Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
elcome to another episode of Tasting Notes. Just in time for spooky season, I am here to talk about Cornell and Diehl's latest release of Small Batch The Old Ones: From Beyond. I'm really excited about this one. I really liked the original release and there's an interesting twist that makes this one, dare I say, even more decadent and enjoyable.
So real quick, before I get into all of that, let me talk about the components and the tin note. From Beyond is, in my opinion, a full-bodied English mixture. Definitely a little on the strong side, definitely full-flavored, featuring Eastern North Carolina Red Virginia from 2017 and Canadian Brightleaf from 2019. That's the extra-high sugar content Canadian Brightleaf that Cornell and Diehl has made use of recently in a handful of blends, Turkish Izmir from 2018, Greek Basma from 2019, and, most interestingly — oh, I forgot something. Genuine St. James Perique from 31 Farms, the exclusive farm for Cornell and Diehl that is genuine Perique, grown, harvested, and processed all in Louisiana, in St. James Parish.
A Different Latakia
The interesting twist this time with From Beyond is that the Latakia featured is a Turkish Latakia. I want to talk really quickly about why that's interesting. For a long time, most of the Latakia that we were seeing in the tobacco world was coming from Syria. Of course, in the last couple decades, predominantly from Cyprus. And recently, Jeremy Reeves was able to partner with a producer in Turkey who is making, frankly, what I think is the highest-quality Latakia I've ever seen. In flavor profile, feel, and approach, I think it is definitely reminiscent of the Syrian leaf. It has the qualities that people really loved about that — it's a little more floral, a little more sweet, and a little less on the sort of overpowering campfire, you know, woody, smoky kind of a thing. It's a little more like a fine red wine and a little bit less super earthy, smoky, and campfire-ish.
And the way that they're able to achieve that in Turkey producing this ... now, keep in mind that all Latakia historically has been small leaf, Oriental varietals that are fired over a long period of time. This Turkish Latakia that Jeremy has been sourcing is fired basically to a super even and precise degree. That means that across the entire batch of tobacco that's being fired, it's monitored super carefully so the moisture and the temperature are exactly where they need to be at various parts of this process. And what you end up with is a Latakia that is very uniform in color ... it looks oily and glossy, which is, to me, like a sort of even crystallization and an even processing. It's really awesome and I love the Aromatic quality of this Latakia in particular.
Full-Bodied Tin Note, Easy To Pack, and Slow To Burn
And what it does in Small Batch: From Beyond 2023 is really interesting. So tin note, first of all: absolute perfect moisture content right out of the tin. I do not recommend any drying time whatsoever with this. I think that the blend is pretty forgiving in the sense that if you dry it a little bit too much, you have no real issues there. It is so slow and cool burning that I don't think you're going to have a problem. I also really love the cut here. It's nice and springy with an even mixture of relatively thin ribbons and some darker chunks, obviously, that are a little bit bigger. But it packs really nicely in a variety of pipe sizes and burns very well and even-keeled throughout the bowl. Just easy-to-handle tobacco, easy to grab and smoke.
The tin note is extraordinary. It's about that time of year where it's cool enough here in South Carolina that I am starting to look toward some all-day English blends, but I do prefer a full-bodied and full-flavored English every once in a while. And this one has the oomph, body, and the flavor, but there's also enough of a refined quality to the flavor profile and the aroma. It is, yes, smoky, yes, woody. There's a little bit of the leathery notes that do come through in the initial light, especially for me, in the smoke. But you also have some alluring sweetness and even a fruity character here. Some floral notes as well. It's a little bit herbal, but I do get a little bit more of a sweeter, maybe mesquite type of wood than like a straight up campfire and forest-floor kind of a thing. Yeah, just a hint of fruitiness.
It's super rich — both the tin note and the smoke. On the initial light, I get a burst of flavor. It is maybe predominantly like a leathery sort of note, like a good cigar; a good matured cigar. Underneath that, I get some wood, specifically like a sweeter wood. I'm kind of comparing it more to an oaky barrel character in a whiskey and a little bit less cedar or charred wood, I mean charred oak, yes, but like I said, there's a little bit of a sweetness there. Maybe even something that hints at vanilla, but naturally. It is deep, well-rounded, and surprisingly sweet.
Caramelization and High Sugar Content
One thing that I really enjoy about this Turkish Latakia — again, I think there's a high degree of caramelization there. It's perfectly smoked over a long period of time and controlled very tightly. And what I think you end up with is a Latakia that has sort of all of the best qualities of a Dark-fired tobacco and an Oriental tobacco to boot, like the floral qualities, but it also sits back enough in the blend when you're smoking it that the other components shine. And I think that is allowing a lot of the high-sugar content Bright Canadian Leaf to come forward and sort of make itself known and anchor this entire blend. You have these zesty notes and these sweet notes where all of this other woody, floral, and spicy complexity and even some of the darker fruit notes come through, which I think are amplified by the Latakia and the genuine St. James Parish Perique sort of playing off of each other. All of those are kind of circling in and out of the flavor profile through the duration of the smoke, or I should say the entirety of the smoke.
The base of the North Carolina Red and the Canadian Brightleaf really allow all of these interesting components to shine. As the bowl progresses, I'm getting a little bit more dark fruit, maybe even some wine-like notes. The earthiness is sort of transforming more into a little bit of a nutty flavor. I'm attributing that to the Turkish and the Greek Basma leaf and that floral quality is amplified the farther down the bowl you get. There are moments where it's almost like a hint of rose water. I mean it's very floral and, like I said, you also have underneath that sort of sweetness that varies from a deeper molasses type note to something that is a little bit more like a lemon bar. It is remarkable how much this blend has to offer in terms of complexity.
Solid Performance That's Full of Flavor
As the bowl progresses here, I also want to comment one more time on the cut and the moisture content straight out of the tin. This is performing and burning absolutely perfectly, even with a little bit of a haphazard pack which I am known to do most of the time. This is burning with a really fine spontaneity. It never gets hot or harsh. You can even puff pretty aggressively and it's very forgiving. Considering the strength of the blend overall and the full flavor, it is mild-mannered in the pipe and behaves and performs super well. Again, as the bowl's progressing, I'm getting more earthy notes, the sweetness is still there, and honestly, at some points, it's even approaching like the flavor of a date, like dates. Super nice.
I'm still getting a little bit of the nuttiness, the floral quality, and the Latakia is coming forward a little bit more, but it's still very refined and delicate overall in flavor. Yeah, this is a fantastic full-bodied English mixture. I think that a lot of guys who maybe even don't smoke Latakia mixtures very often would find something to enjoy here. And I think your seasoned English smoker is going to be over the moon and really excited to see how this one ages as well. Because I think given the complexity and the makeup of the components in the blend itself, this is likely to have pretty long legs for a Latakia mixture.
Today I'm smoking Cornell and Diehl Small Batch The Old Ones: From Beyond in a little sandblasted bent Apple with bamboo by J. Alan. Because I feel like I know I'm going to get this question in the comments: my tamper is also a Larry Blackett tamper made of pewter. It's really nice. And those are available on the website as well. Small Batch: From Beyond, The Old Ones series. I think this is something that if you're a Latakia junkie, you cannot miss out on. I think the rest of us that are seasonal Latakia smokers, you're going to be glad that you have this around when it cools off a little bit more. Put some down in the cellar and see how this one ages. I think, as far as English blends go, it's going to be absolutely superb in five to 10 years. Thanks everybody. See you next time.