After a week straight of smoking Latakia blends, I was up for a nice sweet Virginia pipe tobacco. I also wanted to pop open a tin from my collection that I hadn’t tried before. It’s a cold rainy Saturday morning, the weekend before Christmas. It’s one of those lazy rainy days so I’ve queued up Lord of the Rings in the DVD player and grabbed a tin of Cornell & Diehl’s Manhattan Afternoon. Today’s Agenda: smoke pipes, and watch Lord of the Rings for 9 hours. (You may have guessed that the little woman isn’t home today.)
So I go to my pipe tobacco cabinet and grab a bunch of tins and pile them up on my desk. The first four tins are all Latakia blends, and as I said, I’ve been smoking Latakia blends every day for a week. Then I picked up Manhattan Afternoon and read the label. "Naturally sweet Golden Virginia leaf with a drop of honey sliced into flakes". Ding, ding, ding … we have a winner! I haven’t smoked this before, it sounds delicious, and the tin art is exquisite. Maybe it’s my marketing background and my 15 years in the toy business, but I love things that come in handsome packaging.
Upon opening the tin, you can immediately smell the bouquet before even putting it to your nose. If this tobacco had been named for it’s tin aroma, it would have been called, "Plums & Prunes". It’s a nice melodious fragrance of sweet fermented fruits. The tobacco in the tin is comprised of mostly intact flake slices, which are then surrounded by broken flakes. The tobacco is as pretty as the tin art. There are golden browns and golden yellow colors pressed together.
After photographing the new tin, I decided to have some breakfast. I made 1-egg over easy, an English Muffin, cooked grits with a ton of butter, and decided to have a Bloody Mary since my agenda today is quite relaxing. It’s nice how clouds, cold, and rain can give you the perfect excuse to do pretty much nothing. Breakfast complete, I dump out some Manhattan Afternoon and rub it it out. For Cornell & Diehl, it is surprisingly moist. I noticed in Bob’s review, that he said the "moisture level is perfect for smoking right out of the bag …[emphasis added]".
[Please note that I made a point to not read Bob’s review before doing my own as to not be influenced].
My experience with the tinned version was different. The tobacco is quite moist. I imagine the combination of adding honey, pressing and sealing it in a tin keeps it moist. The production date on my tin is January 4, 2010, so it is 2-weeks short of a year old. I thought to dry it out some, but was too anxious to smoke so only gave it 10 minutes. It was a little bit hard to get started, requiring 4 lights in five minutes, but then it smoked fine once I had it going. I left another bowlful out on the counter to dry for the next smoke.
I just smoked normally, not making any extra effort to smoke slow (or fast) and had no tongue-bite, which I was worried about because of the high moisture level. It burns quite cool.
Manhattan Afternoon is absolutely delectable. This is a great tobacco for people that enjoy natural Virginia blends and Virginia flakes. It is slightly sweet, a fruity sweetness similar to the tin aroma. There is a little bit of tanginess as well. Some natural Virginia blends have a sweet vanilla-like taste, and some have a hay-like, or grassy taste. Manhattan Afternoon has neither of these. It is all fruity sweetness, but not quite as fruity as a Navy-style tobacco, which is usually topped with brandy or cognac. The honey topping here is not discernable in and of itself, but just helps bring out the natural sweetness of the tobacco.
|Broken Flakes on top of slices||Slices below the broken flakes|
|Close-up of the tobacco||The tobacco rubbed out|
Brand: Cornell & Diehl
Blender: Craig Tarler
Tin Description: Naturally sweet Golden Virginia leaf with a drop of honey sliced into flakes.
Country of Origin: US
Curing Group: Flue Cured
Packaging: 2oz Tin
Blend Notes: Part of the Simply Elegant Series