“Perhaps the most well-known street in the French Quarter, the oldest district in New Orleans, this Cellar Series blend takes its name from the colorful Bourbon street, whose distinct blue shutters have lined the rue for years . In this equally memorable blend, bright and red Virginias are mixed with just the right amount of dark-fired Kentucky and long-cut Perique, then married together with bourbon before being press to form an old-fashioned crumble cake. Estimated Peak: 10-15 years.” – Cornell & Diehl
Having just been released in June 2015, Bourbon Bleu is the newest addition to the Cornell & Diehl Cellar Series pipe tobacco line. The cellar series was artistically created for one purpose: to taste better in 10 years than it does now. We must keep that in mind as we smoke and review this blend, because we obviously have not allowed ours to age yet.
It seems that the background inspiration, or theme I should say, is that of Louisiana and New Orleans. Each of the five blends of the cellar series has a name inspired by some historically proud aspect of Louisiana. And we can also see the inspiration by the Fleur-de-lis artwork on each tin. In this case, “Bourbon Bleu” pays homage to Bourbon Street found in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
However, that is not the only reason Louisiana is the inspiration. In each of the Cellar Series blends, a carefully selected amount of original St. James Perique is added; which is found only in Louisiana. The Perique helps kick-start the fermentation process, giving the aging process a head-start. So it is only proper that the name for these blends has a connection to the tobacco that made each one possible; real Perique.
There was a melodious combination of baked bread, hay, liquor, and nutty smells that erupted out of the tin as soon as I popped it. There was a finesse in the balance and I greatly enjoyed smelling the tin as much as I liked smoking the tobacco (well, not quite as much).
The tobaccos that make up Bourbon Bleu are Gold and Red Virginias, Dark Fired Kentucky, and long-cut Perique. The Gold VA is responsible for any hay like flavor you may run in to, while the Red adds a subtle sweetness to the blend. The Dark Fired Kentucky makes it smokey and pairs well with the added liquor sauce. The Perique adds a little spice and tingle to the palate, but it primarily placed in the blend for the purpose of fermentation.
Bourbon Bleu comes in a heavily pressed and very dense cake. I found that mine rubbed out really well when I took my pocket knife to it like an ice pick. When I tried cutting, slicing, or just ripping, I would get large leafs left and it was difficult to tear those apart. All in all, you can feel the quality of the tobacco when breaking apart, and at this point, you know it is going to smoke great!
Typically when smoking I use the light/kill/relight method. That is what I prefer, because I really do not like putting an open flame to my pipe more times than is necessary. I just hate heating up my briar more than need be. For Bourbon Bleu, I had to take at least 4 full matches in order to get a proper light. On top of the heat, I take issue with this because I was smoking it outside mostly and the wind made it hard to do so.
However, when it was lit, there was a wonderful symphony of flavor bouncing around on my palate. The sweet hay flavor from the Virginia tobacco was delectable. I could feel the presence of a campfire in my mouth because of the DFK. And after I exhaled each draw, I felt the Perique enact a tingle on my tongue (a bite like eating spicy food) that complimented the sweetness very well. All of this was on a serving of liquor that was present, but not forthright. Perhaps the largest flavor I experienced, and the most exciting was a nutty flavor. Perhaps there was an element of Amaretto or nut based flavor that was added to the bourbon sauce.
Another issue I had was that this tobacco burned very hot. Some of my nicer pipes that typically smoke very cool got an extremely hot bowl when I smoked this blend. It is a shame that this is the case because this was one of my favorite tasting tobaccos I have had in a long time.
The room note was quite pleasant with this non-aromatic.
It reminded me of a farm. Not because of the animal crap or anything, but because of fresh smell of fire and hay. In this note, it also became more clear that liquor was used. Overall, it may be one of the best smelling blends that contain a significant serving of Perique!
I’ll be upfront with, I don’t know the perfect drink to pair with this.
I tried bourbon, obviously, and it was OK, but I was under impressed. I moved to a Lager, just a regular Yuengling, and it was just alright. After a few more drinks, I tried some salted rum; and I was slightly surprised to find that I really liked the rum. The salty and sharp fruity notes of the rum really cut through the taste of this blend and it went well with Bourbon Bleu.
If you find a better pairing for it, leave me a comment in the section below. I would love to try it!
This blend is a perfect medium bodied blend.
All the flavors stand out without overpowering anyone. The room note is pleasantly full without being harsh. I think this is a solid medium.
If I had the luxury of rating tobacco on taste alone, then I would be very happy. I could rate this blend higher.
I want to give Bourbon Bleu a high score, but I just can’t seem to overlook a couple of issues: it is difficult to light, it smokes super hot, and it creates a fair amount of spittle. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens with liquor sauce, and it just cannot always be perfect.
I give Bourbon Bleu a score of 5 out of 10
Don’t get me wrong, I really loved this blend. It tastes absolutely great! I just have to score it with those problems in mind. But you can be sure that I will have a couple tins of Bourbon Bleu in the cellar for quite a long while, and who knows, maybe after this tobacco has aged for some time, like Cornell & Diehl designed it to, the issues I had with it may go away!