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Substitute for McClelland's Christmas Cheer Series

WWhermit

Well-known member
#1
So, I know this is a long shot. McClelland's pressed Virginia Flakes were truly one of a kind. I've been buying their Christmas Cheer every year, I think I have at least one tin left of each since 2006. Unfortunately, I was out of the pipe smoking game in 2017, and missed out on their last offering. Would love to find one, but that's a different topic.

Has anyone found a worthy substitute for these tins? Or, any other yearly Christmas offerings that you buy in a series that's close?
 

Hoosierpipeguy

Well-known member
#5
For taste similarity, try F&T Blackjack. Union Square a bit. rattray brown clunee and hal o' the wynd have a fair amount of red virginia flavor to me. The recent C&D Carolina Small Batch Red Virginia was probably the closest but good luck finding that. The reality is, McClelland Christmas Cheer was quite unique.
 

Ozark Wizard

Well-known member
#7
I never had Christmas Cheer, but I tried all their numbered VAs. And Blackwoods, which was easily my favorite. Was CC along the lines of any of those, or was there some additional element that made it what it was?
It was a select crop from a specific place that was handled, pressed and aged for several years before it was released. Basically a singularly focused tobacco. Most of the time a blender and production house want consistency of product's behaviours, and thus blend many years and regional origins across time so you get the same experience. Christmas Cheer went the other direction. Each iteration is/was different, unique.
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#8
Yeah, I've got both of those cellared already, and they are good in their own way, but for a stoved, pressed VA, not what I'm looking for.

Off topic, good to see you are over here to dmkerr! I remember you from a couple forums.
Yep! Good to see you as well. I remember you from DAnG and, I think, puff.com. Long time ago! I came to PSF in 2009, which iterated into PSD.

If you're looking for another Christmas Cheer, you'll be looking a long time! Good straight reds and orange-reds are like dodo birds. That said, I do like the F&T Blackjack recommendation. Again, not the same but still a good red. You might also try Wessex Red Flake. But as a "clone" of CC, nothing is very close.
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#9
I never had Christmas Cheer, but I tried all their numbered VAs. And Blackwoods, which was easily my favorite. Was CC along the lines of any of those, or was there some additional element that made it what it was?
CC was more like Dark Star than Blackwoods, imho. A super-sugary virginia. Dark star was a little stickier, a little more processed somehow.
 

craig

Well-known member
#10
never tried the mcclellands but seen as though you mentioned Virginia flake, what about trying Sam gawiths full Virginia flake or golden glow or gawith hoggarth bright cr flake, or there is Sam gawith summer flake.

or one I can I highly recommend as being the nicest pure Virginia blends I have tried is go pease union square?
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
#12
The thing I always liked about the Christmas Cheers, Blackwoods and Dark Star for that matter was the simultaneous existence of mellow smoking quality and intense technicolor flavor.

While neither of these would be flavor substitutes, they may give you that previously referred to "vibe," minus a few colors of course. ;) C&D Opening Night (a bit of a departure from the earthy flavor of most C&D Va's), and dare I say Amphora Virginia. This is one that suprised me quite a bit. Due to the glowing yellow pouch, I was expecting some bright leaf mix to be lurking within it, but intead the tobacco was quite darkened down, and it has some deeper, spicier flavors.

Frankly, I am in the camp with those that believe that there are no flavor matches available for the products that McClelland made. I just can't think of any other currently available tobaccos that have that certain sweet yet acidic tang. I do however believe that there are some solid alternatives.
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Sales
#15
It's always a bit amusing when folks reply to the these threads with stuff like: "I've never smoked X nor have I tried Y but I think you'll probably like it."
What!?

I have smoked a lot of Christmas Cheer and other McClelland blends and there are no matches for their products. I really am sorry but this is why McClelland going away is kind of a big deal. There are LOTS of other Virginias to smoke - just nothing like CC. If G&H ever goes out of business the pipers over the Atlantic will understand our pain.
 
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Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#17
Not that I've tried it yet, but Sutliff Crumble Kake Red Virginia, especially with some age?
Hard to know what age will do with the Sutliff. It is pretty good. Will it mellow and "become"? It probably won't get worse. But it's not really "McClellandy" to my taste buds at all - it's quite a bit fuller than the McC virginias I had, more depth and breadth of flavor, but also more edges and occassional nastiness too. Worth a try though, for the 10 bucks investment.
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#18
The thing I always liked about the Christmas Cheers, Blackwoods and Dark Star for that matter was the simultaneous existence of mellow smoking quality and intense technicolor flavor.

While neither of these would be flavor substitutes, they may give you that previously referred to "vibe," minus a few colors of course. ;) C&D Opening Night (a bit of a departure from the earthy flavor of most C&D Va's), and dare I say Amphora Virginia. This is one that suprised me quite a bit. Due to the glowing yellow pouch, I was expecting some bright leaf mix to be lurking within it, but intead the tobacco was quite darkened down, and it has some deeper, spicier flavors.

Frankly, I am in the camp with those that believe that there are no flavor matches available for the products that McClelland made. I just can't think of any other currently available tobaccos that have that certain sweet yet acidic tang. I do however believe that there are some solid alternatives.
I would like this post twice if I could.
 

WalkinStick

May actually be The Devil
Sales
Patron
Old Ted Award Winner
#19
I have smoked a lot of Christmas Cheer and other McClelland blends and there are no matches for their products.
This, pretty much every time one of these threads pops up. There just isn’t, and it really sucks, but it is what it is. Even the new small batch from C&D isn’t close. It’s a totally different taste profile.

Closest thing I’ve had to any McClelland is a home blend from a friend, and no way in hell he’s ever going to be producing enough to supply everybody on the forum, sadly.
 

tfdickson

Well-known member
Sales
Patron
#20
Aside from the fact that they are all VA's, Christmas Cheer, Dark Star, and Blackwoods Flake are pretty different animals. Dark Star is 100% stoved lemon VA's, Blackwoods is a mixture of stoved and red VA's, and Christmas Cheer is all red VA's without any stoved leaf. (The exception is 1995 Christmas Cheer, which was lemon-orange VA's. I only know that because I'm going through a tin now and looked it up after the first couple of bowls seemed different than other CC vintages.) I like them all but the stoved element adds it's own flavors and in the case of Dark Star it also adds some challenge in keeping it lit.

I agree with others that there really is no true substitute for CC. CC, however, will always be the McC blend that will be the most hard to replicate in that you have a 25 year run of crop specific VA's that varied every year.

Some other McC blends are not as difficult to find a replacement for, at least in my case. I always liked bulk 2015 and still have a pound or so. I thought Sutliff's Crumble Kake VaPer reminded me of 2015 after my first few bowls so I smoked the two blends back to back and found I prefer the Sutliff- sweeter, fuller-bodied, and smoother.

So I can sleep at night I've started calling it Mutliff Mumble Bake VaPer which allows me to pretend that I haven't been won over by a bunch of Richmond goop-slingers. It's better that way.