The 2021 Christmas blend is an aromatic burley/perique hybrid that starts with a base we've been working on for months. It is a unique melange of different rough and ribbon cut burleys and a tiny bit of what we like to call "Latakia Essence". (You will wonder if this blend contains Latakia or not...) To this base we add two types of cavendish: a brown sugar flavored Green River black and a dark English Virginia cavendish flavored with rose geranium! We top off the blend with a hefty dose of perique. As you smoke, Floral, earthy and musty-sweet notes will come and go. Truly a tobacco for holiday celebrations!
The burleys provide some earth, wood, nuts, mild savoriness, light ruggedness, molasses and sugar as the base of the blend. They are the major components by percentage and not by their contribution as their qualities are reduced to a full support role by the toppings. The dark Virginia cavendish produces plenty of earth, wood, mild tangy dark fruit, bread and sugar. These characteristics are relatively muted by the rose geranium topping. The perique offers some earth, wood, plums, raisins, light figs and spice in a secondary supporting position. The spice is its most obvious aspect, and the other facets are condimental. The perique is almost a supporting player. The Green River black cavendish is topped with rich brown sugar that completely negates the tobacco aspects usually associated with this varietal. The succulent, citrusy, herbal, lightly spicy rose geranium fairly subdues the tobaccos. The brown sugar is an important, moderately obvious factor. In the background is an occasional smoky Cyprian Latakia note from what Ernie describes as a “Latakia infusion” in the burleys, rather than Latakia being an actual component.
The strength barely passes the medium mark. The taste is a notch past that. The nic-hit is a step below medium. There’s no chance of bite or harshness. Has no rough edges. The tobacco is mildly moist, and I do not recommend giving it any dry time for fear of losing any of the toppings. Well balanced, it burns cool, clean and a little slow even though it’s mostly a ribbon cut production. Has a very consistent, deeply rich, smooth and sugary, fruity, floral, mildly nutty, spicy, creamy, zesty flavor that extends to the pleasantly lingering after taste. The room note is a tad stronger. Leaves little dampness in the bowl even if it’s not dried. Requires some relights. Despite its potency, it can be an all day smoke for the veteran, and repeatable for the less experienced. Will ghost a briar in time. Four stars.
I wanted to like it given the components and all of them are up my alley except for the perique which is in apparently great proportions in this blend. I love Ernie and am a fan but this one has too much perique for me. Such a unique blend with the flavor profile. Glad I tried it but passing my 2oz sample along. I think this will resonate with a small contingent of pipers; those that love perique, like lakeland sauce, and aren’t afraid of burley and the two different cavendishes as per Ernie’s recipe.
Taste, scent, and room note are subjective comments. There are salad people and steak people. I would say this is for the steak eaters. In the jar, it smells like a Lakeland. But room note and taste are very cigar forward. We love perique and I'd say there's a fair amount of it. It has enough nicotine to make it satisfying, and enough complexity to make it interesting. I'd definitely buy it again. Not a goopy holiday aromatic. But a satisfying tobacco forward unusual Christmas blend.
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