Bite Size Review: Viaje Skull & Bones M?stery 2018
Anyone who’s smoked a small batch or limited edition cigar know that sometimes it’s either a boom, a bust or one that simply doesn’t measure up to the hyperbolic claims or intent of the maker. Well, Andre Farkas knows a thing or two about making small batch cigars and in fact, most of his energy and business is directed at doing just that. Farkas launched the Los Angeles-based Viaje Cigars in 2008 with 2 production lines: Platino and Oro. And even though his Oro Reserva VOR No. 5 received a 95 rating from Cigar Aficionado and the #2 cigar of the year in 2010, fans of Viaje actually prefer Farkas’ small batch goodies over his core lines.
Capitalizing on his niche, limited-run success, Farkas also partners with industry stars like Ernesto Perez-Carrillo who collaborated on Viaje’s small-batch projects, Juntos and White Label Piña. One of Viaje’s more popular small batch cigars is the Skull and Bones (S&B) line, which has produced over 30 different blends including the latest 2018 incarnation. One of the hallmarks of the M?stery line is that very little info is ever released regarding origin, blend details or tobacco age. Look for yourself – it ain’t there, we tried. One thing you CAN count on, is that the blend will be tasty.
The slick band has changed little over the years so the ghosted skull and crossbones over a black background should be familiar by now. Not a fan of box press sticks, but the oily, gingerbread shade of the S&B is sumptuous and it looks delicious sitting still. Our 2018 petit gordo is seamless and soft to the touch while sporting a nice triple cap and closed foot. The wrapper of unknown origin is wonderfully aromatic, featuring a bouquet of honey and raisins while the hints of milk chocolate are muted by the closed foot. The cold draw is open, but with a little restriction and an undeniable flavor of raisins.
Once fired up, the S&B treated me to a rich, toasty core complemented by delicious hints of allspice, toasted nuts and creamy nougat. The long finish features a backdrop of baked bread with a unique twist of oats. The warm leather notes on the retro, with hints of anise thrown in, completes the initial profile. The body and strength quickly gain steam throughout transitions, but are well balanced even with a loss of complexity. The texture becomes a little less smooth but there’s still some surprises instore as the finish becomes more plummy.
Performance is top notch highlighted by near-perfect combustion throughout, decent smoke production and a strong ash. The S&B also adds a unique flavor palate that includes notes of allspice and toffee, and the plummy finish is delicious. While I consider this a very enjoyable smoking experience, the S&B loses some complexity and becomes dry which exacerbates the heavy earth and wood profile at the end causing it to lose all character. I would still keep a few around as it does offer some unique palette qualities that are delicious to the bone. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: By our estimate, the 2018 iteration of the Skull & Bones M?stery represents the 34th in this limited-run line.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Petit Gordo [Box Press]
- Length / Ring Gauge: 4.5″x 58
- Purchased: Gift
- Origin: Unk
- Wrapper: Unk
- Binder: Unk
- Filler: Unk
- Blade: Xikar Punch
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $9.95
- Humidor Age: 9 mo.
- Box: 25
- Other Vitolas: N/A
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:07
Draw: Mostly open
Construction: Oily, gingerbread hue; uniform feel; triple seam cap; seamless; veiny; soft to the touch; closed foot; holds strong 1″ salt-pepper ash; good smoke production.
- Wrapper – Fragrant honey, raisins
- Foot – Muted milk chocolate [closed foot]
- Cold Draw – Raisins
- Initial: Toasty core complemented by notes of toasted nuts and creamy nougat; hints of allspice on retro; unique baked finish of toasted oats and baked bread; hints of leather and anise on retro; light spice in nose and palate.
- Transition: Woody profile with notes of earth and baked bread; hints of toffee; baked finish becomes dry; plummy, rasinesque draw.
- Transition: Coffee and earth-dominant body; tangy cedar notes; spice in nose; spicy finish of coffee and wood.
Complexity: Very Good
Balance: Very Good
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Complexity wanes after initial profile; finish becomes dry.
- Boxworthy / Go-to
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]