BLTC Bishops Blend 2019 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

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

Today we take a look at the BLTC Bishops Blend 2019.
A gift of a fiver from BLTC.
Someone explain this to me…the 2018 version has the same exact leaf stats as the 2019. Why? Is this 2019 version identical to the 2018 version? Or did they tweak it somewhere in the process? The press release on this is very vague and cryptic.
Reviewers are writing about the 2019 version. Are we all idiots? Is this merely a re-release of the exact same cigar?
I’ve had the cigars for several months. So, they should be rarin’ to go.

Released: February, 2019
“A total of 1,200 boxes are being produced, split evenly between the two sizes. Like the rest of the company’s cigars, it is made at Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua.
The latest in Black Label Trading Co.’s series of limited releases is en route to retailers today, as the company has announced it is shipping the 2019 edition of Bishops Blend.
The cigar returns with its blend of an Ecuadorian habano maduro wrapper, Ecuadorian habano binder, with the fillers made up of tobacco from Nicaragua and broadleaf from Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

“I’m very excited about this release of Bishops Blend,” said James Brown, creator of Black Label Trading Co. and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra, via a press release. He said the cigar offers big, bold flavors while remaining very complex and extremely refined.”

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

And ah yes, once again we find ourselves with no shortage of cigar bands with skulls on them. The skull has a 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.
The stick is extremely rustic. It is lumpy and bumpy and not even close to being a straight shooter…bent like a Rum Crook. Seams are not impressive. And veins everywhere. It appears to have a quad cap. And lastly, the cigar is not filled correctly with soft and hard spots up and down the cigar.

Big notes of dark chocolate, black pepper, black walnuts, floral, grapefruit, malt, cedar, licorice, and creaminess.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, malt, cedar, raisins, citrus, licorice, nutty, vanilla, and espresso.

The draw is clogged so out comes my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool. A couple reams and it’s good to go.

The cigar blasts away with a mammoth dose of black pepper. Hotsy totsy. Creaminess follows and then chocolate, malt, cedar, sweetie factors that taste like molasses and honey. Black coffee cleans up the rear; and in its wake, cinnamon, cumin, and cilantro.
Nice start. The complexity kicks right in. Transitions flow. The finish is a mouthful.

Strength is already at medium/full. My ass will be kicked during the last third unless the Cosmic Muffin intervenes on behalf of the baby Jesus and keeps me conscious.

This is a fairly intense smoke. I’m surprised that this early on, the cigar blend is making a huge impression.
I believe we are at the tail end of this cigar being available. Therefore, I suggest if you haven’t tried it, start Googling.

The stick has crossed the $10 threshold and thereby requires extra scrutiny. Not by much, mind you…but still near the magical $12 anomaly that inhabits a lot of boutique brands MSRP. I’m sorry but paying $60 for a fiver is a lot of dough. For some of you, no big deal…but based on communications with a lot of readers, “It’s a lot of dough.”

One thing though, the Bishops Blend doesn’t taste unique. It could easily fall under the auspices of your average good Nic puro blend…even though it’s not a Nic puro.

It has all the usual suspects of flavor intonations. Nothing jumps from the blend and scares me…or impresses the shit out of me. It is what I expect from a nearly $12 stick. It better be good…and it is. Just not ground breaking or spectacular.

There is a bevy of good $8 blends out there just as good.

In fact, it tastes like Bishops Blend by AJ. It has all those similar threads of AJ blends.
I need to update my list of best cigars in two different price ranges.

Is it me or have you noticed that all these marvelous and best ever offered blends at $12 all taste vaguely the same? Good sticks but overpriced. Lots of PR used in saying it’s the best cigar that the manufacturer ever blended? There should be just a little truth in advertising when it comes to this bullshit.

I’d like to see the PR say, “This blend ain’t so hot because we didn’t pay attention when we bought them and slapped our cigar bands on them…but would you please buy them anyway so we can break even?” I wouldn’t buy any but I’d give the brand kudos for at least being honest once in a while.

Flavors haven’t changed a bit. Very full flavored but, again, nothing spectacular to grab my attention. I expect a $12 stick to taste this good. It’s always such a pleasant surprise to find a reasonably priced cigar that beats the shit out of the double-digit priced sticks.

Nothing special was done by BLTC to up the ante on this year’s Bishops Blend version. Same as last year. Last year’s blend was good but it wasn’t that good that it needed to be brought back as a clone to the 2018 stick.
Very pleasant. Nice blend. Complexity, transitions, finish, balance, and partial smoothness make for a cigar I am glad was given to me and I didn’t have to purchase.

I saw that Cigar Federation is still selling the Nomad GB-19. A candela wrapped cigar that I believe is one of the best ever. It’s $10. I’d rather have a box of those than a box of Bishops Blend at nearly $2 more per stick.

I wish I could tell you that this is more than a non-descript blend. But I’ve tasted this combination of flavors a million times. I like them. I read how so many reviewers and smokers say that price should not be a factor in reviewing a cigar. Bullshit.

Dough is everything. Try struggling to buy cigars for your stash. Try hiding this from your wife. Endure the nagging of how you spent “How much for that five pack? You’re cut off from sex til your 80th birthday.”

But then, manufacturers probably figure there are plenty of guys and gals out there who are more than happy to spend any amount on a new fancy blend. Maybe that’s their target audience leaving the rest of us in the dust.

My last review was of the 2019 Diesel Hair of the Dog. A $10 Diesel. And a dud. Can you imagine what a decent cigar will cost 10 years from now? Take out a mortgage and sell your first born.
My two-year-old grandson will be paying $24 for a Quorum.

The only expensive cigar brand that consistently puts out blends worthy of their expensive price points is Bespoke; or Casdagli Cigars. They provided me with my #1 cigar of 2018. And at $18 a pop, worth every shekel. These blends will give you a double climax…or at least a boner.

No changes to speak of in the transition of this blend. It is predictable as it proceeds to burn into oblivion. The complexity deepens and the balance is excellent. Yawn.

On the upside is that while I don’t find anything extraordinary with this blend, it is a good cigar that you can purchase for $11.50. If you go down the list of my reviews, you’ll see some good ratings on cigars well below the $10 threshold.

I guess I woke up with a chip on my shoulder about prices. And that goes for B&M’s as well. When is the last time you’ve visited your local hang out and found a decent stick for under $10? Sure, there are the good old standby’s that are in the $6 range and taste like shit. I see a lot of guys buying those sticks. I don’t blame them. We all have cigar budgets. And if you need to smoke a cigar, you get what you can afford.

The BLTC Bishops Blend keeps on keeping on. No major changes. And no significant transitions. I still marvel at the Isabela Time Traveler and Shape Shifter which change flavor profiles every ¾”. The BB is not that sophisticated. In fact, it reminds me of a decent AJ or Pepin Garcia blend. A catalog stick.

The first box of cigars I ever bought was during my freshman year at college. I got a 20-count box of Fuente lanceros for $40. I figured if I sat in the common area of the campus and lit up a cool looking cigar, the women would come running. Ha. They ran away in droves. I’d like to think it was the cigar and not me. The point being that in 50 years, that $2 stick is now a lot more. I see now that was a stupid statement. I picked a really bad time to give up sniffing glue.

“Sweet Home Alabama” is playing. I remember for decades playing in blues bands and every single gig, some drunk guy would yell out the song’s name. I remember once a guy did this and I couldn’t help myself…I laughed. He leaped from his seat and jumped up on the stage to confront me. His friends pulled him off me. People just love that song. And I’m sure there are millions of touring polka bands who experience the same thing. Except the bassist is usually a tuba player…or maybe just a lowly bone player.

Bishops Blend. A nice cigar that allows me to ramble on a number of subjects…just not the cigar’s brilliance…or lack of.

The whole of the cigar is static. The transitions are non-existent. The blend keeps pumping out the same flavors without mixing them up. The pepper was too strong for a good part of the beginning but has now calmed down.
Strength is a light medium/full.

The stick would be more comfortable in the $7 range. Definitely not worth $11.50.

This review will prompt an onslaught of comments and emails telling me I’m full of shit. So…what else is new? We all have different palates. I’m always happy to hear from readers about a certain blend I reviewed and how different their experience was. Really. My reviews are just one man’s opinion; albeit one with a perfect palate…lol.

There should be an ultimatum that the cigar is absolutely killer by now. Nope. Nothing has changed.
Nicotine. Oy.
My toupee is coming loose as is my merkin.

Speaking of merkins…back in the early 70’s I dated a nice Jewish girl from a well-off family. Beautiful girl with long brown hair down to her ass. But terrifyingly arrogant. A real JAP.

We dated long enough to get her into bed. Imagine my horror to discover she had massive amounts of pubic hair that started at her belly button and stopped just above her knees. I needed a hard hat and light. She would have to bypass the salon and go straight to a dog groomer to fix that.

With less than a couple inches to go, I’ve lost interest. The black pepper has returned with extreme prejudice. Strength appears to have hit full tilt. The nicotine is causing brain damage.

Yet, I’m happy to report that there are some changes. Transitions begin. The complexity has filled out some. The finish is limited. Balance is OK. A little bit of life has been breathed into the blend. Maybe the cigar needs 6+ months of humidor time. But I doubt it.
(There goes another sponsor).

“Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon is playing. If I had a dime for every time the motley group of anti-Viet Nam protesters sang this at rallies, I’d be a rich man. I tried singing “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies once and was pelted with joint roaches.

I guess the earlier versions of the Bishops Blend were novel. It’s worn off. BLTC missed a chance to really tweak the blend. But then the stick was very popular so the mindset must have been why fuck with a sure thing? I get it. It’s business.

I’m left underwhelmed. Nice stick but nothing special.
Where did my merkin go?


And now for something completely different:

It was my 25th birthday in February, 1975. I was in London. Curved Air’s start of their British and European tour was to begin the following night in London for 20,000 fans.

To celebrate, my band mates and the members of the band Renaissance took me to the famous Marquee Club. It is sort of the English version of the Whisky A’ Go Go. And it was right off Piccadilly Circus.
I had no idea who was playing that night. It turned out to be no one special. Figures. But I was surrounded by 25 of my friends so it was all good.

As soon as we got there, drummer Stewart Copeland handed over some writing paper. It was a letter to him from a friend at UC Berkeley where Stew spent a couple years. The letter was written on blotter paper. And the friend dosed the entire letter in his own mad scientist formula of LSD.

Stew ripped off a small piece the size of a dime and handed it to me. I took it and placed it on my tongue. Stew and Sonja insisted I down a giant 20 oz. beer right afterwards. And since I don’t drink, I got shit faced immediately.

We went into the room where the band played and within 15 minutes, I was flying on a magic carpet ride. I looked over at Sonja and tried to speak but couldn’t.

She smiled the smile of the Cheshire Cat. She put her arm in mine and walked me out into the lobby where we found a bench to sit on.

Time no longer had meaning. We sat on that bench for hours. It seemed like minutes. The evening had come to an end. People were filing out and leaving. The 25 friends, who included the two bands, walked over to us. They heard what Stew had done to me and were laughing hard and doing tricks with their faces and hands to freak me out. They had not had their dose yet. I was hallucinating like a mother fucker.

Stew handed out the medication. Everyone took a piece. I told them they had no idea what was about to happen to them and they laughed at me. (I would have the last laugh).

We ambled outside with Sonja guiding me. Piccadilly Circus was crowded with night crawlers at 1am. Trying to get a few taxis to take us back to my flat was impossible. So, I let out a guttural yell, “TAXI!!!!” and I was heard from the other side of the Circus and came to our location. We all piled into 3 taxis.

Sonja and I were the only ones in our taxi that were heavily medicated. There were 4 others still trying to fuck with me and laughing…I kept pleading with them to stop…but even in my delirium, I knew that they had no idea what was in store for them.

It took about 15 minutes and we were home. We all went through the door while I heard voices asking, “What’s going on? Where am I?”
I laughed. I was already 4 hours into my journey and theirs was just beginning.
It was past 2am.

I sat in the living room staring at a freaky poster on the wall. I watched as the poster melted and took on odd shapes. I laughed hard.

A chick who lied and said she had taken acid many times walked into the living room where I sat alone. She had tears in her eyes. She asked me if it was always like this?
I replied, “No. It’s not usually this good.”
She ran screaming down the hall.

This huge group of people was dazed and confused and all having a good time…except for this chick who bragged she had done plenty of acid, but in truth, had never done it….so she began to bum out a small group of young men who became her caretakers.

And then I got stomach cramps. I didn’t know if they were real. And then a moment of clarity hit me and I ran for the bathroom. My flat was a basement flat in a several hundred-year-old building. No heat. And it was winter.
The bathroom was tiny and I could see my breath as I sat on the toilet.

This is something you never want to do….take a dump while high on acid. All my senses were concentrated on my asshole. I became my asshole.

But I made it through and ended up feeling much better and returned to the group.

Turns out, the misguided chick had left the flat to get some air in the frigid winter night. She was out there for a bit and began to freak out even more; so, she decided she better get back inside. Turns out, she had locked herself out and no one could hear her knock.

She stood out there for an hour and when someone finally went looking for her, they discovered her in a heap on the front door mat. She was brought in where she proceeded to vomit and cry.
She was bumming everyone out. I walked away.

The inside of that flat was like a circus with everyone doing something different to entertain themselves. Sonja found a lemon in the kitchen and spent several hours “walking her lemon.” My good buddy, Skip, accompanied her to keep her safe.

We were up all night. People began to file out around day break, heading to their homes. And hopefully, some sleep.
I managed to crawl into bed and slept….but with some amazing dreams.

Both Curved Air and Renaissance were to open in London that night. CA was made up of hardened Hippies. What’s a little acid? No biggie. In fact, Stew and Sonja smoked hash all day long extending the acid trip.
Meanwhile, the Renaissance boys couldn’t take it and had to cancel their gig.
Holy Shit!
And I got blamed for their cancellation. Not Stew. Me.
Management was furious. But then management was named Copeland so naturally I took the fall.

Annie Haslam, their lead singer did not do drugs and was not at my birthday party.
She held me personally responsible and from that day forward, never spoke to me again. As we had the same manager, there were times I saw her in the hallways. I would say hi and she would turn her head and ignore me.
That was the last time I did acid. It was a great time and seemed like a good idea to go out on a good note.
We played beautifully that night with 3 encores.
The boys of Renaissance spent that night in bed…whimpering.

And now for something completely different (Part 2):

Remember the Dutch band, Focus? They had only one hit from 1970: “Hocus Pocus.” A total instrumental; but a good one…still gets lots of airplay on classic rock stations.

The band fell apart of course. And a new band was formed ala “Yes.” And it was called Trace. A 3-piece band and they only played instrumentals. They had their Rick Wakeman-type with a wall of keys and synthesizers; all on wheels so this madman could run across the stage pushing his two tons of musical equipment. The drummer was from Focus, and a guitarist that sometimes played bass.
Anyway, Curved Air did a week of touring with Trace.

They were an arrogant bunch of dudes. We would do our sound check and Stew Copeland and I would woodshed on jazz fusion riffs I had developed. It was very progressive and this form of music had not hit England at that point…or at least no one was paying attention to the future of progressive fusion music.

I remember jamming and saw their guitarist wave his hand implying that it was shit.
Well, fuck him.

One night, after a gig, a drunken roadie left the guitarist’s basses and guitars on the ground next to the truck. And then walked away.
Someone snatched them all.

But the roadies didn’t discover this until the gig the next day.
We normally had dinner while our support band was on.
When we returned, we heard what happened.

Our head roadie, Beric Wickens, loaned him my 1968 Fender P bass. Know what this asshole Trace member did? He re-worked my bass to fit his needs. He did all sorts of things and then when they finished their set, he just handed my bass to our roadies. He didn’t even show the courtesy of taking my bass back to square one. He changed the height of the strings on the bridge. He shoved hard sponge underneath the strings at the bridge. He put the ashtray back on. He detuned it. He removed the finger rest. And he scratched the finish below the pick guard.

In the dressing room, I spent an angry hour putting my bass back together. When I was done, I went to their dressing room and screamed at him. My roadies had to pull me off of him. This guy was a lot bigger than me but I didn’t care.

The fucker didn’t even bother to thank me for the use of my bass. Must have thought it was divine intervention.
I bitched to our road manager and he called their manager. And let him have it. Our manager, Miles Copeland III told them he would never book them again.

The asshole apologized to me a couple days later. Probably told to do this by his manager.

As a player for over 50 years, I never let my bass out of sight for even 5 minutes. Except when I was playing with Curved Air. I had no choice. I hope this guy is now selling hot dogs at a Pommes Frites street cart in Amsterdam. Or working as a fluffer in porn.


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6 replies

  1. Another great review on an ok cigar that costs too much. I wonder what the profit is for these companies. I’m glad I never had to take a dump while on acid… sounds horrific. Thanks for the laugh Katman!

  2. My pleasure to make an ass of myself…no pun intended.

  3. Have to agree, value is important. No matter what price range you’re talking about or what your budget is, nobody likes getting ripped off. I spend way too much on cigars, but at least I always try to get a good deal.

    That said, I am always left scratching my head when I see how much people are willing to overpay for cigars. Case in point, a dew days ago I was traveling out of state and stopped at a high end spirits shop that sells cigars as well. I expected that I would be walking out empty handed when I saw them selling individual bottles of craft beer for $20-30, but I sauntered up to the walk-in humidor anyway. First thing I noticed was Cohiba Red Dots selling for $22 apiece! Before Tax! For the Robusto! Absurd. As you know, this is a cigar that can be had on CI for about half that, and on CigarBid for a quarter of that price, or less. Most of their top shelf brands were in the $18 to $23 range.

    This was annoying, but not terribly surprising. What WAS surprising was that for slightly less prestigious brands, their prices were pretty great. I bought a My Father Le Bijou to replace the one I stepped on, and a couple Oliva V Melanios for under $10 each, and a few Acid Blondies for $7.50 apiece. Internet prices. I asked the staff about the ridiculous price variances and nobody knew shit about it, or cigars in general. I cannot imagine their average customer is so affluent they don’t mind being ripped off that bad on the higher end stocks. Makes me wonder.

  4. That is odd.
    But then I’ve found myself in big liquor stores with semi-large humidors and like you said, the staff didn’t know jack shit about cigars.
    Every time I’ve been in a joint like that, I guarantee to see at least half a dozen blends of ACID. And the rest is junk. It looks old and not humidified correctly. I think you take your chances buying sticks in places like that.
    But you seemed to have made out like a bandit. Good for you. Just watch out for the exploding varieties.

  5. Great stuff, Phil. Love the stories of old, especially where the wench Haslam is in them.

  6. Pricing is everything for me when it comes to cigars. I smoked a opus x lost city the other night and the construction was a Fucking joke and that’s a $27 stick, I smoked an Oliva melanio maduro last night and was in serenity and bought a box of those for $7 a stick.. How the hell can anybody justify buying a cigar or box of cigars for $27 each and they’re not even rolled well? Absolute disappointment if I’ve ever had one.

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