Cornell & Diehl's #107: Haunted Bookshop (pipe tobacco review)

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Summary: My review of C&D's Haunted Bookshop (#107). It's a Burley, VA, and Perique blend. Not necessarily a favorite of mine, but smokable. As of right now, would not buy another tin, but I have some caveats to that.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

(00:02:07 CST)

Cornell & Diehl's #107: Haunted Bookshop (pipe tobacco review)

I picked up Haunted Bookshop (#107) because of the name (and who wouldn't). The first whiff, upon opening a 2oz tin, is something very close to the "ketchup" overtones you get with a McClelland's VA. Sweeter, less vinegary, but in the same basic class. It's a light ribbon cut with short bits and a couple of nobbly chunks. Not exactly an attractive tobacco to look at. Though it has a faint amount of moisture, the tin was fairly dry upon first opening.

Smoking it in a corncob pipe, the first few puffs are tasteless, but with a hint of bitter around the edges of the mouth. A minute or so in, the flavor starts kicking in. Burley, light, with the Perique subdued and a middle bit of Virginia. Kind of a woodiness with a hint of leather and dust. Tongue note fades after a few seconds, leaving only a sort of "after-tea" taste.

Seems right on the hint of biting of the tongue, but does not quite do so. Also seems right on the hit of giving a nicotine buzz, but does not seem to make it. Hard to guage how fast to smoke the blend with these false signals, but ultimately seems to work both fast and slow.

Mid-bowl, the Burley picks up, as does the back of the tongue bitter. Roomnote is not unpleasant, but definitely related to the initial tin aroma. The smell does kind of bring to mind an old, loved library: dusty but organic, warm and cozy. The taste approaches close to a cigar flavor. If you were to take the background taste of a cigar, but not the front (if that makes sense), and then top it with something a little more sweet and round; you might get this flavor.

Floating around the flavor spectrum are off-center notes of the aftertaste of a chocolate and pecan or maybe a whiff of a light red wine. The blend of flavors is a little infuriating, both strongly flavored and hard to pin-point. The Burley is definitely the king of the hill, here, but the puffs shift around it in different ways.

End bowl brings up a little more of the cigar-backing, the Perique adds a bit of pepper to the bitter, and the Burley settles to a more cigarette-esque back of the tongue kind of thing. Not as friendly as the middle bowl, which is where the tobacco hits it's stride. Smokes surprisingly fast once you hit the midbowl, though, so the end-bowl is almost an afterthought. If you hate wet bits in the bottom of your bowl, this blend might get points from you because it burns down to a fine gray ash that breaks up and cleans out nicely.

Overall, not a repeater for me (few Burleys really are, though I like them as a class for variety) but not a let down. The bitter after-tastes have to be mitigated, and the flavor is a little too close to cigarettes once all is said and done. Not a waste of money, just age it a bit, first (I would guess at least half a year), and smoke it in a more open space with something to drink on the side to help spread the flavor around (a good black tea or hot chocolate might work well with this blend).

Final rating is Fair. Not going to add it into regular rotation, but will keep it mind.

Si Vales, Valeo


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