Cornell & Diehl - Carolina Red Flake 2oz
Best of the Bunch
All the Small Batch with CRF up to the one with perique were all super disappointing for me. I just don't like them. Then came Anthology and I love that stuff, so I figured I'd give another CRF a go. I'm glad I did. It's really good. It's not as good as say F&T Blackjack, or Wessex RVF, but it's got it's own thing going on and that's fine by me. Not as sour as the others. There's a bit more sweetness and some creamy grassy undertones that really make this one shine.
Presbyterian - Reformation 50g
I was so excited for this one...
...But it left me wanting. It's not bad. I actually like the topping. Brunello Flake is one of my favorite blends and this one falls a bit short for them being so similar. I do think this will benefit from age, so I haven't counted it out yet.
Wessex - Brigade Campaign Dark Flake 50g
The Perfect Virginia Flake?
Pretty damn close. There is so much inexplicable complexity in this straight VA blend. The flakes rub out to a perfect ribbon and the moisture out of the tin is absolutely perfect. I'll spare you the common VA associated adjectives and just say it has all of them in perfect harmony.
Tampers & Tools - 8deco Club Tamper Redwood
I Love These Things
So I have a bunch of these. And I've given a bunch of these away to new pipers because they need it as much as I do. And what better tool to have. The vented base is ingenius, whether it actually does anything or not, it makes me feel like it works better and that's what matters. The domed shape of the base is another feature that I love, because I can tamp around the bowl walls and push the unburned tobacco into the center without overpacking the ash bed.
Samuel Gawith - Lakeland Dark 50g
It's No 1792 Flake, But...
It's pretty good. It's a bit richer, smokier, grassier, etc than 1792 because there's no luxurious creaminess from tonquin to counteract these aspects. But if this truly is "unscented 1792" it's clear that it's not just the topping making it a wonderful blend.
Samuel Gawith - 1792 Flake 50g
Desert Island Blend
The topping totally sublimates the tobaccos in this blend and that's alright with me. It's delicious. I've wandered in and out of interest in all the various DFK blends out there, but this one remains in rotation. Everything just works in the blend and it's so delicious. Sometimes the richness of the smoky DFK comes through, and sometimes there's a grassy sweetness from the VAs, but it's that delectable bean that steals the show here. I can't say enough good stuff about 1792. It's delicious.
Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
Sweet and Lightly Fruity
I love this stuff. Let's get this out of the way: Is it pineapple, or what? I don't know. But whatever it is it's good and perfectly elevates the components without sublimating them. The burleys are a very slight underlying condiment that really only adds body. The Virginias are light and citrusy and it's these characteristics that play very nicely with the casing/topping. A wonderful blend.
Esoterica - Penzance 8oz
Lightly Elevated Standard English
Back when I first tried this stuff it was ok. I was smoking a lot of different english blends, so this one just sort of blended in with the rest. As I moved around to other types of blends and backed away from the lat/oriental forward stuff, I sort of forgot about Penzance. Then after a couple years I went back. It was way better than I remember. Softer, smoother, and sweeter than most of what I was smoking. There's a sort of smoky caramel thing going on. It's the typical refinement you can expect from Germain's, but there are just so many good blends in the category that you can get easily.
Cornell & Diehl - Sun Bear Mountain Flower 2oz
I've had Mountain Flower for over a week and...
It's a really beautiful blend. Soft and warm are the orientals against the citrusy Virginias. A very light berry scent moves in and out. Another component that I've found in Visions of Celephais and Palmetto Balkan appears in MF as well: sawed wood. It's lovely. I hope the free and independent people of Taiwan love it as much as I do.