Partly as part of my "rediscovery" of OTC tobaccos, partly due to good reviews here, and partly due to avid CBW fans here and on other forums I frequent, I decided to give CBW another try. When I first picked up the pipe, CBW and Borkum Riff Whiskey were some of the first blends I tried. These blends drove me to go 19 out of my 22 years of pipe smoking refusing to touch OTCs, but I figured that it was possible that some of the negative reactions I remembered for these tobaccos may have been due more to inexperience and poor technique than the tobaccos themselves. Plus I love several other OTCs now (primarily Prince Albert, Carter Hall and Sir Walter Raleigh). I figured it was worth giving it another shot.
The pouch note of the CBW is pretty good. Very chocolatey with a hint of vanilla. I can see where some descriptions of "baking cookies" I've read in the past came from. The tobacco is a mix of good looking light and medium to dark brown ribbons. The light brown ribbons are about the color of a light chocolate milk that is a bit heavy on the milk and they make up about 1/3 of the ribbons. The other 2/3 are a darker brown (medium to dark brown) that is similar to dark chocolate in color.
My first pipe of it was out of one of my aromatic pipes (the Kaywoodie 2013 POY that was commissioned by another pipe forum I frequent), I've had it out of a cob, and today I figured a Dr. Grabow was appropriate (a "Crown Duke" apple with a small bowl which is proportionally quite long and slender).
So, how is the smoke? Eh, it's OK.
It is an OTC aro with all the baggage that goes with that. Smoke it too fast and you will quickly develop tongue bite. Smoke it slowly and carefully so as to avoid tongue bite and you get very little flavor. I did occasionally get hints at what I'd expect from the tobacco make-up (Cavendish and Black Cavendish) and pouch note and get a nutty chocolate flavor with hints of vanilla (I never got anything from the whiskey topping). However, that was very weak. Mostly I got a bit of a smoke flavor and felt some heat. It was kind of like an under steeped tea where you get hints of the tea flavor you want, but mostly just taste hot water. When I tried to up the tempo a bit to be between tongue bite and almost nothing I got a hot ashy flavor. It has a bit of a chemical aftertaste, but there isn't a lot there (good or bad).
Overall I'd give the flavor a D to D+. It isn't too bad (if you don't overheat it and get tongue bite) but it definitely isn't good.
Then, there is the smell. Two of the three bowls I've smoked of it were in the car so I got a lot of the scent on the smoke and this stuff smells terrific! The chocolate and vanilla aromas emanating from the tobacco are wonderful. If you smoke in your house or around people who aren't big tobacco fans, this would be a good tobacco to reach for. The smell is a solid B to B+.
So, considering the smell in the equation I'll give CBW a C- to C overall score. Will I buy it again, maybe when I forget it and want to refresh my memory, and I'll probably finish my pouch instead of throwing it away. It is one of those classics that are worth an occasional refreshing of the memory, but it will never be a go to blend for me.