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Cigar Review: Black Label Trading Company Killer Bee Connecticut

24 Jun 2019

Nearly four years ago, James Brown, creator of Black Label Trading Co. (BLTC), announced a new “small-batch cigar line” called Black Works Studio. “Part of the motivation for opening our own factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra, was to experiment and develop unique blends highlighting Nicaraguan tobacco,” said Brown. “Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) is my first opportunity to use our factory as my playground. Blending cigars is my passion and I ended up with several blends and ideas on the shelf [so] the time was right to launch a new brand.”

The three original BLK WKS cigars were Killer Bee (4.5 x 46), an Ecuador Maduro-wrapped petite corona; Rorschach (5 x 38), an Ecuador Habano-wrapped petite panatela; and NBK (6 x 46), an Ecuador Habano Oscuro-wrapped corona larga. Green Hornet, a stronger follow-up to the Killer Bee that’s distinguished by its Candela closed foot, was added a year later in 2016. All of these were offered in addition to BLTC’s core lines, which include Lawless, Royalty, Redemption, Benediction, Salvation, and Last Rites.

More recently, in November 2018, BLTC announced an offshoot to the Killer Bee: Killer Bee Connecticut. This cigar “was blended with the original Killer Bee, so I’m very excited to finally have it released as an addition to the Killer Bee line and the BLK WKS portfolio,” said Brown in a press release. “With similar profiles to the Killer Bee, it may not be what you expect from a typical Connecticut cigar. The Connecticut wrapper gives an added creaminess and changes up the spice components quite a bit.”

The Killer Bee Connecticut recipe calls for Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, a Nicaraguan Habano binder, and a Connecticut wrapper with an Ecuador maduro “swirl cap.” It is offered in a single size (4.5 x 46, $10).

I smoked three Killer Bee Connecticuts for this review. Put simply—and not unlike the original Killer Bee—this gorgeous cigar admirably showcases the craftsmanship at Fabrica Oveja Negra. The bee-like stripes help the cigar stand out on any retailer shelf, and the metallic, honey-combed band of gray, black, and gold adds a nice touch as well. At the foot, the pre-light notes include classic Connecticut aromas of sweet hay, sawdust, and almond.

Whereas the Killer Bee is bold, powerful, and full-bodied with flavors of burnt caramel, black pepper, char, and syrup, the Killer Bee Connecticut is—predictably—more dialed-back. That said, it never falls into the trap of tasting like “just another Connecticut.” It boasts considerable pepper spice from the outset, along with well-balanced notes of oak, butter, and a bit of cinnamon.

Into the midway point and beyond, the spice falls off but the core flavors (save for pepper) remain the same. And that’s just fine in my book. The taste is highly enjoyable and complex, and the small, compact format means it doesn’t overstay its welcome. All the while construction is impeccable. The white ash holds well off the foot, the draw is smooth, the smoke production is generous, and the burn line requires zero touch-ups.

For my palate, the original Killer Bee is, well, a killer. It’s a highly concentrated flavor-bomb that demands to be smoked with a full stomach. The Killer Bee Connecticut, though, is a more balanced, nuanced smoke that’s suitable for almost any occasion. For that, I’m awarding it a very admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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