Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
Just Say NO To Pineapple
Agreed, I just can't find the pineapple that some have discussed. I find other things however... An easy to light flake that surprised me by staying lit all the way down to Davie Jones' Locker. Found a tin hiding from early 2014, cracked it open, nice tin note, one flake for later, the rest in a mason jar. Dried for about three hours (got busy with the fam damily) and was pleasantly surprised. Did not burn hot, burned slow and even like, nice, white ash remaining. The War Department said she enjoyed sitting beside this burning bowl, said it wasn't as 'overpowering' as other flakes I smoke. This will be a regular in the rotation. Better than my ranking...to be controversial.
G. L. Pease - Key Largo 2oz
Age It and ENJOY
At first blush I did not like this tobacco AT ALL. However, I'm glad that I hung onto it. If I want the experience that smoking a cigar brings, I'll smoke a cigar. I didn't appreciate that the front of this blend is like chewing on a cigar wrap but somehow, over time, it has softened and become a more rounded, more enjoyable smoking experience. I WILL order more and be patient in the aging process. It's worth it.
Samuel Gawith - Fire Dance Flake 250g
An Interesting Combo
I'll have to agree with Jeffrey's review; do not smoke this one fast. It will bite (of course) and you will get nothing, nothing but topping. And I don't like topping because it makes me feel that I am smoking plastic. And I don't like plastic. A very, very pleasing room note. Moist from the onset but requires only brief drying. I actually enjoy the texture of the flake, it just seems to be well put together. Not a regular in the rotation (because I don't buy aromatics much at all anymore) but a potentially nice change, if it is treated well.
Rattray's - Brown Clunee 100g
Nice But Not Enough
Something about this one tells me that I need to go back to it and age it for a while. Just not near as enjoyable as Orlik or Best Brown or Modern Virgina; perhaps a little too much like a cigarette for my liking. I will say that it is a smooth smoke but it really ends there. I am in no hurry to attempt the aging thing.
Samuel Gawith - Grousemoor 50g
From my first order of tobacco came the citrus shocked Grousemoor. Required some drying. Strange tobacco, I thought. Strange topping, I said. It wasn't popular at first but it grew on me except I will say that I am concerned that it has some chemical component that makes it's way into my blood stream via saliva that my body doesn't like because it makes me feel strange. I'm not strange. Really. I gave Grousemoor a chance and I'm glad that I did. It isn't in the regular rotation by any means but I go back from time to time.
McClelland - 221-B Series: Honeydew 50g
Medium to Naught
One of my first purchases from the world of tobacco, I recently found a mason jar of such. After charring it up, was rather puzzled by this. I actually enjoyed it. It seemed to have lost some of it's sweetness over the past two years and it would seem that the Virginia component has now matured and in the forefront. I don't get it. Age an aromatic? Contrary to the reviews below, my aged Honeydew didn't require overnight drying, it just lit well, burned evenly and was consistent to the bottom. Puzzled. Puzzled but pleased (and surprised).
Peterson - Sunset Breeze 50g
Look, it you want to smoke a pipe to be popular with the neighbours, smoke this one. If you want to smoke a pipe because you enjoy the pass time as a relaxing venture with tobacco that is meant to be, well, tobacco, DON'T smoke this one. It tastes very bad. It burns very hot. I understand this is all subjective. I understand that some folks just don't ever make it all the way to big slap in the face by Latakia Leaf. I understand that for some, English blends just ain't happening. I understand the Virginia flakes aren't for everyone either but for the love of Pete man, just give flakes a chance, put on your Deer Stalker hat and reading glasses, sit back with a strong cup o' Joe (or Malbec) and think about how you only purchased aromatics when you were a NOOB!!!!
Peterson - Connoisseur's Choice 50g
In The Beginning...
...I only purchased aromatics. Smoking this one made me tire of aromatics very quickly. Yes, it smells incredible and both the War Department and the neighbours appreciate it. However, to the smoker, it just plane tastes like plastic, and I don't know about you but I don't smoke tobacco to enjoy the flavour of plastic. I don't like plastic. I don't like plastic at all. There's too much of it floating around in the ocean. I like what Stanley says below, that it helped him start his journey with non-aromatics. Nuff sed.
Samuel Gawith - Squadron Leader 50g
Trying To Be Something It Isn't
One of the first English blends I tried, and I really did try to give it a chance. I'm a fan of mild blends and go to more powerful English blends from time to time but this one left me feeling like something was conspicuously missing. Not very complex, not much flavour, inconsistent in the bowl, generally unsatisfying. I thought I might have received a bad tin somehow so I tried it again and found, again, it isn't for me.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
My Favourite Coin Tobacco
...relative to Escudo and Dunhill's coins. Given me druthers, I'd rather not be punched in the face by the Vitamin N and I don't with this one. Yes, Dunhill's rolls make for a very smooth, full-bodied smoke, but I think Three Nuns is just right. I prefer being punched out by a strong latakia and prefer to keep the Virginias smooth and mild. I'm not so much concerned about flavours here so much as I like for my smokes to be smooth.
Dunhill - My Mixture 965 50g
Smooth and Pleasant
Interesting, the varied reviews on this one... I had done some research and found that overwhelmingly, folks say, this is a mild one for sure. So, I had no expectations about being blown away. It is all subjective people. I don't think it was meant to have as much flavour as some are suggesting. I don't think it was meant to rival Nightcap in the punch department nor was it intended to be as complex as Early Morning Pipe. For me, it is just right with a very strong cup o' Joe or espresso. Give it a chance people!!!
Dan Tobacco - Devil's Holiday 50g
I LIKE IT!!!!
Why do new pipe smokers start out smoking aromatics only? I think we all know. That was me, way back when. I have no aromatics in my regular rotation but am happy to say that I will indeed enjoy a bowl of this stuff more often that I would've thought. Yes, its sweet. Yes, it has a very popular room note. NO, I do not taste ONLY topping. I actually can make out the Virginia component, and that's enough for me... Very smooth. Very pleasing. Surprisingly cool. GET SOME.
Mac Baren - Modern Virginia Loose Cut 100g
Received this fine Virginia as a sample recently and was rather taken by how enjoyable it was. I'm a big (big) fan of Orlik Golden Slice but as much as I love that flake, I find it takes its' time to round out (usually about a quarter down the bowl and it keeps getting better). Modern Virginia has been fantastic right from start to finish. A very easy and, might I add, cool smoke that was about as consistent all the way through as any tobacco in my regular rotation. THIS WILL MOST CERTAINLY GO ON MY FAVOURITES LIST.
G. L. Pease - Gaslight 2oz
First try was with the sampler and I was instantly taken by the smoothness of this smoke. Ordered a tin (instantly). I love the texture after rubbing it out. One of the coolest burning blends I have ever tried. For me it has the perfect amount of Latakia (even though I do like more) but there is just something intriguing about this tobacco. I can't put it down and it is quickly taking over at the top of my Top Ten. Latakia Lovers of The World, UNITE.
Dunhill - Nightcap 50g
Early Morning Nightcap
Oddly, I don't mind this one first thing in the morning. Colour me foolish, I find that, upon opening the majority of the Dunhills, that they all have a similar tin note. Colour me an uncivilized novice, I opened 965, Nightcap and EMP all at once and had a difficult time distinguishing one from the other. (And I truly didn't get the hint of campfire that other reviewers have noted hereunder). HOWEVER, they do indeed smoke differently. I like all three for different reason but given me druthers, I really do thing that Nightcap is the classic of the three. Varying degrees of intensity, yes, Nightcap burns slow and cool and seems (to me, anyway) to represent what pipe tobacco was meant to be. One of my top ten without a doubt.
Peterson - Irish Flake 50g
Knock Your Socks Off
Be ready for this one; it packs a punch. This was the first flake that I tried and I must admit, I was not prepared. I do not have a high tolerance to 'Vitamin N' but I still enjoyed it none the less. (Goes down better, for me anyway, with a large, very sweet cup of java). Still, it is indeed smooth and just because I don't reach for it all the time, it doesn't mean that I don't like it. I just prefer a flake like Orlik. Yes, I know, not the same category, however....
Samuel Gawith - Best Brown Flake 50g
A Smooth, Easy Going Smoke
I'll have to agree with Gregg F. This flake comes out of the tin with a rich moisture. It needs some drying out for sure. After a friend recommended it I was looking forward to it, took out two flakes, the rest to the mason jar. Dried it for 30 minutes, rubbed it out, dried it some more. A guy can tell when the moisture level is a tad high and as such it did require some attention throughout the bowl. Smoked in a new cob, I found Best Brown to be a mellow, full-bodied (yet not overpowering) complex smoke. It really did make me wonder at the fact that Orlik is over two bucks cheaper but yet I find myself reaching for the red tin very, very often. I will also plan to reevaluate this flake after some aging and some more drying. For now, I'm a fan and I do think it'll be a four-star rating upon further review...
Orlik - Golden Sliced 50g
...if you're not used to strong flake tobaccos like Orlik, make sure you eat a good meal prior to trying this one. At first I wasn't sure at; it took about half a tin. I'm not into high Vitamin N content such as this but I cannot escape the fact that this is a very, very smooth smoke. It is one of those rare tobaccos that actually seems to get better (and smoother) the further into the bowl it gets. For that reason, I order a tin with almost every order and leave every second one to the cellar. As strong as it is (with that hint of citrus), I keep coming back. Regularly.
Cornell & Diehl - Pirate Kake 2oz
I love massive latakia explosions. Love them. Pirate Kake does just that. A cool, even burning, thick smoke with an even better smokey aroma that I just love to go back too. HOWEVER, I just can't get past the fact that for whatever reason, Kake really seems to spoil at or near the half-way point; the bottom half of every bowl I smoke just simply does not have the same effect (and results) as the top half. If it were consistent from top to bottom this would be a five-star rating and my number one smoke.
McClelland - Craftsbury: Frog Morton's Cellar 100g
Stave Cube Deluxe
Love this blend. Others have popped up in popularity recently (Gaslight for instance) but Cellar is an intriguing smoke. My first tin was unaged and somewhat moist and remained as such for quite some time. Concerned me some. Still a wonderful smoke. I have moved away from these so-called English Aromatics in favour of punchy latakia explosions but I still find myself coming back to this one. Unlike something like Pirate Kake (which seems to spoil at or about he midway point of every bowl), this one stays fairly consistent throughout. Just opened my second tin (aged a little better than a year) and it was even better!!!
Dunhill - London Mixture 50g
Mild To Medium
A nice even, slow, cool burning smoke. I am somehow left wondering if it is lacking in personality somehow. It is not in my top ten but I still enjoy it. It is consistent from top of bowl to bottom and never bites. Less punch (of course) than Early Morning Pipe and Nightcap but even less personality than 965 (which I prefer to this blend). Ah yes, subjectivity. It all depends on one's mood. It isn't entirely disinteresting, it just seems to be lacking something that I look for in an English. I think I just require more of a latakia punch to the nostril?
Dan Tobacco - Treasures of Ireland: Galway 50g
Room Note: YES Flavour: NO
I'll have to agree with Ian on this one. Bland. Sugar topping / casing too popular in this blend. A wonderful room note; rather an understatement. It does smell great. I did find it moist and to be an inconsistent burn. After tin opening it became more bland and the room note became less attractive. Yes, these reviews are subjective. Yes, this is an aromatic. Yes, if you were only using a rating based on room note, this one wins. But there is almost no tobacco flavour to be detected and it does have a tendency to burn hot (the sugars I guess), and again, for the purposes of wonderful aromas, this will please the neighbours...
McClelland - Craftsbury: Grey Havens 50g
An Aromatic With No Sugars???!!!
An extremely pleasant surprise. Aromatics are not in my regular rotation, not even close. My first bowl I had forgotten that I used a specific pipe (Stanwell Horn) for Orlik Golden Sliced. She be leave the Ghost. The next bowl I employed an unused cob; BOOM! Spectacular. Have since found a Grey Havens go-to pipe (Brigham Canadian) and this is a delightful smoke. No sugars, no tongue bite, a cool smoke. Not sure how it is done here but there is enough tobacco flavour to keep me coming back, again and again. A tad moist upon tin opening, didn't matter; packed loosely, this blend burned evenly and leaves only a mild trace of moistness at the bottom of the bowl. Consistent top through bottom. It isn't a four star rating mostly because I don't think aromatics fit the profile for five star tobacco ranking but every bit worth the price.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Bob's Chocolate Flake 50g
Nice But Misses the Mark
(Another) subjective review... Apologies to those flake lovers out there. I don't mind Orlik Golden Sliced and it is in my regular rotation. I like Best Brown a lot and Capstan as well but Uncle Bob's Chocolate Flake leaves me puzzled. There is something there for sure but for me it is hidden (well) below the topping/casing or sugars that carry the chocolate element. I find that this tobacco (like many an aromatic) hides the key element; that being the actual tobacco. The cocoa casing is just too much in the forefront. Yes, it is smooth. Yes it burns cool and evenly. I just need more tobacco flavour. Yes, it is an English aromatic flake but it misses the mark somehow. I'm hoping it will grow on me but so far...
Sutliff - Molto Dolce 1.5oz
Pleasing To The Neighbours...
...but inconsistent for reasons I am unable to discern. The first bowl was absolutely amazing but then it began to fade, and fade consistently enough that it will take a long time to finish my tin. Maybe it is just me, maybe I have used the wrong pipe but I just can't get the flavour out of this blend that I did initially. I am not an aromatic smoker by any means but I dabble from time to time. There isn't any doubt; this blend will please the neighbours to no end. I'm just not finding it very satisfying these days. Yes, I know, its an aromatic, I shouldn't expect much but why did it change from the first bowl so drastically?
McClelland - Balkan Blue 50g
SMOKEY and SMOOTH
Love this blend. Aged some "Blue Mountain" for a year (coulda waited longer, I know) and it was fantastic. Another smoke that smokes consistently from top to bottom. I find this to be a very cool smoke (especially in my Savinelli Hercules) and this one is one is in my top five without a doubt. I do love the Frog Morton Englishes but this one seems (to me) to have a more consistent character. Just the right amount of Latakia (and I love Latakia) that changes very little (if at all) bowl after bowl. On the upper side of medium-bodied, this continues to be a very pleasing daily smoke.
Mac Baren - Plumcake 3.5oz
Not Too Sweet
Enough English flavour for sure. A (very) pleasant surprise. Like so many new pipe smokers, two years ago I started out with nothing but aromatics, lasted two (sometimes frustrating) months, then found some English blends (Artisan's Blend, JM Boswell's Northwoods and Countryside, Blue Mountain and 3 Oaks) and haven't really looked back. However, I sometimes do feel the urge to seek out something occasionally sweet. I just have no interest in casing / topping and an unbalanced amount of sugar. Plumcake does it for me. It is in the regular rotation and keeps me interested all the way from top of bowl to bottom. Dry it out for a bit, even age it. I leave the long term aging to the flake tobaccos. Aged a tin of Plumcake for a year and it worked out nicely.
McClelland - Collector: 3 Oaks Syrian 50g
About as Good as it Gets
Why is it that some tobaccos start really well but degrade on the way to the bottom of the bowl? Well, whatever the reason, 3 Oaks does not. In fact this one just might be my new favourite. Smooth yet complex. Subtle yet vivid. A cool burning blend that appeals to all senses. Just cracked a year old tin and I'm already three bowls in. (Forcing me to drink too much coffee in the role of accompany). Even keeled yet enough body to keep you coming back for more. Still am a big fan of Artisan's Blend but that one has been knocked down the list a spot or two...
Chonowitsch - T 16 50g
I have to admit, I did not like this stuff too much when I first opened the tin and had my first bowl. I just couldn't figure it out. After a second try I put it away and let it sit for a few months. Something has changed. It is somehow smoother and the flavour seems to be more balanced. It does smoke rather nicely with a cool, even burn and is consistent throughout the entire bowl. Burns to a nice white ash as well and needs very little attention (of course, if packed well). It doesn't bite like it first did (the result of a moist tin perhaps) and the taste is soft yet substantial enough to keep you interested. It did strike as being quite similar in flavour to Orlik Golden Sliced (strange, yes) without the citrus edge. It is not my number-one-go-to-everyday smoke but it is a regular in the mornings with a very strong cup of black coffee.
Ashton - Artisan's Blend 50g
As Good As It Gets
Hard to find a better, full English than JM Boswell's Northwoods but this one comes closer than anything else I've tried. JMB's Northwoods would be my number one go to every day all day smoke but Ashton has this one figured out. I've tried it fresh from the tin: fantastic. I've tried it aged for 6 months: nearing perfection. I've tried it after a year: one of the finest smoking experiences of my life!!! No exaggeration. I know this is all rather subjective; we all have our tastes. But for those of you looking for an easy smoking, full-bodied smoke, this has to be it. I'm still looking for it's equal and if anyone can recommend one, I'd be happy to try it. But Artisan's Blend will forever be stocked in the cellar and always close at hand.