Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. Top Black Cherry Tobacco is one of the unique Kendal-style pipe tobaccos. Kendal tobaccos are made according to over 200-year old recipes from back in the days where British purity law dictated that only certain natural ingredients could be used in pipe tobacco. This isn’t your grandfather’s tobacco … it’s your great-great-grandfather’s tobacco.
The G&H tobacco is kept doubly-fresh as the tin is vacuum-sealed, and the tobacco inside is in a sealed plastic bag that is taped shut. There is as very strong tin aroma of a rich black cherry liquor … and that’s before you even open the bag. Some may find the tin aroma a bit cloying, but I like it. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to smoke a tobacco named Top Black Cherry right now. If you’re in the mood for something sweet for desert, and you get something sweet, then everything’s fine. If you’re in the mood for steak, then a cream parfait isn’t going to make you happy. If you feel like smoking a strong, smoky Latakia blend, then don’t pick up the tin of G&H Top Black Cherry.
Getting back to the Top Black Cherry Tobacco itself, there is a good reason that it has a powerful aroma of cherry liquor. It says right on the back of the tin; "Sweet black Cavendish, prepared by a special double fermentation process, provides the basis for this blend enhanced by the addition of ripe black cherry flavor to produce a unique cherry aroma and taste that you will enjoy time after time."
Ninety percent of the tobacco appears pitch-black with the remainder a very dark brown. It looks like a medium ribbon or shag cut with all of the tobacco stuck together in one big clump. It’s not in a pressed form, it’s all just stuck together in one large piece, but it breaks apart easily with a light touch and feels slightly sticky. It doesn’t stick to your fingers, but the tobaccos stick to themselves. It seems to be a bit too moist to smoke right away, so I gave it about an hour of drying time just leaving the tin open. Then I fully rubbed it out. Even after letting it dry and rubbing out, you can still squeeze the tobacco together and it will stay stuck in a clump. After rubbing out, the aroma is about the same, but maybe less apt to be cloying. The tobaccos feel a bit hard and coarse.
It packs tightly in the pipe and doesn’t spring back when you push it down. I have queued up a couple of pipe cleaners in anticipation. The pre-light draw is the same cherry liquor taste, but much more faint. I decided to smoke Top Black Cherry in my Savinelli Milano Handmade Smooth Bent Dublin. The tobacco is actually surprisingly easy to light. I thought it may pose some challenges in the combustion department because of the moisture and stickiness, but it lit right up.
Gawith, Hoggarth & Co. Top Black Cherry smokes great. You get huge plums of smoke on the true light and the taste is delicious. While I felt the tin aroma could be cloying to some, the taste while smoking is more refined. Now I know why it’s not always so easy to get this stuff. This is truly a connoisseur’s aromatic tobacco. Personally, I only smoke aromatics maybe 5% of the time, but since I acquired this tin of Top Black Cherry, I have smoked 8 bowls in 6 days. Maybe I am in the beginning infatuation stage of the relationship, and the newness and uniqueness of this tobacco has me wanting it often. This is an aromatic that almost tastes like it smells, and I mean almost in a good way. As I said previously, it may be a little bit too sweet if it tasted exactly like the tin aroma. It is also one of those rare aromatics that gives you the taste that its’ name implies. It tastes like black cherry cake, not pie. To me, pie is usually sweeter than cake. It is also reminiscent of drinking a black cherry soda, (or pop depending on where you grew up).
This tobacco is really something. It keeps getting better and better. As some of you may know, I was the first one out in the 2011 U.S. National Slow Smoking Championships. I had a quite unimpressive time of 9 minutes and 49 seconds. I’m 45 minutes into Top Black Cherry and haven’t even had to tamp, let alone re-light. Ah, I finally did need to tamp and re-light right around the 45-minute mark, and I am 2/3rds through the bowl. When tamped, the tobacco is crunchy.
One of the dangers of smoking a sweet flavorful tobacco is to unconsciously gulp it to get more of the delicious flavor, instead of sipping like you should do. I just realized that I have been puffing away like a locomotive, and Top Black Cherry just passed another test – no tongue bite. It hasn’t become bitter or developed any gurgle. I haven’t needed to use a pipe cleaner either. It smokes cool and dry, which is a pleasant surprise since the tobacco seemed moist and sticky. Towards the end, the flavor gets stronger and it is now about the same as the tin aroma, sweeter and stronger in flavor, maybe dipping its’ toes in the cloying pool a bit, but I still like it and will buy more. Be prepared for the Lakeland-floral notes as well. This stuff is really different. I’m told the room note is quite pleasant as well. There is a little bit of a nicotine buzz near the end of the pipe, but I consider myself to be a nicotine lightweight.
The black cherry taste becomes more rich as you progress through the pipe and becomes even more delicious. It’s nice to have a black cherry tobacco that actually tastes like black cherry. Note that is is black cherry, which is a little different than just cherry.
Pardon my repetition, but this is like smoking black cherry cake. If you are a full-time aromatic smoker, then Top Black Cherry is a must-try. It’s a great change of pace for the occasional aromatic smoker that wants to try a high quality aromatic.
Brand: Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.
Tin Description: Sweet black Cavendish, prepared by a special double fermentation process, provides the basis for this blend enhanced by the addition of ripe black cherry flavor to produce a unique cherry aroma and taste that you will enjoy time after time.
Country of Origin: UK
Curing Group: Air Cured
Flavoring: Black Cherry
Packaging: 50g tin
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