This review is based on a fifty year old sample. The burley is toasty, nutty with a little molasses, and is more obvious than the grassy, citrus sweet Virginia. The burley also has an aged, lightly woody, floral taste to it. The black cavendish appears to be lightly sweetened with a sugary vanilla, and lightly underscores the taste, though I don’t always notice it. The sugar seems more obvious. The tobaccos are sublimated a little by the brandy and an apparent rum toppings. Time does not seem to have faded the toppings much at all, and they hold up to the finish. The nic-hit is mild. Burns well and moderately smooth, but while it has no harshness, it’s a little warm on the tongue and could possibly bite a fast puffer. Requires few relights, and leaves virtually no moisture in the bowl. The toppings pleasantly, moderately dominate the after taste with the burley giving it fair competition.
I was lucky enough to have purchased a large 14-ounce paint can from Steve Fallon several years ago. I was advised by Steve that the contents therein were at least 30 years old and perhaps even older.
Anyway, I was familiar with Jim Mate’s Shop in San Fran and of his famous blend. A couple of the old timers in Fader’s on Calvert St. smoked it religiously and I always enjoyed the aroma, so I just had to give it a shot after all these years.
Well, I was not disappointed by Mr Mate! By some stroke of good fortune, or perhaps just great blending/components, Mate’s Aromatic came to life immediately to the match and flavors of rich, dark burley and grassy Virginia filled my den. The Aromatic casing, which is sweet like Sugar Barrel, is still very much evident on the taste buds. Very impressive.
All in all, Mate’s Aromatic is still a fine blend after 30+ years in the can. I’ve been smoking a good bit of it lately, and I need to slow down because once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Jim Mate never told anyone who blended his fine Mate's Aromatic. All we know is that it was a blender in England and I personally think it was McConnell's due to the richness of the Virginia leaf. The casing was certainly light and natural with a creamy finish to each puff. The blend came in seven ounce foil pouches and from the moment the pouch was opened, old world smell and old world taste combined to make the experience wonderful. Too bad this great old San Francisco Pipe Shop is no more... and sadly, neither is this wonderful blend.
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