First impressions were that this was nothing like the HoW Mapleton I smoked. The color was wrong (this was light brown to blonde while the original was darker), the cut was wrong (this was a ribbon instead of the originals choppy, almost cube cut), and the tin aroma was wrong (this smelled more like a typical aromatic with the maple up front while the original smelled more "tobacco-y" with a hint of perique). The flavor was not a match, either, although it was closer. This one tasted more like a light aro while the original was more "tobacco-rich". After some discussions about this and other HoW blends with someone who knows more about them than I, it seems HoW went through various iterations with their blends and it is likely the Mapleton I smoked from the early 1990's was different than the version Sutliff used to make this match. Indeed, that might be why I routinely find Sutliff matches of HoW blends so far off the mark.
And ultimately, for this match at least, the vast differences were made irrelevant by the fact that this is as good a light aromatic as I've ever smoked by someone not named Steven Books. First of all, it eschewed the minor tongue sizzle I got from the original. Second, the flavoring wasn't overpowering but I could taste light maple in each puff (and the occasional rum). It burned cleanly with no goop and no chemical taste. It didn't have as much depth of flavor of the original and its spiciness was less as well but it did have this tobacco blend essence underneath that I find missing in so many goopy aros. This isn't just for dessert; this is Pipe Tobacco! In short, it foregoes everything I loathe about Goopers and replaces those characteristics with what I love about non-aros. I liken it to St Bruno - not because they taste alike but because they are both about tobacco with flavoring added rather than about flavoring with tobacco as an afterthought. This is more aromatic than the original version I smoked, but it's a finely crafted aro. I doubt I'll smoke a ton of this, but more is headed to my cellar. I'd call this 3.5 stars as an aro but not quite a 4.
The Maple is the star in both versions, though they both have a dash of rum, too. The toppings are deeper and more flavorful in the Match, though like the original, the rum is not as obvious as the maple. The Virginia is very grassy and not sweet in the original, whereas they are less grassy with a touch of sweet in the Match. The white burley in both has a little sharpness, much more so in the original. A minor nut note in both exists. The original burned very warm, tended to bite if pushed too much. Both have little nicotine. The Match burns slower at a reasonable pace, cool with no bite, and the consistent flavor holds up to the finish. None of that was true of the original. This one leaves little moisture in the bowl, and needs an average number of relights. Has a pleasant after taste, and like the original, can be an all day smoke.
I really enjoyed this tobacco. It was a milder version of C&D’s Autumn Evening in my experience. This maple aromatic left the room smelling nice and my smoking experience memorable. Milder nicotine level than AE. Never bit or overheated on me - and I can be a puffer when I find something I enjoy like this pipe nectar! Thank you Sutliff!
First off, I must say that I never had the original. It does smell of maple in the pouch. But when smoked, don't expect to taste maple syrup. More like maple smoked bacon. The room note is a pleasant "woodsy" smell. No nicotine here. I'm not going to comment on how it stays lit, because everyone else may experience a different moisture level.
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