Nice review, Jeff.
I agree with a lot of what you wrote. Particularly the part about having trouble getting a bowl of this stuff lit long enough to develop flavors. I suffered similar frustrations trying to slice through the 1 oz sample I initially bought. I almost wonder if the rope form isn't meant to be chewed?
I'm glad I stuck with Black Twist though, since it's much easier to deal with in the pre-sliced form G&H offers (sliced very fine, so it rubs out almost into a shag cut). The sliced BT, once rubbed out and dried for a couple of hours, is much easier to deal with. I wouldn't say there's a whole lot of flavor concentration throughout a bowl. Not like a VA or Burley. But maybe that's just because Black Twist is so heavily pressed/baked/whatever.
Despite it's finicky nature, there's something in G&H Black Twist that I keep coming back to. Your comment that the blend smells like a cigar shop rings true. There's a strong smoked tobacco note, like a room where people have smoked many cigars, mixed with that pungent, slightly vinegary smell of cigars aging in humidors. On top of that there's a sweet, molasses note. Also something faintly like burning tires. Which, God help me, I've learned to enjoy.
As far as the nic hit--agreed, this blend is over-hyped. It's the little brother of the SG twists. And while the Vit N is definitely here, it's not going to knock anyone over who is used to other G&H offerings.
Again, great review. Look forward to other people's opinions on this one.