Cigar Reviews

Black Works Studio Killer Bee Shaolin

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After completing the end of the year yard work (bring on the winter!), I hopped out back with a Black Works Studio Killer Beer Shaolin paired with a bottle of The Bruery’s Sundae Sunday.

The Good Stuff:

The Killer Bee line has evolved quite a bit over time. At this year’s PCA show James Brown, owner of Black Label Trading Co./Black Works Studio released the Shaolin, an extensively modified version of the Killer Bee. Created at the Fabrica Oveja Negra in Esteli, Nicaragua the blend features all Nicaraguan fillers, Honduran Habano binder and a mixture of Mexican San Andrés Maduro and Connecticut Shade wrappers with Candela accents. The cigar comes in a single 5 1/2 x 46 belicoso format. The Killer Bee Shaolin comes packaged in boxes of 24 and runs $13.50 a stick with only 950 boxes released. I purchased a few over from Atlantic Cigar and my body JG hooked it up with the one I am reviewing today.

  • Size: 5 1/2 x 46
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés, Connecticut Shade, and Candela
  • Binder: Honduran Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Body: Full
  • Strength: Full
  • Price: $13.50
  • Pairing: The Bruery Sundae Sunday (Imperial Stout – 17.8% ABV)


The Black Works Studio Killer Beer Shaolin starts out with the crazy looking wrappers we’ve come to expect from the brand. In the case of the Shaolin the tapered belicoso cap stars with a very deep, dark brown tightly spiraled around a lighter consistent orangish-brown leaf which widens out once you past the cap. The barber-pole style spiral continues through the cigar’s body down to the sealed, green, candela wrapper foot. Even with the complexities of the wrapper, it’s constructed perfectly as each leaf is seamless laid over another. There are almost no veins in any of the wrapper leaf. The texture is pretty toothy and gritty in the darker brown areas and silky smooth where the Connecticut shade is laid. The cigar is packed very tightly and is pretty damn heavy. The cigar is polished off with a black and gold band with the Killer Bee crest and artwork.

The wrapper on the Killer Bee Shaolin gives off a lot of sweet honey over some lighter spice notes while the foot of the cigar is mostly the same with a bit of earthiness from the candela. covering. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar XO double bladed cutter. The cold draw produces notes of honey, earthy grain, and soft spice.

First Third:

The Black Works Studio Killer Beer Shaolin leads with some soft black pepper over rich dark chocolate, honey, and musk with light notes of caramel, black cherry and a nice tartness left on my lips. The draw is absolutely perfect. Each puff kicks out a huge cloud of thick, white smoke which hangs out for a while even in the breeze before dissipating. The burn line is razor thin and mostly even leaving behind a trail of tightly compacted white ash which held on for about 3/4 of an inch before falling into my ashtray.

Second Third:

Into the second third of the Black Works Studio Killer Beer Shaolin and the chocolate is just pouring on. Underneath are great tart cherry notes, musk, and honey with lighter notes of caramel, vanilla, spice and earthiness. The retrohale really piles on the spice and considering how sweet the flavors are in the standard smoking experience I don’t find find myself doing it too often. I close out the second third with a minor nicotine kick, but it’s noticeable.

Note: Into the second third a pretty big tunnel opened up. Luckily, this didn’t impact the experience too much and I was able to smoke through it pretty easily. I smoked 3 of these cigars total and it only happened to one. I add this as a note that these things happen since these are handmade items and even then, sometimes you’re able to smoke right through them.


Into the final third of the Black Works Studio Killer Bee Shaolin and the flavors are mostly the same, and there are no complaints here. The cigar carries bold notes of dark chocolate, black cherry, and honey over lighter notes of musk, caramel, vanilla and spice. It took me about an hour and a half to smoke the Shaolin down to the nub. I experienced no harshness, nor extended heat. I had to relight the cigar once, which is no big deal, and despite the tunnel it burned great from start to finish.


The Black Works Studio Killer Bee Shaolin is easily one of the better cigars I smoked all year. The flavor profile is absolutely beautiful, and matches exactly what I look for in a cigar. The complexity was great. The burn was flawless from start to finish even considering the tunnel that popped up about halfway through. It always surprised me how complex the manufacturing of a lot of Black Label cigars are, and how well put together the final product is. My only gripe, as you can guess, is that these are pretty much sold out absolutely everywhere. Happy Hunting.


The Bruery’s Sundae Sunday features Black Tuesday as a base, aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans and boysenberries. The 17.7% ABV beer leads with loads of tartness, black cherry/berry, dark chocolate, caramel, malt, and a heavy and very noticeable dose of vanilla with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing with more tart berry, dark chocolate, and vanilla. This is a big beer, that’s scarily easy to drink. The dark chocolate, caramel, and berry married up perfectly with the flavors found in the Black Works Studio Killer Bee Shaolin while the cigar added a nice bit of earthiness to the overall experience.

Tony Casas is a 32 year old Creative Managing/Webdesigning/Craft Beer Drinking Cigar smoker from El Paso, Texas. When he isn't loving his wife he is either sleepy, hungry, or suffering from a headache.

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