Savinelli - Doblone d'Oro 100g
The new standard
I’ve recently fallen in love with Mac Baren produced spun cut tobaccos. The limited run Royal Twist is my favorite so far, but this Doblone is just as good. It’s possibly a bit more flavorful. It’s definitely more zesty/savory. I’d suggest this blend in particular to those coming to pipes from the world of cigars. I’m not saying it tastes like a great cigar. It doesn’t. But it’s definitely got close to the same depth of flavor. Just outstanding.
Newminster - No.403 Superior Round Slices
Best value in pipe tobacco today!!!
These little coins turn into veritable gold with a few months in the cellar. These are certainly comparable to other Mac Baren spun cut VA/KY blends. If you like that combo of leaf, order a pound today. Jar it up. Then forget about it for at least three months, preferably longer. When you come back to it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. And then you can thank me. With a little patience, you’ll end up with a great deal. Possibly the best value going today.
Missouri Meerschaum - The General Straight (6mm)
King of the cobs
The General has proven to be the best of the MM line. The MacArthur’s industrial smokestack of a bowl proved too much... too hard to finish a bowl, too hard to relight after the first third, too hard to clean. But the General excels on all counts. The bowl, while not as deep as the Mac, is a bit wider, so each bowl is a lengthy, satisfying affair. I’ve found my perfect fit when it comes to cobs. This General gets five stars from me; all day, every day.
G. L. Pease - Stonehenge Flake 2oz
A solid four star blend
This is the only GL Pease blend I really care for, to be honest. It’s basically a Gawith Hoggarth flake, and I love 99% of those. My current obsession is VaPerKy’s, but I have maybe a pound of this. It’s a great any time of the day smoke. It’s not a straight up VaPer. But come on... straight up VaPers can get a little boring after a while. Pop the tin, and it smells like someone just made cocoa. Burns cool and easy. Great for mowing. Great for driving. Just great. If you haven’t had Gawith Hoggarth flakes before, this is a great intro. I bet even if you don’t love it initially, it’ grow on you. At least if you enjoy the taste of well produced tobacco.
Mac Baren - Royal Twist 3.5oz
Mac Baren has hit it out of the park with this one. If this becomes regular production, I can see it becoming as sought after as Scottish Cake. I love spun cut. I love VaPerKys. This one checks all the boxes for me. It’s like Mac Baren made this just for me. Pure tobacco goodness. Most highly recommended!!!
G. L. Pease - Triple Play 8oz
Worth the wait
First of all, Triple Play isn’t very good fresh. Bland, in my opinion. But I just popped open a 10 year old tin, and what a difference! This one is definitely worth stocking up on, but only if you’re patient enough to wait a few years. But trust me: it’s worth it!
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Curly Cut Deluxe
Best with some age
My first encounter with this blend was through the kindness of a fellow enthusiast who included some decade-old CCD as a sample. My initial reaction to it was that it was a little reminiscent of Newminster Superior Round Slices. But this one’s a straight Virginia. So it lacks the spicy Kentucky of SRS. But it’s a more flavorful smoke anyway. To me, it’s akin to smoking a bowl full of cashews. Savory with a hint of sweet. Buttery. Decadent. The new stock I’ve tried since lacks the superiority I found in my ten year old sample. So into the jar it goes. Patience will definitely pay off in this case.
Peter Stokkebye - PS403 Luxury Bullseye Flake
Sure, there’s a handful of VaPers I like better. But this one is definitely the best bang for the buck. It clearly doesn’t need another positive review, because these days it sells out within 36 hours of each release. LBF clearly has a large and loyal following. And in this case, I’m happy to be part of the crowd. I don’t especially care for it when it’s fresh from the warehouse. But even a couple of months sitting in a jar in a cool, dry spot in your house makes LBF magically turn into something special. I currently have a couple of pounds socked away, and I’ll definitely be buying more down the road. Every pipe smoker worth his salt should at least try this. If you don’t like it, you may be doing something wrong... smoking it too fast, too wet, too dry... something. Because this is a top 10 VaPer, if not top five.
Rattray's - Marlin Flake 50g
Top five blend
Marlin Flake is in my top five, no question. From the tin aroma to the bottom of every bowl, this is just THE quintessential pipe tobacco, in my humble opinion. It’s also one of those blends that truly shines with some time to mature. My goal is to grab a couple of pounds the next chance I get. This is one of the things I have on hand that I don’t smoke very often BECAUSE I don’t have enough. Try it, and chances are you’ll understand.
War Horse - Bar 1.75oz
Just a great change of pace option
War Horse Bar is in the same neighborhood as, say, a Dark Flake Aromatic, but with this one there’s even more added flavoring. So it smokes like a treat, as opposed to something you’d want all day, every day. That said, I still want a bowl or two of this every day, between bowls of Stonehenge, Marlin flake and whatnot. BTW, if you like this, give the green version a try. I think I actually like it better. This is like smoking cherry chocolate cordials. The green is anisette.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Brown Irish X
The Heavyweight Champ
Gawith Hoggarth Brown Irish X, I think I love you. I’m halfway through my first ever bowl of this, and it’s glorious. Bold, earthy, leathery... with a little natural sweetness in there to keep it pleasant. This is definitely the strongest pipe tobacco I’ve ever tried. Basically every other blend I smoke barely registers with me, nic-wise. And that includes such supposed heavyweights as Irish Flake and HH Bold Kentucky. This is like distilled spirits compared to wine, in my book. For hearty smokers only.
Old German Clay - Tavern Belge (Black)
These OGC pipes are a great, inexpensive way to experience blends in a pure way. Plus you’re smoking the way your ancestors did. I’m getting more.
Old German Clay - Eagle's Talons (Black)
My first clay
These Old German Clay Pipes are certainly a great value. This is my first experience with clay pipes, but I can definitely see myself adding more to my collection. My only real concern is the fact that they’re more fragile than briar, and I’m a huge klutz. But it IS wonderful getting untainted the flavor of a blend.
Cornell & Diehl - Yorktown
A Sleeper Hit!!!
Yorktown didn’t exactly wow me, as a first impression. I’d been smoking Virginias that were sweeter. I’d been smoking Virginias that were richer and zestier. But it took me a little time to recognize that Yorktown kind of puts all that together in an understated yet appealing way. I’ve currently got two pounds in jars, and I look to add to that in the near future. Maybe I’m frugal, but why spend more for tinned blends that aren’t really any better than bulk Yorktown. I’m looking at you, Opening Night and especially Union Square.
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - White Elephant Bristle Pipe Cleaners (80 Pack)
The best by far
Before I tried the White Elephant, I thought all pipe cleaners were pretty much the same. But I kept seeing people online praising them, so I decided to give them one chance. I went in skeptical. I didn’t want to like “fancy” pipe cleaners that were probably just marketing hype. Well... these Elephants (and a little cleaner fluid and elbow grease) got stuff out of my pipes that my other pipe cleaners—and brushes—just left in there. That’s it. I’m a convert for life. I’m a cheapskate, but these are worth the premium.
Sutliff - 515 RC-1
Savory and sweet
This bulk matured red Virginia from Sutliff has fast become one of my staples. Smoked by itself, it’s a great, mouth-wateringly tangy change of pace between bowls of sweeter fare. But, more often, I’ve found that this product, combined with Sutliff’s bulk stoved Virginia, makes a Virginia blend superior to many of the more popular tinned offerings I’ve had lately. I’m aging a BUNCH of this, which isn’t hard considering a pound costs the same as three tins of anything else.
Mac Baren - Navy Flake 3.5oz
Standing the test of time
I’m almost exclusively a Virginia smoker. I throw in a little Kendal Dark and some Five Brothers here and there, but I tend to gravitate primarily towards the naturally sweeter blends. Thanks to its casing/topping, Mac Baren Navy Flake definitely falls into the sweeter side of things. When I think Navy Flake, I tend to think Stokkebye Luxury Navy Flake, because it’s the first non aromatic I ever smoked, and Newminster Superior Navy Flake in all its Virginia goodness. This Navy Flake doesn’t really have a lot in common with those two bulk offerings, but it’s still a very agreeable experience. I picked up the tin I’m working on now in mid 2019, so it’s got nearly two years of age on it. That has to help. I picked it up i in person at smokingpipes’ B&M location in Little River on a whim. A lot of the blends I was seeking that day were out of stock. So I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It’s a pleasant change of pace for me. And, while it’s not something I’m going to be in a hurry to replace once this tin is done, but I’m likely to buy more again at some point. Again it’s just a very pleasant, inoffensive, cool smoking (compared to my usual straight Virginias) blend. The one knock for me is that it’s maybe a little too sweet for me. I prefer my burleys a little more savory and less sweet. But it’s obviously got a devoted following to have been around as long as it has. So just because it’s not my idea of a perfect navy flake doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. There’s certainly plenty to like about it.
Five Brothers - Five Brothers 1.25oz
My drugstore mainstay
Five Brothers is straightforward, strong, bold and unrefined. But it’s darn good. I love it as a change-up right after smoking something light and sweet, especially early and late in the day. I also find the pouch is a handy grab-and-go option when I’m heading out the door without enough time to grab a few portions of whatever else I’m smoking. Five brothers: always good in a pinch. I find it stands alone and above the other drugstore blends I’ve sampled.
G. L. Pease - Fillmore 2oz
Good, but not for me
I’m one of the relatively few smokers who just doesn’t get the GL Pease hype. I’ve tried several of his blends and, while they’re all perfectly fine, none knocked my socks off. Such is the case with Fillmore. I sampled a tin of this in January, early on in a quest for the best VaPer for me. And, while it’s not listed as an ingredient, this contains a little latakia. And I, for one, am not a fan of latakia. So, while this is purportedly a small amount, it was enough to ruin the blend for me.