Bones line please check out my review of the Skull and Bones Little Boy for more info as I felt it would be an overload of Info for this one review.
Let’s get to it!
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones “?” Box-Pressed (2011)
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 4 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Petit Robusto
- MSRP: $10.70 ($267.50)
- Date Released: October 2011
- Number of Cigars Released: 125 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 4
The cigar itself is quite a treat to look at. It has a very oily dark shade wrapper with minimal veins and a slight tooth. When I line up the two versions side by side I can immediately tell that the box-pressed version seems slightly darker with more of a reddish hue. The cigar feels extremely heavy with a really tight pack. I am already worried about the draw because you can just tell by the density and weight of it that it’s going to be packed extremely tight. The pre-light aroma is heavy with a lot of dark chocolate, coffee, wood, tobacco and pepper. The pre-light draw is as I guessed very tight with wood, tobacco and pepper coming through.
Starting off in the First Third the cigar opens up with insanely dark tones and sensations, there is immediately an almost burnt coffee and dark semi bitter dark chocolate profile taking shape. There is a rush of pepper on the draw and also on the finish along with lots of dark bitter flavors. The finish is unfortunately long too. About an inch into the cigar it really takes on a huge change, it slowly progresses to a much more balanced profile with much less bitterness showing, although it’s still present. It becomes a leather bomb with a lot of wood, coffee and dark chocolate. There is a slight creaminess to the smoke as well which is pleasant, the pepper subsides a touch as well.
Coming into the Second Third the cigar holds steady with a pretty dark profile with a few changes, I start to notice a slight licorice flavor as well as a more cedar like tone compared to the darker wood that I was getting in the first third. The cigar starts to show more creamy flavors, but make no mistake this is a strong cigar with the core mainly being dark chocolate, coffee, leather and wood tones.
Finishing up in the Final Third the cigar continues on a normal pace with a few different flavors coming into the picture, one being a real meaty flavor. All I can relate it to is the burnt, over cooked parts of a steak that lay on the edges. It mixes quite well with all the other flavors like wood, leather and coffee. Surprisingly, there isn’t much spice to this cigar, quite a bit of pepper, but not a lot of your typical cigar spice, just more of a pepper flavor.
- As I stated in the notes, this cigar bears no resemblance to the original Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter, this cigar is a complete, heavy, slightly bitter, leather bomb with not a whole lot of complexity throughout the cigar. The Daisy Cutter was beautiful in that it showed great flavor, balance of spices and it didn’t overpower the palate. This cigar assaults you from the beginning and starts to let up a touch but just not enough, its mostly bitter the whole way.
- The cigar itself is just packed way too tight, I smoked four of these cigars and every single one had a really tough draw, it also burns very hot, which leads me to believe these cigars just might need a lot of rest and the overheating might very well be contributing to the bitter flavors more than I think.
- Surprisingly I enjoyed the regular one a little bit better. According to the info I got from Viaje these are both the same blend, however, the regular one offered less bitterness for sure.
- Final Smoking time was just over 1 hour.
The Bottom Line: Unfortunately, this cigar has to be filed under the maybe it will be good in a year category and I feel that lately I have been getting this result from a lot of Viajes and specifically the Skull and Bones. I know what you’re thinking; perhaps this cigar is just too strong for my tastes. Well, that is not that case because it’s not just about strength. This cigar is without a doubt very strong, but it’s very unbalanced in its strength, it hits you with strength and a harsh sensation but leaves no room for any real flavor to get through, so what you end up with is a boring cigar that isn’t even that easy on the palate. It’s far from a bad cigar but it’s not that close to being a good one either.
Final Score: 78