This cellar-diving kick is admittedly paying off, contemplating the effort and time that went into stocking the coffers with tobacco meant to be loved with some age on its aspect. This month’s candidate for overview is a tin of JackKnife Plug dated 6th April 2011, among the many first manufacturing runs of this mix from the New World Assortment. Having finished a launch overview for it and its fraternal twin JackKnife Prepared Rubbed again in 2012, and seeing as this tin is simply reaching its eleventeenth birthday, it appears a becoming time to revisit what Mr. Pease hath wrought.
Opening the tin with no small quantity of anticipation, one can actually recognize the best way persistence can repay with tobacco. The aromatics launch with a whoosh of strain, itself an immensely satisfying sound whereas peeling again the lid. The scents fill the air instantly, robust and candy tones that flood the complete room: up entrance, the wealthy bitter sweetness of a Terry’s Darkish Chocolate Orange, baker’s chocolate; growing over a while with nuances like wealthy mulched earth, model new leather-based sneakers, a phenolic tinge harking back to Dettol or pine tar, and an underlying meatiness of a lightly-charred steak. Over the course of a few weeks making my method by the tin, the aroma tempers all the way down to a extra acquainted chocolate-covered cherry cordial with layers of parchment and a briney umami saltiness like soy or Worcestershire sauce. It’s tempting, with all this chocolaty aroma, to take a chunk out of the brownie-like bar of tobacco, a sense I’m absolutely not alone in considering. The presentation does nevertheless invite nearer inspection of the tobacco, such a tangible factor when in bar type. This 11-year-old plug is just flippantly dusted with the whitish ‘sugar crystals’ typically discovered on aged Virginia blends, and peering into the layers from outermost to innermost there’s a normal uniformity of colour and texture all through—once more, and to not belabor the purpose, however the colour is a wealthy, bitter darkish chocolate-brown that completely mirrors the aromas.
The composition of this mix is clearly no accident, no haphazard mashing collectively of leaf. Greg clearly set out with a aim in thoughts: exploring the breadth and depth of the character that could possibly be created when working with the darling of the pipe tobacco world on the time, dark-fired Kentucky. Darkish-fired loved a little bit of a heyday with the discharge of those GLP choices, in addition to a bunch of others comparable to MacBaren’s HH Previous Darkish Fired. Talking on the composition of JK Plug versus Prepared-Rubbed, he notes:
The mix is an identical, with one small exception. The plug is constructed with a core of brights, and the darker tobaccos surrounding it. This permits the brights, theoretically, to precise themselves with extra purity within the mix. They’re not underneath as nice an affect from the fire-cured and purple tobaccos. Doing this with the [Ready Rubbed] wouldn’t work properly, due to the best way the tobacco clumps, so the blocks are usually not stratified on this method. The identical tobaccos in the identical measures are simply layered and pressed for a similar size of time, then the blocks are sliced and tumbled. It’s the identical approach used for the Previous London mixtures.
It was additionally clearly supposed with growing older in thoughts; once more, in Greg’s personal phrases:
After I first designed the stuff, I had no concept what the longer term would convey. There was actually no purpose to assume it could do something however age splendidly, however you by no means know. The plug type causes inner anaerobic fermentation, whereas the outer layers are nonetheless uncovered to loads of air. The opposite evening, I opened an 8-month outdated tin of the ultimate prototype. The aroma was intoxicating, and the smoke was HUGE. I feel it’s secure to say it’s going to age actually, actually properly. And rapidly. I might have believed the tobacco in that tin to have been 5 years outdated already.
With greater than a decade underneath the hood ready to show or disprove this principle, the bar was sliced skinny and thick, folded, rubbed, and stuffed into quite a lot of bowl geometries to tease out its flavors, and the outcomes are resoundingly optimistic.
The decision? JackKnife Plug has the character and complexion of the heartiest of English blends, whereas being fully absent of Latakia or Oriental leaf. It ages like a peaty single-malt of the best provenance, growing layers and depth that belie the relative simplicity of its components. I rapidly gravitated towards a wider, open-chambered pipe for tasting, one which I might typically use for English blends, because it naturally accommodated the finer nuances of the smoke—and the smoke is actually enormous. The highest of the bowl begins with a piccolo-like overture from the Virginia-Perique nexus, with a peppery nostril prominently laying the groundwork for what’s to return—assume Shostakovich’s sixth, first motion (in reality, this piece is an efficient parallel total; maybe with out fairly as a lot of the bombast of later actions). The sweetness is surprisingly underplayed, nevertheless—the Perique rapidly turns into a background spice, lending bitter notes whereas falling consistent with the concord of the Virginia’s extra leathery tones. The sharp edges are all well-rounded over right here; removed from with the ability to chunk, this smoke develops a thick, steak-dinner mouthfeel virtually instantly, one which lingers for a superb whereas after the pipe is completed. By mid-bowl the complete composition actually comes collectively, with the darker smokiness of the Kentucky burley stepping middle stage even whereas a number of the sweetness sneaks again in. In reality, for beverage pairings I favor an extra-sweet iced tea or delicate drink as private desire. The umami of mid-bowl builds and builds by to the heel, because the chocolaty and nutty tones segue into barbecue woods and steak char, with a contact of Worcestershire nonetheless interwoven from the Perique’s spice. Considerably surprisingly for such a stout mix, the nicotine doesn’t overwhelm—it’s a strong medium-plus, although, finest loved after a meal.
Whereas my desire with the plug is to slice comparatively skinny, then rub completely for the attractive aroma, the flavors do, in reality, transmit in a different way than the ready-rubbed model right here. I’ve not but opened an equally-aged tin of JK Prepared-Rubbed to do a direct comparability, however due to my tasting notebooks I can draw the strains on the place the flavors diverge of their nuances. Wanting again over time, I discover a earlier dalliance with a few 5-year-old tins of Plugin 2017, and most of the similar notes had been hit, although maybe with not as a lot of the basso continuo evidenced on this older pattern. The New World Assortment additionally marks a return to tobacco which we had been lacking on this aspect of the pond for probably the most half—hard-pressed plugs. You’d actually be hard-pressed to discover a higher smoke to inventory in your cellar.
The publish Overview: Cellar-Diving with GL Pease JackKnife Plug Classic 2011 first appeared on PipesMagazine.com.