Thanks to Matt O’Hop at Cigars on State in Clark Summit, Pa for hooking me up with the newly released Morphine. I was able to get all 3 vitolas and plan to review each of them. Check out http://cigarsonstate.com/wp/ for all your cigar needs and great info. Matt does a nice job on his blog keeping you up to date with things going on in the industry.
For those of you that follow me on social media, you have seen my post of Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio cigars. It is no secret that I am a big fan of both brands and the cigars they produce. I also had the pleasure of sitting down with James Brown when he visited Pa last year. James is a great guy and he and his wife Angela live in Nicaragua full time where they run Fabrica de Oveja Negra in Esteli that they opened in 2015. The following is from the BLTC website and talks a little bit about the factory.
“As the name suggests, Oveja Negra (Black Sheep), will do things differently.
“Starting our own factory was a natural progression of the brand. We needed the freedom to be as creative as possible and to have ownership of every process that goes into making our cigars. We have always been involved in every aspect of our production but now we can take it to the next level and ensure 100% quality from seed to ash,” stated James Brown, creator of BLTC.
Oveja Negra offers its clients a factory where small batch production is the norm, and quality is the priority. At Oveja Negra smaller brands and retailers wanting private labels can make a cigar without huge minimum orders.
“This is a tough industry for small companies. Its hard to get the attention you need to create a premium product. Our goal is to help support other boutique brands and grow the premium-cigar market,” stated James Brown.
Black Label Trading Company is re-defining the standards for cigar making. With a less is more philosophy Black Label Trading Co. creates hand crafted premium cigars of the utmost quality in small batch, limited quantities.”
Oveja Negra is also responsible for producing cigars for the Nomad brand and is currently working on a project with Veritas Cigar Co. I can tell you that everything I have had so far from that factory is solid and consistent. It feels like every release that comes out is better and better. If you haven’t had any of their cigars, I highly recommend them. Be sure to follow them on social media and check out some of the amazing works of art they are creating.
So with all of that out of the way, let’s review a cigar shall we? Up first from the bunch is the latest release of Morphine. This is the fourth release of this cigar and I am anxious to try it. It was one of my favorite cigars of last year and I enjoyed all but 1 because I wanted to make sure I had one until I got the 17’s in. Well, mission accomplished and now I can go back and see what some aging did to it and compare. Win, win.
Morphine 2017 Corona 5 1/2 x 42 (18 count box)
(Also available this year in Lancero 7 1/4 x 42 12 box count and Short Robusto 4 1/2 x 50 20 box count) 400 boxes of each will be available for 20,000 cigars total.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan habano
Origin: Esteli, Nicaragua
Appearance / Construction: Keeping true to form, this years version is dark, rugged and rustic. The dark brown maduro wrapper presents a few bumps and veins with tight seams. The cigar feels solid with no soft spots. The foot is open and the cap is rounded with a small “nub” on the end. There are 2 black and white bands that blend nicely with the wrapper. One is the logo artwork band and the second has the name on it.
Pre-light: I decided to keep this one in the cellophane until I was almost ready to smoke it. Once I remove it I am hit with heavy barnyard notes, manure, and hay. I let it sit out for a minute or so and breathe a bit. Once I go back to it, I pick up pepper, chocolate sweetness, much less barnyard, hay and earth. On the foot I get more of the same with a grassy undertone. Using a straight cut I remove the cap and the cold draw is open with a slight resistance. I get a nice pepper, wood and hay profile from the cold draw. Time to get this one toasted.
1st Third: Right away the old familiar sting of red pepper/spice hits the throat and nose. Ah….I take a few seconds to enjoy it. Once things calm down a bit I pick up a nice woodsy cedar profile. There is a subtle undertone that reminds me of the smell of damp, freshly cut grass. Crazy I know but that is the only way I can describe it. As I work through the first half inch or so, there is a lot going on here and it’s all really good. There is a little hint of sweetness here and there and the pepper still finds it way in at times. So far this blend is really enjoyable to me. The draw is good. Open with a little resistance but nothing too tight. The burn is good. A little wavy but nothing unmanageable. And here comes the rain! Damn, time to move into the garage. I was trying to beat it and I lost!
2nd Third: As I move into the halfway point, more of the same great notes. This is a very consistent blend. Nothing that shifts and changes in crazy ways but complex enough to keep things interesting. Still very woodsy, earthy, spicy (though not as much as the start), and very smooth. This is a full bodied smoke. The strength is certainly in the full range. One thing about most BLTC is they often pack a punch. Thus the name Morphine! Takes all the pain away! I am getting nice smoke from this stick and so far I am really feeling this year’s release.
Final Third: Again, no major shifts here. Consistent and delicious. As I watch the rain pour down, I am thinking back to last years release and for as good as that one was, I think this years blend has turned things up a notch. No real changes in the profile as I work my way down to the nub. More of the same cedar wood, grassy, pepper, earthy notes that started all blended together in a perfect presentation on the palate. The sweetness still makes an appearance here and there and the much more subtle pepper still lingers but not as forceful as before. I end this one 1 hour 15 minutes in.
Final Thoughts: I really wished the rain had held out and I could have sat on the deck and really taken my time with this one. I didn’t rush it but being forced into the garage due to a downpour makes for a less enjoyable experience. That said, this cigar was really, really good. I have found that I am a fan of the San Andres Maduro and it is featured in a lot of cigars that I really enjoy. This one was no different. There is a sweetness to it and blended with the heavy wood and pepper notes, this makes for a great smoke. As I stated in the review, I think this years release turned out better than its predecessor from last year. I do not recommend this cigar for beginner smokers. If you tend to like more mild or medium cigars, ease into this. This is a full bodied, full flavored smoke with a punch. Another great release from BLTC.
Appearance / Construction: Rugged, rustic San Andres Maduro wrapper with the standard Black and White BLTC bands work for the look of this cigar. The construction is solid, no major flaws. For what this cigar is meant to be I score it 18/20.
Performance (Smoking Characteristics): The draw was open with a touch of resistance that kept things cool all the way down to the nub. The burn got a little wavy at times but no real issues. No touch ups required. I did have to relight it once, only because it went out as I scrambled to get moved into the garage during a heavy rain. Other than a wavy burn line I had no issues. I score this a 23/25.
Flavor: Complex, consistent and good. A well balanced blend of cedar wood, spice, earth and sweetness. I really enjoyed the profile of this cigar and appreciate that is wasn’t all over the place in terms of changes or transitions. Complex enough to hold your interest and not a one dimensional cigar. I score this a 25/25.
Overall Experience: I really liked this cigar. The corona size is that great in between size that you can pull off in an hour. I am anxious to try the lancero and the robusto but I enjoyed my time with this cigar. No real performance issues, great flavor, consistency. What more do you need? I scored this a 28/30.
Final Rating: 94
96 – 94: Excellent cigar. I would add this to my collection of must haves.
So there you have it. My review of the BLTC 2017 Morphine. I hope that you enjoyed it. I welcome your thoughts, comments and reviews. Feel free to share it and make sure to follow me on social media. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace.