|Flavoring||None – (Manliness)|
|Overall Rating||3 out of 5|
If you could somehow imagine capturing the essence of pure… raw… ‘roid raging, manliness and then smashing it into a tobacco that looks like a cat turd you might understand a fraction of what Black XX is all about. This is the tobacco equivalent of every 80’s action movie ever made distilled into a smokable substance that isn’t easy to define. To aid in my efforts to explain this tobacco I will quote my friend Ryan upon seeing this tobacco in the tin…
“That is some intimidating looking shit bro…”
Yes… yes… It is some intimidating looking shit bro. Black XX looks like something a lumberjack should be smoking while he punches trees out of the ground with his bare hands or maybe the salty captain of a whaling ship who kills mutant sperm whales by giving them a nasty look. Just the sight of this stuff is enough to make you question whatever testicular-fortitude you might think you have… Yeah… It’s totally awesome!
It’ll Put Hair On Your Chest…
The tin for Black XX is pretty cool and the image of two bulky metal gears in some unseen industrial looking machine is a perfect pictorial representation of what you should be expecting from the tobacco inside. When you open this stuff up you will get a whiff of the smoky cured tobacco and a little bit of what I can only describe as an oily, almost… creosote smell. As I said above this stuff looks like a cat pooped in your tin of tobacco. Like any rope or twist it isn’t much to look at aside from a greasy black lump of… well… tobacco.
Normally I don’t go into much detail about “prep” work when it comes to reviews because everyone has their own style but I’m making an exception this time around because Black XX isn’t just another tin of ribbon cut. You are going to want to plan ahead if you want to smoke a bowl of this stuff… like a few hours ahead (I shit you not…) because Black XX is a juicy one. The first thing I did was slice off as thin of a coin as I could. I managed to get about a 1/8th inch slice with a razor/utility knife I carry. Once I cut two or three of those I let them sit for about a half hour and air dry. Once they are a little less squishy I chop them up into more of a cube cut shape and let that sit for another half hour or so. After about an hour you might get lucky and these will be dry enough to smoke. It might take longer depending how fresh this stuff is when you get it.
Once I have Black XX cut up I load my bowl a little more loosely than normal because I don’t want to plug up my draft hole at the bottom of the pipe with a chunk of this stuff. After I have my pipe packed I do my charring light and then tamp… light and tamp again… You will probably repeat this a few times until you get this stuff rolling and even once it seems like this is lit you will probably be lighting it again after a few minutes. Don’t let this discourage you because this stuff is actually a really good smoke.
A Full Throttle, Edge Of Your Seat Thrill Ride…
After all that effort you will be happy to know that Black XX is totally worth it. Almost instantly you are going to be mowed over with a strong (and I mean strong) bold, robust natural tobacco flavor. Ironically this isn’t as much of a “cigar” flavor as a completely unique taste that is really hard to pin down. Over the course of several bowls I noticed a lot of different things going on. Obviously there is the smokey, woody flavor you would expect as well as a heavy almost oily coal fire taste going on (yeah it doesn’t sound good but it really is.) I also detected some flavors I really wasn’t expecting. BBQ sauce or maybe even meat being grilled over an open fire. One things for sure there isn’t anything sweet or even remotely soft about the flavors you will experience with this stuff. Also you will want to keep your lighter handy because even once you get a steady head of steam on this stuff it’s likely to go out on you fairly often.
What Doesn’t Kill You…
I like really strong flavors. I like espresso, black coffee and 90% dark chocolate. I’m a stout beer junkie and I drink my whiskey straight. When I smoke a cigarette it’s non-filtered and hand rolled. So when I ended up with a golf ball sized lump in my throat and the hiccups the first couple times I smoked Black XX I knew I was on to something good! The nicotine in this tobacco is way up there and unless you are used to that sort of thing I would suggest eating something before you take on a bowl of Black XX. You will thank me for that, trust me.
After a little work getting this tobacco lit you will eventually end up with what I can only describe as a slow smolder going on in the bowl. Once you get to that point you should be able to puff away with minimal effort and hopefully no need to relight unless you just completely let it go out. As surprising as it might sound the intensity of Black XX doesn’t really ramp up towards the middle of the bowl. Maybe that’s because it’s so damn strong right out of the gate there really isn’t anywhere left for it to go. Likewise, the smoke itself isn’t hot and I have puffed pretty hard on this stuff without getting the least bit of tongue bite. Even more remarkable is that despite the intense strength of this tobacco it’s not a harsh smoke at all. Unlike a dark Kentucky which can be extremely rough to smoke Black XX is the perfect mixture of bold flavor and smooth smokability.
If you are ballsy enough to retrohale Black XX you will instantly pick up on the spicy side of this tobacco but it’s still incredibly smooth. Here in the mid bowl is where you will start to really enjoy the strong flavors that you might expect. Again you get more of the barbecue, smoky, meaty earthy flavors with a slight aftertaste of charcoal. Which I know doesn’t sound like it should be good but for some reason it just works. In fact I started to enjoy the aftertaste as much as the other flavors going on in Black XX. You might also pick up a slight pepper/spicy flavor if you retrohale and again that just adds to the overall enjoyment of Black XX.
I’ll Be Back…
At the bottom of the bowl you might end up with a little soupy gurgle going on. Black XX wasn’t real consistent in this department and there are a lot of factors that could be at play with the end results of your bowl. Not letting this stuff dry is going to cause a lot of problems throughout your smoke but it will definitely add to the gurgle towards the end. Something else that I noticed over the course of several bowls of Black XX was that it tended to burn unevenly. You would have spots that burned to a fine white ash while other areas of the bowl seemed to be fireproof. Again this has more to do with the way you prep this tobacco for smoking. Letting this stuff dry and cutting or rubbing this tobacco out evenly will solve a lot of these problems.
In the end I will admit that this probably isn’t a tobacco for everyone. I was able to enjoy a bowl or two a day for a few days but towards the end of my time with Black XX I was getting burned out. Not so much by the flavor but the amount of time and effort needed to enjoy a bowl. As I said above you really want to plan for this stuff and the prep work that goes into it becomes a bit of a chore at times.
Overall I think Black XX is worth checking out, especially if you like bold, natural flavors from your tobacco. I personally couldn’t see this being a daily smoke for myself but I’m sure there is somebody out there who would consider this an all day tobacco. If nothing else it’s a fun tin to have around just to scare the hell out of your friends.