Last year was a big year for Black Label Trading Co. and its associated brands and factory. We finally got answers to the questions of what was happening to the Boutique Unified brands, née House of Emilio. Namely, that Black Label would be taking over a lot of the various parts of the operations.

That wasn’t surprising.

But what was surprising was that Dissident would be coming back. Benjamin Holt, a sales representative with Oveja Negra Brands, acquired the brand from the owners of The Humidor Cigars and Lounge, also known as Westside Humidor. It had been more or less dormant since 2015 following the departures of Gorden Crippen and Ryan Johnson, who were the faces of the brand and worked at the store in Wichita, Kan.

Last year, the new Dissident released its own version of HOMEa cigar that old Dissident had shown off in 2015 but never seemed to appear on shelves as intended—as well as new versions of old Dissident brands such as Bloc and Soapbox.

This year saw the second release of HOME and then three new cigars. Last month, it shipped Rant, Rave and Tirade. Each is a single vitola brand, with a different vitola and wrapper.

For Rave, it’s an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. That’s rolled in a 5 1/2 x 52 box-pressed robusto extra format, the only box-pressed release of the trio.

While production numbers have not been disclosed, Holt said that the cigars are “small batch,” but not a limited edition and that he “intend(s) to release these more frequently than limited edition cigars have traditionally been released.”

  • Cigar Reviewed: Dissident Rave
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania Broadleaf)
  • Length: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $10.50 (Box of $210)
  • Release Date: October 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Not Disclosed
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first thing I notice on two cigars is that the band is stuck to the cellophane and as such, has slid to the top of the cigar. Once that’s fixed, it’s apparent that the Rave has a pretty aggressive box press and a pretty pale color for a Connecticut shade wrapper. It’s not Macanudo Café levels, but it doesn’t have the honey colors that many wrappers do these days. While it’s nice to see a triple cap used—and one that is well done at that—the cigar is somewhat soft. The aroma from the wrapper is pretty sweet with oranges, honey and some raspberry. The foot is dominated by chocolate, including a chocolate graham cracker flavor, as well as some other bread flavors and a black pepper. Despite all of the sweetness I found smelling the cigar, the cold draw isn’t that sweet. It has some dry pasta noodles and French bread over raspberry, black tea and barnyard.

Like the cold draws, the beginning of the Rave is a bit open as far as draw tightness. Flavor-wise, there’s some woodiness over harsher fruitiness and toasted woods. There’s lots of campfire-like sensations, including the finish, which reminds me of the smell of freshly rained on mud. The first third develops into a profile led by a semi-sweet cedar over some creaminess, leather and a touch of white pepper. There’s also a very distinct Jack Daniel’s flavor. The finish has potato chips, leather, white pepper and some isolated saltiness. Retrohaling the Rave produces bread, creaminess, potato chips, leather and grassiness. It has a crispness that isn’t present in the main flavor, which is nice. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. The draw is just slightly open, though nothing unexpected given the aggressive box-press.

The main flavor gets much toastier in the second third, but it still retains a lot of familiar flavors. There’s some of the potato chips, citrus and dry bread—all of which I feel like I’ve tasted at one point or another. The finish has white pepper, bread and a lot of creaminess, the first time the cigar has felt remotely like a Connecticut-wrapped cigar. Retrohales—particularly the finish of the retrohales—are the star of the show. There’s some green grapes, citrus, saltine crackers and woodiness. Once the smoke has left my nostrils, I get a great apple cider flavor over some woods, Fritos corn chips and figs. Flavor is now full, body is full and strength is medium-plus. To be honest, if the cigar didn’t look like this, this is not the wrapper I would guess is being used.

As the final third commences, there’s some water chestnut, nuttiness and white pepper. While there’s more sweetness than the second third, there’s a bit of harshness that takes away from what’s going on. The finish has nuts, sugar cookies, a bit of white pepper, and—at times—lots of cedar. Retrohaling produces peppermint, creaminess and leather. While the harshness doesn’t make its way to the retrohale, it lacks the detail that the first two thirds of the Dissident Rave had. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is medium-plus. Construction remains great until the end, enabling me to smoke this cigar far past where I normally would stop.

Final Notes

  • Of all the brands that went away in the 2010s, Dissident would not have been very high up on my guess of ones to come back.
  • While it doesn’t happen with most of the cigars I smoke from the factory, there’s no factory that seems to produce as many cigars that I enjoy nubbing down this far more than Fabrica Oveja Negra.
  • This is a cigar that I’m looking forward to giving a redux review in about a year. While there were some really high points in the second third, the other two ends weren’t as good. That being said, I don’t think it’s that far away from being excellent.
  • At very few points of this cigar did I ever think I was smoking a cigar with a Connecticut wrapper. While Fabrica Oveja Negra has made stronger Connecticut cigars before, this tasted completely different.
  • Jack Daniel’s is a flavor that is very distinct to me. I don’t care for Jack enough to figure out what exactly it is that sets it apart, but it was extremely noticeable in the first third.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average, though if you want to nub the cigar down to the point shown in the picture above, that took me an extra 30 minutes.
88 Overall Score

The Dissident Rave shows signs of real promise and I’m optimistic that with a bit more time in a humidor it will get there. As it is now, the cigar has three very distinct sections, the middle of which is far and away the high point. Fans of Jack Daniel’s—of which I am not—should see if they can replicate my experience in the first third, where I could find a flavor that tasted very much like the popular Tennessee whiskey. This was my first experience with Dissident 2.0 and while this may have not been what I expected—and probably different than the Rant and Tirade—this is very much in the Oveja Negra wheelhouse.

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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.