Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2013)

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Last month, Viaje shipped its annual October release—and for the fourth consecutive year—it included Skull and Bones M?stery. For the first time since the cigar debuted in 2010, Viaje limited the Skull and Bones M?stery to a single size and limited the release size to under 5,000 cigars.

As has become tradition, this version of Skull and Bones features the black band with white lettering and is in fact glow in the dark. As is also tradition, getting details out of Viaje regarding this release is amongst the hardest of any of its cigars.

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Andre Farkas told Cigar Insider there were 200 boxes released and featured a “maduro wrapper.” Invoices we obtained indicate pricing is $230 per box and we measured the cigar to be 4 3/4 x 52.

This is the 18th release of Skull and Bones:

Viaje Skull and Bones

  • Viaje Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter (4 x 54) — May 2010 — 150 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones “?” (5 x 54) — October 2010 — 150 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones MOAB (4 1/4 x 54) — March 2011 — 100 Boxes of 50 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones WMD (3 3/4 x 54) — March 2011 — 250 Boxes of 25 Cigars (6,250 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones Fat Man (4 1/4 x 56) — August 2011 — 125 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,125 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones Little Boy (4 1/4 x 52) — August 2011 — 125 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,750 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones “?” Box-Pressed (4 1/2 x 54) — October 2011 — 125 Boxes of 25 Cigars (3,125 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones “?” (4 1/2 x 54) — October 2011 — 250 Boxes of 25 Cigars (6,250 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones WMD (3 3/4 x 54) — March 2012 —300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones MOAB (4 1/2 x 52) — March 2012— 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones FOAB (4 1/2 x 56) — March 2012— 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
  • Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (4 1/2 x 54) — October 2012 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery BP (4 1/2 x 54) — October 2012 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery Vintage (4 1/2 x 54) — October 2012 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan (5 x 60) — February 2013 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones Fat Man (4 1/4 x 52) — February 2013 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones Little Boy (4 1/4 x 56) — February 2013 — Undisclosed
  • Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2013) (4 3/4 x 52) — October 2013 — 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2013 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2013)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: Undisclosed Maduro
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size:  4 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $9.20 (Boxes of 25, $230.00)
  • Date Released: October 21, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 25 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Not surprisingly the wrapper on the Skull and Bones M?stery is quite dark. Depending on the light, it can actually blend into the cigar itself, but it’s also incredibly smooth to the touch. Farkas was hesitant to describe the shape to anyone and I think there’s actually a slightly different cap treatment, a bit thinner than how a traditional parejo would tail off. Despite the cigar being shipped in cellophane, there was not an extreme amount of aroma from the wrapper, just a touch of barnyard. From the foot of the Viaje, I get a pungent medium aroma with cherry woods, pepper and spices. The cold draw has some distinct flavor that tastes like the iconic Japanese candy, Kasugai gummy candy in the kiwi flavor.

In another lack of surprise, the Skull and Bones M?stery begins the first third quite strong. There’s some bittersweet barnyard notes, lots of harsh pepper and some woodiness behind the dominant notes. From the get go, my palate is getting assaulted by just how big the flavor is. Ultimately, I think it’s a combination of both my palate becoming less sensitive as the cigar burns and the cigar getting a bit lighter by the end of the first third—while the bittersweet, woody and pepper notes are still full, it’s not absurd. While the draw, cold draw and smoke production were all phenomenal, the cigar is struggling to remain lit, albeit never going out thanks to a few touch-ups.

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2013 2

The Viaje shines in the second third. There’s a velvet-texture that takes over the cigar and the rest of the profile develops. The woodsiness is now a defined cedar and while the bittersweetness and barnyard are still present, they are no longer on top of the flavor. A Chinese five-spice mixture has emerged on the back of the throat and the pepper is now solely on the top of the mouth and through the nose. Still entirely absent is sweetness, but it’s less of a glaring issue. Construction-wise, smoke production remains insane, but I still am finding myself touching up the cigar largely to keep it going.

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2013 3

Fortunately, the flavor continues progressing in the final third. There’s a bit of a sour grape, not full-on wine, that adds a touch of sweetness, but it’s not what I hoped for. The cedar note has become a bit softer, the pepper and spices a bit stronger and a return of the harshness. There isn’t a whole lot else, which is disappointing, and I continue to struggle with keeping the cigar burning, also a mess.

Viaje-Skull-and-Bones-Mstery-2013-4.jpg

Final Notes:

  • For those wondering, two of the three cigars I smoked were dry boxed and the caps were removed beyond my normal levels. The dry boxing wasn’t inspired by how the cigars arrived, i.e., they were not wet, more to try to help a potential burn issue.
  • It was a bit shocking how much of a struggle it was to keep the cigar burning, particularly giving the cold draw was spectacular.
  • Speaking of the cold draw, this is another case where the cigar tasted better not lit.
  • Skull and Bones M?stery shipped alongside Full Moon and WLP Stuffed Turkey.
  • The glow-in-the-dark bands might be helpful smoking outside in absolute darkness. Maybe?
  • I wrote this the last time I reviewed a Skull and Bones, it seems to still hold true:

    Quite frankly, the Skull and Bones release is one of the most confusing lines in the cigar world. There are two different lines, red and black, various sizes and a multitude of inspirations. While 2012 only marks the third year of what is likely Viaje’s most popular line, there does seem to be some consistency in releases: this is the second year in a row we’ve seen a March release and the October “?” has appeared two years in a row. The real question is the post-IPCPR/August release and the April release.

  • In addition, the fact the company hesitates from talking about this release in particular makes it difficult to understand the line and its inspiration. A few years ago, the lines were divided into Nuclear and non-Nuclear, at this point, that seems to be less of an emphasis.
  • This release size actually bucks a trend with Viaje recently, the release size has actually been released.
  • At times, the Skull and Bones M?stery is full, but overall I’d place that the higher end of medium-full as the nicotine is not consistent.
  • This was a cigar where identify the flavors beyond the basic “bittersweet, generic woodsiness, pepper and spice” was difficult.
  • Viaje’s maduro wrapper of choice is either Nicaraguan tobacco or Mexican San Andrés. Viaje has never disclosed anything but Nicaraguan filler tobacco, presumably from Aganorsa.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Best Cigar Prices and Tobacco Grove all carry Viaje, but none currently have Skull and Bones M?stery in stock.
84 Overall Score

Skull and Bones has not been Viaje’s champion of complexity, but I’m not sure that’s a good enough explanation behind this cigar. It was just a disappointment. Andre Farkas has made cigars with this boldness and more to offer, Litto Gomez has made cigars with this strength and more complexity, Fuente has made stronger cigars without the construction concerns. I have always been more impressed with Skull and Bones Red and this example of M?stery surely is not changing that. And yes, I do wish this wasn’t sounding like a broken record.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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