For this Tobacco File, we’re taking a quick look at a TobaccoPipes.com exclusive which releases on November 21, 2023 at 4pm EST— Krampusnacht.
Sutliff Tobacco Company's Cringle Flake tradition gets a dark twist with this return to a whole leaf, straight Red Virginia blend (last done by Sutliff in 2019 for the first Cringle Flake). To be clear, this isn’t a replacement for the annual Cringle Flake, which will be released in a couple weeks.
With artwork by Eugene Falco who has also provided tin art for other recent Sutliff special releases ( Phantom Privateer, Maple Shadows, and the upcoming Cringle Flake), Krampusnacht is a limited run of 500 tins that will only be available on TobaccoPipes.com.
|Before the Christmas spirit fills us with thoughts of sugarplums and cheer, we are taking Krampus by the horns. Aged Red Virginias from 2010 are pressed and sliced to showcase the dark side of the flue-cured leaf. The mature Virginias offer bread, dark fruit, and spice in this special smoking mixture.
Deviating from my usual format for this column (writing in entries that offer my experience with a blend as it develops), this will be a more straightforward dive into Krampusnacht. A more traditional “review,” consolidated from all of my smoking notes with the blend thus far.
Just like Cringle Flake, Krampusnacht is a blend consisting of whole leaf that is pressed and cut into flakes. Above, you can see the leaf as it is before it is pressed into large blocks and cut.
Breaking the seal I get a handful of flakes with a honey brown, golden hue. The tin note offers quite a natural woodiness.
The flake breaks down easily into coarse ribbons. The leaf is quite dry. Not friable, it has that hydrated springiness, but I don't believe will have any trouble being packed right away.
I enjoyed my first smoke in a Brigham Heritage 29, but have since smoked Krampusnacht in several pipes of different dimensions and materials.
Every entry in my smoking notes for Krampusnacht mentions a toasty breadiness among the introductory flavors—that seems to be a feature no matter the bowl. I get some of the brighter accents of grass and a bit of lemon, but woody spice and brown sugar are on show consistently.
Krampusnacht touts some of the Red Virginia dark fruit and plum, but what I get more is what I think of as orange rind— round citrus with a tartness to it.
I think a point was made with this blend to be light on the casing. Absent is the Sutliff vinegar casing that defines 515 RC-1 and plays its role in many of the blend house's Red Virginia offerings. Being a Sutliff Red Virginia, I half expected to find it in Krampusnacht, even if lightly. Though I enjoy that Sutliff staple, its omission is appreciated here. The matured flue cured leaf delivers a smooth, natural, refined smoke. It's modestly dynamic and not busy—frankly, one of my favorite Straight Virginias from Sutliff Tobacco (at least that how my brief time with the blend has me leaning).
Through the smoke, there's a bit of a journey, but nothing too dramatic. At the onset, it's more lithe and the bright notes, while never abundant, seem more perceptible, but will dim through the smoke. The spice climbs through the smoke, more herbal in character than peppery. However, it does bring a physical sensation. Not as much in the sinus, though there is some of that, but more so across the palate.
The smoking properties have been great; no fuss on getting a good char light, not too eager heating up, a nice tempered burn.
The exceptions were a few smokes where I experimented with packing (such was the case with my Pipe Dan estate pipe pictured above). Krampusnacht isn't a flake like the thin, sturdy cuts from Mac Baren or Samuel Gawith. They're more between crumble cake and flake—but I did want to give a fold-and-stuff method a try. After a few attempts that yielded finnicky smokes, I happily settled into rubbing out and packing more traditionally, which continuously delivered a fine smoke.
All-in-all, my experience with Sutliff Krampusnacht from smoke-to-smoke has been mostly consistent. Some pipes seem to lean a little more into the dark, woodier side of the profile, while others embrace the sweetness, but these dimensions are present no matter the smoke, and the difference is minimal. It was most apparent in my bent Billiard Meerschaum, which leaned notably more bright, sweet, and herbal—Orlik Golden-like.
It's not particularly strong. The nic-hit isn't much to navigate, but the darker, bolder flavors certainly offer a bit of vigor to Krampusnacht.
Until next time...
Hopefully Krampusnacht goes some ways in satiating those who have been yearning for another straight Red Virginia Cringle Flake like the first release in 2019. But we can also look forward to 2023 Cringle Flake, which will be released in two weeks on December 5th at 6pm. And of course, I'll be back soon enough with a Tobacco File exploring it.
As always; feedback, advice, requests, corrections, friendly hellos? Always welcome—email@example.com.