Black Label Trading Co. Benediction
Devils hockey, backyard time, perfect weather, great cigar, and awesome beer. This is the life! This week I am relaxing out back with a Black Label Trading Co. Benediction paired with a bottle of Side Project’s Ambiente.
The Good Stuff:
Originally part of the Black Label Trading Co.’s original portfolio in 2013, the Benediction has made its triumphant return as a Smokers Abbey Exclusive. Both the blend and the packaging have been updated to be more in line with the releases the Black Label Trading Co. has been releasing more recently. Created at Black Label’s Oveja Negra factory in Nicaragua the blend features a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The cigar is offered in two sizes: Short Robusto (4 1/2 x 50) and the Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 42). Both come packaged in boxes of 20 and run $10 and $11 per cigar.
- Size: 4 1/2 x 50
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Body: Medium
- Strength: Medium
- Price: $10
- Pairing: Side Project Ambiente (Imperial Stout 13% ABV)
First, let’s talk about this artwork. Straight gorgeous. The band features a skeleton in full religion attire. The black, white, and silver embossed ink make the branding both elegant and creepy at the same time. I love it. There is also a smaller foot band with the word “Benediction” printed across the front.
The wrapper on Black Label Trading Co.’s Benediction is extremely dark brown and very consistent in color. The wrapper’s texture is slightly gritty with a whole ton of oils coating it. The wrapper feels thick and hard as the cigar is very tightly packed and heavy for it’s size. There are some very minor veins running up to the cigar’s round, triple-wrapped cap.
The wrapper on the Black Label Trading Co. Benediction gives off some dark chocolate aromas over natural tobacco scents while the foot of the cigar carries much of the same only with an added spice. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar XO double bladed cutter. The cold draw produces notes of chocolate and cinnamon over deep woodsy flavors.
When I took off the foot band I unveiled probably the largest wrapper patch I have every seen covering a very large area at the foot of the cigar. I really don’t mind patches at all, especially if its applied as well as this one is. It’s pointless to toss a good cigar if all it needs is a bit of wrapper leaf to fix it. Anyways, the Black Label Trading Co. Benediction lit up with ease. The cigar starts out with a very light burst of black pepper which faded almost instantly leaving behind notes of oak, dark chocolate, and black coffee over some light cinnamon and earthiness. I am happy to report the Benediction burned straight through that patch with absolutely no burn or cracking issues. The draw is slightly tight but nothing too concerning at this point. After just a little effort I get a good amount of smoke on my draw while the cigar releases a good amount of stationary smoke while it rests in my ashtray. The burn line is decently even leaving behind a trail of white and medium gray ash which held on for about a 3/4 of an inch before falling into my ashtray. Note, after about a half inch in the cigar fully opened up as I expected and the draw was perfect.
The dark chocolate and coffee have completely taken over the Black Label Trading Co. Benediction and I’m not complaining. The cinnamon, and oak are still there just not as prominent at this point. The retrohale brings out some awesome honey and sweetness which I find myself doing quite often. It took me a little over an hour to smoke this cigar down to the nub. There was no harshness, no extended heat, barely any nicotine, and it never once needed any attention from my torch as it burned perfectly from start to finish.
The first time I smoked the Benediction I was a little underwhelmed. The cigar may have just needed a bit of rest as this experience was quite nice. It’s not the bold, complex profile that you come to expect from Black Label Trading Co., nor did it need to be. This is a solid cigar with a very good supporting cast of flavors which I personally really enjoyed. This is also a great example of not being scared of cigars with simple patches. They are in use for a reason and in most cases will not affect smoking experiences when applied properly as in this case.
Side Project brewing’s Ambient is a 13% imperial stout with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, cinnamon sticks and ancho chilis. The beer leads with very heavy cinnamon, chocolate, black coffee and roasted malt with some light black licorice and black cherry. There is a lot going on here. The mouthfeel is very heavy and finishes with more cinnamon, chocolate, and a great little aftertaste of the chili pepper which is so subtle I don’t pick them up much on the taste. It’s easy to see why I paired the Benediction with this beer as they both share heavy notes of chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon while the cigar added a bit of smokiness to the experience.