As I have made clear more than once, I am not a fan of aromatic pipe tobaccos. I’m sure part of it just comes from the fact that I’m not an habitual smoker and so I am not accustomed to that bitter and nasty chemical taste. So when I won a tin of CAO Black as the door price draw in the monthly meeting of our Okanagan Pipe and Cigar Club, I snorted and figured I’d end up giving it over to my husband. But, I wasn’t about to let it go without smoking at least some of it to try, so I took out my trusty churchwarden and packed it. And since I left it on the table, as is polite when one is at a meeting of the Club, my fellow members rightfully took it as an invitation to sample it as well.
CAO Black is described online as a mild blend of Burleys, Cavendish and Virginias; none of which I enjoy on their own. Nor am I a fan of mild tobaccos; I want my smoke to have flavour and substance. I opened the tin and sniffed at the very black tobacco within dubiously.
The odour that greeted me instantly called to mind Black Forest cake; it radiated a strong, sweet fruit; raspberry or perhaps cherry, with thick molasses or perhaps dark chocolate. Once again I prepared to be disappointed, since it was so clearly, and so strongly, a highly-charged aromatic. The tobacco proved to be slightly damp to the touch, and I loaded it into the bowl of my churchwarden with some trepidation; enough that I was sure to fill only about a third of the bowl. It loaded easily and packed tightly due to its dampness. My companions in the club sampled some as well.
The bowl took a few moments to light, but it was much easier to do than I had expected for such a damp aromatic tobacco. I puffed at it to work the bellows, and there was my first surprise; the room note was of raspberry potpourri, and the flavour itself was strongly raspberry, sweet but not unpleasantly so, with the essence of Black Forest cake, raspberry and chocolate, only not nearly as strong or cloying!
A few minutes into the smoke I also discovered elements of molasses and vanilla, as well as cherries and cream. I was reminded of black cherry ice cream, perhaps served on chocolate cake. My fellow smokers confirmed my good opinion of the tobacco! Tad fetched us some raspberry porter from his larder, and it went perfectly. The bowl did not change much from beginning to end, but it was delicious. I decided that I was going to hold on to my interesting acquisition after all, though perhaps I might be persuaded to share from time to time.
I might suggest anything with a cherry, raspberry, or chocolate element that is also sweet as an accompaniment, such as cherries and cream, cherries and ice cream, the Black Forest cake or black cherry ice cream I have mentioned, chocolate and cherry doughnuts, or perhaps even hot cocoa on a cold day or Turkish Delight. Or perhaps take the opposite approach: offset it with something fiercely bitter, like espresso!
I might add the pleasant blend left almost no dottle and was easy to clean from my pipe, and it left none of the chemical taste associated with aromatics. None at all.
This is what I have left, so obviously I recommend this tobacco. Its mild buzz and pleasant flavour make it very desirable for new pipe smokers but a lovely change for veterans. I would go so far as to recommend it never be offered to youth because it will win them over to the hobby of smoking before they develop the maturity to do it responsibly. If I had been exposed to it as a young woman, I think my addiction would have been assured, rather than regulating it to the pleasant hobby I currently enjoy! It also completely changed my view of aromatics.
My rating would be:
And that is a lady’s perspective.