Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015) | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés and (Inner Wrapper) Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 7 x 38 “Lancero”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $10.00 MSRP






Today we take a look at the Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015).

From the BLTC Morphine press release:
June 3, 2015 — Black Label Trading Company is pleased to announce the second release of MORPHINE: Hand crafted in Esteli at Fabrica Oveja Negra.

“Black Label Trading Co. first released MORPHINE in June, 2014. This year MORPHINE was produced by BLTC’s factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra in Esteli.

“MORPHINE was a huge success for BLTC last year. I believe it was the right cigar for our company at the right time, we had to bring it back in 2015! After playing with the blend at the new factory we decided to change things up a bit. The filler blend is now 100% Nicaraguan, with the quality of the Nicaraguan tobacco we have this year, it just made sense to highlight that in the blend. We also beefed things up a bit by adding a Short Robusto in the mix and changing the corona to a Box Pressed Corona Gorda. All vitolas still have the signature double wrapper of Ecuador Maduro and Mexican San Andrés Maduro.” Said Brown.

“MOPRHINE cigars will be available in very limited quantities at select BLTC retailers June 27, 2015. Production of 100 boxes per vitola will be released.”

Owner James Brown (Get on up!) started the company back in 2013. Six blends plus the morphine are in the BLTC lineup.
According to James Brown, the Morphine is, “Big, Bold and Badass!

From Cigar Federation:
“..Without a doubt, the Morphine is the strongest cigar that BLTC has produced and is meant for the bravest of cigar smokers.”

Release date: June 27, 2015
According to the press release on the BLTC web site, the Honduran filler has disappeared. It was integral to the 2014 blend. Be careful. Some reviewers got it wrong. Either that, or BLTC forgot to add it to their leaf stats.

This is a gorgeous, oily, near charcoal black cigar. It is nearly perfectly round. Very rare for this size. Seams are tight. Few veins. A flawless triple cap.
It has ominous double cigar bands. The wrapper feels slightly toothy.
The cigar feels too tightly packed. I think there will be draw issues. The diameter is too small for my cigar awl. I risk cracking the wrapper. Fingers crossed.

Aromas from the wrapper include summer fruit, floral notes, figs, licorice, leather, and black tea.
From the clipped cap and foot, I can smell sweetness, barnyard, and cocoa.
The cold draw presents dark chocolate, spice, and earthiness.

Corona Gorda – 5.5 x 46 Box Press (16 count) $10.00
Lancero – 7 x 38 (12 count) $10.00
Robusto – 4.5 x 50 (16 count) $10.00

My lips begin to burn from enacting the cold draw. It is that spicy.
Time to light up.

The draw is extremely tight. I throw caution to the wind and stick the cigar awl halfway down the stick before I hear a slight cracking noise. So I stop and withdraw. It didn’t help much so I massage the stick gently. Doesn’t help.
I have only one stick.
One more time with the cigar awl and it helps a tiny bit.

OK. Flavors: Spiciness, espresso, earthiness, oak, new leather, and raisins.

I want to say hi to John Kozlowski because he sent me a nice email message. Kind letters like those make things worthwhile.

The Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015) has an immediate burn problem. This is why I don’t care for lanceros. It is almost a guarantee that you will have char line issues. If I had my druthers, I prefer a Corona Grande (5.5 x 46 or 44).
Plus they tend to burn quickly; packed to the hilt or not.
Strength is medium/full.
Some apricot brandy appears. Nice.

The other issue I have with lanceros is that they usually don’t start cooking until the second third.
Sucking on this lollipop makes my teeth hurt.

The blend isn’t bad. Not great. Never been a big fan of BLTC cigars. My reviews reflect that point of view.
New list of flavors: Spice, sweetness, apricot brandy, dark chocolate, espresso, licorice, oak, earthiness, nuttiness, and creaminess.
Strength hits full body after 2” is burned.

I’m guessing that this stick needs months and months of humidor time. But you never know when you only possess one stick. The Ezra Zion’s All My Ex’s only needed a few weeks and it was a roaring beast. That cigar will probably be my top cigar for 2015. I can’t foresee anything knocking it down a few pegs.

I can’t wait to read the other reviews when they start appearing. There are a number of reviewers that tend to use my opinions as a basis for their reviews. I have a buddy who trolls the video reviewers and sends me links so I can watch a reviewer mimic my review. I get a big laugh. But it is also flattering. So I don’t care.

This is a much slower smoke than I anticipated because I didn’t expect the stick to be so plugged. I refuse to spend an hour with my cheeks inverted from sucking. Like on a flat straw.
So far, I taste no complexity. The balance is just OK. The finish is short.

Things kick into gear.
Smoke time has been 20 minutes.

Flavors are bolder and more intense now. The sweetness is nearly running the show. The spiciness still leads the pack. I love a spicy cigar. But when a cigar is this spicy, it sometimes hides more subtle and nuanced flavors. I have no idea if that is what is happening now.

The Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015) is a pretty straight forward blend. Nothing special. No surprises except for the peach brandy.
Creaminess moves up the list.
Generic nuttiness becomes hazelnut.
The char line is dead nuts.

The Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015) is a pleasant cigar. But I do have to agree with owner, James Brown, that the blend is “Big, Bold and Badass.” Sort of. You can scratch the Badass part out. I don’t know what he means by “Big.”
The draw is still tough. I’m going in with the awl.

Success!! There is a really huge plug from the cigar band to the bottom of the cigar. But I cleared it without cracking the wrapper. Now the draw is much better…But not perfect. This will affect my final summation.
Flavors brighten as a result of loosening the plug.

The list hasn’t changed though. It appears I am about to hit the sweet spot.
I still don’t find any complexity. The balance is better. And so is the finish.
The char line remains at attention.

Unless something spectacular happens, I’ve already made my mind up about this blend.
A few weeks is not nearly enough humidor time. Not for any of the BLTC blends. But then I remember smoking some of them months after my reviews and still found them lacking. No major changes over time.

It boils down to James Brown having a different palate than mine. Any blend is a reflection of the blender. What makes him happy. And Mr. Brown and I are just not on the same page. Doesn’t mean that his line isn’t good. Just not my thing.

Well…no surprises. The creaminess continues on its quest to get to the head of the flavor list.

One thing I noticed about the reviews of the 2014 blend was that there were comments about the strength not being what was expected. Instead of a medium/full or full bodied cigar, it tended to be medium at best. Which probably explains the new blend shooting for full body. And it has succeeded.

The Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015) is very smooth.
Nicotine shows up. Drat. I’m such a wuss.

The earthy tobacco flavor takes over. It is rich and zesty. It leads the pack now.
Flavors: Earthiness, creaminess, coffee, chocolate, licorice, oak, apricot brandy, raisins, hazelnut, leather, and sweetness.
Like a light switch being turned off, the sweetness nearly disappears.
Smoke time has been 40 minutes.

I really didn’t expect the cigar to last longer than that so this makes me happy.
And we have hit the sweet spot. Flavors are really bold like the man said. Still not Badass. I expect with more humidor time, the sweet spot should hit in the first inch of the cigar instead of the halfway point.

I’m impressed with the construction of the wrapper and foot. But the giant plug is a bummer.
I take a quick look at other 2014 reviews and some complain of the same thing: the draw.
I wonder if the double wrapper has anything to do with this problem?
The chocolate is much stronger dragging the coffee element with it. So is the licorice.
The raisins spread out to become not only this flavor but a touch of fig as well.

I am positive that I am now getting the blender’s intent.
The nicotine gives me a rush as it zooms to my puny brain.

Now remember, this is the first cigar of the day for me on a fresh palate. I’m not sure what it will taste like at the end of the day and several cigars under your belt.

The draw tightens again. This is a real drag. My cheeks are becoming sore from puffing.

Cool. The cable TV radio is playing Janis. While first rehearsing with Curved Air in a rehearsal room in the Covent Garden section of London, a bass player came to visit Sonja. We were playing and Sonja took a break while we worked on a passage.
I couldn’t hear what they were talking about. But I saw the man remove his Fender Telecaster bass from its case and he proceeded to re-string it.
I panicked. Was he my replacement?
Turned out he was the bassist in Big Brother and the Holding Company. James Gurley.
Whew. He had just stopped by to chat with Sonja. They were rehearsing in another room next to ours.
I remember his bass because it was painted a beautiful blue paisley.

Back to the Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015).
The cigar goes out.

The cigar is excellent now. The flavor profile is rich and complex. Nice balance with a long finish.
This is what I’ve been waiting for since the start.
The spiciness is very strong. Transitions are a’ plenty.
With 2-3/4” to go, smoke time has been a little over an hour.

Last time for flavors: Spiciness, creaminess, earthiness, espresso, chocolate, dried fruit, oak, sweetness, nuts, and leather.

The nicotine is making it very difficult to smoke this stick.
I use the cigar awl one last time. It feels like the stick is self-healing and closes up just minutes after I clear it.
Clearing a path makes such a big difference in the flavor profile.

The radio is playing “Hocus Pocus” by the Dutch group Focus. I remember this song because it was playing on the radio the first time I took acid back in 1972. It became so overwhelming that my buddy yelled at me to turn it off. I was so fried I couldn’t figure out how to turn the radio off.
And then when I was in Curved Air, we had a Dutch band supporting us for a few gigs called “Trace.” A three piece and the drummer had played in Focus.

I’m having trouble finishing the Black Label Trading Company Morphine (2015). I’ve got a huge case of the spins. I need to take a break and walk it off.
I’m back. Did a few chores. Drank an Atkins Shake. I’m back on the yellow brick road.
Now I can finish the cigar.
Flavors diminish dramatically.
I want to give the blend the benefit of the timing. Clearly, a few weeks is insufficient. At least I hope so.
I can’t go on. The nicotine is way too strong for me.

The entire line of Black Label Trading Company blends is all in the same price range…approximately $10.00.
I didn’t think any of them were worth the dough. I understand a different set of rules are expected from a boutique brand. If this was a big manufacturer’s blend, I expect it would be in the $8 range, at best.
So will I purchase more? Probably not. Maybe it is simply an issue of time. But due to my tiny cigar budget, I pick cigars that are ready to smoke in a few weeks, not 3-4 months. I can’t afford stock pile blends.

First, I was let down by the tight draw and the plugged fillers. Second, the flavors; while interesting…didn’t kick in when I expected.
I remember from my first review of this brand someone messaged me with a curt response: “Let them rest longer.”
The blends from Black Label Trading Company just aren’t my style. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy them. Make your own mind up. There are plenty of you out there that can afford to buy them and then forget about them for 6 months or longer. It might make all the difference in the world.
As far as I know, the only online store where you can purchase the BLTC line is at Cigar Federation.
If you go to the BLTC web site, there is a huge list of B & M’s. The site allows you to buy some pretty cool stuff. Like customized cutters, Tees, hats, and rings.

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1 reply

  1. Sad to hear about the tight draw and somewhat negative experience. I love the Morphine line. Maybe most of the problems can be blamed on it being a lancero.

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