Some folks don’t like the heat; I thrive in it. With the temperatures in the mid-nineties for the past few weeks, I’ve been in heaven. My taste in tobaccos hasn’t suffered for the heat either, fortunately, and I’ve made new acquaintance with some Lat mixtures as well as having the good fortune to have this tin of Great Outdoors from Sutliff Tobacco slated for review. Burley blends can suit any climate or season, and this one made a pleasant companion for hot times and summer in the city.
Opening the tin releases a burst of a very nutty burley topped in vanilla and a hint of anise, recalling to me my younger days and a brief association with chewing tobaccos. The combination of burley and liquorice is a classic taste, and to me a very American one, in the vein of sarsaparilla and hard cider—both of which make great pairings with this blend, incidentally. The cube cut, mixing chunks of Cavendish and portions of pressed burley flake, makes for easy packing and takes easily to a light, even in the recent wave of humidity. I will confess to a few more relights than usual at a Queen biergarten, though can’t say conclusively whether to blame it on the weather or the libations. At any rate, the topping serves to amplify and define the tobacco flavor rather than mask it, and contributes to the crowd-pleasing aroma well.
After my first few samplings at the home office, I decided this was a smoke that should be appreciated as it’s named—in the great outdoors, of course. Armed with pipe and pouch, I ventured out into the wilds of New York City to smoke where I could, such as the aforementioned biergarten. A few bowls were enjoyed after a day at the Met, in Central Park of all places; for my flagrant civil disobedience I was rewarded generously with the odd smile from passersby. The park was as much greenery as I could muster in the heart of the city, and it proved more than adequate an excursion to remind me what dappled sunlight looked like, what the sound of trees and mosquitoes were, and the way that it feels to have one’s pipe smoke mingle with the scent of earth. To take another page from wine tasting, it also lets the bouquet open up when en plein air, and Great Outdoors truly does perform better when enjoying the scenery. The natural nutty flavor profile expands in the open air, softens a bit, and complements the aromas of nature.
On the light it has that sharpness common to burley, with a nice peppery body on the retrohale. Don’t mistake the initial sharpness for a tendency to bite, though; I found Great Outdoors to be remarkably well behaved even when puffing away in a steady breeze. Pacing myself to keep the ember low, I meandered through a couple of bowls while at the park bench, taking my initial notes and listening to the birdsong, burning down to the proverbial dry white ash each time. The aroma is sweet but never cloying, like a dry pecan pie, Southern style.
Likewise for bystanders, the secondary smoke transmits well the piquant, nutty tang of the tin aroma, and has a very classic appeal in its overall feel. I have not sampled the vintage Field & Stream this blend is modeled on, but this tin has certainly piqued my interest in finding some for comparison; it definitely did not have any of the soapy Lakeland essence that is often mentioned with the House of Windsor offering. We’re fortunate in the outer boroughs to have a fair share of neighborhood bars with ample enough outdoor seating to allow a smoking section, and my pipe was welcomed with compliments at all of them. I feel it prudent, in fact, to warn the gentlemen in the audience that this is the kind of lightly sweet yet manly tobacco that speaks to women on a primal level. I have independent female confirmation on this, as my girlfriend notices when other women are checking me out much more readily than I do. I don’t have the heart to tell her that it’s more likely because of my dashing good looks and huge vocabulary, so let’s assume it’s the aroma of roasted walnuts, pecans and liquorice that turns the ladies’ heads.
Brooklyn owes the charmer under me.
As noted earlier, this is paired well with adult beverages having an herbal profile, and stands up to strong and tart flavorings, balancing them out on the palate with its more earthy and alkaline smoke. It’s also not shy about providing a good dose of nicotine, though not so much as to discourage ordering more than a couple rounds and repeated bowls. I also found it to be equally companionable in the workshop, allowing my mind to focus on the task at hand while providing the perfect atmosphere for concentration, mingling nicely with the ever-present aroma of hardwood sawdust. While the aromatic component is certainly there, it’s a solid tobacco taste in the smoke and can be found in the non-aromatic section of the Sutliff website, and hopefully at your local B&M—and if it isn’t, I’m sure they’d be happy to stock it at your request. For fans of all-day burleys, this is a satisfying blend to add to the rotation.
Yes, the bar had a clothesline.