The Rat Pack’s famous pipe smoking soloist smoked a custom mixture of cube cut Burley mixed with Deer Tongue and sweetened with high test alcohol. Cornell & Diehl got their hands on the recipe, and produced it for you and me to enjoy.
When I first came across this tobacco, it was by happenstance that I was browsing smokingpipes.com for their new arrivals, on the day that they happen to release this tobacco. I’ve tried other Cornell & Diehl tobaccos, and I’ve yet to be disappointed by them, so I investigated this one further.
Based off of one of Bing Crosby’s favorite personal blends, C&D’s “Crooner” combines cube-cut Burley with Deer Tongue – yes, Deer Tongue. Though Deer Tongue is often described simply as being like vanilla, it’s really more akin in flavor to a mix of vanilla and mint – and even the vanilla element is subtly different from that of actual vanilla. In other words, it’s something that definitely adds a unique aspect.
Well! That instantly settled it for me! I immediately order 4 ounces. I figure even if I don’t like it on a regular smoking basis, I can keep it for religious purposes, and smoke it at festivals and the like.
Besides, I also happen to be a Bing Crosby fan, so it’s a win-win situation.
Eagerly I await the arrival of my order, and I sent it to my American address for cheaper shipping. Unbeknownst to me, the shipping company that I was working with will not ship tobacco, so after several phone calls, several emails, and several hours of frustration I end up shipping the order back to smokingpipes.com, on my dime, and reorder it to be shipped to my Canadian address. So much for saving on shipping, and furthermore I have to wait an extra two weeks for my baccy.
Finally, it arrives. Excitedly, I open the package to reveal the strangely cut tiny little cubes of tobacco mixed with crumbled tiny flakes of green herbs. From a few of the reviews that I’ve read online about this tobacco, it would seem that people were not expecting to get these tiny cubes. One reviewer even described it as “the stuff they could dig out of the bottom of the barrel”.
I have never smoked cube-cut tobacco, though the general texture reminded me of my medicinal cannabis, and I have loaded many a pipe with that. Consequently, the loading of the pipe wasn’t a difficult task, though more than one reviewer has said they had no idea how to smoke it.
Well, it is very simple. Load your pipe by dipping the bowl in the bag of tobacco and scooping up the mixture into your pipe. Then, gently press it down with a tamper or a finger, until your bowl is about ¾ full. Apply bit to mouth, flame to bowl, and smoke.
I should mention, before I continue, that the bag note smells slightly of vanilla and mint, tobacco and fermentation. It is quite pleasant, though unusual.
I found the tobacco expanded when lit, which is why I recommend only filling your bowl ¾ full. Also, it is a somewhat trickier to keep lit, requiring a little more finessing of the draw.
The taste, on the other hand, is delicious. Very hard to put your finger on, the sweet Burley taste is blended with a flavor of vanilla/mint, with a fermented tang.
The tobacco is quite powerful, and the Deer Tongue gives it a rich “heavy” flavour. I suggest, if you are tobacco inhaler, that you be cautious with this tobacco as the “heavy ” essence of the smoke could make you cough and choke very easily.
Personally, I am rather fond of the room note as it invokes images of the God and Vegas showrooms, though it is not a note that is going to please the in-laws. Unless by chance they worship Herne, in which case they will probably find it very pleasing.
As for the pipe, Bing Crosby favored straight pipes, and at a glance I can find pictures of him with Billiards, Canadians, Lovats, and others, though all of them straight. I found a picture of him online that shows him holding a very nice lovat, that I was quite attracted to, so I chose my own Kaywoodie lovat that I got from an estate sale.
The antique pipe is about 30 years old, but in excellent condition, and though it was thoroughly caked when I got it, some elbow grease, alcohol, and salt along with a reamer and an elementary school full of pipe cleaners, got it back in smoking shape. Now, it is an excellent smoker, that is light and easy to hold onto, but I do not love it as often as a lovat should be loved at.
The rather small bowl of the lovat is just perfect for tobacco of this strength, and although I had to re-light it several times, the smoke was very satisfying.
When I put the bowl down, I felt as though I’d actually had an experience. I wish I had a chance to smoke a pipe with Bing, but he died in 1977, just 11 days after my sixth birthday, so I imagine that he would’ve felt awkward smoking a pipe with a six-year-old.
Though too potent to smoke on a regular basis, I found Cornell & Diehl’s Crooner to soothe the beast within me, as they say music does. I would definitely be keeping some of this for special occasions, rituals, and hearty smokes.
Recommend it? Highly! Get some and try it, it is a unique smoking experience.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!