Top Shelf Signature Select – Black Label

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Top Shelf Signature Select – Black Label

Top Shelf Signature Select - Black Label - 1Brand: Top Shelf Signature Select
Vitola: Toro
Length: 6.00
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Country of Origin: Honduras
Price: Between $5.00 and $6.00

This cigar is a house blend made solely for Top Shelf Cigar Company, located in Skippack, Pennsylvania. The blending of this cigar was done by Aresnio Ramos, a Cuban leaf expert and master blender. The blend was selected for its consistency and complexity by store owner Jim Cronin (his signature happens to be on the band)

The filler of the Top Shelf Signature Select Black Label is made up of Criollo ‘98 tobacco from the Jalapa Valley with a single high priming Ligero leaf from Esteli, Nicaragua. The binder is ’98 Criollo tobacco from Esteli, Nicaragua and the wrapper is made up of a high priming ’99 Criollo leaf from the Jalapa Valley.

Top Shelf Signature Select - Black Label - 2Once removed from the cellophane sleeve I began to look the cigar over. I found the wrapper to be the color of milk chocolate with thin veins and a dull oily sheen. During handling I found the texture of the cigar to be smooth. When pinched the tobacco felt firm with minimal spring.

The aroma at both the head and foot were fairly mild in terms of strength but had a richness to it that was very appealing. Once the head was opened up this richness came through with a pre light puff. The draw was a little firm but easily manageable.

First Third:
Top Shelf Signature Select - Black Label - 4
After a quick toast and light I had my Top Shelf Signature Select – Black Label burning evenly and producing a generous amount of smoke. The body begins life in the medium range with a short and smooth finish. The base flavor is made up of sweet spice with a tart like aftertaste that I find appealing.

The ash is dark in color and firm with a lumpy appearance. After reaching an inch in length, it plopped down into the ashtray as I began picking it up. The resting smoke is light with a medium aroma that does not seem to be lingering in the room.

Second Third:
Top Shelf Signature Select - Black Label - 5
As I smoked my way deeper into the cigar, the body picked up ever so slightly but remained in the medium spectrum. The finish remained smooth and left me with a mild creamy sensation on the walls of my mouth and tongue.

On the Top Shelf Cigar website, there is a quote that “Jim places balance and complexity of flavor at the top of his criteria when selecting blends”. This quote really shows in this cigar. While there isn’t much going on in terms of flavors moving from one type to the next, there is a definite balance and complexity to the smoke.

The base flavor has only made one change, in that the sweet spice slowly steps back as a rich Criollo tobacco flavor moves into the picture. The tart like flavor remains in the background and compliments the core flavor well.

Final Third:
Top Shelf Signature Select - Black Label - 6
As my Signature Select burns down, the base flavor goes through another slow change. The rich Criollo Tobacco flavor slowly begins to step back, while remaining rich, and the sweet spice from earlier on moves forward once again. The tart like aftertaste remains and adds a level of complexity to the smoke.

The body slowly creeps up to the medium to full range while remaining smooth and easy on the palate. The texture of the smoke continues to leave a mild creamy texture on the walls of my mouth and tongue.

Just as before, the burn line is thin and even while the draw remains a little stiff and produces a generous volume of dense smoke. The smoke is easily passed though the sinuses and leaves the room filled with a medium aroma that does not seem offensive.

The ash remains dark in color while holding a firm and compacted shape. After an inch in length it is easily knocked off of the foot with a gentle tap against the ashtray.

My Thoughts:
Just like the Blue Label Signature Select, I think that this is a rich and enjoyable smoke. Being a house blend it isn’t something that is easily picked up at your local smoke shop, but I’m told these will become available at the wholesale level to smoke shops. The single size available is a little larger than I smoke on a regular basis and I was happy to learn that these were also going to be available as a Cuban Corona in the very near future.

If this cigar sounds like it would suite your taste, I would definitely give it a try.

Happy Smoking

enjoying cigars since 2005

9 thoughts on “Top Shelf Signature Select – Black Label

  1. As always, nice review Walt. If this place isn’t too far away from me, I may take a ride there and check out these cigars.

  2. Hey Walt nice review!! I actually just picked up a 5 pack of the top shelf green label by Pepin. I’m goin to give those a shot and then work my way through the other blends. Well the good part of the night was the review because the CAO Italia I smoked during it was a disaster lol. I had a tunneling issue and one side of the cigar just would not burn but the other side would. Anyway I’m goin to try and make up for it and smoke a Pepin Blue to make up for it. Anyway great review and keep’em comin.

  3. One of my favorite sticks. I have a few boxes resting for Spring. If it is true about the Cuban Corona, I feel some ODO coming!

  4. Thanks for the review Walt, I found Top Shelf Cigar and picked up both the Blue Label and Black Label and discovered he has a LIMITED run of the Black Label in a LANCERO size. The lancero is a lip smacking full to medium bodied smoke, kind of strong, but I enjoyed them nonethless..I hope Jim the store owner will get some for you to review. Your reviews are really thorough. I am becoming a more educated cigar smoker thanks to you.

  5. Ecox,
    Jim is a great guy, in fact he is one of the nicest shop owners I’ve met, I’m glad you found the shop and enjoyed the cigars.

    Jim mentioned a Lancero when i stopped in but he said that it was for his personal smoking pleasure. He must have been able to get tropical Tobacco to produce some extra Lanceros.

    I’ll have to stop down and check out the new size. If the shop wasn’t an hour ride I would definitely visit more often.

    If any of you guys are in the area, shoot me an email. I’ll try and make it out one day during one of the upcoming weekends to hang out.


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