The Bishops Blend Robusto from Black Label Trading Company, was one of my top cigar picks for 2020. It so happens that I still had two from that year tucked away, though number that is now down to one. I've been itching to smoke another for some time and finally gave in to the temptation.
Bishops Blend is an annual limited release. This 2020 edition was created in two sizes, with only 450 boxes of 20 produced in each vitola. The blend is comprised of an Ecuadoran Maduro wrapper, an Ecuador Habano binder, and a mix of Nicaraguan, Connecticut broadleaf, and Pennsylvania broadleaf filler tobaccos. The smoke gives off rich flavors of coffee, cocoa, and some interesting dark fruit notes. There's a bit of pepper in there as well. Despite having rested in my humidor for three years, the flavor is still a flavorful medium to full bodied smoke.
Barrel Bourbon makes their mark on the bourbon market by sourcing, then blending and aging whiskies that have been initially aged in a wide variety of barrels. Vantage is a blend bourbons aged in Mizunara Oak, French Oak, and Toasted American Oak. The whiskies were sourced from distilleries in Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Further details are undisclosed. This bottle is marked at 114.62 proof.
The aroma is a mix of floral and fruit with light oak. There's little evidence of the proof in the nose. The fruit notes continue, along with some cinnamon and a toasted aspect come forward on the palate. The mouthfeel and finish is creamy and buttery with lingering spice. The match up with Bishops Blend is pleasant and well suited.
I've become a fan of the various Barrel blends. The lineup is quite extensive and of limited availability in Virginia. I try to seek them out whenever I can, especially the new annual releases.
Despite the extreme heat warning our area was facing, I still enjoyed the evening repast on the screen porch. The 5" x 48 robusto supplied a 60 minute smoking time which was just right for the outdoor temperature that lingered into the evening.