Mac Baren - Modern Virginia Loose Cut 100g
Taste buds vary, I guess. The initial scent upon opening is a pleasant apricot. Apparently, I'm not a fan of Virginias, as the taste was on the acrid hammer side, and its propensities for bite were quickly apparent. Over time, I got more used to the taste but simply didn't care for it at all. Probably better appreciated when taken at a slow, procrastinating pace where frequent interruptions are the norm.
Dunhill - London Mixture 50g
Given Dunhill's reputation, I was surprised to find London Mixture the only one I'd actively pursue. There's no accounting for sensory variations, I guess. It came across for me as if suddenly it was 1910, as it has an almost oakey, traditional feel that is a very nice contrast and holds its own against whatever today's trend is. An enjoyable keeper.
A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Wondered why this blend sells well. Very mild, burns very well and without a hint of bite. An all-day smoke that will keep your attention. It's a well-deserved standard and very much worth trying.
Drew Estate - Gatsby Luxury Flake 50g
I found this to be a good choice for a pleasant and subtle all-day smoke. On the plus side, it burns well and you can pull on it like a steam engine without a hint of bite. On the negative side, that tin doesn't seem to last long! If you smoke throughout the day instead of as a punctuation, this is a low-profile but pleasing blend to include.
Edward G. Robinson - Edward G. Robinson's Pipe Blend 1.5oz
Cover over the name on the tin and just try it, and this blend starts off straightforwardly enough, then begins to grow on you. I'm sampling a lot of different tobaccos to find my keepers, and this is one that contrasts nicely with my other "all-day" choices. Very rewarding. Burns well for me. It can have a mild bite if you really work at it.
Tampers & Tools - Senior Pipe Reamer
No-nonsense accuracy and quality of cut. No flopping or shuddering metal bits here! It will not address the rounded bottom of the bowl, but I have not found this to be an issue. A bit tedious to try to use on the conical chambers of cheapo pipes, but the end result is still nice, with less horsing around with methodical readjustments than I thought there'd be. When done, I give it a soft brush and quick wipe to clean it off, and it's ready to stow. A fine choice.
Tampers & Tools - Vauen Pipe Tamper
I suspected a true pen mechanism advance with a limited lifespan, but this is a much better gravity drop tamper that projects half the stored height and is very securely held. Push the black tip again when it's held upside down, and the tamper slides back to retract well behind the chrome lip. The black tip simply operates shaft clamps, making this unit very reliable and handy, with no need to change how it's held to operate. Pulling the tip upward presents the pick, and the overall "feel" of how this design works is excellent. I thought I was taking a gamble in ordering it, but it's top-notch, suitable for desk or pocket.
McClelland - Craftsbury: Frog Morton's Cellar 100g
What a pleasant treat, from start to finish. All 'round delightful to the senses, and perfect burning to boot. If a pipe tobacco can be "fun", then this is it.
Tom Eltang - Mixture 2oz
Not For a Noob
Tried the free sample, unfortunately right after my first go at Frog Morton's Cellar. Instant bite, strong and basically unpleasant taste and scent. Only way I can tolerate it is in my filtered churchwarden, but that's not the same as enjoying it. You might like it however, but I wouldn't buy a large quantity without sampling it first.