Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte

Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Short Robusto
SIZE:   4-3/4″ x 52

ORIGIN:   Nicaragua
FACTORY:   Fabrica Oveja Negra (Esteli)

WRAPPER:   Ecuadorian Habano
BINDER:   Ecuadorian Habano
FILLER:   Dominican, Nicaraguan, Mexican San Andres

STRENGTH:   Medium

SOURCE:   
Small Batch Cigar

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
Three Season Porch at Home

WHEN:   
December 05, 2017 @ 1 PM

DRINKS:   
Starbucks Christmas Blend 2017

WEATHER:   
Low-50s – Warm winter day, cool fall day

WHAT’S ON:   
WGR550

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Limited Production w/ Annual Release

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  November 2017

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 20
Production Totals:  2016 production numbers not released

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  Short Robusto – 4-3/4″ x 52
 Corona Gordo – 5-1/2″ x 4

Image courtesy of Small Batch Cigar

RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO

  • The Santa Muerte line is inspired by the Dia de los Muertos holiday.  As such it was originally released on November 1st – one of the observed days for the holiday.
  • Dia de los Muertos is all about honoring the dead – those that we love and remember that are no longer with us.  BLTC uses the Santa Muerte to give a nod to those that inspired and came before them in the cigar industry.
  • The Santa Muerte line uses six different fillers from various regions.
  • James Brown, owner of BLTC, says the brand’s philosophy is producing small batch cigars with a less is more approach.  While it is certain the craft and detail that goes into the cigar is emblematic of this philosophy, I’ve gotta say the branding (while awesome) doesn’t really feel like a “less is more” approach.

BAND DESIGN

BLTC comes out with some really badass looking bands and the Santa Muerte is no exception.  It perfectly conveys the Dia de los Muertos image with the prominently placed skull and cross above.  Outside of the skull, the whole band looks like the motif you’d find atop a pueblo-style church south of the border.  The text below is simple enough and states the brand and name of the cigar line – something I can always appreciate.  The black and white color scheme fits the brand aesthetic and concept perfectly. 

My sole complaint is that the band is a little big for the cigar.  It could be scaled down a bit and be just about perfect.

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
BLTC’s Santa Muerte is a sexy looking cigar.  The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper is a soft, oil-laden brown wrapper that’s closer to a horsehide shade than chocolate.  The wrapper has plenty of veins apparent however the cigar itself is perfectly smooth.  Even when you look for seams, it’s very hard to find them!  The Santa Muerte really is a masterpiece from a construction point of view. 

The cigar is very firm with little-to-no compression and feels like a dense, bulky stick.  The quad cap is perfectly applied – blending seamlessly into the body of the cigar.  The shoulders are symmetrical with a drop nice deep and even into the cigar as well.  The foot reinforces the notion that the Santa Muerte is a densely packed stick.  The foot looks so well and tightly packed that, frankly, I’m slightly concerned for the draw!  BLTC’s reputation of solidly made cigars is enough to ease any concerns there though.

AROMA
The cigar has a faint pre-light aroma – some soft cedar and must.  Not much else going on – it’s very nice smelling but no major notes that stand out as dominant.

COLD DRAW
The cold draw brings the first bursts of flavor with great cedar and orange zest notes. It’s a little on the tight side but I cut it pretty shallow so we’ll see how it opens up.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Xikar XO
Fire:  Saints & Sinners Single-Flame

The Santa Muerte starts out with a bit of peppery harshness but nothing overwhelming.  The draw is pleasantly open – alleveating any concerns from my prelight observations.  So far, the burn is a little wobbly but overall starting out well.

I will say, it took a minute to the Santa Muerte lit up evenly but once I got the whole foot lit up, it burned uniformly.  Already, the white-grey ash is stacking sturdily – another nod to the cigar’s stellar construction.

SMOKE
The Santa Muerte is kicking out plenty of smoke – definitely leaning more to the heavy side.

FIRST THIRD
>> Pepper, cedar, dough

The initial flavors from the short robusto are mild pepper, cedar and just a bit of doughiness.  The retrohale is a healthy dose of black pepper that’ll bring some tears to your eyes.

The draw continues to be just about perfect – just the right amount of openness.  At this point, the burn line is perfect – nice and sharp with only some extremely minor deviations.  The ash remains a white-grey color and is stacking perfectly.

SECOND THIRD
>> Bread, walnut, cedar

Getting into the second third, the pepper has subsided and become a much more mellow, medium-bodied smoke.  The cedar is still present although taking a secondary role.  Bread/dough are at the forefront – making for a very muted, subtle baseline flavor.  Also present are some raw walnuts.  The retrohale is quite soft and easy going – it reinforces the doughiness and omits any harshness of the pepper while still providing the flavor of pepper – if that makes any sense.

I can’t help but think this would be the ideal cigar to pair with some good bourbon.  The sweetness of a bourbon or other liquor (or something like ginger ale) would really compliment the mild pepper and bread/nut flavors nicely.

At the midpoint, the draw is great – open with just a bit of resistance.  The burn continues to be impressive – no deviation or waviness – perfect razor-sharp burn.  The ash fell at about an inch and is once again building superbly.

FINAL THIRD
>> Dough, red pepper, leather

All good things must come to an end, right?  The Santa Muerte’s final act is much a continuation of the first two.  There is a balance of dough/bread combined with some pepper and walnuts but new to the palate are some cedar, leather and just a hint of red pepper.  There’s an underlying slight creaminess that is serving to unify the flavors as well.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
The flavor progression is not an overt, hit you over the head type progression.  It quietly shifts and plays with a few flavors expertly.  While I do love the cigars that can seamlessly move from one extreme flavor to the next, it is awesome to watch a master blender at work with just a handful of flavors.  My lone wish is for a subtle sweetness to really compliment the palate – if the orange zest of the cold draw could have continued this really would be a masterpiece.

BURN EXPERIENCE
The draw and burn have been nothing short of perfection.  BLTC’s quality is quickly becoming a high bar for other brands to reach for – especially at the price point.  I would easily expect this stick to cost a few bucks more than it does.

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.80 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.46 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.47 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.01 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

  • Truly perfect construction
  • Subtle flavors in medium body
  • Missing a little sweetness

SANTA MUERTE MASTERPIECE.

Black Label Trading Company’s Santa Muerte is truly a fantastic, approachable cigar for every palate.  Whether a seasoned cigar aficionado or your first cigar, the subtle complexities wrapped into a medium-bodied experience can be appreciated by all.  I’ll admit, prior to this review, this has been one of my favorite stogies to reach for since it’s initial release.  I can recommend, without hesistation, picking up a box of either vitola from any year.  You will not be disappointed!
 

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.2 / 10.0

HOW WE COMPARE

I love reading other reviewers’ thoughts on the cigars I’m smoking and reviewing – it helps to show that no one review is perfect and there’s always different opinions and tastes out there.  Here’s how my review stacks up with some of the best in the biz.

There are not many reviews out there for the short robusto vitola of the Santa Muerte!  The one I found had it pegged pretty close to were I rated it! 

 

Vitola Reviewed:  Short Robusto
Rating:  91 (9.1)

Short Cuts: Black Label Trading Company Santa Muerte

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