Mac Baren - Mixture Scottish Blend
Yes, it can bite. Reframe your thinking - learn to smoke this without it biting, and you’ll unlock new flavors with all your blends. We’ll come back to that, but there’s just something comforting about the warm sweetness of this blend. A touch of honey, maybe some maple? I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s light enough to complement the tobacco, not overpower it. The room note is equally appealing, possibly my wife’s favorite (heavy aros actually give her a headache). There’s just something about this blend that keeps me coming back for more. Back to my other point. When I first started pipe smoking, I think I was too worried about getting it lit well (like a cigar) and keeping it going. This blend killed my mouth. I eventually made my way to VA flakes which also bit, but not as bad. I finally got things figured out, and when I returned to this blend, it was a whole new experience. So learn to smoke this without biting, it’s cheaper than learning on VA flakes. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to smoke anything and you’ll unlock the full potential of each blend.
Missouri Meerschaum - Country Gentleman Straight (6mm)
My Favorite Cob
I have tried most of the popular cob styles, and this is my favorite. Great size and appearance. Not much I can really add. I’ve tried some of the ones with fancy stems, but they just aren’t worth the extra cost. By that point, you’re getting closer to something like a Rossi which is a way better value (a Rossi might be about double the price of a fancy-stemmed cob but you’re getting more than twice the value). I’ve been smoking this model since BEFORE it had a hardwood plug in the bottom like it does now. Personal tip for all cobs - don’t trim the shank. If you do a little reading around the web, you’ll find people telling you to trim or ream away the shrank protruding into the bowl. This is unnecessary. What I do is to smoke all the way down (easier in a cob than briar since cobs are so absorbent). Smoke until you can taste the wood shank and maybe take a few more puffs to be sure, then put the pipe down, undisturbed for a few minutes. Stir up the ash and tap the sides of the bowl (in the normal smoking orientation) to let some ash settle into the nooks and crannies, then dump. Keep doing this with each smoke and after several bowls you’ll have a perfect heel. The ash and subsequent moisture, heat, and tar will do a much better job than hacking away at it. It’s less work too.
Missouri Meerschaum - Pony Express
Perfect for a Quick Smoke
The bowl is small. Be forewarned. But it’s not comically small like the one-hitter mini. I actually prefer the Eaton version (same exact pipe but with an unfinished bowl), but SP stopped carrying that one. Most tampers won’t go to the bottom, so just go to the hardware store and get a 3/8 dowel. Cut to your preferred length and sand it if you’re so inclined. Perfect tamper for this pipe and you’ll be set for quick smokes. It’s especially great for flakes and cube cuts because then it’ll smoke longer than ribbon cut, but it’s a winner either way. Country Gent is my favorite cob when I want to puff longer, but this is ideal if you’ve got a busy morning but you’d still like a smoke that lasts about as long as a big cup of coffee. Pair with burley or aromatics for best results.
G. L. Pease - Quiet Nights 2oz
Lives Up to the Hype
Few blends live up to their hype, but this one does. If anything, it’s even better than the hype. While everyone else is chasing similar blends that are rarely in stock or have disappeared, stock up on this. This is great fresh, but unlike some English blends that lose something with age, this one unlocks different dimensions. Aptly named, and a blend I hope I’m never without.
Sutliff - Revelation Match
You Owe it to Yourself to Try This
Taste is subjective, but this is one of my favorite blends. I smoke all types of blends, but I have to be in the mood for English, VA, etc. but I can smoke this any time. Morning, noon, or night. It has enough of everything to make it interesting but not too much of any one thing. For that reason, I sort of view it as in a class all its own - it’s not really an aromatic English or an American English or whatever monikers we try to assign blends. It’s just good. Enough sweetness to appeal to aromatic smokers as something different but enough Latakia and body to appease smokers of heavier blends. If I had to smoke only 1 blend, this would be it. As I’m writing, this is not in the top 50 or whatever, and that scares me because there seems to be some portfolio consolidation going on. Please buy this. I think a lot of smokers these days avoid blends like this because they either want dessert or they think they have to smoke English and VA flakes to be real/serious pipers. Please try this - it is pure nirvana…you just might have a revelation.
Sutliff - Ready Rubbed Match
Great in a Cob with a Cup of Coffee
Benefits from some drying like most blends. Don’t over pack it because the chunks expand. Not a ‘wow’ blend and probably closer to 3-stars overall, but in this genre it’s 4.
Peter Stokkebye - PS41 Cube Cut
Smooth Smoke from a Square Cut
This is really a 3-star blend overall, but within its genre, it’s a 4. Smooth, mild, and slightly sweet. Great as a morning smoke with coffee. Best in a cob. Don’t pack it tight because the cubes expand a lot then you’ll have to fiddle with it. There’s nothing about this blend that wows me, it’s just warm and comforting. Great room note/aroma. Even though CB and Mix79 claim to be best sellers of the bygone era, I can’t help but think this was the taste and aroma of those days when so many men smoked pipes. I often want to load another bowl of this as soon as I finish one.
Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop
This is based strictly on the bulk version - tin might be better. Every few years I try this around Halloween because of the name. I’m always left disappointed. Instead of an old haunted bookshop with rich wood and leather-bound books, I’m reminded of an old rundown newsstand - bitter, acrid, sour, and harsh. Reminds me of smoking a stale pack of cigarettes, hence my newsstand reference. Burns well and cleanly. Plenty of N. So if that’s what you’re looking for most, this may fit your needs. I give it some extra points because it’s great for adding to aromatics to improve burn and add body/N. Taste is subjective, but this blend will continue to haunt smokers based on lore and group think. Smoke SWR, H&H, or PS Cube Cut instead.
Peter Stokkebye - PS306 English Oriental Supreme
A Bridge to the Heavier Side
This blend served as the bridge to heavier/fuller mixtures, at least for me. It starts off sweet, probably too sweet for more "veteran" English blend smokers unless you're specifically looking for that. The sweetness starts to fade after a while, and the smokiness of the Latakia makes more of a presence. The burley helps provide body, and it also seems to add a hint of sourness (in a good way) that comes and goes. I will admit -- the name confuses me. "English Oriental Supreme" Am I the only one expecting Oriental/Turkish to be present here? But according to Stokkebye's description, it's not there. Try this if you think you might like a sweeter, less complex "Balkan Supreme." I could also see this being a breakfast mixture for smokers that enjoy Balkan blends all day long.
Dunhill - Early Morning Pipe 50g
The Blend That Got Me Hooked on English Blends
The pre-Orlik version is the blend that got me hooked on English blends and Latakia. I prefer Balkan blends these days, but I always keep EMP on hand. It is truly great as the first pipe of the day, but it goes well with afternoon coffee/tea too. If you smoke aromatics, VAs, VAPERs, and other blends that don't contain Latakia throughout the day, I could even see this is a good closer. The cut is perfect. I wish the North American brands would offer more blends with this cut. Because the cut is perfect, it packs easily, lights up as it should, and stays burning with minimal effort. Farewell old friend -- I will miss you!
Cornell & Diehl - Nutty Irishman
I had high hopes for this blend, especially after smelling it in the bag. Sometimes, that's the kiss of death. The blend never lived up to my expectations. The first few puffs were great, but like so many aromatics, the flavoring quickly fades and you're left with mid-to-low grade leaf.
Cornell & Diehl - Apricots and Cream
I ordered this because I watched a video from a while back when Chris Tarler was still with C&D. He was asked in this video what some of his favorite C&D blends were, and this was one he listed. I'm not much of an aromatic smoker, so I thought I'd give it a go. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this blend and found myself reaching for it more and more. It is great with a cup of coffee or as your final smoke of the day when you're in the mood for a "dessert smoke." This is one I plan to re-order regularly so I can share it with my dad who is a dedicated 1Q & BCA smoker.
Cornell & Diehl - Founding Fathers
Not Your Average Aromatic
I bought this out of sheer curiousity. Pomegranate and tobacco? It couldn't be good, but I had to find out. I was wrong. It is good. Not only is it unique, it's actually a little puzzling just how good it is. I don't smoke aromatics all that often, but when I do, this is one I reach for often. Unlike a lot of aromatics where the flavoring seems to burn off a few minutes into the bowl, the subtle flavor really stays with this one. It burns well, and it's truly a joy to smoke.