Rattray's - Red Rapparee 50g
Simply the best
Better than all the rest. This is easily a dependable delicious and reliable oriental forward english/scottish blend. The inclusion of cavendish rounds out the sharpness of oriental spice and adds a mouthfeel and sweetness to the latakia. Of course the virginia lends its backbone to hold it all together. A musty, spicy, enjoyable blend. One of my top favourites.
Mac Baren - Mixture Scottish Blend
pleasant and surprising mixture
The sweet spice simplicity of this mixture harbours some unexpected complexity. Although classed as an aro, it really smokes like a classic blend, with a spiced baked goods hint in the smoke, and the kentucky cavendish leaves a pleasant bready burned toast feel in the moustache. easy going, and under-appreciated
Mac Baren - HH Balkan Blend 1.75oz
Well balanced, excellent blend
AS is the case with so many HH series, this is a great blend. This is certainly english in character, but it is not a lat heavy mixture. IF you favour the spiced subtleties of the various orientals and how they play against a backbone of rich virginia, you will enjoy this offering from MB. The Lat is used as a condiment, and is of a sweeter variety. This blend favours cooler weather, and is excellent for fall/winter.
Peterson - Signature Flake 100g
This is a very smooth virginia flake by any means. The flavour is malty sweet, hints of buttered toast and honey, as one would expect from a virginia. There is no bite to be found. At all. Just fold, stuff, light, sip, and think. Not complex, you aren't going to daydream an art museum and taste mozart with this, but you will enjoy it for what it is: a good simple flake, for a good simple session on the pipe. The flakes are ready to go from the tin. Sweet hay, mild fruit, and a toasty character hit the nose when you smell the nicely cut flakes. Its good.
Peterson - 1865 Mixture 100g
This is a top shelf blend. Rich on the latakia, with a fair oriental backbone. Burn is clean and easy, and ready to go straight from the tin. Nicely spiced, with a faint cocoa on the exhale. Its reminiscent of balkan s_____ie. There is no topping or casing, just a pure latakia/oriental blend with a rich warm flavour. Its less sweet than Old Dublin, more spicy and full. It's good english.
Dunhill - My Mixture 965 50g
This is english
The yardstick to which all english styled blends are measured. Its balance, spiced, and mildly sweet. Rich and easy to manage. It has a tendency to burn hot if packed to loose or too tight, but that can be said of most tobaccos. Flavour is good. Its nic is higher than other english blends of a similar mix (at least to me)
Peterson - Special Reserve Limited Edition 2015 100g
The name Special Reserve is apt. This is the best aromatic I have tried. The cut is varied, large, and chunky. This speaks of high quality leaf and a slow burn. That is a very good start. The tin aroma is very mild. Not like so many sugar confection tobaccos that sound like flavoured latte's, this is first and foremost tobacco. Its smells lightly of burned sugar and anise, with a little fermented sweetness. Its perfect moisture right out of the packaging means it good to smoke right away. The charring light was of sweet toast and simple tobacco. As it gets going there is a velvety buttery quality to the smoke. Mildly sweet, the flavours are both subtle and pleasant. The toasty flavours I believe come from the burly used, with the mild sweet virginias. As it progresses there is a slight smokey pepperiness from the cavendish used, that fills the smoke out more. There is no real change in the flavour as it progressed. It burned like a dream, even, and never hot. There was not even a hint of bite, and as long as its sipped, the flavour of the tobacco was never hidden beneath the casings. This was a real pleasure to smoke, and is one of the finest aros from Peterson I have had the pleasure in my pipe. For the most part I am a lover of full english/balkan/oriental style blends, but it is always nice to change up whats going on. Its far less cased than last years, which was a pleasing blend in its own right. However this 150th year blend shares more in common with old european style aromatics than many modern blends. Very worthwhile and very enjoyable. The room note carries whisps of vanilla and baked bread. Burned to a fine white ash and not a drop of goo was had in the pipe. (Mind you, it was smoked in a system pipe, so that also aids in the moisture prevention) I heartily recommend.
Mac Baren - Dark Twist 3.5oz
Straight forward tobacco. Tin smells of silage and stewed tomatoes, and a noted sweet/savoury flare. Lovely coins and an excellent level of dry-to-moist ratio was perfect in a pipe out of the tin. The trick is to use a smaller pipe, with a layered 4 disc sandwich folded in on itself. Medium body smoke, and a light sweetness that gains is strength throughout the bowl. Tastes of sweet toast and hay, with a mild pepperiness from the kentucky. Sipped slowly and the flavours are subtle and pleasing. It smoked very well, and for a vey long time. The trick as mentioned is slow sipping. Take your time and you will be rewarded. Very very good.
Mac Baren - Modern Virginia Flake 50g
Top quality here. Very mild topping, similar to a dried fruit smell. Very complimentary to the tobaccos. Not harsh by any means, and took light very well. This is very pleasing to smoke, smooth, mild but plenty of flavour and an easy going character. Perfect for an evening stroll when you don't want a fussy flake.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 3.5oz
Fantastic blend. This gem of a flake will age perfectly, and is such a balanced and delicious blend, it is difficult to describe. Smooth but very rich. It takes a light very well, with a toasty cocoa /coffee and smokey sweet feel. There is an oiliness to the smoke, my guess the burley/oriental factor, and the sweetness from Virginia carries and deepens as the smoke progresses. The latakia gives that wonderful spice. Top notch blend. A great partner to my other favourite, Vintage Syrian. If you like Balkans, if you like ODF, give this a go. Great stuff.
Mac Baren - HH Vintage Syrian 3.5oz
The smokey spice of this blend is divine. It offers a sweet note in the char, which carries to mid bowl. The Kentucky offers some body, supporting the incense and vino characteristics of the syrian. The sweetness is certainly mediated by the oriental creamy spicy feel. It is one of my top three tobaccos. The smokey character is carried all the way to the end, the last third of the bowl builds in oomph but never gets harsh. Medium nic hit, and easily one of the best packing blends. A billiard promotes the sweetness and a wider bowl seems to promote the spicy side. A very worthy blend.
Joya de Nicaragua - Antano 1970 Gran Consul
This is a beast!
This massive tube of earthy spicy packs some kick. Be careful all you young turks out there, I was puffing for 2 hours, and was knocked to the floor for 3! Red wine tang, builds to a coffee-like roasty toasty quality, and finished on a heavy smokey and earthy flavour. The smoke was velvety full, and the aroma was pure stogie at the finest. Just mind the nicotine, and pace yourself with food and drink. I was young and stupid when I tried it the first time, so it should be more of a 3 hour smoke. Take your time, sip, and savour. Just beware that the Gran Consul will spin your head right round like a record player. Take 'er easy chief
Mac Baren - Plumcake 3.5oz
Mild yet spicy
This is definitely one of the more "classic" tobacco's I have tried. The Latakia is there, but only in the way a wood fired oven imparts a flavour to good bread, (not the campfire/bbq flavour from more intense latakia blends) A little sweet, and gains spicy notes further into the bowl. Pairs very well with a little Porto and a patio in the sunset.
Mac Baren - Vanilla Cream 3.5oz
Addendum to prior...
After four months sitting in a mason jar, this tobacco has definitely improved. The heavy fruit casing has softened considerably, and a mellow toasty aroma has come through. I still struggle to find the vanilla I was hoping for, (so I cannot grant more stars) but the flavour and aroma it does have is fine. It is a simple mild aromatic that does the trick when you aren't looking for an intense smoke. Rather it is like a less cloying 1Q that doesn't leave you mouth feeling like it was chewing on burned werthers.
Peterson - De Luxe Mixture 50g
Pleasant and smooth
This was a sweet and calm blend. It is not complex by any means, but really, is that why one gets a mild aromatic? It is great for what it is. Some coffee or some earl grey tea compliment this nicely, as does banana bread with butter. Works well in a wider bowl, like a pot or a prince, and enjoy the warm toasty aroma.
Mac Baren - Mixture Flake 3.5oz
Grand and smooth
Simply one of the joyous and unfettered tobaccos around. Clean is a good way to describe it. Simply a nice good smoke. It's not a knock you out of your socks variety, but rather more like good food and drink, the kind of which you do not get tired of. Smell in tin was sweet and toasty. Form of the flakes was perfect, nicely tight packed leaf. It rubs out very well, and folds just as nicely. This was just moist enough to remain springy, and dry enough to take the light on only two matches. The smell of the smoke was like warm toast and honey. Crunchy sweetness but not candy, just the sweetness of good bread. It burned to a fine grey ash and left no dottle. There was no bite to speak of, and it left a very pleasant aroma in my beard that I could smell the rest of the day. The real test was after a walk with the pipe, the girlfriend didn't mind at all the aroma left on me (unlike some other blends that make me smell like an old fireplace) DO yourselves a favour and try this magnificent Mac Baren offering. (If you don't like it, just send me the tin... ;-)
Lane Limited - 1-Q
Clean and simple, cocoa toffee and vanilla, and toasted feel and easy on the nicotine. This blend has earned its place. It's the coca-cola classic of pipe tobacco, goes well with any event, and nearly everyone enjoys the simple flavour and aroma.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Bob's Chocolate Flake
My first foray into latakia. Like toasty campfire and scotch, it was a very rich and prominent smoke. It tasted to me of quality leather, antique stores and cedar wood. Quite a savoury and supple smoke, and not without a significant kick, so smoke light, slow, and soft, or this flake will take you on a ride like a bareback bronco.
Lane Limited - RLP-6
Like smoking Mrs. Butterworth
This smelled great in the pouch, but I was concerned at how much moister was in the leaf. I gave it a go right into the pipe, and had a bit of difficulty keeping it lit. Gurgly and super sweet, it was like smoking syrup and coffee. I decided to wait again a while to give the leaf some air and some time, but still the wet sweet mess kept coming back. Not my favourite blend, but it is cheap. I use it now to mix with dryer blends to add some sweetness. This was the first smoke to bite hard on my tongue and it was the first to leave a blackened puddle of filth in the bottom of the pipe. Better than 1Q
Mac Baren - 7 Seas Black
Pleasant and mellow
This proved another fine smoke in the 7 Seas line. The pouch was dry enough to use without airing out, so it packed well right away. Toasty and mild, it smoked well and smooth. It has a less pronounced flavour from the regular (white tin) but a more singular flavour that changed little throughout the bowl. It was dryer than I expected from an aromatic, which is a plus. To be sure, I use this now to cut back the sweetness of Lane's RLP-6, a blend I found to be far too sweet on its own for my liking, but together in equal measure, they make for a very fine afternoon.
McClelland - VBC - Vanilla Black Cavendish
Sticky sweet mess
The smell from the bag was definitely cupcakes. This is the stickiest leaf i have yet seen, like a sirupy mess that stained my fingers. It benefits from some drying, and the pack needed a fair amount of stems to be removes before it packed well enough. i loaded up my zulu and went to town. Tasted of toasted marshmallows (fancy for burned sugar and mild coffee). The ash was very white, but a bit caigaretteish towards the end. The leaves must have been saturated in propylene glycol, cause it was a very gloopy soup at the bottom of the bowl, and it gave me the spins something fierce. After I was done I had to lay done for a couple hours. I felt like a tiny tot who did too many rounds on the tilt-a-whirl. I have since learned that this is a flavouring tobacco, so when I have a more dry and bitter leaf that I want to sweeten up, mix in a pinch of this, like frosting a cake.
Mac Baren - 7 Seas Regular 3.5oz
Great, mild, and flavourful
This was the second leaf I have ever smoked, and it is still one of my favourite. A creamy caramel smell in the tin, this is an aromatic that does deliver on some of the promise from the pouch. Packs well, if a little moist (dry it out for a few minutes, and it makes a huge difference) and lights fairly well. First half of the bowl the vanilla flavours waft with a defined toasted, near coffee texture. In a Zulu, the toastiness gets stronger towards the latter half, and gains in smokiness and cocoa. Puff easy, my friends, as she has a fair amount of black cavendish, so she has the potential to bite if worked too roughly. All in all, one of my favourites out there, and sure to be a regular leaf on hand for me.
Mac Baren - Vanilla Cream 3.5oz
Mild, raspberry flavour
This little devil taunted me with a sweet whisper, a tickle of the nose with fragrant wanting. Boy was I in for a surprise. While a sweet smell wafted out of the tin, it was far more of fruit and cherry, and not even a hint of vanilla. (Disappointed) It was a bit on the dry side, as I expected something more akin to 7 Seas regular, yet undaunted I loaded up my larger billiard, a trust old briar from the '50s. Packed well, lit very well, and need only two matches for the whole bowl. A nice white ash, but not much in the way of flavour, no bite at all, light billowy fumes, but what really struck me was how this little bastard sent me straight to the thunder bucket and proceeded to beat the hell out of me from top to bottom, nine different ways from Sunday. Normally a nic-kick will show its ugly head over a period of time, but this fellow Sucker-Punched me in the worst way imaginable. Smoke in, dinner up, breakfast down, and a helluva mess to boot. Word of warning, do not under estimate this "mild" leaf from those swarthy Danes.
Peterson - Christmas Blend 2012 100g
Should have grabbed more
Just received my tin, and I know I should have grabbed another tin. The aroma in the tin was sinfully delightful, tempting my senses with promises of grandma's apple pie and a warmed cup of spiced cider, tied together with a creaminess from the tobaccos. This is my treat, as I now have to ration this out.