Tasting Notes: Missouri Meerschaum Drawdown

Welcome to another episode of Tasting Notes. I'm Shane Ireland, and today I'm continuing my journey through the new line of MM&Co Elite blends made by Cornell & Diehl for Missouri Meerschaum.

Drawdown, inspired by the town of Washington, Missouri, and the effect that the Missouri Meerschaum corn cob production, original owners, and family had on the town itself.

Luminaire is a blend inspired by electricity being introduced to the town of Washington, while Drawdown is inspired by the 1887 wind-powered plumbing system that brought plumbing to the town, to the Missouri Meerschaum factory, and its neighbors. So again, there's a lot of cool history behind the brand, obviously one of the most historic in the world, and Drawdown is a fitting tribute to that.

Drawdown's Intriguing Character

Drawdown is a blend of ready-rubbed Bright Virginia and genuine St. James Parish Perique from the exclusive 31 Farms. Jeremy Reeves and Cornell & Diehl have a great relationship with that supplier in Louisiana for genuine St. James Parish Perique. There's also a little bit of Cavendish, which is actually a proprietary mixture of a couple of different components that have been processed together: a little bit of White Burley, Dark Burley, and Red Virginia make up that Cavendish component. Most interestingly, a particular varietal of Latakia that is — I'm not sure if it's technically new in the big picture, but certainly in recent history and recent memory: Turkish Latakia.

I'll get back to that in just a second, but let me talk about the tin note, the cut, drying time, all that good stuff, before we get back to that interesting Latakia component. So I will be completely honest: usually, when it's the middle of summer and I'm talking about smoking and reviewing a Latakia mixture, there's a little bit of like, ah, it's not the right time of year and my tastes don't really gravitate that way during the heat, blah, blah, blah. Drawdown was a pleasant surprise because I think it has sort of the mild- to-medium character that makes it an all-day smoke, with enough flavor, intrigue, and a ton of complexity to keep somebody like myself interested and engaged over the course of several bowls.

Bright and Zesty: Interesting Tin Note

Missouri Meerschaum Pipe Tobacco - Drawdown

In the tin, this one is, as far as English mixtures or Latakia blends go, on the zesty and bright side of the spectrum for sure. You do have that woody and sort of lightly mesquite-campfire character. There's a zesty, almost citrus-like quality from the Bright Virginias. These are 2019 Bright Virginias from Canada, super high in sugar content, which really balances well with the fire-cured Latakia. A little bit of that Perique spice is coming through, a little bit of something that I would describe as being fruity and maybe even wine-like, along with a nice base of earthy and somewhat toasted, nutty sorts of tones. A really interesting tin note for sure, and like I said, I love that this is on the zesty and bright side of the spectrum. It's a good indication of what the smoke has in store and a good indication of this being a really nice, all-day smoke.

Drawdown's Ready-Rubbed Cut Affords Excellent Burning Potential

Missouri Meerschaum Pipe Tobacco - Drawdown

The cut, like I said, is mixed, with ready-rubbed pieces of Bright Virginia and then a mixed cut of the Cavendish ribbon, the long cut Perique from St. James Parish, and the Turkish Latakia. I gave this zero drying time. It is another one of the blends I tend to recommend more heavily for English mixtures than anything else, but I think you need to smoke it directly out of the tin. The moisture content is perfect and I think that what you don't want to do is dry it to the point where you're accelerating the burn rate and missing out on some of the nuance.

So this blend takes to a match really well and burns at a nice, slow pace, probably because of the higher degree of heavily-cured leaf, namely the Turkish Latakia. It burns nice, slow, and cool, and with a ton of complexity. There's lots of volume and it produces a ton of smoke. There's a lush character on the palette, definitely the notes that I associate with high-quality Latakia, like the sort of creamy body that sits on top of the woody and smoky base. Right off the bat, what I noticed the most is the interplay between the 2019 Canadian Brightleaf with that super high sugar content, like in the neighborhood of 25%. That interplay with the Turkish Latakia is what I get most of in the beginning of the bowl. As things progress, the complexity kicks up a little bit and you start to notice the other components.

Unique Turkish Latakia Component

I want to focus attention on the Latakia component because it is unique. This Turkish Latakia is a component that Jeremy Reeves has sourced more recently. And part of the appeal of this is that, when compared to the traditional areas that produce Latakia, the processes, the equipment, barns, and so forth are much more updated, reinvented, and rethought, so it produces an extremely consistent product. You've probably heard, I'm sure, of Syrian Latakia and Cyprian Latakia; those are the two main producers of Latakia over the last several decades. Syria, of course, no longer produces Latakia, and most of the Latakia that we've experienced in pipe tobacco over the last many decades has been from Cyprus.

Latakia tobaccos are small-leaf Oriental varietals that are fire-cured, much in the same way that Kentucky fire-cured is processed. There's lots of smoke and lots of heat over a very long period of time. That presents a challenge when you're producing something like tobacco, which I don't know if you guys know this, but it's flammable. So, when you're fire-curing tobacco for that long, you have to be extra, extra careful. Aspects like variations in humidity and temperature can produce an uneven product when you're talking about curing a ton of this in a barn at the same time. Historically, this has been combated by a clever blending of different grades of these Latakias coming mainly from Cyprus, again to get a product that overall is a really excellent addition to a blend as a full component.

Modern Processes Reminiscent Of Latakia Of The Past

Missouri Meerschaum Pipe Tobacco - Drawdown

The Turkish Latakia in Drawdown is different in the sense that you have a lot more modern processes that allow — now, when I say modern, I'm saying versus ancient, right, like we're not talking about digital tobacco here. The thing is, when you have the controls to make sure that the humidity and the temperature are consistent over that long period of time, you get a product that is more uniform in color and flavor in the entire barn. So what I think about this Turkish Latakia, and I'm getting back to the point here, is that it is much more reminiscent of the Syrian stuff and it is gorgeous, oily, uniform in color, uniform in consistency and flavor, and it really gives, in my opinion, what made Syrian Latakia so special: delicate tones. Yes, it was smoky, yes, it was big, bold, and rustic, but you had dark fruit notes and floral aromas that interestingly added complexity to a very robust component. The Turkish Latakia that we're smoking here in Drawdown really reminds me of that.

Well-Balanced Flavors and Exemplary Aging Potential

As this progresses, both from the genuine St. James Parish Perique from 31 Farms and the Turkish Latakia, what you end up with is a surprising amount of these darker fruit notes. Some warming spices, some incense-like quality, and especially on the retrohale and in the room note, a lot of floral notes as well. It's creamy, it's lush, and it even has some of a marzipan and rosewater kind of thing going on. It's extremely well-balanced and well-integrated, especially for being fresh out of the tin. I believe that is due to the high portion of 2019 Bright Virginia from Canada with the high sugar content. This Turkish Latakia — because of the way it's processed and because of the flavor profile — likely has long legs on the aging side of things. There's a high degree of sugar here from the Virginia base and a really interesting Cavendish mixture of components that are suited to aging. Drawdown is going to get much more sweet, much more fruity, and have long legs well into the future.

Drawdown: Elegant And Ideal For English/Virginia Smokers

Missouri Meerschaum Pipe Tobacco - Drawdown

Drawdown overall provides a really interesting mix of these aromatic woody notes, and a jam-like quality. It's an all-day smoke for sure. Like I said, strength-wise, I would rate this just shy of medium maybe. Flavor-wise, I think it's medium-plus. For people who are mostly into Virginias, this is going to be an excellent crossover. It could fit into your rotation in the winter months or really any time of year, but if you're not a heavy Latakia smoker, this one is very approachable and extremely elegant. That's my main takeaway for the Turkish Latakia versus what we've been smoking mostly in the Cyprian varietal; There's an elegance here that is reminiscent of the old Syrian Latakia.

So overall, Drawdown is an elegant blend, an all-day smoke for an English smoker, and a nice change of pace for anybody else. It's definitely a blend worthy of some heavy cellaring. Today, I'm smoking Missouri Meerschaum MM&Co Elite Drawdown in a J. Alan bamboo, again, one of my staple English pipes, and it is really loving this mixture for sure. Missouri Meerschaum MM&Co Elite Drawdown by Cornell & Diehl is available now on Smokingpipes and pretty much everywhere fine tobaccos are sold. Like I said, give this one a shot. It is a really excellent all-day English, and everybody out there who's a Latakia freak owes it to themselves to try this Turkish Latakia. See you guys next time.

Comments

    • Daniel on December 2, 2023
    • Great review. I just got a tin and to say the tin note is "unique" is to put it mildly. My first thought was that it smelled like aged cheese or even foot funk. I was a bit worried. But upon lighting a bowl I was immediately struck by the almost menthol quality of the latakia which is very, very pleasant. And that almost "wine like" note in the background must be what I was smelling as cheese in the tin. This is a strange and intriguing tobacco. The smell is rather pungent but the smoking flavor and experience is not at all what one might expect.

Join the conversation:


This will not be shared with anyone

challenge image
Enter the circled word below: