Review by Cortezattic
Beacon: Sweet & tangy, fruit-like with a touch of BBQ character
This is a mix of dark brown and black ribbons of tobacco possessing McClelland’s signature sour smell with touches of mustiness. I’m tempted to compare the background odor to a stinky gym shoe, but that seems unnecessarily pejorative. There is actually something inviting about these smells of fermentation; and in any event, they dissipate relatively soon after opening the tin.
The moisture level is suitable for immediate use; but I dry it out a little to facilitate lighting and, I think, improve the clarity of the flavor. Too much drying, which has happened to me, produces a very thin flavor, so I watch it closely. Upon lighting, the tobacco produces a luscious volume of smoke with excellent mouth feel, and a sweet and tangy flavor in the realm of dark fruit – like prunes. The whole flavor onslaught detonates the salivary glands and gives the distinct impression of barbeque sauce mingled with the taste of charred meat. (The barbeque sauce thing reminds me of McClelland’s bulk #2015).
There is nothing sharp or grassy about the Virginias in this blend; nor are they "hot" and bite-prone. I would have sworn the Va's in this blend were red and stoved red, but
the tin description claims to use lemon and orange. I guess flake
processing creates some changes that go beyond intensification of flavor. They emerge as bready and wine-like in character, and work well with the Perique to create a smoky dark fruit flavor and lasting finish. McClelland has described Perique as something resembling dark, musty mushrooms and stewed fruit, and that’s what the Perique in this blend produces. There is no peppery pinch.
If you like VaPers, and especially if you have enjoyed 2015, then you will enjoy Beacon. The same recommendation can be made to devotees of 4noggins’ Prairie Wind or Pease’s Haddo’s Delight, though Beacon merely invites the comparison without allusions to identical taste. Needless to say, I think Beacon belongs on every VaPer lover’s short list, and will probably find a spot in most of their top ten lists – at least with respect to the class of sweet, dark and fruity VaPers.
Prospective buyers should note that McClelland also produces a blend named Beacon Extra, which, I understand, contains more Perique. The regular blend reviewed here seems to have perfected the mix, so I’m curious about what Beacon Extra offers.