Cornell & Diehl - Comfort 2oz
The tin aroma on Comfort is a nice rich barnyard odor - and I mean that in a positive way. The ribbon cut is very fluffy in the tin - not too wet, not too dry - perfect for smoking. The flavor is mild to me with just a hint of smokiness, and every now and then I get a light nose tingle on the retrohale. There's also a light sweetness which got stronger in the second half of the bowl and built in my mouth. Nicotine level is moderate to me. There's not a lot going on here in the sense that none of the flavors are strong, but it's well balanced and for me that makes it a good smoke for when I'm occupied with something else and can't put my full attention on the pipe. I smoked this in a new pipe and got a lot more nuance out of it than with my old pipes, and found that a light slow pace definitely brings out more of the flavors. I'll be ordering more.
G. L. Pease - Montgomery 8oz
Grassy, sweet and sour with a touch of spice and smoke
I had been smoking a lot of Samuel Gawith's Golden Glow, but since it's near impossible to get now I starting looking for a substitute. This is it. Nice ribbon cut, same grassy sweet and sour Virginias but with the added occasional smoky spiciness of the the dark fired. Very easy to pack, no need to dry, and burns clean. Sorry Sam - the addition of the dark fired makes me like this even more than GG. The flavor subtly changes through the bowl - there's not much dark fired so when it hits you get a burst of spice and smoke, especially on the retrohale. Very nice - can't wait to get more to age - I suspect it will be a full 5 stars after a few years.
Samuel Gawith - Golden Glow 250g
Nice straight Virginia
I've seen some Virginia blends described as 'grassy' before, but never got that flavor until this one. Definitely a bright taste, a little sweet, a little sour. I find it a nice change from the other Virginias and VaPers I usually smoke. The cut is part broken flake, but most of it is more like a thick ribbon cut. Packs easily, no bite if you smoke at a reasonable pace.. Got the 250g size and jarred up a quart - I suspect it will age very well, meanwhile am enjoying the generous portion left over. This could definitely be an all day smoke for Va lovers if you like the 'grassy' varieties. Just wish it was in stock more.
Sutliff - Barbados Plantation 1.5oz
Burley Forward Rum Blend
For me, this is a decent aromatic. There must be a big difference in moisture between what's being sold - some people have said theirs was very dry in the tin, but mine was very moist and needed drying. In general, I'm not a big fan of Sutliff aromatics - they usually tend toward the goopy side, have a chemical taste and can easily bite, but this is a decent one. No bite if I smoke at a reasonable pace, and good flavor - mostly Burley with a touch of Rum to my taste buds. If you like aromatics, give this one a try (and maybe even if you just like Burleys).
Cornell & Diehl - Bluegrass 2oz
Spicy and complex
I'm about half way through my first tin of this, and each bowl seems to be more enjoyable than the last. The tin aroma has more of the fermented Va aroma (ala McClelland) than most C & D blends. I consider this full flavored and fairly complex, with a mix of tangy citrus, earth, and spice. I also get a slightly salty (but pleasant) aftertaste from it. The cigar leaf in this blend is mild and doesn't stand out, which is good since I normally don't like cigar leaf in pipe tobacco. Just a good well rounded, and very spicy bright blend that behaves well in the bowl, and has a moderately high nicotine level (to me). No wonder this is sold out - I will be coming back for another tin when it's back in stock.
McClelland - 2015 Virginia-Perique Flake
Am just about done with a 2 oz sample of this. The 'tin' aroma is the familiar McClelland fermenting Virginia aroma that people describe as ketchup/BBQ sauce/vinegar. The flavor profile reminds me of Beacon, though not as rich or deep, probably because bulk blends don't usually get the same aging as blends in a tin. I get a touch of citrus, a bit of umami, a bit of bread, and a general sweet and sour flavor along with some spiciness that gets stronger as the bowl burns down. The bag I got was full of broken flake, along with a few whole flakes and it worked well with the fold and stuff technique. This sample did not need drying time, though depending on the freshness you might want to give it a little. I just ordered a larger quantity to age in jars - I suspect it will be a 5 star blend after a year. If you like McClelland Virginias, you'll probably like this blend.
Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Morning
Based on the reviews and ingredients I ordered a pound of this when it was on sale (I'm a big VaPer fan). I found it to be very disappointing when fresh - a bit of spiciness (almost burning on the retrohale) and a touch of sweetness, but no tobacco flavor. I'm a former cigarette smoker and this reminded me of spicy cigarette tobacco. After trying it in various pipes with various packing methods I gave up and jarred the rest. I just came back to it after about 6 months aging. Better, but still nothing to get excited about. There's a bit more Virginia tobacco flavor now, and the spiciness is still there but it's still nothing great. I'll give it a another year in the jars this time before sampling it again. I suspect this one demands aging (and I've found that to be true with many C&D bulk tobaccos - maybe because of the high turnover in sales). I also suspect this is 'manufactured perique' (made with added flavorings rather than the traditional processing). This would have been a 1.5 star review for the fresh tobacco, but it gained a star with the 6 months aging. Will update the review in another year, but for now I'm still not impressed.
Savinelli - Doblone d'Oro 100g
A New Classic
Savinelli got it right with their new tobaccos. I got a tin of this when it first came out and have been buying it ever since. The blend is well balanced, rich, flavorful, complex, and strong enough for the seasoned pipe smoker without being overwhelming for a newcomer. The flavors of the various components drift in and out, but none dominates the others. It comes a little drier than most, which means it's perfect for smoking without any dry time, and you get more smokes per ounce. It also ages well, burns clean, no bite. Nothing bad to say about this one! Try it!
Peter Heinrichs - Golden Sliced 200g
Like Orlik Golden Sliced
I agree with other reviewers - this is very similar to Orlik Golden Sliced, which should not be surprising given the name, and last time I checked they were both made in the same factory. If you compare the per ounce price of the Heinrichs 200g vs the 100g Orlik, they are almost identical. After many bowls of both, I've concluded that the Orlik has slightly more emphasis on the orange-citrus flavor, where Heinrichs has more emphasis on the bread-like flavor and is slightly sweeter. But as others have noted, I don't know if I'd be able to identify them in a blind test. Like most Va blends, you'll enjoy this more if you go slow; if you chug it, you may miss the flavor and get tongue bite. At a regular pace I've never been bit by this blend. There are richer, more complex Virginia flakes out there, but I think Heinrichs is a solid straight Virginia flake worth trying.
Lighters - IM Corona Old Boy Black and Chrome
I got a lemon...
When I first got this lighter, it worked great. My only complaint was that it didn't work well in even light wind. Then the problems started, and yes I maintained it meticulously following all recommendations. First the flint tube alignment started shifting out of parallel resulting in having to adjust the flint every time I tried to light it, and excessive flint wear. Then the cap started to spring back with less and less force, resulting in a gas leak that reduced the fill period from 5 days to less than 24 hours in a couple months time. At the same time, the refill valve started to malfunction resulting in excessive sprayback and the valve not springing back when the fill bottle was released resulting in a second leak. The cost of warranty repairs has jumped from $8 to $35, and apparently the warranty period has been reduced, probably due to so many problems (if you do a deep google search you will find others reporting the same problems). I wrote SPC to verify where to send the lighter for warranty repair (it was only 3 months old at this point) and they generously offered to take care of it for me at no cost (other than my cost to ship the lighter to them - thanks SPC for standing behind your products!). It took 3 months to get the lighter back and it worked great again - for a month. Then the problem with the cap not sealing started again and soon a refill was lasting less than a day again. I sometimes rest my lighter on the pipe rim while lighting the bottom part of the bowl to prevent scorching the rim. This has never damaged any of my pipes, but within the short time I used it, the black paint has worn off the case revealing a a large section of the brass tank beneath. This lighter was obviously poorly manufactured - don't know if they're all that way, but the increasing number of complaints since Corona merged with a maker of notoriously bad lighters seems to indicate the quality has gone way downhill. If I get brave enough to risk $100+ on a lighter again, I might try a Kiribi, but for now I'm back to using a Thunderbird butane insert for a Zippo case, which still has a full no-proof lifetime warranty and works much better in the wind than the Old Boy. Mine lasted over 10 years before finally starting to wear out, and when I sent it in for repairs, I had it back in perfect working order in 2 weeks, not 3 months like Corona. They even polished the case. The Corona gets an over-generous 1.5 stars because when it worked, it worked well, but I expect more than a few months use from a lighter of this cost.
Davidoff - Flake Medallions 50g
The King of Coins
This is my favorite of the various Cavendish/Perique/Virginia spun tobacco blends that I've tried. To me the flavor is richer, brighter and more varied than Stokkebye's LBF or Comoy's Cask No 7. Of course it's priced a lot higher too. The tin aroma reminds me of rich home-baked raisin bread. The flavor reminds me of Escudo, but tastes more natural to me. There's more perique flavor in here than in others of its type. I agree with the prior reviewer that it starts out more on the fruity side, but the spiciness builds, in fact the whole blend of flavors builds as the bowl goes on. It's got the right amount of sweetness and nice balanced Va flavor. If you like LBF or Cask No 7, try a tin of this for a treat. It's not an everyday smoke for me (mainly because of the cost), but it sure is good. Update: After looking up the tin code for Davidoff (YYhhMMmmDD) I've found I've been enjoying tobacco that was already aged over 2 years in the tin before I bought it. I don't know if this is typical, but it may account for the great flavor of this batch. In order to stretch it out, I often sandwich a coin of this between two of LBF, and the effect on the flavor is amazing.
Wessex - Gold Virginia Flake 50g
Tasty Virginia Flakes
The tin note for me is a nice mix of figs and citrus. The flakes are thin cut and fall apart easily. For me the flavor is medium strength - what I get is mostly an undefined citrus flavor with some oaty undertones, kind of like oatmeal cookies. There is a nice sweetness (maybe from honey?). It's a bit moist in the tin, and benefits from slight drying time. Like many Va blends, you'll get more flavor by sipping slowly - puff too hard and it can bite a bit. It's not very complex, but I like this one - tastes natural and could be smoked all day.
Sillem's - Mayor 1814 Flake 50g
Mild Virginia Flake
As the description says, this is a Virginia flake with slight honey and orange aroma/flavor. The flavors are most noticeable at the top of the bowl, and get pretty subtle as the bowl goes down. The Virginia tobacco is also mild - no flavor bombs here - it demands a slow sipping cadence to coax the flavor from it. Burns clean, no bite for me. It's not a bad tobacco, but it's not a very memorable blend. Might be a good one for aromatic smokers wanting to try their first Va flake, or for those who prefer mild flakes. After aging a year or two, my rating goes up to a 4.
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - B. J. Long Bristle Pipe Cleaners (40 pack)
Long time user
I've used a lot of pipe cleaners over the years - BJ Longs are my choice for best bang for the buck. Dip the end in alcohol (or pipe sweetener if you prefer) and run it through the stem while twisting to clean out the gunk that builds up. Fold one in half, dip the loop in alcohol and scrub the shank out. Repeat as necessary. I usually use the regular absorbent (non-bristle) cleaners to follow up and dry out any excess alcohol (or spit). I've taken a half star off because lately the quality has been a little inconsistent - more loose threads and fluff - so I always run the cleaner between my thumb and index finger to remove any loose bits before using. IMO they are still the best way to clean inside stems and shanks.
Solani - White and Black - 763 50g
A Mild Sweet Latakia Blend
Bought this on sale, and am glad I tried it. It's not a flavor-bomb - just a mild smooth balanced blend. The Latakia is strongest at the top of the bowl, but mildly present through the entire smoke. It's a sweeter blend than most of its type, though not overly sweet. Burns clean and cool - no bite whatsoever for me. No need to dry it out before smoking; in fact it got a little harsh when accidentally over-dried in an opened tin. I find it to be a nice summer English blend when a heavier dose of Latakia would be too much - perfect with a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer afternoon.
Solani - Blue Label- 369 50g
A good quality aromatic
I purchased this during a sale thinking it was a variation on the Virginia, Cavendish, Perique blends out there (think Stokkebyes LBF or Davidoff's Flake Medallions), therefore when I cracked the tin and was hit with the strong fruit aroma I was shocked. There's no mention of flavorings in the description, in fact it says it's a 'natural blend'. My fault for not checking the 'Family' in the sidebar which says it's an aromatic. That said, it's a good aromatic blend that reminds me of Fire Dance Flake without the floral scent or the high nicotine level. I get mostly a blackberry flavor with some vanilla and probably a couple other things going on (brandy?), while still getting the tobacco flavor. (After looking at reviews on other sites, I see a lot of people taste this as cherry, but I don't get that flavor from it.) None of the usual complaints about aromatics - the flavor diminishes a little after the first few hits but lasts throughout the bowl, it burns clean, no goop, and no chemical flavor, and it's not overly sweet. It's a good quality aromatic, and the perique while subtle adds a bit of a twist that's not found in most aromatics. My rating is for what it is, not what I thought it would be, and it's a quality fruity aromatic blend. Just don't think you're getting a straight natural tobacco blend - did I mention it's an aromatic blend?
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - Deniclean Stem Cleaner
Not very effective
I recently ordered a bottle of this because my usual cleaner (Pipemaster's Clean & Cure) was out of stock. I did a test where I used deniclean with bristled pipe cleaners until no more gunk came out of the stem, dried it with a fluffy cleaner, then used what's left of the Clean and Cure. Wow - it took 5 more pipe cleaners to get out what the deniclean had left behind. Probably any alcohol (Everclear, denatured, or even isopropyl) would work as well. If you don't want to use alcohol in your stems, this is better than nothing. Since it's not alcohol based it might not promote oxidation in the inside of a vulcanite stem like alcohol can - I don't know. But I'll be sticking with Clean & Cure for both acrylic and vulcanite stems - it just works better.
Mac Baren - Original Choice 3.5oz
A Smooth Aromatic Blend
I don't smoke a lot of aromatics, but this is one I like. To me, the secret sauce tastes like a combination of blackberry and maple, but it's not overwhelming, and neither is the sweetness. Both diminish a bit as the bowl goes on revealing the taste of some good virginias and burleys carrying the sauce so you know you are smoking tobacco, and not eating dessert. Burns clean with no goop or bite - a good solid aromatic blend. It also goes well blended with Mac Baren's newer Modern Virginia, which has less added flavoring and more Virginia flavor. If you like fruity aromatics, this is definitely worth trying.
Sillem's - Councilor 1695 50g
One of my favorite Virginia-Perique blends. Full-flavored, but more natural tasting to me than Escudo. Good Va tang and sweetness, with a mix of both dark and bright flavors. The perique is both fruity and spicy. It starts out with moderate flavor and mild spiciness and sweetness, but the flavors continue to grow as the bowl goes on and can give quite a nose tingle on the retrohale. Surprisingly complex for a VaPer. It's a bit moist in the tin and benefits from a bit of drying. Like most Virginias it can burn a bit hot if you chug on it, but at a normal pace it burns cool, slowly, and completely, and even while puffing like a madman I never got any bite. Nicotine level is moderately high to me. If you like Virginias or VaPers, give it a try.
Peterson - Irish Flake 50g
A dissenting opinion
Tobacco reviews are mostly subjective. That said, Irish flake is not for me, primarily because it tastes very manufactured. The dominant flavor for me is an unnatural amount of anise and/or tonquin. I also get some citrus and sweetness that don't taste natural either. While the high nicotine content doesn't bother me, if you don't like vitamin N I'd recommend staying far away. For some reason (probably the casings?) this blend makes me salivate excessively, something no other blend has done, and it''s not good to drool all over a vulcanite stem. ;-) If I accidentally inhale some, it immediately causes my lungs to ache, I'd guess because of combustion by-products from the casings. On the plus side, it's well behaved in the bowl, burns cool and slow. The flavors also mellow and merge with age. But it's not at all what I'd call "true to the pure tobacco taste" as the slogan says. I much prefer HH Old Dark Fired or to a lesser degree Bold Kentucky. As always, try it and judge for yourself - lots of people like it. Just not me.
McConnell - Scottish Flake 50g
I've tried a lot of Va-Per blends over the last couple years, and sometimes it felt like I was lost in the middle of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" - this one is too cased, this one is too bland, this one is too sweet, etc. In my opinion McConnell got it right with Scottish Flake. It's a well-balanced mix of tangy Virginias with a nice bit of both plum and pepper from the perique. Too much perique gives me a lump in my throat, and if I really puff fast and hard this one can do that, but if I smoke at a normal pace it's perfect. The burley adds just the right low note to the mix, and it has just the right sweetness along with a slightly salty flavor. Just enough complexity to stay interesting but doesn't require my full attention to appreciate. The flakes did not need drying before smoking, they load well, burn slow and complete. Compared to its cousin McConnell Scottish Cake, this is more full-flavored and less sweet. (For me, the flavors in the cake are not as pronounced, and the extra sweetness overwhelms the flavors.) In my opinion, this one is just right. My only complaint is the cost per ounce is fairly high compared to other VaPers, but that won't stop me from getting some more to age. Highly recommended.
Orlik - Dark Strong Kentucky 50g
Take a flake of Wessex Burley Slice, a flake of Orlik Golden Slice, and mix with just a pinch of HH Old Dark Fired - that's what this tastes like to me. It's disappointing as I was hoping for more of a smokey spicy dark-fired flavor. This looks almost identical to Peter Heinrich's Dark Strong Flake and the flavor profile is similar, but I'd be willing to wager that Dark Strong Kentucky is cased with lots of cocoa and orange extract, sweetener (molasses?) and maybe a bit of licorice or anise. It's a pleasant enough flavor mix that accentuates the natural flavors of the burley and Virginias, but it's not what I expected from the name. The flavorings do diminish near the bottom of the bowl, and I get a bit more of the typical dark-fired flavor just before it's done. The flakes are cut half as long as most flakes and are just the right length for most of my pipes without folding. Some of the flakes are all dark, some are all light, some are mixed, and some are broken so you need to choose your flakes carefully to ensure you get the full flavor mix. Nicotine level is surprisingly mild to me. I've finished the first tin now, and it will be my last - the experience has been the same each smoke with consistent flavor. I think it might be very enjoyable for aromatic smokers who have been put off by stronger flakes; unfortunately it tastes very artificial to me without much dark fired Kentucky. When I'm in the mood for this kind of blend, I'll stick with Heinrich's DSF - to me it has a more subtle, less manufactured flavor along with a bit more Vitamin N and more dark-fired flavor. But for the full dark-fired flavor experience, I still haven't found anything I like as much as HH Old Dark Fired.
Solani - Aged Burley Flake - 656 50g
Smooth Natural Burley Flake
I have to agree with the other reviewers - this is the best of the straight Burley blends I've tried. The product description above used to say there were Virginia tobaccos in it - here's what Solani says: "A skillful mixture of three aged Burley's - dark brown Burley from Kentucky, light Burley from Brazil, and white Burley from Malawi - Southeast Africa. A very natural blend with absolutely no additives or flavors - a true Burley blend." In other words, no Virginias. If you can believe what Solani says, they've managed to bring out that sweet cocoa burley flavor without the cocoa and molasses/brown sugar casings that others add - a pretty amazing feat of masterful blending. To me this blend has slightly milder flavor than Wessex Burley Slice (which is not surprising if it doesn't use casing), but the Solani is smoother, and still very flavorful, rich and creamy. I like the Wessex too, and when I'm in the mood for a stronger and spicier flavor will smoke it, but most of the time I prefer the Solani as it tastes more natural to me. The nicotine level is moderately-high, but not as high as Peterson Irish Flake or HH Old Dark Fired. The flakes have just the right moisture content and don't need drying. If you like burleys and haven't tried this one, you are missing a treat. Highly recommended!
Wessex - Brigade Sovereign Curly Cut 50g
A Mild Natural Virginia-Perique Blend
These spun coins look a lot like Three Nuns, but to me are less sweet than that blend, and definitely less flavorful than Escudo (probably because it lacks the lemon, plum, and licorice casings). Unlike the new 3 Nuns, this has perique, but to me it is very much in the background. It contributes to the overall flavor, but only occasionally gives a nose tingle or spicy flavor. Many VaPer smokers will find this blend too bland, but I appreciate it as a mild and natural Virginia-Perique blend without the casings and added sugars. For me, the nicotine level is mild and the moisture level out of the tin was just right requiring no dry time. I'm on my second tin of this blend, and may eventually buy another to age, but there are too many other VaPer blends to try before making this a regular.
Ashton - Winding Road 50g
Not worth the effort
Ashton has a way with evocative names for their tobacco blends - unfortunately this one almost ruined the Beatles song for me. I really wanted to like this blend - tin aroma was nice - a definite apricot aroma just as the label says, along with what I would call a nutty aroma (probably the caramel). The Winding Road went careening downhill from there. The tobacco was extremely moist and sticky in the tin, so much so that I had a hard time scraping it off the cover card. I found it very hard to light and it was truly impossible to keep lit without puffing constantly which quickly overheated my pipe and gave tongue (and throat and gum and roof of mouth) bite. I've tried every drying and packing method I can come up with to get a good smoke from this, including drying for an hour in the pipe, and letting it sit overnight on a paper towel. Even dry as a bone it would not stay lit without constant puffing, it burns incredibly hot and it still gave nasty tongue bite, plus it lost all its top flavor. It also leaves a nasty chemical coating in my mouth. If you want a pleasurable tobacco that was truly "designed to bridge the gap between aromatic and English style blends", try Savinelli's new Essenza Cipriota, which is a mild but flavorful blend of Burley, Latakia, Orientals and Virginias with a touch of the grape - a true English Aromatic. As another reviewer said, there is nothing "English" about Winding Road - this "bridge" led me to a dead end in the middle of nowhere. Not worth the effort in my opinion.
Brigham - Klondike Gold 50g
Mild and tangy
The tin note is fruity and figgy, but to me the flavor is very bright without much of the darker heavier flavors I associate with some other flakes (like Full Virginia Flake or Best Brown #2). The predominant flavor I get from the Virginias is a tangy citrus flavor, reminiscent of tangerines, and somewhere between Dunhill Flakes's lemon and Orlik Golden Sliced orange flavors. Nicotine is relatively mild compared to most other Va flakes I have tried. I sometimes use a flake of this to brighten up darker blends - it adds a nice high end to the flavor. If you like Va Flakes, you should give this one a try - it has its own character and might find a place in your rotation. A very pleasant smoke!
Tom Eltang - Virginia 2oz
Mild and Consistent
Slightly tangy, lightly sweet Virginias with a touch of nutty Burley - I suspect this would age well. Moisture level was just right out of the tin, the ribbon cut is easy to pack, and I got no bite even when puffing pretty fast. Not particularly complex, it is consistent in flavor from top to bottom of the bowl. If you like Va blends with mild to moderate flavor, no surprises, and not too much nicotine, this could be your next everyday / all-day smoke. If you are a new smoker or an aromatic smoker who wants to try a Va-Bur blend, this might be a good starting point. I usually prefer more full-flavored complex blends, but this is very nice for what it is - mild straight tobacco flavor and a solid four stars.
Solani - Silver Label - 660 100g
Sweet, tangy, spicy and smokey
Solani says this flake is made up of premium dark red and sweet Virginias from the "Border Belt", light yellow Virginia from South Carolina and dark-fired, spicy Kentucky, with no added flavorings. I find it to be rich in flavor and like it much more than Reiner Long Golden Flake (to which it is often compared, and which tastes cased to me). VaPer lovers take note - the dark-fired Kentucky is spicey enough that it sometimes makes me think there's perique in the blend. It also adds a more typical smokey flavor to the mix complementing the slightly tangy, mildly sweet Virginias. To my taste, this blend has a natural full flavor without being overwhelming like some flakes, with moderate nicotine. It comes in 'long flake' form, meaning it's one long wide continuous ribbon, folded over and over, packed inside a plastic bag in the tin. It breaks apart easily for smoking and to me has just the right amount of moisture to smoke without drying. As another reviewer noted, the 100 gram Solani tins do not reseal tightly so you'll want to jar this if you are not going to smoke it all up right away (and it's tempting to do so). Definitely worth aging - highly recommended!
Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
Virginia and Burley and Fruit - Oh My!
My first bowl of this was surprisingly pleasant. After reading reviews on that other Tobacco Review site, I was worried about the fruity flavor, but it's a mild flavor and so is the sweetness (hence this is listed as a Virginia and not an aromatic on SPC). The fruit flavor and sweetness diminish quickly as the bowl goes on, but they are still mildly present all the way to the bottom of the bowl. After a bit, the Virginias take to the front, then as the bowl gets closer to the bottom, the Burleys become more noticeable, and this pattern has been consistent with every bowl I've smoked. It also burns amazingly slowly and completely. First bowl my rating would have been 3 stars - my impression was it was a nice change, but not an every day tobacco. Next day I had another bowl. :-) Then next day another then another until the tin is almost gone - it's now part of my daily rotation. My first impression was I would probably get tired of it, but it hasn't happened yet - in fact I seem to get fonder of it with every bowl. Not too sweet, not too fruity, with good Virginias and Burleys. Moderate nicotine, definitely more than most aromatics. As far as the fruit flavor, it's unidentifiable to me but you'll read lots of varying descriptions in reviews here and elsewhere, from raspberry (I don't taste that) to licorice (I don't taste that either), apricots and or peaches (maybe), Juicy Fruit gum (maybe a little) to pear and banana (maybe slightly). I also get a definite citrus flavor that reminds me a little of Orlik Golden Sliced, but it's a different flavor and a little stronger. Informed sources say there is no pineapple flavor in it even though there is one pictured on the label - the pineapple used to be a symbol of hospitality which is why it was chosen for the logo. Also, the older version of this had a floral aroma, but I don't get that in the current version at all. If you are a Va or Burley purist, you may want to stay away, but if you like aromatics and want to try a VaBur flake, or you want a change from your usual VaBur flake, this might be a good one to try. In any case, it's grown on me and I'll be buying a tin or two to age as well as another one to smoke.
Savinelli - Brunello Flake 100g
Balanced and Mellow
A mellow Virginia-Burley blend, very balanced round full flavor without being overwhelming. The Virginias are not as sweet as some blends, but have a pleasant mild citrusy flavor. The Burley adds a low end, kind of chocolaty. The Macedonian seems to add something I haven't tasted in a Va-Bur blend before and can't describe, but it's very nice. Maybe it's responsible for the occasional spiciness that drifts through the bowl. Fairly complex, rich and smooth, burns cool - no bite no matter how hard I pulled on it. Nicotine level is fairly mild. The first tin I received was 2 months out from the tin date. The price per ounce is just a $1 more than Orlik Golden Sliced, and I think this blend has a richer, smoother, fuller, complex, and balanced flavor which makes it a good value for a daily smoke - highly recommended. Update: After going through two more tins this has become a staple in my rotation. I've noticed a flavor that drifts in and out that reminds me of oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and raisins - go figure. Another Update - I just opened a tin of this that was aged 3 1/2 years. Wow! The oatmeal/chocolate/raisin flavors have deepened and the tin aroma is heavenly - a very rich tasting blend. Can't wait to try it when it hits the 5 year mark.
Cornell & Diehl - Dark Cherry Cavendish
Middle of the Road
My take on this is that it is a mild-to-moderate Virginia / Burley blend with just a very slight touch of cherry flavor added. The Va's are the most prominent flavor, but the burley is present too - the cherry is just in the background. Nicotine was moderate to me, more than most aromatics. There are better Va blends, and better cherry aromatics, but it's nice to have something that straddles the line when I don't want a full aromatic, or a stronger Va blend. And I suspect others will like the room note better than a straight Va-Bur blend. Worth trying an ounce.
Sutliff - Molto Dolce 1.5oz
The name means "very sweet", but thankfully this aromatic is not overwhelmingly sweet like some. The flavor's the thing here. The tin promises caramel, vanilla, and honey, and for me it delivered all the way to the bottom of the bowl. In general the caramel seems to predominate, but it moves in and out with the honey and vanilla. In the second half of the bowl, the flavors start to blend together resulting in a general chocolaty taste, but with the individual components still moving in and out. In each bowl I've smoked I've also had at least one or two moments where I thought I tasted cherries, then it's gone. The tobacco comes very moist and the 1.5 oz does not fill up half the tin, which was a bit disappointing, but I didn't find it needed drying before smoking. Rich complex flavorings, no bite, and it does not overheat my pipe. If you are a tobacco purist expecting a great Cavendish/Burley/Virginia blend, I'd recommend you stay far away, but if you have a sweet tooth, give this a try - be sure to sip it or you'll miss the flavors and complexity. It's not an all day or every day smoke for me, but as a dessert smoke with a latte or cappuccino, it's perfect. Will be keeping a tin around from now on.
Hearth & Home - Black House 1.75oz
When I first started smoking a pipe nearly 15 years ago, I was not a big Latakia fan. In fact I tried a few English blends that made me want to go brush my teeth before the bowl was half done. After quitting for a few years and coming back to the briar, apparently my tastes have radically changed. This was my first experience with a Balkan blend, and it's an incredible tobacco, from tin note to the bottom of the bowl. It's surprisingly mild, but complex, rich, and full of flavor. The nicotine level seemed mild, but then I used to smoke cigarettes. On the first charring light I was met with a wonderful sweetness along with a chocolate-nut flavor. The sweetness diminished as the bowl went on, but was always moving in and out of the background. About a third of the way down, the other flavors really started to develop. First a smokey flavor and aroma, then a multitude of flavors I have no words for. Leather? Creamy? Nutty? Spicy? There was no bite no matter how fast I tugged at it, all the way to the bottom of the bowl. I've already ordered the 8 oz size and will let it get a little age on it before opening. If you've never smoked a Balkan blend before, let this be your first. If you are an aromatic fan and don't like Latakia, try this - you may change your mind. This is the first tobacco I smoked that really got me excited and I believe it deserves an unqualified 5 stars.
Blog's Commented on
How to Cellar Pipe Tobacco: Part Two
- ► I know from experience that the square/rectangular tins don't usually reseal well after they've been opened. (I'm thinking Solani Aged Burley Flake, Savinelli's Brunello Flake, Mac Baren's HH Dark Fired, etc.)What about unopened tins like these? Are they ok to cellar in the original unopened tins, or should they be transferred to a Mason jar?Thanks for the good thread!
How to Pronounce Pipe Maker Names
- ► I've been wondering about "Castello" - is it pronounced with the usual English 'L' sound, or with the Spanish 'LL' sound or something else (since they're Italian). Also which syllable is accented?
IM Corona: The Best Hard-Use Pipe Lighter
- ► My IM Corona only lasted 3 months before developing 3 separate problems and becoming unusable. After waiting 3 months for warranty repair, it lasted another month before developing the same problems. A Kiribi lasted 7 months before becoming unusable. Peterson seems to have the strongest build, but two of them have lasted around a year before developing their own problems and being unusable. The cheap piezo pipe lighters may last a month if you're lucky, most fail within a week. It would not take much for manufacturers to actually care and redesign and build these lighters to last a lifetime, but I guess profiting from replacements and 'free' warranty repairs that cost $35 plus shipinng are more important than quality. Yes, I'm a cynical grumpy old man, but if I will no longer pay $100 for a 'disposable' lighter.