Viaje Skull and Bones #2
This week’s review is of the elusive, and extremely popular Viaje Skull and Bones.
The Good Stuff: I know almost nothing about this cigar. I have had quite a few different Viaje blends but this is my first time trying out the limited Skull and Bones Blend. This vitola, the Skull and Bones #2 is the second in the line proceeding Viaje’s first release of the Daisy Cutter which was a pettit robusto. I didn’t get a chance to try that one as Viaje is almost unheard of in these parts. Basically the Skull and Bones was Viaje’s answer to all the folks who lived thier cigars but wanted a bolder, fuller experience. The Skull and Bones has a Sun Grown Criollo wrapper bound around an all Nicaraguan filler and binder. These things are pretty limited and run about $12 a stick.
Size: 4.5 x 54 – Wrapper: Sun Grown Criollo – Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan – Body: Full
Prelight: The Skull and Bones is a very mean looking stick. Starting with the extremely dark brown, almost black looking wrapper. The color is very consistent and start with a folded over almost leather looking foot. The tobacco is carefully folded over the foot of the cigar to conceal most, if not all of the filler tobacco. The foot leads into a toothy, meaty body full of tons of random larger veins running all throughout the body. The body fills into a seamless, round triple cap. The cigar is extremely firm, not dry, but packed tight and hard as a rock. The band is a pirate looking, almost warning label black and white skull and cross bones. The smaller secondary band simply says “Skull and Bones” in a very retro/piratesque typeface. The white on the band is actually printed with Glow in the Dark ink. I tried my hardest to take a good picture of this but this is the best that came out:
You get the idea. Any who, The wrapper of the Skull And Bones gives off a very sweet and spicy aroma. Oddly I could swear I pick up some sort of mint in there. The foot is pretty much the same story with only a slight earthy/grassy aroma. The cap on the Skull and Bones cut off clean using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw produced a very spicy, semi-fruity taste with just a slight grassy aftertaste. Sounds like this will be a very interesting smoke.
First Smoke: I am always skeptical about how well a shaggy foot cigar will light up. In the Skull and Bones’ case it passed the test with flying colors lighting up very easily and even using my single flame butane torch. The draw on this thing rocks. I was scared it was going to be very tight but it was just the opposite kicking out a massive cloud of thick, white, lingering smoke. The first flavor was that of a pepper unlike what I am used to. It was a much richer, black pepper that bled into a nice strong tobacco taste with just a slight cocoa aftertaste. The pepper is strong enough to tickle the back of my throat as well as my tongue all while not becoming a nuisance. You can feel the body of this cigar right from the start. The burnline was a bit thick, but clean for the most part. There was one portion of the cigar that trailed the rest of the burnline but toward the end of the final third it was making a good comeback. The ash was a mixture of light and dark grays and pretty flaky, but well packed towards the core.
Halfway There: There has been this coming and going of a cashew taste on the tail end of a few of the draws. It’s pretty speratic but does add quite a bit of character to the experience. The pepper has completely faded by the second third and I was left with a strong tobacco taste with a bunch of cocoa, a dash of wood, and a bit of grassy notes. This cigar is burning very, very slow and the fact that it is a fuller bodied cigar makes me slow down even more. I am already starting to feel a bit of the nicotine and I haven’t even stood up yet. As I hoped, the burn on this Skull and Bones has corrected itself and burned dead even most of the second third. Smaller waves did start reappearing towards the end. The retrohale reminds me that the pepper is still hidden deep within the Skull and Bones composition. On a side note, I can’t get over how huge the draw on this cigar is.
Finish: Shortly after the ash in the second third the Skull and Bones put itself out. I wasn’t smoking this too slow, but it lead me to believe I needed to speed up. So I did. Shortly after relighting the cigar went out yet again. What happened to that awesome draw I was getting? After a thorough toasting it was back in action. Whew. The flavors were still pretty much diluted versions of the second third. Tobacco, a bit of cocoa, bit of wood, and a splash of spice. Sadly, harshness in the cigar began to appear halfway into the final third. Along with the harshness came the nicotine stick. This cigar isn’t overly powerful, but it’ll wake you up that’s for sure. I had a few burn issues into the final third but nothing too crazy, just lots of waves. Is it a bad thing to say the best part of this experience was how easy the bands slid off? This cigar took about 2 hours to smoke. Quite some time for a robusto and and guy who smokes way faster than he probably should.
Overview: For as much hype this cigar has, I expected a much more pleasant experience. It wasn’t bad, but the Skull and Bones fell flat in flavor and the burn was on the verge of annoying me. I don’t care much if I have to relight or touch-up a cigar. It happens. But if a cigar has to be relit more than once or twice then there is just something wrong. The experience started off very promising, but started to fall on it’s face into the second third. I wouldn’t blame you if you passed this cigar up. This cigar has too much body for a novice smoker, but will satisfy all those nicotine addicts. I am happy to have tried it, but it was just lacking something. This has been the first of the few Viaje’s I have had that have disappointed me. I’ve heard it’s limited little sister size the Daisy Cutter (Pettit Robusto) was a much more pleasant experience. Too bad they are almost extinct. Limited run cigars are something else that is starting to annoy me, but I will save that conversation for another time.
Pairing: My Skull and Bones was paired with a nice, dark glass of Spaten’s Dunkel. This isn’t a wheat heavy beer (Dunkel wiessen) so you do not get the sweet, zesty flavor. The Dunkel produces more of a grounded, smooth, dark chocolatey Lager flavor. This pair was awesome. It actually helped to give that extra cocoa push where this cigar needed it. The best pairing would by far be some black coffee.
I also paired this cigar with my matching pajamas. It’s Sunday. I deserve to be lazy.