Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan Edicion Limitada

The Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan Edicion Limitada  was released with the February 2013 batch of Viaje Skull and Bones.  This batch marked the eighth batch of the Skull and Bones series released by Viaje since the Spring of 2010.  Back at the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, Viaje president Andre Farkas told us that the Fat Man and Little Boy vitolas of the Skull and Bones series would be making a comeback. However, the shipment of a third vitola was a surprise to just about every one. The Big Ivan is a third vitola that was shipped in very limited quantities to Viaje authorized retailers. The Big Ivan is the first 60 ring gauge cigar in the Skull and Bones series. We recently have had an opportunity to smoke the Skull and Bones Big Ivan. This cigar proves to be a real winner and easily ranks as one of the better entries in this line of cigars.

The Big Ivan is tagged with a “Edicion Limitada” secondary band. Viaje has typically done this with some of the more limited small batch releases.  We don’t have specifics on the numbers of cigars released, but from the retailers I’ve talked to, it seems most received a single box.

Without further adieu, let’s break down the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan – Edicion Limitada and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

No official details about the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan have officially been released when it comes to the blend.  With the exception of the San Andres Maduro wrapped M?stery and M?stery BP cigars in the seventh batch of the Skull and Bones series, all of the Skull and Bones releases have been Nicaraguan puros.  These cigars featured a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler.  All of the Nicaraguan tobacco is Aganorsa grown tobacco.

Vitolas Available

The Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan is a 5 x 60 cigar.  This is the fourth 60 ring gauge cigar by Viaje – joining the WLP Stuffed Turkey 2011, WLP Stuffed Turkey 2012 White Meat, and WLP Stuffed Turkey 2012 Dark Meat.

The Big Ivan is packaged 25 cigars per box.

Packaging of Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan
(Special thanks to Outland Cigars for the packaging photo opportunity)

In our preview of the Big Ivan, we covered the history of the Skull and Bones series with all of the vitolas that have been released.


The wrapper of the Big Ivan has a dark coffee bean color with a tint of colorado red in it similar to the Viaje WMD 2012. The wrapper is definitely darker than what I observed on the Viaje Skull and Bones FOAB 2012.   There are some dark spots on it.  There are a few bumps on the wrapper, and the wrapper definitely is more on the oily side.  There are also some visible veins and wrapper seams.  While touching this cigar, the Big Ivan definitely has a tight pack to it – consistent with the whole Skull and Bones series.  The foot is covered and the cap is a Cuban style flat one.

Covered foot of the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan

There are two bands on the band.   The primary band contains a black background and there is a red skull and crossbones prominently on the center of the band.  Going around the circumference of the band are two rows of smaller white cross-bones.  Inside those two rows are two white pinstripes.

The second band its located just below the primary band.  This band features the text “Edicion Limitada” in maroon color on a silver background. There is also some additional maroon striping on that secondary band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my cigar experience of the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan, I went with my usual selection of a straight cut to remove the cap. After removing the cap, I was ready to commence the pre-light draw. The pre-light draw was definitely impacted by the covered foot – and as a result, the dry draw was on the milder side. I still was able to detect notes of leather, cedar, and some coffee. Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw. Since we don’t include the pre-light experience in our final assessment rating and score, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to light the Big Ivan and see what this cigar had in store.

Flavor Profile

Overall, I did not find the Viaje Skull and Bones Big Ivan to be cigar that had a lot of flavor transitions.  This is pretty much par for the course with many of the Skull and Bones releases. With the case of the Big Ivan, I did find the flavors rather enjoyable.

The initial notes of the Big Ivan yielded a shot of pepper and some notes of coffee early on.  Once the pepper subsided. some background notes of earth emerged. By about the five percent point, the coffee notes became more mocha-like and along with the pepper were the primary notes.  The mocha gave the cigar a subtle sweetness.  Both the mocha and pepper could also be detected on the retro-hale. Meanwhile the earth notes were in the background. This was the way the flavor profile held for the first half.

In the second half, the pepper became more prominent. I gave it a slight edge over the mocha flavors.  The earth notes also picked up a bit, but continued to play more of a secondary role.  By the last third, the earth notes along with some leather flavors became more prominent.  These flavors joined the pepper as the primary flavors. The mocha did recede to the background.  This is the way the flavor profile held until the end. The end of the cigar was flavorful with no harshness. The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but a bit soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

From a burn perspective, the burn of the Big Ivan had a tendency to meander a little bit in terms of a straight burn. A touch-up with my butane lighter did the trick. I did have to touch up several times, but this was more of a nuisance than having any negative impacts on the overall flavor experience. The resulting ash was a darker color. It had more of a grayish, white look with some black spots. The ash also had some minor flaking. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal. On a side note, the Big Ivan is a cigar that is going to produce abundant and thick smoke.

As for the draw,  I found it also be ideal. This was a low maintenance draw with a little resistance to it. This made for an enjoyable smoke from start to finish.

Strength and Body

From a strength perspective, the Big Ivan remains true to the roots of the Skull and Bones line. The larger ring gauge doesn’t take away from the punch often found in the Skull and Bones releases. I found this to be a full strength cigar from start to finish.

In terms of the depth of the flavors, the Big Ivan also delivers bold and robust flavors. I also assessed this to be a full-bodied smoke. One thing the Big Ivan does real well is hold a nice balance between the strength and body attributes. It might do one of the better jobs of any release in the Skull and Bones series.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always said when a big ring gauge cigar smokes well, it is often tough to beat. While we don’t know a lot about the blend, it does seem like the Skull and Bones blend might have been tweaked to accommodate the big ring gauge. I found the Big Ivan to be one of the better releases of the eight batches of Skull and Bones cigars that Viaje has released.  I’m curious if time will significantly mellow the strength and body, so this is worth watching.

A little over a year ago, I felt the Skull and Bones line might had run its course. However the release of the San Andres maduro Skull and Bones – and now the big ring gauge Big Ican has put some new life into this series. Judging how fast the Big Ivan is selling and that retailers did not receive a lot, this could end up being a highly sought after Viaje cigar – plus it’s a very good smoke. Like most Skull and Bones, this is for the more experienced cigar enthusiast who prefers a strong cigar. As for myself, I look forward to smoking this again.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Full
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 92

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.