Cornell & Diehl - Engine #99
Great mixture of flavors
This is a very enjoyable tobacco for fans of a good quality English blend with some backbone. On lighting, I detected the fruitiness of the Perique along with the smokiness of the Latakia, which is not overwhelming, but very smooth and balanced. This is an amazing blend for a bulk blend--I can't believe the quality, and I love the cut. Much chunkier than, say 965, and as a result smokes much more slowly and much more flavorful. To me, it is most similar to H&H Armada, but the Burley in this one gives it slightly more N and a little more firmness in taste. I'm very taken with this one--most highly recommended! Four and one half stars for me.
Cornell & Diehl - Cordial
Smoothness and flavor!
Mmmm-Cordial--I must admit the name did put me off for some time. Here in Australia, cordial is a sugary, sweet syrup that you mix with water or sodawater to make a soft drink. Anyway, I'm glad I finally tried this easy-smoking blend. It's hard not to compare this one to some of the other C&D more "English" style bulk blends available. This one is most definitely for me a bit lighter, and doen't have the Oriental or Turkish "tang' of say, Stratfordshire or Tuggle Hall. The Latakia is a bit more restrained here, and there is a touch more sweetness from the BC, but what makes me smile is the overall smoothness of this one. This is a wonderful blend in the morning with a cup of coffee--beats the heck out of EMP, in my opinion. The Virginia is very smooth and cool, and the Latakia just sings enough in the background to harmonize perfectly. I do love the solidity of some of the others--Stratfordshire, Tuggle Hall, London Squire, Byzantium, and my favorite, Red Odessa, but I think Cordial will hold a place when I just want a smooth, lighter blend, but with a nice English/Scottish character, and relatively little Nic hit as compared to some of the others---the absence of Burley, perhaps. Three and one-half stars for me.
Newminster - No.403 Superior Round Slices
If you've ever tried Mac Baren's Stockton in the green tin, this is very similar. I find it a little less smooth than Three Nuns, which is also similar, at least in it's current form. Aging does make a difference and slow smoking, ie sipping is preferable as it can get a bit hot. It's a nice alternative to the usual "bullseye" type roll with the black cavendish core--this is much more of a dark fired taste, like Stockton.
Esoterica - Dunbar 8oz
See review for the 2oz tin. Just the best...
Esoterica - Dunbar 2oz
I've been smoking a stock of Dunbar from 2005. It's interesting how much darker in color it looks as compared to the newer stock from this year. For me, this is the epitome of the Va/Per blend. Just the right amount of stewed fruit and fig from the Perique and the Virginia is so smooth and mellow that it sings, but with depth! If it's dried for a little while before loading, it never burns hot or harsh, and it's an overall five-star experience!
Samuel Gawith - Cabbies Mixture 50g
Pure pipe pleasure!
This is pure pipe tobacco at it's best--The initial appearance is similar to Three Nuns--loosely rolled discs with long golden strands of Virginia tobacco in-between. However, the flavor profile is obviously different. There is the plum spice of the Perique, but it is subtle and compliments the Virginia beautifully. I dried out my discs and rubbed out loosely--the moisture content needed just a little time in the air before lighting. This is a very classy, full, laid-back Va/Per and burns smoothly and cool. It seems more to the bass end of the spectrum than most other Va/Per blends. I'm looking forward to this hopefully being available in the 250g boxes!
Captain Earle's - Honor Blend 2oz
Tread with caution!
I've been a pipe-smoker for about forty years and have smoked dozens of different mixtures of all types. Captain Earle's Honor Blend is the only one I've tried that renders me into a vegetable with it's deceptive Nic content. This one starts out in the bowl very pleasantly after slicing and rubbing out, and then about one third into the bowl it hits.....the sweats followed by that "out of body" feeling. I don't know what in this one specifically does this to me and your mileage will certainly vary, but it makes the Ten Russians seem like a buncha girls! The initial taste as I said is very pleasant, like a good Va/Per with an added kick, but go very slowly and don't operate any heavy machinery during or after!
F & K - Lancer Slices
Nice uncomplicated change
With all the great and not-so-great English, Balkan, Crossover, and Oriental Blends out there, (I've deliberately not mentioned Aromatics), it's great to smoke a straight-forward mix of nice smooth Virginias and deep, smoky Latakia occasionally. Very satifying, just the thing for slightly cooler evenings--even in Florida! As one reviewer mentioned, very similar in makeup to SG Balkan Flake, with no Oriental component other than Latakia--I think slightly smoother with no "Lakeland" overtones. Just a well crafted, nicely presented broken flake, I like to use this one to break in pipes which will be used for Latakia blends. Don't expect the complexities of say, White Knight, but just kick back and enjoy!
Dunhill - Flake 50g
Warm weather winner
As many have stated here, this is not a complicated tobacco--just a good smooth tasty Virginia flake and it seems to be more enjoyable in a warmer climate (in Florida) than many others. To me, it sings a little more than the Orlik Golden Sliced and is worth the money. It works well folded and stuffed in a pipe with a fairly narrow bowl.
Hearth & Home - Ambassador's Blend 8oz
If you like Dunhill of old, you gotta try this!
Ambassador has got to be one the biggest sleeper blends out there. This is a wonderful blend, with just the right amount of depth and brightness--balance--and for me, very similar to the older version of Standard Mixture. In smoking this, I feel more quality and integrity, particularly in the second half of the bowl than many of the newer D mixtures. Russ O. knows his stuff!
Savinelli - Doblone d'Oro 100g
Very pleasant surprise!
I was a bit reluctant to try this, simply because in my old-school opinion, Savinelli's pipes are not what they used to be. I have some great Sav's from the past, before they started putting those stupid 6mm filters in everything, even their better pipes, and for this reason, was hesitant to try their new blends. Anyway, this tobacco is a real treat--a very different flavor profile to any of the other rolls--Bullseye Flake, Navy rolls etc. The Burley gives this one more substance and depth, yet is not dominant. I get a fairly spicy, zesty smoke with just the right amount of Perique, not overly sweet and very smooth. I also find it cool when smoked slowly, but I can see the potential to get hot if pushed too much as well. I think it's a winner!
Lane Limited - BS-005
OK, I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. When my bulk portion arrived, it was almost too dry and smoked a little on the harsh side. I took some and humidified it gently and wow, now it smokes very cool and smoky, nice creamy Latakia, with just enough interest from the Oriental component poking through. It's become one of my "go to" evening tobaccos, making me smile every time I fire up a bowl. I think this one sings in a larger bowl, and otherwise, it's over too soon, plain and simple! It's got to be one of the best value Lat blends available!
Samuel Gawith - Bothy Flake 50g
Improved with time
To be honest, I didn't like this much first out of the tin. As one reviewer stated, it had a very strong and not necessarily pleasant odour upon opening. Not peaty scotch, not tobacco, more like fermented meat. However, I rested this in the tin for a few months, and now not only is the moisture content much better--it was far too moist before-- but the acrid smell has settled, and I smell a nice Virginia flake here. I tried rubbing it out, and I think this is the way to go for this flake. It burns cool and smooth with a delicious and unique flavor profile, unlike anything else I've tried. I cannot detect much in the way of Latakia, however that could be me--I'm a big fan of heavy Lat blends and may be a bit desensitized to it, but now after some time, it's a very pleasant experience!