Bear Graves
Cheers Through the Years

Christmas Cheer at Smokingpipes

With the arrival of McClelland's 2014 Christmas Cheer (and wanting to create some copy that moved a bit beyond simply what was on the label, with the addition of "It's limited-edition, and num-num-nummy"), I fearlessly plowed into the internet and, for all practical purposes, came up empty handed. Sure, the boards abounded with debates over the superiority of vintages, hoarding/consuming practices, and laments over failing to purchase sufficient amounts from a given year, but (gods forbid) an actual history, or even the casual mention of when the first Christmas Cheer was offered. As far as what crop was featured in (say) the 1997 offering? Fuggetaboutit. Yes, I even looked at the McClelland site. At this point I figured 'twas better to light a metaphorical candle than curse the analogical dark, so I, Bear Graves (cub reporter for Smokingpipes.com), got on the horn with McClelland and not only got the lowdown from Kristi Streit on the history of the series, but she sent me copies of the actual labels — which included the various components and vintages.

Upon pouring over the records, one of the first things that caught my eye was a tiny gap in the continuity of the offering. 1992 found McClelland celebrating its 15th anniversary as a company, and Christmas Cheer (as far as I can discern, the very first tobacco ever offered that specifically cited both components and vintage) was just one aspect of the merriment. There was no follow up for 1993, and little doubt you have already discerned the reason. Here's how I imagine the discussion: "We figured Christmas Cheer would have been a hit, but the response was insane. Can we follow up for 1993?!" "At the heart of the concept, Cheer is comprised of very special tobaccos, sourced from a single vintage. What stockpile would you suggest?" "1994 Christmas Cheer it is!" Not wanting to irk McClelland by taking great liberties with the internal dialog of that time, I placed another call to the august concern and ran my imaginary scenario by them, (laughter on the other end) "Actually, that's pretty much dead on."

Once past the 1993 hiccup, McClelland's Christmas Cheer hasn't missed a year in two decades, and the offering for 2014 is exceptionally strong. I have compiled a complete list of the years Christmas Cheer has been offered, along with the quoted vintage/components from the labels.

Yours, in tobacco geekiness,

R. Bear Graves

Cheers Through the Years

Christmas Cheer at Smokingpipes

2014: "This 2014 blend is made with a special selection of red flue-cured Virginia from an outstanding crop near Snow Hill, North Carolina."

2013: "This 2013 blend is made with a special selection of orange flue-cured Virginia from the 2009 crop grown near Rocky Mount, North Carolina."

2012: "This 2012 blend is made with a special selection of deep orange, ripe flue-cured Virginia from the 2008 crop grown near Stantonsburg, North Carolina."

2011: "This 2011 blend is made with a special selection of ripe, orange-red, flue-cured Virginia from the 2007 crop grown near Wilson, North Carolina."

2010: "This 2010 blend is made with a special selection of sugary, red-orange Middle Belt flue-cured Virginia from the 2004 crop near Durham, North Carolina."

2009: "This 2009 blend is made with a special selection of beautiful, sugary, deep orange South Carolina Belt flue-cured Virginia from the 2003 crop."

2008: "This 2008 blend is made with a special selection of beautiful, ripe orange-red Old Belt Virginia... " (Actual vintage was omitted from the label, but was informed that it hailed from 2000)

2007: "This 2007 blend is made with a special selection of red, ripe, mellow flue-cured Virginia from the Middle Belt crop of 2001."

2006: "This 2006 blend is made with a special selection of ripe orange-red flue-cured Virginia from the Old Belt crop of 1999."

2005: "This 2005 blend is made with a special selection of deep orange, sun-dappled flue-cured Virginia from the Middle Belt crop of 1997."

2004: "This 2004 blend is made with a special selection of rich, smooth, mahogany North Carolina flue-cured crop of 1994, ripened to perfection in the Oxford area."

2003: "This 2003 blend is made with a special selection of rich, ripe and mellow red Virginia leaf of the 1998 Old Belt crop."

2002: "This 2002 blend is made with a special selection of the beautiful, ripe, orange leaf of the 1996 South Carolina Border Belt crop."

2001: "This 2001 blend is made with a special selection of the finest ripe, sun dappled Middle Belt orange leaf of the 1995 North Carolina crop."

2000: "This 2000 blend is made with a special selection of the beautiful, ripe, orange-red, flue-cured Virginias grown near Danville, crop of 1996."

1999: "This 1999 blend is made with a special selection of the beautiful, ripe, orange flue-cured Virginias of the Carolina Border Belt crop of 1994."

1998: "This 1998 blend is made with a special selection of the beautiful, ripe, dappled leaves of Virginia's Old Belt 1995 crop."

1997: "This 1997 blend is made with a special selection of of the finest 1991-crop orange and red North Carolina flue-cured tobaccos."

1996: "This 1996 blend is made with a special selection of the finest 1993-crop orange South Carolina flue-cured tobaccos... "

1995: "This 1995 blend is made with a special selection of the finest 1992-crop lemon-orange Carolina leaves of the Piedmont region."

1994: "This 1994 blend is made with a special selection of the ripe, dappled lemon-orange Carolina leaves of the 1991 Middle Belt crop."

1993: (No production)

1992: "This 1992 blend is made from a limited edition of the beautiful, dappled Virginia leaves of the 1989 Old Belt Crop..."

Category:   Tobacco Talk Tagged in:   Blending Christmas History McClelland Tobacco

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