Black Label Trading Co. Viaticum 2021 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Size: 6 x 48 Toro
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $15.25

Thanks to Jack M. for the gift card so I could snag these cigars.

I’ve reviewed 19 BLTC blends from 2014-2021. I found a variety of reviewer reactions to their blends through the years. They went from the disappointed “meh” to “Holy Shit! “

I agree about the inconsistency. Some BLTC blends punch me in my clown nose while others leave me cold. The only Last Rites blend I reviewed was in 2014 and I didn’t care for it. But other blends impressed me and made my yearly lists:
Top cigars for 2015: #21 BLK WKS Studio NBK by Black Label Trading Co.
Top cigars for 2016: #4 Black Label Trading Company Bishops Blend
Top cigars for 2017: #10 BLK WKS Studio NBK by Black Label Trading Co.
Top cigars for 2018: #10 Black Works Studio S&R
Top cigars for 2020: #5 Black Label Trading Co. Santa Muerte

From (8-26-2021):
“Black Label Trading Co. has announced that its Viaticum line will be heading to stores this week. The line was first released in November 2019 as a limited edition that was available only to retailers who attended the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. Now, it gets a wider release and is available to all of the company’s retailers after being shown off at the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show.

“Viaticum is an evolution of the Last Rites blend and a testament to what Black Label Trading Co is all about,” said James Brown, creator of BLTC and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra, via a press release. “It uses most of the same tobaccos but in different proportions and primings. It’s the perfect balance between strength and complexity. This cigar is bold but also very refined. It’s all about balance. The dark fruit and earth flavors are wrapped in soft floral notes and elevated with a multitude of spice on the finish,” he added.

“The blend uses an Ecuadorian maduro wrapper, Honduran habano binder and a mix of Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. It is made at Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua and offered in three box-pressed sizes:
“The company has released 800 boxes of each size. A spokesperson for the company added that there will also be an additional release made for the German market.

“Of note about the Viaticum’s connection to the Last Rites line, that blend was the first cigar that James Brown blended on his own and one of the company’s original releases.”

Robusto 5 x 54 $15.00
Toro 6 x 48 $15.25
Lancero 6.75 x 40 $15.00

A very appealing presentation. I love the look and feel of a box pressed stick. The wrapper is almost charcoal in hue. Using klieg lights for my photos, the oils shimmer and what is hidden in room light jumps out. Seams are visible but tight. More veins popping out than big guys dead lifting in a gym. There is a toothiness that feels like fine grit sandpaper. The triple cap is clean and accurately applied. And we have a skull…but then that is BLTC’s thing. Still, the cigar band and footer band are attractive. I smoked one and had my more often than not burn issues. Some box pressed cigars will burn perfectly for me, but others have run issues. I had a run issue with the first stick I smoked. The cigar is too light in the hand for my preference. My first stick was the same and burned too quickly. Feels like a toothpick. I expect burn issues.

Aromas are very faint. I do detect floral notes, dark chocolate, black pepper, black licorice, cedar, barnyard, a trove of nuttiness, a tad bit of creaminess, some caramel, black cherries, and yellow matter custard.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, raisins, black pepper, licorice, cinnamon, caramel, generic nuttiness, and those cherries.
Due to what I expect is an underfilled stick, the draw is wide open so no need for my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool.

I have only had this stick for a month which means I am reviewing it early in its hibernation stage. But as only 800 boxes of each size are available, it makes no sense to wait until the cigar is off the market. I saw many online stores that have already sold out, so let’s get to it. I will let my palate do the walking as it searches for blender’s intent.

I am engulfed in smoke. Tart flavors hit my palate first: lemon peel and vinaigrette.
In lockstep, the following notes appear…creaminess, black pepper, cinnamon, licorice, black cherries, a hint of dark plum, espresso, cedar, carraway seeds, and beef jerky.
Good start.

Strength is already medium+.

I get my first run and must take torch to foot. The stick is just not packed solid.

There is a rum and Coke element that hangs in the background.
The finish is lovely with notes of dried fruit, cherries, chocolate, creaminess, and spice.

It took only 5-6 minutes to burn the first inch…nicht gut.

As the second inch begins, some complex nature enters the picture. No transitions at this point.

I’m reviewing this cigar as I do all the others…first thing in the morning with no food in my gut. I did have a couple cups of coffee earlier to get my heart started. For me, it is the best time to test a blend; as once you have food and drink in your belly, it affects my palate. It takes a phenomenal blend to overcome the interfering food stuffs.

Caramel and raisins with walnuts make a nice new combo. But flavors need to be tracked down like I’m a bounty hunter. They are very faint which causes my face to squinch and make stupid expressions as I urge the cigar to undress itself.

The cigar is just OK. I know the humi time is probably insufficient, but I’ve been smoking for a thousand years and sometimes I just know what a cigar will become as it matures. It’s hardwired after over 50 years.

There is some improvement on the home front. There are some subtle notes and a side dish of nuance.

I’m only half an inch away from the second third…after 12 minutes. This is a disaster. They focused on the guts but forgot to fill the bucket with enough of the good stuff.

The improvements are minor.

I read a few reviews of last year’s Last Rites. I saw a 94 and I also saw SBC’s three-man reviewing panel only recommend buying a single cigar. That should confuse the shit out of you. It did me. Plus, this is a $15 stick.

It should be full of blasting caps taking my breath away. Because of the lack of enough tobacco, this baby is burning faster than the fuse to that M80 you threw into the toilet in middle school.

And the cigar goes out. Man, you can see where this is going…
I dry boxed the cigar for two days. Humidity has been surprisingly low.

But the stick begins to cave in on itself…too soft. MORE tobacco, please.

I find a plug at the cigar band level and grab my PerfecDraw tool to fix it. It pulls out a haystack of drek. Just what this cigar needs…less tobacco. But the draw is much better.

The balance is fine as far as savory v. sweet. The flavors are very subdued causing the tobacco to take over the chores for impressing me.

To be honest, the leaf stats are like a million other cigars, and I am experiencing flavors I’ve tasted often. I’m not a fan of Honduran tobacco. I find that most cigar blends are weakened by its inclusion.

Strength falls back to a straight ahead medium. It lost its oomph.
Spiciness is barely accounted for. It attached itself to a zip line and the fittings failed and it’s falling 1000 feet into the gorge.

20 minutes. Saved by the last half inch that was filled evenly.
It goes out.
But on the upside, the char line is behaving.

My palate senses flavors trying to express themselves but don’t have the character to burst into the open…a shy blend.

Owner, James Brown, said this in the press release: “The dark fruit and earth flavors are wrapped in soft floral notes and elevated with a multitude of spice on the finish,” And that’s it. Not exactly high praise for a $15 stick.

Methinks that this was blended to have a subdued flavor profile. Why? I want subdued and I will buy a Gurkha.

The stick is not progressing. It is not improving. It is on a linear course that does not take the smoker into the tangential elements of a sophisticated blend.

If the cigar is going to show its stuff, it will be in the second half. That will be the big reveal. If it lies dormant as it does in the first half…I will be greatly disappointed.

My palate struggles to find even the earlier mentioned flavor components.

There was no extensive aging of the tobacco or after it was rolled. I can immediately taste aging on a good cigar from the first puff. Its only hope is that extended humidor time fixes the boring blend given only a month of rest.

Oh good…”Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies is playing. Put a little sugar on it, honey. I agree.

I hit the halfway point in less than 30 minutes.

You shouldn’t be surprised if you see some reviewers rave on. But I do believe that it will be hard to do.

The second half of the cigar is better packed and the cigar burns more like a cigar instead of mimicking a cigarette.

“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & Papas is playing. Hal Blaine played on all their tunes. I remember him telling me that John Phillips would arrive at every session with a bona fide leather doctor’s bag. He’d open it for all to see and it contained just about every drug one could imagine. He found it hard to believe that he could function at all during the sessions.

I am only continuing to review because my readers expect me to do so.

I am willing the cigar to get better. I don’t know if it is that wishful thinking or reality…but it does seem to exhibit more defined flavors.
But not an iota of complexity. No transitions. And the finish causes yawning.

What a shame. Maybe in 4 months, this cigar might have surprised me with its goodness in all its glory. But even after a month of humi time, it should be divulging some kind of impression that makes want to say nice things.

The cigar goes out.
And now has a big run.
Construction is fakakta.

The only thing available to my palate is some generic sweetness. I don’t taste chocolate, creaminess, or even the impressive nuttiness.
And the peppery spice is nearly non-existent…which does not jive with Brown’s description.

A fiver is over $75. I think that’s a lot of dough. I also think I should have my boxers around my ears from the excellence that is sorely missing.
A sip of water and I get a vinegar aftertaste. Yikes. Makes me crave for a dinner salad.

The tobacco lacks real aging. The onus of that aging is put on the customer.

Strength is attempting to up itself from being medium.

The only spiciness I can taste comes from a cinnamon element in the background.

The big industry reviewers don’t usually review such a limited release. As the sticks are usually gone long before they are given a chance to properly rest.

The thing is…this cigar has a beautiful presentation and is hard to resist when you see the P.R. photos.

No forward momentum.

I added another old chestnut I’ve planted after several reviews from the past. I’m glad I decided to do this as I’m brain dead from the boredom of the cigar.

Had to light up again. Usually means one of two things…a wet cigar or construction is inadequate. I keep my humidors in the 65%-67% range. And I did dry box this cigar.

Time slows to a crawl…and excruciating elongation in the time continuum.

Once again, BLTC can make some outstanding blends. But their catalog is just not consistent.

Spiciness returns. Some real complexity begins to show itself. I’m grasping at straws.

Nothing about this cigar blend resembles or acts like a $15 stick. I can’t find the blender’s intent. I can’t find the bridge either.

I feel like I’m only killing time til the end and the cigar withers and dies.

Ever wonder why cigar manufacturers are reluctant to advertise here? I can give most of their line stellar ratings but all they remember is how wrong I was about one of their touted cigar blends.

Only certain B&M’s got this stick to sell. If I were you, I’d go that route and just snag a couple. And then let them hibernate through winter.

Totally linear. For me, a one trick pony.
Just like you, I get suckered in on a new cigar’s publicity.

But I’m usually right when I am highly critical of a cigar. How do I know this? 6 months after its release, you start seeing the blend on auction sites going for a fraction of the original price.

Flavors remain muted.
The guts of this cigar do not have the wow factor.

If you’ve tried this cigar and disagree with me, I’d love for you to comment and describe your experience. I can be wrong about this blend…but probably not.

Once again, the cigar goes out. Blimey.

Once in a while, the cigar shows some talent but then it disappears into the netherworld.
While strength is not overwhelming, nicotine pops up.
I have 1-1/2” to go. There won’t be a baby Jesus miracle.

If I thought I was going to get a peek with just a little bit to go, I’d keep on writing…but by this point, I believe you’ve gotten my impression of this blend.


And now for something completely different:

I’ve written this anecdote before. The summer of 2014 to be exact. But a buddy wanted to see it as he had never read it. Instead of just sending him the link, I decided to torture my readers with “…one more time…”

We had played our first gig in Amsterdam…always the first city on the European tour.

We always took the opportunity the Dutch government provided by going to the Paradiso Club which was government run and required a lifetime admission of 5 Guilders. Back then, a Guilder was around 37 cents. The Paradiso was a multi-tiered humongous venue with different styles of live music on each floor.

Plus, it has a giant main auditorium for headlining acts. It was always a gas because we would go to the basement, where the hash and weed was sold, and stocked up for the entire tour…which normally lasted 6-9 weeks. As it was such a treat, we still ran out by the time we hit Germany…maybe two weeks later. We then depended on the kindness of fans to feed the monster.

Needless, to say, we were stoned out of our brains when we hit the big stage that first night. Stew and Sonja liked to drop acid before a show. I had no idea at the time…I have no idea how they did that. I never smoked anything with thc in it right before the concert. Our last song of the show was our theme song by Darryl Way: “Vivaldi.” He did a drawn-out solo in the middle which gave Stewart and I time to get stoned. The roadies had a pipe filled and ready for us. It gave us a whole new perspective during the encores.

After one gig, our Dutch agent took the band, and the main core of roadies, out to a late dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Around 1am, we were stuffed. They paid us shit but the perks were good.

Our BTM agent, Rik, asked everyone if they wanted to go to the red-light district and get laid? Only Darryl and I raised our hands. The others were chicken shit scared. Shit. We were rock stars! Rock stars aren’t afraid of STD’s. We were impenetrable.
So off the three of us went to the red-light district.

We got out of the car and surveyed the territory. All the girls sat in tiny bay windows that were back lit with red lamps…lined up in a huge row along the famous canals.

Prostitution was legal and the girls had to get checked out on some sort of timetable. Of course, that didn’t help if the guy just before you had the clap.

Rik saw a girl he liked and went in. Darryl and I waited beside the car.
He came out 5 minutes later and told us he made a deal for all three of us. $20 each…$98.00 in 2021 dollars.

He announced that he would go first…since he was paying for it.
I was nervous as hell as I had never paid for it…in cash, anyways.

He returned 20 minutes later with a shit eatin’ grin. He slapped us on the backs and proclaimed with pride; it was GREAT!

Darryl announced he was going next. Great. I was getting thirds. This did not make me happy.

All I could think of was a gooshy quedgie. But then these girls were pros. They wouldn’t last if they weren’t clean. Gulp.

Darryl returned 20 minutes later with that same shit eatin’ grin and bragged what a stud he was.
Now it was my turn.

I lumbered into the room. It was the size of a closet. Big enough for a single bed and a make-up table.
The girl was of Heinz 57 heritage. She was from who knows where, but she was gorgeous.

I made small talk, but she would have none of it.
“Hurry up. Get your clothes off.”
I did as she commanded.

I tried to impress her with who I was, but she said that she only liked R & B. And had no idea who Curved Air was.

She lay on the bed and was naked from the waist down. She kept her halter top on. Well, that was no fun.
She handed me a rubber.

Then she took a handful of something from a jar and slathered her quedgie with it. All I heard was this squishy sound. I was losing my enthusiasm.

She jerked on my schmekel a few times to get me hard. I was so scared that it wasn’t that easy to get an erection but, hey, I was 24 and anything could give me a hard on…so, it didn’t take long.

I climbed on board missionary style, and she guided me in.

Not 30 seconds later, she said, “Can’t you cum? C’mon…cum already.”
I told her to shut up. I was concentrating.
She kept up this mantra and it was driving me nuts. Elvis had left the building.

So, I tried to take her top off. She stopped me.
“That will be another 20 Guilders.”
I didn’t have 20 Guilders on me at that very specific moment. That was around $5.00.

I couldn’t cum and I wasn’t having any fun so I began to sing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Keep the Customer Satisfied.”

She got mad and let me put my hand inside her halter top if it would make me cum faster. I had to reach in from the top putting my elbow right in her face.

I succeeded despite the obstacles.

As I got dressed, she told me: “You didn’t drink tonight, did you?”
I smiled and said no. I don’t drink. “Why?”
She said the other two guys obviously had a lot to drink.
I looked confused.
Then she took her index finger…made it stand up straight and then allowed it to droop.
I laughed so hard my sides hurt.

So, after all this, I was the only one to get laid. The others were too drunk. And they came out bragging about how good it was.

I sauntered out to the car with a big smile.
They looked at me and knew in an instant that I knew.
They hung their heads and said nothing. I laughed.
It cost Rik $60 for me to get laid. I thanked him.

The experience cured me of my curiosity. The idea of paying for sex was wiped clean from my Bucket List.

And furthermore….

Road life is not what it’s cracked up to be when you are in a big-time rock band. Anyone that travels for work goes through the same thing. You wake up in look-alike hotels with the same fake paintings on the wall. And then there is that moment; just when you wake up…and you shudder.
Where am I? Space and time disappear. I could be in Switzerland, or I could be in Manchester. It is a bizarre feeling. Time and space distortion.

The routine becomes wearing. You get dressed. You go downstairs to the hotel restaurant for the same breakfast as the day before. And you sit with your bleary-eyed band mates as they try to choke down a lousy hotel breakfast. Coffee is really popular.

You’re bleary eyed because you stayed up so late and partied after the gig. The road manager controls how much sleep you get because you must get into the luxurious road car and head to the next gig.

Across a country or across a continent. You might have a gig that night or one two days later.

The roadies stay up even later than the band because of their duties. They had to break everything down and pack it into 18 wheelers. And they get up way before the band to get the trucks on the road. I often felt sorry for them. Tough job. The rest of the band treated them like slaves and personal assistants. I wasn’t brought up by wolves like the rest of the band and found I had more in common with our core roadies than my band mates.

This one morning was different.
We had played a gig in Amsterdam the night before. A wild town back then. Now the Netherland’s government is cracking down on the weed and hash trade putting hundreds of coffee shops out of business.

As we sat and ate breakfast, Stewart shushed everyone. Sonja had not said a word the entire time at the table.
We all looked at him quizzically.
He said, “Can you hear that?”
We shook our heads no.

He slowly leaned his head towards Sonja’s lap. And then he yelled out for everyone in the restaurant to hear: “She has a dildo inside her!!!”

Yep. She had taken a small 3” personal vibrator and put it inside her quedgie. The vibrator was making a small hum.

She sat there with a Cheshire Cat grin. Never said a word. She was happy and not very hungry. Sonja was a vegetarian. This always struck me as odd since she was a recovering junkie still on methadone. And her diet wasn’t exactly strict vegetarian in the healthy sense. All I ever saw her eat was fries (chips), eggs, and baked beans.

You ever done methadone? I haven’t. From my observations, it gets you very, very high.

The whole restaurant erupted with enthusiasm.
This did not faze Sonja.

Stewart insisted she get rid of it before we got in the car and took off. Reluctantly, she did so.

Sonja always wore a G String. So right at the table, she lifted her skirt and removed the dildo at the table. She pulled it out and waved it in our faces. We all screamed in horror.
Stewart yanked it away from her. We let the road manager pay for breakfast and we beat feet to get out of there.
So not every morning was the same. Some were more interesting.


3 replies

  1. I’m admittedly a fan boy of BLTC. The Bishops Blend was one of my favorite cigars of 2020. Been looking forward to Viaticum. Smoke a Robusto at the lounge last weekend. Enjoyed the flavor profile, but it was like sucking through a straw. Not a bit of resistance whatsoever. Disappointed to hear of same with Toro. I have Robusto and Lancero in the humidor. I expect they’ll be fast smokes. At pricey.

    Always enjoy your reviews. Cheers!

  2. Hi David,
    So you smoked one right out of the cello with no humidor time?
    I am glad that you confirmed my assertion that the cigar is not filled correctly.
    As you read, 5 BLTC blends made it into my top 25 cigars of the year.
    When they are on target, they are gold…but when they miss, they end up in a bunker in the Gobi Desert.
    Thanks for your readership…be well,

  3. Nov.20 2021
    I am trying a stick from the same batch as the above reviewed cigar.
    It is even worse than I could imagine. It is off the rails bad…bad…bad Leroy Brown.
    I had to ditch the cigar after 1-1/2″.
    It is harsh, hot, and has zero complexity or flavor..
    Didn’t someone smoke one of these before they released them?

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