G. L. Pease - Embarcadero 2oz
Embarcadero is becoming a staple in my rotation as my taste for oriental mixtures has evolved. The Izmir leaf is subtle but significant in the blend. The Virginias provide a hint of sweetness that is also earthy and bready. The Izmir plays a nice savory role against that sweetness. For me the Izmir came more to the front as I puffed through bowl. The nicotine level is medium. This one shares a similar profile to Regent's Flake, although the Perique in that blend adds a bit more pepper to the mix. This also compares well with Low Country's Waccamaw, although I detect a bit more Izmir in that blend. I prefer a drier tobacco, so I leave mine out for a longer than normal period, and Embarcadero burns clean and dry all the way to the bottom of the bowl. It works really well in a wider bowl - both top and bottom, so pipes similar to the Sav 320 seem to a better smoking machine for this blend.
Savinelli - Janus 2oz
Patience & Slow Puffing for Nuanced Pleasure
It took me three tins to really get a sense for how to approach this blend. I found it quite bland after the first tin. My regular oriential smokes are Embacadero, Regent's Flake and Sunday Picnic, and Janus definitely has a different flavor profile. After reading the JimInks review, I approached the second tin with a different approach - very measured and slowed puffing pace. I did not get all of the detailed notes that JimInks describes, but I certainly did begin to notice the floral notes of the Oriental with the slowed pace (for example, instead of puffing through a medium bowl in 30-40 minutes, I extended the smoke to an hour). I am enjoying the third tin much more, and I will be ordering more. If you like an Oriental blend where that leaf shines through, you will be disappointed with this at first, but a change of puffing pace and some patience will yield appreciation for this very subtly blended tobacco the delivers equal parts of each component in different phases of the bowl.
Pipe Tools & Supplies - Pipemaster Clean and Cure 2oz
Keeps Pipe Fresh & Clean
I include this with just about every order. Saved one of my Decatur pipe solution bottles as I mix in a little Everclear occasionally to make it go further.
G. L. Pease - Union Square 2oz
Good Virgina That Needs a Little Aging for Best Results
The above rating is from a new open tin. The red Virginias predominate in an new tin, resulting in a bit of harshness, especially for more aggressive puffers. The darker tones tend to squelch the sweetness of the Virginias. I noticed this especially when comparing to a 5-year old tin that I opened to compare. Let those sugars ferment a bit, and I would then give this tobacco a 4.5 rating. It also needs a wee bit of drying for best results. Recommended.
G. L. Pease - Stratford 2oz
Good GLP Replacement for Elizabethan Mixture
After experimenting with several GLP and C&D tobaccos as a replacement for Dunhill's Elizabethan Mixture (EM), I believe Stratford fills that gap the best. Stratford shares a similar flavor profile, although it is a little less perique forward than EM. Stratford is more balanced in its blending of Virginias and Perique, and it provides a great smoke from beginning to end. Some other GLP and C&D approximate EM more in terms of taste (Telegraph Hill and Fillmore), but right out of the tin, Stratford is nearly perfect and will undoubtedly age well. I actually enjoy it more than I did EM, and it is now my go-to Va/Per as an all-day working smoke. You can puff away while working, and if you want to take time to enjoy its complexity, it provides that also, along with a medium nic-hit. Highly recommended!
Cornell & Diehl - Virginia Gentleman
I do understand how one reviewer would say that Virginia Gentleman (VG) is "not that interesting," although I would counter - as another reviewer has done, that it possesses a "calm subtlety." Depending on how you approach this blend, it could either be an unobtrusive working smoke where you can puff and work, simply enjoying pace and rhythm of puffing and working (writing in my case) without being overwhelmed by any one element. That said, taking your time with VG offers a more subtle complexity of flavors that is quite extraordinary. For me, the real star here is the Turkish component. It will really not make itself known unless you take time to focus on it. The Burleys provide a soft, nutty foundation, with just a hint of sweetness from the Virginias. But the keen piper will notice something else that is not in the foreground but plays in the background of the Burleys and Virginias. The Izmir Turkish pushes forward only in its lingering taste in the mouth and nostrils, providing a slightly piquant aftertaste that is really enjoyable and brings me back to puff again to get that flavor. The nic-hit is mild, and the overall flavor is mild - and could be perceived as bland, but if you take your time, VG will reward you with subtle complexity at any time of the day - paired with coffee in the morning, a good tea (especially an Earl Gray), or with a Bourbon or a Scotch in the evening (don't go to peaty with the Scotch as it will drown out VG's flavors). This ranks with Plantation Evening as one of my favorite underrated tobaccos. They are very different in their flavor profiles, but they are both unique blends in the GLP and C&D stable.
Lighters - Erik Stokkebye 4th Generation Soft Flame Pipe Lighter Brown
Good Lighter For the Price
I have had many lighters through the years. From Xikars, Kiribi, and Coronas to Zippos and Imcos. I am familiar with these makes and know well their strengths and weaknesses. For the price, this Stokkebye lighter (not sure who is contracted to make them) is a very good lighter - roughly half the price of models that use the same design. Reviews from other sites give less than favorable reviews because of the unpredictable flame height and strength straight from the box. More often than not, these issues are easily avoided. A lighter is only as good as the fluid inside. Most lighter fluids contain a lot of impurities (Ronson, Zippo, etc), so the first thing I did with this one - as with most others - is drain the fluid and add a good quality lighter fluid. Zikar Purofine has one of the lowest levels of impurities, and Colibri Premium butane is also low in impurities. When you buy the lighter, also buy good butane. It makes all the difference. Four stars right now as I have only been using this for three weeks, so we will see how it holds up in terms of the construction. For now though, all looks good.
Peterson - Wild Atlantic 40g
Virginia-Forward, Mild Latakia Smoke
The dark Virginias tend to lead the ensemble in this blend, especially in the first third of the bowl. The Latakias and Orientals move subtly to the foreground as you smoke through the bowl, but they never predominate. The tangy dark Virginias provide a more earthy undertone throughout the smoke. This is a good all-day smoke that pairs well with a medium to dark roast coffee. Some occasional sweetness comes through but it tends to be more savory throughout. Despite the presence of Latakia and Oriental leaf, the blend lacks complexity that would warrant a higher rating. It burns consistently cool from first light, and it does not bite or get harsh. It works well as a smoke while working as it is mild to medium in its nicotine content. It is in the same flavor profile as Old Dublin but it is less complex in the mingling of its components.
Cornell & Diehl - Professor 2oz
After smoking two tins in my regular rotation, I find Professor to be one of my favorite light-to-mild blends. Perhaps most impressive is the combination of components and cut. Professor packs well, and while it smokes well from a new tin, I prefer to let it dry overnight to bring out a bit more flavor from the various components. This also helps with the packing as I can tamp a little more tightly for the light. Professor is similar to GL Pease Piccadilly in its flavor profile, but I find Professor to be a bit more complex in the subtle delivery of flavor. This is also in the same range as Dunhill London Mixture and Standard Mixture for those seeking an alternative to those blends. Although the flavor profile is different from those blends, it does resemble them in terms of the amount and presence of Latakia. Again, I think the inclusion of the Cavendish with the lighter Virginias and Perique provide a subtle, yet distinguishable, difference in the complexity of flavors, a complexity that does not produce a confusion of flavors but instead produces a good harmony in the overall composition. The bright Virginias and Perique provide a nice base where I detect a slight grassiness and pepper but not as noticeable as in a straight Va/Per. The Cavendish does a nice job here of squelching those flavors and allowing the Latakia to come to the foreground throughout the bowl. Opening a tin the Latakia is first in the nose, and this scent mirrors the presence of the Latakia throughout the smoke. Professor is a good second or third pipe of the early morning for me, and I usually come back to it throughout the day. I recommend this highly and would love to see at least an 8 ounce version for those of us who will include this in their regular rotation. Highly recommended
Cornell & Diehl - Corn Cob Pipe and A Button Nose 2oz
Enjoyable For An Occasional Change Of Pace In The Aromatic Rotation
I usually enjoy sweet aromatics in the late evening - satisfies the sweet tooth. This blend comes in if I want a change of pace with C&D's Autumn Evening, MacBaren's Cherry Ambrosia, or one of the Lane aros. This is more of pebble cut than a cube cut, and the cut adds to the burning rate and quality as it smokes well to the bottom of the bowl with little moisture and no dottle. It is lightly moist in the new tin, and while it requires to dry time, I usually fill the pipe in the early evening for the later smoke. This burn quality is the main reason for the three stars as it does lack Autumn Evening's complexity. The bright and red Virginias deliver a tangy - citrus and ripe fruit - flavor, and the Burley offers nuanced molasses and earthy undertones - the earthiness enhanced no doubt by the red Virginias. The Cavendish processing of some of the tobacco adds a chocolate richness that is more like a dark chocolate. All of these flavors are rather subdued, and I therefore recommend a slow and steady puffing pace is recommended to tease out these flavors, which will also ensure a consistent flavor profile to the bottom of the bowl. I also do recommend a cob for this pipe, not because of the name of the blend but because a cob does does seem to preserve the flavor characteristics. The nic-hit is very mild. The room note is very pleasant - sweet and slightly savory because of the Burleys, enhanced by the citrusy tang of the Virginias. With no bit or harshness, I recommend this as a pleasant, if somewhat subdued and underwhelming alternative to Autumn Evening. Recommended.
Pipe Tools & Supplies - Savinelli 6mm Balsa Filters (300 Count)
Works Perfectly 99% Of The Time
I use filters in my pipes, and I know that some people do not, so it is a matter of taste (literally) and subjective perception. What I I like about the Balsa wood filters - as opposed to the charcoal and other paper filters (Peterson, Medico, Vauen, etc. - I have and have tried them all) is that they dry out pretty quickly and can be used for up to 2 or 3 additional smokes, depending on the tobacco. I use them not only in Savs but in any pipe that will take a filter, including mym Missouri Meerchaum cobs. There are only a few pipes that do not really like the filter, and ironically one of those is the Sav 320. I have four 320s and the filter hinders the draw on each one of them. Not sure why that it is, but in the 320 I use the insert that comes with Sav filter pipes. Other than that, the Savinelli Balsa system is effective, efficient, and easy to use and reuse.
Cornell & Diehl - Morley's Best
Great Recipe On Its Own, and Very Close to the Old Blue Boar
I actually have a very small amount of the old Blue Boar. My grandfather smoked this, and when he passed in 1998, I discovered some opened and unopened tobaccos in his home. Not sure when the tobacco dates from as I do not know when Blue Boar was discontinued, but I remember that it was his regular smoke in the evenings when I was a wee lad in the 1960s. This was the tobacco that Bob Runowski sought to recreate with Morley's Best. First a review of Morley's Best on its own and then a trip down memory lane. Burleys are the stars in this blend, with nutty, yet spicy mix of flavors that hints at sulphured molasses. The white Burley can be a bit sharp at times, which highlights the importance of sipping this tobacco - for that and to enjoy the complexity that the other leafs offer. Burleys predominate through the first light to the first third of the bowl,and then the Latakia adds a smokey and woody sweetness to the mix, secondary in its role but more prominent as you puff through the half bowl. For me, the Virginias add a bit more sweetness to the sulfur molasses mix in the last half of the bowl. Not sure about the tin option, but the bulk option comes a bit dry, which is what I prefer. To rehydrate a little, I just fill the pipe and blow through the pipe some hot air and then I am ready to light. The nic-hit is mild, and this could be an all-day smoke, the only caveat being that it is best enjoyed at a slow sip. MB always burns clean to the bottom of the bowl with little moisture and a nice gray ash to swirl in the once-cooled bowl to add to the cake. It is one of my favorites in the rotation at any time of day. The comparisons to Blue Boar are obviously skewed by vagaries of time and aging, but the few times I have smoked them side by side, I find that Morley's Best is a bit more complex from beginning to end, again undoubtedly influenced by the age of the Blue Boar and its necessary rehydration. Having said that, Bob Runkowski (R.I.P) did an excellent job in recreating this classic from years gone by. I keep my Morley's Best in the old Blue Boar container, because you just cannot match that big blue boar staring at you from the front! Highly recommended.
Cornell & Diehl - Odessa
A Favorite Blend & All-Day Smoke
Odessa is one of my favorite C&D blends for its complexity of flavor, consistency in burning, and for the quality of the components. Odessa has a similar flavor profile to Crowley's Best - another in my regular rotation, but the small amount of Perique makes a big difference in the complexity. I think this was originally marketed as a replacement for Balkan Sobranie White (BSW). While the tin note is similar, this does not have the same flavor profile. BSW used Virginias as a base where this uses Burley, and that is the little that makes the difference! Instead of grassy or citrusy sweetness, the burley offers a molasses/nutty sweetness that marries well with the smokey/woody characteristics of the Cyprian Latakia and the woody sweetness of the Turkish, which has a slightly sour note on the finish that pairs nicely with these other blends. While certainly not the star of the show, the Perique delivers a peppery profile that - with the addition of the nutty Burley and the smoke and wood from the Latakia and Turkish, ends with a raisin/plum aftertaste. The nic-hit is mild to medium, and it burns clean - if somewhat fast - to the bottom of the bowl. It never bites and is never harsh on the tongue. You also can detect all of the flavors throughout the burn, which is a primary factor in making this one of my favorite smokes. This could easily be an all-day smoke for the qualities I mention above. I highly recommend this - as well as Crowley's Best - for lovers of Burly who also like Latakia and Orientals.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Virginia- Forward With Hint of Oriental
Presbyterian is a semi-regular in my puffing rotation. I say semi-regular because I tend to smoke it only after I have left open a tin to introduce some air and let it dry a bit. I find this blend to be best after a month or two of drying out and air-induced aging. For me, this is a more Virginia-forward blend with the Orientals and the (very light) Latakia playing a more subtle -but significantly so - supporting role. The quality of the tobaccos is always high quality and the ribbon cut is always even with very few stems. The Virginias provide a nice grassy and somewhat sweet citrus foundation for the Orientals, which - for their part - are slightly woody and earthy with a floral aftertaste. The Latakia is also slightly woody and smokey, and their natural sweetness complement well the Virginias. As frikdt suggests, retro-haling does bring out the complexity of this blend, and this is where I notice most the difference between a fresh and an aged tin. I also detect a nice nutty spice aftertaste -think cinnamon without the sugar - that lingers in the mouth and nasal passages long after finishing the bowl. I find this be a nice early morning blend that pairs nicely with a cup of dark-roasted coffee. The nic-hit is mild to medium. The room note is very pleasant and it always gets welcoming nods and comments from those present. Requires very few - if any - relights, especially after drying out for a month or so. For me, this blends is in the same category as C&D's Plantation Evening, not in similarity of taste but in its distinctive combination of Virginias, Orientals, and Latakia. Highly recommended.
McClelland - AMP - A.M. Pipe
A Fine Change of Pace to the Regular Rotation
Although understandable given its name and marketing, avoiding comparisons of AMP (A.M. Pipe) to Dunhill's EMP (Early Morning Pipe) is the best way to enjoy this blend (realizing that by opening up with this statement, I am committing the same non sequitur!). This blend stands squarely on its own in terms of personality and quality. The tin note offers woody earth tones with a hint of sweetness (more raisin than fig) and tart fermentation (i.e. apple cider vinegar) that is characteristic of many McCLelland blends than include Virginias. The Cyprian Latakia is balanced and does not dominate or detract from the Virgnias. The Latakia is similarly blended. This complex balance maintains through the first half of the bowl but then diminishes to a more one-dimensional smoke as the Virginias become more dominant. Without the continuing influence of the Latakia and Orientals, the Virgnias are grassy, moderately citrusy and less bright in their sweetness (i.e. dark fruit). With no bite or harshness, this blend burns consistently smooth to the bottom with few relights. It does burn a bit hot and wet toward the bottom of the bowl, and this is where a the fermented, vinegary notes dominate. This is a fine all day smoke and a change of pace for those who usually smoke Latakia/Oriental blends with Cavendish-processed tobaccos (e.g. Lane's HGL, McClelland's TGL, Boswell's Mild English). Cavendish-processed blends tend toward a bitterness and wetness toward the end of the bowl if smoked too fast. This blend avoids that transition, but I still recommend a gentle puffing pace. Recommended as a change of puff and pace, but it is not in my regular rotation.
Seattle Pipe Club - Mississippi River Special Reserve 4oz
Balanced Complexity - Rich, Smooth, Slightly Sweet & Earthy
This is definitely the more complex and refined twin to Mississippi River (MR). While that blend is also a favorite, the exhibit different characteristics and qualities. First a description of the MR Special Reserve (SR). The real star for me is the flue-cured Virginia, not because it is dominant, but for the way it provides a somewhat grass and citrus counterpoint to the slightly sweet and earthy red Virginia. The stoved Virginia is also slightly fruity, earthy, with fermented undertones. The Perique here comes across as a bit more sweet than savory, with hints of fig. The addition of the of flue-cured tobacco provides just enough tartness to both soften and highlight a blend that might come across more sweet. This blend is so well processed and blended that I can find nothing to critique after two complete tins. The Cyprian Latakia lends some smokiness that is more present in the first half of the bowl. Presented in an easily broken crumble cake, MRSR delivers a medium strength smoke with no bite or harshness, even as you near the bottom of the bowl. I do recommend giving this a bit of drying time. I tend to rub it out and load a pipe the night before I smoke. I also recommend at least a medium bowl to really appreciate what this blend has to offer. MR is equally complex and balanced, but the MRSR is richer and smoother. MR regular is slightly less savory, and the Perique seems to be more upfront than the MRSR. With MRSR you can detect all of the components with each puff. Both receive my highest recommendation, and suggest loading two pipes - one with each - to appreciate the differences.
G. L. Pease - Meridian 2oz
Perfection in a Pipe
A pressed, coarse ribbon cut, Meridian is one of the star tobaccos in my rotation. Specifically, I often alternate this with the Seattle Pipe Club (SPC) Mississippi River Reserve. While they differ in their taste and packing qualities, they are similar in their balanced marriage of components that yield a nuanced complexity best enjoyed slowly with time for contemplation and enjoyment. I recommend shelving this blend for at least three months. A fresh tin is a bit too savory and tart, and time allows the tobacco to moderate, allowing the slightly sweet Virginias to play a greater supporting role. The Latakia and other Orientals are the real stars here, but they are blended to perfection. The tin aroma is earthy and woody with a hint of raisin and apple vinegar. I prefer not to rub this out and instead opt for an author-style bowl. This is blend for a larger bowl, both for ease of packing and to allow the piper to enjoy the full and varying flavors throughout the smoke. The early tartness and savory qualities of the Latakia and orientals give way gradually to a more sweet cream-like quality by mid-bowl. While this is a sister blend to Chelsea Morning (sharing the same Old London category and cut), the similarities are significant. Chelsea Morning is in my rotation up to mid-afternoon, but this blend is best enjoyed with a wee dram or a hearty stout or porter. It burns clean to the bottom of the bowl with no moisture or dottle. It is one of only a couple 5-star ratings in my rotation. I have never had a bad experience with this blend across several tins. It is perfection in a pipe.
Balkan Sasieni - Balkan Sasieni 50g
A Love/Hate Relationship
While Balkan Sasieni is in my regular rotation, I find that the decision to smoke it has a lot to do with my mood. Long a staple in the rotation of many pipers, the current iteration of Balkan Sasieni differs from the older pre-Scandanavian Tobacco Group (STG) blend. The major player here is the Cyprian Latakia. Smokey, woody, earthy, with hints of sweetness, this tobacco can be a bit harsh with a faster pace of puff. It also changes significantly for me throughout the bowl, as the Cyprian Latakia overtones become less consistent even with a slow and gentle rate, moving from an awareness of the complexity of the leaf to a more general roughness in taste towards the bottom of the bowl. Although it burns consistently to the bottom of the bowl, leaving a fine gray ash and no dottle, I end up drinking more water towards the end to remove the ashiness of the tobacco. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy this blend, but I have to devote time to the blend and little else when I decide to smoke it. I have also found that the tin version differs in subtle but important ways from the bulk version that can be had from some vendors. After several years of smoking, I do find that the tin version maintains the flavor and consistently longer. I am still not sure if it is my bias at this point or if in fact there is a significant difference in the blending/packaging/quality control, etc. I do recommend this blend,but I do recommend a puffing comparison. Load up 3 to 4 pipes, one with Balkan Sasieni, and the others with comparable blends (not necessarily matches for this, but blends that are similar in their components). While other blends maintain consistency through the burn, Balkan Sasieni does change significantly. For those just getting into Orientals, I do not recommend this blend, as it may steer you away from the wonderfully nuanced complexity of an Oriental Latakia and Virginia blend.
Cornell & Diehl - Corn Cob Pipe and A Button Nose 2oz
Mild and Consistent With No Dull Spots
While the taste and flavor are different, this blend shares similar a burn rate and taste consistency with C&D Autumn Evening. The strength and taste are mild, yet pleasant and flavorful. I do recommend moderate sipping and wee bit of dry time. A newly opened tin lacks the nuances of flavor afforded by a few weeks (preferably a month or so) brings out. Although listed as a cube cut, the cubes are very small indeed - really small pieces, but the they hold their shape well in drying, and all of this leads to a consistent burn to the bottom of the bowl. The bright and red Virginias are citrusy and fruity with some earthy undertones. There is a slight hint of nuttiness from the burley, enhanced by the cocoa flavoring in a supporting role. I noticed the cocoa more than I did the vanilla topping, and the toppings enhance the tobacco without dominating them. This is a nice change of pace in my Va/Latakia and Va/Per rotation. Recommended as a change of pace to non-aromatic puffers and as a regular in the rotation for aromatic smokers.
Cornell & Diehl - Cordial
I wanted to like this blend a lot. Perhaps I was influenced by the advert that it is a replacement for Dunhill's Aperitif, which I have enjoyed in their various iterations (some more than others, but overall I have enjoyed them). I tried a variety of pipes with different bowls of different sizes and shape. The quality of the leaf is very good, with the Virginias and Cavendish-processed leafs providing a firm foundation for a lighter touch in Latakia and Turkish leaf, which results in a medium body blend that is unobstrusive. I just finished the tin, and try hard as I may, I could not coax out the complexity of flavors that some spoke of on the TobaccoReviews site. It smokes more spicy than sweet, which is the Turkish coming through over the Latakia. I detect slight vanilla undertones (perhaps the Cavendish) about a third of the way through the bowl, and I am not sure it plays well with the other tobaccos. Overall - given the plethora of tobaccos available today, I cannot recommend this blend. It lacks the depth and complexity of other blends with similar components. Two stars for the quality of the components and the taste of the Latakia and Turkish.
Cornell & Diehl - Yale Mixture
A Great Sipper!
What I really enjoy about this all-day smoker is that you can sip away while the brain is working on other things (smoking some now in a Radice Rubino as I type). That is not to say it is bland, but to get the most out of it, you do not have to devote your full and undivided attention. This is not a deeply complex blend, although the marriage of the Virginias with latakia is distinct enough to avoid banality. It is a rich, smooth blend that leans toward the middle in its strength. The Virginias form the foundation of this blend, and they provide a hint of grass, earth, and an ever-so-slight fruitiness that plays well with the slight smokiness of the latakia. I often pair this with my afternoon coffee as the nicotine hit leans toward the middle, and the combination provides a nice pick-me-up during my afternoon slump. This blend actually reminds a great deal of Dunhill's EMP with a bit more latakia in the blend. While the blend itself may not generate deep reflection, it certainly serves as a great assist to activities that do,. e.g. reading, writing, and research. Highly recommended.
G. L. Pease - Chelsea Morning 2oz
Slightly Sweet & Tangy, With Earthy Undertones
Part of my daily rotation, I usually smoke this in the morning, but it could easily be an all day smoke. The bright and red Virginias provide just enough sweetness and citrus tang that is balanced nicely with the Oriental/Turkish, which plays a supporting role with woodsy and savory undertones. The perique also plays a supporting role with hints of raisin. This hint of raisin is no doubt brought out by the sweeter notes of the Virginias and Oriental. Not sure if it is just me, but this is very similar to Seattle Pipe Club's Mississippi River blends. If you like those, you will undoubtedly like this GLP offering. It is not overly moist, but I tend to let it dry for at least a month or so after opening. Burns to a nice grey ash. Puff this one slowly and it will pay dividends with its complex balance of flavors. As one reviewer noted, I have noticed some inconsistency between tins, but that does not bother me, and it is a bit expected given the (no doubt) complex blending process. I highly recommend this blend - one of my favorites in the rotation.
Dunhill - Durbar 50g
The Murray blends of the Dunhill recipes, while they do differ slightly from the 80s and 90s blends, are very consistent, and I find this to be true of all the Murray Dunhill blends. The latikia and Virginias play a solid supporting role in the blend. The Virginias come through tart and slightly sweet with citrus undertones. The latikia serves its expected smokiness, but at a more subdued level, reinforcing its supporting role. The real stars of the show are the Orientals, which provide some spice and floral overtones. This tends to dry once opened and left in the tin, so best to move to a jar after opening. This blend also benefits from a bit of aging, which tends to bring out more of the light and dark Virginias (based on a comparisons between 3 year-old and newly opened tins. Pairs very well with a dram of Talisker or Bowmore, and it also brings out more of the smokiness in the Speyside whisky. Best when enjoyed at a very slow rate of puff. Highly recommended!
Dunhill - Elizabethan Mixture 50g
Good Quality With No Surprises
The dark Virginias and the Perique in this blend offer a complex melange of pepper and spice that is best enjoyed slowly. This is one of my favorite Va/Per blends, especially with a good Belgian White beer. The sweetness of the beer combines well with the pepper and spice in this Dunhill offering. The ribbon cut packs and lights easily and smokes to a fine ash with little if any re-light. I am not sure it would make a good all-day smoke because it is very spicy, but is great smoke for a warm summer day, as well for a nice start to the day on a cool morning. The pepper and spice tend overwhelm a bit if smoked too fast, and it lacks subtlety and complexity for the same reason. Highly recommended for Va/Per smokers but may not be a great blend for an introduction to Va/Pers. For a good comparison, load two bowls - one with this and the other with Russ Ouelette's Anniversary Kake (a great blend for those wanting to break ground in Va/Per territory). Smoking them side-by-side offers an appreciation for different approaches to blending Virginias and Perique
Cornell & Diehl - Nutty Irishman 2oz
Good Quality But Unexceptional
As with all C&D blends, the quality of the tobacco is very high. It is light and mild smoke and because of this the Virginias offer a hint of grassy flavor. The Burley is not detectable, but it undoubtedly adds to the light hazelnut flavor. It burns well and leaves a nice dry ash at the bottom of the bowl. Ultimately though, there is not enough of the nutty flavor, yet still enough to mask the the natural tobaccos (as is the case with most aromatics). As a previous reviewer noted, taking your time is necessary to appreciate the subtlety of the flavoring, and this is also when the Virginias tend to come through. This is not a bad blend, it is just unexceptional and underwhelming compared to aromatics like Autumn Evening or Dan's Blue Note. Recommended for aromatic smokers who appreciate a good quality tobacco, and especially recommend for those breaking in a new aromatic pipe without the leaving a condensed PG taste in the bottom of the bowl or ghosting it during the break-in process.
Pipe Tools & Supplies - Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil 15ml
Most Effective Way To Keep Vulcanite Stems Fresh
I order a bottle of this with every purchase from Smokingpipes. I am consistently and continually impressed with the effectiveness of this product. It works best for keeping fresh new or newly polished vulcanite stems, but it will also bring back a little luster to more oxidized stems (note it does not restore them but it at least seems to retard oxidation to some degree). I rub a bit on after every smoke and it brings back the luster immediately, especially on the part of the stem in the mouth near the button. Highly recommended. Just be sure to keep plenty on hand. Even though a little goes a long way, I am concerned that this too may go the way of the Briar Wipe, an equally effective product that went out of business some ten years ago. Order a bottle of this with every purchase and you will have plenty on hand for the foreseeable future.
Cornell & Diehl - Maple Cavendish
Pleasant But Underwhelming
This C&D offering offers good quality tobaccos that burn well to the bottom of the bowl, and the flavoring is very light. It is not inoffensive to the smoker or the company, but it looses its taste after the first half of the bowl, and so the second half of the puff becomes an exercise in patience to ensure you smoke to the very bottom. Best to enjoy this with a drink (water, beer, wine, or spirits) because it can be a bit harsh in that second half of the bowl. It contains little if any propylene glycol and it is light on the cavendish-processed tobacco so it burns clean to the bottom. Recommended as an aromatic with good quality tobaccos for those who only smoke aromatics. Not recommended for those puffers who move between Latakia and Va/Per blends and enjoy the taste of these tobaccos.
Cornell & Diehl - Good Morning 2oz
Mild But More Complex Than EMP
With the news that Dunhill tobaccos will be disappearing (although I am sure they will return at some point in the future as part of another company), I have been searching for a alternative. I found that alternative in C&D's Good Morning. It is very similar to EMP, but it offers a subtle, but noticeable complexity of flavor that EMP lacks. This is a very good tobacco regardless of the comparison to its Dunhill cousin, and it could easily be an all-day puff. I detect a bit more of the Orientals that give this tobacco a slightly piquant quality. If you enjoy C&D's Piccadilly or similar blends by others, you will enjoy Good Morning. Burns consistently with little to no re-light, and it is near perfect with the morning cuppa. I just wish it were offered in bulk. I would most assuredly have plenty on hand. Highly recommended.
Cornell & Diehl - Autumn Evening
Good Taste & Consistent Burn
What makes this aromatic tobacco stand out is its consistency of the burn and taste down to the bottom of the bowl. I smoke aromatics occasionally and have been on a search for more than 20 years for an aromatic that remains consistent to the end in terms of burn quality and taste. There are many fine aromatics out there, but very few tick these boxes. I attribute this to one or a combination of the uses of propylene glycol (preservative), the flavoring, or/and the Cavendish processing. Most aromatics tend to burn hotter and wetter as they near the bottom of the bowl, even my work-a-day tobacco, Lane 1-Q. Autumn Evening, which contains no Cavendish- processed tobaccos, has a mild topping and little PG (if any at all). It does not leave the same cloying aftertaste that many aromatics tend to leave behind. The downside is that I really do not get a taste of the Virginias, but the topping is quite pleasant and I can taste it more than any other aromatic (as many of you know, the tin aroma of most aromatics does not mean that you can actually taste the tobacco during the smoke) The room note is very pleasing. A pipe of Autumn Evening is usually my last pipe of the day while watching some tele or taking a last look at the news of the day. Highly recommended for new smokers because of the characteristics above, and recommended also for breaking in a new aromatic pipe for the same reasons - does not impregnate the bottom of the bowl with a concentration of PG and topping.
Lane Limited - 1-Q
Consistent & Reliable
I have smoked 1-Q regularly over the past 30 years. It may not offer much in terms of the complexity and depth of blending, but 1-Q is consistently a non-offensive smoke that puffs well, especially as a "working" smoke throughout the day. I spend a lot of time writing and researching, and I do not necessarily want a smoke that distracts me from the task at hand. 1-Q delivers this kind of smoke and is very light and mild in terms of its aromatic topping. It rarely bites and can tolerate a variety of puffing tempos. I keep a large supply of this on hand and come back to it often in my rotation. For those who smoke this regularly and want to experience more VA/Per or Latakia blends, try filling 2 or 3 pipes and smoking them at the same time while alternating between them in the course of one smoking session. This approach will allow you to taste the difference between the blends, and you can also start to detect the various kinds of tobaccos more easily. A good way to mix it up is to have a pipe of 1-Q, one with something like HGL (Lane RLP6 with some Latakia), TGl (McClelland's version but with a bit more depth), or A.M Pipe (McClelland) and then have two additional pipes started with a good charring light with either Dunhill 965, EMP, C&D Good Morning, Kensington. After a few days of this you will start to really notice the difference between the blends, especially how Cavendish (remember Cavendish refers more to the way the tobacco is processed rather than a type of tobacco) changes the character of the blending. Including the blends without Cavendish allows for being able to differentiate the influence of the Virginias and Latakia. I recommend 1-Q as a consistent and reliable puff in the tobacco rotation.
G. L. Pease - Piccadilly 2oz
A Rare Breed
Piccadilly is a staple in my puffing rotation. It defies classification in the same that C&D's Plantation Evening resists simple labeling. The tin aroma welcomes with the immediate tingling piquant of the Perique with only a hint of Latakia in the sniff. The blend of the Virginias and Perique really make this blend interesting, and the light touch of Latakia adds a bit of smokey sweetness that plays well with the Virgnias. Hard to say how much of the citrusy tang comes from Virginias or the Perique, but the blending of the two creates a nice foundation for the trace amount of Latakia. For me, this is what Dunhill EMP and C&D would want to be when they grow up. This could be an all day smoke, but I think it is best enjoyed as the occasional pipe a day when you have time to enjoy its complexity and depth of flavors. I do tend to smoke this in the morning (as suggested by the description), but only after having finished going through all of my emails and preparing work for the day. For that I smoke through a bowl or two of EMP. I then have time to enjoy this blend with a last cuppa before the work day begins. Highly recommended.
G. L. Pease - Kensington 2oz
The tin's description as a "Balkan style blend with restraint" is spot on, although I wonder if the descriptors "light," "mild," or "restrained" may put off pipers seeking a more full-bodied smoke. I recommend fighting that urge as Kensington has a subtle mixture of flavors that are worth exploring, particularly with a bit of aging. The slightly sweet and smoky Latakia dominates in the tin aroma and at first light, but the light touch in blending allows the Virginias to come through pretty quickly with a somewhat piquant and citrusy undertone. For me, this blend is like the distant Balkan cousin to Piccadilly, not as much in taste as in the treatment and balance of the elements. From a new tin, Kensington delivers a satisfying and consistent smoke, albeit a bit one- dimensional. Aging helps this blend, allowing the Virginias to round off the sharper edges of the younger blend. Pairs very well with Earl Grey tea or a Belgian White style beer. Highly recommended.
Cornell & Diehl - Crowley's Best
Crowley's Best (CB) has been in my regular rotation for a while now, and I really enjoy the blending and the marriage of the Burley, Latakia, and Perique. The Burley brings something different and unique to the more usual pairing of Virginias with Perique and Latakia. CB has much darker and deeper undertones in terms of taste, and I did not warm to it at first. I had to back off my puffing tempo and take my time to enjoy the Burley addition. With a cooler burn the Burley provides a complex bottom end that Virginias often lack. It is not an all day smoke, but it is a great single pipe of the day in the late afternoon or after work.
Dunhill - Early Morning Pipe
Consistent & Satisfying
Perhaps I am a victim of marketing, but EMP has been my first pipe of the day for a long while. It is also a satisfying smoke any time of the day. What it lacks in subtlety and complexity it more than makes up for in its consistency in terms of quality and blending. The Scandinavian Tobacco Group's undoubtedly differs from the original, and my personal recollection is probably clouded a bit by nostalgia, but it does seem that the Orientals were more present in the older version. Nevertheless, the quality of the various components are high, and it pairs well with the morning cuppa. For my second pipe and third pipes of the morning, I move to either C&D's Good Morning or Piccadilly or Kensington by G.L. Pease, all three of which are similar in their strength but they provide a bit more depth and complexity to my morning. I recommend EMP for its consistency in taste and quality.
Cornell & Diehl - Plantation Evening
This blend definitely benefits from a more focused and contemplative smoke. It requires attention and careful as well as measured puffing to enjoy the complexity of the various components, but the time spent is worth the effort. I do understand the labeling and the descriptors used so far - mild, middle-of-the-road, etc - but these labels and descriptors belie its interesting complexity. As an earlier reviewer commented, the various components are so well blended that no particular elements stands out. The hint of Orientals are in the foreground early in the puff, but they move a bit to the background halfway through the bowl as the Virginias and Perique become more prominent. Burned nicely with Lino relight and leaves a finish of clean, white ash. And I am left eager to return the next day over my afternoon cup of coffee or Earl Grey. Highly recommended.
Blog's Commented on
A Closer Look At Latakia Tobacco
- ► Thanks for this piece. I was completely ignorant of the complex political and historical dimensions of growing and distributing the leaf used in producing latakia tobaccos. Fascinating also was the info on growing the leaf itself, e.g., sewing the tiny leaves together to prevent loss of any of any leaves. Thanks again!
Cornell & Diehl – 5 Underrated Bulk Blends
- ► All great blends. Have not had the Shandygaff yet, but it is on the wishlist. I have all of the other blends mentioned and agree that they are fantastic smokes. One that does not get mentioned is Plantation Evening. This blend receives mixed reviews on tobaccoreviews.com, but I think that is because it requires a bit more patience and adjustment to a much slower rate of puff to really draw out complex flavor profile. Here is my review on your site: "This blend definitely benefits from a more focused and contemplative smoke. It requires attention and careful as well as measured puffing to enjoy the complexity of the various components, but the time spent is worth the effort. I do understand the l... abeling and the descriptors used so far - mild, middle-of-the-road, etc - but these labels and descriptors belie its interesting complexity. As an earlier reviewer commented, the various components are so well blended that no particular elements stands out. The hint of Orientals are in the foreground early in the puff, but they move a bit to the background halfway through the bowl as the Virginias and Perique become more prominent. Burned nicely with Lino relight and leaves a finish of clean, white ash. And I am left eager to return the next day over my afternoon cup of coffee or Earl Grey." Thanks again for another great blog discussion!
On the Closing of Pipes and tobaccos Magazine
- ► A subscriber since 1998, I acquired all back issues and still go back and read through them on occasion - a nice trip down memory lane. For Chuck, I always enjoyed reading your opening to each issue, and in my trips back in time, I always begin there. Thank you for your contribution and support of our hobby, both at P&T and now at SMP, and thanks for these words on a great, informative magazine. "The moving finger writes; and, having writ moves on..."
William Faulkner: Pipe Smoker
- ► Always a pleasure reading your pieces Chuck, as well as those by others there at SMP. Yours do mean a bit more as I subscribed to P&T from the very beginning and that magazine takes pride of place on my office book shelf. Getting ready to re-read the article on Faulkner. Thanks again!!