When I was a young boy, over 30 years ago, it was common for us to spend some time in the summer and fall months camping at a mountain-base site near Mammoth Cave known as Jellystone Park. Today, many years later, I grab my pipe and sit down to go through some old pictures of my camping experiences while I smoke a bowl of Cornell & Diehl Mountain Camp.
If the pictures are any kind of proof, and they often are, I’ve been going camping since I was a baby. While I don’t have complete memories of these times, there are fledgling feelings inside that I think came from these early experiences. I have those and pictures of me with my dad at the park on which to rely. I fall into these images as I pop the tobacco tin and take a whiff.
The latakia hits the nose first as a crisp, smoldering, late-night campfire in Autumn. There are hints of pine, dark earth with tiny footsteps embossed in them, and the fresh, woodsy air you’d find in the valley of an old-growth forest. Moss. Grass. A touch of floral notes, but only the slightest, nearly undetectable.
Under the Latakia, the Perique is found in the tin note, fighting for attention as Perique and Latakia often do, but this scuffle becomes a sort of beautiful, impromptu wildwood dance of scents. With sour notes of ruddied, aged lemons and a touch of smashed raisins chewed on the trail as you hike, it all comes together to smell amazing.
The orientals come next with a spicy tinge or mystery. Then you find the Virginias and burley’s holding hands at the base of the mountain with hints of hay, grass, tree bark, and something like an old wood shack found unattended. All of them with a crisp freshness of a trickling stream.
There was a stream I would often visit as a young boy of maybe 8 or 9. I remember catching a crawdad and a lizard in the creek during one camping trip. My sister and I put them in a smallish cooler meant for a six pack of beer that we’d repurposed into our own wildlife collecting unit. We also added some water, grass, and dead bugs for them to eat. By the time we’d gotten back to the fire to show my dad, the crawdad had cut the lizard in half with its claws. My sister started crying.
It was a valuable lesson we learned, that the wilderness cannot be merely collected and kept for your entertainment.
I pack a bowl of Mountain Camp into my Peterson System Standard 307 I reserve for Latakia blend reviews. I put it in straight from the tin, though it could go for a little drying time. I pull the flame in slow. There is slight crackling that reminds me of the late night fires we’d circle. How they’d keep us warm and inspire us to sing old songs and make up new ones; tell scary stories to see who we could make jump in fear.
It is the sour, slightly vegetal Perique I taste first on my tongue with a pleasurable white pepper tingle. A touch of mellowed, fermented oranges, figs, and apples are there as well, but lacking the sweetness you’d typically expect. It tastes musty and old, like the aged trees you’d smell on a mountainside hike. Not old in a bad way, but as one might approach a matured wine. Better with age.
The Latakia is what I taste next, nearly as strong as the Perique in this blend. It burns slowly with hints of pine and oak branches layered in a fire to keep you warm, and it does warm you. The smoke coming from the bowl is smoldering a creamy and thick whitish gray. The Lat has a sweet note to it, which is inviting and satisfying. A touch of scattered, dewy leaves under your boot and rainy wet logs you sit on for a rest. A note of bitter fireside coffee ground fresh and boiled. Pinecones and sticker bushes brush against my shoulder.
The Oriental and Turkish leaves are zesty and piquant. They come forward with a rushing intensity! Light curry, red pepper. This is the taste of mystery; of what might be looming around the bend in your morning hike. Excitement. Followed by buttery, sweet toasted hues of bark and earth in the burley. The Virginia offers the sweet taste of fresh hay and grass. Light and crisp with a touch of heat.
As I finish the bowl, I reflect on the lessons the wilderness and my father taught me on those camping trips. Kicking my legs into a cold sleeping bag and falling asleep under the stars. It was a time of wonder that I still have with me to this day. I suddenly feel the urge to go camping, and I begin making a checklist in my mind as the bowl burns down.
The smoke mixes well late in the bowl as the Latakia and Perique calm down, allowing the buttery burley and fresh Virginia to join them on their hike. I finish exploring the dark woods of my mind and memory. It burns for an hour and a half, straight to the bottom with no relights, to a dry whitish gray ash. A heavenly smoke. I will be returning to this blend.
Other Tobacco Notes:
Mountain Camp is sold in two forms. You can get it in a tin or bulk. I haven’t noticed a difference between these two.
Strength Notes: This is a Latakia, Perique and Oriental/Turkish heavy blend. It can be a bit overwhelming if you aren’t used to it. Just keep that in mind.
Cut: A nice fluffy ribbon with slight humidity that may require a little drying time although I smoked it straight from the tin with no problem.
Nicotine Strength: The nic hit is quite high. Those who are sensitive may want to smoke this after eating a nice meal.
Drink Pairing: I enjoyed this tobacco with a nice cup of coffee.
Smoking Time: Best enjoyed in the morning, it is light enough to do so. It took about an hour and a half to burn in a larger bowl.
Pipes Used: Peterson System Standard 307. It works well in a medium to small bowl. Otherwise, it will smoke in just about anything. It smokes quite slow, hence the smaller bowl suggestion unless you have a lot of time to smoke.
Age When Smoked: Fresh from the tin.
4/4 Stars. A Great Perique-heavy English with wonderful notes of Oriental spice and Great Burley. A veritable morning feast and one that is quickly heading to a daily smoke for me.
|Brand||Cornell & Diehl|
|Blended By||Craig Tarler|
|Manufactured By||Cornell & Diehl|
|Contents||Burley, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Perique, Virginia|
|Packaging||2oz tin, 8oz tin, Bulk|
All photos are the property of Justin Day at Photography By Day Studio. You can find more of my work here.