The perfect summertime smoke, Cornell & Diehl's Small Batch: Sun Bear Mountain Flower combines top-tier Bright Virginias with two distinct varietals of matured Oriental leaf. Natural casings of silver tequila and elderflower complement these tobaccos, alongside a drizzle of raw, unpasteurized honey to elevate the leaf's inherent sweetness and floral notes.
While previous iterations have featured honey from various farms, including the personal hives of C&D's head blender Jeremy Reeves, 2022's edition further augments the blend with ethically sourced wildflower and blackberry honey from a family-owned apiary in Morganton, NC — a community that Cornell & Diehl called home for over 20 years. The organic Mountain Flower honey complements Sun Bear's tobaccos, elevating their fruity and floral notes for a bright, refreshing character and a creamy rounded finish.
Despite its unique casings, Sun Bear: Mountain Flower is not an Aromatic but a complex Virginia/Oriental flake with both top and bottom notes of mutual sweetness. It appeals to pipe smokers across the smoking spectrum without targeting an individual flavor profile and is a rare summertime treat that every smoker can open and enjoy immediately or purchase in multiple tins for premium aging potential.
The potent Basma and Turkish Izmir provide a lot of earth, wood, floralness, a fair amount of dry, tart sourness, spice, vegetation, herbs, light tangy sweetness, and a touch of smoke as the lead components. The bright Virginias offer some tart citrus, sour lemon, grass, bread, sugar, vegetation, mild floralness, spice, and light acidity as supporting players. The red Virginias produce some tangy dark fruit, earth, wood, tart and tangy citrus, bread, light sugar, floralness, and spice. They are a couple of slots behind the bright Virginias. The sweet mountain flower honey, elderflower, fruity tequila, and blackberry honey additives generates a wealth of tart and tangy fruits (including grape and berries from the elderflower), honey, floralness, and herbs. They moderately tone down the tobaccos as they help form a cohesive, well balanced, and complex blend. The strength and taste are a couple of steps past the medium mark. Has a medium nic-hit. There’s no chance of bite or harshness. There are a few hints of roughness. The flakes easily break apart to suit your packing preference. They are mildly moist, and as is my usual custom, I did not dry them nor did I see a need to do so. Burns cool, clean and tad slow with a mostly consistent tangy sweet and tartly sour, fruity, floral, spicy, savory, zesty flavor that extends to the pleasantly lingering after taste. The room note is a notch stronger. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires a couple more than an average number of relights. Not an all day smoke, but it is repeatable. Four stars out of four.
This production is a little different than the first two Sun Bear blends. The Orientals are a little more prominent here, so it is more floral and a tad less sweet and fruity than the others were. It’s not as creamy or as smooth as Black Locust or the original Sun Bear. Those two could be all day smokes. This one really isn’t as it’s a more rugged, potent, savory blend with a touch more complexity. I gave four stars to each manufacture.
By dumb luck I was able to score some tins of this (not completely true.. there is an online site that releases c&d small batches much later than the others.. a discovery I've only recently made and so far it has been working).. I haven't tried the previous sun bear releases as they seem to go like hot cakes.. I have to say I'm really liking this stuff way more than I expected.. After all the hype.. and that cute bear on the tin, I was ready to trash it and talk about how overrated it is.. But gosh darn it.. it is really tasty. The honey really comes through.. nice light and sweet blend.. little subtleties throughout the smoke.. yes the tobacco takes somewhat of a backseat at times.. but it doesn't really smoke like an aromatic..and the base of virginia and oriental is definitely there.. the toppings used are of the natural variety.. clearly it is very good honey.. the tequila doesn't really stand out but it does heat up the smoke a tad.. definitely a blend to sip.. may bite.. the floral and berry is in the background.. this is well blended.. I think cornell and diehl has been on a bit of a roll recently.. Very impressive.
It's not horrendous. They want 25 words and I really don't know what else to say. The Flavor is OK. Gets flat 1/2 way through the bowl. I label myself as a super taster, and much like most of C&D, it's another one note pony. Marketing is spot on to sell out fast for sure. It's still not horrendous.
Pipe Used: Dunhill Billiard
Age When Smoked: 0
Purchased From: Online
Similar Blends: Everything else from C&D of late. If you like monotone and are suckered in by limited editions, then this if for you..
When this came in the mail today it was pretty hot and humid out (I live in Mississippi). I popped the tin and instantly knew this was going to be something special due to the smell. My tin was pretty damp, which I attribute mostly to the weather. Most everything I get in the mail is pretty wet, so I wasn't too surprised and let some dry out some for a good 30 to 45 minutes.
The cut is a good, thick cut, broken flake that C&D / GL Pease fans will be familiar with. I instantly picked up on a lemony, fruity, citrus scent and could pick out subtle hints of tequila and honey. I've smoked several blends with Oriental varietals in them, but was surprised at how far back the woody, herbal smell was since it usually dominates anything they're in. Don't get me wrong, they're still very much so present in the tin note, it's just more balanced and nuanced, which I see as a major plus. If I really concentrate, I can pick up on the tartness from the blackberry, which I think completes the package.
After I did the charring light and got it going good, it was love at first puff. This is unlike any other pipe tobacco I've ever tasted, and might be cause to redefine my personal definition of what a four out of four star tobacco is. In true C&D fashion, nothing about this tobacco tastes artificial. All the flavors feel authentic, raw, and real. For a tobacco that has such a good portion of Oriental leaf in it, it's surprisingly smooth fresh out of the tin (usually I have to age anything with Virginia and Turkish tobaccos to take the edge off).
It's hard to pin down this tobacco as everything is so perfectly balanced and blends together so well. I'm almost having trouble picking a place to start with the tasting notes. The sweet, tart, blackberry taste is more forward than I was getting on the tin note, but not over dominant in the taste. The tequila is there but very light and mild and not boozy in any way. The honey that was more forward in the tin note for me now seems more of a supporting sweetness similar to that of C&D - Bijou. While I don't know enough to distinguish between the Izmir and Basma, I can say that the woody, floral, herbal notes that I associate with Turkish/Oriental leaf are solidly placed in the middle for me. They aren't over dominant and aren't harsh like they can be in other blends. They offer some enjoyable complexity and really help to refine the blend in a way that I think would be missed if they were absent. I feel like the bright and red Virginias play base and supporting roles and really help round out the blend while also giving it some natural sweetness that's accentuated by the honey. The bright accentuates the lemony, citrus, fruity, floral end of things while the red backs up the sweet, honey, vegetal, earthy, bass notes. The overall blend is a real summer time treat and is so refreshing that it feels like I'm drinking a glass of ice-cold, sweet-tart, blackberry lemonade spiked with a touch of honey and elderflower. Truly an incredible smoke.
I only picked up two tins of this, one for now and one for later, but if I see it pop up anywhere else I might have to get a few more. This is the first time I've been able to snag any Sun Bear and I'll say C&D / Jeremy Reeves have really outdone themselves. It's blends like Mountain Flower that prove why they are the standard bearer for all of modern pipe tobacco.
5 out of 4 stars!
P.S. - If you loved this or missed it and want to find something that's actually going to be on the shelf, I'd recommend checking out Bijou. While it isn't fruity at all, it does have the good balanced interplay with Oriental, Virginia and honey that you might like if you enjoyed this. While they aren't exactly similar in taste, they are related in a more loose, philosophical kind of way.
C&D Sun Bear Mountain Flower - I watched a video where Jeremy Reeves the blender of this tobacco said it contains over 25 pct of the Basma and Izmir Turkish/Oriental tobaccos and I would have guessed much less . It is very smooth and not a sour Oriental taste at all . It is tangy and very fruity like sweet berries . The toppings probably smooth it out and the Tequila works great in this blend. A moderately sweet blend with the Bright Virginias more up front . A little grassy and floral but more fruity . It is bite free . No drying time needed . It is delicious and satisfying nicotine content . 4
Accurate description. Light, fragrant and is a pleasant summer smoke wich is always a task for the deep south. Pairs nice with tea. Smokes best for me lightly broken rather than completely rubbed out. Flavors are more apparent straight from the tim with no dry time and still seems to perform very well.
Tin Note: One of my favorite tin descriptions. It smells like blueberry (or elderberry) muffins with some spice added to the top.
Moisture is two hairs on the wet side but not enough to affect the smoke.
Description: The tequila and the honey are evident in the first few smokes. Not overbearing but evident. The berry-like character melds well with the bready notes of the Virginias, carrying a similar essence to the tin scent. The floral spice of the Oriental in combination with berry-ness of the blend truly aligns with the name of the blend. This is a quintessential spring/summer refreshment. One of my favorite small batch blends I've had in a while. 9.5/10
Similar Blends: Bijou is what comes to mind immediately but isnt up to par imo..
Tin note of honey, flowers and tangy dark dried fruit. Tobacco is a flake of a marbled dark brown, brown and tan. Moisture content is good, few pipe smokers will want to dry it. Rubs out easily. Burns slow with a few extra relights. The strength is medium and nic is mild. Flavoring is mild, with notes of Silver Tequila, Elderflower and Honey. Elderflower and honey play in the background most of the time. I couldn't discern the tequila. Taste is medium to full and mostly consistent, with notes of elderflower, spices, dry herbal, stewed mildly sweet dark fruit, honey, peaty vegetation, fermented sour, earthy, tangy citrus, bready, wood, grassy, slightly spicy, orange peel, a floral sweet hay background note, and a peppery retro. Oriental/Turkish is leading with Virginia and Flavoring (Casing) supporting. Room note is tolerable, and aftertaste is great.
I missed out on the two previous versions of Sun Bear, and thought I had this time as well, but managed to find some on a tobacco site I'd never heard of before. So, after three years of hoping to try Sun Bear, it finally arrived.
Wow, I enjoy all aspects of this blend. Tin note is sweet and fruity. Was a little moist, so I gave it some dry time. Upon lighting the bready, sweet hay like Virgina flavor comes through, accented perfectly by the blackberry honey. Orientals have a sweet, spicy, & floral flavor, but are subtle.
Smokes great; not too fast, but didn't need re-lit too often. Being a Virginia blend, it can get hot.
Overall, highly recommended if you can find a tin. I regret now that I bought only one tin. I will have to nurse the rest of my tin, restricting myself to a few times a year to make it last, and it should age very well. Hopefully C&D will re-release this one again next year.
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