Team Cigar Review: Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner

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Cigar Details: Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner

  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • Length: 5.25″
  • Ring Gauge: 56
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: TABSA
  • Blender: Andre Farkas
  • Price: $13.20
  • Release Date: April 2020
  • Source: Developing Palates

Aaron-Loomis

 Aaron Loomis

Seth Geise

 Seth Geise

 John McTavish

Jiunn-Liu

 Jiunn Liu

Pre-light Experience

The wrapper on the Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner is medium brown and is a bit lumpy from what lies beneath it. The veins are very well pressed and the seams are smooth but visible due to some color variation of the wrapper and vein placement. The caps are well applied with the top one being slightly wrinkled. The band has the traditional Skull and Bones design with a color combination for this cigar of a white logo on a black band with a series of green crossbones bordering the top and bottom. The aroma from the wrapper is sweet wood while the foot brings musty cedar. The pre-light draw is also musty cedar.

Pre-light Experience

The Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner has a color that is Colorado Maduro in coloring and has small veins present throughout. There are aromas of rich earth, raisins and soft spices and it is firm throughout. The texture is a little gritty and the cap is not the best I have seen in terms of application.

Pre-light Experience

The Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner took me a short time to identify versus ‘The Hulk’. I would assume the design intent is that the white skull on green accents represents Bruce with the Hulk restrained, while the green skull on white of The Hulk represents the reverse. Regardless, it did cause some momentary confusion. The cigar sports a dark brown wrapper, with some firmly pressed veins. Aromas from the cigar included baking spices, cocoa, rich barnyard, hay and aged wood. From the foot, some sweet tobacco with hints of raisin.

Pre-light Experience

The Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner has an oily, medium roast espresso bean, Colorado Maduro wrapper shade. Veins are well pressed, seams tight, bunch and roll even but on the firmer end and head with a multi-layered cap. Aromas from the wrapper tell high levels of horse blanket and hay. Aromas from the foot tell a rich roasted nuttiness and dry red pepper spice. Cold draw gives cedar, herbal tea and hay.

First Third

The cigar begins with musty cedar and light black pepper. At a half inch in, the black pepper has picked up a bit. The retrohale shows a fuller version of the same profile and carries a bit of a zing. At an inch in, the black pepper is slightly ahead of the musty cedar. It also has a long finish, just sitting on my tongue. As the third comes to a close, the musty cedar once again gets a slight lead over the black pepper. The strength in this third was right at medium.

First Third

The first third begins by delivering some peppery spice qualities and it has some soft cream, peanuts and almonds. There are some floral aspects as well, and it is a solid beginning. I would classify the cigar as medium to medium-full, and I am interested in seeing how the cigar progresses into the second third.

First Third

Dark chocolate, espresso, earth, cedar and a delayed post draw wood serve as a palate wake up to begin the first third. On the retrohale, creamy graham cracker and baking spices. The retrohale presents as a dessert experience. As the first third settles in, citrus mixes with the delayed wood on the post draw. By the halfway point, cedar has moved to the front of the profile, with graham cracker firmly established in the middle. During the bottom half, baking spices mix with the cedar and finish the draw in combination.

First Third

The first third has an unbalanced flavor profile. There’s plenty of palate layering dry red pepper spice, lightly charred wood and naturally creamy nuttiness. But these flavors don’t meld very well together. The most harmonious part is through the retrohale, where there is intensified dry red pepper spice and roasted nuts. The finish has a burning paper-like sensation to the red pepper. Strength is medium plus and body medium.

Second Third

As the second third begins, the musty cedar and black pepper are even while the pepper is maintaining its long finish. At a half inch in, the black pepper is back to having a slight lead over the musty cedar. The retrohale is musty cedar with light black pepper. At three quarters of an inch in, the black pepper has quite a lead in the profile. As the third comes to a close, the black pepper has mellowed quite a bit and the musty cedar has transitioned to a slightly charred general wood note and is slightly up front. The strength in this third bumped up to slightly above medium.

Second Third

As I enter into the second third, I find a continuous amount of pepper flavor profiles being delivered and it is now paired with some cedar and earth. The floral and cream notes have faded, as have the peanut and almond notes. Like before, the cigar is smoking at a level between medium and medium-full.

Second Third

Medium, possibly medium plus cedar leads into the second third. Cocoa, mild coffee and cedar make up the retrohale. That cedar quickly lingers between each draw. Light baking spices move in and out of the profile as the second third progresses. A general light plus sweetness is present throughout by the halfway point.

Second Third

The second third becomes spicier, giving way to more of the dry red pepper spice. As a result of that, the softer note of creamy nuttiness dies down, which is most evident when retrohaling. The finish is still the same mix of burning paper and red pepper. Strength and body is unchanged at medium plus and medium, respectively.

Final Third

As the final third begins, the charred wood remains slightly ahead of the black pepper. At a half inch in, some mustiness is now even with the charred wood while the black pepper is a good distance in the background but still has a long finish. The retrohale is now just musty wood. The cigar maintains the profile of musty and charred wood with black pepper in the background as it closes out. The strength in this third remained at slightly above medium.

Final Third

The final third is similar to that of the second third and I am getting some black pepper and earth notes. The cedar is present as well and overall there is this damp mustiness present on the finish. Like before, the cigar is smoking at a medium to medium-full level.

Final Third

Cedar and earth carry the profile into the last third, as earth finishes each draw. Citrus moves into the middle to combine with earth. Cedar slowly takes over the middle of the profile as the cigar progresses.

Final Third

The final third continues to spike in red pepper with less noticeable nuttiness. The finish becomes heavier with spice and burning paper. Strength finishes medium-full and body medium.

Burn

The burn was a bit wavy throughout, but never required any attention. The ash held on in two inch increments.

Burn

The burn was very good from beginning to end. It was never razor sharp, but still a very good burn line that performed well throughout.

Burn

Overall, the burn was good, with ash hold on up to 1-1/2 inch increments. The burn became offset in the bottom half of the first third requiring a touch-up. It became uneven again in the second third, requiring a second touch-up.

Burn

There were some major burn issues. About a quarter of a side of the cigar refused to burn, causing three fairly major touch-ups.

Draw

The draw was pretty snug throughout. Using a draw tool provided no relief. There were times the smoke production waned and frequent draws were needed to keep the cigar going which I attribute to the tight draw.

Overall

The cigar began with musty cedar and light black pepper. The black pepper and musty cedar jockeyed for the lead until the end of the second third when the musty cedar morphed into a charred general wood note. The final third saw the musty charred wood keep a lead over the black pepper. Construction was pretty good aside from a pretty snug draw. Strength was slightly above medium most of the way. The Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner had a nice start with the unique musty cedar and black pepper combination, but by the second third it was becoming a bit monotonous and was just average. The final third saw another drop when the musty cedar transitioned to a charred general wood note. Definitely a huge black pepper influence in this cigar and logically thinking about how this will compare to The Hulk, I would think the pepper would be even more dominant there. I don’t really see myself coming back to this due to the enjoyment level I experienced as well as the hefty price point associated with this cigar. Black pepper fanatics and Viaje fans will likely find something they like here.

Draw

I really cared for the draw on the cigar and it had a nice level of resistance throughout.

Overall

I was not blown away by the Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner. In fact, it was not good. The cigar lacked flavors and complexity, and while the first third had a nice start, it went downhill quickly. Viaje in general has fallen apart in my opinion and with releases like this, you can see why the hype and demand has died down. Besides the cigar having a nice burn line and draw, the cigar is not worth trying.

Draw

The draw initially presented as quite resistant, roughly 3 to 3-1/2 notches. About 10-15 minutes into the review, the draw opened up to 2-1/2 notches for the remainder of the smoking time.

Overall

Overall, I found the Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner to be a slightly above average flavor experience, with the best flavor components presenting in the first third. Flavors included dark chocolate, espresso, earth, cedar, graham cracker, baking spices and a general sweetness. I rated the burn and draw to be good, with some touch-ups required and approximately 2-1/2 notches of resistance to the draw. I would be interested in smoking another Bruce Banner in a few months to see if the experience remained the same. Total smoking time was a relaxed 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Draw

The draw was a bit snug, but overall not a big issue.

Overall

The Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner was a bit of a polarizing cigar. There were some good Aganorsa like qualities to the cigar (nuttiness, good spice levels), but as a whole it was unbalanced and sharp. Especially on the finish, the cigar lacked depth and didn’t do a good job of pulling it together with dry red pepper spice and burning paper note. I’ll have to pass on this one and hope that The Hulk can smash this tasting experience.

Aaron
Seth
John
Jiunn
GoodPre
Light
AveragePre
Light
GoodPre
Light
Good
GoodFirst
Third
GoodFirst
Third
GoodFirst
Third
Average
AverageSecond
Third
AverageSecond
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AverageSecond
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Average
SubparFinal
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Very GoodBurnVery GoodBurnGoodBurnAverage
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Aaron Loomis

SCORE

5.35

Cost/Point

$2.47

Scoring System

Seth Geise

SCORE

5.48

Cost/Point

$2.41

Scoring System

John McTavish

SCORE

5.60

Cost/Point

$2.36

Scoring System

Jiunn Liu

SCORE

5.30

Cost/Point

$2.49

Scoring System

Team Cigar Review: Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner
Jiunn LiuTeam Cigar Review: Viaje Skull and Bones Bruce Banner

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