Cornell & Diehl tobacco is a personal favorite; so when I was asked to choose a tobacco line blended by C&D to write about here, I was overjoyed!
As I began thinking about what series I wished to discuss, I had a revelation: since I love all C&D tobacco blends and would have a difficult time choosing only one, I should ask a tobacco blender from C&D what to do. Our conversation would surely inspire me, and give insight into the manufacturing. Plus, let us be honest, I really wanted a glimpse into the world of Cornell & Diehl.
Working through the process of landing an interview with a C&D blender, I began to get incredibly excited! For tobacco enthusiasts, visiting the Cornell & Diehl factory is like the Holy Grail of opportunities. The small batch production, the refined recipes, and the unique variety of flavors made by C&D was going to make this visit special.
Jeremy Reeves, C&D’s Production Manager and Head Blender, graciously agreed to an interview.
When I arrived at the Cornell & Diehl blending facility in Longs, South Carolina I was like a kid in a candy shop.
Getting to Know Jeremy Reeves
Jeremy Reeves began his pipe and tobacco journey in 2003 at a brick and mortar tobacco shop in Chicago. He soon began hand-blending his own pipe tobacco at home to smoke with his wife.
The love affair between Jeremy and his wife included a passionate relationship with pipes and tobacco. Jeremy and his wife even smoked a bowl of their own personal hand-blended tobacco during their wedding ceremony, how cool is that!
The desire to blend and make his own tobacco was fostered by his experience as a Chef at a wood-fired pizzeria. Jeremy says:
There is a connection between cooking food and blending tobacco. In both fields you deal with every aspect and ingredient of the process. You get to nurture, raise, perfect, and enjoy your creation that you and only you are responsible for. That is one reason why my job is so special, and I love it.
Jeremy’s role as head blender at Cornell & Diehl is a fairly recent move. At the beginning of 2015 Jeremy was offered the opportunity to become the Head Blender.
At this point in his life, Jeremy is hard at work in C&D’s new process facility in Long, SC. It is in this facility that every single ounce of the company’s tobacco travel’s through his hands, at one point or another in the process, before coming to rest in the pipe of one of C&D’s loyal fans.
About Cornell & Diehl Tobacco
So Jeremy, when smoking Cornell & Diehl, I can tell that it is special. I can taste the superior flavor, the individual elements of each blend, and the effort you put into each blend. In your opinion, what is so special about Cornell & Diehl?
Well C&D is a small batch company. Everything we make is done with care and in small amounts so that they are made exactly the way we want them to be made. We start the process of making a new blend by making only one ounce.
We do everything by hand, except cutting and pressing (which can’t be done by hand). Nothing is automated. We strip every leaf by hand. We even put every single label on each tin with a gluestick.
Wow! I have not seen many manufacturers making such large amounts of tobacco in small batches and by hand. If you were talking to someone who has never heard of Cornell & Diehl and never smoked one of your blends, where would you suggest they start?
Start by trying Autumn Evening. It’s a strong aromatic tobacco that will not scare away the smoker. This blend is a perfect introduction, for the new or old smoker to Cornell and Diehl tobaccos.
I love Autumn Evening and am very happy that it was your suggestion! So what is your advice to a new smoker of C&D tobacco?
Experiment. Experiment when you encounter a blend that doesn’t grab you immediately, or a blend that you can’t quite wrap your mind around, and keep experimenting. Try different ways to crumble your cake, different ways to rub out your flake -- each will give you a different experience. Use education sources online to help you figure out how to get the most out of that particular C&D blend.
Cornell & Diehl Cellar Series
And now we introduce the Cellar Series, one of the most delicious lines of tobacco made by Cornell & Diehl. All I knew about the blends was that they were delicious. Thanks to the expertise of Jeremy, I now have a much more clear understanding of these tobaccos.
When I asked you at the beginning of the interview ‘which series of Cornell & Diehl tobaccos are your personal favorite?’ you seemed pretty sure of your answer. Why is the Cellar Series your favorite?
Every one of these tobaccos just shines! Every blend in this line is unique and indicative of the kinds of tobaccos that C&D makes. They have a refinement that shows people that Cornell & Diehl have not backed away from strong flavors. This line shows people that C&D develops their tastes and makes sure each one of them is great.
Very cool! So what was the overall inspiration behind the Cellar Series?
So we wanted to create a tobacco where we look down that road at what it will taste like 10-15 years from now. We blended these for the future. Don’t get me wrong, they taste great now, but we blended these for the art of cellaring tobacco. They are an investment in the future.
So I have heard many different reasons why pipe smokers should cellar tobacco. In your opinion, why should they?
Personally, I tend to put things away when I, a) find things that I really like and b) I know the blend is composed of components that will age well together. When it comes down to it, the main reason to cellar tobacco is because it is fascinating and fun!
So we have talked about the Cellar Series a little. We know that it was meant to be cellared, and it will shine even brighter in 10 years. But give me, and everyone else, one more answer: what is so special about the Cellar Series?
The Cellar Series is special because of the ratios of each blends components. In other words, the recipes are special. We blended them so they would be optimized in the long run. Not many tobacco blends are specifically made to be cellared.
We used Perique and liquor to help kick start the fermentation period, which is the most important part of cellaring tobacco. We have combined components that typically don’t age well with ones that do. We are giving everyone an opportunity to smoke an aged blend that very few people have ever had the privilege to smoke. That is why the Cellar Series is so special.
My Thoughts on the Cellar Series
Thanks to Jeremy’s generous and insightful views, we can really see how special the Cellar Series is.
Generally companies want to sell their tobacco, have people smoke it, and then sell them some more. Of course these companies are filled with passionate people, but it is incredibly rare to see an entire company be so meticulous that they apply a small-batch approach to the entire production process.; In fact, they care so much that they are selling a blend designed to be stored away and not even smoked for a decade! Now that is long-term thinking.
Whether you have never heard of Cornell & Diehl tobacco or you are an avid C&D smoker, the Cellar Series will shine in your pipe. Smoking Cornell & Diehl tobacco will take your pipe smoking from a hobby to a passion.
To learn more about how to cellar your tobacco, see Cellaring Tobacco: The Dos and Dont’s.
Chris Hopkins is a pipe blogger and former tobacconist. Chris worked for his first tobacco company at the age of 17 in Kentucky, then later as a tobacconist in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Chris currently operates an in- depth blog review of pipe tobacco and products at Pipe Tobacco Critique. He is currently a graduate student of theology at Kentucky Christian University and a minister in Winston Salem. Chris' passions include pipe blogging, movies, and cooking for his beautiful wife Emily.
Tell us, in the comments below, what is your favorite Cornell & Diehl tobacco?