Cornell & Diehl - Bijou 2oz
I allowed mine to age a bit. Cracked the tin, and, greeting by mold. I tried picking out the mold, and smoke. Not really able to give a fair opinion, the flavor was obviously tainted by the overwhelming musk of the mold. Obviously C&D has not totally fixed their mold issues. Unfortunately I bought two tins. I've never opened the other, fearing I'd only get angrier if it's moldy as well.
Peterson - 3 P's - Peterson's Perfect Plug 50g
To each their own
Not a huge plug fan to begin with, too much work. But this was crazy. The absolute hardest to cut plug I have ever experienced. Wow. Hence the three stars. The leaf itself is 5 Stars. "Casing" is mentioned. I detected none. The tobacco itself is nice. Deep and rich. It gets quite intense near the end of the bowl. Burns well, with a nice toothsome smoke. Burns to a silvery ash with only the smallest dottle left. Burns cool, and dry. Slightly sweet, more savory. A satisfying smoke for sure. My tin had aged a few years after I bought it before smoking, so maybe it's my fault the plug was so hard. But, I simply couldn't cut it with a knife... just was able to shave the edges. I set it aside in a mason jar out of frustration. When I went back to it I just started breaking it apart, the wrong way so I have large leafs. Then, I just chopped up the individual leafs. I found this an enjoyable smoke as well. The large cutting lightened the blend just a tad, and at least to my palate, improved the smoke. In any case, the leaf itself, and the blend, is good. But there's a bit of prep work that I find to be an annoyance personally. Have a good sharp knife!
Dunhill - Ye Olde Signe 50g
Disclaimer, the low rating is due to the marquee. I really expected more from Dunhill. It's not a bad tobacco - it's just bad for Dunhill. Very bland, not what I am used to with Virginia's. The strength, I didn't detect. Packs good, burns good.. really good. No more than lighting the bowl, it's ash. I found it to have more of a cigarette flavor and quality to it than that of a pipe tobacco. I'll let the other tins age for a few years and see if the VA gets a bit better. Perhaps in 1915 it was good, but whatever leaf they used on the batch I purchased was sub-par in the flavor department.
Newminster - No.403 Superior Round Slices
When I first tried this, I enjoyed it a lot. A bit sharp around the edges, fresh, for my taste buds the DF over-took the VA, but I enjoyed it enough to order 1lb and jar for aging. My what a difference time can make with some blends. In the genre of McB roll-cake or 3Nuns.. but I think better. After two years aging the sharp edges are gone. The Dark Fired backs off and the VA's really come into their own. Natural subtle sweetness, DF for body and a bit of strength. Even the tin note completely changed after age. A wonderful sweet and sour flavor / aroma. Room note is quite pleasant. Burns all the way down to just a slight dottle and a nice silver ash. Retro is pleasant, burns cool and consistent. All in all, was good before, is great now. It's been a bit since I ordered, hopefully the recipe hasn't changed. I'm inclined to jar up a few pounds of this for aging. If you're one that found the DF too strong, don't toss it out, just seal it up good and give it some time.
Dunhill - Dark Flake 50g
I enjoy it
I'm a bit surprised by some of the low reviews. Possibly expecting more Perique? This isn't, at least in my classifications and true VA/Per blend. This is a VA blend, with a touch of Perique. By no means is this a VA/Per. The Perique is at time almost undetectable. And whatever Perique that is used is a bit of a chameleon - at times of the peppery variety, at other times of the fig/dried fruit variety. Overall a nice balance. As I've reached the end of the first tin, I can smell more of the Perique in the tin note, and slightly more in the smoke. I am not sure of the % of Perique, but I'd imagine it's quite low. What this is, is a very nice medium to medium full Va flake. I've always enjoyed Dunhill Flake. This is Dunhill Flakes older brother. Many of the same profiles, just deeper, richer, bolder. Burns to a nice white ash sitting atop only a small dottle. Requiring little to no relights and requiring little attention to enjoy. A quality leaf, and a nice enjoyable Virginia. Dark Flake, at least to my palate, is "very' close to Orlik Golden Sliced or Escudo. Dark Flake is perhaps only slightly bolder than Orlik, and slightly milder than Escudo. No tongue bite, pleasant after-taste. The flakes are a bit sticky, leading me to believe there's possibly a bit of red Va in it, and definitely confirming the Perique. Flakes require a bit of time outside the tin to dry out a wee bit, then it folds and smokes quite nicely. All in all a very enjoyable offering. Though pricey, in my opinion for what it is, it's sufficiently good that I will bite off this price and keep it in my own personal stock. I have a feeling this would age exceptionally well. Better the Orlik, or Dunhill Flake. A bit more going on with this flake that the others mentioned, which is time should only improve.
Cornell & Diehl - Sansepolcro 2oz
Sometimes the descriptions make me scratch my head. I personally detect no "cloves" or "spice" (Spice in the sense of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon etcetera). It is earthy, floral (Not in a bad sense or Lakeland type), and there are hints of "spice". Definitely a dark fired leaf. Though it's blonde appearance wouldn't lead you to believe that. On the fuller side. Gets quite robust near the end of the bowl, but never overwhelming. Tin note is earthy, and I mean exactly that - smells like, well, dirt. Very simple aroma in-fired. Leaf itself is lovely and packs nicely. Smokes dry, cool and quite easy. Burns all the way down to a nice fine white/silver ash. Ever so slightly sweet to the palate, with subtle hints of spice, grass, and floral notes. Near the end I get the hiccups (As I do with all dark fired), fairly nice Vitamin N hit, but not at all overwhelming. I think, had that added a bit of a more floral/spiced oriental leaf it would've enhanced the flavor a great deal. A very toned down version of the Italian cheroots these are based off of. In many respects this reminded me a lot of Semois, a tad milder, with a more pleasant room note and aroma. It's very dry, and smokes as such - but even being a prodigious puffer, doesn't over-heat on me. I wouldn't call it "Strong" but it isn't "mild" either. For those that are sensitive to nicotine, or stronger blends I'd advise a small bowl. I've enjoyed this anytime of the day, but most of all mid-day early evening - when I need a "boost". Leaves a nice room note behind, even non-smokers wouldn't be too offended. Nice clean finish on the palate, with a very pleasant after effect. Do not let the description fool you. This is by no means at all an aromatic, nor would I call this a "Virginia". In the same family, yes, but it's a quite distant cousin. What flavors are there, are natural qualities of the leaf. It's quite good. I plan on buying a few more tins before it's gone. I plan on adding some blending oriental to some and see how that goes. C&D and I haven't melded. I've yet to find a blend of theirs that I "loved", but this is one of the few I've personally found that I'd order again. Has some of the classic VA flavor I love, and enough of a change to keep me interested.
Rattray's - 40 Virginia 100g
In my earlier review I misspoke. This is a loose cut tobacco - not ribbon cut. Rough / loose cut alongside rubbed out flakes. Makes for a wonderful burn. Easy light, stay's lit without over-heating. After finishing my first 100g my opinion on this tobacco has only improved. If McBaren VA #1 and Erinmore were to have a child - this would be it. Hints of fruitiness and sweetness like Erinmore. Light clean VA like #1 - best of both in one tin. It's quite enjoyable. My apologies for the initial typo.
Rattray's - 40 Virginia 100g
A very nice mellow, mild to medium VA. Beautiful ribbon cut, very uniform. Takes a lite very well, only one re-light required to finish the bowl. Smokes dry and cool. Cooler than many other ribbon cut VA's. Smokes to a fine silvery ash. Tin note is that of just VA, slightly grassy/hay like. Light tea, hay, fruit (citrus) flavors coming through with the smoke - most pronounced when exhaled through the nose. A naturally sweet bright VA flavor all in all. It's a very nice blend. I'll be ordering more, I think this will age quite nicely. Hopefully this will be released in the large bags as well. Just excellent - will be a regular smoke for me.
Peter Stokkebye - Aroma Dutch Slices
Good simple blend
Very nice burley and Virginia blend. Thought P.S. labels it "aromatic", it's not an aromatic. A natural blend with no detectable topping. Tin note is that of tobacco. Slightly nutty, slight hay like. Room note is pleasant, no discernable note except that of sweetness and tobacco. Smoke is quite pleasant. Slightly sweet, slightly nutty. Both the burley and Va's share presence nicely here. Again, no topping that I can detect at all. Just the natural nuttiness and sweetness of the burley and VA leafs. Takes a light well, and burns without much effort. Resists over-heating. No bite at all and burns all the way down to a nice clean silver ash. Not harsh at all, no gurgling it bitterness sometimes associated with below par burleys. Strength is mild to medium, yet very satisfying. A lovely all day smoke and an excellent base blend. For the money, it would be very hard to beat for someone wanting a slightly sweet, mild to medium all day smoke. Mixed with Stokkebye cube cut burley 70/30 DS to CC makes a lovely blend. Hard to go wrong with Dutch Slices. A classic old school cut and flavor.
Orlik - Dark Strong Kentucky 50g
Not what I expected
The name is somewhat inappropriate. Though there is some dark fired in this blend, it's accounts for a 1/3 maybe? It's not "strong". The dark fired is there, and it makes itself known, but doesn't dominate at all. The VA's in it are quite good. Nice and sweet with tobacco flavor coming through. Nicotine hit is adequate. I like the shorter flake - no rubbing or folding needed. Just pops right in perfectly for anything around a group 3-4. Takes the light easily and burns readily, but slow and cool. Flake itself is just lovely with the dark and light mixed together. There is a top dressing to this - for me it's licorice, possibly some molasses light flavor. This top is more present on the nose than the tongue. It's actually pleasant, and leaves a nice after-taste. The flavors are distinct, but not over-powering. It's a nice "change of pace" flake of very high quality. I'll keep it around and smoke a tin now and again, wouldn't be my everyday flake. Simply put - this is a lightly flavored flake that is medium in strength. I suppose other's would consider it stronger, just depends on the palate and what you're used to. I think someone that usually smokes aromatics or lighter blends but wants to dip a toe into flake or dark fired - they'd probably enjoy this. For the flake smoker - it's a nice change up.
Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Morning
The SP description lays it out. Not for the faint of heart. If you're new to VA/Per's, don't go here. Go with a 10-15% perique. Also, the particular Perique that C&D uses is very intense. It's dark, oily, musty deliciousness. The VA's in the blend are excellent. Sweet, clean favor. The perique in this blend is above excellent. It's what perique should be. Hints of dark fermented fruit. Only slightly "peppery". A nice loose leaf blend. Packs and lights perfectly, smokes through with only the occasional re-light. No bite, no gurgle, only a small dottle left un-burnt. Yes, it's full and intense. Yes, it strengthens as the bowl progresses. This is not a "light" blend, and not meant to be. It's heady and them some. I cannot say enough about the perique used here. The VA's are good, but there are lots of good VA's out there. This perique is special - very special. It's full flavored and totally satisfying. I looked for years for "my" favourite VA/Per - this is it. Heads and shoulder above and C&D blend I've ever tried - I found most of theirs sorta bland. This - this is wonderful. I will be buying pounds of it.
Tabac Manil - La Brumeuse 3.5oz
Not your granddads burley for sure. The mentioned "strength" or "harshness". It is a full flavored leaf for sure. I wouldn't call it "harsh", but it is intense, strong isn't necessarily an inaccurate description. Leaves a slight catch in the throat, much like dark fired. Tin note, it smells like tobacco. Just plain, dry tobacco. Like dry leaves. This is definitely a very "pure" tobacco and has many qualities to it. The smoke reminds me very much of smoking straight blending orientals. Different and good in it's own way. This leaf is very "earthy" in flavor, with ever so slight hints of an herbal quality - again, much like straight orientals. To my palate - it's quite like a cigar in many respects. Room note, again, much like a cigar. Initially it's just tobacco, an earthy cigar. As the bowl hits the half way point the flavors meld. The herbal notes come out more. And it mellows down quite a bit and sweetens just a tad near the bottom half. I cannot overstate the dryness of this tobacco - it took me aback. Strangely enough not only did it stay cool the entire bowl, but when lighting you could notice the oils in the leaf coming out - I figured any oils had long since dried out, but no they're still there. At my normal smoking cadence, which is probably too prodigious, it stayed lit, with only one re-lite at the 1/2 point, cool and dry. Only the slightest burley bite, negligible. Would this be an all day blend for me? No. Will I keep it on hand? Absolutely! After a day at work, having a bowl of this with a nice cup of coffee, well, it's quite relaxing. Very nice nicotine hit, it's not boring, but it's not a flavor bomb either. Though I said not an "everyday" smoke for me. Strangely enough, when the bowl is done, though I feel really satisfied, I feel myself craving another bowl of it. Get with a buddy or two and split a brick - it's worth the try. The price may preclude this. But I can see this very easily adding some heft to a iffy blend. I might try a little of it in a Latakia style smoke, see what it does. I think a little would go a long way.
G. L. Pease - Navigator 2oz
A revised opinion
I tried this right when it came out a couple years back. I just received a new order, and it's changed, at least to me. My first tin, the tobacco was very light blonde in color, rubbed completely out and it's flavours was that of a standard VA, possibly lightly topped. I never detected the dark fired at all, I am very sensitive to dark fired and can generally pick it up immediately, but I never did with my 2013 tin. Enjoyable none the less. Flash forward to my recent order. The leaf is very coarsely rubbed out - no where near to the first tin. The dark fired is quite present in this tin (gave me hiccups near the end of the bowl - my personal sure sign of dark fired being present) and the top note not nearly as present. Deep, dark, rich, smokey, spicey, lightly sweet to the tongue with only a hint of some sort of topping, that truly augments the leaf and doesn't at all over-power or mask the flavours. Nice after taste, nice room note. Only a small dottle near the end resisted burning. This current configuration really hits a nice niche. Richer than many other VA's, but not as heavy as some of the dark fired leaf, or full VA's. I liked it before, I like it even better now. This was a fresh tin too, packed on 4.16.2015 so age doesn't explain the change. Whatever the change, I like it. I'll be buying more for a standard rotation smoke and to cellar some as well. To date this and Six Pence are my favourite of Pease's blends.
Mac Baren - Symphony 100g
Very nice burley blend
Great burley blend, reminiscent of the old school tobacco blends, just of much better quality. Tin note is that of tobacco. Very dark in appearance, it looks "rich" dark browns and reds with hints of black flecks here and there, roughly broken/rubbed out, perfect for loading. Smokes cool and dry. Slightly sweet. Hints of dark chocolate and nuttiness from the burley. No topping that I can detect at all. The flavor and sweetness is purely from the leaf. Burns well to a white ash upon a very small dottle. No discernable tongue bite. Satisfying nicotine hit without being overwhelming. Medium in body with a nice amount of smoke. The overall flavor is very subtle. Don't expect to be wow'd here with complex flavors. They aren't there - nor should they be; It's a burley blend. Flavor is VERY similar to PS cube cut burley, a tad richer and easy to keep lit. A masterfully blended burley tobacco, a little VA and a little Cavendish is present, but the burley is the show here. A great all day smoke. If you're a burley fan I'd highly recommend it. Nicely done.
Dunhill - Durbar 50g
Hands down my favourite Dunhill
Wonderful blend. Oriental forward, with just the right amount of latakia. Smooth, cool and sweet. A real winner and a delightful smoke. The oriental and VA leaf in this is superlative. This will be my go to, for lack of a better term, "English" style blend for the foreseeable future. Room note is quite pleasant. Burns consistently to the bottom leaving a light silver ash Just lovely.
G. L. Pease - Haddo's Delight 2oz
Nice smoke - odd aroma
A nice over-all blend, but there is something that this is topped with that doesn't set right with me. Sometimes I'm okay with it, other days it over-powers me. It doesn't have that normal fermented smell of a perique blend. There's some "sweet" like topping - maybe dried fruit or rum? Va or VA/Per's never bite me - but for some reason this one does, I think it's the topping. Again, I think time may be the key here. Going to let it cellar for a while and see if the topping calms down. The tobacco itself is very good and of very good quality masterfully blended between the leafs, when you can get past the top note. Could just be a fresh tin that hasn't had time to mellow out and meld together. Decent smoke, probably be great with age.
Rattray's - Hal O' The Wynd 100g
One of the best
A great blend in it's genre. Right cut, right strength, right flavour. Just a lovely smoke all the way around. I'd imagine it would age very well. When first opened it has a very distinct fermented aroma of perique. I found letting it rest a couple of days with the lid off dried it out just a tad and made packing easier. It's a full blend without being harsh or too strong. Inhales easily and quite pleasant. Room note is nice to inoculant. Burns quite steady and slowly. Even if you push it a bit I've yet to have it over-heat on me. Finishes to the very bottom very cleanly with a nice silvery ash and no dottle. I'll keep this one around.
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
I wouldn't classify this as a "Navy" flake. It's just a pure bright VA flake. And an excellent one at that. As good, or better than any other I have ever smoked in the genre. Lovely in appearance, rubs out well, lights well, burns well. Little to no bite, doesn't tend to heat up too much. Just a nice VA flake - pleasant sweetness, nice room note, satisfying smoke. Not much more a man could ask for.
Newminster - No.84 Oriental Pipe Cut
Bill B. nailed the description well, though I didn't experience any bite to speak of. I primarily smoke VA's, but I do enjoy orientals, smoking blending oriental straight at times. This is a nice change of pace. The VA takes charge, but the oriental leaf is always back there adding a bit of nuance to the smoke. Has a lovely room note. Delicately sweet, with a nice flavor. Upon receiving it the appearance, texture and dryness made me concerned. I really expected it to burn hot and bite. It did neither. Smoked cool and bite-less all the way to a fine silver ash. A great all day smoke. I haven't played around with it yet, but I imagine it would be a wonderful blender. Something to lighten up a latakia blend that's too heady, or a VA that's too bland. This is something that I will order by the pound in the future. It's just that good. Thus far I have been very pleased with all of the Newminster bulk tobacco's I have tried.
Cornell & Diehl - Oak Alley 2oz
Shane hit the nuances perfectly with his description. I'm not thinking the second tin will survive the aging process, I will probably crack it open as soon as the "try it" tin is finished. Right upon cracking the tin you're greeted with a lovely aroma of VA and fermented perique. The cake slices perfectly, packs and lights flawlessly. Burns slowly and evenly all the way down leaving only a fine white ash. Burns well without ever over-heating, nor did I require a single re-light. No bite what-so-ever. Room note for me was undetectable, I have yet to ask for opinions, though even if those around me dislike the aroma, to hell with them - I will continue to smoke it. It is simultaneously simple and complex, sweet and savory. The bowl evolves with each component at times showing itself. Though for me, the VA was always at the forefront. Very fine VA's at that. It's rich and extremely satisfying. It is not "strong". Not harsh at all. Very smooth. It's a bold smoke, but it smokes much smoother than you'd expect. By far the best C&D that I have ever smoked. One of the best I've ever smoked period. Outside of those who strictly smoke aromatics, I would imagine most everyone would enjoy this blend. It has a little bit for all. Even the aromatic smoker should find pleasure in the orientals and sweetness of the VA. I will be buying as much of this as my budget allows, and truly hoping, though it was meant for cellaring, that C&D offers some bulk.
Sutliff - Barbados Plantation 1.5oz
High quality aromatic
Definitely a very sweet aromatic. Tin note is enchanting. Tobacco is very moist, I've had it setting out uncovered for 48 hours thus far and hasn't seemed to want to dry any. As is, it is smoking dry though. Richness of flavor and a nice heavy smoke, the rum flavor takes front and center and remains there. Room note matches the tin note - very pleasing, almost delectable. Burns surprisingly cool for a blend that obviously has a lot of top dressing. No bite, with a nice clean aftertaste that lingers pleasantly. Silvery grey ash, burns right down to the bottom. Doesn't seem to over-heat, even when pushed a bit. Slower smoking definitely brings out more flavor though. True for most all blends - very true with this one. Not a lot of tobacco flavor coming through, but enough to keep my attention. I'm not a big smoker of aromatics, but, I'll probably keep this one around for those times I want something sweet. Thus far, every Sutliff I have tried has been pleasing, some extremely pleasing. This one falls into the extremely pleasing, for an aromatic category. For the price and quality, it's a 5 star aromatic.
Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
A revised opinion
Well they sent some to me for free, so I thought what the hell. To my great surprise, I now "get" this blend. Full flavored and very satisfying. Generally when I finish a pipe, I'm immediately preparing the next one. After a bowl of this, I'm done for a bit, satisfied. Not an experience of flavors or subtleties, just a damn good manly smoke. I'm going to move this one into my rotation now.
Sutliff - Golden Age 1.5oz
Not half bad
Tin note and the blend itself is just beautiful. It smokes pretty good. The VA's aren't as sweet as I'd expect, and the perique not as spicy as I'd expect, but, overall not a bad smoke. Very similar to Dunhill Elisabethan, though I prefer this over EM, little better VA's IMO. I feel that this particular blend would greatly benefit from cellaring. The proportions are right, just needs to mature. Packs well, lights well and finishes well. Again, it's all there, except for maturity. At the price, I would, and did buy a few more tins just to set aside and see what half a decade or so would do for it.
Dunhill - Elizabethan Mixture 50g
A really nice VA base. For me the perique doesn't show itself until the bottom half. Blend gets really intense in flavor towards the very bottom. The VA shines in this blend, from start to finish. I do find at times it strikes me as a little harsh, much like Three Nuns does to me. I think it's me and not the blend. I have found that if I let it sit out 30 minutes prior to loading it smooths out. Might just need some breathing time to mellow around the edges. Considered a VA/Per blend, but it's really the VA that makes this blend what it is, the VA takes the lead right out of the gate, and it's a very good VA at that. If you're a perique lover, don't expect a lot of that flavor here - stick with Escudo or the like. While there, it's sublime. Sticking a tin of this back, I'm curious what it'll be like in 5 years time. I'm betting superlative.
Drew Estate - Gatsby Luxury Flake 50g
Very nice smoke. Light, but satisfying. Slightly sweet, with a nice "sharp" tobacco flavor. Packs and lights well, burns to a nice fine white ash. Inhales nicely. Right out of the tin it's the perfect moisture. Tin note reminded me of Erinmore flake, just not as pronounced. I can detect no top flavoring at all. Two tins smoked in three days - it's really good. This is one that will always be on hand.
Missouri Meerschaum - American Patriot 1.5oz
Russ is a great blended, and he doesn't disappoint here. A nice blend, interesting without being "complex". Smokes cool, sweet and dry to the bottom of the bowl easily without relighting and very little dottle left. It states that the Latakia is the showcase, but honestly I found it to be sublime, not over-whelming at all. You can taste the Virginia, Turkish and Latakia - they all compliment each other without over-powering one another. And the top note - more of a tin note than a top note. Except for the initial light, I didn't really detect any of the bourbon. Maybe a bit in the aftertaste left behind, which is quite pleasant. I've spent a lot more for much less of a smoke. This is a nice blend, and a real bargain. I am excited to try the "Country Gentleman". I'd recommend this blend for a try. It's better than the price would lead you to believe.
Newminster - No.403 Superior Round Slices
VA at it's finest.
I've tried a lot of blends and a whole lot of Virginia's. Orlik was my "everyday" smoke. This is now the smoke of choice. It's bold, with a robust flavor, without being overwhelming. A good shot of nicotine, easily inhaled. Smokes right down to the bottom effortlessly. Smells of fresh hay with only a slight "sour" aroma to it, nothing as pronounced like McClelland. Comes a tad dry, so you need a humidor coin if you pouch it, can easily over-dry. Little to no bite. Rubs out well, packs well. Slightly sweet, has a wonderful "tobacco" flavor. Pleasant / non-offensive room note. I don't notice the note, but others seem to enjoy it. Leaves a really nice aftertaste and a lovely ghost. If I were to only have one tobacco - this would be it. If I were to recommend a tobacco - this would be it. Reminds me a great deal of Orlik golden sliced, only better and more flavorful. Orlik is a fine smoke, but at times can be a little flat. I've not experienced that at all with this. It's as good at the bottom as it is at the top. Looks like I can stop complaining that Orlik doesn't offer bulk, and I won't have any more orange tins laying about.
McClelland - Balkan Blue 50g
After further review
Though my first tin was gifted away, the accolades made me try again. I opened the tin, gave it a whiff and set it down, remembering my initial displeasure. Well, after it sat for a month or two I opened it again and was pleasantly surprised. I'll be the first to admit I was wrong - this is a lovely blend. I would say if at first for your taste buds this leaves an over-powering taste/scent, let the tin rest for a while. Now I see what others have proclaimed. It's an intoxicating blend. The room note is just enchanting. For S&G's a put a pinch of this in a blend from my local tobacconist and it made a lovely smoke. Gave a different life to it. It has a very pudgent aroma and flavour. Not, bad, just pronounced. For me it's not an everyday smoke, but it is a nice change and really enjoyable in the evenings when I have time to give it more attention.
Captain Black - Original 1.5oz
A basic mild, light cavendish. It illicits compliments, it has a room note that most folks associate with pipe smoking. I personally have not experienced the tongue bite that many have. For me it burns slow and cool. It's mild, little to no nicotine. No complexity what-so-ever. The top of the bowl is identical to the bottom. It does come packed a bit moist, I just leave the sleeve open over night and that tends to fix the problem. Lights slow, but burns well usually to a fine ash at the bottom with little dottle. Flavor is very straight forward. It's pretty plain, mildly vanilla, hints of nuttiness, but nothing pronounced. A little boring, but if thats what you want then it does just fine. I can see how for many this is a staple and their all day smoke. Quality and tobacco consistancy is highly suspect. This pouch I am writing about now, it's not bad, the previous was a turd - just bad quality. I occasionally buy a pouch when I want some cavendish and the tobacco shoppe is closed, Walgreen's is open late. I seldom finish an entire pouch before tossing it into my large "Variety of aromatics that I tried" jar - just in case times get too hard and I need some tobacco. For the drug-store blends I'd rate this as about the same quality as Carter Hall and Borkum, but better than Half & Half or PA.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 3.5oz
I've let this stew for a while, a year to be exact. It mellows and sweetens. While I did enjoy it thoroughly at first, now I find it quite excellent. I'm going to order more and cellar it for a few years. In my mind everything about this blend fine tuned after aging. It maintains it's full flavor, but less amplified, and definitely smoother.
Carter Hall - Carter Hall 1.5oz Pouch
Old school good
Dad smoked it, so did grandpa. It's what I started with, and Capt. Black white, before I became a "tobacco snob". Honestly, it's not bad. It packs and burns well. The moisture is just right at opening. Of the "drug-store tobacco's", this is one of the best. It is a quality tobacco, not at all an inferior leaf. A nice consistent silver ash with good burning characteristics all the way to the bottom, little to no dottle. Not an intense blend, or complex. Not something that is going to give a lot of satisfaction on vitamin N. But, I can see why folks have enjoyed it for years. It's just a smoke, nothing more, nothing less. Little bite, a great cake builder burns very well. Room note is pleasant, has that old school smell to it. I bet with a little more Virginia added to the blend it would be excellent. Slightly aromatic, maybe... a hint of wine? It's hard to pin-point. Sort of reminds me of the same flavouring used in Half and Half, just much more subtle. Does really nice in cobs in my opinion. I'll give it a whirl in a meerschaum. I've found it doesn't taste as well with pipes that have been broken and solidly smoked with mature Virginia's. Maybe I'll crack out an old Kaywoodie and reminisce on pops and granddad. A classic American pipe tobacco, enjoyed for generations, with good reason. It's something that is definitely worth a smoke, with an open mind and a little nostalgia in your heart. This is one of those brands, that all American pipe smokers should give a try. With every whiff I can stir up memories of casting a line with the old timers, or sitting in the duck blind with them.
McClelland - Stave-Aged 35 50g
A very nice ribbon cut Viriginia. Perfect moisture, burns and smokes like a dream. Burns quite well and consistent without over-heating or going out. Very little to no bite at all. Quite sweet, without being cloying or overly flavoured. Hints and whiffs of the bourbon come out, but ever so slight. This is a fine ribbon cut. Room note is innoculous at best, wont illicit a lot of compliments, or complaints. But to a smokers palate, it's wonderful. Possibly the description made folks think this is a whiskey flavoured aromatic- it is not. It is a ribbon cut Virigina, with a hint of bourbon in there. Burns to a nice silvery ash resting upon a very small dottle. Easily inhaled with a satisfying amount of vitamin N. I continuously try new blends and tins being the wandering soul I am, but this blend here has me tempted to remain in stasis for a while. As an added bonus, you get a free humidifier in the tin! Soak the wood chunk and off you go. Feel free to soak it in your favourite spirit if you should want a little more topping to it.
G. L. Pease - Sextant 2oz
An interesting and enjoyable blend. At first the Latakia takes front and center. As you progress through the bowl the Virginia really begins to shine, with an ever so slight rum(?) flavour. A nice smoke that transitions itself as you smoke. From a nice full smokey blend to a sweet Viriginia as you finish. Leaves a nice room note, an enjoyable aftertaste. Has a fair nicotine punch, especially at the end. Usually not the largest fan of Latakia out there, but this is a real winner.
Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 50g
If you're wanting to try a flake - I'd say try elsewhere first. For some, it's right up their alley. It's okay, but not great. It's too wet in the tin. Definitely needs airing out. I found the flavor a little flat and unsatisfying. I'm going to try it again, but all in all I'm not sure I'd recommend it.
Mac Baren - Plumcake 100g
Aromatic, not cloyingly sweet. Definitely some plum flavor in there. For an aromatic smoker that wants a little more nicotine, or a little more bite, this would be a good choice. Pleasing room note. It does ghost badly, so if it's a one off "Just gonna try it", use a cob pipe until you are sure. Not something that I'd personally keep on hand, but it's a quality smoke and if offered a bowl, I'd smoke it again. There is some good Virginia in this blend, it just can't get by the top note - but then again, that's not it's purpose.
Lane Limited - 1-Q
There's a reason this has been one of the number one sellers for years and years. It's firmly in that "American style", or light aromatic. Vanilla and caramel. Smokes dry, and cool. Really nice quality. Smokes all the way down, leaving a fine white ash. Nice room note, others should find it quite pleasing. Not a lot of nicotine, though hints of tobacco flavor do get through and would be satisfying enough for those that do not require large amounts of vitamin N. Simple, straight forward aromatic of exceptional quality. For those that never ventured beyond drug store blends, this is what you need to be buying. If I were to have an everyday aromatic, this would be it.
Mac Baren - Mixture: Scottish Blend 100g
Nice blend, worth a try.
It falls somewhere in that middle ground. You can taste the tobacco, is fuller in flavor and depth than a straight aromatic yet is sweet and has some flavoring in there. Smokes cool, dry, finishes to a nice ash. Leaves a pleasant room note. Not bad at all for a change of pace. I'd smoke it again.
Cornell & Diehl - Sweet English
Pretty damn good
It's sweet alright, maybe too sweet, I can't decide. After smoking a few ounces, I liked it. It's different, but not in a bad way. The aroma was off putting at first, reminded me of maple syrup. But the smoke was quite enjoyable. I'd say worth trying.
McClelland - Craftsbury: Frog Morton 50g
Good, but not great. Good enough to have me trying other's in the "series", not good enough for me to buy another tin of this blend. Those that mention the "mildness" are quite correct. There isn't a lot of "tobacco" going on with this. Of good quality and the blend has places to go and I am sure would please some folks perfectly fine.
G. L. Pease - Maltese Falcon 2oz
Didn't care for it
Not great to say the least. My tin was quite dry, the tin note had me really excited, didn't smoke to my expectations. Irritatingly enough, as dry as it was - wouldn't stay lit. Oh well, more to try out there. After a handful of bowls I tossed the rest into the "Various English blends I tried" jar. No knock on the quality. It's made well, maybe a bad tin. But the blend itself isn't an award winner. Pretty average and definitely not worth the price.
Dunhill - My Mixture 965 50g
Like NC or EMP, this one seems to be the balance of the two. Not too heavy, not too light. Enough Latakia without being overwhelmed. I did enjoy it, found it to be of good quality and well within what one would expect for a "English" style blend. I wouldn't recommend it, but each to their own. I just didn't find anything "special" about it to separate it from the pack.
Dunhill - Nightcap 50g
In the same genre of 965 or EMP. My least favorite of the three. I enjoyed it, don't see myself buying it again. Priced has come down, and is more in line for what it is.
Dunhill - Early Morning Pipe 50g
Just a plain ole "English blend", very much like Nightcap, or 965, just ever so slightly lighter in flavor . Not good, not bad. Better now that the price has came down a little. It was grossly over-priced for what you received.
Orlik - Golden Sliced 100g
Every day smoke
A real winner. Very simple and straight forward. Lots of tobacco flavor. Perfect sweetness, with just a hint of citrus in there. A good shot of nicotine, easy to inhale, burns very nicely to a silvery ash. Room note is neutral, neither complaints nor compliments. Leaves a wonderful after taste and a nice ghost in the bowl. Very little bite. It lacks the remainder of the 5th star only because it's sold out too often and not available in bulk. Just a good every day smoke.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
A truly nice blend. I tend towards simpler Virginia flakes and such, but this is a nice change of pace. I found it neither dry, nor wet. Smoked cool, stayed lit well. Burns to a nice white ash resting upon a small dottle - quality leaf. A nice blend, not too heavy on the Latakia, and there is some real tobacco flavor in there to be had. Baldwin was wrong about Germany, but right about this blend.
Mac Baren - Virginia No. 1
Best bulk I've found
Good smoke here. It's a good simple VA tobacco. Makes a great blending base. Good all on it's own. Smokes to a nice fine ash resting upon a small dottle. Smokes dry and cool. Easy to inhale, beware it will bite you though. Room note is pleasing. I always have a pound of this on hand, when I'm blending this is my most common base. It keeps very well. I place mine in pint mason jars and it will keep quite nicely. If it goes dry, a touch of moisture will get it back in place for you.
A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Years ago this was my first tip toe into the world of tinned tobacco. Years later, dozens and varieties later, I still keep a tin or two of this about. It's good, little more need be said. Smokes nice with little to no bite, good tobacco flavor with a bit of peppery spiceyness, yet mild enough to smoke all day, every day. If I weren't such a wandering soul, I'd just smoke this, every day, all day. Other's are close, and some are almost as good and cheaper but for me, this is the best I've found in VA/Per. Even compared to the venerable Three Nuns, I prefer Escudo, it's a little milder and after completing a full tin of Three Nun's, I'd have to say it at times can be harsh.
Dan Tobacco - Blue Note 50g
Aromatic in every sense
Even as a none aromatic smoker, this is good. Much like Honeydew, I rarely smoke it, yet enjoy it thoroughly every time I do. It isn't as one dimensional as many aromatics are, there is a bit of complexity in it, differing flavors that play with each other and not against. Don't expect much vitamin N, or tobacco satisfaction - that's not what it is. Lovely room note, quality leaf, nice ash little dottle. Smokes cooler than Honeydew does, though it is in the same genre. It's worth trying and smoking now and again for a change of pace.
Dan Tobacco - Sweet Vanilla Honeydew 50g
Worth a try
Generally do not smoke aromatics, but I'm not against them either. This one, it's worth a try. The room note is simply enchanting. Folks will flock to the aroma. For the smoker, there is still a hint of real tobacco back there, and some nicotine for you. It does tend to be dry in the tin and it does tend to burn hot so you'll need to slow down a bit. It's light and clean, burns to a nice ash. Surprisingly for as sweet as it is, it doesn't leave much of a ghost. I don't smoke it often, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy it. Sometimes on a warm summer evening with a glass of sweet tea, this is just the ticket. Also, when pleasing those around you is of import, it's a rabbit in the hat, even the most adamant anti-smoker will be drawn to the scent.
Dunhill - Flake 50g
Quality flake here. It is what it is, a VA flake - nothing else. Smokes well, burns perfectly with a fine white ash. Inhales nicely, a tad sharp but still pleasant. A decent nicotine hit. No bite, nice and dry, ever so slightly sweet. It's a good "start the day" smoke, not too much to think about with it. It says Dunhill on the tin, so yeah, it's a little higher than other, similar flakes. But, this is a very fine tobacco of excellent quality. Good ash, no residue a clean smoke. The bottom of the bowl is as good and tastes just like the top.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 3.5oz
Nice smoke. Easy to inhale, smokes to a nice fine ash atop a very small dottle. On the stronger side of the scale. The burley shines, but the VA is still there, hanging in the back. Though I enjoy the aroma of latakia, it doesn't sit well with me when smoked (Heartburn, go figure). This is a nice full body smoke, without the heartburn. A nice change of pace, and for those that want something stronger or fuller, but do not care for latakia, this is worth a try.
G. L. Pease - Navigator 2oz
A really nice tobacco here. Plenty of tobacco flavor, a decent hit of nicotine. Nice and smoky. Doesn't burn too hot, never had it get wet on me. A really nice Navy style here. A little sharp to inhale similar to Dunhill Navy. I like the rubbed out form, it's about right. Room note didn't get any complaints, but very few compliments. It has an interesting side flavor, sorta reminded me of MacBaren Plumcake, just not as strong or cloying. It's different, in a good way.
G. L. Pease - JackKnife Plug 2oz
Not bad, not my cup of tea.
It's dark, it's heavy. I found it very "cigar" like. Room note doesn't get many compliments. Took me a bit to get through the tin, I found it went flat in time for my taste buds. Some days I enjoyed it, other days I didn't. Undecided. Three stars because it is a quality tobacco, just not entirely my cup of tea. On a side note, I took the last bit rubbed it out and mixed it with a lighter English/Latakia blend and, well, it made a really nice couple of bowls. Added some depth. A tad pricey for a blending tobacco though.
McClelland - Special: Christmas Cheer 2013 100g
Something to look forward to
As I finish my last tin of last years Christmas Cheer, I'm ordering this years. If you're a fan of matured Virginia, this will suit you well. A tad pricey, but it really is good. Smooth, subtle sweetness, smoky and leaves a wonderful aftertaste. The room note is quite pleasant as well.
McClelland - Balkan Blue 50g
Gave my tin away...
It's a quality tobacco, not doubt there. But the flavor isn't for me. I've tried three times. Different pipes, different sizes. It smokes cool, sweet and dry - quality isn't in question. Deep, smoky with a nice musty-ness to it. But it leaves an "incense" like taste in my mouth that is, well, just bad. I'll try it again someday, maybe I'm just missing something here.
Peter Stokkebye - PS403 Luxury Bullseye Flake
Hard to beat for the money
A nice smoke for the money spent. Not as deep in flavor as Escudo but still quite good. I am a prodigious puffer, Escudo can over-heat on me, this does not. For whatever reason. It also finishes a little smoother than others in this genre. Spicy, peppery, with a slight sweetness. Good and smoky. A fine tobacco to keep on hand, by the jar full. Room note doesn't get any complaints.
Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
Good, but not great
It's a good smoke, and of good quality. A little harsh to my taste buds, though it seems to get better and smoother as the bowl progresses. Seems to have a cigar quality to it. If you're a pipe and cigar smoker, you'll enjoy this blend a lot. I'll smoke it again, but I've had better Virginia blends. I usually pop a humidor coin in all my tins once opened. This blend got a little moist on me and it went to hell. It seems smokes better if it feels "dry" to the touch.
Capstan - Ready Rubbed Yellow 1.75oz
Milder than the blue, sweeter than the blue. Tobacco only here, and it's awesome. Above and beyond all expectations. It's a great smoke and if you like Virginia's you'll love this.
Capstan - Ready Rubbed Blue 1.75oz
Not much going on here, except perfection.
If Tolkien smoked it, that should probably be evidence enough. It's just good. It's a nice Virginia of exceptional quality. It is more on the mature side than what I expected, but that's not a bad thing. Nothing fancy at all here. Just tobacco at it's best, plain and simple. Smoke's to a fine silver ash, stays lit, doesn't over-heat. The room note isn't going to please non-smokers, but it doesn't seem to irk them either.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
The coins are just lovely. They're the absolute perfect size. Good flavor, nice quality. Stays lit, smokes to a fine ash. A little harsh to inhale. Overall I'm not sure it's worth the price, when compared to Stokkebye coins or Escudo. Still, a very good smoke. 5 stars for flavor and quality, 4.5 because of price.
Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
The tin note is definitely sweet and fruity, but the smoke is not nearly as pronounced. It's a nice smoke, not harsh at all. Smokes nice, finishes to a silver grey ash upon a small dottle. A little sharp to inhale, but still pleasant. There really something going on here that is addictive. I didn't think I'd like it when I first opened the tin, but I keep ordering and smoking more and more. It has such a unique flavor. Nice room note, seems to illicit more smiles than frowns. Leaves an enchanting after taste.
Dan Tobacco - The Mallard 50g
Admittedly, I mainly bought this for the tin art and it's name. I am pleasantly surprised. I was worried this would be an "aromatic" due to the labeling on the tin. It is not at all. A wonderful natural Virginia tobacco. Upon opening I was much reminding of Orlik Golden Sliced. Mallard is a tad darker, more brown leaf, and rubbed out a tad more. It is also moister. The tin has a nice aroma of pure leaf. Like fresh straw. Once lit, again I was reminded of Orlik. As the bowl matured the flavours became sweeter and more complex. A very nice mix of sweetness and smooth complexity, without over working the senses. A satisfying amount of nicotine, though not overwhelming. Easily inhaled and blown throw the nose. Not really acidic at all, again to my surprise. Light enough to smoke all day, complex enough to satisfy. Smokes smooth, dry, cool and sweet to the pallet, without any noticable bite. Smokes down to a small dottle, leaving only a nice grey ash. The room note seems pleasant. I received an approving nod from co-workers. The tin art lured me in. The quality has sold me. I do not see myself buying anymore Orlik. This is a far superior rubbed natural Virginia. Very pleasant.
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Mystery Review: February 2015
- ► It's a nice smoke, even for the non-aromatic smoker. This is the very first "tinned" tobacco I ever tried. The name caught my eye so I grabbed a tin for a try. It is also the one that has received the most compliments from those around me that I've smoked. From the appearance and texture of the leaf you'd assume it would smoke hot and bite, which it doesn't. From the tin note you'd assume it would be just cloyingly sweet and no other flavor coming through, again, it's not. It's a nice smoke, light in flavor and body. On the occasion I do smoke this, I like it in very small portions. I use a small group 1 sized pipe, it really doesn't leave any unpleasant ghost in the wood. For me, it smokes just like it smells in flavor. I have never detected the "vanilla" in the name and what the others mentioned. For me, it smells and tastes gently like clover honey. Then again, I don't do well detecting "vanilla" flavors, just the "creaminess" of vanilla. Great room note. Not something I keep on hand, but every once in a while I order a tin (when it's in stock). Much like Blue Note from Dan Tobacco - it's definitely worth trying. I haven't smoked this blend in probably 10 years, but if I think on it, I can still vividly remember the tin note, and the palate. That alone is worth something.