Greatness is born out of collaboration, two independently impressive minds joining to create something superlative. Think Davis and Coltrane, Watson and Crick, Wozniak and Jobs. In the tobacco industry, Kyle Gellis, founder and President of Warped Cigars, and Jeremy Reeves, Head Blender of Cornell & Diehl, are two such minds. On this episode of Tasting Notes, Shane sits down with Jeremy Reeves to discuss his collaboration with Warped, complete with an in-depth review of Warped's very first pipe tobacco blend, The Haunting. The Haunting is a mixture that bridges the gap between cigars and pipe tobaccos, unifying cigar and pipesmokers alike with quality components and an enticing flavor profile.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Shane Ireland]: Hey everybody, I'm Shane Ireland and welcome to another episode of Tasting Notes. I have a special guest joining me for this episode today.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Hello everyone, Jeremy Reeves here, head blender of Cornell and Diehl.
[Shane Ireland]: You probably never seen this guy before, right? So yeah, Jeremy's in house because we have a really exciting release coming up soon, just in time for Halloween. It's the first collaboration between Warped Cigars and Cornell and Diehl, more specifically, between Kyle from Warped Cigars and Jeremy Reeves. So, tell us a little about the project, Jeremy.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Man, I'm really excited about it. You know, Kyle came and visited, and--
[Shane Ireland]: You guys got your hands dirty.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Yeah, he was really interested in pipes, really interested in pipe tobacco. He was pretty immediately interested in the idea of Warped actually having something in that category. And so we put our heads together and kinda came up with something that I think is really, really great. It is certainly pipe tobacco. It is certainly a Virginia kind of flavor. But it also, I think it's equal parts Virginia pipe tobacco and cigar--
[Shane Ireland]: Character.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Character all in one blend. I think what we came up with is really delicious, we were both over the moon about it and we're smoking it right now.
[Shane Ireland]: We're smoking it right now. Before we get into that, I'll say too for those unfamiliar with Kyle, he has been making and blending his own cigars for well over a decade. He grew up around the cigar business as well. So, it was really interesting. I was fortunate enough to witness some of this, and as somebody with like no experience, obviously I've smoked quite a lot of stuff, but I'm not a blender, I don't know anything about tobacco really other than what I like and what I don't like. But it was really interesting to watch these two guys come together and sort of geek out and get really mad scientist with it.
You know, forgive the Halloween thing, but really, so just smoking tons and tons of different components. You guys were using clay tester pipes, I think, for most of the process. And then getting their hands dirty blending up the initial batches of some of these prototypes. And what we ended up with, also the Haunting, we've landed on that. And this is exclusive to Smokingpipes.com, it is a limited release that is seasonal for the fall.
Just in time for Halloween, limited to 2000 tins this run. And, like I said, I was really interested in it because as someone who is primarily a Virginia smoker, I do like to branch out and smoke things with Dark Fired in them, smoked with Perique in them. The occasional English mixture, there's not a ton of cigar component pipe tobacco blends on the market as it is. And as I was learning how to be a pipe smoker, and really trying a lot of stuff over the last 10-12 years. Many of the cigar blends that I encountered also featured Latakia. And I think that those two components play really well off of each other and they are really interesting in combination, but the flavor of the Latakia combined with the cigar creates something for me, that while enjoyable, is utterly different then smoking a cigar on it's own.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Yes, absolutely.
[Shane Ireland]: So, my understanding Jeremy is that, tell us a little about the components here actually before I continue.
[Jeremy Reeves]: So, Red Virginia from North Carolina, Bright Virginia from Canada and then the cigar component which, basically, you've got almost equal portions, Virginia, Virginia Leaf and cigar here. Cigar makes up actually just shy of 40% of the blend. It's a double A grade Dominican Criollo. Has sort of an earthy, an earthy mid range note, not really deep base, but like that mid-range note. But then, over the top of it, it's got this really interesting, sort of spicy complexity.
[Shane Ireland]: To me I get, it's piquant as well.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Yeah, I get hints of cinnamon, something kind of like cinnamon and nutmeg.
[Shane Ireland]: Interestingly enough, the flavors that I get really remind me of a nice rye or a nice bourbon.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Yeah, absolutely.
[Shane Ireland]: And obviously we took that opportunity, especially because it's technically fall even though it's like 90 degrees in South Carolina right now, we're having a little bit of an Autumn dram here as well, but really like the warming spices, the nutmeg, the cinnamon, there's even some notes that I wouldn't go as far as saying vanilla, but kind of in the same way that like an ex bourbon cask can add some vanilla qualities to a scotch whisky.
[Jeremy Reeves]: There's sort of a creamy, sweetness that is underlying and it seems to ebb and flow in the smoke. At least what I'm smoking.
[Shane Ireland]: I mean the finish for me is mostly dry, but it's still a dry finish that activates your salivary glands a little bit. It's not just super sharp, but also you are getting some of the tanginess, and breadiness, and a little bit of the grassy notes from the Virginia's. I would have guessed visually that there was Bright Virginia in this, but smoking it, I think the Red Virginia comes through quite a bit more. So basically, it's like a Virginia with a condimental leaf that happens to be cigar, that's just doing something a little bit differently than Perique would do. Or that, Dark Fired leaf would do.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Sure, and this is an instance, where, like I've said, 37.5%, so we've hardly used it condimentaly.
[Shane Ireland]: Its true.
[Jeremy Reeves]: It makes up a significant portion of the blend which is one of the reasons, I think, that the cigar character makes itself so present in the smoke compared to other cigar leaf featuring blends.
[Shane Ireland]: Sure, sure, because it's not a small percentage. But like I said, I think that, I wouldn't limit this to people who enjoy cigars and enjoy pipe tobacco. I think that if you enjoy either, or if you enjoy both, you're gonna love it. But more importantly, if you're into natural tobaccos and if you're a Virginia smoker, and if you like a natural tobacco character coming through, if we never told you what was in this, you'd be scratching your head. But probably, because you enjoyed it a lot and you're trying to figure out really what that is. 'Cause it has a unique character. For me, this is a singular mixture in the sense that I've smoked a lot of different cigar blends that feature either a little bit of cigar leaf, or cigar leaf and Latakia, and this one preforms and tastes a lot different. It also scratches the itch of wanting to smoke a cigar, but not wanting to dedicate two hours to a Churchill or something like that. I also think the room note is quite pleasant.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Oh yeah!
[Shane Ireland]: You're gonna get away with smoking this in your living room, whereas maybe your wife wouldn't let you light up a Toro or something like that. So yeah, like I said, really interesting to see these two guys play with this project. And we're really excited about the product and what came out of it. I think it's a perfect mixture for this time of year. I think it pairs very well with your favorite spirit, particularly your favorite brown spirit. And the other thing I wanted to talk to you Jeremy about is, I personally think there is a lot of aging potential for this.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Oh yeah, absolutely.
[Shane Ireland]: Like, I'm gonna grab a bunch of them and lay them down because I'm pretty sure after five, ten years, this is gonna be incredible.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Yep, I think so. You know, there's some elements of the flavor that sort of remind me of Sansepolcro. Which is, you know, obviously there's a lot more Virginia and a much smaller portion of condimental leaf in Sansepolcro. But, the Virginia character is really where your aging potential is gonna come from, 'cause the cigar leaf has virtually no sugar to it. But there is plenty of highly sugared leaf here that is going to lead to a lot of aging.
[Shane Ireland]: And there are some fermented notes going on here as well. I would guess that that's the Criollo, like that slightly tangy fermented kind of note. But also too, this is, I don't say this a lot about pipe tobaccos, or about whiskys, this is about as velvety, satiny smooth of a smoke, the mouth feel is great, it produces a ton of smoke, it burns and behaves really well. But honestly, like smoothness is not something I typically comment on, it's extremely smooth. So Jeremy, before we sign off, I actually meant to ask you, what pipe is that?
[Jeremy Reeves]: This is a former Sandblast Billiard.
[Shane Ireland]: Beautiful.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Thank you. And what are you smoking?
[Shane Ireland]: I'm smoking a prototype actually, IMP Nosewarmer. It's one of just a few Meerschaum pipes in my collection. I've really been enjoying my Meerschaum pipes lately. And yeah, I've been smoking this for a few weeks. It's coloring up a bit and it's a great tasting pipe. Once again, thanks to everybody that was involved in this project. Kyle of Warped Cigars, Jeremy Reeves, thanks for joining us Jeremy.
[Jeremy Reeves]: Thank you!
[Shane Ireland]: Good to see you guys, have a happy Halloween and good luck with the Haunting.