Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: United States, Brazilian, Dominican
Size: 6 x 54 “Toro”
Body: Full
Price: $14.47 MSRP (As much as over $16.00 in many online stores)

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Today we take a look at the new Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess.

BACKGROUND:
From the Cigar Aficionado web site:
“Viaje Cigar Co. is releasing a trio of gleaming ceramic jars and the company is filling each one with 19 hefty smokes. The cigar is called the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess, and it’s a 6 inch by 54 ring gauge Toro made in the Dominican Republic at the PDR Cigars factory. Only 1,000 jars of the Ten Ton Tess are being produced—500 in white and 500 in black. The blend is the same regardless of the jar and features a Mexican San Andrés maduro wrapper, a Dominican binder and filler tobacco from Brazil, the United States and the Dominican Republic. Each Ten Ton Tess is set to retail for $14.47.

“Both jars come printed with an eye-catching, skull-and-crossbones logo similar to the repeating patterns found on high-end luxury goods. It’s Viaje’s first jar since the company’s jar of Double Edged Swords was released in 2013. Unlike the original jar release, however, these new jars are equipped with humidification devices.

“But Viaje is also putting out a third jar (shown, far right), which contains cigars with a completely different undisclosed blend. The color scheme of that particular jar is slightly different in order to differentiate this extra-limited release from the other two. While the other jars have silver skulls, the skull pattern found on the “secret” release are gold. Only 100 of these jars are being produced.

“Keeping with the ballistics and explosives theme of Viaje’s Skull and Bones brand, Ten Ton Tess is named after the 22,000 lb. Grand Slam earthquake category bomb dropped by the Avro Lancaster aircraft in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
“In an unusual pricing decision, Viaje is ascribing no suggested retail price to the secret-blend cigars, leaving the price up to the retailers.”

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DESCRIPTION:
If ever a cigar looked like it was dunked in 10-40 motor oil, this is the baby. A gorgeous mottled wrapper that is nearly coal black. Tight seams, lots of small veins, impeccable triple cap on one cigar and a sloppy on another.
The cigar is rock solid. Not much give to the sticks. This may be a long review. I get on my knees and pray to the Cosmic Muffin that there are no plugs.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I can smell lovely, strong floral notes, chocolate, spice, baker’s spice, cedar, leather, and earthiness.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell spice (Two rapid sneezes), strong cocoa, coffee, sweetness, floral notes, leather, and earthiness.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate, mustiness, coffee, spice, sweetness, cream, and cedar.

FIRST THIRD:
Man, this is a big cigar.
But even as packed as the cigar is, the draw is perfect.

It is a heavy cigar and giving my lips a workout holding them without chomping. Took a long time to break that nasty habit.
First flavors: Red pepper, hot cocoa with marshmallows, coffee, wet wood, powdered cocoa, leather, and very rich tobacco notes.
Then some creaminess climbs on board. Rounds out the entire flavor profile.

Strength starts at medium/full. Oy vay.

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Viaje has slowly taken the place of many Pepin Garcia blends with that Power Blast of Pepper at the start. I can only think of a couple Viaje cigars, well-aged of course, that don’t possess that attribute.
Slow go. Half an inch took 10 minutes. Extrapolating that, we have a two hour cigar.

A little bit of fruity notes appear. Not distinct or formal. I’m sure they will be defined soon.

Side note: Our one and only car died. Old age and its heart gave out. We went to a used lot where the owner is friends with my daughter. His wife will be one of the kid’s bridesmaids. So we expect fair treatment. Naaah. A salesman to the core. Tells so many lies that can’t keep them straight in his head. He should take notes. So we ditched him.

This is a very heavy chocolate influenced blend. But there are underpinnings at play. Such as the creaminess and sweetness. Some toasty nutty notes. The spiciness is at bay now. Somewhere in the top 75%. Complexity settles in early. Which makes it difficult to pick out individual flavors as many have morphed into one. But no fear, dear readers, Sherlock Katman will find them.

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I smack my lips and sip water. Here are the missing links: toffee, honey, shaved coconut, vanilla, almonds, and gingerbread. We have a cookie/candy bar.
These flavors are very subtle and take some real squinting of the eyes shut to taste them.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes. It sped up on me.
The dominant flavors of chocolate and creaminess are neck and neck. Other flavors are subordinate.

I’ve noticed no other reviews yet. Why? Because the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess is a cigar that needs time. I think I’ve given it a month. I get a leg up sometimes because it is the first cigar of the day and shines like a star collapsing. And my brilliant 5 decade old palate. LOL.

5third

The other reason is that the big guy reviewers have so much on their plate that cigars just have to wait their turn. I don’t have that problem.

Sweetness is the #3 flavor. Made up of all sorts of concoctions: Honey, toffee, sweet vanilla, and gingerbread.
The Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess hits full bodied.

I got a couple of Casa Fernandez Miami Reserva Maduros for $4 each, a couple of Casa Fernandez Aniversario 2014 for $7 each, and some other classics for around $3-$4 on Cbid. I don’t remember ever seeing Viaje blends on Cbid. But the replacement of Casa Fernandez is just fine with me. A similar blending style.

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The flavors explode with 3-3/4” to go. Blam!
I hope you get to read my reviews time to time on a laptop or tablet. Using your smart phone misses out on some of my photos. Once in a while, I really snag some good stuff. I pride myself on providing the best photos I can offer; an inexperienced, hobo photographer. I look at some of the lesser known reviewers and some take the most beautiful photos that I could never attain in my wildest dreams.

While several months of humidor time will vastly improve this blend, it is something else after just a month.
It is super complex. A wonderful balance. And a finish a mile long.

No flavors notes have changed. But now they rotate like a disco ball. And we all loved disco.
The late 70’s was the only time in my bass playing life that I didn’t play out much. Every cover band wanted to play disco and it made me gag. Thank God for the influx of “New Wave” music trend. Creativity came back.
It was then that Rick T. made me get rid of my afro and go with a super clean cut look. Made me cry

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The cigar slows down enormously. I started the second third with 35 minutes on it and as I close in on the halfway point, it has taken 50 minutes and I still have half an inch to go.
But so far, so good. No nicotine. The Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess is uber smooth. Fingers crossed. I dislike starting my day with the spins.

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OK. One more time with feeling: Chocolate, creaminess, coffee, spice, honey, floral notes, toffee, toasty nuts, vanilla, gingerbread, wood, leather, coconut, and rich tobacco notes.

I think my toupee is spinning and is going to fly off my head from the flavor overload.
I have my thoughts on the price point. Later.

HALFWAY POINT:
60 minutes of smoke time.
Lord Almighty! What an incredible blend. Since it is the Jewish Sabbath, I shouldn’t be doing this but since I am a born again Pagan, it’s OK. I had bacon in my omelet for dinner last night.

Transitions. A boat load. Each puff brings something new to the experience.
The second half appears to be the major sweet spot. Still smooth as silk.

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Nicotine arrives. The dreaded bandit that takes away my sanity. But then I have a will with a Sanity Clause. So I’m covered for Christmas and Chanukkah.
I’m screaming laughter. 3” to go. Wonderful.

I decide to drink an Atkins Shake to get something in my gut. That stuff has helped me lose 40lbs in a year without exercise. And watching what I eat, of course. This stuff takes away your appetite so you aren’t constantly noshing. (Yiddish word meaning “to snack.”) And not be a chazer. (Yiddish for pig, also used to define a pig like person or a slob.)
Stick with me and I will have you speaking Yiddish in 6 months.

Back to the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess. I can’t say enough good things about this cigar.

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So many flavors. And I know I’m missing out on defining some of them. It is so complex that even I have trouble.

My apologies for so much “fluff” in my reviews. But then I attract smokers who like to read about a day in the life. Smokers that read the newspaper. Smokers that enjoy reading. There are oodles of reviewers that cut right to the gist of things. I enjoy writing to much to do that. But good for them. Because a lot of smokers appreciate that type of review much more than my style.
I cannot begin to count the messages I’ve received from readers who look forward to reading my meanderings at their lunch break at work. Cracks me up. It used to be the funny papers…now it’s me.

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The Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess has become very savory. Meaty. There are hints of hickory, cashew, charry oak, earthy tobacco, and cinnamon. And way in the background is some caramel…washing out the toffee component.
The Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess needs a lot of minor touch ups. Most of them to get pretty photos. Nothing serious.
Andre Farkas is an amazing talent. A savant, if you will. He is still a young man. Can you imagine what his skills will be like in 20 years?

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 40 minutes. This has been a long haul.
The nicotine leveled out a while back making it easier to smoke.

There is way too much glue on both cigar bands. Luckily, I can trim them for the photos.
Except for the minor touch ups, the construction has been exemplary.
No plugs. A perfect draw. The last third remains solid.

11third

Nicotine returns with a whack to the side of my head. Woooo…..What year is this?
I’ve slowed down too much and the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess goes out on me.

The caramel comes out of hiding and is very strong now. It replaces the honey, gingerbread, coconut, and the floral notes.
The nicotine is becoming too much for me. Not sure if I can finish.

The trend over the last couple years has been for stronger and stronger cigars. A new name should be called: “Super Strong Full Bodied. Beware!”
I remember how the old La Bombas had that exact warning on the inside of the box lid.
I’m swooning. Gotta walk it off.

Have you noticed that the daily specials from Cigar.com, CI, and Cigar Monster are mostly drek? I haven’t bought a special in light years.

I did find a great buy on Cbid. The Man O’ War Dark Horse. I got a 10 pack for $35. They are little suckers: 4.5 x 44. A short filler cigar. But they are fantastic. Unfortunately, neither CI nor Cigar.com carries them in their regular rotation. They taste like Drew Estate Liga Privada Papas Fritas. Or the Drew Estate Undercrown Corona Viva. Keep an eye open on Cbid for them.

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The last third finishes nicely; except for the onslaught of nicotine. Sort of ruins it for me.
The hearty experienced smoker shouldn’t have too much trouble. But the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess is not for the weak in the knees.
When casually smoking my cigars, I normally put the cigar down at this point. I have enough trouble keeping my balance without the massive amount of nicotine poisoning my brain.

PRICE POINT:
$14.47? Hell no! There are a gazillion cigar blends in the $8-$9 range that are every bit as good. But then this cigar came out of IPCPR and the new rule must be every cigar must have a price point of near $15.00. I get the same emails you do from online stores and I’m sickened by a 5 pack that prices out at $76. WTF?
I can’t imagine what they must cost in a B & M with taxes added on.
God help us next year.

SUMMATION:
As far as strong cigars go, I liked the La Mission du L’Atelier and the Asylum 33 by Asylum Cigars better. Strong but manageable. And a better price point. And just as flavorful.

The Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess seems more like an exercise in “Look how strong a cigar I can make” than focusing on smokability.

I’m very impressed with the flavor profile. Something for everyone.
This is a limited production blend with a huge PR campaign and fancy presentation.

The price is too high for all that fol de rol. Get rid of the fancy shmancy cigar jars. Tone down the PR. And this cigar might have gone for a few bucks less.
In my thinking, most limited run cigars are merely so for supply and demand; and price.
“Ooh, ooh..I gotta have it.”

I will continue to rate cigars as I have lately. I give the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess a 90. It would have been higher due to the flavor profile; but the massive dose of nicotine in the last third brought the score down.

I can’t recommend the Viaje Skull and Bones Ten Ton Tess as long as they are over $14.00. Small Batch Cigar usually gives you a break on price. Not today. They are asking for $16.60 each in a 5 pack. And $16.20 in the fancy jar.
Even Cigar Federation is asking $16.20 per stick. And the same for the jar.
According to Halfwheel and Cigar Coop, the MSRP is $14.47 each. Supply and Demand.

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5 replies

  1. Katman
    Keep up the fluff. You’re great at what you do. Never bend for convention.

  2. The reason for the $15 price tag…that damn fancy jar they come in. If packed in a regular Viaje SLB these would be in the $8-9 range…since they are a “collectors item” and people dig those classy ceramic jars you have to pay for the packaging even when buying a 5 pack..

    • Right on brother. And what happens to those fancy jars a year from now?
      They are in the garage holding nails and screws. Hope the price of the jar was worth it.

  3. I couldn’t tell because of glare but that was the gold skull skull one? Super limited and would love to get my hands on that second one if you haven’t smoked it..I could send you a trade..and hey I loved your Jewish mafia book…sounds non fiction gangster shit there.is there a complete book or just samples if chapters…email me if you would like…glad you’re reviews keep coming I don’t bother with the others I could read the webpage inn the cigar if I wanted straight facts lol…glad your fund me account is helping if only a little bit..Philip you rock