Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2014)

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Since 2010, Viaje has released one or more vitolas of the M?stery blend every October. The blend and release details about the M?stery versions have always been sparse, and the latest incarnation is no different, with no confirmation on release numbers or blend specifics from Viaje.

What has been confirmed is the size, a 4 3/4 x 54 robusto extra, the MSRP of $9.92 each, and the fact that it was rolled at Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. in Honduras. Having said that, while there have been a few exceptions over the years, the vast majority of the releases in the Skull and Bones series have been Nicaraguan puros.

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The M?stery is the fourth Skull and Bones release of 2014, after the WMD in February and the FOAB, MOAB and Cloudmaker in May. Releases of the line through the years have included a number of different interesting additions, including maduro wrappers, covered feet, box-press vitolas, glow in the dark bands or in some instances, a combination of one or more.

There have now been 23 different releases in the Skull and Bones series to date.

Viaje Skull and Bones 2014

  • 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
  • Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2014) (4 3/4 x 54) — October 2014 — Undisclosed

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2014 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2014)
  • Country of Origin: Honduras
  • Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L.
  • Wrapper: n/a
  • Binder: n/a
  • Filler: n/a
  • Size: 4 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $9.92 (Boxes of 25, $248)
  • Date Released: Oct. 14, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Covered in a dark espresso brown wrapper that is almost black, the Skull and Bones features both a significant box-press as well as a covered foot. There is a noticeable amount of oil present, and the wrapper is silky smooth to the touch with no obvious veins. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of very strong barnyard, hay and dark chocolate, while the cold draw brings flavors of hay, oak, leather and earth with a touch of generic sweetness.

The Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery starts out with an overt combination of gritty earth and hay flavors dominant, along with other minor notes of barnyard, leather and oak. There is a no sweetness at all in the profile so far, as well as a huge amount of black pepper on the retrohale that almost makes my eyes water, although it does seem to be diminishing as the first third continues. Smoke production is massive off of the foot, and both the burn and draw are quite good so far. The overall strength easily hits the medium mark by the end of the first third, and only seems to be increasing.

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2014 2

I did not think it was possible, but both the gritty earthiness and black pepper flavors get stronger in the second half of the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery, forcing every other flavor to the background of the profile. Every once in a while I taste some hay, leather and dark chocolate, but all three are never strong enough to do more than tease me, and there is still no sweetness that I can detect. Construction-wise, both the burn and draw are quite good, and there is still a large amount of dense, white smoke, albeit less than in the first third. The strength has remained fairly steady at a point a little higher than medium, but I would not be surprised if it continued to increase.

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2014 3

The final third of the M?stery is carbon copy of the second third: gritty earth and black pepper notes dominant, with a little hay, leather and bitter dark chocolate noticeable on the fringe every once in a while. There is still no sweetness to speak of, and the burn and draw remain very good until the end. As expected, the strength increases until it hits a mark right in-between medium and full, but stalls out there until I put the nub down with a little less than an inch left.

Viaje Skull and Bones M stery  2014 4

Final Notes

  • Historically the black on black bands with Skull and Bones have been reserved for cigars using a San Andrés wrapper.
  • When asked for blend and production release info in October, a spokesperson for the company told halfwheel the MSRP, then said, “Everything else is a M?stery.”
  • As has been the case with Viaje in the last few years, the Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery (2014) shipped with another release, this time the second incarnation of Full Moon.
  • While Viaje has had some construction issuesin the past, but I have to say, each one of the three samples I smoked of this release were quite good in that regard. Not amazing, but nothing to complain about either.
  • In addition to the above, the smoke production was well above average.
  • The wrapper for this release of the M?stery is one of the darkest I have seen of any of the Skull and Bones series.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged just under one hour and 30 minutes.
74 Overall Score

Imagine pulling a chair up to your dinner table and digging into a nice big plate of earth interspersed with hay and topped with black pepper fresh from a grinder, that is the profile of the newest Viaje Skull and Bones M?stery. No complexity, no subtly, no refinement, just straight earth and pepper on both the palate and the retrohale for the almost hour and a half smoke time. There are times when that combination can be a good thing—including in some of Viaje's past releases—but any nuance that may have been present in the profile in this specific cigar was overwhelmed by the strength of the aforementioned flavors. Having said all of that, the construction on all three samples was excellent, with the draw the standout in that category. While I do wonder how a little time will treat it, I doubt I will take the time to find out.

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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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