Warped - The Haunting 2oz
Masterfully Blended...a revelation!
As I crack the tin I immediately smell the sweet Virginia's. They are plum/raisin'y with the grassiness sitting just under the leather of the Criollo leaf. Came perfectly moist. Packs with ease. Lights well and smokes so well. This blend is tasty. It's a perfect autumn weather tobacco. It is warm and rich. It has a fair amount of balanced sweetness. I can tell there's a lot of criollo; more cigar leaf than say in Habana Daydream. It works really well with the Virginias keeping the intensity in check. I can taste baking spice flavors: clove, nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon. The room aroma matches the profile and makes it very pleasant to sniff at as I smoke it. It gives me a feeling of the holidays and being at my grandmother's house as a kid as she baked pumpkin pies and ginger cookies. It is super smooth. It's a full smoke but isn't overly heavy. It does have the cigar like nic-hit but its manageable. I like this blend a lot. I think Kyle and Jeremy did a spectacular job. Delicious! One Year Update 10/20/2020: The tin (now jar) note has developed to show much more of the cigar leaf. There is more of a floralness and a tiny bit of citrus coming through that I didn't notice last October. The initial lights were delicious: light, subtly sweet and baking spicy; not unlike the last bowl I had last year. As with most blends I initially try fresh and revisit again later, the flavors are more unified. Whereas I tasted so much of the Criollo before, I get more Virginia now. I'm realizing how brilliant a choice this particular cigar leaf and Virginia combination are. They compliment each other very well especially with a year or age. The holiday baking spices are there still but it's more of an aftertaste. It's amazing! Mid bowl it gets deeper and more rich. I taste dark chocolate and cinnamon. The N hit is just right. I'm amazed at how well it stays lit and how beautiful and full the smoke is. I loved this blend last year and this year I'm doubly impressed. I'm looking forward to this jar of 2019 next year. Can't wait to chime in again then.
G. L. Pease - Spark Plug 2oz
Greg Pease is a Genius!
Mr. Pease you've done it again. This is superb! Popped the seal and I'm in an auto garage with classic Minis and MGs. I get leather and wood and engine grease. What a unique profile! Its sublime! What a fitting name: Spark Plug! (Absolutely love the tin art!!!) The plug cut is magnificent: Beautiful black, rawhide and straw perfectly pressed and presented. It's a joy to break apart and pack! The smoke is just as it should be: nag champa and cedar, an orange orchard off in the distance...musty hay bales in a wide open field; the firepit embers putt puffing their radiant aromas. I get something that shouldn't be there but adds another level of curiosity and delight: Roasted walnuts like Burley has donned the costume of one of the real players. Its brilliant. It's a fresh batch to boot which impresses me even more. I'm so happy I grabbed a tin to smoke now and slowly over the next weeks and if discipline allows, months... as well as a second one to grow and show its graduated character in a year or two. In fact I might have to order a few more to have a truly historic experience in the coming years! Well done!
Kramer's - Father Dempsey
I'm so happy I tried this blend
Popped the tin...smokey, woody, earthy scents like a freshly lit campfire. Smells amazing! I love the course cut. The jet black Latakia leaf contrasted by the lighter leather colored strands are absolutely beautiful. It's a little bit moist for my preference but it seems smokable out of the tin. I'm giving it about 15 minutes. Lighting it up… not too tough to get going. Burns nicely. I'm getting a pretty big hit of sweet. It's a kettle corn sweet; the kind that lingers a little on the back of my tongue. I get the faintest sour flavor on the middle of the draw. Not much typical Latakia flavor initially. It's pretty balanced and well blended. It is smoking medium to medium-full for me. It really sits in the same category as Peterson/Dunhill MM965 and Esoterica English like Margate or maybe more so Pembroke though there isn't an apparent topping on it. Mid bowl the sweetness is making way for more smokiness and tangy pungency. I'm tasting some woodiness. As I finish the bowl it's still sweet and flavorful. What I'm particularly loving about this is the consistency throughout the bowl. It's really staying true draw after draw. Many blends take you on a journey; there is an arc and a storyline to follow. Flavors mix and meld; there are transitions as the tobacco develops. Sometimes they start out really well but end up losing momentum mid smoke. Sometimes it's the other way around and there is a deepening of all the components which evolve into more than the sum. This blend doesn't do that for me nor does it seem to try to. Its a solid and dependable smoke. Its not complicated but it's very interesting. It's simple without being boring. I really enjoy this about it. This is a comforting and comfortable smoke. It's a great chill out and relax smoke. I like this blend because it is straightforward and honest. I don't have to think too much about it but it still offers enough to contemplate.
Cornell & Diehl - Sun Bear 2oz
A delicacy of a smoke!
Tin note: cinnamon and clove. Fermented prune. Very sweet and fruity. Gorgeous semi- broken flake. Golden toasted almond brown with deep walnut and mahogany hues; very attractive. Came a bit wet but not bad… definitely not on the level of say a Samuel Gawith tin. Took a little coaxing to get lit. Stays lit well. First light: a little flash of harshness giving way to a very full smoky mouth feel. The honey hits with intensity: sweet, rich and somewhat dark. Red Virginia shows its maturity and rounded smoothness. Brights are crisp and go well with the sophisticated bouquet of the delicate accent leaves. The orientals lend Mediterranean flavor and aroma: sweet, floral; exotic and pungent. The warm spiciness is unique. It coats the tongue and is dry in the mouth. It doesn't sting say on a retrohale the way perique does. It is more of a subtle tingle on the middle of the palette and the tongue when the ember hits a pocket of Basma/Izmir. I wouldn't smoke this all day. It's more of a delicacy blend. It is so very rich and complex. It takes focus and intention to really enjoy. It's a contrast to a Orlik or PS Luxury Flake or Squadron Leader. I could pack bowl after bowl of these while enjoying a late afternoon in the sun with friends. Sun Bear asks to be experienced in solitude with few thoughts. It should be savored and consumed with meditative consciousness. It's perfect and lamentable in its rarity. The rareness of the aged oriental leaves. The rarity of the limited production. The singularity of its profile. There is no other blend to compare it. It stands quite alone. It is a beautiful blend. It is one I will enjoy slowly over many years. I'm certain it will continue to elevate itself unimaginably the older it becomes. Bravo C&D. Bravo Mr. Reeves.
G. L. Pease - Sixpence 2oz
fresh it's one of the best...aged...whoa!
5 month old Sixpence: quite good. Well made baked goods. A little spicy. A little sweet. Rich and complex with layers of dark flavor. Hints of bbq from the Kentuckys. The perique is really there for me. It fits in to my top choices. A real treat. 5 yr Sixpence: all the above but so smooth. Fresh artisanal croissant comes in. It's perfectly balanced. It has more levels of subtly and loses some complexity for a much more unified profile. The Virginias are incredible. The perique smooths out and loses any harshness. Every year of age makes it into a tobacco of a whole other class. Overall it's awesome from its packaging and turns celestial with age! I'm cellaring as many tins of it as I can. I can't wait for the coming years with this blend.
G. L. Pease - Penny Farthing 2oz
Age might make it good
After a handful of bowls in 3 different pipes designated to my VaPers… I'm not impressed. It starts off nicely with a balance of warm dark chocolate baked goods and a hint of spice. I get a little sourdough and sweet hay per usual from the Virginia's. The flavors are many; it's definitely a melange of different tastes. The thing is, as it gets going it starts to get a bit convoluted. The complexity seems to be out of balance. The further into the bowl, all the flavors start mixing up. All I get is a kind of sweet kinda bitter kinda spicy kinda smoky kinda blah profile. I can tell all the right ingredients are there but they don't play well. Its like a battle in my pipe and all I get is the charred remains of what was once a beautiful blend. It might be the cut. I think maybe if it was a ribbon or a flake it might behave better. It might be the ratios: they seem a bit off. All that said I'm going to get a few more tins to age and revisit Penny~Farthing in a year or so.
Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Night
Harsh and Bitter
I liked this blend for the first 5 minutes of the bowl. It starts off really nice with rich flavor, smokiness and mild spice… then it all goes muddled harshness and takes on a dry vegatal quality. The perique takes center stage and merges with the burley to quickly dominate the entire profile of the smoke. The latakia whispers every once in a while but never has a chance to shine for long. Halfway into the bowl it transitions into a bitter "bad cigar" like mouth feel and taste. The nicotine is a bit much towards the end to the point the juice just isn't worth the squeeze. I don't mind a stronger kicking but this just seems like getting suckerpunched for no good reason. After a half dozen bowls I'm not a fan of this blend. I know lots of people enjoy Bayou Night. I'm gonna reach out to my pipe smoker friends to see if anyone might want some free tobacco.
Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Morning
A Perfect VaPer
Wow! This is instantly my favorite Virginia-Perique. 25% Perique is the perfect ratio. On my very first bowl it lit without any trouble. It starts out rather mild and builds and builds as I get deeper into it. The flavor is slightly sweet with moments of distinct sugar and subtle peppery spice. It smokes cool and maintains an even mouth feel; never flaring up into too much intensity... not to say it isn't intense. It has depth and intensity of taste in a way that is blissful and completely satisfying. I've been smoking it in the evening with a glass of single malt which I've found to be the right pairing. It's a rare tobacco that burns excellently all the way to the end leaving fine whitish gray ash and minimal dottle. I only ordered an ounce to try it out but I'll definitely be getting much more to smoke through the hot summer afternoons and evenings. It's Va/per season for me and Bayou Morning is my new all day blend! I...love... this ...stuff!!!