Viaje Skull and Bones Ghost Rider

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One of Viaje Cigars’ most expansive series is also one of its oldest: Skull and Bones.

Made up of all different sizes, shapes and blends, the series that debuted 10 years ago has grown to encompass 44 different cigars by our count, all of which are branded with variations of the same skull and bones logo. While the majority of earlier releases were named after various nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, more recent incarnations have strayed from that.

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Late in 2019, Viaje announced three new additions to the Skull and Bones Series, each of which are inspired by a different person in the Marvel comic book “Ghost Rider” which depicts a “human who can transform into a skeletal superhuman wreathed in ethereal flame and given supernatural powers.”

The names refer to three of the main characters in the comic book:

  • Johnny Blaze — While there have been many different people associated with being Ghost Rider over the years—including Frank Castle, aka The Punisher—Johnny Blaze was the first, a stunt performer who promised his servitude to Mephisto in return for being cured of cancer.
  • Ghost Rider — The physical manifestation of Ghost Rider is actually a separate demonic form that merges with its host, giving him a multitude of powers and abilities that include superhuman strength, “sin manipulation” and dimensional travel.
  • Mephisto — An extra-dimensional demon who has offered multiple people throughout history the option of being Ghost Rider in different forms.

While blend details have not been confirmed for any of the new releases, we do know that each of the new cigars come packaged in bundles of 25 that retail for $342 and each bundle is marked with the number 56, which corresponds to the ring gauge.

Interestingly, Viaje followed up the aforementioned releases with two additional Skull and Bones cigars earlier this month, both named after characters from The Hulk Marvel comic book: Bruce Banner (5 1/4 x 56) and The Hulk (6 1/4 x 60.)

There have now been 44 different releases in the Skull and Bones Series:

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones Ghost Rider
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Not Disclosed
  • Binder: Not Disclosed
  • Filler: Not Disclosed
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Vitola: Toro Gordo
  • MSRP: $13.68 (Bundle of 25, $342)
  • Release Date: December 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Not Disclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Both the large ring gauge and weighty heft of the Viaje Ghost Rider are hard to miss when you hold it in your hand, as is the extremely visually attractive milk chocolate wrapper that features not only a red tint but also a bit of tooth. The cigar is extremely firm when squeezed—just short of rock hard in fact—and there are plenty of veins visible all over the outside of the cover leaf. Aroma from the wrapper and foot is a combination of sweet nutmeg, cinnamon, dark chocolate, espresso beans, cedar and earth, while the cold draw brings flavors of the same nutmeg, cedar, hay, generic nuttiness, leather and dark chocolate.

The first third of the Ghost Rider starts out the way quite a few of Viaje’s past Skull and Bones releases do: plenty of spice on the palate, plenty of black pepper on the retrohale and more than a little as-yet-unplaced sweetness present on both. After about 12 puffs both of the aforementioned notes die down enough for me to start really tasting the dominant nutmeg note followed by lesser flavors of cinnamon, gritty earth, leather, a vegetal component, peanuts and hay. Construction-wise, the Viaje features an excellent draw after a straight cut and a burn line that does its best—and almost succeeds—in staying razor-sharp while the smoke production off of the foot is both dense and extremely copious. The overall strength starts out surprisingly mild—especially for a Skull and Bones blend—but does manage to at least knock on the door of medium by the end of the first third.

Thankfully, both the spice and pepper that were so aggressive at the start of the Ghost Rider have receded quite a bit by the time the second third begins; in fact, the spice is almost totally gone, while the pepper is seemingly on its way out as well. The dominant flavor has also changed, from the nutmeg note to a distant—albeit more boring—generic cedar flavor, along with notes of charred steak, earth, tree bark, leather, bread and slight cinnamon. In addition, the generic sweetness from the first third has become more distinct, reminding me of vanilla, although it is still not all that strong. Thankfully, the burn has evened up nicely and shows no more signs of getting out of control anytime soon, while both the draw and smoke production continue to impress. As the second third comes to an end, the strength finally passes the medium mark, but it seems to stall there.

If I had to choose one word to describe the profile in the final third of the Viaje Skull and Bones Ghost Rider, it would be linear. The profile has become boring—albeit far from offensive—with the same creamy cedar easily taking the dominant spot from a field of other flavors that include leather, hay, generic nuts, popcorn, cocoa nibs and a little floral aspect. While both the spice and pepper that were present on the palate and retrohale respectively are long gone, the vanilla sweetness that is left behind is just not strong enough to take up the slack, leaving the profile feeling a bit muted. The construction continues at a high level that includes a fantastic draw and an excellent burn. While the overall strength has increased a bit, it still falls far short of the full mark by the time I put the nub down with a bit more than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • There have been plenty of colors incorporated into the Viaje Skull and Bones logo—including red, white, black, green, gold and silver—but this is the first time that yellow has been used.
  • Viaje has released three different Skull and Bones cigars using The Hulk moniker: two different vitolas named The Hulk—both of which included a green skull and bones logo—were sold as an exclusive for Anthony’s Cigar Emporium in 2017.
  • While most of the skull and bones pirate flags—nicknamed the Jolly Roger—featured the familiar white logo on a black background, there was at least one pirate that supposedly used a yellow skull and bones: Christopher Moody, who was a member of Bartholomew Roberts’ crew from 1713 to 1718 and sailed in the waters around North and South Carolina.
  • There are some people—most of whom probably collected Ghost Rider comics like I did and at least some of whom are probably quite a bit geekier than I am—who believe that Ghost Rider may be one of the most powerful Earth-based characters in the Marvel Universe, depending on which incarnation is being discussed.
  • Construction was quite good overall, with excellent draws after straight cuts. Two samples did need some additional attention from my lighter, however.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged two hours and four minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Viaje Ghost Rider cigars, site sponsor JR Cigar has them in stock.
83 Overall Score

After aggressive first puffs, the Viaje Ghost Rider turns into something I was not expecting: a mellow, linear profile with little in the way of spice, pepper or changes to make things interesting. Yes, the construction was extremely good across all three samples—I only had singular touch ups to two of the samples—and the balance was impressive as well, there was just not enough nuance in the profile to keep me interested for the entire stick. Naming a cigar after Ghost Rider was a bold choice by Viaje, but unfortunately, the cigar does not even come close to living up to the potential that its moniker represents.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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