Peter Stokkebye - PS402 Luxury Twist Flake
Honey, hay, and a touch of malt.
This stuff is soft, warm, and sweet, sort of like honey, hay, and a touch of malt. The room note has a hint of spice, and it burns slowly and evenly, leaving hardly any moisture in the bowl. I was looking for something to replace McClelland's Fragrant Mature Cake in my rotation, and I think I've found it.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Black & Brown
A classic smoke
I just came back to this blend after about a three to four year absence. Stupid me! It packs well, lights quickly and evenly, and has a mellow, yet hearty taste to it. The aroma in the mason jar is like a subtle chocolate liqueur, and it adds a nice touch of sweetness to the overall experience. Just classic stuff.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Kentucky Nougat
It's the aftertaste that's the issue
This smells great in the mason jar, in the bowl, and in the room note. It's one of the few aromatics that the flavor and aroma actually don't disappear when you light up. But there's a lingering aftertaste that isn't always enjoyable, and that is very, very hard to get rid of.
Germain - Brown Flake 50g
I had a tin of this about four years back, and recently wrestled a tin away from these folks. I thought about letting it age for a year, but decided to enjoy it now, although I let it breathe a bit in a mason jar for about two months. It's a beautiful, soft flake that burns down to a perfect white/gray ash and which leaves no wetness or dottle in the bowl. No tongue bite, just pure flavor and a goodly amount of vitamin N. This is one worth the wait and trouble to get a hold of.
McConnell - Rich Dark Virginia 50g
Burns more than bites
I was very disappointed with this. I let my tin age for about a year and a half before I opened it. In the tin, and mason jar, it smells sweet and slightly spicy. In the bowl, however, it burns very fast and very hot. While the room note is quite appealing, the tongue burn that accompanies it isn't. This might work blended with something else, but on it's own it doesn't work for me. Time to move on.
Lane Limited - Ready Rubbed 1.5oz
It's worth a try
I was happy to see that this is now available in a pouch, as I didn't want to order the big tin and be stuck with something disappointing. This packs well, lights quickly, and burns evenly, but at times a little fast. It also leaves some wet dottle at the bottom of the bowl. The chocolate and molasses scent is present in the Mason jar, but not always in the bowl. I have noticed, though, that as I work my way down to the bottom of the jar, the flavor improves. But it has a good rugged burley taste to it, and the price and availability are a plus. I rate this 3.5 stars on its own, with a half star for the price and availability. It's not as good as Gawith and Hoggarth's Black and Brown, but it's worth a try.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Curly Cut Deluxe Sliced
I started on this after letting it out of its corset and garters in a Mason jar for about a week. Despite it's rough cut, it loads easily, packs well, and lights up the first time and stays lit. It has a robust, rugged, yet luxurious taste to it, and produces a heady, voluptuous plume of smoke. Think of Anita Ekberg in "La Dolce Vita." With each pipe, I'm more enamored of this stuff, which is not a sweet Virgina, but a earthy one. And it's fairly potent in regards to Vitamin N.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 1.75oz
Bold, but be careful
This is heavy-duty stuff. Deeply satisfying like a a good rich cigar, it has elements of earth and leather to it. The flakes are dark and perfectly cut. But this is for sipping on cool fall afternoons or evenings. This is not a summertime or everyday smoke. If you rush it, it will rough you up. This is also not for someone used to goopy, sweet aromatics. It also has the benefit of leaving your bowl almost perfectly dry, with a fine grayish ash all about.
Dunhill - Flake 50g
The flake looks and smells wonderful in the tin and Mason jar; it packs and lights well; however, it burns very fast and very hot. Very! Tongue burn? Try tongue, mouth, and back-inside-of-my-ears burn. It burned like some prairie fires I saw as a kid.
McConnell - Mature 50g
The anise doesn't linger.
The anise scent is there right out of the tin, but it fades in the mason jar. It lights well, stays lit, but does produce a bit of gurgle halfway through. The anise taste really doesn't come through, though, just a cloying touch on the tongue, and not all the time.
McClelland - 2025 - English Cavendish
A touch of the exotic!
This is a sophisticated tobacco, with an alluring aroma that adds a touch of the exotic to the overall smoking experience.
Lane Limited - BS-005 1.75oz
Not bad, but not great.
This is latakia heavy, to be sure. It was very dry out of the tin, although the tin was well sealed. I had it aging in the cellar for almost two years until I recently opened it. It lights well, stays lit, and burns to a clean, dry ash. It can get hot and it can leave an "ashy" aftertaste that isn't that bad, but is noticeable. This blend is all right, but I think I'll move on.
McConnell - Scottish Cake 50g
A day in the Woods.
I am quite taken by this blend. Rich and earthy, it has a "woodsy" quality to to, like being out and about on an early fall day. To my taste, the burley predominates, and it burns to a clean ash leaving my pipes virtually dry. However, this has a bit of "oomph" to it, so I don't think I'll be smoking this during a hot, humid summer. This blend caused me to look over the rest of the McConnell line, and I have a tin of the RDV aging in the cellar.
McClelland - 2000 - Fragrant Matured Cake
A follow-up to my earlier review: I'm down to the last of my stash. It's about four months in the Mason jar, and it has darkened quite a bit, like a very, very dark honey. The aroma is sweet and luxurious. The pipe I just smoked was a sensuous delight. Smoking this would be like making love to Ava Gardner.
McClelland - 2000 - Fragrant Matured Cake
One word will suffice!
Dunhill - London Mixture 50g
I'm glad I came back to this!
I first tried this blend about four years ago, and I thought it was terrible: harsh and hot. It was brittle-dry in the tin, and I wondered why so many thought so well of it. I decided to give it a second chance, and I find it's a "keeper." Deep rich taste and aroma, packs well, burns evenly. In the mason jar, after it's breathed a bit, I pick up a what seems to be a licorice or anise scent. This also has a nice aftertaste, especially with a cup of black coffee in the AM. I'm knocking a half-star off as I can't forget my first tin: a problem with quality control?
Dunhill - Dark Flake 50g
Warm, Smooth, and Easy.
I'm only halfway through my first tin, but I was so taken by this flake that I wanted to get a few early words in. It requires no drying time, loads easily, and lights quickly. There is no bite, it burns at a steady rate, and quickly becomes spicy-sweet. It's warm, smooth, and easy. Top-grade stuff. But be careful: for me, this turned out to be a bit more potent vitamin N-wise that I thought it would be.
McClelland - Matured Virginia: Navy Cavendish 50g
Warm and cozy!
After this dries out--which for me is overnight!--it lights well, stays lit, and smokes warmly and evenly. It doesn't get hot and it leaves the subtle taste of rum on the back of the tongue with a touch of sweetness. It does leave a resinous-looking residue on the inside of the bowl, but it doesn't conjure up a "ghost." All told, it is an inviting and enticing smoke.
Germain - Special Latakia Flake 50g
The stuff dreams are made of.
At the end of "The Maltese Falcon," Ward Bond, who plays Bogart's detective friend, hefts the statuette of the falcon and says to Bogart's Sam Spade, "Heavy ... what is it Sam?" Bogart takes the falcon from Bond and hefts it himself. With his characteristic grimace of a smile, Bogart says, "The stuff that dreams are made of." Enough said.
St. Bruno - Flake 1.75oz
Give it time!
I was about to dismiss this flake, as the first few times I smoked it, it was hot and burned my tongue. But lately, I've been letting it set out overnight to dry, at least twelve hours, and I switched to a better pipe, a French Ropp Canadian that I bought from these folks. The flake now burns slowly and wonderfully. The taste is very pleasant, with just a touch of fruitiness, and the smoke is thick, creamy, and a bit on the incense-side. Let it dry out, find the right pipe, and you'll be rewarded.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Kendal Flake
The Jury is Still Out.
I smoked about half of what I ordered and had to put it aside. It smoked very hot and harsh, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. The pouch note/Mason jar note is sweet and pleasant enough, but it doesn't seem to transfer well to any of my pipes. I'll try to come back to this later this year after it has had time to age a bit.
McClelland - 5120 - Fragrant Virginia Blend
The Good Stuff!
I first smoked 5120 about four to five years ago, when I purchased it from another vendor. I stayed with it for about a year, and then moved on. I recently came back to it, purchased from these good folks. I can't understand why I moved away from it. However, I don't get the citrus note some claim. For me, the pouch note (or rather the Mason jar note), is more of a subtle vanilla-caramel-liquor. The flavor and strength builds, sometimes quickly, so be careful. But 5120 produces thick, luxurious smoke with an enticing aroma. The good stuff!