In 2019, Black Label Trading Company announced it was releasing an offshoot of its Last Rites line known as Viaticum. At the time, Black Label Trading Company was celebrating its sixth anniversary and brand owner James Brown wanted to release something special to coincide with the milestone. In this case, he opted to take his core Last Rites line and make some tweaks to it while keeping all of the same core tobaccos in place. The result was the Last Rites Viaticum, a limited edition offering. It was offered as an exclusive limited small batch offering to attendees of the 2019 IPCPR Trade Show, and recently it returned for 2021 as another limited small batch offering.
Last Rites is a term in Catholicism that refers to the last prayers and ministration given to an individual who is dying. Viaticum is related to Last Rites as it is a term that refers to the Eucharist given to an individual who is dying.
The original 2019 release was known as Last Rites Viaticum. For the 2021 release, the name was shortened to Viaticum. The naming was reflected on the footer band (2019 used “Last Rites” while 2021 used “Viaticum”). Because this is an assessment of the 2019 edition, we will refer to this as Last Rites Viaticum.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
As mentioned above, the same tobaccos found in the core Last Rites line are found in the Last Rites Viaticum. The difference is that Viaticum contains different primings of those tobaccos as well as different proportions of the tobaccos used. Last Rites Viaticum utilizes an Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper over a Honduran Habano binder and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Production is handled at Black Label Trading Company’s factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra in Estelí, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra
The original 2019 release of Last Rites Viaticum was only available in a box-pressed Robusto. The Robusto returned in 2021 and new sizes, a box-pressed Toro and a box-pressed Lancero, were added. Each size is presented in 20-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 54 (Box Press – 2019, 2021)
Toro: 6 x 48 (Box Press – 2021)
Lancero: 6 3/4 x 40 (Box Press -2021)
The Ecuadorian Maduro wrapper of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto had a classic milk chocolate color to it. The wrapper didn’t have much in the way of oil on it and the wrapper had a silky complexion to it. There were some visible veins, but the cigar was practically void of any visible wrapper seams. The box-press was a soft-box press style with slightly rounded edges.
There are two bands on the 2019 edition of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto. The primary band has a black background. On the center of the band is a skull in a yellow-gold color to it. On the skull is a black cross. The far right of the label had a yellow-gold cross with the text “BLACK LABEL TRADING CO.” just below it.
The secondary band also has a black background and yellow-gold font to it. On the band is the text “Last Rites” in cursive font. There was also a yellow-gold pinstripe near the top as well as near the bottom of the band.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered some notes of bittersweet cocoa and cedar. Overall it wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw, but since the pre-light draw is not factored into our merit score or value rating, there was no loss in points here. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band of the Last Rites Viaticum Robusto, light up the cigar, and await what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto started out with an assortment of flavor notes including cocoa, earth, cedar, baker’s spice, lemon, and black pepper. As the cigar progressed through the first third, the cocoa and earth notes settled into the forefront. The cedar, baker’s spice, lemon, and black pepper became secondary notes. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
During the second third of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto, the cedar and pepper notes increased. At the same time, the cocoa and baker’s spice diminished. With the cocoa becoming less intense, the earth notes took over as the sole primary notes. By the latter part of the second third, the earth notes were primary. The cocoa, cedar, pepper, and lemon notes were secondary while the baker’s spice dissipated.
The last third saw the earth notes remain primary. The cedar and pepper closed in on the forefront, but did not cross that threshold. There were also notes of lemon and cocoa that rounded out the flavor profile from the distant background. This is the way the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto performed quite well. This is a cigar that maintained a straight burn path and straight burn line with very few touch-ups involved. The resulting ash was on the firm side. This was an ash that was medium-gray in color. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both maintained ideal levels.
There was a touch of resistance to the draw of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto. This was pleasing because this is a personal preference of mine. Many box-pressed cigars are on the open side and I consider it a positive that this one wasn’t.
Strength and Body
The strength and body of the Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Robusto started out at medium. As the cigar experience progressed, both attributes had a gradual increase in intensity. By the final third, the body of the Last Rites Viaticum Robusto had progressed to medium to full-bodied. The strength still remained in the medium range until the end of the cigar experience.
When looking at strength versus body, the body had the edge throughout the smoking experience.
A little tweak here, a little tweak there, and James Brown has taken an excellent blend in the Last Rites and made it even better with the Last Rites Viaticum. This is a cigar that excelled in the most important category – flavor. The flavors kept me interested from start to finish. At the same time, this is a cigar that had excellent construction. At $15.00, it is a cigar that is on the pricier side. Price aside, it’s easily a cigar I would recommend to an experienced cigar enthusiast. At the same time, I wouldn’t discourage a novice from trying it. As for myself, this is a cigar I would buy and smoke again. At 90 points, this is a cigar that has earned the Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence designation.
Key Flavors: Earth, Cocoa, Cedar, Lemon, Baker’s Spice, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Value: Buy One
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
News: Black Label Trading Company Last Rites Viaticum Heads to Retailers
Brand Reference: Black Label Trading Company
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop