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Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2018)

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Eight years ago, Viaje Cigars debuted a line that would eventually come to encompass more than 30 different releases, including multiple sub-lines and one-offs. As one of Viaje Cigars owner Andre Farkas’ first series, the Skull and Bones releases have included cigars named after nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction as well as more pedestrian ordinances.

As with most of the M?stery releases, not much is known about the 2018 incarnation of the line: the blend, the total number cigars released and where it was rolled has not been confirmed. However, we do know that it measures 4 3/4 inches, it is box-pressed and it features a closed foot. We also know that the newest incarnation of the Skull and Bones line was shipped to retailers late last month packaged in boxes of 25 with each cigar retailing for $9.92.

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There have now been 34 different Skull and Bones releases spanning more than 10 years.

*Not pictured.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2018)
  • Country of Origin: n/a
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Length: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 58
  • Vitola: Petit Gordo
  • MSRP: $9.92 (Boxes of 25, $248)
  • Release Date: October 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Other than an obviously smaller ring gauge, the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery 2018 is not noticeably different than its direct predecessor, including an extremely dark chocolate brown wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch and a covered foot. There are a number of prominent veins running up and down the length and the cigar features a nice soft box-press. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet bourbon, sweet oak, manure, hay, cocoa nibs and leather while the cold draw brings flavors of dark and bitter powdered chocolate, espresso beans, leather, grass, earth, raisin sweetness and a small amount of both spice and black pepper.

I had already noticed an enormous amount of sweetness on both the aroma and cold draw, so it was no great shock when the first few puffs after lighting the Skull and Bones M?stery brought some significant brown sugar sweetness on the palate. However, that was soon displaced by the dominant flavors of charred meat and mesquite as well as some strong spice on my tongue, interspersed with other notes of hay, bitter chocolate, freshly roasted coffee beans, floral and slight vegetal. There is some relatively strong raisin sweetness on the finish pulled over from the cold draw, as well as some fairly significant black pepper on the retrohale and spice on my tongue, all of which seem to be increasing as the first third burns down. In terms of construction, the smoke production is both dense and copious as it flows from the foot, while both the draw is excellent so far after a straight cut and the burn is not giving me any issues so far, it or the ash won’t win any awards for how attractive they are. Strength-wise, the Viaje starts off close to medium, and while it increases, it fails to make it to a solid medium by the time the first third ends.

The dominant flavors remain both charred meat and mesquite during the second third of the Viaje, but the big change is the raisin sweetness from the first third, which has increases noticeably leading to a more complex profile. Other flavors of creamy cedar, leather, hay, yeast and slight espresso bean bitterness flit in and out, and there is a touch of spice on my lips as well. Smoke production is still well above average, and while the draw remains excellent, but burn has gotten a bit out of hand, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times. The strength has not budged much, and as a result, fails once again to hit the medium mark by the end of the second third.

While the dominant flavor shifts to more of an espresso bean bitterness in the final third of the Skull and Bones M?stery 2018, the charred meat and mesquite are still present on the retrohale along with some black pepper. Additional flavors include hay, leather, bitter dark cocoa, oak and black licorice. While the raisin sweetness from the previous two thirds is still present, it is noticeably reduced from its high point early in the second third. Construction-wise, remains as good as ever and the burn has evened up as well, while the smoke production continues to be both copious and thick off of the foot. Finally, the overall strength increases enough to reach a point just north of the medium mark by the end of the final third, but never really threatens to go any further, and I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

Final Notes

  • For some reason, whenever I see the question mark logo on the box of Skull and Bones M?stery, I instantly think of Frank Gorshin as The Riddler in early episodes of the original Batman television show.
  • I have always found the dark black logo on top of the (slightly lighter) black band to be extremely annoying to photograph well.
  • As has been the case with Viaje in the last few years, the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2018) shipped with other releases, namely three sizes of the 2018 incarnation of Exclusivos as well as another release of the Viaje Friends and Family Le Joueur, which debuted in 2013.
  • While Viaje has had some construction issues in the past, each one of the three samples I smoked of this release was quite good in that regard. Not amazing—I still had to touch up two of the samples at least once—but nothing even close to complaining about either.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 27 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2018) cigars, site sponsors Cigars.com and Serious Cigars have them in stock.
90 Overall Score

I mentioned in my review of the 2014 incarnation of the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery—incidentally, the last cigar in the series I reviewed until now—that it was so lacking in nuance that I would not be smoking it again. Thus, I was a bit concerned when I saw that I was reviewing the newest version of the same cigar. Thankfully, any concerns I had about the 2018 release proved groundless, as it is everything the previous version was not: complex, balanced and flavorful. In addition, this cigar retained the best part of the 2014 version—namely the extremely good construction—with a near perfect draw and very few touchups needed on the burn. While far from the best cigar Viaje has put out, the Skull and Bones M?stery 2018 is miles above most others in the line, and easily worth picking up to try if you happen to be lucky enough to see them.

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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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