Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Rum Flake
Tasty and satisfying
This flake has become one of my go-to tobaccos during those times when I'm not quite sure which mix I want to smoke next (if I had my way I'd smoke nothing else but Gawith & Hoggarth twists, but my current supply level as well as high cost thanks to crazy import duties prohibit this). I strongly disagree with some reviews I've read (tobaccoreviews.com and elsewhere) describing Rum Flake as simply Rum Twist in flake form: The two are worlds apart in terms of constituents, taste, burning characteristics and, to some extent, strength. I prefer rubbing the tobacco out (or chopping it up a little in my coffee grinder - which is useless as a coffee grinder but the best tobacco grinder the makers have ever invented) before smoking. Although the flake is nice and moist, I find I don't have to dry it out at all before smoking, although, perhaps as a consequence of this, I find that it can smoke a little hot; however, I have not yet been bitten by it at all. The only reason this tobacco does not get the full 5 stars is that the already mentioned Gawith & Hoggarth twists have become the yardstick against which I measure all other tobaccos; and this one, good as it is, is not quite up there.
McClelland - 221-B Series: Black Shag 50g
This is not a bad tobacco at all, but to me it is simply too average and somewhat nondescript in taste - much like smoking a cigarette.
Cornell & Diehl - String Duster 2oz
Initially I've been left unimpressed by String Duster, but the more I smoke it, the more I like it. Opening the tin, one is greeted by broken flakes of predominantly bright orange/yellow with some darker brown bits in the mix. I found it hard to fill and light my pipe with this, so I chopped it in my coffee grinder (just enough to essentially break the flake apart completely, as one would do by rubbing it out, which makes it much easier to manage). I find the tin note quite pleasant: A familiar aroma that I just couldn't identify (not the traditional rum & maple aroma that I'm familiar with), until a colleague suggested rum and raisin; that is the closest I can come in describing it. In its chopped/rubbed out form, the tobacco lights easily, and if you're really into that thing of having to smoke a full bowl in a single session, you'll find that very few relights are necessary. This tobacco is of medium strength but very flavorful. I particularly like the fact that it may be classified as an aromatic, but without the excessive sweetness, moisture, and lack of tobacco strength that I normally find in those mixtures; for someone partial to the more neutral English-type blends, this is an excellent aromatic variation and a treat. My main reason for not giving String Duster a full 5-star rating is that I have recently discovered the Gawith & Hogarth twists, which have become my yardstick for judging any tobacco - and this one, good as it is, is not quite up there.
Kramer's - Father Dempsey
Par for the course
I must admit to being slightly disappointed. It's not really the tobacco's fault though; my disappointment stems from the fact that I can get a house blend from my local tobacconist that tastes almost identical, and at lower cost. Thus, in a nutshell, Father Dempsey is a nice tobacco, but not as special as I've been led to believe.
Dunhill - Early Morning Pipe
A new favorite
I've been a pipe smoker for many years now, but for some reason I just never got round to trying Early Morning Pipe for myself; but I've often seen and heard it mentioned, usually in a positive light. On the advice of Kaz Walters from SmokingPipes, I ordered some as an alternative to Presbyterian (one of my favorite blends and one that has become my all day smoke) due to prolonged unavailability of the latter. I now understand why this tobacco is so highly rated: It is a treat (and then some) for lovers of English/Oriental blends - in particular those blends that use Latakia sparingly. Mild in strength, it nevertheless is crammed with flavor, the Orientals taking center stage - just the way I like it. It provides a lovely dry smoke down to the bottom of the bowl, burns easily, but never hot, and it never tastes harsh. Not only is Early Morning Pipe a viable alternative to Presbyterian, I'd be tempted to say that I like it even more, especially when considering its lower bulk price.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Rum Twist
Love at first light!
Wow! If I could, I would have given this tobacco more than 5 stars. A delicious, full strength delight that doesn't bite. So you see, Rum Twist even has the effect of making a rather lame poet out of me. Not that the lameness is due to its strength. Far from it - I'm almost tempted to describe this tobacco as invigorating. From the first draw, it is simply superb. Significant cigar overtones initially, and a lovely spiciness, but at the same time (as is the case with many full strength tobaccos) very gentle on the mouth and tongue; and as the smoke progresses, it almost seems to mellow out a little, instead of getting stronger and un-smokable. I didn't detect much of a rum flavor, but no matter, I think it acts more like a condiment mellowing and enhancing the tobacco taste. Even the room note is a hit with me, although it has a cigar-like heaviness and will not appeal to everyone. I'm a heavy smoker, consuming 3 to 5 bowls per day, and as is the habit of many pipe smokers, I usually don't finish a bowl in one sitting, but will relight and have a few drags over an extended period; however, as I'm writing this I'm smoking some Rum Twist and I just can't get myself to put my pipe down! And despite its strength and full flavor, I find it easy to inhale occasionally. My preparation for smoking this stuff is fairly minimal: I tear/slice off a bit, insert it into my flake shredder, and after a few twists of that handy little device, it's ready for my pipe; I find no need for drying the tobacco. I have only two regrets: (1) I didn't buy enough of this, and (2) I haven't got some Sweet Maple Twist while I was at it - but luckily both these little issues can be rectified. And now I have to stop writing as my inspiration has burned down to a fine ash (with no gurgling or any trace of moisture) - time to go fill up again!
Newminster - No.84 Oriental Pipe Cut
I just don't know what it is with me and Newminster. I like most of MacBaren's tobaccos, and with their weight behind this brand, Newminster's offerings should appeal to me, right? Not even close: I have tried several of their blends in the past and I have found each one disappointing in one way or another. Still, given my love of Orientals, as well as the very favorable reviews here, I went ahead and ordered 4oz of No. 84. The only good thing I can say about it is that it has a fairly pleasant room note. To me the tobacco tastes more like a cigarette than anything else, and it leaves a harsh and bitter after-taste. Sorry, but no more Newminster for me.
Tsuge - "Gunjin" God of Samurai 50g
Based on the reviews thus far, Gunjin appears to be a 'love it or hate it' tobacco; as a fan of Orientals, I love it, but if you're a fan of aromatics or Latakia, this tobacco may not be for you. However, if you're looking for an unpretentious, great tasting Oriental, be sure to give this one a try. Out of the tin it may appear too moist for smoking straight away, but you can go ahead and fill your pipe - it lights easily and smokes easily, down to a fine ash with practically no trace of moisture. The tin description lists Virginias, Orientals and Black Cavendish as the constituents while this website lists Latakia as a component. If Gajun does contain Latakia, fortunately I wasn't able to detect it; I say 'fortunately', not because I have anything against Latakia - in fact I like it very much - but Oriental mixtures minus Latakia are rare enough, and the main reason I bought this tobacco in the first place.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Life doesn't get much better than this!
Now I'm the first to admit that this review may be quite subjective - but this tobacco has made it to the top of my list and has become my all-day smoke; to the extent that I'm hesitant filling my pipe with any of the other great tobaccos in my collection.
I love everything about Presbyterian, starting with opening the tin, feasting my eyes on the coarsely cut mixture of bright and dark leaves. This is accompanied by the delicious musty, earthy, and spicy aroma. The cut is ideal for the way I fill my pipe (similar, but not identical, to the 'air pocket' method).
The tobacco lights easily, even when slightly moist from a freshly opened tin. When it has dried out just a little, it can be smoked all the way down from the first light, although I would rarely smoke a bowl in one sitting; that is no problem though, as it maintains its delicious taste and aroma, even after cooling down and sitting for some time before a relight.
As a lover of Orientals, I find these tobaccos to be the star of the show, perfectly complemented by the Latakia and Virginia. I have always loved Latakia, and still do, but these days I prefer its use as a condiment rather than a major ingredient (as found in many English and Balkan blends); and in this regard, Presbyterian really shines. The components combine to give the tobacco a somewhat sweet, almost aromatic note, but one can sense that it is all natural, without any casing or flavoring.
I love retro-haling, and this brings out even more flavors, adding a delightfully pungent note to the smoke; and to me that must be Presbytarian's greatest achievement - providing so many delicious flavors without resorting to anything artificial.
As a previous reviewer has mentioned, my main regret is the fact that it is not available in bulk.
Sutliff - D61-Vanilla Royale
Superb vanilla blend
A little too light for my liking, but otherwise this is a delightful vanilla blend.
Sutliff - Cinnamon Delight
Where is the cinnamon?
Perhaps my taste buds are not refined enough, but I didn't detect even the slightest hint of cinnamon, only the typical black cavendish taste.