Made at the Plasencia factory in Nicaragaua, the Montecristo Espada Guard is certainly a cigar with style and class. Available in beautiful 10 count boxes, the Montecristo Espada is part of the ever-growing Altadis USA portfolio. From the Altadis USA website:
“Constructed with 100% vintage Nicaraguan tobaccos specially aged by the Plasencia family and expertly blended by the world famous Grupo de Maestros, Espada by Montecristo offers a bold, spicy and deeply satisfying smoke. Espada, which means “sword” in Spanish, is the first Montecristo with all of its tobacco coming from Nicaragua – a country celebrated for its robust and mellow tobaccos. Espada by Montecristo is a cigar of pure taste and true elegance”.
Being named to Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 (number 20) in 2015, I found this cigar catching my eye while at my local Brick & Mortar store this past week. Let’s find out what this sword swinging stick is all about.
Aesthetics [Construction/Shelf-Appeal/Pre-light]: The Montecristo Espada is almost completely covered with bands, three in total. I’m typically leery of bands covering most of a cigar’s body as you never know what is to be found upon removal (like a Christmas present), however, after removal of foot band and middle band, the cigar showed a nice milk chocolate colored wrapper with several veins throughout. The cigar’s cap was perfectly rounded, and no soft spots were found as I rolled the cigar through my fingers. The foot was jam packed and the pre-light smell was of rich tobacco with feeble woody notes. Cold draw was loose and showed very faint tastes of sweet wood.
Performance [Draw/Burn]: The draw of the cigar was perfect and easy throughout the entire smoking experience showing almost no resistance. The smallest of draws produced a lot of creamy white smoke, and I would classify the cigar as medium/full in body. Burn was wavy throughout the entire smoke and required several touch-ups and one re-light. Ash was a flakey mix of light and dark greys. I did use a V-Cut for this cigar due to the perfectly rounded cap. The Montecristo Espada was a medium strength smoke.
Flavor [Tastes/Aroma]: Throughout the smoking experience I mainly encountered heavy black walnut and dry wood characteristics with leather, faith vanilla, a meaty chewiness, and sweet cedar aromas finding their way to my senses. Not overly complex in the flavors and easily detected tastes were evident throughout smoking the cigar.
Overall Impressions [Value/Experience/Pairing]: My final assessment of the cigar is best summarized as solid. The cigar isn’t amazing, but it’s also far from awful. It’s a market solid cigar that will no doubt be consistent for those finding the flavor profile to fit their wants and needs. The biggest hinderance for me is the price tag. At the higher end of the premium level ($16.00) I can easily find other Nicaraguan puros that will give me a more enjoyable smoking experience. Is this cigar bad? No. Would it be better if the price tag was dropped? Absolutely! In fact, if this cigar were a $10.00 to $12.00 cigar, I would probably smoke it on a regular basis.
For reference, I paired the Montecristo Espada with black coffee and water, therefore, no pairing report was noted.
Have you ever felt drawn to one form of tobacco over another? Or, to put the question straight forward, do you ever find yourself having stretches where you gravitate more toward cigars, or more toward pipe smoking, or even periods of dry nasal snuff use? Without a doubt, I do. In fact, 2022, for the most part, has been a cigar smoking year for me. Why? I don’t know, however, as of the writing of this piece, I have smoked over 197 cigars since April 2022. That roughly equates to approximately 5 cigars per week for 37 straight weeks. Is that too many? For some folks that may seem extreme, whereas for others, they may enjoy five cigars per day.
Similar to the subjectivity associated with tasting tobacco, the quantity of tobacco products one enjoys should be their own preference. With that being said, I do support the belief that moderation must be followed, not just with tobacco, but in all aspects of life. Regardless, no matter your thoughts on quantity, the question we are addressing with this list is the quality of cigars. Below, I have presented my Top 5 Cigars for 2022. Although the list could have easily been extended to include 25 cigars, I feel that anything past five just becomes grouped into a larger pool of good quality smokes. The five cigars presented below have consistently battled their way into the top spots, or in some cases, held the lead from the get-go to prove their worth, and I highly recommend readers of The Pipe Professor website make it a point to try each stick.
Before moving on, I will admit that although I have very much enjoyed cigars for the better part of this year, I am now trending back to my pipes and tobaccos. To be completely forthright, I have been enjoying dry nasal snuff more than any other time in my luxury tobacco journey. With that being said, I will present my Top 5 Nasal Snuffs on Friday, December 23rd and Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2022 on Friday, December 30th here at The Pipe Professor website. Stay tuned for the next few Fridays!
Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Cigars for 2022.
Cigar #5: Padilla 88 Anniversario Robusto
Manufacturer: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez (Ernesto Padilla)
Wrapper: Ecuador Havana
County of Origin: Nicaragua
Price: $12.35 ea., $117 Box of 10
Notes: The Padilla 88 Anniversario Robusto was #21 on the 2021 Cigar Aficionado Top 25, which is where I learned of its existence. The following is from the Cigar Aficionado website, “this cigar was created to honor the 88th birthday of his father Heberto Padilla, a famed Cuban poet who was imprisoned in 1971 for criticizing the Cuban government, sparking what became known as “The Padilla Affair.” The smoke is gorgeous, made in Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez, with a beautiful Ecuador Havana wrapper and a touch of Pelo d’Oro filler in the blend, a fickle seed varietal that’s tough to grow.” I found that it was not always easy to locate this cigar and just received a restock earlier in December. Prior to that, I only had the two five packs that I purchased in early 2021 and have had to ration accordingly. However, the Padilla 88 Anniversario Robusto is a wonderful cigar and worth the hunt.
Tasting Notes: Tasting notes include, earth, dark chocolate, honey, damp forest floor, and leather. It is to be noted that this cigar does pack a punch in the nicotine department and is not for the faint of heart. Seasoned cigar smokers should be fine, newbies be warned.
Cigar #4: Aladino Queens Perfecto
Manufacturer: Aladino (JRE Tobacco Company, Julio R. Eiroa)
LH: 5 ¼
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
County of Origin: Honduras
Price: $6.75 ea., $125.00 Box of 20
Notes: From the 2guyscigars website, the “JRE Tobacco is a family centered company, founded by Julio R. Eiroa and his son Justo M. Eiroa, together they manage all aspects of the cigar growing and manufacturing for your enjoyment. This is a crop to shop operation as we like to call it. As the premier Corojo grower in the industry, Julio Eiroa, Master Cigar Blender and Tobacco grower, guarantees that all their brands will provide you the opportunity to enjoy an Authentic Corojo taste, the same as cigars from the 1960’s.”Making a debut in April of 2019, the Aladino Connecticut line includes four sizes, Churchill (7 x 52), Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 50), and the Queens (5 ¼ x 46). To be completely honest, if I had to pick a line of cigars that would qualify as the “line” or “brand” of the year, it would be Aladino. The Aladino Corojo Reserve #4 was a very close candidate to making this list, but the Queens was able to squeeze in the win at the end.
Tasting Notes: The Aladino Queens is a very soft subtle smoke that offers notes of rich buttered toast, vanilla cream, mild earth, fresh dried grasses, and wheated graham cracker.
Cigar #3: Montecristo Edmundo Tubo
Manufacturer: Habanos S.A.
LH: 5 3/8
County of Origin: Cuba
Price: $38.00 ea., $540 Box of 15 (5 Cartons of 3)
Notes: According to the Cigar Aficionado website the Montecristo Edmundo, “was introduced in the spring of 2004, but it has only recently begun to come into its own. The cigar measures 5 3/8 inches long by 52 ring gauge and is produced primarily in the H. Upmann factory, which is in the neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado in Havana.” It is true that Cuban cigars carry an inconsistency not typically found in new world sticks, but the Montecristo Edmundo Tubo consistently fired on all cylinders this year and offered its own special smoking experience unlike any other cigars I smoked.
Tasting Notes: The Montecristo Edmundo showed notes of salted cashews, leather, hay, assam tea, cedar, and sweet cocoa powder. Although there were times when the burn would be wavy on one of the sticks, the overall satisfaction I gained from the cigar was not just enjoyable, it was memorable, and I am glad I now have enough put back in my collection to rotate in these memories for the next few years.
Cigar #2: Bandolero Firecracker
Manufacturer: Select Tobaccos (Nelson Alfonso)
LH: 3 ½
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Undisclosed
County of Origin: Costa Rica
Price: $9.00 ea., $180.00 Box of 20
Notes: From The Cigar Authority website, “In 2006, from the creative mind of David Garofalo, the Firecracker line was born. The first cigar on the market with a long piece of tobacco at the head was shaped like a ‘wick’ or ‘fuse’ to capture the name of the line; Firecracker. After a few years on the market, the limited release Firecrackers came to life as United Cigars collaborated with a new manufacturer every year to create a celebration cigar for the nation’s Independence Day. This year in 2022, United Cigars tabbed Nelson Alfonso and Selected Tobacco to produce the limited edition cigar of which only 1,000 boxes of 20 have been made. The regular production Bandolero is available in three different series, but the Firecrackers pulls from two them to create this unique cigar. The blend for the Bandolero Firecracker is derived from the Clandestino line (Series C) that uses filler leaves from Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and undisclosed tobaccos. The filler is held together with an Ecuadorian binder and a dark Ecuadorian wrapper that is typically used on the Aventureros line (Series A).” I will admit that I have purchased more boxes of Bandolero Firecrackers than any other brand or line this year. The cigar is a pure superstar and I wish it would become a regular production stick. Nothing against any of the other cigars in the Bandolero portfolio, however, the Firecracker is a super flavorful, slow smoking stick that is the most consistent cigar I have ever smoked.
Tasting Notes: This little stick yielded big flavors with notes of earth, cedar, mild black pepper, raisins/figs, black coffee, and molasses.
2022 Cigar of the Year: Atabey Delirios
Manufacturer: Select Tobaccos (Nelson Alfonso)
LH: 5 ¾
County of Origin: Costa Rica
Price: $32.00 ea., $799.00 Box of 25
Notes: From the 2guyscigars website, “the name Atabey has ties to the Taino Indians and the cigar culture. It all began with Cohiba which referred to the circle the tribe would gather in to pray. They would offer their prayers to the leader known as Behike who in turn would deliver those prayers to the Goddess Atabey. Atabey Cigars comes to us from Nelson Alfonso and is made in Costa Rica where the blend is only known by a select few.” I honestly came across this cigar by accident when I was in Liquor Barn picking up some delicious wines and spirits. Like any good cigar aficionado, I always take a gander at the humidor before heading to the checkout. The Atabey line was on full display that day, and although carrying a hefty price tag, I decided to pick up three different sizes to give the line a try. My palate is surely glad I did, my wallet, not so much. Atabey cigars not only taste incredible, but they also perform/burn phenomenally, and are masterfully crafted with beautiful golden wrappers, offering the seasoned smoker a perfect smoking experience.
Tasting Notes: The Atabey Delirios are buttered cream, sweet molasses, dried grains, bready yeast, and fresh yellow cake. Fantastic smoke that has truly elevated the bar for what a quality cigar should be. Without a doubt, the Atabey Delirios is The Pipe Professor’s 2022 Cigar of the Year.
That will do it for my 2022 Top 5 Cigars. If you would like to watch the video presentation of these Top 5 cigars, please visit The Pipe Professor YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/Ve5XwpQQNv0
Stay tuned for the Top 5 Nasal Snuffs and Pipe Tobaccos in the upcoming weeks. As always, thank you for visiting The Pipe Professor webpage and I hope you find you way back soon.
To be completely honest, Cornell & Diehl has been very hit or miss with me over the past year or more. Some of their blends are very enjoyable, however, the ones that miss, tend to miss big. Specifically, I am referring to most of their Small Batch and special release series. Understanding this to be the case, I opted for a regular production blend that I’ve been wanting to try since the start of the year.
This blend came across my radar after seeing the well-known Mike Murphy from the Pipe and Tamper podcast blast rave reviews about it along with showing off the abundance of Sunset Harbor Flake tins he has cellared away. Of course, anyone who puts away that much of a single blend will raise eyebrows, especially mine. So, I decided to pick a tin up and see what the hype, if any, is about. Afterall, my recent luck with Cornell & Diehl has been dismal at best.
From the Tin: Upon opening, the first thing noticed was the dark color of the tobacco. Tin aroma was a rich, dark leather, musty wood, and slight hint of campfire smoke. The tobacco was on the moist side and needed time to dry out before smoking. Having now smoked 8 bowls, I found 30 minutes to be just about the perfect amount of dry time before packing and lighting. Although marketed as a flake, this tobacco is far from what I designate a “flake” tobacco. In fact, there were not even long pieces of “broken flake” to be found in the tin. I would instead classify this tobacco as crumbled tobacco once being in flake form.
Flavor Notes (Taste + Aroma): C&D Sunset Harbor provides the smoker with a very rich, flavorful smoking experience. Tastes consisted of mossy damp forest, wood, mushrooms, leather, and an initial faint spice. Aroma was an antique mustiness with a very prominent sweet cream noted when smoked in a meerschaum. In fact, I have found I enjoy this blend most in a medium size (group 3 or 4) meerschaum pipe.
Overall Impression: C&D Sunset Harbor Flake burned cool producing a dark gray gritty ash. The smoke was thick and cool presenting no bite with the tobacco strength being medium and body medium/plus. Although very enjoyable, I would not recommend this as an all-day smoke as you run the risk of potential palate fatigue due to the opulence of the blend. Overall, I find Sunset Harbor Flake to be a solid offering from Cornell & Diehl and will certainly be purchasing more to smoke over the next decade or more (I do think short term aging will show rewards for this blend). This tobacco is very much recommended and if you’re a Balkan fan you should certainly give it a try.
Created by Kyle Gellis, in collaboration with Cornell & Diehl’s Jeremy Reeves, Warped Cloud Hopper Pipe Tobacco was resurrected from the well-known Warped Cloud Hopper cigar brand, blended and produced by Gellis at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami and Casa Fernandez’s Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. in Nicaragua.
Originally coming onto the market in 2109, Warped Cloud Hopper is the pipe smoker’s rendition for the love of travel and adventure Gellis and his brother enjoy embarking on. According to the smkoingpipes.com website, “Cloud Hopper pipe tobacco features AA-grade Dominican Criollo cigar leaf…married to traditional Italian air-cured tobaccos, yellow and red Virginias, and Perique pressed and cut into flakes. The blend transports pipe smokers to an adventurous flavor profile of complex notes of earth, spice, and citrus, while hints of cream and coffee offer comfort along the road. It’s a mixture free of added flavors, meant to showcase the natural profile of quality tobaccos” (2022).
As I frequently enjoy premium cigars, this tobacco seemed to fit my palate profile from the description, thus, prompting me to purchase a tin and see if this cigar blend is as enjoyable as the actual Warped Cigars (which I do enjoy).
To view the video review of Warped Cloud Hopper Pipe Tobacco, please visit The Pipe Professor YouTube Channel here: https://youtu.be/CMyr_yB6OJU
Info & Overview
Brand: Warped/Cornell & Diehl
Blend Components: Cigar Leaf. Perique, Virginia
Cut Type: Flake
Available Packaging: 2oz tin
Price: $11.60 USD
On to the review…
From the Tin: Although listed as a flake tobacco, my tin did not contain a single fully intact flake. I would easily classify this tobacco as a broken flake, not an actual flake similar to Dunhill Flake, Capstan Gold/Blue, or MacBaren Pure Virginia. [Side note, I have come to believe the flake designation according to Cornell & Diehl is actually a broken flake. Buyer beware.] The broken flakes are very dark in color and have hints of golden Virginia sprinkled throughout. The tin aroma provided notes of dark chocolate, earth, raisins, and fresh yeasty bread. Very much enjoyable and reminiscent of a cinnamon raisin muffin. Extremely enjoyable tin note! The tobacco is very moist straight out of the tin and I had to allow it a minimum of 50 minutes dry time depending on the drying venue.
Flavor Notes: When discussing flavor, we must always account for taste and aroma (taste + aroma = flavor). Tastes I experienced while smoking were earth (similar to a dry truffle), deep rich fruits, mineral/graphite, and light spice. Aroma was a nice, charred wood, similar to a charred bourbon barrel (without the alcohol). Tobacco produced a thin, white smoke, with an overall medium body and medium strength profile. As I smoked just shy of the entire tin, I found I enjoyed Cloud Hopper most in a meerschaum pipe, and when the tobacco was almost bone dry. The dryer smoke allowed for the cigar leaf to come forward and be a noticeable experience in the smoke.
Overall Impression: The Warped Cloud Hopper is a very unique blend that offers flavors some pipe smokers may not be familiar with, or typically experience in their pipe tobaccos. I am glad I took the time to figure the blend out and will purchase another tin or two to measure the aging potential of the Virginia and cigar leaf. I am hopeful that with an extended period of time (i.e., 10-15 years) this tobacco will become an extremely “fine wine.”
With that being said, I will probably not purchase more tins to be smoked now or be placed in my regular rotation. Is the blend enjoyable and worth a try? Absolutely! Is it what I seek to experience on a regular basis when enjoying a pipe? No. We will hopefully revisit the blend in 10 years and see if the gamble/investment pays off. If you’re looking for something to intrigue your palate, pick up a tin of Warped Cloud Hopper and see what you think.
Created to celebrate Rocky Patel’s 60th birthday in 2021, the Rocky Patel Sixty pulls out all the stops to honor the man, myth, and legend in the cigar industry, Rocky Patel. Aged a minimum of 2 years in the Rocky Patel headquarters after being rolled, these cigars are said to have some of the oldest tobaccos in the Rocky Patel warehouse portfolio. For detailed information and videos of Rocky and his team creating the Sixty line of cigars, visit the Rocky Patel website at: https://www.rockypatel.com/cigar-campaigns/sixty-by-rocky-patel/
On to the review….
Video Review: If you would like to watch the video review of the Rocky Patel Sixty, please visit the following link. While there, don’t forget to like and subscribe!
Aesthetics (Construction/Shelf-Appeal): Three beautifully detailed bands almost completely cover the cigar. Very eye appealing from the consumer’s point-of-view with gold embossing and excellent color scheme. Very dark, smooth, maduro wrapper, however, the cigar felt light or under filled in my hand. Fantastic square box press with nice tight visible seams. Cap was a triple seam and overall cigar was beautifully made.
Performance (Draw/Burn): Very, very loose draw, to the point that it was a wind tunnel requiring no effort to smoke. Burn was extremely wavy throughout the smoking experience needing to be touched up several times. Ash was a wonderful white with mixed of gray sprinkled throughout. Smoke was a thick, soft, creamy white.
Flavor (Tastes/Aroma/Body/Strength): Cold draw was a dark fruit raisin taste accompanied by a small hint of earth and spice. Smoking taste profile noted cereal, buttermilk biscuits, earth, wood, and leather. Aroma was woody and savory with a creamy, soft texture. Body was full throughout the smoking experience and the strength I would classify as medium.
Overall Impressions (Value/Experience/Pairing): The Rocky Patel Sixty is a very good cigar, however, the size, looseness of the draw, price, and burn issues do not justify a second purchase for me, at least at the Gordo size. These characteristics make it seem that the cigar was under-filled and a bit expensive in the pricing category. The tastes were nicely refined, and I did enjoy the body to strength smoking ratio. I do plan to try this cigar in the robusto format and hope some of the performance issues are resolved with the smaller size.
I paired my Rocky Patel Sixty with a Versailles Brewing Company (VBC) Legit Kentucky Cream Ale. The beer and cigar paired well together with the beer offering an opposing balance to the heavy flavors and body the cigar presented on its close. The VBC Legit was crisp and refreshing, with nice light malty flavors and plenty or carbonation. It reminded me of a nice refreshing champagne.
I’m glad I was able to try the Rocky Patel Sixty and was able to confirm that the larger ring gauge cigars are not for me. I do look forward to trying the Sixty in other vitolas but will not be picking up any more of the 60 ring gauge samples.
Sometimes you happen upon a diamond in the rough. Indeed, that is the case for me and the Aladino cigar line. I cannot recall exactly when, or where, I saw the brand for the first time, however, admittedly, the simple labeling and packaging reminded me of some familiar Habanos S.A. brands for a time long gone (old Montecristo bands). Anyhow, I decided to pick up a few different options of the Aladino line at my local tobacconist and give them a try. Before going any further, let me be clear, I have yet to be disappointed with the cigars in this brand.
Aladino cigars are produced by the JRE Tobacco company, a father/son operation dedicated to growing and producing the best Corojo cigars from Honduras. The following message about the company and their mission can be found on the JRE webpage (https://www.jretobacco.com) and reads as follows:
“JRE Tobacco is a family centered company, founded by Julio R. Eiroa and his son Justo M. Eiroa, together they manage all aspects of the cigar growing and manufacturing for your enjoyment. This is a crop to shop operation as we like to call it. We are fully committed to providing sustained quality and satisfaction on every Aladino, Rancho Luna and Tatascan we make. This self-impossed standard covers the entire cigar manufacturing process. Our commitment to quality and consumer satisfaction is never compromised or circumvented. As the premier Corojo grower in the industry, I, Julio Eiroa, Master Cigar Blender and Tobacco grower, guarantee that all our brands will provide you the opportunity to enjoy an authentic Corojo taste, the same as cigars from the 1960s. Join us on this journey and be part of a history-making cigar smoking experience like no other.”
The Aladino Corojo Reserva portfolio contains the following sizes and are readily available at your local brick and mortar store or friendly online tobacconist.
Corona 5 x 44 (Limited Production)
Robusto 5 x 50
Toro 6 x 52
Box Pressed Figurado 6 ¼ x 54 (Limited Production)
On to the review….
Aladino Corojo Reserva Robusto Attributes
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Honduran Corojo
Binder: Honduran Corojo
Filler: Honduran Corojo
Price: $11.50 USD ea./$215.00 Box of 20
Pre-light Inspection: Although the bands are simple in nature, the tissue paper added to the body of the cigar gives the consumer a feel of delicate elegance. The cigar’s wrapper had a few veins running throughout and the cigar was very firm to the touch yielding no soft spots. The cigar displayed a Colorado colored wrapper leaf and the cap on this example was an uneven, lumpy, double seam. The cold smell showed sweet cedar and chocolate notes and the cold draw was medium tight with cold sweet notes of fresh Earth.
Opening and First Third: Cigar opened with a bold spice and lots of thick, full, white smoke. The draw gave almost perfect resistance, and the burn did require a touch up, however, nothing that would negatively impact the cigar’s overall performance. Tastes in the first third noted an earthy forward taste with touches of cocoa powder and splashes of pepper spice (similar to a clove). Aroma was outstanding, yielding sweet, creamy, bready notes. Cigar’s strength and body were both medium/full moving to the full range.
Second Third: The second third of my Aladino Corojo Reserva Robusto continued to have a magnificent aroma of sweet cream and baked deserts. Truly wonderful! The burn on the cigar continued to be wavy but did not require any touch-ups. The pepper and spiciness of the cigar enhanced during the second third with the chocolate/cocoa tastes fading away. The earth notes remained solid, and a minor floral note began to appear as the cigar moved into the final third. Body of the cigar remained medium/full while the strength of the cigar actually pulled back to be straight medium.
Final Third: The final third of my Aladino Corojo Reserva Robusto was nothing short of amazing. The aroma continued to be memorizing with its creamy, baked sugar sweetness. The Earthy tasting note persisted throughout the entire smoke and was truly the foundation for the cigar’s flavor profile. Notes of mint and chocolate splashed in and out during the final third and a very, but pleasant, buttered, nutty sweetness started to stand out near the finale. Cigar closed more toward full in body with continued mouthfuls of creamy, thick, white smoke, and the strength I would classify as a solid medium. The burn remained wavy and required two more touch-ups to close out the smoking experience.
Overall Impressions: Overall, I must admit that the Aladino Corojo Reserva Robusto is very much in the running for my 2022 Cigar of the Year. The cigar has just enough complexity to remain interesting, while offering a very enjoyable smoking experience. I would be remiss to not tell everyone that I have indeed ordered a full 20 count box of this cigar as it is very much box worthy. If you are looking to get someone into cigar smoking, or would like to impress a guest with a quality cigar without breaking the bank, the Aladino Corojo Reserva Robusto is a perfect match for you. Pick some up and give them a try for yourself. It will be a guarantee payback on your investment of time and money.
Happy National Cigar Day! Or at least I think I read that somewhere… Even if it’s not, we have beautiful weather in my part of the world, and a lazy Sunday calls for a good cigar.
Most of us probably associate Pappy Van Winkle as one of the most sought-after, high-end bourbons in the world. Admittingly, I have had the fortune of sampling some 10-year-old Pappy and although it was very smooth, it’s by far, not the best bourbon I’ve ever had. As we will note later in this review, don’t get caught off guard by the hype associated with a brand name.
With that being said, the Pappy Van Winkle line is rolled and produced by Drew Estate Cigars at La Gran Fabrica in Esteli, Nicaragua. The Tradition line debuted in 2018 and includes the following vitolas:
Corona 5 ½ x 44 (Exclusive-not marketed)
Coronita 4 x 46 ($15.00)
Robusto Grande 5 ½ x 54 ($22.00)
Belicoso Fino 5 x 50 ($25.00)
Toro 6 x 50 (Exclusive-not marketed)
Churchill 7 x 48 ($24.00)
The Tradition line is the second release in the Pappy Van Winkle Cigar portfolio, with the first being Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented. I was a bit worried that being produced by Drew Estate, the company would attempt to infuse some type of bourbon flavoring into the cigars, similar to their Acid line, however, this is certainly not the case. So, let’s jump in and see what the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Cigar is all about.
On to the review….
Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Attributes
Size: Robusto Grande
Length: 5 ½
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano Oscuro
Filler: Dominican Republic; Nicaragua
Price: $22.00 USD
Pre-light Inspection: Cold smell yields a nice rich tobacco and earthy barnyard mix. The wrapper is a medium to light brown in appearance with minimal veins. Cap is pristine and the large double bands display a picture similar to the bourbon outlined in a cardinal red. Cold draw did not yield any specific tastes and the draw seemed initially tight.
Opening and First Third: The cigar opened with a spicey black pepper and moved its way into a leathery dry toast. First third was medium in both strength and body. The burn a bit wavy but needed no touch-ups producing a very pure white powdery ash. The draw was not tight as I though on the pre-light and instead could be defined as effortless.
Second Third: Moving into the second third, I had to remove the first, smaller, label identifying the cigar as Tradition. I was very careful to remove the band, however, the cigar started to split once the band was removed and continued this trend the remainder of the smoking experience. Tastes continued to show a nice toastiness that was complemented in the room note. The aroma, coupled with the toast, reminded me of a nice bakery. There was an awkward metallic taste note that sporadically appeared in the second third. A mild hint of soft red wine, similar to a pinot noir, appeared at the end of the second third and my hopes were that this continued into the last part of the smoke. Body and strength continued to be medium and the burn was very wavy due to the split wrapper.
Final Third: I ended up touching the cigar up heading into the final third in hopes of stopping the split. This did help initially, but the cigar had to be touched up a few more times in order to make it a successful finish. The toastiness continued through the end with the aroma reminding me of sweet graham. The metallic taste decided to show up on a more frequent basis in the final third but was also accompanied by a unique nutty almond paste note. The body of the cigar finished out medium/full while the strength boasted itself into the full category.
Overall Impressions: The Pappy Van Winkle Tradition was a nice cigar and I’m glad I had the opportunity to smoke it. Like the bourbon, I feel this could be a hyped-up line due to its name and tradition. Would I recommend other folks try the line, absolutely as it is a good cigar. Would I fill my humidor with a box for aging, probably not. At a price point of $22.00 each, this is a good cigar but not worthy of a second go in my rotation. To be clear, there are a lot of other cigars on the market, in the $8 – $10 price range, that I enjoy on a much more regular basis and that I would reach for before the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition. Would I suggest maybe picking one up to enjoy on the golf course or with some buddies? Sure! But for the long term, this will probably be my one and only Pappy cigar.
Cigar Score: 3 out of 5 boxes
A full video review of the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition Robusto Grande cigar can be found on The Pipe Professor YouTube channel at the following link: https://youtu.be/DeNx1DThurs
Another year has come and gone. It seems as though the older I get, the faster time passes. Of course, when reflecting on the past 365 days, I am not shocked by the reality of accomplishing less than I set out to accomplish at the start of the year. Without making excuses, the continued threat of COVID does not always make endeavors easy, however, it appears this virus is here to stay. Thus, we must now work to live with it, not just around it.
With all of this being said, I was able to enjoy several pipe tobacco blends this past year and most were excellent in nature. Below, I have presented my Top 5 favorite Pipe Tobaccos for 2021 along with my top two biggest disappointment blends. The five tobaccos I selected as my favorites are blends that I not only smoked the most, but tobaccos I worked to cellar more than any other blends during the year. Each presents a unique and enjoyable experience and if you haven’t had the opportunity to try them, I suggest you do. As always, thank you for taking the time to read and follow The Pipe Professor website. I can’t guarantee posts will be regular but be assured they content on this page will be of utmost quality now and in the future. Here’s to a blessed and joyful 2022!
Tobacco #5 for 2021
Drucquer & Sons First Amendment
Info & Overview
Brand: G.L. Pease
Blend Components: Burley; Latakia; Perique; Virginia
Cut Type: Flake
Available Packaging: 100g tin
Price: $21.25 USD
Tobacco Notes: Admittingly, I very much enjoy G.L. Pease tobaccos and am an even bigger Drucquer & Sons fan. When I saw the release of a new tobacco to the D&S line this past summer, I did not hesitate and jumped in immediately purchasing three tins blind. I did do an initial review of First Amendment on the Pipe Professor YouTube channel, but since the filming of that video, I have continued to smoke and enjoy First Amendment more and more. This tobacco offers a rich flavorful nutty smoke that is savory and hints at rustic, rich tea notes all followed by a natural tobacco sweetness. The blend is very complex and extremely enjoyable. So much so, that I went back and have now stocked my cellar with this blend for many years to come. To say I am eager to see if it continues to expand in enjoyment from time-set-aside is a complete understatement. Drucquer & Sons First Amendment, if you haven’t tried it, I don’t know why you are waiting. It’s fantastic and available.
Tobacco #4 for 2021
Boswell’s Honey Roast Pipe Tobacco
Info & Overview
Brand: J.M. Boswell’s
Blend Components: Golden Cavendish; Black and Fire-cured Cavendish; Black Honey Cavendish
Cut Type: Ribbon
Available Packaging: per oz
Price: $3.75 USD per oz
Tobacco Notes: For several years now, I have put aside smoking aromatic pipe tobaccos. Why? I have no idea. However, during 2021, I found myself craving the sweet aromatic offerings that first spurred me into the hobby. Anyone who is a seasoned pipe smoker knows that if you are looking for the best aromatic pipe tobaccos, your guaranteed option is Boswell’s. I put in an order on the Boswell’s website earlier this year with several 2oz samples. Of all the aromatics I tried this year, not just Boswell’s, the Honey Roast found its way into my pipes more than any other. This tobacco offers an outstanding room note of sweet, dark baked bread, the tastes also come forward offering honey, browned buttered toast, and candied sweetness. The tobacco has its own unique complexity in that your palate will be satisfied but always wanting more. Boswell’s Honey Roast is a lasting aromatic pipe tobacco that should be sampled by pipe smokers who enjoy a little honey sweetness in their smoking diet.
A short video review of me sampling Boswell’s Honey Roast can be found here.
Tobacco #3 for 2021
Orlik Golden Sliced
Info & Overview
Brand: Orlik Tobacco Company
Blend Components: Virginia; Perique
Cut Type: Flake
Available Packaging: 1.75 oz tin or 3.5 oz tin
Price: $9.58 USD for 1.75 oz; $16.99 USD for 3.5 oz
Tobacco Notes: The king of Virginia Perique (VaPer) blends, at least that’s my opinion. There has indeed been some argument in the Pipe Community that Orlik Golden Sliced actually contains no perique and is just a straight Virginia blend, but I do not fall in that camp. Being the tobacco I have purchased the most of in 2021, Orlik Golden Sliced is a perfect example of not only a Virginia Perique tobacco, but a blend that ages wonderfully. This past year I finished a tin of OGS from 2015 (it was spectacular and smoked like a dream) and worked my way through two fresh tins. The aged sample had its own fantastic qualities; however, this tobacco is still amazing when enjoyed fresh. The best part of it all? OGS is a very affordable tobacco that is frequently on sale at your local online tobacconists. Fresh hay, spiced sweetness, and brown sugar, this tobacco, in my opinion, is the best bang for your buck currently available on the market. And to think, early in my pipe smoking career, I very much disliked this blend. I’m glad I finally came to my senses!
Tobacco #2 for 2021
Mac Baren Modern Virginia Flake
Info & Overview
Brand: Mac Baren
Blend Components: Virginia; Burley; Cavendish
Flavorings: Apricot; Pineapple
Cut Type: Flake
Available Packaging: 1.75 oz tin
Price: No longer in production
Tobacco Notes: It seems like I always find a tobacco I really love and shortly afterwards, it’s pulled from production. Mac Baren’s Modern Virginia Flake Cut is one of those tobaccos and unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to stock up as I did with other blends that are now forever removed from our pipe tobacco portfolios. This tobacco has aged into a wonderfully dark, crystalized flake. The fruit toping has settled just enough to present an exceptionally pleasant room note while not taking away from the fruit sweetness, rich natural honey, and mild nutty flavors presented in the tastes. This tobacco burns cool and smokes under the medium body, mild strength profile. Completely perfect when I’m looking to interrupt my regularly scheduled smoking rotation. If you have been able to cellar or find Mac Baren’s Modern Virginia Flake, good for you. I suggest going ahead and opening those tins to enjoy. You will be glad you did and experience something that should have never left the market.
Tobacco #1 for 2021
McClelland Frog Morton on the Town
Info & Overview
Brand: McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Components: Latakia; Oriental/Turkish; Virginia
Cut Type: Ribbon
Available Packaging: 50g tin or 100g tin
Price: No longer in production
Tobacco Notes: I’ve smoked my share of regular Frog Morton (Frog-on-a-log) and Frog Morton Cellar. Both are highly enjoyable tobaccos but neither have come close to uprooting my favorite McClelland tobacco, 40thAnniversary. It wasn’t until late summer/early fall this year that I decided to pop open a tin of Frog Morton on the Town to see where it stood in comparison to its Frog friends. Wow! I was, and continue to be, blow away by how much I enjoy this tobacco. I never smoked this blend when still available on the market, therefore, I don’t know if it’s the age or if the blend has always been spectacular, but I do know it’s worth every penny I have paid and will continue to pay for it. The smoking experience offers a damp, earthy room note and tastes that is offset by floral/herbal notes, forest pines, and black tea creaminess. The smoke is rich and smooth with the tobacco burning slowly down to a white ash of wonder in each bowl. My palate could, and would, enjoy this tobacco all day every day is possible. If you haven’t been able to sample McClelland’s Frog Morton on the Town, it would be worth your hard-earned coin to find some and splurge. Every pipe smoker should have the opportunity to enjoy this heavenly bliss at least once.
Top Two Tobacco Disappointments of 2021
Disappointment #1 for 2021
Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake
Info & Overview
Blend Components: Perique; Virginia
Cut Type: Flake
Available Packaging: 2oz tin
Price: $10.63 USD
Tasting Notes: This was the first Former’s blend I have ever smoked and without standing, very well could be my last. I did a first impressions video of this tobacco here, but as I sampled it a few times after this initial impressions video, I found the tobacco did not improve. Dry, simplistic, and bland with an overall ‘dusty’ quality, this tobacco did not find enjoyment with my smoking palate. It’s possible that this blend will age wonderfully but I’m not willing to dedicate my time, money, or cellar space to find out. With so many fantastic Virginia tobaccos on the market, Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake is an easy pass for me.
Disappointment #2 for 2021
Sir Walter Raleigh Original (Pouch)
Info & Overview
Brand: Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG)
Blend Components: Burley
Flavorings: Anisette; Sweet/Sugar
Cut Type: Corse Cut
Available Packaging: 1.5oz pouch (or) 14oz can
Price: $4.13 USD per pouch (or) $38.18 per can
Tasting Notes: I started a segment on my YouTube channel (which I do intend to continue forward with in 2022) called A Study in OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouches. In this study, I am sampling several of the most common and available ‘codger’ drug store pouch tobaccos in search of any real gems. Sir Walter Raleigh original was the first pouch I sampled in the series (video here) and going into the review, I had very high hopes. I mean, let’s be real. This blend has supposedly stood the test of time being around more than a century. Surely, there is something amazing that folks have flocked to generation after generation. Without going into the details (those can be found at my original post here) this blend has absolutely nothing to offer. Completely flavorless and bland. It baffles me to think that folks have continued to smoke this blend entire lifetimes. I just don’t understand why. No flavor, no real room note, just bland nothingness. My current plan is to give the remainder of this pouch to anyone who wants it and never purchase another Sir Walter Raleigh pouch again. To be very bold, if this were the only pipe tobacco available on the market, I wouldn’t smoke a pipe.
Again, thank you for visiting The Pipe Professor website. I hope you have enjoyed my Top 5 Pipe Tobaccos of 2021 and please stay tuned for more reviews and exciting content including My Favorite Things of 2021. As always, I hope each of you have a blessed new year and until next time, cheers!
* All tobacco/tin pictures and blend information (excluding tobacco notes) were taken from tobaccoreviews.com, boswellpipes.com, pipesandcigars.com, and smokingpipes.com. The writer of this post is not the owner of the above photos/blend information related to each tobacco and does not take credit for their creation.
The Introduction & Pouch #1: Sir Walter Raleigh Original
A few weeks ago, I came across a sale on the Pipes & Cigars website for pouch tobaccos. As I looked through the prices on the pouch tobaccos, I began to wonder why I had never actually tried any of the staple Over the Counter (OTC) pipe tobacco pouch blends during my pipe smoking tenure. After lighting a bowl of something not OTC, I reminisced on the fact that I started pipe smoking with my local tobacconist blends (Schwab’s Pipes N Stuff Ideal and Big Blue Blend) and immediately moved into Cornell & Diehl blends, Dunhill EMP, McClelland Frog Morton Series, and at the time Tewksbury’s Hobbits Weed (Rest in Peace).
I concluded that my pipe smoking journey had completely by-passed where a lot of pipe smokers start the hobby.My thinking further reasoned that many of these blends are highly revered and have stood the test of time, some for a century or more. If folks have been enjoying these blends for that long, maybe I really am missing out on something spectacular. I knew I couldn’t just let the opportunity pass without at least trying some of the blends, so, after moving through another bowl or two, I decided to place a large order with P&C and catch up on the pouches I have missed out on during my pipe smoking journey.
So, where to begin? In all fairness, I decided to put all the pouches (plus some others I already had in my cellar, unopened) in a large bag and do a random pull to begin smoking my way through each to see what these infamous OTC blends all are about. I detailed the process for this little experiment on my YouTube channel with a video called Introduction to A Study in OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouches. You can view the video here or I will quickly review the process and guidelines below.
Guidelines to the Study
Pouches will be reviewed in a random order, one per week, until all pouches have been sampled.
Each tobacco will be smoked a minimum of four times; once in an unfiltered Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman Corn Cob pipe, once in a Missouri Meerschaum Pride filtered Corn Cob pipe, once in an unfiltered Huck Finn Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob pipe, and once in a Ropp Superior paneled briar pipe.
As I smoke through each blend, I will place them in rank order, updated with each review here on the webpage. Blends will move up and down the list until I have smoked through all the OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch blends.
Without further ado, let’s jump in to our first OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch, Sir Walter Raleigh Original.
Sir Walter Raleigh Original
Let’s be honest, if you are a pipe smoker or have ever smoked a pipe, you have more than likely heard of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco. I was excited that this pouch was the first random draw to come out of my bag. Supposedly having been around since 1927, this name and tobacco blend is easily a staple in our timeless hobby. With a blend that has survived almost a full century, I was eager to experience the successes that have carried this blend forward for 91 years. Similar to other pipe tobacco enthusiast, I headed to the Tobacco Reviews webpage to read the description and find out more about the tobacco. From the Tobacco Reviews website:
“An aromatic burley blend with hints of cocoa and Oriental spice, the Sir Walter Raleigh regular mixture has been a popular favorite of countless smokers for generations. A traditional blend of burley tobaccos made in Kentucky.”
This description sounds wonderful and lovely making me want to jump right into smoking. Before doing so, let’s take a look at the blend breakdown.
Info & Overview
Brand/Manufacturer: Sir Walter Raleigh/Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG)
Category: Aromatic Burley
Blend Components: Burley
Flavorings: Anisette and Sweet Sugar
Cut Type: Course Cut
Available Packaging: 1.5 oz pouch/7 oz can/14 oz can
Price: $4.62 USD per pouch/$20.04 per 7oz can/$38.18 per 14 oz can
On to the review…
(Sir Walter Raleigh Pipe Tobacco First Impressions YouTube video can be found here)
From the Pouch: Upon opening the seal I am met with a very rich, pleasant tobacco smell, similar to Red Man or Levi Garret chewing tobacco with prominent notes of chocolate. The tobacco color consists of dark browns and the cut was more shag than course in my opinion. Moisture content out of the pouch was perfect, however, I did find a few stems that needed to be removed before packing and smoking.
Smoking Notes: The tobacco was easy to pack and light. In fact, the burn and performance of the tobacco was not bad at all. I had no problem keeping each bowl lit and the tobacco burned at a nice pace. The strength of the tobacco was mild and the body was an overall mild + (almost medium bodied). The major problem with this tobacco is the taste and aroma. They are both non-existent. I ended up smoking a total of six bowls of Sir Walter Raleigh Original (four in the cobs and two in the briar). Not one single smoking experience provided me with any flavor. Truly, not once did I get any tastes good or bad from this smoke. It was just….there. The room note at times did hint toward a chocolate essence, however, I’m honestly not sure if that was real or my mind hoping for it. Granted, it is important for a tobacco to perform well in the bowl, however, I smoke to enjoy great tastes and smells in from my pipes and tobaccos. I got neither from this blend.
Overall Impression: 91 years of blandness. Maybe I missed something, but I never got anything from this blend….nothing! Flavor was non-existent, at times the room note hinted at a coco chocolate but rarely developed, and the strength of the tobacco was very mild. The tobacco did burn well and stayed lit easily, so that is one positive. If I am going to spend money on tobacco and put forth the time and effort of enjoying a pipe, it will not be on Sir Walter Raleigh Original pipe tobacco. This will easily be my first and only pouch of this tobacco. 91 years this blend has survived! Wow, my mind is blown on why and how.
Tobacco Score: (2 out of 5 pipes)
Stay tuned as we study a different OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch next week. Until then don’t forget to slow down, simplify, and sip on a pipe. Cheers!
Current Order of OTC Pipe Tobacco Pouch Enjoyment
Sir Walter Raleigh (it’s the only one I’ve smoked thus far and won’t be here long, guaranteed!)
A review of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake & the book Later by Stephen King
I filmed a first impressions, “Pop-the-Top”, tobacco review of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake last weekend, in which, I found the blend to be “just ok”. The video for my first impressions, and review of the book Later by Stephen King, can be found here (FYI, watch the video until the end for a special surprise).
I must confess, I failed to acknowledge, mention, or even purposefully detect the perique in the Former’s Bird’s Eye blend during my initial impression. The only indication I found during my first smoke experience was the deep, rich fruit notes I detected on the nose when smelling the freshly opened tin. Now that I have been able to smoke this blend over the course of a full week, I am much more “in-tune” to what the blend has to offer and will discuss my final score below.
Info & Overview
Blend Components: Virginia; Perique
Cut Type: Broken Flake
Available Packaging: 50g tin
Price: $10.50 USD
On to the review…
From the Tin: From the tin, the tobacco is presented as broken flakes. Understandably, the manufacturer sells this tobacco as a flake tobacco; however, the flakes I encountered were broken, not full flakes like that of Orlik Golden Sliced or Dunhill Flake. The tobacco is very, very dry upon opening the tin, almost overly dry. This is a bit concerning, as the tobacco will not only burn hotter while smoking but may be too dry to age well in the cellar. The broken flakes are light golden and yellow in color. The perique is not evident unless you purposefully look for it. The smell from the tin is a straight up hay barn, no qualms about it. Due to the dryness of the flakes, the tobacco required no dry time. To be completely honest, I almost considered re-hydrating some of the tobacco but did not do so.
Tasting Notes: I always find it interesting how a blend changes from the first bowl to the lasting crumbs of an empty tin. We all hear it said, and it is absolutely true, if you don’t like a blend at first, give it some time and see how either it or your tastes change. My initial tasting impressions of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake was not bad by any stretch of the imagination; however, after giving the blend my full attention over the past week, the tastes really became clear. Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake offers the smoker tastes of grass, hay, spicey black pepper, wheat/grain, and dry cereal, similar to bran flakes. Initially, I thought I was tasting a leather quality but after smoking almost the entire tin, I realize it wasn’t leather, but an earthy, dried fruit note found from the perique. Side note, I only found this taste to be present a few times. In fact, it was so random I’m not completely comfortable listing it as a given taste you will experience while smoking this blend.
Overall Impression: First and foremost, quick cadence smokers be warned! If you pull hard or fast on this tobacco, it WILL give you tongue bite. Maybe it’s due to the dryness, maybe it’s the sparce perique… Either way, this is a tobacco to be slowly sipped and enjoyed. As I scored this tobacco “just ok” in my initial impression, I continue to hold strong to that thought. The tobacco is a good quality and I’m glad I had the opportunity to smoke it; however, there is really nothing special about this blend. It’s a pretty standard Virginia flake (with a sprinkle of perique) and with all the various options on the market, there are much better choices I can put my time and money into. For me, the major drawback of the blend is its extreme dry character. I feel this probably hurts the quality of the tobacco more than it helps. Is it worth a try? Sure! Will I be filling voids in my cellar with tins of Former’s Bird’s Eye Flake? No. Score from my initial impressions to the end of the tin, not changed.
Tobacco Initial Impression Score: 3 out of 5 pipes
Tobacco End of Tin Overall Score: 3 out of 5 pipes
by: Stephen King
A new novel by Stephen King, I couldn’t resist giving it a read. Not to mention, I am a sucker for the cover art on a book and Later, screamed interesting read. I know, I know, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” but let’s be real people. All of us do it, whether intentional or not. So, coming out of the pandemic and having the chance to read the new King novel, I took total advantage. I will say, I was hesitant to purchase the book as the last few King novels have been less than satisfying, thus, not warranting a second read. Therefore, I took advantage of my local library’s online e-book option called Libby. Not only was I able to read the novel for free, but the book is also automatically returned on its due date. I’m typically terrible about returning books to the library on time, so this is a welcomed change for me.
As discussed in my video review of the book on YouTube, I am using a new review system similar to what I use when tasting wines. I will be breaking my thoughts into the following categories: Successes, Struggles, Suggested Audience, and Score. With that being said, let’s dive right in.
It was easy to relate to the characters in the book, especially the main character and narrator of the story, Jamie Conklin. Maybe it was the modern-day era that made the connection to characters smoother, or maybe King just did an overall better job at bringing out the details of each person. Either way, the characters in the book were well done and helped make for a good story.
Building off of Success #1, King does a really nice job of having characters appear and reappear throughout the story (hints the book title Later). I especially found an interest in the reappearances of Jamie’s mom’s NYPD detective ex-girlfriend Liz. The way King manipulates her relationship and personal desire to other characters was very well done.
The final success complement’s King’s persuasive writing. Even though this was a fictional story, the manner in which it is written and delivered makes it highly believable and realistic. The setting for the story is modern day in New York City (or just on the outskirts of the city itself). King continuously pulls the reader out of reality then expertly pushes us back in. The set-up is so good one may think something similar to this story could indeed happen in real life.
There were editing issues within the kindle (e-book) version of the publication. Simple things such as “s” on the end of words that would never have needed them or made sense for them to have a plural or possessive plural function. Also, there were random symbols and letters in some of the words and sentences. For example, “As I wal%ked up the 3tepes, I noticed the door slightly ajars”. I’m sorry but at the level Stephen King is publishing, there should be zero editing errors, no exceptions. I hope these errors were not found in hard copies of the book and am allowing the benefit of the doubt that it had to do with some kind of electronic upload/formatting failure when pushed to kindle.
If you follow King on any type of social media, you undoubtably know his philosophy and moral stance when it comes to politics. The same can be said for reading his books. There were a few parts in the story where King used his writing platform to make stabs at individuals in today’s current political world. Whether you agree with his stance or not (I am NOT opening that can of worms on this website. Visit your friendly local news organization to find all the political gossip you can handle), the jabs and snide remarks toward those he agrees and disagrees with are unnecessary and do not help push the story plot forward in any way, shape, or form. The book would be just as effective and enjoyable without bringing the political rhetoric into the story. After all, I read to escape the bull crap of this world (such as politics), therefore, when it follows me into my pastime, I begin to look for other authors to satisfy my storytelling needs, who understand, fictional stories can do without real-life horror.
The final struggle of the book is two-fold as the first part is somewhat the cause of the second. As mentioned above, the main character is a young boy named Jamie Conklin, and Jamie can see dead people. Yes, this theme has already been successfully achieved by M. Night Shyamalan in the 1990’s blockbuster hit The Sixth Sense. Although a touch different than the Bruce Willis film, as dead people only last three days and must tell the truth when asked a question, King did do a nice job of using Jamie’s unique skill to bend the plot into an enjoyable rat-race (read the book and you’ll better understand what I mean). With that being said, the second part of struggle three is related to this special ability. King uses it to abruptly end the book causing the entire story to fall flat and just end in a “happily-ever-after” sort of manner. A very tense moment at the end just kind of stops and literally, “walks out the door.” Really!? We had all this major build-up and were staged for the grand finale and what do we get? A moldy bologna sandwich. I don’t know if deadlines were tight, ideas had run dry, or he was just looking for a sequel opportunity (mark my words now…See You Later by Stephen King, set to debut December 2022). No matter what the case, this is becoming characteristic of King’s writing. He just doesn’t finish strong anymore. That was one of the reasons I started reading his work 20+ years ago. He wrote a great story with a very satisfying ending. No, it may not have been a happy ending, but it was satisfying. King has lost his touch when it comes to a solid finish. Period. Best word to describe it, unfulfilling.
Obviously, this story is written for a mature audience (adults), however, this would be an acceptable novel for a mature young adult or teen. Also, if you are looking to dive into Stephen King’s work, this would be a good novel to start with for two reasons. First, there are no characters linked to a previous story/book and secondly, it is a horror novel, but it’s not demented horror like we find in several of his other stories (i.e., you will be able to sleep at night).
Overall BookScore: 3 out of 5 books
So, there you have it, a Tobacco and a Tome. Thank you again for visiting The Pipe Professor webpage. Stay tuned, both here and on The Pipe Professor YouTube channel, for more literature, tobacco, pipes, cigars, and timeless treasure content. I hope to post bi-weekly (alternating) Sundays on both platforms.