Black Works Studio Killer Bee

The Killer Bee is one of the first three blends released by Black Works Studio. Last year, Black Label Trading Company (BLTC) announced it was launching a second brand known as Black Works Studio (BLK WKS). When the new brand was announced company founder James Brown explained that he had considered cigar making an art form and the launch of Black Works Studio gave him another expression of what he could do as a cigar maker and brand owner. Consistent with the BLTC brand. the lines under Black Works Studio brand are made at BLTC’s Esteli Nicaragua factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra. Today we take a look the Black Works Studio Killer Bee. Overall, I found this to be one of the best releases to date out of Fabrica Oveja Negra as this was one very good cigar.

Like BLTC, Black Works Studio follows a small batch philosophy in terms of production. While the BLTC brand followed more of a “skull and bones theme” in terms of its packaging, the Black Works Studio brand has a much more contemporary and modern art look to it. There were three releases of Black Works Studio: Killer Bee, Rorschach, and NBK. For each of these releases, only one vitola per blend has released.

In addition to the move to the new factory, the BLTC and Black Works Studio brands have strengthened things on the distribution end of the business. Earlier this year, it was announced that Boutiques United would handle distribution. Meanwhile, the company has also appointed a National Sales Manager to oversee its distribution in the U.S.

Without further ado, let’s break down the Black Works Studio Killer Bee and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

Maduro wrappers are quite common out of the BLTC brand, but at press time this is currently the only wrapper designated as maduro in the Black Works Studio brand.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica Oveja Negra)

Vitolas Available

Killer Bee is available in one size – a 4 1/2 x 46 Petite Corona. The cigar is packaged in 24 count boxes.


The Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper of the Killer Bee has a classic chocolate-brown color. There is some oil on the surface of the wrapper. Overall this was a smooth wrapper with well-hidden wrapper seams. The cap features what is called a “signature linear cap” which basically has thin natural tobacco colored rings accenting it. In addition, the Killer Bee features a closed foot.

The band to the Black Works Studio is black in colored accented with gold trim. The name “KILLER BEE” appears in large gold font. Just below the text is the text “BLACK WORKS STUDIO” in smaller gold font. To the left of the text is a large gold-colored bee sitting on what appears to be a metallic green “hornet’s nest-like” design.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting the Killer Bee, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. Given the linear rings on the cap, this actually helped me use this as a guide to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of earth, chocolate, and some lemon notes. Overall I considered this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point I was ready to light up the Black Works Studio Killer Bee and see what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The Killer Bee started spurt of black pepper. The black pepper quickly subsided and notes of wood and chocolate as well as a slight lemon note surfaced. I also found the black pepper to be present on the retro-hale.

During the first third I found the cocoa and wood notes to be the primary notes. Both notes alternated in intensity as to which had the edge. The pepper notes became a close secondary note with the lemon notes much more distant.

As the Killer Bee moved through the second third, I found the wood notes started to have an edge over the cocoa. The pepper notes moved further into the background joining the lemon notes. By the second half, I found the wood notes to be primary. Meanwhile, the cocoa, lemon, and pepper notes were able to keep this flavor profile interesting.

By the last third, I found the wood notes remained primary. The pepper increased and returned to being a close secondary note. Meanwhile, the combination of the cocoa and lemon remained further in the background. While the pepper increased at the end, I found it didt overpower the cigar. This is the way the cigar experience of the Killer Bee came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

Overall I found the burn to the Killer Bee to perform quite well. The cigar maintained a relatively straight burn path. There was a slight curviness on the burn line, but this was more cosmetic in nature and was easily remedied with some touch-ups. I didn’t find the amount of touch-ups need to be excessive. The resulting ash was a silver-gray color with some darker speckling mixed in. For the most part the ash remained on the firm side (the photo below shows a slight looseness, but this was an isolated case as it didn’t become a flaking problem). Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.


Burn of the Black Works Studio Killer Bee

As for the draw, I found the Killer Bee to have a slight bit of resistance to it – which is something I like. Overall this was an enjoyable cigar to puff on.

Strength and Body

In terms of strength, I found the Killer Bee to start out medium. It seemed like each time I smoked this cigar, the strength snuck up on me in the second half. By the second half, I found the strength in medium to full territory.  Meanwhile the body started out medium to full, but I found this attribute to increase gradually. By the second half, I found the Killer Bee to be producing full-bodied notes. Overall when it came to strength versus body, I gave the body the edge.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’ve been impressed with the offerings from James Brown and company out of BLTC. I really like what he is doing with the Black Works Studio brand from both a packaging and blend standpoint. Brown has released a lot of excellent maduros under the BLTC brand, but in my book the Killer Bee might be his best one. This is one that excels in the category that most matters – flavor. Because this cigar has somewhat of a kick from strength and body standpoint, I’d probably steer this to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this one easily qualifies as a box worthy cigar.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Finish: Excellent
Assessment Update: 4.0-Box Worthy
Score: 92


News: Black Works Studio Announces Availability of First Three Releases
Price: $7.50
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 171Episode 189
Stogie Feed: Black Works Studio Killer Bee
Brand Reference: Black Works Studio