Newminster - No.403 Superior Round Slices
High Quality Tobacco
My first thought upon taking a whiff was that this stuff smells an awful lot like Three Nuns, which makes some sense as they have similar ingredients. (This doesn't have Burley, however.) I found it to be quite mild, and I didn't seem to get the nicotine hit others had mentioned. Not really my cup of tea -- I got it as a sample -- but I would certainly recommend it for those who enjoy this particular type of tobacco.
Solani - X - Sweet Mystery 50g
Not a Big Fan of Aromatics
....and this blend hasn't turned me into one. It's very fruity and would probably be appreciated at large gatherings of non-smokers, but as a standalone tobacco I'd rather have any of the Solani non-aromatic blends. I'll keep and finish the tin, and if it's offered to me again I'll happily accept. But I won't go out of my way to acquire more, and that's why it only gets three stars from me. EDIT: Turns out it ghosted the Hades out of the pipe I was using, which gets another half-star knocked off. If you don't have a pipe reserved for aromatics, now might be the time to invest in one. Even if you do, this one did such a great job of leaving its flavor behind that it may well need a pipe of its own.
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - B. J. Long Bristle Tapered Pipe Cleaners (80 pack)
I use these for occasional deep-cleaning, and they do a great job. Love the tapered shape, which helps ensure nothing gets left behind.
Solani - White and Black - 763 50g
Finally, Latakia I Like
I don't like Latakia. Or, rather, I didn't like Latakia until I tried this blend. Finally, I found just the right mix for me. Smooth and cool, no bite and tin/room note that I actually like. (Did I mention I've never liked Latakia blends?) Another fantastic blend from Solani that is going right into the rotation.
Samuel Gawith - Fire Dance Flake 50g
Smooth, burned well, and very mild. But, like the previous reviewer's experience, the flavors just didn't come through. The tin note was pleasant enough, but I got almost none of that once it was lit.
Solani - Aged Burley Flake - 656 50g
Exceptionally High Quality
Yet another high-quality selection from Solani, the Aged Burley Flake lights well and burns evenly. I folded and stuffed, since I find that allows individual flavors to come through just a bit better. And I used a Meerschaum to make sure all I was tasting was this tobacco. For me, this is definitely a slow, rewarding smoke. Definitely not an all-day smoke, but great for those times (after a meal, for example) when you just want to sit and ponder. Stay seated, though, because the nicotine will creep up on you. EDIT: I've now tried it in a couple of pipes, both folded and rubbed out. It's even better than first reported. The nicotine is still high, of course, but it's much milder than I first thought.
Solani - Tropical Flake-639 50g
Not Your Typical Aromatic
The tin note was wonderful, very light and fruity with mango dominating. For someone like me who dislikes the flowery smell of many aromatics, this was a welcome change. Using the fold and stuff method, I loaded up my Meerschaum with tobacco straight from the tin with no drying time. The tobacco lit easily. The smoke was light and the flavors were subtle. No bite to speak of and it burned very nearly to the bottom. And it left a pleasant 'moustache note' as well. I'm a fan of stronger tobaccos, but this is one aromatic I can imagine smoking almost every day. Into the rotation it goes!
Sir Walter Raleigh - Regular 1.5oz
Biggest Surprise of 2015
This is a classic all-day smoke. Definitely better than average. Dry right out of the pouch, so it lit and burned easily. Very mild, nutty flavor. At one point I got a hint of that charcoal taste that usually signals (to me, anyway) that a tobacco is done. So I turned the bowl upside-down, the ashes and a tiny bit of dottle fell out and....that was it. It had burned almost down to the bottom with zero re-lights. Burned fairly quickly, but didn't burn hot. Perfect for camping, chores, driving or anything else that doesn't require paying careful attention to what you're smoking. I would never buy a huge quantity of this to store, and I think that's part of its charm. What you see is that you get, and what you get is pretty darn good. I think I now understand why this brand has been around since before my grandparents got married.
Solani - Virginia Flake - 633 50g
Among the Very Best VaPers
When I began smoking a pipe, I quickly realized that I had an affinity for VaPers. I've now tried many of them, and this is tied for the very best. The tin note is of a high-quality, fruity Virginia. The first part of the bowl is very sweet, and this gradually gives way to the smoky, full-flavored Perique. But at no time is it harsh or even remotely overwhelming. This could easily be an all-day smoke, and it's definitely going into both the rotation and the cellar.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
A Home Run
It's not for nothing that Mac Baren is sometimes referred to as 'Mac Bitten'. Many blends that I've tried have started off well but didn't finish that way. Bold Kentucky is a very noticeable exception. Smoking it straight from the tin, it lights easily. From a light beginning, it builds to a wonderful, full, robust flavor that has no bite and is not harsh at all. (This makes it a bit dangerous, since the temptation is to smoke quickly. Don't!) Take your time and you will be rewarded with a rich, flavorful, smooth smoke that burns down to a white ash with very little dottle at the bottom of the bowl. I have tried and liked Irish Flake, but I absolutely *love* this stuff. I'll be ordering much more of this, and will be very interested to see how it ages.
Brigham - Ripley Ave 50g
My First Blend
When I decided to take up pipe smoking, I visited my local tobacconist, explained that I was an ex-cigarette smoker, and they gave me this blend. It is mild, has little or no bite, and is completely inoffensive to those around you. But if you prefer stronger blends -- and I do -- then this is not for you.
Peterson - Sherlock Holmes 50g
Not For Me
A dissenting opinion: A fellow pipe club member gave me a tin of this since he tried it and didn't care for it. I accepted because I liked the mild, slightly fruity tin note. It lit easily and burned well. The first half of the bowl was mild, and seemed like a great all-day smoke. That was the Burley, which I enjoy very much for its smooth and mild characteristics. But then it turned harsh with a fair bit of burn. The taste changed dramatically, too, until it seemed reminiscent of a stale cigarette. All of this is proof that yes, indeed, there is no such thing as a tobacco that is agreeable to every palate. I'll be passing this along to the next hapless victim.
Lane Limited - BL/WB
A Mild All-Day Smoke
Good for those times when you don't feel like being overpowered by your tobacco.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Rum Flake 50g
A Dilemma - Great Tobacco, But....
This is a high-quality tobacco with a wonderful, rich tin note. Once lit, though, the sheer strength of the flavor overwhelms whatever rum/maple flavors may be in there. I've experienced the same problem with Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.'s Rum Twist. I don't mind strong tobaccos, but it's disappointing when a flavor disappears upon being lit.
Samuel Gawith - 1792 Flake 50g
Strength and Quality
Very high quality tobacco, exceptionally strong, and obviously designed to be smoked very, very slowly. Best saved for after a large meal. It will be interesting to see how this ages.
Samuel Gawith - St. James Flake 50g
One of the Very Best
I've tried multiple VaPers, and this is among the best. I smoked it right out of the tin with no drying time. Lighting was a bit of a challenge but once it got going it burned evenly. It began with the taste of Virginias, sweet and mellow, and then transitioned to the strong, smoky Perique. There was little bite. This could easily become my everyday, all-day go-to smoke. Looking forward, I expect to see a lot of this in my cellar before too long.
Cornell & Diehl - Chenet's Cake 2oz
If You're Patient, Then Maybe
This line is supposedly designed for cellaring, and the side of the tin gives the 'estimated peak' of this tobacco as 10-15 years. I thought I'd try it now, since I love Perique and have been known to smoke it straight. Right now, this stuff is incredibly harsh. I cannot recommend it right out of the tin. What would it be like in 10-15 years? Beats me. I'm turning 50 soon and don't have that kind of patience anymore. EDIT: Gave it a second try after jarring it for two months, and it's earned an additional star. Why? I smoked it in a larger bowl, and the first half of the bowl was actually quite enjoyable. And then the harshness kicked in again and it became unsmokeable for me. Perhaps I've become spoiled by VaPers that burn almost down to nothing.
Tampers & Tools - Czech Pipe Tool
Quite Simply, They Work
I recently spent money on a 'nice' tamper that fell to pieces in just a few weeks. I've learned my lesson, and am switching back to the tamper I started off with. It's solid but inexpensive and does what it's supposed to do.
Tampers & Tools - Brigham Stainless Pipe Tool
Live and Learn - This is Garbage
I'm glad I waited to write a review on this one. At first I thought it was a nifty little pipe tool, well made and reasonably priced. After about five weeks of use it came apart in my hands. Seriously. It just fell apart. So in truth I really didn't buy one of these. I rented it for a little more than two dollars per week. My advice: If you see a pipe tool of this style, don't buy it. While there may be problems in its manufacture, I think the biggest issue may well be with the basic design itself.
Rattray's - Marlin Flake 50g
If this tobacco was a neater, more Peterson-style flake, it would get 5/5. A wonderful mix, comparable to Luxury Bullseye Flake (one of my favorites) but a bit milder. I intend to add several tins to my rotation, and several more to my cellar.
Peter Stokkebye - PS316 Sambuca
Smells Great, But....
Wonderful smell in the pouch if you like Sambuca. (And I do.) Doesn't really come through once it's lit, however. Still an enjoyable smoke, though.
Tampers & Tools - Rubber Pipe Bits (2 pack)
Work Like a Charm
Anything that keeps your pipe from getting damaged is a useful thing to have. My sole complaint is that I have many smaller pipes that these won't fit on.
Cornell & Diehl - Granulated Perique
I tried some on its own just to experience its full flavor before trying it in a blend, and it really is possible to smoke this straight. You won't want to smoke it quickly, of course, but the spiciness isn't overpowering. The cut makes blending easy.
Peter Stokkebye - PS201 Black Cavendish
Mild and Mellow
I used this as the 'base' in a blend that included some Perique. The Black Cavendish helped to balance everything out very nicely. On its own some may find it to be a bit too mild, but it's sure to be a hit with everyone around you.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Sweet Coconut Twist
There's a mild coconut pouch note, but this disappears once it's lit. Smokes more or less like the Brown Irish X, which I enjoyed but....where'd the coconut go?
Filters & Adaptors - Savinelli 6mm Balsa Filters (20 Count)
They Do Their Job Well
Blocks moisture and cools the smoke, doesn't change or diminish the flavor of the tobacco, and has no effect whatsoever on the draw. Goodbye paper filters!
Filters & Adaptors - Savinelli 6mm Balsa Filters (300 Count)
They Do Their Job Well
Blocks moisture and cools the smoke, doesn't change or diminish the flavor of the tobacco, and has no effect whatsoever on the draw. Goodbye paper filters!
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - Brigham Regular Pipe Cleaners (75 pack)
The Best Available
I have tried several different brands of pipecleaner, but keep returning to Brigham. The quality is second to none. The tensile strength is good and they come apart far less than other brands. A quality product.
Germain - Plum Cake 50g
Difficult to Define
At first, I thought the tin note was some kind of perfume. Now, however, I believe it is the wine/spice flavoring, which gives it a smell reminiscent of port. It lights easily, burns well, and the flavors seem to become more pronounced as it's smoked, reaching their peak slightly past half-way through the bowl. The flavor is difficult to define, but not unpleasant. Quite mild.
Peter Stokkebye - PS403 Luxury Bullseye Flake
My New Favorite
Is it possible for a tobacco to be both simple and complex? If so, then Luxury Bullseye Flake is it. Fold it, rub it out, whatever you like. The smoke is cool, the taste is pleasant and, because it's a coin, each bowl is just a little bit different from the previous one. This has become by far my favorite non-aromatic, and I will continue to order it as long as it's being sold.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Brown Irish X
Not For the Faint of Heart
One whiff of this in the Ziploc bag and I knew this was no ordinary pipe tobacco. Using a cigar cutter, I made three small coins that I rubbed out and put in my smallest Meerschaum. It lit easily and burned well, requiring only one re-light. No bite whatsoever and only a mild aftertaste, despite being by far the strongest tobacco I've ever tried. The smell it left on my jacket was similar to a mild cigar. It was only after finishing that I realized it had knocked me flat on my butt. There's no way this could become my everyday smoke; to me, the nicotine level is just way too high to be enjoyed more than occasionally. Regardless, this is obviously a very high-quality tobacco that deserves a high rating. This is definitely going into the cellar for special occasions.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
A Good Smoke
I'd heard a lot about Three Nuns, but since I'd never tried it I brought a tin with me on a recent trip to the Caribbean. The tin note was strong but pleasant, and the taste was quite full-flavored. The nicotine seemed (to me) to be a bit of a punch to the head, but on the beach with a cool drink in one hand and a pipe in the other it didn't seem to matter too much. This won't be my everyday smoke, but I will definitely save it for times when I want to smoke a pipe the way one ought to enjoy a very fine whiskey: slowly.
Cornell & Diehl - Gentleman Caller 2oz
I Tried. Really, I Did
This was one of several new (to me) tobaccos I brought with me on a recent vacation to the Caribbean. What a disappointment. Upon opening it, I was reminded of the smell of carpet freshener. The taste was heavily perfumed; the perique seemed completely absent. I tried several bowls, but was unable to finish even one of them. I found the taste sickening. It is the only tobacco I've ever tried that was able to ghost a Meerschaum. I brought it to my local pipe club meeting and about half the people thought the tin note was interesting. The other half recoiled in disgust at the smell of it. It might benefit from some aging, but in my case I opted to give it to the fellow at the pipe club who seemed to like the smell the most. Caveat emptor.
Mac Baren - Modern Virginia Loose Cut 100g
A Nice Mild Smoke
I received this in a sample and enjoyed it so much that it is now part of my permanent rotation. The smell in the tin is light and fruity (to me it smells like dried apricots), the room note is inoffensive and there's no bite to it.
Tampers & Tools - Pipe Cover
Of my many pipes (of various sizes) this fits all but one. One of the most useful accessories I own.
Peter Stokkebye - PS38 Highland Whiskey
I ordered 1 oz. of this to give it a test run. After several bowls I can honestly say that the flavor never came through, despite my trying it in briar, meerschaum and corncob pipes. It just seemed like an extra-mild, nondescript aromatic. I can see how many folks might enjoy it, but as for me I'm just glad I ordered a small amount.
Tom Eltang - Mixture 2oz
I got a free sample of this, and was intrigued right away by its smell, which reminded me of high-end cigarette tobacco. This had me a bit worried, and I learned that this worry was justified when I lit up. Its harsh, and reminds me of everything I dislike about cigarettes. (And this is coming from a guy who smoked cigarettes for thirty years.) After three bowls, I still can't decide if the mild burning sensation on my tongue is the Perique -- which I couldn't taste otherwise -- or just a really harsh bite? I don't suppose it matters; while I'm grateful for the sample, I won't order it in the future.
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
I have tried several Perique blends recently, and this is by far the best. It also has the best price point. I won't hesitate to order this again.
Newminster - No.23 Blackberry Brandy
Smells Great, But....
This is one of the nicest-smelling tobaccos I've ever had. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to light it or put it on toast. Yes, it smelled THAT good. Once lit, however, it doesn't live up to that first impression. I'm sure it smells great to those around you, but the flavor is just too sweet to me. It also burns quite hot. I'm going to keep it in reserve for those times when I'm around non-pipe smokers.
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - B. J. Long Extra Fluffy Pipe Cleaners (32 pack)
Great, With Only One Drawback
These are wonderful pipe cleaners, and do an outstanding job of catching things left behind by the skinnier variety. Only problems with them is that if you're not careful, they'll leave a bit of fluff behind. (The lesson is to be careful!)
Peter Stokkebye - Cinnamon
I bought this because of a blog post I saw on this site. (http://www.smokingpipes.com/smokingpipesblog/single.cfm/post/cinnamon-and-meerschaum) I normally smoke English blends and I'm a big fan of Perique, so you know I like blends that have a punch to them. But I have a bent briar that is reserved for aromatics, so why not? My package arrived this morning, and I knew from the moment I opened it up and took a whiff that this was going to be good. It was actually a very welcome change from what I'm accustomed to. I found the flavors to be light, not overpowering at all like many aromatics. There was no bite at all. I will definitely get it again.
Lane Limited - 1-Q
Exactly As Described
I generally prefer English-style blends because I find most aromatics burn far too hot and are generally unpleasant to smoke for very long. This is NOT one of those aromatics. The burn was cool and flavor was wonderful throughout. My only complaint was that it seemed to 'coat' my mouth, which is a sensation I haven't had with any other tobacco. That's the only reason this isn't a five-star review from me.
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
OK on Occasion
Got a small sample of this, lit it up, bit the stem and....the tobacco bit back. It could probably benefit a great deal from cellaring for a year or so, but as-is I can only recommend it as something to smoke while waiting for your next order from smokingpipes.com to arrive.
Orlik - Golden Sliced 50g
Not a Bad Smoke
Contrary to popular opinion, my palate found this to be reasonably mild and actually lacking a bit in the flavor department. I know there's an ongoing debate about whether or not there really is Perique in this, and I have decided to come down firmly on the "beats-me-but-I-sure-didn't-notice-it" side. I've read that this is an excellent tobacco for cellaring, so that's precisely what I'm going to do with (most of) it.
McClelland - Craftsbury: Frog Morton's Cellar 50g
Love at First Puff
Open the tin and you're greeted by a sweet tobacco with a hint of whiskey. And it's all uphill from there! If I had to pick one tobacco and one only to smoke for the rest of my life, this would definitely make the shortlist. The taste, the room note, the even burn....there is absolutely nothing for me to complain about.
Dunhill - Early Morning Pipe 50g
Not For Me - But OK
I gave this several tries, and just couldn't bring myself to like it. To me, the overall taste is mild but sour. The Latakia is the only real highlight, and it's quite subtle. Unfortunately, there's a very cigarette-like aftertaste. I know that this is a very popular blend and often recommended to new pipe smokers, but it clearly does not appeal to every palate.
McClelland - Craftsbury: Frog Morton on the Bayou 50g
One of the Better Ones
This is one of the very few tobaccos I've had that actually gets better as you smoke it. Just the perfect amount of Perique!