Viaje Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press

A few days ago, I previewed the fifth release cycle of Viaje’s popular Skull and Bones series.  In that preview, I didn’t have a heck of a lot of information because Viaje in general keeps things under a tight lid.  With the fifth release cycle of the Skull and Bones dubbed “Mystery” – that is exactly what we are treated to.  For the most part, I’ve always been on the record of liking a little guess work behind a cigar.  It makes the cigar experience a little less predictable.  One of the vitolas that was launched in this Fall 2011 release cycle was the Mystery Box-press.  It’s a torpedo and it marks the first Skull and Bones blend in a box-press.  I decided to give this cigar a sampling – and while it is not my favorite entry in the Skull and Bones series, this one was still pretty good.

Normally, I’ve been on the record with most Viaje blends of allowing 8 to 10 weeks aging.  Lately, the Viaje blends have been less “green”.   Given that this is Halloween weekend, and the fact that the Viaje Skull and Bones Little Boy (fourth release cycle) smoked pretty good without that much aging, I decided to give one from this latest release cycle a whirl.

One thing I did not mention in the preview.  Like most Viaje releases – and especially Skull and Bones releases, these are a very limited micro-batch production.  I don’t have box counts, but for the most part it usually means most Viaje authorized retailers will be given 1 box of each vitola.

Without further adieu, let’s get into the smoking experience of the Viaje Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press.

Blend Profile

With the Spring 2011 and Summer 2011 Skull and Bones releases (third and fourth release cycles), these  featured a blend variation that is stronger than the first two release cycles.  I don’t know much about this Fall 2011 (Mystery) release cycle.  I can say that there were some similarities, but there were some differences as well.  Basically, what I do know is that this is a Nicaraguan puro.

The fifth release cycle (Mystery) seemed to have a less oily wrapper than the previous (especially fourth release cycle).

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

This is repetitive from the preview, but I will put a summary of all of the Skull and Bones releases here for completeness.

First Release Cycle (Spring 2010)
Daisy Cutter: 4 x 54

Second Release Cycle (Fall 2010)
#2: 4 1/2 x 54

Third Release Cycle (Spring 2011)
WMD (Weapon Mass Destruction): 3 3/4 x 54
MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast): 4 1/4 x 54 (Torpedo)

Fourth Release Cycle (Summer 2011)
Little Boy: 4 1/4 x 52
Fat Man: 4 1/4 x 56

Fifth Release Cycle (Fall 2011)
Mystery 4 1/2 x 54 (Short Torpedo)
Mystery Box Press 4 1/2 x 54 (Short Torpedo Box-press)

The first and second release cycles featured black and white bands. The third and fourth release cycles featured red colored bands.  In the fifth release cycle, the Mystery goes back to a black and white band, while the Mystery box-press (pictured above) uses a black on black band.

The cigars in the fifth release cycle also feature a covered foot.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Given the Mystery box-press was the first box-press of the Skull and Bones series, I opted to go with that cigar for this assessment.   If there was a vitola from this release cycle that was not a torpedo, I would have went for it as I am not a torpedo fan.  I placed a small cut into the tip of the torpedo.

The pre-light draw on the Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press was very similar to what I got when I smoked the Skull and Bones Little Boy – namely I got notes of chocolate and leather.  The difference was that I picked up a little more espresso on the Mystery Box-press.   I was satisfied with the pre-light draw of the Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press, so now it was on to smoke.

Flavor Profile

The Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press started out with more notes of chocolate and leather.  I did pick up some secondary notes of black pepper early on.  The black pepper also was present through the nostrils throughout the smoke.  Early on, the chocolate notes increased and was the flavor in the forefront.

Toward the end of the first third, the secondary pepper notes took on more of a cedar spice flavor.  Slowly that cedar spice increases and eventually by the second half , these notes moved into the forefront.  For the most part while the second half was more spicy, the chocolate notes did not totally vanish.  The cigar did not finish as a spice bomb, but still had the cedar spice as the primary note.  The nub was outstanding – firm and cool.

The big difference with this cigar compared to the Skull and Bones Little Boy (fourth release cycle) was that I felt the Skull and Bones Little Boy was much spicier in the second half.   I would also say the Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press was an even less complex cigar than the Skull and Bones Little Boy.  While I got espresso on the pre-light draw of the Mystery Box-press, I did not really detect it once I lit the cigar.  The Skull and Bones Little Boy did offer those espresso notes.  Perhaps some age was needed after all.

Burn and Draw

I assess both the burn and draw as good, but not excellent.  They weren’t bad, but perhaps this is the one area where some age would have also helped.  The burn did require touch-ups throughout the smoke and the ash was flaky.  The Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press did burn at an ideal rate and ideal temperature.  Like the Skull and Bonest Little Boy, I detected more resistance on the draw than I would have cared for.  Usually I will blame this on a torpedo vitola, but in this case I don’t think it applies.

Burn of the Skull and Bones Mystery Box-press (note flaky ash)

Strength and Body

Like the other entries in the Skull and Bones series, the Mystery Box-press will treat you to a nice dose of nicotine pop.  It’s definitely in the full-bodied range.  As for the flavors, while there was some depth, I felt the body was still a little short of full, therefore I assess the Mystery Box-press as medium to full-bodied.  The interesting thing is that the Skull and Bones Little Boy also started out medium to full bodied, but it eventually transitioned to full-bodied.   The Mystery box-press did not.

Final Thoughts

My gut tells me a little age would have helped with the burn and some of the complexity, but I’m not sure it would have elevated my final assessment rating.  To me the Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter and Skull and Bones Little Boy have been the two best entries in the series.  This one, when all is said and done will probably fall in the middle of the pack for the Skull and Bones series.  Given this is a strong cigar, I’d only recommend this for more experienced cigar enthusiasts.  Overall, I liked the cigar, but if I could get a Skull and Bones Daisy Cutter or Skull and Bones Little Boy, I’d opt for those first.  Skull and Bones has proven to be the most popular cigar in the Viaje portfolio, but I’m wondering if it is close to running its course.


Burn: Good
Draw: Good
Complexity: Low
Strength: Full
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: Nice to Have

Source: This cigar was purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.