Black Star Line Cigars was founded in 2019 by by childhood friends Adetola “Aric” Wimberly-Bey and Derrick Bell. At the time, Wimberly-Bey was a working as a firefighter, but he decided to start a cigar company out of the garage of his house while he and Bell attended cigar events to network and gain as much knowledge as possible.

The Black Star Line Cigars website tells the rest of the story of the company:

Jonathan Drew of Drew Estates took a liking to Derrick and Aric and decided to advise them on how to get into the cigar industry and ideas of who would do a blend for them. This led Derrick and Aric to Sandy Cobas of El Titan De Bronze. It literally took Derrick and Aric a year of cold calling the secretary at El Titan and sending flowers to Sandy to get her attention. Once Sandy finally spoke with Derrick and Aric she welcomed them with open arms to the El Titan De Bronze family.

After releasing its first line named El Miagro—which translates from Spanish to The Miracle—in October 2019, Black Star Line Cigars debuted a new blend dubbed War Witch in March 2020. The cigar takes its moniker from the 2012 movie of the same name directed by Kim Nguyen which tells the tale of Komona, a 14-year-old girl abducted by rebels in Africa who develops an intuition that saves her life. The new line debuted in just one vitola—a 6 x 46 box-pressed corona—followed by a 5 x 50 robusto.

In February 2021, Black Star Line Cigars released a third addition to the line, a 7 x 38 lancero with an MSRP of $12.99 that is sold in boxes of 20. Blend-wise, the War Witch Lancero incorporates a Connecticut shade wrapper covering Nicaraguan tobacco in both the binder and filler. As is the case with the rest of the line, the War Witch Lancero is a regular production cigar rolled at the Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. factory located in Nicaragua.

Black Star Line Cigars released a followup to the War Witch in November 2021 that replaces the Connecticut shade wrapper with a corojo 99 wrapper. Named Dark War Witch, the line extension is made at by AGANORSA Leaf and debuted with a singular vitola—a 6 x 46 box-pressed corona—sold in both bundles and boxes of 20.

The War Witch line currently includes three violas:

  • War Witch Box-Pressed Corona (6 x 46)
  • War Witch Robusto (5 x 50)
  • War Witch Lancero (7 x 38)

  • Cigar Reviewed: War Witch Lancero
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua (Connecticut Shade)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Lancero
  • MSRP: $12.99 (Box of 20, $259.80)
  • Release Date: February 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

While not exactly visually unique from other Connecticut-wrapped cigars, the Black Star Line Cigars War Witch Lancero is very attractive, mostly due to its combination of silky smooth, cinnamon brown cover leaf and the obvious skill in which it was rolled. The cigar features the slightest hint of oil, but plenty of veins—albeit very thin and not very distracting veins—and it is extremely spongy when squeezed. Aromas of peanut shells, earth, leather, creamy cedar and cocoa nibs emanate from the aforementioned wrapper, while the foot includes notes of extremely strong dark chocolate, creamy almonds, peanuts, cedar, hay and white pepper. Finally, after a v-cut, the cold draw brings flavors of peanut butter, dark chocolate, leather tack, earth, cedar and light pecan praline sweetness that immediately brought a certain city—more on that below—to mind.

I expect a fairly gentle start to the cigar and I am not disappointed in that regard as the profile starts out with flavors of creamy hay and bitter espresso along with the faintest touch of spice on my lips that is gone almost before I can register it. As the burn line progress, hay easily remains the top flavor in the profile, followed by secondary notes of cedar, roasted coffee beans, peanut butter, earth and cocoa nibs that show up in various amounts. The retrohale features a fairly light combination of both white pepper and floral sweetness, neither of which seem to be getting stronger any time soon. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a v-cut and there is plenty of dense, gray smoke to be had, while the burn is fairly straight with only one sample needing any attention with my lighter. Flavor is just under medium but increasing, while both body and strength are stuck halfway between mild and medium by the time the first third comes to an end.

A new flavor takes over the reins of the War Witch Lancero’s profile just after the second third begins: a very distinct cedar note that combines nicely with secondary flavors that now include a somewhat more restrained hay, leather, earth, peanuts and more toasted bread. Contrary to what I thought was going to happen, there is actually a bit more of both white pepper and floral sweetness on the retrohale, but the spice from the first third has yet to make a reappearance. Unfortunately, two of the samples run into issues with the burn that force me to correct them with my lighter—the last sample’s burn is razor sharp—but all three cigars continue to give me wonderful draws and more than enough smoke production. Flavor hits a solid medium after the halfway point before stalling out, while the body and the strength continue to increase in harmony, both making it to a point slightly below medium by the end of the second third.

There is very little change in the flavor profile of the lancero during the final third: cedar remains the leading note to beat, followed by flavors that include earth, peanut shells, leather, hay, toasted bread and very light cocoa nibs flitting in and out at various points. Unfortunately, there is not much different about the retrohale either, with the white pepper and floral sweetness pretty much staying the course until the end of the cigar. In a bit of good news, the burn evens up nicely on one of the previously problematic samples—the other cigar that had issues in the second third continues that trend into the final third—but the draw and smoke production keep humming along with nary a care in the world. Flavor ends the final third pretty much where it began—at a solid medium—but both the strength and body bump up just enough to make it into the medium category before I put the nub down with a little less than an inch remaining.

Final Notes

  • Both the regular War Witch and the newer Dark War Witch blends seem to use the same band, meaning there is no way to tell the difference between the two other than the color of the wrapper, or if you happen to know which vitola belongs to which line.
  • Speaking of the band, there is no way to read the name “War Witch” at one glance, you have to turn the cigar almost 360 degrees to get the full name.
  • Earlier this month, Black Star Line Cigars announced that it signed a fulfillment agreement with Illusione Cigars. Interestingly, this is just the latest in a long line of brands that Illusione currently distributes, a group that also includes Amendola Cigars, Apostate, Carolina Blue Cigars, Casa 1910, Casdagli, Cavalier Gèneve, German Engineered Cigars, Toscano and Wildfire
  • The pecan praline sweetness on cold draw reminds me of the candy we would eat when we visited the city of Savanah back in the day. Sadly, there was none of that sweetness present in the actual profile of the cigar when I was smoking them.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 46 minutes for all three samples.
85 Overall Score

I love the fact that there are new companies constantly entering the cigar market, so I was interested to see what the Black Star Line Cigars' War Witch Lancero would bring to the table. What I found was a blend that is creamy and sweet, with a profile that is dominated by flavors of hay and cedar at different points, along with some nice white pepper and floral sweetness on the retrohale. Construction was decent overall—each sample did need at least one correction, but they were all very minor—with excellent draws being a standout in that regard. I have been reviewing quite a few Connecticut-wrapped blends lately, and while the War Witch Lancero is not one of the best of those recent cigars, it is a very easy cigar to recommend, especially for those looking for a milder blend in a lancero vitola.

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Brooks Whittington

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.