Remember you (must/have to) die.

That’s the English translation of the Latin phrase memento mori. It’s an incredibly powerful phrase that has been incorporated into religion and philosophy, often symbolized with a skull.

It’s also the name of a new release from Black Label Trading Co. which shipped to stores in three sizes in March 2021. Of note, like some other recent releases from the Oveja Negra family, the cigar itself is not new, as it has been available at the Fábria Oveja Negra factory prior to getting a more widespread release. The cigar uses a Pennsylvania broadleaf wrapper over an Ecuadorian habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers.

  • Black Label Trading Co. Memento Mori Robusto (5 x 50) — $11 (Box of 20, $220)
  • Black Label Trading Co. Memento Mori Corona (5 1/2 x 42)  $10.50 (Box of 20, $210)
  • Black Label Trading Co. Memento Mori Lonsdale (6 1/2 x 46) — $12 (Box of 20, $240)

Each size was limited to 850 boxes for the U.S. as well as additional cigars sent to Europe.

“Memento Mori is exactly what you envision when you think of a Black Label Trading Co. cigar,” said James Brown, creator of BLTC and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra, via a press release. “From its appearance to its flavor profile, this cigar is all about the darkness. The flavor profile is bold, rich, earthy, with notes of dried dark fruits and bitter cocoa. The retrohale brings the spice with white pepper, and cinnamon on the finish. Overall, this cigar is the perfect balance between strength and complexity.”

  • Cigar Reviewed: Black Label Trading Co. Memento Mori Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica Oveja Negra
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Pennsylvania Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 42
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $10.50 (Box of 20, $210)
  • Release Date: March 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Memento Mori’s wrapper is very, very dark with a somewhat rustic appearance thanks to the bumps below the wrapper and the oily texture. Like many Black Label Trading Co. cigars, there’s a bit more going on than a normal cigar. This one features one of the unique tipped caps, a much firmer structure than a pigtail, along with a covered foot. The aroma from the wrapper has raisins over leather and some sweeter barnyard flavors. Despite the very dark color, I find the aroma to be around medium-plus with just those three notable aromas. The foot is muted compared to the wrapper with some subtle sweetness that reminds me of raisins and caramel. The cold draw is surprisingly open with lots of chocolate over leathers, a mineral earthy flavor and some sweeter pork-like meatiness. It’s more intense than the aromas, but I’d still only peg it at medium-plus.

All three cigars have an open draw—ranging from slightly open to open—and that makes the first puffs more complicated than they need to be. Flavor-wise, that very first puff reminds me of a terroir-like earthiness over some toastiness, mild amounts of spices and a woodiness that reminds me of breaking damp bark. The profile is medium-full, yet very aggressive. By the third puff of the first sample, I’m already concerned about the cigar going out. This seems to be mostly a result of the thick wrapper on the covered foot and it not fully igniting the filler. Taking an extra 20 seconds or so per cigar on the next two samples fixes that issue, but it doesn’t fix the burn issues. The first third requires touch-ups nearly every half-inch to keep the cigar lit, which isn’t something I’m enjoying. Flavor-wise, the cigar has a very toasty earthiness over black pepper and peanut shells. The more I can keep the cigar lit, the better that peanut flavor becomes, but doing so makes the cigar hotter, which intensifies the harsh parts of the black pepper. The finish is a mixture of toasty mineral flavors, a poultry-like meatiness and something that reminds me of aloe. Retrohales have toastiness, minerals, leather and some apple sweetness. Once the smoke leaves my nostrils, cinnamon and black pepper explode and seem to want to get even stronger, but then they sort of stop. Beyond that, there are some orange rinds. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-full.

I think the second third is slightly better flavor-wise than the first third, but it’s still not good. The relights continue, which means flavors of black pepper, toastiness and dryness are a constant part of the profile. Beyond that, I get some earthiness, dry paper flavors and some white pepper. The finish is a drier version of toastiness, black pepper, earthiness, some apple sweetness and a familiar woodiness like I tasted during the cold draw. At times, there’s some creaminess, but it’s usually overwhelmed by black pepper and wood. Retrohales have aloe, dry toastiness and some black pepper. It finishes with black pepper, toastiness and surprisingly both a yogurt-like creaminess and saltiness once the burnt flavors fade out. The creaminess is an enjoyable enough addition that it makes me want to retrohale more, even if that means upping the intake of dry toastiness. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Even smoking at a substantially quicker pace doesn’t alleviate the burn issues, leading me to believe that it’s a combination of factors causing the issues. While the construction is definitely a major negative attribute, there are some decent parts. When the cigar is lit, the smoke production of the Memento Mori is impressive, but it rarely lasts longer than five or six minutes before it needs assistance from the lighter.

Flavor improves slightly compared to the second third. There are some puffs where saltiness and oak slightly edge out the toastiness and black pepper, though there are other puffs where the saltiness and oak are nowhere to be found. It’s tough to tell how much of this I’d taste on a completely fresh palate and how much of this is the result of an hour of the black pepper and dry toastiness dominating the cigar. Retrohales add a vibrant cinnamon to the profile, joining oak, saltiness, creaminess, black pepper and toastiness. Once again, the retrohale’s finish is my favorite part of the profile, this time due to a great oak flavor over black pepper and leather. Like before, the price to get there means tasting more dry toastiness. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is somewhere between medium-plus and medium-full in terms of strength.

Final Notes

  • I tried my best to identify what caused the burn issues and I still don’t know. The draw was more open than I’d like, but only one sample had a draw that I’d consider open enough where I would be concerned about draw issues. The other two samples had slightly open draws.
  • After the first sample burned poorly, I dry-boxed the other two cigars and smoked them after two and three days after sitting in an electronics storage cabinet with a relative humidity of 35 percent. While those two cigars were a bit more enjoyable than the first one, they were still a mess construction-wise.
  • I smoked a lonsdale after dry boxing that cigar for close to a week and it was better for the first half, but it too fell victim to the constant relights. I didn’t score that cigar because that would be a different review. I was just curious if a different size would fix the issue.
  • Weight-wise, none of the cigars seemed underfilled, though the first cigar showed some signs of it once lit. Of note, the first cigar had a much flakier ash than the other two cigars.
  • I suspect the tobaccos themselves are part of, but not entirely, the problem. These taste like heavier tobaccos and heavier tobaccos oftentimes struggle to burn as well.
  • Whatever the case, the burn completely ruined these cigars. Before the halfway mark, each cigar was dominated by the toasty/burnt/black pepper profile that I find in cigars that require multiple relights. While there were other flavors—including interesting flavors like apple sweetness and aloe—the main takeaway was the aforementioned trio.
  • I am smoking far too many cigars for review that are rife with major construction issues. It seems like every other review is spent diagnosing construction issues and then proverbially throwing my hands up when it comes to describing what the cigar’s flavor should taste like. Needless to say, these reviews are not my favorite part of the workweek. Like presumably every cigar consumer, I’d much rather smoke good cigars than cigars like this.
  • Given that the burn issues started before I finished an inch of the cigar, I have no idea what this cigar would taste like without burn issues.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was a pretty quick one hour and 30 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar carry the Black Label Trading Co. Memento Mori Corona.
72 Overall Score

I’m not sure precisely where things went wrong for the Memento Mori Corona, but I really hope there’s a remedy the next time this cigar gets released. If a cigar cannot draw or burn properly, there’s really not much point in discussing the flavor. Given the issues with the burn here, the flavor never stood a chance. 

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.