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Cigar Geeks Geek Critique

Black Label Trading Company Leaf by James
Written by Cigar Geeks Member: Gary (headfirst)
90
Cigar Geeks Rating

Welcome to another Member sponsored Geek Critique.  This one has been generously sponsored by our member Cfickter (Chuck).  The cigar provided for this round is the Black Label Trading Company Leaf by James.

A top-notch collaboration between Black Label Trading Co.’s James Brown and Jim “Island Jim” Robinson, Leaf by James cigars are sure to please new and veteran cigar connoisseurs alike. These cigars, available in Toro, are packed to the brim with an abundance of mouthwatering flavors such as oak, espresso, dark chocolate, and black pepper. These delectable vitolas are made with only the best tobacco, as they are wrapped in a beautiful Pennsylvanian broadleaf, bound with Ecuadorian Habano, and filled with premium Nicaraguan tobacco. In addition to their complex flavor profile and wonderful construction, these cigars have an incredibly smooth draw and even burn. Be sure to add some top-of-the-line Leaf by James cigars to your humidor for a smoking experience you will be sure to return to.


Length:
6
Ring Gauge:
50
Country Manufactured:
Nicaragua
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Ecuador
Habano
Wrapper:
Pennsylvania
United States
Color:
Naturale
Strength:
Medium-Full
Shape:
Toro

This cigar was enjoyed with Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Pre-Light: 18 Points of 20 Possible

The cigar is a solid maduro in color with slight gradual variations which make the seams more visible.  There is some veining.  The triple cap is well applied, and there's a coarse brown paper band near the head similar to other Leaf cigars.  Overall it’s an attractive cigar albeit on the rustic side in terms of presentation.  The cold aroma is sweet hay/barnyard on the wrapper and add some sweet cocoa for the foot aroma.

Light & Burn: 12 Points of 15 Possible

She lights up just fine, nice and straight right off the bat and continued that way until it completely extinguished after tunneling some with a little under 3 inches left.  She was cooking nicely again after a relight, nice full puffs.  I was able to enjoy it for another half inch until the smoke started getting hot.

The smoke volume started out at medium and steadily improved to at least medium-full.  The ash is a very light grey and is solid, no flakiness but only holds on for around an inch at a time.

The burn rate seemed fast in the first inch or two but settled down to a normal pace thereafter.

Construction: 27 Points of 30 Possible

The pack on the foot looks about right, not too crammed and not too loose.  A double V cut reveals a draw that is tight so with my perfectdraw tool I bored about one inch in and whatever was preventing a descent draw was removed.  It’s not a wide open draw, still some resistance, but it didn't really inhibit the cigar.  The cap took the double cut beautifully and there were no wrapper or cap issues.

Flavor: 33 Points of 35 Possible

First puffs reveal some mild initial flavors:  a little coffee, bread grains like a 7 grain bread, and probably white pepper on the finish.  There’s a subtle sweetness right on the draw but it’s gone the moment the draw ends.  The retrohale reveals a little honey sweetness, oak, and some good cayenne pepper.  There’s an earthy/peat aftertaste, this would probably go nice with scotch.

About 2 inches in and the sweetness that was there on the draw vanished and something a little more savory and spicy, like steak, was introduced on the palate.  After a while, the sweetness returns and the savory spice remains bringing a nice balance in flavor.

By halfway through the retrohale has mellowed on the cayenne leaving mostly oak with a tick of sweetness now.

In the final third the sweetness is gone except for the retrohale, as is the savory part of the flavor, mostly pepper, coffee, and tobacco.  However, I think this was attributable to the tunneling problem as the full array of flavors seemed to return upon the relight.

The smoldering aroma is kindof a sweet cedar.

The strength and body of the cigar, like the smoke volume, started around medium and steadily built to a solid medium-full.



Summary

Overall this was a really nice cigar, definitely box worthy, and reinforces to me that BLTC is a brand I need to keep my eye on, they make some great cigars.  The sweet/savory flavors with the spicy/oak retro was a homerun for me in the flavor department.

A big thanks to Chuck for generously offering these up for review, it was an excellent choice on a cigar I hadn't really heard of until now.



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