Today's review is something special. A mystery to everyone. I mean, I know the name of it, and where it came from, but the precise nature of the blend is a mystery even to me. To anyone, really. How can that be? Rest assured all will be revealed by the end. For now, the most important part: How does it smoke?
Straight out of the mysterious baggy, the moisture content is ideal. Loads easily into my small J&J Apple (about a group 3) and takes to the flame eagerly. In fact, I didn’t even require a relight after the charring light. The first thing that I notice is spice. Not the peppery spice associated with Perique, but something closer to mulled wine or spiced cider; cinnamon, anise, clove, and a slight citrus element. Mid-bowl, the flavors remain consistent although they do seem to deepen a bit, with some Burley and (possibly) Oriental influence peaking through the Virginia base. I find it fascinating that a noticeable sweetness never really develops. This is actually welcome as there are many Virginia blends in my rotation that are sweeter, as well as some that are spicy in a different manner. I suspect that this might be a seasonal offering, but even if it is not, I look forward to enjoying this blend during the colder months and into the holiday season as a change of pace, or simply an indoor alternative to the Latakia blends typically enjoyed during that time.
One down, enjoying it, two to go.
The tobacco that Eric presented to us for this month's blind tasting appears to be produced by one of the American blending houses. The cut is irregular, primarily ribbons but there are smaller chunks of tobacco as well. I know some smokers prefer the tidier European-style ribbons, but I've always liked the rustic cut of American tobacco. They're a bit more agreeable to my packing style, and they burn well. In terms of color, the tobaccos range from black to brown to a pale yellow ribbons. The aroma is especially appealing: rich Virginias, a little something sweet (I'd venture Cavendish), and an intriguing hint of spice, perhaps cinnamon and nutmeg.
Mild Virginias are prominent on the charring light. After a soft tamping and full light, those Virginias are joined by a fuller range of flavors. The Cavendish pairs perfectly with the Virginias to produce a creamy, naturally sweet smoke. There's also a mild vanilla note. Not the sort of cloying boozy vanilla flavors that I associate with aromatic blends. Think good vanilla extract. But the real star of the show here are the tangy and spicy Oriental tobaccos. They're especially prominent starting about a quarter of the way down the bowl and throughout the remainder of the smoke.
On the whole, this blend is quite good. While it has some aromatic qualities, I'd tend to think of this as a Virginia-Oriental, not unlike G.L. Pease's Cairo. My only fault with the blend is that I'd actually prefer a little more sweetness to support and complement the tang and spice of the Orientals. That sweetness will likely develop with age, so if you're interested in trying this blend (whatever it turns out to be), I'd recommending picking up one to smoke now and one for the cellar. I'll go out on a limb, or perhaps a bough in this case, and guess that this is Cornell & Diehl's 2014 Christmas Blend, We Three Kings.
That's two for "Approve."
Turkish Turkish Turkish, Turkish, Turkish!
VA and Blackened Cavendish
Spicy curry, roast orange peel tang.
No questions do my thoughts harangue.
"Tis clear to me, as the cut doth reveal
This blend's creator was Cornell and Diehl.
Wait I've got it, I know just the thing:
I bet this 'baccy is We Three Kings.
Sweet but not cloying, zesty but refined
Occasionally Drew Estate cigars come to mind.
Complex and playful, this mischievous trickster
Will no doubt become a hit Yuletide Mixture.
There you have it; they smoked it, they enjoyed it. But what was it? Is it one made by Cornell & Diehl? In a manner of speaking, yes. Was it We Three Kings? In a manner of speaking, it may have contained some We Three Kings.
"Quit beating around the bush!", you say. "Give us the answer!" The answer? Grand Croupier Wildcard. Grand Croupier Wild Card, carefully blended by hand-tossing a random assortment of other blends together. Yes, this was C&D's 'all-sorts' brand. Admittedly, I did not expect these results — I picked Wild Card as something of a practical joke, a 180-turn from some of the more prestigious tinned blends I've passed out to my
test subjects co-workers lately. The joke, as it turned out, was on me.
But given the random nature of Wild Card, can you expect similar results? Well, we received our first lot of this bulk tobacco in some pretty large quantity, so I'd hazard to guess, yes, at least for a couple months it will likely be the same mixture as Shane, Josh, and Jeremy smoked. On that note, now I'm considering
making them do asking them nicely to do a periodic review when new batches of Wild Card come in.