It feels like the 2023 PCA Convention & Trade Show was an especially busy one for Black Label Trading Co. and its associated brands, which are grouped together under the Oveja Negra Brands banner. Brian Burt, who has covered the Oveja Negra booth for quite some time, described the number of new releases as “working overtime.”

Black Works Studio, which is a sister brand to Black Label Trading Co., had four different releases, though only one seemed entirely new. It’s called Poison Dart, a blend that uses a Brazilian mata fina wrapper, an Ecuadorian habano binder, and fillers from Nicaragua.

“This cigar is bold yet refined,” said James Brown, creator of Black Label Trading Co. and Black Works Studio, in a press release when the cigar was announced in June. “Pepper and chili spice are layered with a mix of citrus, cedar, and herbal tea notes. The spicy mix of filler tobacco pairs perfectly with the rich, complex profile of the Brazilian Matafina wrapper. It’s something unique and different for the BLK WKS lineup.”

Poison Dart is offered in two sizes:

  • Black Works Studio Poison Dart Short Robusto (4 1/2 x 50) — $11.50 (Box of 20, $230)
  • Black Works Studio Poison Dart Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46) — $12 (Box of 20, $240)

The Poison Dart was only offered to retailers that placed orders during the 2023 PCA Convention & Trade Show.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Black Works Studio Poison Dart Corona Gorda
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fábrica Oveja Negra
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Mata Fina)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 46
  • Vitola: Corona Gorda
  • MSRP: $12 (Box of 20, $240)
  • Release Date: July 2023
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

By most standards, this would be a very unique-looking cigar, but since Black Works Studio produces some of the most interesting-looking cigars sold today, by its standards, this is relatively tame. The very unique feature is the cap, which comes to a definitive point like a belicoso, but has a much softer taper than normal. The wrapper is a tad bit darker than average and has some reds when the light hits it. One cigar has more discoloration than the others, and while there are lots of veins, they are very well hidden. While smelling the first cigar, I am immediately reminded of this particular candle I once bought. I’m not entirely sure what it is— if I had to guess I’d say the amber and spices—but there’s a scent that I find from the Poison Dart Corona Gorda that is very similar to the candle. Unfortunately, I threw out the candle pretty early on because I found it smelled like a retirement home, and there’s some of that going on with the cigars as well. One cigar has less of those scents, but also smells like generic hand soap. Two of the cigars have a milk chocolate-like cocoa smell as well as floral flavors and vanilla underneath the generic tobacco notes. The third cigar reminds me of the smell of a sweet orange drink like Tang or Hi-C. While I normally don’t mention cutting the cigar as part of a review, this cigar is more complicated than normal. During the first cigar, I cut a decent bit of the pointed part off and found that the majority of the wrapper used to create the cap was still there. With each cigar, I ended up making two cuts before I got to a point where I felt like I saw enough of the filler to be comfortable. The bizarre flavors don’t stop there. Each cigar’s cold draw tastes like the smell of a permanent marker. Behind that flavor is some coconut and raisin; in general, the cold draws are medium-full.

Woodiness, nuttiness and creaminess are present during the first puffs of each cigar, but my notes suggest that each cigar has a different one of those flavors leading the mixture. The medium-full first puffs also include some damp barnyard flavors as well as roasted flavors. For most of the time during the first third of the Black Works Studio Poison Dart Corona Gorda, it tastes like the woody flavor is leading, though the other flavors stick around. Dry fall leaves, roasted flavors—which at times taste toasty—and a tiny amount of pepper round out the secondary flavors. I find the profile to hit the palate a bit chalky, though I don’t taste something that reminds me of chalk. The finish dries out, allowing the pepper to kick in after a few seconds with mineral flavors and some Wheat Thins-like graininess. Retrohales have popcorn, leather and pre-ground black pepper before an herbal flavor transitions into a mixture of nuttiness, honey sweetness and generic toasted bread. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-plus or medium-full. I find the cigar’s smoke production fades in a shorter amount of time in between puffs—perhaps because of the slightly open draw—which necessitates a touch-up on one cigar, though I’m able to avoid it by puffing quicker. After smoking the first cigar, I was more attentive about the potential combustion issues, but the second cigar I smoke randomly goes out in the first third. Fortunately, the third cigar avoids any combustion issues.

While the Black Works Studio Poison Dart Corona Gorda is generally a pretty familiar profile, occasional puffs in different deliver a very unique lemonade flavor as a secondary note. It’s a distinct flavor that tastes very similar to watered-down lemonade, though it’s buried underneath layers of woodiness. There’s creaminess, some nuttiness, a touch of hay and a mild spice blend. The biggest change is that it’s neither as roasted nor toasty as before. The third cigar has a lot more sharpness, though I don’t mind it as it helps to break up the monotonous of the woodiness, and the sharpness never gets overwhelming. While there’s more creaminess and nuttiness during the finish, it’s oddly more bitter than when the smoke has just hit the palate. Retrohales have woodiness, a burnt meatiness, white pepper and—at times—a strawberry-like sweetness. While the flavors in the mouth have dropped the roasted and toastiness, the retrohales still have it, though with some added crispness. The finish has walnuts, hickory as well as some intertwined sweetness and pepper, which creates an interesting contrast because the sweetness is slightly more intense, though the pepper tends to last longer. At times, a dry fall leaves flavor emerges, along with leather. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus to medium-full and strength is medium-full. While the cigar doesn’t seem to be burning down quickly, it still requires me to puff quicker, and despite that, I still run into combustion issues during the second third of each cigar.

Similar to that lemonade flavor in the second third, every once in a while, there’s a dose of sugary sweetness that attaches itself to the rest of the core and creates a flavor that reminds me of Cracker Jacks. It only happens in a half dozen or so puffs of each cigar, but it’s the most unique part of the final third. There’s a similar flavor that I find on many more puffs, but it’s neither as sweet nor as distinct. In general, earthiness is the strongest flavor with leather, black pepper, hay and some mineral flavors as secondary flavors. The finish has a dry nuttiness before the woodiness comes alive again. I get some dry Italian herb seasonings and a touch of creaminess; during one cigar, I note that it is more smooth than crisp. Retrohales are also led by woodiness, accented by a strong and spicy black pepper that has accents of minerals, creaminess, white pepper and earthiness. The finish has hickory and black pepper leading cinnamon, earthiness and leather. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is medium-full. I’m able to avoid any touch-ups in one cigar, something I get close to but fail to do in the other two. Fortunately, during most of the second half, I find the draw to have a normal amount of resistance, even if I still find myself needing to puff faster than I’d like.

Final Notes

  • We recently started measuring the cigars we smoke for reviews to get some data about them. These cigars measured:
    • 5.46 x 44.5 (11.17g)
    • 5.47 x 44 (11.02g)
    • 5.47 x 44.5 (11.66g)
  • That’s about as consistent as I’ve seen any three cigars measured since we started measuring and weighing every cigar we review.
  • It is very important that a cigar is cut properly, and the Poison Dart’s unique cap makes this a lot more challenging. I cut off enough where there was still a slight curve at the top of the cylinder, but enough of the cigar that all of the unique shape was gone. In short, cut this cigar to a point where it looks like a standard corona gorda and not so little that it looks like a belicoso.
  • If you don’t do this, I suspect you are going to have tar build up as there are pieces of wrapper tobacco that are used to shape the cap. These pieces will run perpendicular to the filler tobacco, meaning if you don’t remove the pieces of wrapper used to form the cap, the filler tobaccos will be covered. In my experience with other cigars, this often results in the development of tar, a dark brown sticky substance that forms around the cap.
  • I wish I would have been able to get a slightly tighter draw, but I think this may not be possible with a straight cut and this unique cap. Perhaps this is an instance where The Baller cutter would be handy.
  • I try to avoid reading about the cigars until after I’m done smoking them for review. While I wasn’t trying to guess the wrapper, I’m not sure Brazilian mata fina would have been my first guess. That said, it makes a lot of sense.
  • I found these cigars to be rather snug in their cellophane.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes.
  • Site sponsor Cigars Direct carries the Black Works Studio Poison Dart Corona Gorda.
87 Overall Score

Combustion issues aside, I’m torn about whether this cigar will benefit from more time in the humidor. While neither the most aggressive profile nor one filled with overly aggressive flavors, it does taste like the cigar is in a hurry. I feel like if the flavors could hit the palate at 90 percent of the speed they do, the cigar would be better for it. That said, some of my commentary on the flavors not feeling rushed is probably related to the combustion issues. Due to those issues, mainly in the second half of each cigar, I felt like I needed to puff on the cigar quicker than normal. Even being attentive, I still watched one cigar mysteriously go out. I don’t know whether more time in the humidor will fix the combustion issues, but it’s worth a shot.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.