I have a confession to make: I was the kid that ate his Play-Doh in kindergarten. I was born with a sweet tooth, and the vanillin-infused clay was just too tempting for me. It’s ok, I don’t mind if you laugh. Why am I mentioning Play-Doh in a tobacco review? Because I just opened a tin of Sutliff Private Stock’s Molto Dolce, and the tin aroma immediately recalled that modeling clay and the halcyon days of my earliest memories. Needless to say, I was entranced, and spent several minutes simply savoring the heady bouquet while I inspected the cut and color of the tobacco.
Make no mistake; this is one of the sweetest aromatics I’ve ever tasted—molto dolce, anzi! Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest smoking as well. A mixture of mainly burley and Cavendish with a sprinkling of Virginia, it presents in the tin as a mottle of dark and mahogany nuggets and cube cut with occasional strands of lighter ribbon. A true American aromatic, it is also quite moist, which is at first off-putting. Initially I used a rather heavy hand in drying it, keeping it under a desk lamp until it was well on the dry side. I’d been burned by too-damp aromatics before, and wanted to mitigate any problems. Subsequent bowls proved, however, that this was an unnecessary step, as it actually manages an excellent burn even with such thoroughly sauced leaf. There is a little sizzle on the charring light, but don’t be alarmed—after a light tamp, it takes the true light readily and settles down into an easy, no-hands smoke for forty minutes in a group 4 chamber.
The tin, with its lovely Italianate image of a bevy of scantily clad revelers, describes it as a, "Rich and creamy texture of vanilla, caramel, and honey," and the flavors certainly come through in that order. The smoke really is quite creamy, in fact, and there’s a lot of it, with a great light body through to the heel. Another surprise with this tobacco is its refusal to burn wet or to bite, despite its apparent moisture. In a very narrow draught hole there is some gurgle, but no more than expected from nearly any blend; the flavors do pronounce best when packed loosely in a wide-open bore, though, and I find a larger chamber size best suited to prolonging the enjoyment, both for myself and those around me. Bite is never a problem, and after repeated bowls my tongue is pleasantly coated with its treacle.
This is definitely a crowd-pleasing tobacco, one that may convert non-smokers to the pipe on the spot. Seriously, it’s that good. Its room note is as playfully sweet as its taste, and comments range from “Are you smoking pancakes?” to “Oh my god, that smells delicious!” when tested in a public setting. This is definitely the kind of smoke that will turn heads and change people’s minds about how evil smoking is, because surely something that smells so good can’t be all that bad. Both the taste and the aroma are in that bready-sweet nexus of pastry, cotton candy, maple syrup and molasses, recommending this as a perfect dessert smoke. When loaded in a brand new Missouri Meerschaum, it picks up the bowl’s flavor and tastes thickly of candy corn—and then more childhood memories, of Halloweens past, ensue.
I’m obviously an unabashed fan of good aromatics, so if you are too then this is one blend you’ll definitely want to try out. Even if you’re only occasionally drawn to aromatics, don’t think of this blend as a one-trick pony. Another of my guilty pleasures is to mix an aromatic in with my heavier non-aromatic blends. I find that very dry VaPers or Balkans do well with a shot of sweetness added to them, and Molto Dolce is a perfect blender for this purpose. Added to Orlik Golden Sliced it becomes a carnivalesque riot of sweet and savory, and as an added benefit seems to punch up the nicotine quotient. A pinch in some GLP Blackpoint and it’s almost like smoking Bohemian Scandal again, with the sweetness tempering the Latakia and recreating the wine-like notes of Syrian leaf. All in all, the only real downside I can find to this tobacco is that it’s only available in 1.5-ounce tins. While packing my last bowl of this for the photo shoot, I’m reminded of an old Italian proverb: Bacco, tabacco e venere riducono l’uomo in cenere; but oh, how sweet it is!