Holiday Season Pipe Tobacco — Why Bother? Part I

Holiday Tobacco pic
My attempt at Madison Ave. marketing style photo on kitchen table

Don’t Mean to Be the Grinch, but There’s Nothing Much Cheerful about Holiday Season Pipe Tobacco from What I Can Tell…So Why Bother?

This post is primarily a brief review of McClelland’s 2013 Christmas Cheer and Holiday Spirit, but from my experience, it sums up what I feel about other special, limited run “Holiday Season” pipe tobaccos I’ve tried.

Which is to say, not much, maybe even, yuck.

Okay, not really “yuck,” but I find them to be underwhelming in a big way. Let me explain by starting with Holiday Spirit…

If you’ve read my “About Pipester” page then you know I’m not a big fan of aromatics, but I’m always willing to spark up a bowl, thinking, maybe this is the one. So it was with Holiday Spirit this year. The label marketing copy on the tin sounds so good, “…flavored with dark rum, pecan and cocoa. It brings a warm glow to the coldest winter day. The aroma of a favorite holiday confection….” Oh, it was that part about the holiday confection that got me.

So I bought not one tin but two, thinking a buddy of mine also might like a little holiday confection aroma around his place.

With an eagerness I think we all feel when getting into a tobacco for the first time, I popped the lid to get my nose into this surely delicious mystery I held before me. A blast of rummy fruitiness greeted my nostrils. I sprinkled a bowl’s worth onto a sheet of paper on my desk to dry out some before smoking.

Whoa! Did I knock over an open bottle of booze or something?

That’s some tin note. I guess they’re not kidding about the rum in this mix or the fruity casing, which provided a sickly sweet fragrance as it wafted through the room.

I loaded up, and having now smoked two thirds of the tin, here’s what I’ve found…

Pros: Tobacco was not overly sticky; Cool, smooth burn, wasn’t fussy; Mild; Smoked every time to the bottom of the bowl; Never a gurgle; Only a threat of tongue bite when I went puffing for some flavor; No dottle to speak of, pretty danged dry bowl at finish; Pleasant room note (I should hope so, but I can’t say I’ve picked up any holiday confections. Maybe I did. A little.); It’s fine to keep the tobacco in its can, nice marshmallow scent surrounds the closed container.

Cons: Did I miss some special directions somewhere? Where’s the flavor? A flirtation with sweetness began about halfway through the bowl; Not even a tobacco taste to speak of; Slightly unpleasant waxy feel in mouth.

In the end, Holiday Spirit is not a “bad” smoke; it’s just really no smoke, at all. So why the heck bother?

Is it only so those who happen to be within smelling range don’t turn their noses in disgust?

If that’s the case, then certainly there are other tobacco blends out there on a daily basis that fit the bill… but are also enjoyed by the smoker for their flavor.

Or, is it only a marketing ploy by blenders to make some extra coin off suckers like me come Christmas time?

I fight such cynicism. I really do.

Holiday Spirit gets me down in its disappointing emptiness. For the life of me, I could coax very little flavor out of this tobacco. I’ll have higher spirits myself when I finish this tin — or give away to someone who can appreciate what few bowls it has left (for I can’t through it away).  No HS for me next year.

BTW, my buddy hasn’t cracked his tin, yet.

I’ll discuss the non-aromatic Virginia  holiday mixture, Christmas Cheer, in the next post, Part II, and wrap this up.

Till next time… I’ll keep some ‘baccy by the doorway for ya.


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