Tobacco maestros Cornell & Diehl has released their Holiday Offering for 2018, Jolly Old St. Nicholas. Does it hit the spot or does it end up in the “one step above hipster trash” Aromatic pile?
I’ll be honest here, I’m not generally a big fan of aromatic tobacco blends. For those not in the know, an aromatic blend, or “aro”, is a blend of tobacco that has been “topped” with a flavoring agent, usually a food grade mixture. The problem with these blends is that they’re like that really plain chick with mad makeup skills. Once you get past the cosmetics, it’s meh…
Not horrible, just not what you were hoping for.
It’s the same thing with most aros. Once you get past the great smell of the tobacco and light it up, it’s just plain and boring, with a flavor profile not even close to the enticing smell, or “tin-note” of the tobacco. The only aro that’s in my regular rotation is another Cornell and Diehl creation, the maple infused Autumn Evening blend.
C&D is never afraid to dig deep into the hyperbole for their tin descriptions, and this one is no different. The beautiful holiday label features a deep blue background with gently falling snow on a fire lit cabin with holly and a toy Santa up front. It’s Christmas marketing 101 and it’s effective. I immediately wanted to put some Dean Martin on, pour a nice measure of good bourbon, and fill my pipe.
The tin description is vintage C&D, reading:
A largesse of St. Nick’s personal smoking mixture, this blend features golden Virginias, black Cavendish, and a hint of Perique, imbued with a generous touch of orange liqueur and hints of ginger, hearkening back to an old legend of Kris Kringle secretly gifting gold to a family in need.
Opening the tin, I was greeted with a wonderful smell, the most intense one was definitely the Orange Liqueur, with a sweet, citrus scent. The ginger was definitely in the background along with the sweet scent of the Virginia leaf. My nose couldn’t pick up the perique, but looking at the blend, which is a nicely done ribbon cut, I could definitely pick out the dark perique alongside the Cavendish and the Virginias.
Even though it’s technically violating my “no Christmas before Thanksgiving rule”, I packed a bowl in my Charles Towne Cobbler Corn Cob pipe and got to work. The tobacco was slightly moist, but very smokeable right out of the tin and packed easily. It took the first light right away and was very well behaved. I’m very happy to report that unlike most aro’s, Jolly Old St. Nick is a balanced, flavorful smoke. The Orange Liqueur is very detectable and combined with the Virginias, it’s very sweet. Not a chemical sweetness, but a creamy, organic sweetness. While I wasn’t able to pick up much of the ginger during the smoke, it peeked its head up from time to time in the retrohale, and combined with the Perique, it gave a little spiciness to balance out the sweetness. The smoke itself was copious, which I like, and the room note was very pleasant to everyone else in the backyard, with the orange again taking center stage. Like all Virginia blends, this one tended to burn hot if I chugged on it like a Choo Choo train, and the quality of the smoke definitely benefitted from a slow sip.
While most people wouldn’t make the connection between oranges and Christmas, I remember my Grandmother telling me stories about getting an orange in her stocking when she was a little girl in Massachusetts in the 1920s, so it made sense to me and also made me think of my grandmother, which is always a good thing.
All in all, I’m very pleased with Jolly Old St. Nicholas, and if you’re a pipe smoker, I think you will be too. Get online or scoot over to your local Tobacconist and give it a try!
Why come to visit our double secret closed and private discussion group? Because of the Morningwood Bazaar and the conversation, obviously.
Disclaimer: We are not endorsing Nancy’s Squat & Gobble, nor do the opinions therein reflect those of the entire Breach-Bang-Clear staff. That said, while Nancy’s is indeed a shady place, only a few people have actually gotten food poisoning there, and most of the girls have all their teeth. The one-legged bartender really does make a mean Old Fashioned, and if you ask nicely she’ll even do it with burnt rosemary smoke.