Welcome back to another episode of Briar to Binder, a crossover video series where we take a closer look at cigars through the lens of a pipe smoker. On this episode, Truett and I sit down to discuss Black Label Trading Co.'s Deliverance Nocturne, a darker counterpart to our #1 ranked cigar of 2019. Enveloped in a bold Pennsylvanian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, with Pennsylvanian Ligero and Nicaraguan fillers, as well as a Nicaraguan Habano binder, the Deliverance Nocturne offers a nice balance of peppery spice and chocolatey sweetness, reminiscent of old-school Burley blends and creamy English mixtures. Tune in as we dive into the cigar's construction, components, and overall flavor profile, offering our thoughts on potential pairings as well as comparable pipe tobacco blends.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Shane Ireland]:Welcome to another episode of Briar to Binder: our series of cigar reviews and cigar discussion, centered around the premise of pipe guys exploring the world of cigars.
[Truett Smith]: And obviously there's a lot in common with pipes and cigars, and we're kinda here to talk about that.
[S.I.]: To talk about some parallels between the type of blends and the type of cigars that are in our rotations at the moment. So, in our rotation at the moment is the Black Label Trading Co. Deliverance Nocturne.
[T.S.]: I don't know if you've seen it yet on our blog, but we just released Smokingpipes' Top 10 Cigars for 2019. It's the first time we've ever done something like that. So if you haven't seen it, we'll link to it in this video, so go ahead and check that out. But our number one cigar for 2019 was Black Trading Company's Deliverance Porcelain, which is essentially the foil or the yin to the Nocturne's yang, so to speak.
[S.I.]: Yeah, yeah. So, the Deliverance Porcelain was a limited edition release originally, but they ended up including it in their standard line up earlier this year. Several of us tasted these cigars independently of each other, nominated them, and rated them on a scoring system. Deliverance Porcelain was in almost every one of our nominations. Just generally speaking, people in the office kind of went nuts on the Deliverance Porcelain this year and smoked a lot of them. I think Truett and I both have put a couple boxes down, just us. So we wanted to revisit the Deliverance Nocturne again, as sort of the darker counterpart to the Deliverance Porcelain, and I'm really glad I did.
[T.S.]: And just going over the components of this cigar, we're smoking each a different vitola. So Shane's got the Perfecto, I'm smoking the Short Solomon, there's also a longer Solomon, which is about two inches longer than this one, but we're smoking the shorter ones right now, and the wrapper is the most distinctive part of it, compared to the Porcelain. It's got a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, where as the Porcelain's is Connecticut.
[S.I.]: And also, this is one of the few, if not only currently available Black Label Trading Co. cigars that features a Pennsylvania Broadleaf; most of the Maduro offerings tend to be on the San Andres side, so it's a unique cigar in that regard. Also the wrapper itself is something that I really admired as soon as I picked a couple of these up. It's a beautiful wrapper; it's not super toothy, but there is a little bit of tooth to it, a lot of glistening mineral content in the wrapper, and it's oily as well.
[T.S.]: Mm-hmm. It has those speckles all through it; it's slightly, nicely textured, really well wrapped, so it's a good looking cigar right off the bat. Now obviously, paired with that, you've got Black Label Trading Company's artwork. James Brown does a great job with the branding, and just the overall aesthetic of his stuff, and Nocturne fits it well. The Deliverance line has got this macabre, netherworldly look.
[S.I.]: Also sort of like old school catholicism, I think.
[T.S.]: Yeah, mixed with, I don't know... I always think of bikers, or something like that. Skull and crossbones type things. But the fillers for both the Nocturne and the Porcelain are Pennsylvania Ligeros and Nicaraguan tobaccos, and the binder's a Nicaraguan Habano.
[S.I.]: So the interesting thing about this cigar: First of all, both of these shapes, including the larger Solomon, because of the nature of the shapes, you can expect an intensity building up as you smoke through the cigar, particularly in the Perfecto, as the ring gauge slims down. But, one thing I noticed right off the bat when I lit this up, was sort of a chocolatey sweetness that I associate with the Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. It's not a cloying sweetness, but it reminds me of an old school chocolatey, nutty Burley blend. So if you were a fan of Solani's Aged Burley Flake, there's a definite chance that you'll enjoy this cigar. But this cigar is also more complicated and more dynamic. I think that there's something to be said for a few other types of pipe tobaccos that are sort of analogs to this, and we'll get to that in a minute, but aside from the chocolatey sweetness, there is definitely kind of a lot of pepper that builds as you smoke.
[T.S.]: And Black Label's stuff, as well as their BLK WKS offshoot, is often marked and defined by that spiciness of Nicaraguan tobacco.
[S.I.]: Sort of bold, bold flavor profiles, yeah.
[T.S.]: Exactly. And there's definitely that here. I wouldn't say it's as spicy as some of their other stuff--
[S.I.]: The wrapper balances it nicely.
[T.S.]: I think of, like, Bishop's Blend is a really nice, spicy one, and this one definitely has it, but like Shane was saying, I'm definitely hit with that kind of chocolatey, cocoa sweetness at the beginning. But it's mellow, it's not gonna satiate a sweet tooth type of thing; it's not a dessert cigar.
[S.I.]: We talk about balance in cigars and balance in pipe tobaccos a lot, and I think this is a really good example of that. I was sort of expecting a real spice bomb when I first tried this cigar. And really, the spicy and the sweet notes really play nicely together. Throughout the smoke, yes, the spice builds in intensity and the sweetness sort of diminishes a little bit, but never to the point where either one of them is in your face. I will also say that at this point, now that I'm getting into it... there's that sort of fermented tobacco note that I associate with a really old, straight Virginia. Obviously a lot of components in a lot of the cigars that we offer have had a little bit of time to age and mature before they're blended, but this one particularly reminds me of that sort of mix between an earthy kind of a fermentation, and like—
[T.S.]: I'm kind of thinking Perique.
[S.I.]: A little... I was just gonna say fruity also.
[T.S.]: I mean, it's a little bolder than Perique, where Perique's kind of complementary, or like a condiment. This is a little more forward, but it has those notes of a heavy Perique and Virginia blend.
[S.I.]: But in addition to the black pepper tingle in the nose, on the palate, I get something greener, that reminds me more of fresh green peppers. There's a little bit of a dry sensation on the palate, but it's also sort of perking me up a little bit. It does remind me of, I don't know, raw jalapeno, to be honest. Or maybe like raw jalapeno and sweet green bell pepper.
[T.S.]: We were also discussing this before shooting this video, but a lot of the cigars we've done for Briar to Binder have been more comparable to straight Virginias, stuff like that, and so—
[S.I.]: Something a little more, a little more mild and yeah.
[T.S.]: We wanted to showcase a cigar that maybe catered to those pipe smokers who liked English blends, Latakia forward blends, Orientals, stuff like that. And I think this is a good choice for first pipe smokers who like those blends.
[S.I.]: Now, if you are a super, super Latakia aficionado, you're gonna notice that there is not much of the smoked wood campfire kind of a note here, but in terms of the Latakia, what I do get from this particular cigar — in part due to the Pennsylvania ligero and Broadleaf Maduro wrapper — is that sort of creaminess, that fullness, like the weight on your palate, the texture of the smoke that I associate with English blends. I mentioned earlier that this chocolatey sweetness reminds me of an old school straight Burley, but there's also an earthiness and nuttiness here that remind me of Orientals. Often it can be confusing when you're smoking a pipe tobacco blend, whether or not you're tasting certain Oriental varieties versus Burley, because they both have those sort of earthy, floral, nutty kind of characters to them. So if you like Oriental blends or English mixtures that are very Oriental forward, very Turkish forward, this is another thing that you might wanna check out.
[T.S.]: One thing I like about cigars is that, in pipe tobacco, while you get some of those earthy flavors, you don't get a lot of coffee notes. Whereas it's often a common flavor in cigars, and so this kinda blends in. I'm getting a lot of coffee notes on the retrohale, and it adds another element that you wouldn't necessarily get in a pipe tobacco.
[S.I.]: Yeah, and it really complements the cocoa, and honestly, there's something here that reminds me of a dark roast Italian espresso, or something like that, with a little bit of sugar in it.
[T.S.]: Almost just like smelling whole beans, like before they've been ground.
[T.S.]: It's kind of that flavor, that style.
[S.I.]: So along with Solani's Aged Burley Flake, Wessex's Burley Sliced, Cornell & Diehl's Burley Flake #4, or Burley Flake #2, I would say that on the English/Oriental side, this kinda reminds me a little bit of... Oh gosh, maybe even a little bit of Peterson's Early Morning Pipe. Like, that sort of real nutty, forward, Oriental mixture, I'm trying to think of other English blends that remind me of this a little bit too.
[T.S.]: Yeah, it's not something like C&D's Pirate Cake or something that's really Latakia forward; it's something more like EMP--
[S.I.]:Rattray's Red Rapparee. You know, that I think relies on the Virginia base a little bit more than Black Mallory does for--
[T.S.]: Blairgowrie a little bit?
[S.I.]: Blairgowrie a little bit, yeah, like Scottish type mixtures.
[S.I.]: Like Truett mentioned, there is a little bit of that sort of Perique character as well, so yeah, Blairgowrie, McConnell's Scottish Blend, maybe even Night Cap
[T.S.]: Yeah, I'd put it between Night Cap and Early Morning Pipe; Early Morning Pipe's a little lighter, where as Night Cap is on the fuller side. I think this hits in the middle.
[S.I.]: And like we've mentioned before, you know, it's nearly impossible to say, "This cigar equals this pipe tobacco," or the other way around; we're just trying to give you kind of a feeling of where this could fit into your rotation, based on your preferences already.
[T.S.]: I do think Burley is maybe the closest match. For Burley blends, I really like Peterson's Irish Flake, and that's the Burley blend I'm personally most familiar with, and so I'm getting a lot of similarities. The fullness, the slightly floral notes, the nuttiness, and the cocoa are all reminding me of that.
[S.I.]: As we get into this, too, I was gonna suggest that there's certain things here, not necessarily that real meaty, salty, bacon kind of flavor, but there's certain things here that do remind me of a blend that does have a significant dark fired component. You said Irish Flake, and as this is building in intensity, there's some of that against some of that earthy character, and there is some meatiness to it, sure. It is savory. Especially now that I'm kind of getting the midway point here. I usually associate a heavier cigar like this, in terms of strength, also to typically go hand in hand with the heavier profile of flavor and spice. And in some ways, the spice is building in intensity, but alongside that, I'm still getting plenty of chocolatey notes, as well as a lot more leather than I was in the beginning of this cigar.
[T.S.]: I haven't picked up on that yet.
[S.I.]: A little more complexity as well. I can feel the strength building, but the flavor is actually still, I don't know, so well rounded.
[T.S.]: You know, we were talking during the break about how Black Label kinda has a consistent profile within their cigar lines, and I was expecting that signature spiciness, boldness, etc. And while we stated already that it's got that spice in the background, it's more chocolatey, sweeter, and a little meaty as well. It's a testament to James's ability and Black Label and BLK WKS's ability to vary their cigars, and showcase a diverse range of profiles. Not every cigar tastes exactly the same, and while if I blind tested this, I could probably tell you, "This is a Black Label cigar," it's not gonna taste exactly the same as Vicious Blend, or Killer Bee, or something like that. It is very distinct, it's individual, it's its own thing, and I like that about Black Label, especially that it has that signature element throughout all of their blends, but each one is its own thing.
[S.I.]: And I've smoked a lot of their cigars, and there's a handful of go-tos for me in the line that I smoke more than others, and revisiting the Deliverance Nocturne makes me realize that I really should go through the line and try a few more, try a few more that I only smoked once or twice when they came out. This is also burning really well for me, and yeah, like I said, I think that this would be an amazing night cap. I could also see myself really enjoying this as an outdoor smoke. Typically, I'm not a fan of smoking outdoors; I prefer to smoke inside for a number of reasons, both with pipes and cigars, but this one's flavor would stand up well to being smoked outside.
[T.S.]: We're drinking some whiskey here, and it pairs really well with that too, so definitely in line with that night cap idea. So, some night, if you like to smoke a pipe before bed, or something like that, switch things up and try one of these. Try the Nocturne.
[S.I.]: You're almost certainly gonna be satisfied.
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