McClelland – Holiday Spirit 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 11.35.37 PM“Holiday Spirit Pipe Tobacco 2015: This mild, smooth blend of Burley, Virginia and Cavendish tobaccos is flavored with dark rum, pecan, and cocoa.  It brings a warm glow to the coldest winter day.  The aroma of a favorite holiday confection wafts from the bowl bringing pipe smoking contentment.  Happy Holidays!” McClelland Tobacco

This is a blend that I am incredibly torn over.  On the one hand, this is one of the clearest and most enjoyable aromatic tastes I have had from McClelland, but there are issues with the smoking process that I find quite cumbersome and annoying.  Anyway, hopefully this review will give you some clear direction as to whether or not you should buy one tin of Holiday Spirit, or ten.

Sit back by the fire, fill up a glass with bourbon, and light a bowl of your favorite aromatic as we make our way through this limited adition blend.

First Impression

While I am not typically a critic of tin art, I have to say that McClelland needs to up their game on this one.  If the theme is Holiday Spirit, and there is a limited release tin, you would think that there would be some festive aesthetic, not just a small emblem and consistent fonts.  But this doesn’t change the quality of tobacco, it;s just a pet peeve of mine.

As soon as you open the tin, there is a very strong aroma of chocolate, followed by the presence of pralines (a sweet pecan).  The note of the dark rum is definitely there, but the other notes are so strong, it can be difficult pick it out at first.

Made from a very oily combination of Burley, Virginia, and Cavendish, this blend is a recipe for sweet flavors.  The cut of this blend is very inconsistent and is an issue I believe.  There are stems, large leafs of burley, dried out chunks of Virginia, and bits of Cavendish in every shape and size.  While it can be loaded, keeping a consistent light through the bowl is very difficult.


What I loved is that the first half or so of the bowl, or at least as long as you could smoke through that far, is that the rum and chocolate flavor was absolutely heavenly.  It just reminded me of dessert at my grandmother’s house on Christmas day.

As you get to about half way through the bowl, the blend starts to taste very ashy.  No matter how many times I smoked this tobacco, in different pipes, with different lighting styles, it always began to taste of ash before the end of the bowl.  Because of the excess of inconsistently cut tobacco, the ashy taste was just way to prevalent.  I would think McClelland could adjust their machinery for this, and I hope they do, for this is a problem with many of their aromatics.

It just agitates me how much potential this blend has.  The tastes are on point.  The smoking experience is just ruined by the cut.

Room Note

The good news is that there is nothing bad to say about the decadent aroma of this blend.

The notes of sugar and rum just glare as soon as you get a whiff.  I found myself smoking this blend in my car quite a bit, and the sweet note stuck in the fabric for longer than usual, which was quite pleasurable for me.


As the Holiday blend this is, I suggest smoking this blend by the warm fire, in the presence friends of family.

I believe eating a piece of chocolate pie, or rum cake, is an excellent pairing option, more for the mood and moment than for the flavor combinations.  But no matter, I am sure you will enjoy this blend in most situations you smoke it in.

McClelland Pipe TobaccoStrength

This blend is most definitely a mild tobacco.

There is not enough body in the Virginia, Burley or Cavendish used for this blend to give it a large body.  This is preferable though, for you will most likely be smoking this around others who will appreciate the light flavorful aroma.

Overall Score

Here is a recap:

The smell and taste of this blend are excellent.  What is not so great is the lackluster art, the insonsistent cut, the inconsistent smoke, and its lack of ability to smoke great all the way to the bottom of the bowl.

I give Holiday Spirit 2015 a score of 4 out of 10.

It is just not good enough to justify a score any higher.  But, you need to buy this blend.  I believe that every smoker should order one tin of this limited release blend, if for no other reason than to extend your collection.

Pictures provided by McClelland and



2 thoughts on “McClelland – Holiday Spirit 2015

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