J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan (3 Different Ligero Leaves)
Size: 5.5 x 52 “Robusto”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $9.00



Today we take a look at the J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company.
Thanks to Miguel Castro for the sticks.

I was going to wait til the end of the month but I smoked one of the sticks that Miguel sent me yesterday and the top of my head spun, fell off and plotzed on the floor and then the cat began licking it.
And I didn’t want to wait until the supply dried up before reviewing it.

It feels good to be back but I sort of…kind of…needed to relearn certain things that I forgot how to do. No matter. No worries. I’m feeling good.

Yesterday’s smoke started out medium/full but by the first third, it hit intense full bodied. My head was spinning.

This morning I am reviewing this cigar on an empty stomach so I may need a horse’s feed bag so I can vomit from the nicotine buzz and not stop typing.

It is a Cigar Federation exclusive. Sales began in late January, they ran out immediately, and now waiting for more to show up.

Yesterday, Cigar Federation still had them in stock but only in 20 count bundles for $180. Today, they have a single 20 count bundle and that’s all folks until more are thrown to the dogs. (You)
This cigar is worth getting on the waiting list. (Did I just give away the end of the review?)

Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra, Estelí, Nicaragua
Limited production: First run of 75-ten count boxes.

According to Cigar Federation’s web site:
“The JW Marshall is a special collaboration between Cigar Federation and Black Label Trading Company. This is a limited edition cigar, with only 75 boxes of 10 cigars being produced. It is a 5.5 x 52 beauty, crafted at BLTC’s new Fabrica Oveja Negra factory in Estelí.

“Who is JW Marshal? James Wilson Marshall is the man who reported the finding of gold at Coloma on the American River in California, which eventually caused the California Gold Rush. Here’s the story of how that became a cigar: On January 24, 2014 Logan and Seth “Big Tuna” Geise are Skyping and talking about cigars, as per usual. When they begin to discuss how cool it would be to make a cigar themed off Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. There are a lot of different names and themes tossed around, but they all sort of center around gold and the golden ticket. Then, one of them realizes that January 24, 1848 is the same day that JW Marshall reported the gold find. This unlikely coincidence led to the JW Marshall cigar.

“And, speaking of Golden Tickets. There actually are Golden Tickets in a select few boxes! Yup, your box could contain Golden Ticket, but not for a factory tour. Your Golden Ticket wins you a 10ct box of the JW Marshall blend, in a vitola of your choosing! You get a ticket, you pick a vitola and you will have a box sent to you gratis. Note: It takes time to manufacture and turn around a custom request like this with the proper quality, that we all require. In other words, please be patient while waiting for this prize.

“Like this special edition cigar? Then you are in luck! There are more ideas in the works, to be released over the years as long as the FDA lets us be.”

Miguel bought a 5 pack, I believe, so no Golden Ticket for him. Willy Wonka is sad.

At first glance, the J.W. Marshall is nothing special.
The cigar is extremely light in the hand. Seems to need more filler.
The one I smoked yesterday had burn issues. Confirming that it could have used more filler. Once lit, the cigar gets soft. Once again confirming not enough filler. I hope they fix it in the next batch released.

The cigar’s appearance reminds me of a Swisher Sweet; all crooked and bumpy. And sort of squished looking.
At closer look, it reminds me of the color of a baked potato. Colors all over the place and not that oily. It appears to have a triple cap but is so flawlessly accomplished, it’s hard to count.

I don’t trust cigars with no cigar band. It only has a metallic green footer ribbon. Makes me think of all those cigars that Lost & Found sell without cigar bands that they find in someone’s warehouse that no one wants anymore.
Seams are tight. Lots of small veins.

From the shaft, I smell baked potato…no; just making a stupid joke..I smell sweet caramel…The aromas are hidden and it takes my giant Jewish shnoz to dig them out. Chocolate, spice, and coffee beans.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell dark chocolate, spice, espresso, caramel, cream, fruit, and cedar.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate, spice, cream, caramel, malt, peppermint, and cedar.

Wow. A Pepper Bomb to start us off. I love it.
Smoke wraps comfortably around my head like my blankey. The draw is perfect.

First flavors: Spice, creaminess, milk chocolate, malts (To be described soon), cedar, some kind of fresh berry, and caramel.

I love a cigar that wastes no time getting down to business. Clearly, much different blend than the rest of the BLTC line. I dug a couple of the blends but not crazy about others. This? I like. A lot.
But just like yesterday’s stick, I’m having burn issues from the get go. I attend to them. I expect to have them throughout the smoke. Nothing major but if I don’t fix them immediately, they will canoe on me.

Strength hits medium/full right away. It seems stronger this morning than it did late yesterday afternoon. No food in my stomach this morning.

Transitions begin. A little bit of complexity settles in. The balance is very nice. And the finish isn’t as long as I’d like but it’s getting there.
A very nutty aspect shows itself. I taste peanuts, almonds, and cashews. (Yes, I have the best palate in the world!) LOL.

No matter what I do, the burn line wants to screw with me. But the flavors are so good, I can overlook this flaw.
I had put away all my accessories and tchotchkes for reviewing cigars and I spend 10 minutes finding everything.


So I saw my doc the other day and he says to me I only have 6 months to live. I tell the doc, “But I can’t pay you.” The doc replies, “OK. You’ve got a year.” (My apologies to Henny Youngman).

I forgot to ask Miguel how much humidor time the sticks he sent me had on them. Couldn’t be much as they have only been out for about 3 weeks. And I got them weeks ago.

Now that’s New Breed blending. Which BLTC normally doesn’t do. I consider them Old School in that their blends need a lot of humidor time. But if you allow them their due, they do pleasantly surprise you.
Here are the malts: Chocolate Rye Malt, Cara Munich Malt, Coffee Malt, Flaked Rye Malt, and Mild Ale Malt. (See Malt Chart).

Nice grouping.
I want to thank the hundreds of emails I’ve gotten from readers that not only do I feel I know but ones that have never said a thing to me. And yet have been followers for either years or a short time. Lifts my spirits with each new supportive email.

The red pepper is still very strong.
And so is the cigar as it hits full body 1-1/2” in.

I’ve had this ST Dupont Maxijet lighter for a couple years or so..maybe longer. Got it on Cigar Monster for around $80. Good deal. Normally, they go for upwards of $150.
I had to send it in about a year ago because the top window wouldn’t close. They fixed it for free.
A couple weeks ago, the thing on the side you depress to ignite the torch just collapsed. So I sent it back to Dupont and I got an email yesterday telling me they want $85. The fuckers. When I bought the lighter, it had a lifetime warranty. A year later, it was reduced to a 3 year warranty. And now, it is only a 2 year warranty. What does that tell you about the company? Loss of quality control and sending most of it to be assembled or made in China. I told them to shove and keep the piece of junk. Although it lasted a lot longer than any Xikar lighter I’ve owned. And I have a couple $10 lighters that have worked perfectly for years. Go figure.

The fresh berry is now defined as blackberry and boysenberry. The boysenberry was designed by my buddy Walter Knott back in the 1920’s. It is a cross between a European Raspberry, a Common Blackberry, an American Dewberry and a Loganberry.
If you’ve never tasted Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Preserves, go online and snag some. You will thank your Uncle K.
I’m starting to sway in my seat like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder from the nicotine. Whoa Nelly.

Smoke time is 25 minutes. So much for my description that the cigar is under filled.
Very complex. Perfect balance. And a long chewy finish.

Listening to Zep, of course.

The cigar goes out on me.
The char line has behaved itself nicely on this cigar. Nearly razor sharp now.

I take a couple of big huffs and the spiciness blasts a hole through my medulla oblongata. I’m cured! I’m cured! Better than going to Lourdes.

And then the char line goes errant. I jinxed it. I have this cheap lighter that has a bendable angled head so it is easier to pin point the flame. I don’t understand why smokers of fine cigars would use three, or four, torch flames on a delicate cigar. You need only a single flame.

Here is what I got on Amazon that works beautifully for its precision. Only $7.50.


The J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company is a real treat even if it is making me hallucinate.

It is in the sunny photo below that I can now count the caps: 4.

Strength is uber full body.
The flavors: Creaminess, red pepper, espresso, chocolate, berries, caramel, cedar, nuts, wood, and a big basketful of malts.

Delicious cigar. This is a brilliant move by BLTC. A quantum leap as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the line is very good but the J.W. Marshall is something else. Really.

You can’t get on the CF waiting list until they sell the 20 count bundle. If you want a 5 or 10 count, sign up. And oh yes, in the 10 count box, you might win a Golden Ticket.

Gotta change Zep CD’s. Be right back.

I put on the first of 3 CD’s of the Live Zep album called “How the West was Won.” I believe Miguel gave this to me. It is extra exciting as I was there in 1972 when the recordings took place at the Long Beach Arena and the L.A. Forum. When Zep came to town, we bought every ticket for every show. I can visualize my friends and me sitting in my VW camper bus toking away while in the arenas’ parking lots to get in the mood.
In those days, the police gave up on trying to enforce the no smoking pot rule. So the whole arena smelled like weed. People even passed pipes down a row. You didn’t know who it was from or what was in it but you took it and puffed away and passed it on. LOL.
How naïve we were.

The J.W. Marshall is now an official flavor bomb. The Site Stats on my blog’s dashboard allow me to see when someone visits from another site. I track down what was said and it is always someone making fun of me for either all the flavors I taste or how I call every cigar a flavor bomb. While that is partially true, if you’ve read me for any length of time you know that ain’t true.

The halfway point is here. Smoke time is 40 minutes.
So much for a razor sharp char line. But minor touch ups contain it.
Flavors are so intense that my yarmulke keeps slipping off my head. (Yes, I always wear a Yarmulke on my toupee when I review).


It’s 3° outside but feels like spring. So I sit here in a Tee and boxers with the window open. One ball sack is lying on the floor. The other I contain with a rubber band so I don’t step on it when I get up to take a photo. I fling the other one over my shoulder so I don’t step on that one.
No one tells you when you are a young man that one day your balls will hang down to the floor. Fathers should tell their young sons about this.

Godamm the Pusherman! The J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company is a mother fucka’!
I’ve been enjoying my time off. No pressure to describe the first cigar of the day. But what I don’t do is dissect the flavors. I just enjoy it.

I truly enjoy coming back. I will probably return in a couple of weeks.

I want to thank the wonderful readers who have sent me cigars and dough. I managed to purchase my meds this month. And last month, too. But I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of strangers, Rhett.

Every now and again, I take a massive huff on the stick. Giant behemoth flavors come forth. The spiciness is ungodly.
The berries move to nearly the front of the flavor list when I do this with the creaminess right behind.
So, I reiterate, snag some when you can.

My lovely daughter, Katie, gave me a $125 gift card for Amazon. I immediately bought a 300 count humidor. I think some of the burn issues I have is that I don’t have a tight seal on my old humidors. I literally have humidors that are nearly 20 years old and I can see that they don’t seal correctly. And the humidor I bought cost $122.22. And since I have Amazon Prime, no shipping costs and I will have it in 2 days. Best $100 a year you can spend if you buy from Amazon.

I realize I’m meandering and roaming the desert here like Moses. Sorry. I miss writing.
And I came up with a story I never told before…at least I think so.

Smoke time is 55 minutes.
Flavors are blasting away. But the nicotine isn’t so bad now. Still very full bodied.


I have one more J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company. I shall plan for the perfect time to smoke it.
I’m very impressed with this blend. It has everything I like in a cigar. The character, the spiciness, the flavor profile, the transitions, the complexity, perfect balance, and a wonderful finish.
Miguel also sent me some Ezra Zion Doxology cigars. I plan to review them even though they are no longer available.

The J.W. Marshall by Black Label Trading Company finishes with a ton of nicotine. My head is spinning. But it’s not harsh or bitter. And cool as a cuke.
For an ugly cigar, it did a good job.
Final smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.



And now for something completely different:

This is an anecdote I’ve never published. A little reminiscence from the late 1980’s while Charlotte and I still lived in California. Fullerton, I believe.
She mentioned this to me and it all came rushing back.

I was maybe 38. We had a two year old daughter. And I was working for my dad who didn’t pay me shit as a structural steel project manager at his own shop in Orange, Ca.

Meanwhile, his partner, Arthur Bagatourian, (Called Bag-a-bullshit by the contractors because he never kept his word.) hired his own son a few years later and paid him more than twice what I got paid. My dad had no spine. And this young man, who was maybe 24, knew NOTHING about construction or steel. Another time maybe for that story.

Anyway, I worked three jobs to make ends meet. Charlotte stayed at home to be with Katie. I was in total agreement.

We had a neighbor who had a 4 year old boy that was a living terror. You know the type. Mom never says no. Let him be who he is. Arrghh.

She talked us into babysitting him one night when she said she was going out to dinner with co-workers. She didn’t show up til the next morning totally unapologetic.

We knew why she needed a night out without Beezelbub. This little boy just screamed non-stop for hours and hours. He ran around our small apartment knocking shit off the walls, off the tables, etc. He tried to break every one of Katie’s toys.
It was the first time in my life I thought euthanasia was a good idea.

Anyway, I got off track.

I worked my main job. I got work as a structural draftsman but not at home. I had to drive to the guy’s shop and work there.

And I was a Pinkerton security guard. Back in 1988, the money wasn’t bad: $10.00 an hour.
I turned out to be good at what I did because my I.Q. was more than 80 and so I got some decent posts that changed a lot as was needed. I never said no to a last minute request.

My boss, who was younger than me, talked me into applying for a carry license. Back then it was crazy. You had to take the test and apply twice a year. It took 6 months to get approved so you were always 6 months behind.

I got better gigs after I got to wear a .38 revolver. For $12 an hour. I had my own Taurus .38 that was a pretty good gun. But they gave me something made in the 1940’s. I felt like Barney Fife.
Then they wanted me to work in a bank on Saturdays. Something like 8am-2pm.
The bank was in downtown Fullerton…I think.

A really boring gig. I just stood around and said hello to customers or sat at an empty desk and looked mean.
But patrons couldn’t see my gun if I sat down so I mainly walked around the bank with my chest stuck out.

Then it happened. Two banks of the same name got robbed nearby and they killed the guard immediately.
Charlotte told me I was no longer allowed to guard banks. I got her to concede just to finish the month up. She reluctantly agreed.

Sure as shit.
In came two guys in ski masks screaming and waving pistols.

I saw them as they were opening the door and I immediately hit the silent alarm.

They didn’t see me as I was on the opposite side of the bank. But 3 seconds later, they saw me.
I was behind a corner at the end of a hallway. Gun drawn.

I had my own .38 with 4” barrel at home and went shooting all the time. So I wasn’t scared enough to shit my pants. I saw that they had pistols, not revolvers. Gulp. More bullets than me. I would have to reload much sooner.

We screamed at each other to put the guns down. Patrons and employees were on the floor. Women were crying too loud and the gunmen screamed at them to shut up.
No shots were fired. But I was ready.

It took less than 2 minutes for the cops to arrive. They stormed the entrance and shot the two fuckers dead with shotguns upon entrance. They don’t do that shit anymore.

I yelled who I was and I had a gun.
I threw the gun away from me; unloaded.
And I walked out with my hands up.
The bank manager immediately identified me to the cops so they left me alone.

I was stuck there all day while they did interviews.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the two bad guys lay there the whole time. The cops asked if I could identify them so I walked up to take a look. I said no.

And then I spit on both of them and squeaked: “You mother fuckers! I have a family!”
One cop cracked up and asked me to spit again.

Needless to say, that was the last time I did a Pinkerton gig with a gun.

And I do believe it was the start of my back problems.

Two years later, we moved to Phoenix and went back to Pinkerton. This time I found myself guarding watermelons all night long. It was really hot and I wasn’t allowed to stay in the refrigerated warehouse with millions of watermelons.

So I would make my rounds once an hour and grab a watermelon. I found a place I could hunker down and cracked the melon open with my knife. Since watermelons were plentiful, I only ate the tops where there were no seeds.

I had no napkins and ended up having my duty shirt completely covered in watermelon juice. When the next guard showed up, he would always ask what happened to me. I never responded.

That gig lasted about a week. No more guard work. But I did get work as a draftsman on a board and made great money. More than my regular job. I did it by contract. So I usually ended up making $75 per hour because I was fast and accurate.

More stories about Phoenix another time.

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6 replies

  1. Damn Phil! Great to read another review! Review and story both are great! Thanks!

  2. Good to have you back even part time. Did you happen to check out CA’s best bargain list? Couple of decent yard gars in there.

  3. Cigar Aficianado published another of their misguided lists.

  4. The cigar has a different appearance in normal inside light than it does with sunlight on it. Plus, my camera does not do well in picking up flaws. Plus, I typically choose the best looking cigar in my possession to photograph and smoke.

  5. I’ve not had a Black Label cigar before, I don’t believe. Nice review for this one and a good story too! How did you not tell that one before?? Funny thing about the single flame cigar lighter. I’m the same way about lighters. And I never cut anymore either, I punch everything. Does me good to read your review. Take care.

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