Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican, Mexican San Andrés
Size: 5.5 x 48 Corona Gorda
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $10.00


Today we take a look at the Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019.
Many thanks to buddy, Charles Lim.

BACKGROUND:
Only 400 boxes released for 2019. (Cigars still available online)
Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelï, Nicaragua
From Cigar Dojo (10-23-2019):
“Black Label Trading Co. launched the fourth annual iteration of the Santa Muerte series, with the cigars shipping to select retailers during the 2019 IPCPR trade show.
The cigar’s name translates roughly to Saint Death, which is essentially the Mexican incarnation of the Grim Reaper of European legends. The cigars are released each year leading up to the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos, which honors and remembers the lives of those we’ve lost.

“We have gone out of the box with Santa Muerte. It features Broadleaf, San Andres, Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco among the 6 filler tobaccos. You experience layer upon layer of coffee, malt, spice and cocoa. As the name suggests, there is a Day of the Dead tribute to honor those we have lost.”
~James Brown, creator of BLTC and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra
This year’s release has been rolled in corona gorda and short robusto formats, with 20-count boxes retailing for $200 MSRP apiece.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Corona Gorda 5.5 x 48 $10.00
Short Robusto 4.75 x 52 $10.00

APPEARANCE:
This is a nicely constructed cigar. Mostly smooth with only a hint of toothiness in places. Appears it might have a quadruple cap. The cigar is solid and heavy in the hand. Seams are tight. Some veinage but it all blurs into the oily rusty brown wrapper that appears in the sunlight. In room light, just paper bag brown. Good God, y’all…A giant skull.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Loads to sniff on…floral notes, red pepper, chocolate, coffee, cedar, heavy on the malt, hoppy, thick caramel notes, a touch of barnyard, dried fruit, and mint.

The cold draw presents flavors of gingerbread, red pepper, dark cocoa, espresso, malt, raisins, mint, and barnyard.

FIRST THIRD:
The resistance on the cigar is spot on. I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool for another time.

Out of the starting gate, it swings for the fences. Big fat flavors of black pepper, dark chocolate, espresso, creaminess galore, caramel, malt, cedar, and raisins.

Complexity seems to be in motion. Transitions kick in immediately; flashing those big flavors at whirlwind speed. The finish is toothy with a buttery, creamy, peppery start.

This is delicious. I don’t understand why 400 boxes of each size are still for sale months after release. Maybe if reviewers hit on this, it would have sold out quickly. Lucky for you, you waited for your Uncle Katman to elucidate and provide an accurate description. If this baby is worth $10, you can snag them at several of your favorite boutique sites.

Strength is a straight ahead medium. Easy and balanced. No sudden pelvic thrusts.

I bought a stationary bike so I don’t die. I’ve been vigilant an hour each day. I even got a heavy duty one that can hold a fatso up to 400lbs. Now, I don’t weigh even close to that…but, the thing is made like a tank…so, now I don’t worry like I would with the cheaper bikes that it will tip over while I’m traveling at the speed of sound. So…my tailbone still aches after two weeks. I ask Charlotte to massage it, but she gets dry heaves instead.

This is a very dense cigar. I’ve been smoking this baby for about 10 minutes and I’ve only burned about half an inch.

And then there is a giant leap of complexity, matched by a perfect balance of flavors. It appears that this is one of those multi-national blends that someone actually thought out using their noodle.

We all know the second half usually shines above and beyond the first half. Well, if that is the case with the Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019, this is going to be a fucking killer stick. I’m going to wait til the second half starts and if my projection is true, I’m going to stop writing and buy a fiver.

Baking spices enter the picture. There is ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add pumpkin and the creaminess and we have a cheesecake.
The dark chocolate and espresso are working in tandem that takes the cigar in another direction…more of a coffee mousse filled candy bar.

Damn. At this rate, if I were a smart Katman, I’d have picked up on this last year. It could have easily made my top 25. Except…that I don’t list extremely limited production cigars as hardly anyone got a chance to taste them. But now, you still do as the cigars are lingering on the shelves of some online boutique stores.

Savory v. sweet has been on point since the start.
Subtleties begin with nuances of brown sugar, blackberries, a scoche of green chile, and sweet brioche. Wow. Color me impressed.

I’m trying to find a place in this review where I can curse inappropriately…but the cigar’s performance hasn’t opened the door for me. Drat.

SECOND THIRD:
Takes 25 minutes to get here. Went by in a flash.
Strength is now medium/full.

“Little Wing” by Jimi is playing. Doesn’t get any better.
And now, “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh. I remember watching Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1973 and in awe as I watched the fretless bassist move and groove to the music. It was at that very moment, I knew I had to get myself a fretless bass. Had one ever since.

Where did the ash go?
Shit! It’s in my lap. Thank God, I have no feeling down there.

The burn is exemplary. No issues.

No shit brothers and sisters, I haven’t dug a cigar in this fashion for a while. It just oozes serious aging. I must tip my hat to James Brown of BLTC. Damn.

The blend is now morphing from a cigar full of distinct individual flavors to the whole exceeding its parts. Fucking awesome.

Decided not to wait til second half. Scored a fiver from SBC. Used promo code DOJO for 10% discount.

Warning Will Robinson…do not, I repeat, do not smoke this cigar early. I did. And wasted a perfectly great cigar. I’m now 2 months in and it is manna from the gods.

I can suck on this all day…don’t read anything funny into that statement. Pervs.

What a great cigar to return to reviewing with. Shit happens in our lives and sometimes there are distractions.

I highly recommend snagging the Corona Gorda size. Not a huge fan of the Rothschild size.
Creaminess rises to the top of the food chain. I sit here licking my chops like a dog trying to imbibe every bit of flavor the cigar offers.

This is one great ball of complexity. Transitions are stunning. The finish is Bozo crazy.
And it smokes slowly! So much drek out there at the same price point as this baby and they don’t come close. Again, I tip my hat to Brown for not getting greedy and slamming the customer base. This quality could have easily hit the $12-$13 range.

The halfway point arrives at 40 minutes in. Can’t remember the last Corona Gorda I’ve smoked that lasted 90 minutes.

Strength is steady at medium/full. Yet, so smooth as to make my tailbone stop hurting.
This is a big fat blend with sharpened elbows to shoo other cigars out of the way to make room for its big entrance to your palate.

If you don’t follow my advice on getting at least a fiver of these cigars…well, I will be deeply disappointed in you. No chocolate halvah for you.

At this point, the big ol’ skull on the cigar band is freaking me out a little. Reminds me of my first wife when I asked for a BJ. Same exact look.

I remove my clothing and stand naked in front of the big picture window. I look like a big Ken doll and catch no one’s attention…sigh. Why is that when you get old, your balls enlarge to the size of volleyballs, but your dick shrinks to the size of a walnut? Really? God playing a cruel joke.

LAST THIRD:
I’ve got a boner this big…
I’m sated for the day.

Charles Lim is one of the most generous friends I possess. He likes to get doubles of sticks that are new and send them to me for review. Once in a while, a dog shows up; but most of the time, Charles has impeccable taste.

The cigar hits full strength now. A touch of nicotine but not bad so far.

The Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019 is incredible. The beginning was startling impressive. Now, in its sweet spot, it is a remarkable blend. I hope that BLTC brings it back in 2020. I’ve got my fiver on the way now and I shall cherish it like the baby Moses.
If two months of humi time tastes like this, imagine 4-6 months…

Here they are in no particular order: Chocolate, coffee, malt, black pepper, creaminess, mint, baking spices, berries, cedar, earth wind & leather, caramel, brown sugar, and raisins. Yikes.
Meanwhile, these flavors are rotating faster than you can say Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

The richness of the blend reigns supreme.

I am trying to think of another blend I can compare it to…Casdagli/Bespoke (10% off with promo code Katman from SBC). The cigar tastes like a big strutting high premium.

The green chile suddenly puts the pedal to the metal. The black pepper fades.

Got a new used car this weekend. Some millennial decided to use Charlotte as a target on a main highway and took off the entire front of our Ford Fusion. She is fine. Cops on scene said it was his fault. A witness behind Charlotte’s car said it was his fault…and he was an off-duty cop. And the kid admitted to the cops it was his fault. Took 11 days from accident to new car. Both Charlotte and I went through a case of Imodium D. The stress dealing with two insurance companies and then the war at the dealership…it’ll make you shit your pants every time.

The Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte 2019 is sublime beyond words.
This is my favorite BLTC blend.
Nothing more I can add. A great, great blend.
90 minutes as predicted.

RATING: 95

And now for something completely different:

We always started our tour of the European Continent in Amsterdam. Then we’d finish the tour back in England.

We took the ferry from Dover, England to the Hook of Holland…an overnight trip. While waiting to board the ship, all the core roadies for Led Zep showed up with their own 18 wheelers full of equipment. We chatted. We got stoned. We drank. We had dinner together. And said goodbye the next morning. Didn’t know our paths would cross again during our tours.

Our first gig was always the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam which was, conveniently, the place to buy hash. But we didn’t buy enough for the whole tour. And there was no other place on the Continent to safely buy it.

We were out of herb when we hit Aachen, Germany. No worse place to be out of smoke.

We played at some arena in Aachen not far from the border of Holland. We announced to the crowd that we needed advice on where to get some hash. Of course, lots of people handed us stuff after the concert but we threw it away. Never trust free dope. Too many horror stories about that. The German cops gave us the stink eye. They didn’t like Hippie musicians. The country was still pretty fascist even in 1974.

One audience member told us we could follow him to a hash club right across the border where we could buy enough stash for the rest of the tour. So, our destination was Maastricht.

We finished playing around 11pm. We quickly changed. I wore a pair of patch suede leather pants on stage. After 2-1/2 hours on stage under hot lights, I entered the dressing room soaked to the bone. This night, I couldn’t get them off. They were glued to my legs, so I just changed my shirt.

Darryl didn’t do drugs so a club meant he could drink himself stupid. We all grabbed our instruments.
The five of us got into the Lincoln town car driven by our road manager and we followed the bloke to Maastricht.

This club was massive and we were all duly impressed. Classy joint.
A band was playing. Hundreds and hundreds of people. It had a really nice stage and sound system. And the acoustics were brilliant.

The good fellow from the concert showed us where the dealer was. The dealer had set up a little station for selling hash. He sat in a big overstuffed chair with a big chalk board standing behind him. There were the names of different types of hash and the prices.

The dealer wouldn’t take our money but we foisted it upon him because we needed a lot. It had to last an 8-week tour.

Then we took the stage. We didn’t ask if we could play. We were Curved Air. The crowd went nuts. The band that was playing was thrilled we would be using their equipment and they had a good sound guy.
Sometimes it’s good to be the king.

Stewart, Mick, Sonja and I lit up a big bowl of hash a couple minutes before jumping on the stage.
Within minutes, it hit us. Holy shit the stuff was strong. And because we hadn’t had any in several days, we were gluttons. I had smoked hash in America but it was nothing like the quality of European hash. Or as cheap.

We stumbled on to the stage and giggled the whole time. Darryl downed an English pint (20oz) in two minutes to catch up with us.

We tried to play but couldn’t stop laughing. The crowd knew what was going on and they began to laugh. Must have been 400 of them.

We broke into playing and Sonja nudged me. Standing next to the stage was Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. I just about shit myself. It was a star-crossed moment. Apparently, this club was the place to hang.

The heavens had aligned perfectly. I grew up a huge fan of Zep. And the best band I ever played with, prior to CA, was named Homegrown. Subtle, huh?
We had a singer and guitarist that could perfectly mimic those two guys in Zep. So, we were damn near a tribute band. So, of course, we got booked constantly.

After a few songs, Plant and Page got on stage with us. Curved Air was a progressive band with their roots in classical music. Darryl and Sonja had not an ounce of blues in their background. Luckily, our guitarist Mick, Stew the drummer, and I had paid some dues on that front.

Page started with a slow 1-4-5 blues. Plant made lyrics up as he went. We followed.
Sonja just weaved back and forth banging her tambourine. Darryl was embarrassing with his classically trained violin chops.

I asked if we could play some Zep music. Page asked what I would like to play and I said, “Dazed and Confused.” Plant smiled as I began that iconic bass line that started the song. Darryl freaked and left the stage as he clearly couldn’t keep up.

Page had his famous Les Paul with him. I damn near fainted.
Mick sort of stayed in the background but since Zep was basically a musical trio, all they needed was for me to know the songs. And I DID!

Word got out and the audience swelled by two hundred more people. No one could move in that place. 600 people in a large bar were still a lot of people.
I got to be John Paul Jones.

We played 3 more songs: “Whole Lotta Love,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Rock and Roll.”
Page and Plant shook hands with the band and gave me a big bear hug. I could barely speak. All I could utter was a meek “Thanks.”

And you ain’t going to believe this. Clapton was in the audience the whole time. Plant went to where he was standing and they talked for a few minutes. Next thing I knew, Clapton was on stage.

Page got back on the stage. They had decided to do some Yardbirds songs. Both Plant and Clapton were in that band. Different times of course.
None of Curved Air was left on the stage except for me and Copeland; the drummer. The rest of CA chickened out.

We started with “Over Under Sideways Down.” Then “Heart Full of Soul” and finished with “For Your Love.”

It was 5am and the bar closed an hour before but the bar owner would have been lynched if he tried to shoo everyone out.

We got back to the hotel around 6am. Couldn’t sleep because I was so jacked up. I used the hotel phone to call some friends at home to tell them what happened. I later got into trouble with management for spending the dough on the phone calls. I think a 10-minute call cost around $50. A lot of dough for 1974.

But we made the cover of Melody Maker in the following issue. Management eased up on me when they saw that. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. So, a couple hundred English pounds was a small price to pay…and it was forgiven. Otherwise, the management assholes would have made me pay for them.

I just realized by finding this story, as my memory fades, that this is why my daughter and wife insisted I claimed I played with Clapton. Katie was in grade school and always bragged to her teachers about this. So, I got a lot of attention on parent’s night about this. I would sheepishly have to deny this ever occurred.

They mistakenly thought I played in a band with him. I never did. But at some point, in the past, I must have mentioned this story. End of mystery.

I can’t play anymore but no matter what, no one can take away from me those wonderful memories. I was just a kid from Long Beach, California living the dream a 16-year-old had many years before lying on his bed at home listening to British rock.
What a giant stroke of luck.

“I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I…think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”



Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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