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Cigar Review: Leaf By James

Leaf By James




James Brown, owner of Fabrica Oveja Negra and Black Label Trading Co., is pleased to announce a collaboration with Jim “Island Jim” Robinson on the Leaf by James.

This cigar is hand crafted in Esteli, Nicaragua at Fabrica Oveja Negra. The Pre-Launch event took place on June 8, 2018 at Jim Robinson’s iconic shop Leaf and Bean, 2200 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA.

The national release of the LBJ launched officially at this years IPCPR in Las Vegas, NV, on July 13th, 2018.

Leaf by James is the fourth cigar under Robinson’s Leaf series, where he has collaborated with rising stars in the cigar blending arena to showcase unique smoking experiences for his iconic Leaf and Bean retail lounge.

Other Leaf collaborations include Leaf by Noel, Leaf by Esteban, and Leaf by Oscar, the most well known project in the series.




“I’m excited to be working with Jim on this new Leaf project. I think the bold style of Oveja Negra is a great addition to the portfolio,” said James Brown, of Fabrica Oveja Negra.





The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper is the color of dark espresso bean, toothy with notable seam and vein it’s rough to the touch with a rustic sturdy feel. Rolled in the Toro format at 6 x 50 it has a wide open foot with rounded cap. 

I’ve had 5 of these and it’s hard to find any similar looking vitolas, extra toothy, vein and some with bulging seam! The only common denominator being the band. Pointing out the differences had no effect on the consistency of this cigar. Every one of them performed about as flawless as you can get in strength, balance and complexity.

A simple single band covers the cigar, colored in light brown like a burlap bag or gunny sack it reads “LEAF BY JAMES” in black font. Anyone who’s familiar with Fabrica Oveja Negra will recognize the Black Sheep synonymous with the “Flock” or legions of fans of BLTC and BLKWKS studio.

Pre light aroma had notes of chocolate, barnyard and cedar. The cold draw produced flavors of leather, coffee and a sweetness of dried fruit.







A warm aroma of cedar and chocolate off the toasted foot. Once ignited you get a minimal amount of burnt cedar and orange peel. Up front flavors of coffee, chocolate, cedar with nuances of leather.

The spicy element is producing black pepper in the upper MED/FULL range.

A crescendo of white pepper on the retro in both nose and throat easing off into flavors of cocoa.




Entering cruise control burn are flavors of coffee, chocolate and cedar with minimal leather.

The spicy element is a perfect balance of black pepper transitioning into sweet flavors of chocolate and nuances of toffee.

FULL white pepper on the retro easing off with flavors of milk chocolate for a long sweet and spicy finish.





Heading into the final third the core flavors of coffee, chocolate and sweet cedar are easily identified, proving consistent and very balanced.

Background flavors of mild leather with nuances of dark chocolate are making the “Leaf by James” a truly tasty and enjoyable experience.

The spicy element of black pepper has eased off slightly into the range of MED with white pepper on the retro producing an extra long sweet and spicy finish right to the nub.





CONSTRUCTION: SOLID! A tank of a cigar there were no palpable soft spots. Rustic and rough looking it had the feel of shark skin with heavy seam! Beautiful in an ugly kind of way.


BURN: A few examples burned slightly crooked and others straight. All corrected in the final third with a thick black carbon line.


ASH: The dark grayish ash had splotches of black, solid and compact it held past the inch point resembling a stack of dimes.


CUT: 3 of the 5 examples were V cut, the last 2 vitolas were straight cut.


DRAW: Easy draw with the perfect amount of milkshake type resistance.


RE LIGHTS: Zero Re Lights required while smoking, an even consistent combustion of fillers from first light till final third.


STRENGTH: Upper MED/FULL with a myriad of FULL flavors! Most notable was the consistent core of coffee, chocolate, cedar and black pepper.




People have been talking about some of their standouts from the trade show, at least for me the “Leaf by James” certainly falls into that category.

With generous helpings of coffee, chocolate, sweet cedar and black pepper I found it extremely complex, consistent and balanced. Nothing more to say other than the LBJ was “Wonka Scrumdiddlyumptious Good” and highly recommended!



Cigars for review: Samples/Purchased

Cigars smoked for review: 5

Cigar Smoke Rate: 93

Size: 6 x 50 Toro

Wrapper:  Pennsylvania Broadleaf

Binder: Ecuadorian Habano

Filler: Nicaragua

Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra






Toar Campbell

Love of all things cigars, craft beer, Stouts, IPA's (any beer). Follow me on Untappd @Toar Campbell. Writer, reviewer, founder
Toar Campbell

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