McClelland’s 5100 is one of those five star, legendary blends. Whether you are using it to blend or smoking it straight, 5100 has a lot to offer. I have smoked a lot of it throughout the years and have been very fortunate to have smoked many different vintages, the oldest being a can from 1994. The transformation throughout the years is extraordinary.
I have to admit it has taken me awhile to really get 5100. When I first tried it I did not like it, the first 1/3 of the bowl was always good but after that it would get bitter. I soon realized I was puffing too fast to get more of the sweet taste and I was ruining the tobacco. I learned to smoke slower because of 5100 and it is the perfect tobacco to start with if you are looking to delve into the world of Virginias. Another thing I have learned from 5100 is not to pack it too tight, a tight pack will lead to burning issues and the flavor disappears. Pack it loose so the smoke mixes with the air and you will be in for a real treat. The extra air enhances the sweetness.
I recently found a Mason jar of 5100 from May 2010 in my cellar and decided to bring it to the office. Upon first opening the tin the typical McClelland twang is there but less forward and pungent. It still retains that oily feel but the leaf is a little drier. Fresh 5100 has a slight spice towards the end of the bowl, at least for me. With a few years of age the spice dissipates and a cinnamon flavor starts to develop. The tobacco was even sweeter after a few days of the seal being broken and the tobacco was able to breath. I have a lot of 5100 from 2008 and it has a completely different character. It has a lot more spice and less sweetness and it can be very sharp on the tongue, I guess like anything different vintages have slightly different characteristics. But this aged 5100 is really a treat to smoke. The candy like sweetness is so pronounced throughout the entire bowl, it almost feels syrupy on your tongue. I find myself puffing harder to get more of the sweetness and the tobacco maintains that taste, no matter how hard I puff. I think the age really has a lot to do with that. Since I ran out of my beloved Virginia Night, this has been my morning smoke for about three weeks.
What I suggest is to buy a few extra ounces and put it in Mason jars. Since it is so cheap you can build a nice cellar of 5100 rather quickly. I like to use the smaller Mason jars that way I can break the seal and smoke through it. Smaller jars also age better for me.
You will thank me in a few years.