Last month, Viaje added three more releases to the already gigantic family that is its Skull and Bones Series. Two of the cigars—FOAB and MOAB—were cigars the company has previously offered, another, Cloudmaker debuted for the first time.
In total, the Skull and Bones series now stands at 22 separate releases since the Daisy Cutter first hit the market four years ago.
- 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 (2012) (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 WMD (2014) (3 3/4 x 54) — February 2014 — 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Skull and Bones FOAB (2014) (4 1/2 x 56) – May 2014 – 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Skull and Bones MOAB (2014) (4 1/2 x 52) – May 2014 – 300 Boxes of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Viaje Skull and Bones Cloudmaker (5 x 60) – May 2014 – Undisclosed
Cloudmaker is the second time the company has released as Skull and Bones in the 5 x 60 vitola, the longest and thickest for the line, as well as the second time a cigar has worn the “Edición Limitada” secondary band. Like many before it, the cigar is named after a bomb, specifically the T-12 Cloudmaker, a “bunker buster.”
Like Big Ivan, Viaje has declined to disclose details regarding Cloudmaker. With a few exceptions, Skull and Bones—like all Viajes—are Nicaraguan puros made at Raíces Cubanas in Honduras. Pricing is set at $10 per cigar or $250 per bundle of 25.
- Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones Cloudmaker
- Country of Origin: Honduras
- Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
- Wrapper: n/a
- Binder: n/a
- Filler: na
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 60
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $10.00 (Bundles of 25, $250.00)
- Date Released: May 29, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Cloudmaker is very much your typical Skull and with a dark, slightly red, presumably Nicaraguan wrapper. Two things do stand, first is the secondary band and second is the size, noticeably the length. Aroma-wise there is leather and a bit of cedar from the wrapper, whereas I find noticeably less leather on the foot along with a burning red pepper. I pick up some hoppy notes from the slightly open cold draw along with gingerbread and woody flavors. Despite the blast of pepper from the foot, I get only a touch of it on the tip of my tongue.
The Viaje begins with cedar, a muted pepper note and a deep woodsiness on the finish. On two samples, there’s a crisp meatiness towards the latter stages of the finish, on one sample there’s significantly more sweetness, almost fruity. Tons of smoke fills both the air and the mouth from a nearly effortless draw, but the burn struggles to be even. The hoppy note I identified on the cold draw is much more concentrated and leaves touches of lemon on the finish, but the dominating notes of the cigar are a pepper and woodsiness note. It’s a very detailed red pepper and a rather generic woodsy note, both are rather full. Strength starts medium, ends the first inch at the full mark and is still building as the second third begins.
On the one sample I found sweetness, I now am presented with salty notes. On the other two, it’s far more pleasant: a refreshing citrus note can be found after two quick retrohales and a burnt bread note—a more distinct take on “toastiness”—is present on the finish. That being said all three cigars still exhibit the same core of red pepper and woodsiness. Before the two-inch mark is completed the Cloudmaker is entering the higher-end of the full stages as far as nicotine, and like before, it’s still building, albeit at a slower pace. I’m still having to keep my lighter handy to correct the burn, although smoke production is great.
Despite two different starts, all three Cloudmakers I smoke end up in the same place. The red pepper note is no longer active, but is still present thanks to a strong coating on the back of the throat. In addition, the saltiness is now present on each of the cigars as is a more defined cedar flavor. As has been the case for most of the cigar, there’s not any real noticeable shifts as everything comes on a few puffs at a time. Construction is very much the same until I put the cigar out: burn requires some work, draw is great and smoke production is more than generous. The cigar avoids getting hot, something that isn’t entirely too unpredictable given its performance in earlier stages.
- There are 22 releases of Skull and Bones, some like FOAB have been released multiple years in exactly the same format, but it’s still 22 releases of cigars ranging from 3 3/4-5 inches and 52 to 60 ring gauge. There is at least two core blends (Red and White)—although the intricacies between the two of them have not been explained. (There have been at least two different wrappers.) Regardless, at this point to expect something dramatically different from the Skull and Bones blend is probably a false hope. If you have smoked a few over the years, you would be generally safe making buying decisions based off your previous experiences.
- That all being said, I would not be opposed to seeing some substantially different vitolas for the line. I understand it does not necessarily go with theme of the brand, but I cannot imagine doing another dozen releases without any substantial changes unless the intention of Viaje is to turn this series into one of vintages. Yet, the disclosure behind the tobacco used is relatively limited, so it’s hard to see that as a direction.
- The explanation between the two lines—Red and White—is that Red is nuclear, and for the most part the names of the red releases have been related to nuclear weapons. White is non-nuclear and the naming has generally been consistent. Zombies are supposed to follow Skull and Bones Red, the nuclear release, something that has not always happened. For the record, there was a Skull and Bones red release in February of this year and since then there have been four Zombie releases.
- I spend more time than anyone should tracking how many boxes Viaje makes for each release and it’s somewhat intriguing to see when the company will disclose how many cigars are made and when it does not. Much like Big Ivan, it refused to disclose the box numbers. My guess is the number is no more than 200 bundles were shipped.
- I cut off a minimal amount of the cap on most cigars. There are times in which a second cut is then necessary, that’s not the case here. On one sample I cut off a more normal amount and the “ideal draw” of the Cloudmaker became far too open for my liking and did not help the flavor. For the record, that was the version that started sweeter.
- This is the first time Skull and Bones has been shipped in a bundle. While it’s not the most attractive of packaging, I think most consumers would rather have a cigar sold in bundles at a lower price than a higher-priced version in a box. In addition, if you ever are going to sell something in bundles, make it something highly-limited where retailers are likely only to get a single bundle.
- Strength is full, really full. It’s reminiscent of the first few Skull and Bones in that regard.
- I enjoy covered or closed frets, but the thickness of the wrapper made this one very challenging. No matter how much lighting I did before the first puff, the cigar always required more light afterwards to make sure all parts of the cigar were lit.
- Unfortunately, the burn did not get much better as the cigar progressed. For me it’s the worst burning Viaje I can think of the last year or so. That being said, touch-ups every fifteen minutes kept the cigar from ever going out.
- Smoke production was good, tons of smoke in the mouth, off the cap and from the foot. It was not terribly thick, but it was plentiful.
- Also on the positive side of construction, I was able to basically take endless puffs consecutively without any degradation of flavor. In fact, I found in the second third that smoking quickly rewarded me with better flavors through the nose.
- Historically, this secondary band has meant that it will only be released once in this size/blend combination. Every other Viaje release is subject to the possibility of an additional release, although trying to predict what will be released each year is not an easy task.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes.
I did not smoke them side-by-side, but the one Big Ivan smoked was more impressive than the Cloudmaker. Regardless, neither of the 5 x 60 formats of Skull and Bones would be a top choice for the series. While I think this release packed the strength that has not always been there in recent Skull and Bones release, the flavor was not as good as I normally find it. More important, I’ve had much better results in the last six months with Viaje, so for me, this is a pass.