Sugarplums by the Fireplace (Mcclelland’s Christmas Cheer 2014 in a 1971 Partially-Rusticated Brigham 347)

003-041-0143Every year since 1992 Mcclelland has put out a Christmas Cheer Blend.  With an assortment of specially selected Virginias, carefully chosen and specifically blended, Mcclelland’s Christmas Cheer 2014 in its broken flake presentation promises to be an exquisite smoke.

Researching the tobacco online, the first thing that I notice is how well these blends appreciate in value, with vintage tins selling for many times their retail value.

Then I noticed this description on tobaccoreviews.com;

Handblended, premium pressed Virginia flake pipe tobaccos. A fine vintage, naturally sweet, in limited quantity.

Notes: From tin insert: We are proud to offer our 2014 Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco, an exceptionally fine vintage tobacco, hand blended and aged in pressed cakes to develop natural mellowness. This 2014 blend is made with a special selection of red flue-cured Virginia from an outstanding 2009 crop near Snow Hill, North Carolina. Superb sun-dappled leaf picked at peak ripeness, it is high in natural sugars, rich in oils. It should age extremely well in the tin. Each buying session, we look for tobaccos of exceptional quality and  distinctive character. In various combinations their flavors, aromas, textures contribute to the overall excellence of all our products.

The leaves of different crops and regions are combined to maintain consistency from year to year.

With Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco, we treat our discriminating customers to the singular pleasure of a tasting of the very finest in tobaccos of a particular vintage, not worrying about maintaining the flavor and appearance of this product into future years but actually striving instead to present the unique character of a single crop and area.

That’s what Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco is all about. Happy sampling!

Well I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds just sublime!

So, I immediately ordered two tins with the intention of aging them, one for me, and one for my friend Tad.  Well, apparently Tad and I need to communicate more, because he ordered two tins as well!  So, when they arrived Tad came over for a sampling.  Being the kinda guy that I am, I really didn’t want to open my tins, hoping to age them, but Tad informed me that he intended to smoke one of the tins any ways.

So it was with much ado, that we opened the tin of Mcclelland’s Christmas Cheer, hoping for something special, and we didn’t get it!

The smell of the can was almost overpowering, sweet and sour, fermented and fruity, and the broken flakes were somewhat difficult to rub out, but we soon had our pipes loaded.

Then, we noticed that the overly moist tobacco had a hard time staying lit, having to re-light several times.  However, the taste of the tobacco was quite moving.  The same sweet and sour, fermented and fruity aroma that permeates the can also infuses the taste.

After a few re-lights, Tad gave up, and offered to trade me the tin, which I took him up on, and set the tobacco aside, forgetting all about it for now.

That was October.  Now, three months later, I was suddenly struck with the idea of, “hey, I wonder how that Christmas cheer is doing?”

So, digging through my array of partially smoked, opened tins that I keep in a cardboard box in my bedroom, I excavate the aging can, and blow the dust off of it.

Now, I know why this tobacco appreciates in value!

The tin note, after three months of aging, is simply awe-inspiring.  The overpowering fruity smell has mellowed out into a magnificent sweet and sour fragrance that immediately reminds me of sugarplums, even though the tobacco is un-cased.

The problems with moisture and difficult rub have been completely alleviated by the aging process.  The tobacco is slightly damp, yet not wet, and rubs out with an ease reserved for more expensive tobaccos.

Once my Brigham partially-rusticated 347 is loaded, I am ready to smoke.

About the load, easy as pie; the rubbed out tobacco needs no airing before being packed with the three layer method.

Lighting my pipe, I am soon chuffing merrily, lost in the bowl.  The taste is also unparalleled.  The sugarplum aroma comes through in the taste, coupled with an almost charcoal-like flavour.

That’s why I call this review “Sugarplums by the Fireplace”.mcclellandchristmascheer2013.1

After a 40 minute smoke, the bowl taps out to minuscule amount of dottle, unlike the last time, which dottled out with ¼ bowl left, and leaves me slightly buzzing.

Overall, I give this tobacco a five-star rating, and I don’t think that I purchased enough of it.

If you’re looking to get some, smokingpipes.com has it on for $15.52 USD, and 4noggins.com has some for $15.99 USD, but I suggest that you pick it up quickly as this is a limited edition, and when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Seriously, pick some up and,

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!

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