Just the name of C&D’s newest release, “House Reserve”, got my hopes up, and – as ever – I went in search of 4 stars, with perhaps a little more determination than usual. Since many of C&D’s blends require aging and/or rest before their best is available, I was not at all deterred by my initial impressions, which were that it’s a decent crossover. Long story short, there are 4 stars to be had here; it just takes a little waiting and a little doing. Back to the Long Story: Tin popped, House Reserve smells like its topping (sugar, molasses, plum and rum) poured over yeasty wheat/rye bread and drying hay, with a side of fruit wood. Soft, fairly delicate, well- broken, red-brown flakes are nicely stacked for scooping up and dropping, then pushing into a pipe. Moisture appears fine but it burns better and it also opens up after some rest, and it comes into its own after about 2 weeks of rest. My tin is dated 11-20-20, and I have no doubt this blend will benefit from in-tin aging. Lit, there is ample smoke that in the early going smells and tastes pretty much like the tin note, along with bitter nuts, a little earth, and the floral note that comes with some Burleys, and some faint, dark fruit leather from the VAs, and some sourdough from the Cavendish. With rest the topping fades considerably to become a mere enhancement of the tobaccos. Meanwhile, the rested, high-quality tobaccos bloom, with the white and dark Burleys, including C&D’s proprietary brown Cavendish, just forward of rich, fairly robust air cured and stoved red VAs. From “the right pipe”, a dedicated #4, strength, nicotine and tastes combine to build past medium, toward strong. Room note is a little much to stay pleasant. Aftertaste is a lingering best of the smoke.
House Reserve, indeed. The longer it rests, and the more I smoke it, the better I like it. Note that this blend burns down just fine, but it makes some soot, like C&D’s Carolina Flakes. I keep a couple of pipe cleaners at hand for this while smoking House Reserve. Not sure if newbies will cotton to this one, but plenty of geezers will like it if they stick with it. 4 stars.
Pipe Used: dedicated #4 briar
Purchased From: Liberty Tobacco
Similar Blends: Compare/contrast to Peterson's Sherlock Holmes.
The red and bright Virginias provide some tart and tangy citrus and lemon, a fair amount of grass and hay, toast and bread, mild sugar, a little tangy ripe dark fruit, earth and wood, very light floralness, slight acidity, a few drops of honey, and a pinch of spice. They are the lead components. The woody, earthy, nutty white and dark burleys offers these very aspects: molasses, cocoa, and a sharp, dry note in a support role. The unsweetened black cavendish chips in with some toast and sugar in a condimental position. The spiced rum, molasses and plum toppings mildly tone down the tobaccos, which leads me to classify this blend as a semi-aromatic. The strength and nic-hit are a step short of the center of mild to medium. The taste is in the center of mild to medium. No chance of bite or harshness here, and it sports little roughness. These broken flakes are mildly moist, and I didn’t see the need to dry them. Burns cool, clean, and slightly slow with a very consistent, moderately fruity sweet, lightly spicy flavor from start to finish. Leaves little dampness in the bowl. It does require a couple more than an average number of relights. The short lived after taste and room notes are very pleasant. An all day, rather comfortable mixture in the old tradition that doesn’t wear out its welcome. Three stars.
This was uninteresting at first, but the more I smoked it the more I came to enjoy it. House Reserve tastes American in that it has a bit of codger essence/flavor to it. At first I thought it tasted similar to Sir Walter Raleigh, but later I found it to be it's own unique experience.
In certain pipes, the nutty/cocoa of the burley would shine, but in most pipes the virginias were what I tasted the most. You can't taste the cavendish, but it must add to the blend's smoothness and body.
I don't get a molasses flavor on the topping, but I do get a dark fruit/plum note. I thought the topping flavor was similar to that of Peterson's University Flake or Sherlock Holmes albeit still different. At times, the flavor could venture into rum territories but booze was not a quality I got immediately and regularly with this blend.
All in all, I liked it. Given the opportunity to buy it again, I would pass.
It appearance of broken Virginia flake. Packs and lights easily. It's reminds me of what a good Virginia flake would be if you took all of the bitey elements from it. I attribute this to the Burley and Cavendish. Taste is that of a naturally sweet tobacco flavor. The blend does have a light casing, which I could not identify but is quite pleasant. It's good enough that it saddens me that this was a limited run as it is a very good smoke.
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