McClelland Christmas Cheer 2014

Handblended, premium pressed Virginia flake pipe tobaccos. A fine vintage, naturally sweet, in limited quantity.
Notes: From tin insert: We are proud to offer our 2014 Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco, an exceptionally fine vintage tobacco, hand blended and aged in pressed cakes to develop natural mellowness. This 2014 blend is made with a special selection of red flue-cured Virginia from an outstanding 2009 crop near Snow Hill, North Carolina. Superb sun-dappled leaf picked at peak ripeness, it is high in natural sugars, rich in oils. It should age extremely well in the tin. Each buying session, we look for tobaccos of exceptional quality and distinctive character. In various combinations their flavors, aromas, textures contribute to the overall excellence of all our products. The leaves of different crops and regions are combined to maintain consistency from year to year. With Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco, we treat our discriminating customers to the singular pleasure of a tasting of the very finest in tobaccos of a particular vintage, not worrying about maintaining the flavor and appearance of this product into future years but actually striving instead to present the unique character of a single crop and area. That's what Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco is all about. Happy sampling!


Brand McClelland
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Broken Flake
Packaging 100 grams tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


Mild to Medium
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.47 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 17 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 27, 2015 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
The red Virginias have a tangy dried and ripe dark fruitiness from start to finish. There's some earthiness and a little spice all the way, too. The "vinegar" flavor seems a little more obvious to me than it does in some other years, but it's not distracting, and lessens as you go along. Burns slow with a clean, consistent flavor, requires relights, and will leave some moisture in the bowl. May need a little stirring up in the final quarter, depending upon if you dry it any and how tight you pack it. No bite and has no harsh, dull or weak moments. Has a mild nic-hit. An uncomplicated all day sweet smoke with a very pleasant after taste and room note.

8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 05, 2014 Mild None Detected Mild Very Pleasant
This is simply a fantastic tobacco. I’ve been smoking cigars for over 20 years, but only recently (last two weeks) delved into the world of pipe smoking. This is the first non-aromatic Virginia blend I’ve smoked and I was so pleased with it I had to smoke another bowl nearly right away.

The smell from the tin is fairly intoxicating: rich raisin and spiced fruit notes and a fairly strong sweetness. It absolutely reminds me of a fruitcake aroma. I hate fruitcake (the candied fruit bits seem like something made from pure evil), but I love the aroma of fruitcake – especially while it’s baking in the oven. This 2014 Christmas Cheer reminds me of that a lot. I can clearly see why this is a Christmas blend.

The tobacco comes in a broken flake form, so it’s really easy to rub out whatever amount you need. It didn’t seem overly moist when I opened the tin, but I let it sit about 20 minutes after I rubbed it just to be certain. It was super easy to pack into the pipe, took the charring light without issue, and then remained lit for quite some time before needing to be tamped again. I only had to relight a couple of times; I found that simply tamping the tobacco was enough to keep the light going again. The volume of light blue/white smoke was visually appealing and the aroma was pleasantly sweet – the wifey commented upon it’s agreeable aroma before I had the chance to ask. The taste on the palate is rather light, which I imagine is to be expected from a Virginia blend like this. No tongue bite or any bitterness at all and even after smoking two bowls I didn’t have any sense of dry mouth. I drank an Alaskan Pumpkin Porter during the first bowl and plain water with the second. The Pumpkin Porter actually paired rather well with this tobacco since it’s not the heaviest of beers – an autumn beer and a Christmas tobacco. Seems like a pretty good pairing to me!

I smoked both bowls down as far as they would go. Fellow cigar smokers will understand since we’ve all smoked amazing cigars right down to the digit-scorching nub simply because we didn’t want the experience to end. I also noticed that this blend doesn’t seem to make the pipe smell bad at all. I didn’t do cleaning of the pipe after I was done, other than giving the bowl a gentle once-over with the scraper and dumping out the few bits of dottle. The next morning I picked up the pipe to give it a whiff and there really wasn’t any disagreeable smell. Sure, the aroma from the tobacco itself is far better, but I was surprised a little.

I understand that many pipe smokers snag as much of these McClelland Christmas Cheer offerings as possible for aging. I can see why! If it’s this good now, I can only imagine how good it will be a few years down the road! I’ve already placed another order for 5 more tins to keep on hand. Might just have to make it a Christmas tradition to open one tin each year.

I highly recommend this Christmas Cheer 2014 blend. Get it while you can!
Pipe Used: Peterson Aran (68) P-Lip
Age When Smoked: Freshly opened tin
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 20, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant
I received my shipment of this tobacco with high hopes that it would live up to the reputation of it/s predecessors. Being a Va lover, I was extremely delighted upon the ketchup tin note once I cracked open the lid. The presentation of the tobacco inside the tin is astounding and a sight to behold.

On with the fire, this blend lacked the initial sweetness that it's predecessors are well known for. I find that it has a more fuller body. I tried to give the blend several attempts in several different pipes. The sweetness yet remains to be found.

Perhaps I am foolish in hoping that a fresh tin would yield the exquisite smoking experience that I longed yielded for. I shall despair not and stash this blend in the cellar and revisit it at a much later period within my lifetime.

Thankfully within the same order, I have received GL Pease's JackKnife which at this point is turning out to be one of the sweetest Va blends I have tasted. As it is now, sadly I have to see this blend as Christmas Boo 2014..
Pipe Used: Various - briars and cobs
Age When Smoked: Fresh
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 19, 2015 Very Mild Mild Very Mild Pleasant
Oh the annual Christmas blends. Love them or hate them, you have to try them.

I purchased this tin through Smoking pipes and couldn't have been happier with the presentation. The tin itself and its contents look amazing. I am one of those people who get a childlike euphoria when preparing to pop open the tin. It reminds me of when I was a child and I tore open my Christmas presents expectantly on Christmas morning. I usually purchase tobacco in bulk so when I do get a tin it's something special for me.

Upon opening the tin, I got just as excited as I had mentioned. The fragrance of the tobacco is mild but sweet. The smell truly does remind me of Christmas. Unfortunately, This is about where my excitement ended.

The tobacco itself is broken cut. Now to be fair, this is in the description of the product, but to me it seems like more of a lazy pain than a good way to prepare and preserve the tobacco. I am one to get frustrated with plug. It usually seems more trouble than it is worth. In this case I did my best to step beyond this and try to enjoy the smoke. I took the entire tin and rubbed the tobacco until it was loose and ready to smoke.

I packed a bowl in my Karl Erik pipe and lit it up as I normally do. Unfortunately again I was disappointed. The flavor was not as I had expected. It did have subtle flavoring and wasn't overpowering but it no longer reminded me of a Christmas blend. A good word to describe it would be "boring." The blend lacks the complexity of a solid smoke. The notes were too subtle for a Christmas blend and as a whole they were underwhelming. Overall, this tobacco is worth a smoke but maybe not worth smoking the entire tin.
Pipe Used: Karl Erik and Nording Freehands
Age When Smoked: Fresh
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 04, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I won't go too in to depth on this as I have already done so in my reviews of the 2012 and 2013 versions, but having just finished my tin of 2014 I thought I would just emphasize my enthusiasm for this series.

I think this is just a great annual tradition by McClelland. I have seen CC referred to as the single malt of Virginia tobaccos and I think that is appropriate as it is all leaf from one crop. It is always fantastic and I suppose there are slight nuance differences from year to year, but it is beyond me to detect as it would require having open tins of the different years and doing back to back smokes of each, for me anyway.

I only have one tin of CC open at any given time. I have been buying two tins each year since 2012 as well as collecting tins from years past. I smoke one and cellar one and have been cellaring all the older ones I have been able to obtain. It has become a great tradition and almost another addictive form of TAD.

Anyway, if you like McClelland Virginias and haven't tried CC, you need to get with it. It is the flagship of their Virginias. Highly recommended every year.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 08, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
Usually blenders mix different crops of virginia leaf to maintain consistency. Not so with McClellands Christmas Cheer. It's one superior crop. It's like a single malt scotch. Each year has it's own character. Each is different and unique though it's always red virginia leaf. I think this concept is very cool. It makes collecting each year fun and exciting. I got a couple of tins of the 2014 last christmas. I smoked 2 and cellared 4. I'm really looking forward to cracking into another tin or two this christmas. I already bought a few tins of 2015 and I'm sure I'll buy more.

As for the smoke itself it's a spicy smooth red virginia. It's just natural tobacco with no added flavors as far as I can tell. McClelland has aged it 5 years already and it really shows. Some reviewers have complained that it's not sweet enough which may be partly true but I think this is some of the best quality leaf available. It doesn't get more artisan than this. Don't buy any. I want it all! I smoke in a meerschaum churchwarden which has become my christmas pipe. I find the meer a good way to get all of the tobacco flavor. Just sublime stuff.

Pipe Used: meer, briar
Age When Smoked: less than 1 year
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 24, 2014 Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant
Damn it, I only bought one tin. I won't make that mistake in future years. My first taste of red Virginia & this tobacco. Farm fruity, simply elegant and delicious stuff. I generally go for Nicotine and/or Latakia. Moist from the tin, it does require substantial drying. Wow!

The 2015 has been released. I snagged 7 tins. Puffing my first bowl right now. And I've acquired a meer. Lovely stuff.
Pipe Used: Cob and Meer.
PurchasedFrom: P&C & Smokingpipes.
Age When Smoked: Fresh
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 23, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
An OK vintage, but I expected more from McC. Not alot of McC Vinegar, however, I happen to like McC Vinegar, gives that sweet and sour touch. My main problem is this is all base notes ,without the high notes and not enough sweetness, making this kind of bland for me. It just doesn't have that "twang". The taste is that "malty hay" somewhat similar to GLP's "Union Square" ( I like US better). It's got some "N" , It's smooth and without bite.

Tin says leaf is from a 2009 crop but I don't know when it was processed and tinned. Why do I bring this up, I feel it still needs a year or two of aging to bring out its best. Can you enjoy it now ? Yes, but I hope it will be better in a few years. I guess I'm spoiled by the 2013 Xmas edition that really improved with a year of age. This is 2 1/2 stars now, I'll see if in a year it gets the full 3

Revised 9/16/2015 - I'm willing to give this the full 3 stars. I find this an easy smoke with zero bite. This vintage reminds me of GLP's Union Square, malty and mostly base notes. Tin improves as it breathes.
Pipe Used: egg cob
Age When Smoked: 2months open/ 1 year
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 25, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I never really got on the Christmas Cheer bandwagon, since my tobacco smoking and my wallet don't have what it takes for building cellars of distinguished vintages. I was recently able to trade a bag of Esoterica for tins of CC 2014 and 2015 just to see what the fuss was about.

I figured I'd start with the oldest blend, although one year is apparently nothing in terms of how long you're supposed to age Christmas Cheer. What I found was a fairly standard looking McClelland flake accompanied by a strong smell of fermentation. The flakes had some color variation and came at an acceptable moisture, but a couple hours dry time didn't hurt anything either.

It smokes very cool and clean, and for the most part tastes like good red Virginia tobacco and not much else. I was a little surprised at how long it takes the flavor to deepen as the bowl stoves, it doesn't really get that big until the last 15% maybe? But it does get to tasting full at the end. There are never sharp flavor transitions, just a constant and slow deepening until the bottom of the pipe.

This is really high quality red VA tobacco pressed and prepared flawlessly. It's a little boring at this age, and lacking some flavor that a blend made to be smoked immediately might have, but I can't review it based on the future. It's very good, but doesn't have the complexity to be the first straight VA flake I reach for.

This sort of thing is probably best left to the folks who have the time, money, and faith in the future to let it sit for 5 or 10 years.
Pipe Used: basket pipe
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 19, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
Chestnut brown broken flakes with the familiar tin aroma of ripe, matured Virginia that only McClellands seems able to produce. Came overly moist in the tin and I let this dry out thoroughly for bowls subsequent to my very first. Easy to rub out and load.

First bowl smoked after about half an hour airing out was very good but still a bit on the steamy side, with somewhat dulled flavors. Properly dried to just this side of brittle, this was the epitome of what a straight red Virginia should be but very seldom is... a crisp, refreshing invigorating smoke without too much of an emphasis on "tang" and not too sweet. And definitely not boring as too many reds can be. This had a nice underlying spice and a bracing flavor, but not overly heavy. Excellent mouthfeel and body as well. Complexity was on the lower end but it had enough going for it to make it more interesting than a one-trick pony. But the point of this one for me is its balanced flavor that gets just a bit spicier and richer as you progress down the bowl until that last 1/4 or so where you just don't want it to end. If it were a heavy tobacco, it would probably tend to wear the smoker out. This one is as perfect a red as I've ever tasted, and for my money one of the finest if not the finest representation of a straight, uncomplicated, un-messed with, unflavored red Virginia tobacco. As always, if you're tasting "ketchup" or "vinegar", you're not properly prepping this. Dried correctly, this smokes very dry and leaves no moisture in the bowl. I usually only buy 2-3 tins of each CC release but somehow ended up with 6 of these. Sometimes being lucky trumps being smart, as I don't know why I bought more than usual. But I'm extremely happy, no matter how it happened. Once again, McClellands seems to be first in line for the best Virginia tobaccos to be had, and presents them to the smoker in an expert fashion. Four stars x 1000!
1 person found this review helpful.
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