McClelland Christmas Cheer 2015

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 2015 Christmas Cheer pipe tobacco, an exceptionally fine vintage tobacco, hand blended and aged in pressed cakes to develop natural mellowness. This 2015 blend is made with a special selection of rich, ripe, flue-cured Virginia from an outstanding 2011 Old-Belt crop. Superb leaf picked at peak ripeness, it is naturally sweet, rich in oils. It should age with distinction. Each buying season, we look for tobaccos of exceptionally 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

3.64 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 14 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 04, 2016 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Very Pleasant
As always, the red Virginias have the tangy dried and ripe dark fruitiness from start to finish that is the hallmark of this series. It’s earthy with a mild spice note. The "vinegar" seems a touch less noticeable than it does in other years, but it's not distracting, and lessens as you go along, more so than usual. The nic-hit is mild. Burns slow and cool with a clean, smooth, consistent flavor. It will require some relights, and leave a little moisture in the bowl. If you don’t dry it first and if you pack it tight, you may need to stir up the tobacco toward the finish. I prefer not to dry it first so I can experience the fullness of its flavors. I also loosely pack it. An uncomplicated all day sweet smoke with a very pleasant after taste and room note.

I realize this is mostly like last year’s CC (and others, too), but it seems to me to be just a little earthier, and slightly tangier and spicier. I suppose it’s more obvious to me as I recently smoked some of the 2014 version. I give this the full four stars.

19 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 17, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
This is definitely the Ghost of Christmas Future. It was good fresh, but lacking the magic that age will work on this obviously magnificent selection of McClelland VAs. Sample it now and jar it if you must (I absolutely had to), but you're better off letting it do its thing in the tin for 5-20 years and "unwrapping" it at a future date. If you want something amazing fresh out of the tin, get some Blackwoods Flake. 🙂

P.S. I fully intend on revisiting this review in 10 years and upgrading it to 4 stars.
Pipe Used: Meerschaum
Age When Smoked: Fresh
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 23, 2016 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Small flakes of basic brown with McClellands signature fermented tobacco tin aroma. Came a bit wet but dried out nicely. I rubbed this out prior to packing.

Once again, McClellands shows their mastery of the Virginia leaf. This is a red with its typically tangy tart-sweet flavor and beautiful spiciness and richness. Smoked at tin moisture predictably muted the flavors but drying it to crispy didn't produce any magic, either. It needed to be dried to avoid the steamy dull flavors that Virginias provide and about an hours worth of drying brought forth the full spectrum, so that it was suitably dry but not crumbly. This one wasn't wildly different from some previous years but it seemed zippier, more spicy and energetic in its approach. Think of the difference between a Lowland and a Speyside single malt. This was not only highly flavorful but the flavors popped more than some earlier years of this series. As always, snorking will bring out subtle differences. This is one of the better crops and I'm happy that I have a few tins put aside for later enjoyment. McClelland Virginias are the standard IMHO and, when properly dried to bring out the full flavor, are without peer. Different than Sam Gawith but uniformly excellent.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 29, 2016 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I hate to be the skeptic in a room full of True Believers, but I'm fairly sure that nobody short of the McNeils could pick one vintage from the other in a blind taste test. And maybe not them. I set out several bowls each of 2014 and 2015, had a partner number them randomly, packed each over a few days and smoked blindly away. I can report that, other than the initial tin note being less fermented on the 2015, I can't really tell one from the next in the bowl. I do worse than a coin toss. Even worse than that, I was smoking 2014 for its review, from the tin, during the same time. They're visually difficult to distinguish too, which really helps keep the experiment difficult.

Wine experts can't tell the difference between red and white when the white has been dyed red. Sure, you should be able to differentiate between a Bordeaux and a Beaujolais Nouveau, but without the indicators on the bottle people just can't. There's a strong placebo effect at play too ... they've done MRI scans on wine experts drinking $5 wine in a $300 wine bottle, and it lights the same pleasure centers up as drinking $300 wine from a $300 bottle, and the experts can't tell the difference anyway.

I'm sure the same problem applies, with even more difficulty, trying to figure out the difference between a 2009 Middle Belt crop of red VA and a 2011 Old Belt crop.

In the end, Christmas Cheer 2015 is a collectable. So were pogs. It's a good red VA, but I'm over the hype, the comparisons of one year to the next, and the speculation about how well it's going to age. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, but spare me the marketing 🙂
Pipe Used: basket pipe
Age When Smoked: 2015 can
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 18, 2015 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable
This is a good smoke. I smoked it fresh out of a newly purchased tin. No sign of wetness nor dryness noticed. As a matter of fact, I am smoking it now as I pen this review.

The "Ketchup" aroma is mildly present in the tin note but not in a negative way. It was easy to break up, rub out and load. It keeps going without the need to re-light. It has a mildly sweet flavour though, every now and again as 'Mr Big' observed in his review below, some slight nutty bitterness cropped up in mid-bowl that seemed like a flavour derived from coffee beans. Not sure what it is, but it is subtle enough that it does not ruin the smoke.

Simultaneously, it assumes a spicy dimension and regains its sweetness as the smoke progresses. Then more spicyness and more as if a tinge of Perique was added to the blend. The spicy taste then merges into a certain delightful creaminess that gives way to a pepper-ishness that really catches my attention.

Yet with the complexities ongoing in the bowl, the tobacco stays cool. I like this guy and would easily rate it four stars but for the fact that I need to smoke many more straight Virginias to be able to definitively compare it with other Brands/blends. I will thus settle for three stars for now.
Pipe Used: Stanwell Gilt-edged Smooth Black 15
Age When Smoked: New
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 02, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
I know I'm supposed to wait a year or 10 before opening and smoking, but I couldn't wait. I've been away from smoking for a number of years and have to try any of the Christmas blends. I've smoked just about the whole tin as I write this review.

I was able to smoke it right out of the tin. The flakes were able to be rubbed out quite easily. The tin note is pure McClelland ketchup. I like it. After opening the tin, I put it in a mason jar. About 6 weeks have gone by and the tin note has changed to something less pronounced. It seems to keep a bit of the Ketchup scent, but I now also smell a hint of fruit, perhaps plum?

I generally use the gravity method of packing and have found that this is a very forgiving blend. I can pack tight, or more loosely, and it offers a very cool smoke from first puff to the end of the bowl. I have not noticed any bite regardless of my smoking rhythm or whether or not I have large bowl or small bowl pipe.

The first quarter of the bowl starts off very sweet and pleasing to my sensibilities. As I progress down the bowl the sweetness is tempered by a smokiness type flavor that continues to change as you continue to smoke down. I'm not the best at describing the experience, but I definitely find this a complex blend.

I find this a great smoke on day one and have given it 4 stars. I highly recommend it. I can only imagine how this will be in years 2 - 10. I bought 10 tins and will be opening 1 up each year until they are gone. Maybe I should purchase another 10?


Pipe Used: Assorted
PurchasedFrom: Smoking Pipes
Age When Smoked: New
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 21, 2020 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
A generous sample of this was sent to me by a friend.

It is a dark broken flake with no vinegar odor, and my sample came at a good level of hydration for me. The pouch note is sweet and hay.

Smoked, this was a very good Virginia. It is sweet and has a little spice. It was easy to keep lit and burned without drama. Nicotine was on the mild end of the mild-med range. Flavor was very good.

This one was tasty enough that I have to give it a 4 star rating. It is unlikely you will get a chance to try it, but if you do, you will enjoy it if you like Virginias.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 11, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is a good smoke. One issue I have is with the fresh tin ( 9 months old), it was dryer than other years. The flakes were hard to rub out, almost as bad as "Dark Star" ! I advise smokers to rub out the entire tin upon opening or this will become a real chore when dryer.

The blend is malty in taste with a little spice, No McVinigar, and not a lot of sweetness. No bite, flavorful, but mostly base notes, there is a backgtound bitterness similar to the "Grapefruit" note of GLP's Laurel Heights., It has just the right "N" for me, which is on the higher side of medium. I didn't care for this year as much as last, as it's not as tangy or sweet.
Pipe Used: cob and maple
Age When Smoked: 9 months old, 1 month open
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 22, 2016 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable
This was a very satisfying Virginia experience for me.

When I opened the tin I smelt a strong vinegar/ketchup smell which i don't like. After jarring for 6 months the tin flavour have turned into a very complex, perfumy and pleasant smell.

The tobacco comes in the form of thick broken flakes. It is too moist to smoke directly out of tin, so i rub and air for 15 minutes then fill into my pipe.

After initial lighting, it burns consistently. With proper tampering, you don't need many relights. In the first third it is more grassy, spicy and earthy. As bowl progresses spiciness diminishes and you taste more dried fruits notes together with grassy and earthy flavour. This continues through the end of the bowl and leaves a very nice aftertaste which urges you to smoke again.

I think this is a very high quality tobacco. Last year i bought a 100 gr. tin to give it a try. But i think this Christmas season i will buy many tins...
Pipe Used: Many Briars
Age When Smoked: 6 Months Jarred
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 01, 2018 Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable
I'm a burley man. I very rarely buy tobacco that doesn't contain the beer drinkers weed of the tobacco world. It's just how I am and I blame Matches860 for that.

Well, I picked up several tins of 2015 back in 2015 when they were on sale. And over the years, I've picked up more than my fair share of McClellands Virginias, bulk and tins, along with many of their English blends (not the froggy stuff). And I'm glad I did since they have recently closed up shop.

Tonight I finished my shift at work at 2:00 AM and walked the dingo around the block, while smoking this in a 2017 Christmas Peterson Prince. I've smoked four or so bowls of this after cracking it open a few days ago and enjoyed it. But during tonight's walk, I had one of 'THOSE' experiences. This will be a memorable smoke. Memorable enough that I'm writing this review now.

I suspect this tobacco is still young. It's not rough around the edges at all but I suspect age will still do this wonders. It's spicy, which I noted to myself in earlier smokes. It almost seems there is a bit of Perique in the blend but I know this isn't the case. The retrohale shows no signs of Perigue either, it's just a slightly tart sting to the tongue in the beginning.

After burning through the bowl a bit, I tasted that wonderful sweetness Virginia tobacco provides. It's rich, mouth watering and simply fantastic tobacco!

I love McClelland's flakes. These are easy to break apart and rub out. They provide a nice long burn. They light easily. They make me smile and I'm so grateful to have this tin, along with two others from 2015. I simply feel blessed to have this wonderful tobacco and I look forward to enjoying this tin for this Christmas season. I'll allow the other tins to sit for a few more years.



Pipe Used: Peterson Christmas 408 - 2017
PurchasedFrom: I have no idea.
Age When Smoked: 3 years
3 people found this review helpful.
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