At the 2019 Premium Cigar Association trade show, James Brown, owner of Black Label Trading Company showcased a line extension to his famed Last Rites cigar. This latest release is known as the Last Rites Viaticum.
Viaticum is a term used especially in the Catholic Church for the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion) administered, with or without Anointing of the Sick (also called Extreme Unction), to a person who is dying, and is thus a part of the Last Rites.
In a earlier press release, James Brown noted:
“We wanted to release a cigar exclusively for IPCPR attendees as a way of showing our appreciation for the retailers who come to support our brands and the show. Last Rites has always been a special cigar to me. It was the first cigar I blended on my own, and I blended it to my personal tastes. It’s everything I wanted out of a cigar and a perfect representation of Black Label Trading Co.
To celebrate our sixth anniversary, I wanted to do a special edition of the Last Rites. The Viaticum is an evolution of the Last Rites blend. It uses most of the same tobaccos but in different proportions and primings. It’s rich, dark and elegant just like Nicaraguan tobacco. We also box pressed the cigar like the original 2013 release.”
When I spoke to James at the show, he told me the Last Rites Viaticum will be a limited edition release, and only available to retailers who attended the show.
The Last Rites Viaticum is produced at Fabrica Oveja Negra, which James Brown is a partner. The blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian maduro
- Binder – Honduran habano
- Filler – Nicaraguan and Honduran
The 2019 Last Rites Viaticum is expressed in a single 5 x 54 box pressed vitola and come packaged in 20-count boxes. Production is limited to just 500 boxes. The company has set the MSRP at $15.00/cigar.
The Last Rites Viaticum is a very dark brown and smooth box pressed cigar. It is gently pressed with rounded edges. There is virtually no veins running along the barrel. It feels solid in the hand and is finished with an expertly applied triple cap.
There are two bands that adorn the cigar, both use a black and gold motif. The primary band has a golden human skull emblazoned in the center with a black cross in the top. The secondary band boldly declares this as the “Last Rites” in a golden script font on a black background.
Running the Last Rites Viaticum along the nose I picked up an alluring baking spice aroma off the foot and a lightly pungent, fermented, leaf along the barrel.
I removed the cap with a straight cut and proceeded to give it some cold puffs that I would describe as spot on with restriction and offering a crushed red pepper burn on the tongue and cheeks along with an earthy set of notes in the background.
I used my double flame torch to ignite it and begin the journey of turning this one to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial pepper burn off the first puffs
- Pepper recedes a bit and gives way to spiced fruit notes
- Light grey ash forms on thick and wavy char line
- Smoke is rich, thick, and full volume
- Cedar notes join and blend well with the fruit
- Natural sweetness is filling in the background
- Ash falls in nice chunk with a flat but centered cone
- Dry citrus notes join the profile
- Earthy aroma
- Oils are developing nicely above the char line
- Spice is the predominant note moving through the journey
- Off burn develops that eventually needed a mild touch up in the final
- Finishes with sweet and earthy notes
- Medium to full in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes down to the nub
Overall, I enjoyed the flavors and aromas of the Black Label Trading Company’s Last Rites Viaticum. The natural sweetness and earth in the background kept me interested through the burn and the flavors transitioned well. For most of the journey, the cigar performed well, but it did develop an off-burn in the final third that required a mild touch-up. This is one that I recommend picking up a fiver and store some for additional aging. They are limited – so get them while you can. I rate this a solid 93.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Char Line; (-1) Off Burn in the final third; (-1) Required a Touch-up; (-1) Flat Burn Cone
Bonus Point: (+1) Large Oiling well above the char line