Cigar Review – Orthodox by Black Label Trading Company

I don’t believe that the Orthodox is a cigar that James Brown could have blended at the beginning of his Black Label Trading Company journey...

Last year, Black Label Trading Company celebrated its tenth anniversary by releasing the outstanding La Madonna Negra cigar which earned the #3 spot on our Top Ten Cigars of 2023 list. In a recent press release, BLTC’s main man James Brown had this to say about tonight’s cigar:
“Orthodox is really about Black Label getting back to its roots. We’ve done a lot over the last 10 years but at our core we are about highlighting the strength & intensity of Nicaraguan tobacco. That’s what I went for with the Orthodox.”


Size: 5 3/4 x 50 (toro)
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Ecuadorian habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $13.00 (while these cigars were submitted to the TNCC for review, you can head over to Famous Smoke Shop where Orthodox cigars are currently on sale and you can save $20 off your order of $100 or more using promo code TNCC20)

The Orthodox is firmly rolled and the dark San Andrés wrapper features some surface oils. Sniffing the foot of the cigar directly reveals a rich sweetness backed by a hint of allspice. I gently peel off the twisted cap and the resulting hole seems to deliver enough airflow as to where I can avoid cutting the cap, at least initially. The cold draw reveals more raisin-like sweetness.

Upon ignition, a bold, sharp black pepper spice floods the nostrils immediately. It’s potent! After a few puffs ,my palate becomes acclimated to the spice and notes of oak, earth, and a muted mineral begin to reveal themselves via the draw. I can’t stress enough how much the spice dominates over everything here early on and, surprisingly, I’m not complaining (yet). It’s been a while since I’ve smoked a pepper bomb and I respect the balls that the Orthodox is showing me. Don’t get any clever ideas, fellas, I only allow premium cigars to show me their balls. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Construction so far has been fantastic. As I suspected, the cap did not require cutting which is always impressive and the resulting draw is smooth as silk. The burn line is straight and the resulting off-white ash is strong. The ever-present black pepper does gradually decrease its dominance as the smoking experience continues, allowing for the woodsy oak to shine through more. The Orthodox’s earthy component gradually fades away and it’s replaced by a dark roasted coffee flavor that plays very nicely with everything else being presented in the first half. Smoke production is copious to say the least, thick grey clouds swirl from both ends of the Orthodox. Visually, it’s a very sexy cigar to watch burn.

The pepper increases again around the fifty yard line, I appreciate how the Orthodox gives you a reprieve from its signature spice occasionally before it chooses to release the hounds once again. Despite the uptick in spice, the combination of oak and dark coffee are refusing to be overshadowed now. Interestingly, the muted mineral that was found earlier on the backend of the draw is now surfacing more prominently behind the black pepper through the retrohale. While I always fight the urge to drink booze while reviewing cigars, and quite an internal struggle that is, I would love to pair the Orthodox with a top notch glass of Cabernet. Or even a lower notch glass of Cabernet. I think the dark fruit flavors and assertive tannins of the wine would make a perfect dance partner for this cigar.

The Orthodox’s gargantuan ash finally falls, it was a thing of beauty while it lasted. The retro’s Nicaraguan mineral is now nearly standing toe-to-toe with the black pepper spice. The draw’s core profile of oak and coffee remains consistent, although a warm vanilla cream is beginning to surface underneath it all. I didn’t see that coming but bring it on! Somewhat sadly, the vanilla sensation doesn’t last nearly long enough but I can’t say the Orthodox suffers from its sudden exit. The current flavor profile of spice/mineral up top and oak/coffee down low rolls along steadily and consistently throughout the remainder of the cigar. The strength always remains on the high end of medium-strong and the cigar’s body has been full from start to finish.




I don’t believe that the Orthodox is a cigar that James Brown could have blended at the beginning of his Black Label Trading Company journey. Having smoked most of the BLTC offerings somewhat frequently over the last decade, I believe all of that prior experience has led him to a place where he can confidently create a complex, balanced cigar such as this one. Factor in the flawless construction, long smoking duration (93 minutes), and reasonable price point, you’d be a damn fool not to pick up an Orthodox for yourself, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Beyond The Pod

Brother of the Leaf, Filmmaker, Prophet, former Mr. South Dakota 1996. I was a bouncer on the child beauty pageant circuit until one too many juice boxes went missing and somebody had to take the fall. I was set up. Ok, I was thirsty. All that hairspray in the air dries out your throat like a motherfu... I apologize to no man. Now I host the Tuesday Night Cigar Club podcast.