In late 2015, James Brown, the co-owner of Black Label Trading Co., launched a brand named Black Works Studio to showcase “unique premium cigars” produced at the Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua. The first three releases were the NBK (6 x 46), The Killer Bee (4 1/2 x 46) and Rorschach (5 x 38), all of which shipped in December of that year.
At the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the company launched a new line extension based on the Killer Bee blend named the Green Hornet. The 5 x 48 robusto featured a small piece of candela wrapper covering the foot of the cigar as well as candela strips around the cap and is sold in boxes of 20 for $9.50 each. Blend-wise, the regular production release is covered in an Ecuadorian maduro leaf with candela accents, a Nicaraguan habano binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, and is rolled at the Fabrica Oveja Negra factory.
“The Green Hornet started as an event only cigar, however after seeing the response from consumers and retailers we knew it had to become a regular release,” said Brown in a press release. “The blend is a touch stronger than the Killer Bee to compliment the larger vitola and the closed Candela foot creates a very unique profile from the first puff. The Green Hornet is big, bold, rich and spicy.”
The Killer Bee line now includes two different releases, both of which are limited production, meaning that small batches will be shipped throughout the year.
- Black Label Trading Co. Killer Bee (4 1/2 x 46) — $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
- Black Label Trading Co. Killer Bee Green Hornet (5 x 48) – $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
- Cigar Reviewed: Black Works Killer Bee Green Hornet
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro & Candela
- Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
- Release Date: July 25, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Visually, the Killer Bee Green Hornet is one of the most graphic examples I have smoked in the last year, featuring a dark espresso brown wrapper that is sandpaper rough to the touch along with candela green accents around the cap and the foot that are noticeably smoother when felt. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of grass, earth, leather, manure, wet coffee grounds and peanuts, while the cold draw brings flavors of cardboard, wheatgrass, leather, earth and slight citrus tartness.
As candela-wrapped cigars will, the first third of the Killer Bee Green Hornet starts off with an overwhelming grassy note that dominates anything else in the profile, although that note begins to fade within about five minutes, replaced by a dominant combination of earth and leather along with lesser flavors of dark cocoa nibs, espresso beans, charred meat, grass and slight citrus. There is a significant amount of black pepper on the retrohale for the first 10 puffs or so, as well as a surprising amount of spice on my tongue that does not seem to be receding anytime soon and some generic sweetness every once a while on the finish. After my issues with the foot, the draw is excellent, and the burn is quite good, while the smoke production is both copious and dense so far. In addition, the strength is noticeable early on, and easily hits a point close to the medium mark by the time the first third comes to an end.
The sweetness in the profile of the Black Label Trading Co. Killer Bee Green Hornet increases enough during the second third for me to think of berries, but the dominant flavors remain a combination of earth and leather followed by grass, oak, dark chocolate, citrus and coffee beans. While the black pepper on the retrohale as receded noticeably, the spice on my tongue from the first third is still quite obvious, and still does not seem to be waning anytime soon. Construction-wise, the draw continues to impress and the burn is giving me no major issues, while the smoke production remains quite high. The overall strength increases to a point just past the medium mark but seems to stall there a bit by the end of the second third.
Unfortunately, the final third of the Black Label Trading Co. Green Hornet is a virtual carbon copy of the second third with the profile dominated by the same earth and leather notes and followed by flavors of grass, oak, dark chocolate, citrus and coffee beans. The two major changes are the amount of sweetness in the profile—there is less of it— and the fact that the spice on my tongue has become less noticeable, although the black pepper on the retrohale remains fairly consistent. The burn and the draw continue to give me no issues, and the strength does finally hit a point very close to the full mark before I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.
- The foot is completely covered by the candela accent, meaning I was forced to cut a small whole in it to get any significant cold draw notes. This obviously was not an issue once fire was introduced in the equation.
- I really do love the band, logo and accents and how they play off of each other. However, I do wish there were more accents all over the cigar since the bottom one disappears within five minutes of lighting up.
- Something I have not read anywhere else is the fact that there is apparently candela tobacco used in the filler as well, as this photo taken immediately after I cut the cap shows. That also explains the slight grassy note that stayed in the profile throughout the cigar.
- I am not scared of many things, but I am deathly afraid of bees and wasps. I have never been stung by a hornet, but I am assuming it would not be a pleasant experience.
- The samples smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Black Works Studio.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 10 minutes.
While the candela-wrapped cap on the Killer Bee Green Hornet looks killer, it is very disconcerting to taste the overwhelming grassy note that—lets face it—is not known to be one of the most pleasing of flavors to the palate. In fact, it is so strong, it throws off the balance of the first third, which is unfortunate, since the rest of the cigar is actually not bad, with a pleasing berry sweetness that combines nicely with the rest of the flavors in the profile. The overall construction is fine, and the strength is well-integrated. In the end, while the addition of the candela portion of the wrapper looks good visually, it throws off the profile of the cigar significantly, a real shame considering how good the rest of the cigar is.