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Cigar Geeks Geek Critique

Black Label Trading Company Leaf by James
Written by Cigar Geeks Member: Dave (Deener27)
85
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 None

Pre-Light: 17 Points of 20 Possible

The pre-light experience with this cigar is very nice.  The wrapper is almost of a matte finish to with a decent amount of very thin veins running up and down the length of the stick.  A well-constructed triple cap awaited the guillotine cutter which cut flawlessly, leaving behind no wispy bits of tobacco behind.  Using the pinch test, the cigar was very firm with no soft spots to speak of.  An array of pleasant scents like cocoa powder, honey and dark espresso we present.  One of the more interesting aspects to me was the flavor of the pre-light draw which was exclusively black tea.

Light & Burn: 15 Points of 15 Possible

The burn was absolutely perfect throughout the whole smoke.  It was razor sharp and did not require any babysitting.  The ash color was a very nice shade of white, without any flaking or issues to speak to.  The burn rate was a bit quick and at first it concerned me that it was cause issues with overall experience but there was none of those issues.  The smoke volume was a bit light but did get better at around the half way point.

Construction: 26 Points of 30 Possible

This cigar was very well constructed.  The wrapper was a really nice dark brown color with a very nice matte finish.  There was a slight number of veins running up and down the cigar but nothing to be overly concerned with as it didn't have any negative effects on the overall experience.  The triple cap was very well constructed and was almost flawlessly applied.

Flavor: 27 Points of 35 Possible

1st Third:  The cigar was poised to pack a very powerful punch however I was completely caught off guard by the gentle smooth nature of the flavors.  Right off the bat there was subtle flavors of spice and pepper which was offset by a slight earthy and coffee-like overtones.  Toward the end of the first third, the flavors of coffee were replaced by a sharp chocolate flavor.

2nd Third:  The earthy nature of the cigar really came out and started to shine.  As the second third progressed, the cigar became rather peppery and had a nice, sharp kick to it.  Unlike other Leaf blends, this one had a nice, fiery nature to it.  It was a sublime fury that really awakened my appreciation for the cigar.

3rd Third:  This is where I feel the cigar went off the rails.  There was an overwhelming bitterness that overtook my palate, which was disappointing.  Red pepper and heat was really a big thing, which I like in a cigar but the bitterness made for an unpleasant overall finish.  Even the retro took on this issue.

Summary

I would like to thank Chuck for selecting me for the February critique.  Overall, this was an enjoyable cigar and I can't help but wonder if the final third bitterness was just related to this particular cigar or if I was off the evening of the smoke.  Overall, this cigar really delivers a good smoke and I would definitely try a few more to prove myself wrong.  I have been a fan of the leaf series, having tried many of the vitolas in former releases, so this is one I will revisit soon.  If you are fan of subtle flavors that also pack a punch, you will enjoy this cigar.  It is a well constructed cigar that is pleasing to the eye and overall to the whole smoke.  You will want to try this one if you have not.



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