Black Label Trading Company Last Rites
Black Label Trading Company reached out to us a few weeks ago to introduce themselves and a few of their blends. Once of which is this week’s review, the Last Rites.
The Good Stuff: Black Label Trading Company is one of the newer boutique companies to hit the market. Established in 2013 they pride in making small batched, heavily enjoyable cigars. Their attitude and philosophy is found on their site as is as follows:
ATTITUDE: Our attitude re-thinks standards for cigar making, and caters to cigar lovers and aficionados tired of a mainstream, mass produced approach to cigar making. At Black Label Trading Company, we have created a market for those with the attitude that they deserve the best, and the confidence that they deserve to experience the Black Label Experience.
PHILOSOPHY: Our philosophy is Less is More; Small is Big; Small is Elite; and finally, Fine Tobacco making is Fine Art. Much like when we experience fine art, the Black Label Experience involves slowing down, taking in, being in the moment and letting expectation be replaced by surprise, and ultimately, total satisfaction.
While this “less is more” structure has been attempted in the past, we’ll light this cigar up and let the smoking experience do the talking. Since Black Label Trading Company is so small only one account per state will carry the lines with the exception of Texas which has two which is also the state in which Black Label operates from. Go Texas! The Last Rites comes in 4 sizes, and 5 x 54 Robusto, along with a box-pressed version of that, and a 6 x 60 Gran Toro which will also feature a box-pressed version. Only 500 boxes of these, and many of their other blends will be produced each year and will range from $12 to $14 a stick. Big thanks to Black Label Trading for sending a few samples our way.
Size: 5 x 54
Wrapper: Aged Ecuadorian Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan / Honduran
Pairing: Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve #14 (Belgian Strong Ale 10% ABV)
Prelight: First of all, the band is not only HUGE on the Black Label Trading Company’s cigars, but they have a pretty badass design as well. The black band sports a “BL” crest in white pearl with a skull on the center and some floral leaves spreading from the skull to a silver cross on the back of the band along with “Est. 2013”. On the samples I have received, the bands are identical although the foot band is different as it is a simple black and white pearl band with the blend’s name printed on it. In this case the words “Last Rites”. All in all it gives off a nice “Black Label Pirate” type theme to the cigar. The cigar itself carries and absolutely beautiful dark, dark brown maduro wrapper. The wrapper color is very consistent with the exception of a few darker areas around the round double cap. There are a few medium sized veins running through the body of the cigar while the wrapper remains silky smooth with some slight oils. The cigar is pretty seamless with the exception of a few softer spots around the foot of the cigar. The cigar is very heavy and quite bulky while the wrapper on the cigar feels pretty firm and delicate.
The wrapper on the Last Rites SCREAMS of strong sweet spice, cinnamon, and oak while the foot of the cigar is a bit more calm with some slight pepper and natural tobacco aromas. The cap cut very clean and very easily using my Palio double bladed cutter. The cold draw had a bit of the sweetness and spice but it was all masked out by a crazy strong paint-like flavor. Let’s hope that doesn’t make it’s way into the smoking experience.
First Smoke: Black Label Trading Company’s Last Rites starts out with the black pepper that I was expecting which quickly dropped off to reveal an awesome Malty, chocolaty character with some nice sweet spice and espresso notes. The spice isn’t your standard dry spice, it reminds me much more of a brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg mixture. Almost like Christmas. And I am happy to report that paint flavor never made it into the actual smoking experience. The draw is easy and plentiful as each puff releases a vast amount of thick smoke into my mouth. It’s a bit windy out, so I can’t really tell what the stationary smoke looks like or smells like. The burnline is razor sharp and dead even leaving behind a nicely compacted trail of medium to light gray ash which held on for a bit over an inch despite the wind having it’s way with it.
Halfway There: The Last Rites started to become a bit more tame in the second third. The sweetness and spice were still there but not as dominant as the espresso and chocolate mellowed out and a nice black cherry worked it’s way in. It’s still pretty complex, but none of the flavors were as potent as they were during the first third. The retrohale is amazing coating my nasal passage with some soft spice, and lots of sweetness. It really helped bring the tartness of the cherry out of the experience. The burnline is still rockin’ and I am feeling little to nothing in the nicotine department as I close out the second third.
Finish: Black Label Trading’s Last Rites is really starting to shine in the final third. The flavors have began to ramp back up with the strong sweet spices leading the charge followed by the chocolate and cherry with some molasses and espresso backing it up. The pepper has also started to show up a little, but it’s very mild. It’s pretty impressive the amount of flavor this cigar kicks out. It’s taken me about an hour and half to take it down to the nub and I enjoyed every second of it with no harshness, nor heat, no additional attention from my torch, nor nicotine.
Overview: Black Label Trading Company’s Last Rites isn’t is a cigar that isn’t very hard to fall in love with. While the price may be a bit steep the experience totally makes up for it. And while we are on price, being that Black Label is a brand new, boutique company one would almost expect a higher price point on their cigars. It all comes down to whether or not the cigar smoker deems the experience worth it, and in this case, I do. The Last Rites delivered on all aspects, construction, flavor, and burn/draw with an added bonus for complexity. While this cigar may be a bit out of budget, and complex for the novice smoker I think that more refined palates would really enjoy these and it’s worth having a few on deck when you are searching for a well-rounded flavorful experience.
Pairing: Keeping up with the Texas theme I turned to probably the best brew I have had from the Saint Arnold’s brewery, the Divine Reserve #14. The Houston based brewery releases a different brew style every year under the Divine Reserve name, this year they chose a style that was right up my alley a Belgian style strong ale. Clocking in at 10% ABV this beer is ripe and for the taking. The Diving Reserve #14 pushes heavy sweetness backed by some subtle fruit and caramel while finishing very clean with some apple and spice flavors. It’s easy to see why I chose as my pairing for Black Label Trading Company’s Last Rites as it meshed extremely well with the spice, cherry, and chocolate producing a cornucopia of flavor. Yes, I went there. Anyways, this beer is VERY limited, and VERY sought after so if you have access to Saint Arnold’s beers I suggest you get out there and find a few.