Hand-rolled at Black Label Trading Company's Oveja Negra factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, Salvation cigars boast an Ecuadorian Sun-grown Habano wrapper encasing a Honduran binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. The line comes in three vitolas, with two offered on site now: the 5" x 54 Robusto and 6" x 52 Toro.
Company founder James Brown — who also moonlights as a sommelier, adventure traveler, and Range Rover enthusiast — produces all of the artwork for both Black Label Trading Co. and BLK WKS Studio, approaching cigar labels and box art with an avant-garde style. The design of Salvation's artwork calls to mind Americana tattoos and motorcycle paraphernalia, the line marked by a black-and-white color palette. A pair of hands pointing skyward in prayer is wrapped in rosary beads with tattoos emblazoned on the fingers and back of the hand, while roses and rays of light are juxtaposed against the humble and borderline-macabre posture. Lastly, the foot of each cigar is wrapped in a second label, denoting the line's moniker in harsh, tattoo-like typography.
Such a design motif fits in well with the rest of BLTC's portfolio, and the bold, striking art echoes the often full-bodied smoking qualities of the brand's sticks. That said, after smoking both the Robust and Toro vitolas, I found that the Salvation line presents a more medium-bodied character. It's still full of flavor but is a worthy option for those interested in a cigar a touch more tempered than the company's other offerings.
Salvation from Black Label Trading Company sets an immediate precedence once lit. The first third is marked by the oft-experienced peppery spice of Nicaraguan tobaccos, noticeable at the back of the throat, and intermingled with hints of leather and charred wood, while notes of roasted nuts come through the retrohale. Into the second third, the spice dissipates into smoother flavors of cream and chocolate malt, and I noticed a touch of anise in the background, rounding out the profile and adding depth and body. These same flavors continue through the stick's final third, remaining full and bold and introducing subtle earthy tones overtop. The cigar ends as robust as it starts — though with less spice and a smoother, sweeter nuance.
Construction-wise, these sticks showcase the quality standards and experienced techniques of the Oveja Negra factory. Little to no attention was required for touch ups, and the draw was effortless, the way I find it should be — too open or too closed and a draw becomes apparent and obsessed over, but the Goldilocks nature of the Salvation presented a "just right" ease of smokability that went delightfully unnoticed.
Both vitolas differ in an inch of length and two ring gauges, yet each smoked in around an hour and a half's time. Compared to larger ring gauges, smaller cigars of the same blend often offer more discernible wrapper flavor; however, the difference between the Salvation's 52 and 54 ring gauge vitolas maintained a consistent flavor profile for each one.
As mentioned before, these sticks sit at the more medium-bodied end of Black Label's portfolio, making them perfect for those interested in cigars of that profile. They don't, however, sacrifice for boldness and robust flavor and would pair easily and deliciously with strong coffee and rich foods, retaining their flavor without being "lost" in such a palette combination. The flavor of each vitola stays fairly consistent throughout the entire smoke, apart from the initial spice in the first third, and for me, such sticks are ideal for relaxing and smoking with friends or while reading.
While particularly complex and ultra-nuanced cigars can be unappreciated when attention is divided between the stick's flavor and, say, surrounding conversation, the Salvation rests easily in the background, wonderfully enjoyed while not distracting from present company.