“Arguably the most famous of Louisiana’s antebellum mansions, and certainly the most immediately recognizable, Oak Alley is a splendid namesake for this cellar-worthy, new American standard. After establishing an impeccable partnership between sweet Red Virginias and white/brown Burleys, discreet amounts of Perique and Katirini Turkish are added to enhance both the flavor, as well as promote the coolest smoke imaginable for this Cellar Series blend. Estimated peak: 10-15 year.” – Cornell & Diehl
Recently I have been working on an article for TobaccoPipes.com on the Cornell & Diehl cellar series. So for the last week of my life, I have been doing not much more than writing about and smoking blends from the C&D cellar series. Up until this time, I had heard of some of the blends, but had never smoked them. It wasn’t until talking to the head blender of C&D, Jeremy Reeves, that I was convinced to start smoking the cellar series tobacco.
The first of the series I began to smoke was the Oak Alley. Being inspired by and named after a Louisiana Antebellum mansion, I could tell that I was going to be able to taste classic history in this blend.
I was drawn into the imaginative and masterful world of C&D Tobacco.
The cellar series is exactly what it is called: a series of tobaccos that were blended with the intent of cellaring. They have been designed for the future. Formulated to please smokers a decade from now. Well in that case, I obviously have not smoked it at the right time, but how was I supposed to wait?
Every time I open up a tin of non-aromatic Cornell & Diehl tobacco, I get the same tin note: sourdough bread. I have no clue why this is the case, but it is. The same was true in this case. The other notes I got from the tin were a lot of sweetness, a little nuttiness, and a sour note.
The blend comes in a plug cake form, which is spectacularly composed! Cornell & Diehl, in my opinion, has always been the best at making plug and cake tobacco, and it shows with Oak Alley. I prepared my bowl by chipping away around the edges with my pocket knife and getting some large pieces of flake.
There is a slew of tobacco present: Burley, Oriental/Turkish, Perique and Virginia. I am suspecting that there are multiple variations of each blend present, because it seems and smokes much more complex in each. The Burley, while being tobacco #1 is very light, while the Virginia has the strongest flavor for me.
The moisture level of this blend is absolutely perfect. Since it was intended to remain sealed for about a decade, it had to be manufactured at the proper moisture level so that it would age perfectly.
My tin was packaged in April 2014. But even at only 1 year old, this tobacco smoked absolutely amazing!
Every single puff was incredibly smooth. The tobacco packed well. It lit well. It gave me great plumes of smoke. It was a great experience.
I picked up on a few different flavors. The most pronounced flavor I am getting is a nutty substance from the Virginia and Burley. Followed by that I start to get a little bit of spice (a back of the throat spice) from the Orientals. Then emerged a tart taste. Last but not least, about halfway through the bowl, the Perique began to gently punch through the other tastes and forth a decadent sour taste.
Perhaps what I appreciated the most about the flavors is that it felt like I was smoking three of four different blends. They all came through miraculously.
As I am writing this (I am smoking a bowl of Oak Valley right now!) I am starting to think that there is some liquor added. But since it is not advertised I cannot be sure.
This bland also smoked cool. Very cool.
When smoking Oriental and Perique blends, you can usually be sure that the room note will note be pleasant.
Surprisingly, I must say that the room note is quite tolerable.
My wife is a pretty tough critic of smells. She thought this one was pretty acceptable. So for that, I must say it passes inspection!
While this pairing may not sound very classy, it just worked.
I suggest smoking it while drinking a can of Mt. Dew (or bottle, I guess).
It sounds crazy, but that sugary, lemon lime taste just went really well with Oak Alley. I would say try it for yourself, and see if it make sense. It may, or may not.
The strength of this blend changes as you smoke through the bowl.
I would say at first it was a mild/medium blend, but it worked itself all the way up to a medium/full blend in to time.
I would say this is a medium/full flavored tobacco.
I am excited to smoke this in 9 years. I am going to jar up the rest of this tin and try it again in 2024. I have no clue how I will be able to be patient that long, but I must try.
I think that this blend is a perfect opportunity for young pipe smokers to experiment with. If you don’t keep taste notes in a journal, or online, then I suggest you do. Smoke this blend now and write about it. Smoke it again in a few years and see how it changes. I am positive that you will be surprised and excited to see the change in this blend.
I give this blend a 6 out of 10…for now.
I truly think this blend will age its way up to a 9 or 10 in my book. But since it is blended for the future, I am not shocked that it isn’t perfect right now. What doesn’t shock me though is how good this blend is. I sincerely enjoyed every puff of each bowl I smoked.
Pick up your tin of Oak Alley from your favorite B&M, or a great website like TobaccoPipes.com today and start cellaring it away for yourself!
Pictures provided by Cornell & Diehl.