Cornell & Diehl - Engine #113
Let me start with a disclaimer: For a long time I have enjoyed English blends, VaPers and some American burley blends in my rotation. I have not revisited aromatics since my first foray years ago; that is until just recently. Two recent tins have opened my eyes to aros again – C&D Ephiphany and Kramer’s Cary Grant. Smoking through these tins have shown me that aromatics exist that display none of the characteristics that had turned me off early on – not overly wet and chemical-tasting, no discthe flavor doesn’t quickly yield to bitterness, and where the toppings add a point of interest, while still allowing the tobacco to shine. It is with renewed enthusiasm, that I pulled the trigger on Engine #113. See below for some tasting notes. First, I took notice of the color in the tin. This blend came in significantly lighter hues of browns than I had expected, a good sign both for the level of moisture and. The burleys form the base and the bulk of the volume in the blend. In the description it states they are cube cut, and I do see shorter and longer ribbons, among which are the similarly colored medium brown and brighter yellow Virginias, and the dark-fired Kentucky that can be picked out by their slightly darker color in the mix. To me, the tin aroma was different to my expectations, given the description highlights brandy and vanilla. I could pick out the vanilla explicitly, but I would describe the overall pouch note as a molasses or dark caramel. In fact, this holds to the taste as well – more later. On filling my bowl, the sponginess told me that contrary to the color, there was a good bit more moisture than I had expected based on the appearance; 20 minutes spread on a tray was required afterall. Fast forward to go time - On true light, the bowl starts with that same vanilla, caramel note. The C&D burleys were obvious, but again slightly wetter than they tend to come in other blends (like Haunted Bookshop, or others that come to mind), and therefore they don’t have the sort of dusty flavor profile that one may grow to expect from C&D. As referenced above, the fragrance and the taste were consistent, unlike many aros I have tried, and they had a consistent note of a caramel and vanilla, rather than the brandy in the description. It’s fine with me either way, just my obvservation. The Kentucky became a focal point for me into the first third. Slight smokiness that I could pick out on retrohale which wouldn’t be present in Burley or air-cured VA alone. What I never could put my finger on with confidence were the Virginias. They just never came to the fore, though the subtle sweetness of the overall caramel or molasses can only have come from them. The strength was a shade under medium at the start but built to a solid medium half-way through. The moment of truth for me comes at mid-bowl. In my experience with lesser quality aromatics, there would be a noticeable change as the top note burns off. In fact the note did change to an ashy flavour, but by tipping out chunky white cap of ash, the bowl was reinvigorated and good to go again. I was able to enjoy this bowl down to the heel, with a relatively stable flavour, subtly increasing overall strength (not to mention the N which was more than adequate). I must say that this was a very satisfying experience overall. I enjoyed this smoke and now include Engine #113 along with Kramer’s and Epiphany as aromatics I have learned to enjoy.
Cornell & Diehl - Epiphany 2oz
I admit to seeing Einstein associated with Revelation and to wanting the experience of such a storied blend no longer available today. Let me offer my thoughts on this blend. First of all, I should say that I am generally averse to aromatic blends, being more a fan of unadulterated tobacco flavor. With few exceptions, my experience with aros were that they smell delicious but tend to be wet and therefore bite, and no matter how inviting the tin aroma and room note, the taste was often a crude distortion. Enough said.. Fast forward to this blend - given it’s from C&D, a house proving time and time again to offer well-executed blends, built upon an unwavering foundation of high-quality tobacco - How could I not give it a try? I bought a few ounces in bulk, and upon receipt of the bag, I noticed that there appeared to be varying colors of dusty brown, with only a small amount of blackish Latakia and Perique specs to be found. I could smell a dark cherry note, but also a very natural tobacco smell. Very ragged cut-Burley form the base by volume, with what appear to be broken flakes of VA, smelling more pungently of dark fruit – not sure if the topping was applied to the whole blend or if concentrated in one or more constituents. Small Latakia tips and bits of Perique formed the darker islands in the dusty brown body. I was intrigued and quickly loaded up a wide and tall Rhodesian, which I find to suit well for burley-based American style blends. On the charring light, a dark cherry note and a bit of campfire from the Latakia hit my nostrils. After true light this leveled off to the sandy nutty flavor of the Burley, with added complexity from the slightly sweet stewed cherry topping. The first third progressed relatively consistently in this way. I found myself tasting the Latakia, but only as a smokey edge to the burley - I would miss it if not present, but not the focal point in any way. At mid-bowl, Latakia gave way to Perique. The flavor was now as if Latakia had been infused into the smoke, but I no longer noticed new crisp flashes. The cherry top note seemed to give way to apricot, as the raisin notes of Perique entered the frame to meld with the C&D sandy Burley. Near the end of the bowl, the topping became more and more muted, and the strength and body of the smoke markedly stronger (along with the N which had been steadily increasing since the half-way point). The finish was strong and reasonably dry, but with duller individual notes to identify, and a very slight cigarette feel. When I threw my hat in, I was surprised to see a good bit more dottle topple out than I would have thought was left. Overall, I really enjoyed this tobacco and its quality nutty Burleys, and tellingly, I felt the need to revisit this same blend later that evening (something I rarely do). If you like American blends, I recommend trying Epiphany, even if you are strongly anti-aromatic, as it may show you that there is less to fear and more to enjoy than you may have realized. Similarly, Kramer’s Cary Grant has shown me that I may have written off aromatics to soon. Keep an open mind and give it a try. As for Einstein, I can’t claim that the first bowl sparked in me his genius - I be still dumb as you think I is - but I plan to work on it in earnest, as I move through the remaining ounces of my order.