Black Label Trading Company 2018 Bishops Blend | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Connecticut, Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Size: 6.25 x 46 Corona Larga
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $11.50

Today we take a look at the Black Label Trading Company 2018 Bishops Blend.
Two Samples were provided by BLTC.

Limited Release (Check out JR Cigars, Famous Smoke, Serious Cigars)

From the BLTC 2018 Bishops Blend press release (April 16, 2018):
“We are very excited about the third release of Bishops Blend. This is one of our most anticipated releases of the year and the 2018 vintage will not disappoint. The 2018 boasts big bold flavors of anise, pepper, raisins, and sweet earthiness on the finish. It is very complex and extremely refined. As with the past vintages the broadleaf fillers shine at the forefront and are perfectly balanced by the Nicaraguan filler tobaccos,” said James Brown, creator of Black Label Trading Co. and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra.

Corona Larga 6.25 x 46 $11.50
Robusto 5 x 48 $11.00

An oily dark cocoa colored wrapper with a touch of tooth. Big veins run vertically up and down the stick. Seams are jam up and jelly tight. There is a nicely nippled triple cap that looks like what the Catholic bishops wear…I believe they do remove them just before they fondle you…it’s all about decorum.

And ah yes, once again we find ourselves with no shortage of cigar bands with skulls on them. The skull has the bishop’s hat on top which just cracks me up. If anything depicts that actual soulless fucks that abuse children, this is the perfect presentation.

My wife is German Catholic and she went to Catholic school growing up in Germany. You thought the nuns were horrible here in America. Imagine what they were like in 1950’s Germany. Oy gevalt. I hate that Charlotte makes me wear jack boots when we have sex. But I stand up to her when asked to wear the Kaiser’s helmet.

A closed foot finishes off the piece and we are pleased as punch. Happy as a clam. And I got new batteries for my portable convenient rubber vibrating vagina.

Lastly, the cigar is as hard as a rock. No give. My first stick was the same and it needed serious reaming before I could smoke it.

Large floral notes float like Alien bugs that travel from the wrapper to my schnoz. It’s glorious. My chest isn’t going to feel very well in about 45 minutes. Ba-boom!
(I believe the look on John Hurt’s face is more about shock at seeing his penis escaping from his chest; and no longer circumcised…which is a byproduct of being a stupid asshole and sticking your face in an alien cocoon.):

Lovely combo of both dark and milk chocolates, malt, café au lait, dark raisins, walnuts, white pepper, black licorice, cedar, vanilla bean, and a touch of citrus.

I cut the bishops cap using my yarmulke method so I always have a spare skull cap for my slew of Ken dolls wearing Yeshiva clothing. The cap is removed without disturbing a scintilla of tobacco underneath:

It’s like drawing on a flattened straw. Nothing. I grab my heroic PerfecDraw poker tool and ream the shit out of it. I can’t even get the poker in half an inch when it’s stopped by a plug. Carefully, in order to not break on through to the other side, I wheedle the poker tip deep into the cigar which is just one huge plug. Huzzah. Success.
The other sample sent to me had the exact same plug issue.
The cold draw presents dark chocolate, malt, espresso, assorted salty nuts, raisins, licorice, cedar, and lemon zest.

I’m not one to complain…when I’m asleep; or in a coma…but BLTC has always been good to me…most of the time. But for the last couple or so years, I get the new exciting blend 6 months after it has been released to retail. I have no idea why they don’t send me shit sooner than that; especially when they send me a limited release blend to review. Most of the time, the cigars are out of stock when I publish my review. Oh well, doesn’t matter. Free cigars are better than not free cigars.

I love the size. BLTC are smart cookies. A Robusto and a Corona Larga is all a cigar smoker needs in life. Perfect sizes for cajoling the hell out of the blend’s flavor profile.

Besides other construction issues, the burn is awful. So far, the cigar tastes great even though it is peppery heavy. The 2016 Bishops Blend was my #4 cigar for 2016. This baby is going to need to get down and get funky to approach the level of the previous outing.

First out of the box are flavors of chocolate, black pepper, creaminess, strong black coffee, malt, cedar, and raisins. Despite the raisins, no sweet factor yet.
More elements fall into line: black licorice, meaty, ginger, various nuttiness, charred oak, and cinnamon.

An inch in, some complexity kicks in. The balance isn’t bad but not awe inspiring. The finish is minimal.

On way too many occasions, cigar manufacturers either bring back an older blend or tweak one previously released. In most cases, they fail in bringing the blend to the next level. I especially believe that The T. Connecticut was a friggin disaster. Talk about taking a ride in the Way Back Machine to when all Connies were bland. And here is BLTC releasing a long awaited new release of a great cigar and it fails to impress.

Fleetwood Mac is playing. In trying to describe what Sonja Kristina was like on stage back in the day displays a good example: Stevie Nicks. That same flower power ethereal and sexy presence on stage worked.

The cigar goes out.

By now, the original Bishops Blend was kicking ass and taking names. This version is just bland and uninspiring.
Guess who isn’t going to get free samples any longer.

The burn issues are pissing me off.
I only had two sticks for comparison but even at that small denominator, a pattern erupts unveiling poor construction. Bummer, Moon Doggies and Kitty Kats.

I saw a half hour special called “Clapton’s Christmas” in which he is putting out his first Christmas song album. Holy shit he looks old. He is 73 but looks road weary. He got one of those hipster haircuts shorn on the side with nearly a Mohawk on top. He played great as usual but I couldn’t get over how age has caught up with him. I guess that’s where we are all heading.

The Black Label Trading Company 2018 Bishops Blend is finding some spark in its soul.

Complexity arrives blowing its own horn. Transitions begin. A much smoother balance now as the spiciness recedes allowing the subtler flavors to be on display. This is a good sign.

Badda Bing. The blender’s intent has kicked in big time. Now we’re talking. I’m sure that given a few more months of humi time, this cigar will match the original in its vision. The early stages of this cigar just weren’t immersed in my high expectations.
Strength is medium/full.
The stick is now becoming, puff by puff, something to relish.

The blend has kicked into high gear. It’s everything I expect from BLTC. Of whom I am a big fan.

The first third just wasn’t ready. But I am somewhat dismayed by the construction issues. No such problems with the original. Poor rolling for this baby. That’s going to shave a few points off its final rating.

There is a traveling sideshow of flavors whizzing past my palate. It’s in high premium territory. But then for almost $12, it should not concede defeat in that arena.

Very creamy. Chocolate covered raisins. Lots of maltiness. The sweetness factor is still out to lunch. It would be a big help for the balance of this blend if there was a counterpoint to the strictly savory quality of this cigar.

Very complex now. Big transitions. And a marvelous finish…at last. It isn’t what I’d call a “smooth” cigar blend. Mostly due to the overwhelming black pepper foundation. It comes and goes as if it’s bi-polar.

This is a cigar that needs plenty of humidor time. 5-6 months would be good. But if I had waited til then, there would be nothing left on the market to buy.

The first sweetie pie impact shows up with provisional elements of brown sugar and cappuccino.
Great potential.

The Eagles are playing. The Dude would not approve.

A truly dramatic change from the first third to now. I’m digging this blend when I had just about given up hope.
Strength is full.

The newly acquired sweetness has done its job correctly. Balance is on point.
The blend has reached that point where the sum of its parts outweighs the individual details and impression to the palate.

Based on its potential and the new acceleration of complexity might just put this cigar back into contention for my top 25. But I fear the poor construction will dash the cigar’s dream of obtaining a spot on that list.
The rock hard stick along with the lousy burn is a big deal.

Big sweet spot occurs. We have reached the super complex stage.
And here is the list once again: Creamy, chocolate, black pepper, malt, sweetness, charred meat, raisins, espresso, ginger, and oak.

Back in the early 80’s, a friend and I would troll the clubs on Sunset Blvd several times per week. This one club, of which I have no memory of its name, had a small upstairs bar where a band could play. No stage. The band had to set up on the floor. There might have been a dozen tables. It was there we met Ray Manzarek of The Doors. He was heavily invested in the L.A. punk scene producing a few bands. We sat with him every time we visited. He surprised me as he was a very down to earth guy. Didn’t expect that.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds played there a lot. Jimmy Vaughan was part of the band. We got to schmooze with the guys between sets. Mostly due to the fact that my buddy was a big time radio DJ in L.A. Once, SRV showed up to hang out and play a little. I remember him sitting with us and I noticed his shredded finger tips. I asked if that hurt? SRV replied, “Sure. But so what?”

Where was I?
The burn is totally fakakta.

The blend sees its intensity soar.

The song that launched me into wanting a career in music is playing: “Sunshine Of Your Love.” The week it came out in 1967, our guitarist brought in “Disraeli Gears” and told us we were going to learn a few of the songs for our big college dance we were to play that weekend.

When we dove into the song, the place went nuts. We stood on a stage that was probably 5 feet tall. I remember the girls storming the stage and a few grabbed at me and one had a death hold on my ankle. All I could think of was this was what I wanted.
We played the song in every set and the whole nutty scene repeated itself. I was hooked.

The Black Label Trading Company 2018 Bishops Blend is so good that its finish is so delectable, I slow way the fuck down on puffing and enjoy the lingering flavors.

If you haven’t purchased this blend yet, you have a short time to do so. I listed the available online sites above so you can still snag some. I would if I were you. I’d buy a bunch but then Sammy the cat would have to go without food for the month.

Don’t light one up two weeks after you get yours. Be patient.
The rating would have been 4 points higher if not for the construction issues.


I believe this explains everything…
And now for a childhood story:

I was around 12 or 13. I had gotten a hold of a car trunk load of firecrackers from one of the tough kids at school. I lived in Long Beach, CA. A couple blocks away from El Dorado Park and Golf Course.

One day, I went with friends to the dry L.A. river basin. A mighty canal made of concrete with overpasses aplenty. Remember the movie, “The Core,” where they tunneled into the earth to stop the core from rotating the wrong way or something? In the beginning of the movie they showed Hillary Swank landing the space shuttle in the L.A. river basin just barely missing those overpasses. OK. So, you’ve got the picture.

Kids used to hang out underneath the passes to look at the dirty graffiti that older kids had done. Bums used to sleep underneath those overpasses.

This one day, my friends and I, found this giant patty of gelatinous goo that came spewing from the ass of some bum. It looked like cheap chili from a can. And was at least a foot in diameter.
I yelled that I had an idea.

I stuck a couple of the big firecrackers in the middle of the shit, lit them, and ran up the side of the heavily slanted side of the basin. Or hypotenuse, if you will. Geometry and trig were my life.

I got about 10 feet up the embankment when I tripped and fell on my face. I began sliding down towards the nuclear bomb zone. I could hear the sizzle of the fuses.

I scratched and scraped at the concrete walls with my fingers and nothing stopped me from sliding down. I kept looking behind me to see how far the fuse had to go. It was getting way too close.

And just as I was upon the patty of human excrement…no I don’t mean Ted Nugent. The thing exploded. The sound was deafening in that enclosed two-sided trap. I looked at my friends’ faces and they looked like they saw their puppy murdered in front of them.

I got up and saw I was covered in soft, creamy human shit. Head to toe. It was in my hair, my face, in my ears, on my neck, all over my clothes, on my hands and arms and I screamed bloody murder: “I’m fucking covered in shit!!!!!” It was the first time I ever used the “F” word.

The way home, via sidewalks, would have taken me 15 minutes. I don’t think so. So, I high tailed it right across the middle of the golf course. Golfers screamed at me until I got closer and they saw my new apparel; and then they shut up in horror.

I got home. My mother was in bed due to a very long illness. My father was at work. Our housekeeper was busy in the kitchen. I ran to the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. I almost fainted. I stripped myself of my clothes and took a shower. The rank smell of day old bum shit, with a chaser of Ripple, was enough to make a maggot gag. I threw the clothes into a trash bag and dumped them.

I sat in my room for the rest of the day, totally traumatized. This was an event in my life that I carry every little detail in my brain to this day.

Kids: Don’t do bum shit. Or drugs. The order of that declaration is interchangeable.

Recreational weed is legal in Massachusetts as of yesterday. 11 of 45 counties in Wisconsin had this as a referendum on our recent voting exposition and it got, on average, 85% acceptance. But it is not legally binding. It’s a start for 1955 Wisconsin. The ghost of Senator Joe McCarthy still lurks here. I’ll probably be dead by the time it’s legal here.


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6 replies

  1. Hey Phil!

    I’ve got a whole box of the Bishop Blend in that size! Hit me up man! It was good seeing you last week.


  2. Here you go…call my friend, Tyler at Havana Lounge and Cigar here in Milwaukee at 414-258-8219. He’ll take care of you.

  3. Great review like always. That end story had me literally laughing out loud at work! Thanks Katman.

  4. Always a great read! Great story!

  5. Great review and story, Katman. Weed became legal here in MA in December of 2016. It’s taken the bureaucrats until this past month to get the licensing of two (TWO!) retail stores accomplished. If all goes according to “plan” the legal inventory should be gone by New Year’s Eve.

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