Sutliff - Duke Albert
What an American classic should be
A simple rich and earthy tobacco, plain-Jane but full-bodied, this is what I have imagined the old-time American tobaccos as. Unfortunately, the classic American pipe tobaccos tended to be over-adulterated products that masked, queered, and shoved aside the natural flavors of their tobacco. I have not had Prince Albert, so I can not compare this tribute to its inspiration, but as for Duke Albert, I smoked nearly a dozen bowls before I noticed that there was a mild cocoa flavored toping to the blend. Just as it should be, the additive blending right into the tobacco, only providing a mild accent to the natural goodness of the dried leaf. This is a good benchmark for what a solid unpretentious and un-fussy pipe tobacco should be. I prefer my smoke a little more fussy, a little more hipster, maybe even a little more pretentious than this, but do I have a stash of Duke Albert and do I pack a bowl or more of it every fortnight or so? Yes I do, because Duke Albert is an unquestionably good and solid smoke.
Cornell & Diehl - Crooner 2oz
What a shame
Through the bag, it smells like herbal tea. opening the bag, the dominant smell is somewhere between hay and moist wood chips, with that herbal tea note still poking out from underneath. The smoke starts smooth and solid: An inoffensive nice burley, smooth and earthy. The deertongue seems to add a mild note that accents the flavor quite nicely. But soon an odd coolness begins appearing in a spot or two of the mouth, and the accent becomes slightly off. Still, not really bad, a decent smoke that is just a little different. But when the pipe is done, an aftertaste emerges. A slightly bitter taste I find unpleasant, a little planty, a little pharmaceutical. This aftertaste lingers and overshadows the enjoyable time spent smoking the tobacco. It's not for everyone, and it's not for me.
G. L. Pease - Sixpence 2oz
Get the burn without the flavor
The flavor of this blend seems very low key and mild. The characteristic sinus irritation of dark-fired comes though, but without the rich flavors which usually accompany it. I am not sure if the underlying taste would be better enjoyed if not accompanied by the moderate burning effect, or if that stimulation is the thing keeping this from tasting completely bland. Either way, this marriage of mild taste and insistent burn is not for me.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired Ready Rubbed
Nearly a Platonic Form of a taste you know you desire. This is not an easy smoke. Retrohales will bring tingles that may even come to pain. But this taste is something you want. Smoked alone, this is a fine but challenging tobacco blend, and it is worth trying, but throw this in with a nice Virginia blend, and this will really shine. A perfectly good, though challenging, stand-alone smoke, but truly a fantastic blending tobacco to give the right blends a special extra kick. This one is magic, don't miss out.
Sutliff - Lord Nelson
VALUE VALUE VALUE
What a nice tangy English this is. Smooth, nuanced, and flavorful in a wonderfully balanced blend. And all this for less than half the price of the few blends that outdo it. Lord Nelson is priced like Johnny Walker Red, but it tastes like Lagavulin 8. Truly a nicotine-laden gem.
Sutliff - Tobacco Galleria: Fox & Hound
Rock solid English
When you hear "Fox and Hound," your mind flashes with images of Britain, from the streets of London to the Glenmore Forest. A name well-suited to this tobacco: A no-nonsense English blend that is not overly soft, luxurious, or extravagant. This is an English that can easily be an all-day smoke. Don't hesitate to pick up an ounce and try it. It may be exactly what you want from a smoke, or it may be a welcome nuanced change-up from your favored English blend.
Seattle Pipe Club - Plum Pudding Special Reserve Flake 2oz
An excellent blend for someone else
I get it. This is a fragrant smokey-sweet blend that fills the mouth with mild spices fit for a holiday treat. The deviation from the common taste of common tobacco is more complete than most aromatics manage, and there is none of the cloying sickness that I usually find in aromatic blends, just rich sweet woodsy smoke. It verges on incense, but again, with none of the unpleasantness that puffing on incense would bring. I smoke this and ask "but where is the tobacco?" "tobacco" meaning tastes I associate with burley and Virginia (but which do exist in other tobaccos too). This is almost an alien tobacco, and too alien for me. In the proper mood, I imagine I could greatly enjoy this blend, but such a mood has not come over me at an opportune time. As much as I like English blends, I will stick to blends whose oriental sweetness is tempered by a stronger taste of "tobacco."
Tampers & Tools - Czech Pipe Tool
This is exactly the perfect tool. It is exactly correct, and made with the quality one expects from the increasingly dwindling number of goods manufactured in Europe. Buy some now, before the production gets transferred to Bangalore or Nairobi.
Sutliff - 526 - Old Professor
Solid English, solid latakia That's half the story, or two thirds. Not the full-bodied taste I am accustomed to in English blends. The flavors are all there, but there's a blank space, air occupied not by the familiar tang, spice, and sweetness. Milder, yes, that almost describes it, but it is not as much muted as crowded. There is something else sharing the space. A neutral smoke, almost like a smooth burley with the flavor stripped from it. And every so often, a taste arises in that neutral buffer space, a kind of dusty taste. Most unusual and intriguing. This is certainly not an every day smoke for me. I like my Englishes bold with permeating flavor. But every now and again, this muted complexity, this comparatively stark flavor of smoke, this is a welcome change. If you don't like it at first, try it again when your mood is different and you may find something most intriguing, even if stolid in its own way.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Bold yet refined
Right out of the tin, Presbyterian gives a sharp, sweet taste, with a mesquite spike complementing the tangy Virginia base. Don't miss out on opening it fresh and tasting it for yourself - but perhaps even moreso, don't smoke it all fresh from the tin. Jar some of this up and cellar it. In two weeks to two months, the taste is transformed into an integrated blend that, in my opinion, outshines the spiky hard tang of the "fresh" smoke, the mesquite flavor permeating yet mellowing, rounding off, and melding with the subtly muted, but still bold, Virginia. If you don't try this blend, you should regret it.
Peterson - My Mixture 965 50g
Best tobacco I've ever smoked. Any quality of any other tobacco I enjoy that this tobacco lacks would be a detriment to this blend. An amazing fine-tuned taste, straight out of the tin.
Sutliff - Bourbon Street Match
Heavy chocolate aromatic
If you like Backwoods Tobacco, this might be right up your alley. But if you're looking for a mild aromatic where the additive nuances subtilty influence the tobacco taste, look elsewhere. This is pungent in your face chemical dousing. To me it smells and tastes like runny low-grade chocolate syrup, but whatever the chemical taste was translated as, it would still make me nauseated.