Bayou Morning Flake. A very popular and well-named Cornell & Diehl Virginia-Perique offering (honorable mention to Kajun Kake). I’m surprised it took me this long to dive into the world of VaPers on this blog, as I love the style and each one I try makes me want to smoke more and more of them. Better late than never, I suppose.
Bayou Morning Flake. It really has a wonderful ring to it. Combine the name with this tin art and it’s all very evocative of ultra-comfy Twain-istic dialogues and lazy days spent floating downstream, upon raft or riverboat. I first discovered this blend after smoking and enjoying Bayou Night, a delicious, Dunhill Nightcap-esque, Scottish blend with a spicy character, also from Cornell & Diehl. When looking for VaPers to try I was captured by the similar names, and so here we are.
Two months ago, I bought two ounces of the Bayou Morning ribbon cut and I loved it. I still have some, actually. Also, I now have the flake version — new in tin — right here with me. Which is good, because now we can smoke them both and have a chat.
Cornell & Diehl Bayou Morning Flake is a Red Virginia, Bright Virginia, Perique blend described as:
“Not for the faint of heart, this Virginia/Perique blend is composed of red and bright Va’s and 25% Perique. Bayou Morning is a Perique lover’s delight and one of Cornell and Diehl’s most popular blends.” 
Luckily I’m not faint of heart. I’m not sure I even know anyone who is faint of heart. Is it “feint” or “faint”? I always get those two mixed up…
The tin note rises and spicy black pepper comes with it. There’s bright Virginia sweetness here, but it is considerably dulled by the yeasty earth-tones of Red Virginia and the dry musk of Perique. Hay and grass are prominent in the aroma, and there is a wonderful, buttery, creamy note available to deep-inhalers. The triad of tobaccos combines into an almost wine character, displaying the qualities of both oaked white and dry red.
My ribbon version (with two months jar time on it) delivers a decidedly sweeter, more fig-like bouquet, with much less spice. This version also smells mustier than the flake.
It is an interesting situation to have in front of you: two identical blends, only one’s been pressed to flake and newly opened, while the other’s been ribbon cut and jarred for some time. Jar chemistry aside, one is impressed by how different preparations can deliver different characters.
The dryness of the fresh-from-tin flake is perfect, in contrast to the dampness of the ribbon version when it was first opened. However now, after resting for so long, the ribbon is just as ready for the bowl as the flake is.
Starting with the flake, the first light brings sweet Virginia, with figs or raisins, but coolly and dryly, as if the fruit has been fermented. The retrohales, even this early, are huge, spicy, and fizzy. My nostrils burn and I notice the tart citrus at the back of my throat.
Some big nicotine is being hinted at here.
Near mid bowl a toasty character emerges and there’s this satisfying tobacco flavor, almost like a fine cigar. Though stout and spicy, the flavors are simple and uncomplicated. Earthy timber and grass flavors recall memories of hot, late-summer trots through the forest, and the pepper develops further the closer you get to the halfway point, where it becomes quite warm. There’s no bite here, but whatever sting your tongue avoids, your lips pick up.
Bring drinks for this one.
The second half sees the grassy and citrus flavors further emerge from the spice. And that invigorating nicotine, the hard-hitting Perique; they’re always there. The kind of smoke that boxes your brain and mouth into a nicotine swoon, leaving your ears to ring and your gums to throb.
As for my slightly aged ribbon version, the first half of the bowl is sweeter and more on the Virginia side of things, though that ashy-cigar quality remains. It tastes sandy and like toffee, with raisins and grape-must. The Virginias are more interesting, complex, and playful here, while the Perique has mellowed noticeably. Don’t be fooled though, the second half will have your lips tingling and blood pumping again. Then, you’re back in the same stupor the flake produces, though you don’t ever feel mired. The more evenly burning ribbons are easier to control your cadence with and provide a dry smoke effortlessly.
I’d say Bayou Morning is a great thing to wake up to, but you may require a nap when the euphoria passes.
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