I've been on a bit of a Samuel Gawith binge this week. Not a bad thing to binge. Had a bit of Irish D Light before retiring last night, so this morning I decided to keep with a somewhat peppery theme, and reached for my few flakes of St. James. This is about a five year old sample, and it has a few crystals dusting it already. Smells like....yum.
Or perhaps more specifically, it smells like a mature Virginia. Sweet cocoa and a stone fruit - I'm thinking plum or even apricot, oddly enough. I rubbed a couple of flakes out to a rough shag and let them sit for about 2 hours before packing my Stanwell and heading outside. It's warmer out today - a balmy 31 that feels warmer than indicated. Shady the mutt rolled around in the snow while I put flame to bowl and settled in for some VaPer glory and a bit of .... Angry Birds.
Now fair warning here, dear reader - I am somewhat besotted with VaPers of late, and have been smoking my fair share of them. From Anni Kake to Escudo and parts beyond, it's been a Perique kind of holiday. Your level of "yum" may vary. For my part, this is a VaPer that I would place more on the VA and a bit less on the Perique. The Perique only really shows in a slight acidity on the inhale and a pillowy soft touch of pepper on the retrohale - more green peppercorn than black. The sweetness of the Virginia sets the stage with this one, and the sugar and raisin is right there for the taking. This makes of a very relaxing - if not taxing - VaPer. It is consistent in character and note throughout the bowl, and never veered from type from char to dottle. It smokes very cool and easily, requiring exactly zero relights in its current state.
I was a bit concerned that I might be plunging the stem a bit more with this one as it seems more VA-centric tobaccos warrant it. This was not at all the case, and I only picked up a slight gurgle once about mid-bowl. I ran a pipe cleaner through the stem and only got a touch of briarberry juice - barely enough to make for that gurgle. Well behaved and tasty, this one.
I would have to really search through my notes and cellar history to find all the VaPers that I've tried over the last year or so, but I've liked nearly all of them. Some more VA than Perique, some more peppery. This is likely due to age in addition to the blending characteristics of the tobacco, but they all have their place. This is certainly among the top two in my mind - likely at the pinnacle. Solid tobacco that behaves well, burns cool and (mostly) dry, and tastes great. I will absolutely keep this on hand.