McClelland - Matured Virginia: No. 24 50g
The fourth and final of the McClelland Mature Virginias that I have tried, this one wins the prize. Though the tin aroma still had that ketchup aroma (and I really do not like ketchup at all) it was less Nos. 22 and 25, but more than No. 27. As with the latter, it did not carry over into the smoke. The partly broken flakes were good quality, though they took a little more to rub out as this blend is somewhat stouter in construction. It was hard to get the flakes to beyond a broken ready rub. I did not even consider folding and stuffing after the nicotine hit from the first bowl. The moisture content of this more than year-old tin was a trifle damp, but not enough that any drying was necessary. In flavor, this one was the strongest than the others, but mostly in a good way. The 24 had a sweetness that was lacking in 22, 25, and 27, which I really liked. It wasn't cloying, though it had a molasses quality. I might just buy another tin of this to cellar and see if that flavor improves with several years aging. The room note was easily the best of the four according to the wife test. My only real complaint here is that the nicotine level was too high for my lights - I know many like that aspect of tobacco, but I could do without it. I have to take a star away for it, though I would like to only take a half-star. Overall, my experiment with the four McClelland Mature Virginias was a success in that I have found at least one - this one No. 24 - that I would purchase again. (1.75oz tin smoked over 14 days in June.) Age When Smoked: 1 year, 4 months
McClelland - Matured Virginia: No. 27 50g
Smoke It If You've Got It
This is the third of the McClelland Mature Virginias that I have tried, and it is the one I have enjoyed the most so far. The tin aroma was not as ketchupy as Nos. 22 and 25, but it was still present enough. I have to say this particular smell does nothing for me. It did not carry over into the smoke, however. The broken flakes were very nice in quality, and they rubbed out perfectly. The moisture content of this year-old tin was just right. In flavor, this one was a bit stronger than the others, but in a good way. There was a deep, almost bold flavor to the smoke which lasted to the bottom of the bowl. Interestingly, this blend seemed to come alive in a briar billiard, while being more subdued in a cob. The room note, while not as offensive as MV No. 25, was still too much for others. While I would smoke it again, I wouldn't go out of my way to acquire another tin. (1.75oz tin smoked over 20 days in December.) Age When Smoked: 1 year
McClelland - Craftsbury: Grey Havens 100g
Grey Havens is among my favorite tobaccos, with a permanent place in my rotation. Having smoked several tins at this point, I can say that the cut and quality of the blend is top notch, with the right moisture content, and an extremely pleasant tin aroma without the slightest hint of ketchup. Grey Havens is at home in any pipe it seems, but it does particularly well in larger billiards. The taste is delightful, though I do not detect any toppings as some seem to. (I do not generally care for aromatics, but perhaps my palate is insensitive to very light topping.) I find the perique is what really sets this blend apart and gives it a character that makes me look forward to a pipeful. A major plus is the very pleasant room note, and it is my go to smoke when non-pipesmokers might be around. This is a smoke one buy one blend.
McClelland - Matured Virginia: No. 25 50g
Not For Me
This tin had a bit of the McClelland ketchup aroma, but not overwhelming. The tobacco itself was a beautiful ribbon cut, perfect moisture, and easy to pack and light. I used a variety of briars and cobs, mostly the latter, but did not find a home for the tobacco. Which is just as well. While not the worst tobacco I've smoked, I cannot say I enjoyed a single bowl of this harsh, flat blend. This is among the tiny number of tobaccos my wife has complained about the room note (counted on one hand with several fingers missing), and I was as glad as she when the tin was empty. I will not be buying this one again. (1.75oz tin smoked over 19 days November/December.) Age When Smoked: 18 months
McClelland - Matured Virginia: No. 22 50g
When I opened the tin, there was a very strong aroma of ketchup, though it did not carry through to the smoke. The broken flakes were very nice, and the tobacco rubbed out perfectly each time. The moisture level was spot on, but this tin had apparently been sitting for some time, despite my having just bought it. Mature VA #22 lit and burned well, and behaved throughout the bowl. I tried it in a number of different pipes, including several briars and cobs, and it seemed to be most at home in the pot shape. I was, however, not impressed with the taste. It was a touch ashy, and that is all the flavor it really had. If there was anything else going on, it was hidden beneath that. The only time I ever got a little more out of it was in a pot, particularly my Randy Wiley. The sort of thing to smoke if one wants a lit pipe but no distractions like taste or complexity. (1.75oz tin smoked over ten days in November.) Age When Smoked: 3yrs 10mos
Mac Baren - HH Mature Virginia 100g
Good Now, Hoping for More Later
Opening this a tin of the HH Mature Virginia revealed a lovely pastiche of autumn colors and a pleasant, fruity aroma. Ribbon cut, the blend packs very easily. Overall, a very pleasant smoke, but rather mild in flavor. It has a bit of a bite, and I would recommend matches as a source of flame. It does pack a serious nicotine hit - two bowls one after another are quite heady. I understand this blend has been discontinued, and I have decided to cellar what I have left. Perhaps, in a few years, it will gain a star or two.
Dunhill - My Mixture 965 50g
The Dunhill 965 is a decent smoke, albeit with that cigarettish flavor. It does pack easily and burns well, though a touch hot. The tin aroma is very appealing, but doesn't carry over to the smoke. If there were nothing else available, it would do.
G. L. Pease - Meridian 2oz
This was the first GLP blend I smoked, and I have to say I liked it very much. It was sweet and developed in complexity, but at the same time was a touch too mild for my taste. However, I could easily see myself buying another tin, so it may be that there is still something beguiling about Meridian, something unplumbed. I look forward to sampling it again after having tried other GLP blends.
Claudio Cavicchi Rusticated Billiard (C)
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