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Black Label Trading Company Morphine Lancero (Prerelease)

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In March, Black Label Trading Company announced a new blend named Morphine. Two different vitolas, a Lancero (6 x 38) and a Corona (5 1/2 x 42) were announced each priced at $10 with the Corona offered in boxes of 18 and Lancero in boxes of 12.

Morphine features a dual Mexican San Andrés and Ecuadorian maduro wrapper. Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers are used along with a Nicaraguan binder.

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Black Label Trading Company founder James Brown had this to say about the blend:

The goal was to give our customers what they have been waiting for. Something big, bold & badass. They expect our smokes to be unique and out of the box when it comes to flavor profile. Morphine is exactly that. Everyone thought I was a little crazy when I explained the double wrapper idea but combining the Ecuadorean (sic) maduro wrapper with the San Andres (sic) elevated the cigar to a whole new level of richness and complexity.

Black Label Trading Company Morphine.jpg

In April, it was announced that the Morphine would be released at a party at the Rahr & Sons Brewery held in conjunction with the UnderGround Cigar Shop & Lounge in Fort Worth, Texas on June 8, 2014 with the cigar shipping to retailers the next week.

Black Label Trading Company Morphine 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Black Label Trading Company Morphine 
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Santiago de Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés & Ecuadorian Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $10.00 (Boxes of 12, $120.00)
  • Release Date: June 9, 2014
  • Number of Cigars to be Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review:

The Black Label Trading Company Morphine Lancero immediately sets the tone when you see it covered in an almost jet black wrapper that is devoid of any obvious oil and extremely rough to the touch. It is a bit spongy when squeezed and there are no major veins anywhere that I can see. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of leather and barnyard with a little pepper thrown in, but the only flavor I can taste on the cold draw is a slight cedar mixed with generic tobacco.

The first thing I notice on the Black Label Trading Company Morphine is the draw, which is quite a bit tighter than I normally like. When I finally get it lit, the profile is fairly straightforward: gritty earth, leather, oak, barnyard, hay and bitter coffee with some slight generic sweetness interspersed every now and then. There is a little black pepper on the retrohale that seems to be getting stronger as the first third progresses, but no spice at all at this point. The burn is good and smoke production is actually heavier than I expected considering how tight the draw is.

Black Label Trading Company Morphine 2

Thankfully, the draw opens up significantly in the second third of the Black Label Trading Company Morphine, allowing me to taste a few more flavors in the profile: creamy nuts,  bitter espresso, oak and barnyard. The generic sweetness from the first third has morphed a little, and I can taste some licorice notes every now and then, and the black pepper on the retrohale has gotten stronger as well. The burn remains very good, and the smoke production continues to be higher than normal as well. Strength-wise, the Morphine lancero ends the second third firmly in the medium category, but I can tell it will go higher before it is done.

Black Label Trading Company Morphine 3

A nice toasty note starts to become noticeable around the start of the final third of the Morphine, although it never gets strong enough to become dominant in the profile. Other flavors flit in and out: barnyard, earth, dark and powdery cocoa, hay and espresso, along with a slight increase in the amount of black pepper on the retrohale. There is still no spice on the palate that I can detect, but the licorice sweetness holds steady until the end of the cigar. The draw has loosened up even more, and it now just slightly tighter than I like, and the burn is still doing quite well. While the strength has not increased as much as I thought it would, it still manages to break through the medium mark, albeit not by much. 

Black Label Trading Company Morphine 4

Final Notes

  • Editor’s Note: This is not the greatest name the cigar business has seen and many have asked us not to cover it because of the controversial aspect of the name. While it’s not the greatest choice in names, it’s also a name that does not seem marketed towards children in any way. — Charlie Minato.
  • I tried to smoke five different samples of the Black Label Trading Company Morphine for this review: two of them were almost totally plugged, to the point that I could get almost no draw at all through them at all, one of them was so tight that I had to quit smoking after about half of the cigar, and two were smokable, but albeit tighter than I like.
  • I can handle a bad sample for any review of a hand made product — that is why we smoke as many samples as we can of every cigar, after all —but two cigars that are totally unsmokable and one with a draw so tight I got a headache before I had to put it down is unacceptable in this day and age of cigars. The consistently too tight draw in some of the samples affected every aspect of the smoking experience: the flavors in the profile, the smoke production, the strength, and the overall enjoyment.
  • Although full-bodied for sure, the Morphine was not as strong as I expected it to be, falling just north of the medium mark.
  • I love the logo on the main band of this release, but the similarities to the butterfly in the Silence of the Lambs movie is instantly obvious and inescapable.
  • I was actually a little surprised at how straightforward the profile is considering the double wrapper that is used in this blend. 
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by the Black Label Trading Company.
  • The final smoking time averaged one hour and 35 minutes.
85 Overall Score

Extreme construction issues for some of the samples aside, the blend of the Black Label Trading Company Morphine Lancero is actually fairly enjoyable with a dominant combination of gritty earth, black pepper and cedar that does not let up. Yes, the profile could be more complex, but if James Brown was shooting for a full-bodied, dark, earthy and bold profile, he nailed it for sure. I can easily recommend trying it out, and am interested to see how the Corona changes the experience.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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