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Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
The Perfect "Plain Tobacco"
Briar Fox is a rather unique blend, in that it's probably the only pipe tobacco I've ever smoked that I could simply describe as "plain tobacco". It's a fairly equal mix of nutty Burleys and grassy Virginias, with just enough unsweetened Black Cavendish to give the smoke a good body. None of the tobacco retailer or review sites ever mention that there's Black Cavendish in it, but there most certainly is and it's used to good effect. In any case, if someone came to me and said, "I just want a plain pipe tobacco. No froufrou toppings, no added flavorings, and none of those strong tasting condiment tobaccos like Latakia, Dark Fired Kentucky, or Perique. Just plain tobacco, daggummit!" I'd have to respond with, "Relax old dude, here's some Briar Fox. Try it, you'll like it." And he would like it, too.

Mac Baren - Vanilla Flake 1.75oz
An Elegant and Subtle Aromatic for the VaPer Lover
Do you like Orlik Golden Sliced or Peter Stokkebye Luxury Navy Flake but wish it had just a ever so slight hint of vanilla and maybe coconut as a background note? Well then here you go, because that's exactly what Mac Baren Vanilla Flake tastes like! I would have never known there was any Cavendish in this at all had I not been told there was, it just strikes my palate like a really nice bright and summery VaPer with a very daintily applied hint of natural vanilla and possibly coconut flavoring lingering in the background. This is not your typical wet and goopy aromatic, it comes packed and appears just like any other high quality Virginia flake, and smokes just as well. Slow burning, smooth on the retrohale, and surprisingly bite-free. Virginias have always had a tendency to nip me a little but this one has been kind and gentle on the tongue. The nicotine hit from this one is fairly mild as well, though obviously noticeable and stronger than most aromatics. I'd say it's comparable to Orlik Golden Sliced or any other VaPer that goes light on the Perique. The only complaint I could really make about Mac Baren Vanilla Flake is that about halfway through the bowl the vanilla background note diminishes to the point of being barely noticable and what you're left with is just a really nice quality Virginia flake, but maybe that's not such a bad thing depending on your taste preferences. I don't think I'll be buying this one again, since I'm just not much of a VaPer or pure Virginia guy and would like a little Burley in the mix, but for those Virginia and VaPer fans looking for something a little different and lightly aromatic then I can definitely see Mac Baren Vanilla Flake being just the thing.

Mac Baren - 7 Seas Red 3.5oz
A Refined Middleton Cherry!
I can only think that when Middleton decided to stop producing their Cherry pipe tobacco they must have sold the recipe to Mac Baren, because this tastes exactly like I remember Middleton Cherry tasting; just with much higher quality tobacco and no tongue bite! In spite of Mac Baren's reputation for making rather bitey blends, this one absolutely refuses to bite even when puffed quite vigorously, though I'd still suggest smoking it slow and easy to get the most enjoyment out of the flavor of the blend. As far as the flavor goes, I'm so nostalgic for Middleton Cherry (on account of it being the first pipe tobacco I ever smoked) that I probably can't be objective here, but I'd describe it as a fairly equal mix of well aged Virginia and earthy Burley tobacco flavors with just a little hint of a very natural and realistic cherry flavor in the background without the sweetness. This is not your typical wet and goopy aromatic smothered in toppings, the tobacco is nicely dry right out of the tin and it's so lightly topped that I'd consider it more of a Virgina/Burley blend with just a dash of extra flavor than a traditional aromatic. The cherry flavor that has been added is much like that of a real cherry straight off the tree in your grandmother's backyard, except it isn't sweet and is only ever so slightly tart, and compliments the excellent quality tobacco perfectly I think. Much like the cherry topping, the Vitamin N in this blend is noticable but in no way overwhelming. It's got more than most aromatics but isn't going to knock your socks off so I'd say it's a medium. All in all I couldn't recommend a finer blend for anyone looking for a Middleton Cherry replacement, because Mac Baren 7 Seas Red tastes just like it (albeit with much better quality tobacco and no bite) and I think those who typically smoke non-aromatics will find a lot to like here as well. No goopy pipes or sticky fingers, just a really good Virginia/Burley blend with a touch of unsweetened cherry flavor. It's a winner in my book!

Cornell & Diehl - Corn Cob Pipe and A Button Nose Ready Rubbed 2oz
A wonderfully smooth and subtle aromatic!
An excellent smoke for anyone who enjoys VaBurs or more subtle aromatics! It was the perfect moisture level right out of the tin and quite dry, with no casing residue or goopiness anywhere to be found, and the tin note yields a really enticing aroma of hot cocoa and toasty marshmallows. When smoked the cocoa and marshmallow flavors do come through a little, but only as a background supporting note. The main flavor I get from it is an exceptionally smooth and softly nutty Burley flavor with no bitterness to be found anywhere, and an equally soft and smooth red Virginia flavor backing it up. The cocoa and marshmallow flavors just linger subtly behind the tobacco without imparting any more than the smallest hint of sweetness, and while I wouldn't mind if the toppings were a little stronger it's still a lovely mix that feels and tastes surprisingly delicate for Cornell & Diehl; since their usual blending style is more rustic and bold. Even the retrohale is smooth and gentle on the sinuses, and it leaves a pleasant room note very similar to hot cocoa! I like it, and if you're typically a non-aromatic smoker with a taste for Burley/Virginia blends who's looking for something a little different to mix things up but don't want a whole lot of topping muddling up the flavors of the tobacco you enjoy then I think you'll like it too. Folks who usually smoke aromatics should be aware that Corn Cob Pipe does pack a pretty good punch in the nicotine department though, as is the case with most Burley forward blends. If you can handle Haunted Bookshop you should be able to handle Corn Cob Pipe, but if you ask me this one is a heck of a lot tastier! =)

Cult - Blood Red Moon 50g
The king of cherry aromatics!
Cult Blood Red Moon has a very pleasant and non-cough syrupy cherry pie flavor with notes of dark chocolate, a little bit of nutty Burley peeking through, and bright Virginia bringing up the rear. It is still a heavily topped aromatic with the cherry flavoring front and center, so someone who prefers non-aromatics might not care for it, but you'd be hard pressed to find a finer cherry aromatic. It's one of my favorite all day smokes, with a relatively mild but noticable nicotine profile to match, and is one of the few blends I just never seem to get tired of. No tongue bite at all either, even if you freight train it. If you're looking for the best cherry aromatic out there then chances are this is the one!

Erik Stokkebye 4th Generation - Morning Blend
Masterfully flavorful aromatic that bites like the devil
First off, I absolutely adore the flavor of this blend! It's one of the most subtly cased aromatics I've ever tasted and really lets the bright grassy Virginias shine through, with just the slightest hints of whiskey and vanilla providing a supporting role and the Burley and Cavendish going entirely unnoticed to my palate. It's relatively dry as far as aromatics go and not too sweet, such that I think even Virginia lovers who don't generally care for aromatics might really enjoy this one. The only downside for me is that Virginia forward blends almost always give me tongue bite, and the bite on this one is particularly nasty. I love the flavor of this blend but it always takes my tongue a full 24 hours to recover from a bowl of it. Even when smoked as slow as possible with the breath method this fine ribbon cut tobacco smokes hot as wildfire and has one heck of a nip, so anyone else who struggles with Virginias should approach Morning Blend with caution.

Sutliff - 208 Apple
Not much apple flavor, but...
...It's a pleasantly light cased burley blend that should be enjoyable for folks who don't generally care for the taste of burley. The casing is so light that the burley flavor is still front and center, but with the rough edges smoothed out by an almost imperceptible sweetness and a hint of something vaguely reminiscent of apple juice. It's a medium bodied and satisfying smoke, and I'd give the nicotine level a 3 out of 5. The nicotine is definitely noticable, as it is in most burley forward blends, but it's not going to knock your socks off. Overall, it's a pleasing smoke for those who like their aromatics more lightly cased with nothing terribly objectionable about it aside from the fact that it doesn't smell or taste much like apples.

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