Codger Burley with pizzazz
Haunted Bookshop is one of my favorite cold weather smokes, so pardon any bias that might seep between the lines. This review is based on the bulk version I purchased and packed in Mason jars in January, 2010. It is composed of rough cut dark brown leaf in various shades, the darkest of which is probably Acadian Perique, since it lacks St. James Perique's jet black color. This is probably the Perique that most pipe smokers are familiar with: a mix of the St. James Perique and "Perique-processed" Kentucky Green River Burley. Whatever the case, it is wonderful and works marvelously in this blend.
From the jar, the aroma is musty, woodsy and nut-like, with an ever so slight acetic or pungent edge that lingers on the palate during the smoke. Perique's non-sweet dark fruitiness is a prominent feature both in the jar and in the smoke.
The true light reveals this to be a solid Burley blend with an honest tobacco taste; at once woodsy, musty, and "dry" in the sense of not being particularly sweet. The Va. that is in this blend does not sweeten it so much as mitigate any "Burley bitters" that it might otherwise have had. The Perique works to the same effect, supporting the Burley's body with a layer of musty-fruity flavor and strength. It is a simple combination -- not overly complex -- but tasty and full of character.
If you enjoy American blends, codger Burley's, and the likes of C&D's Old Joe Kranz or Pease's Cumberland, I think you will find Haunted Bookshop a milder, smoother, and more balanced cousin.
There are no packing, lighting or burning issues. It has a medium nicotine level; it smokes dryly and coolly, producing a good volume of chewy smoke; and it has neither bite nor an annoying level of peppery tingle from the Perique.