Peter Stokkebye - PS403 Luxury Bullseye Flake
This is one solid blend. It presents a fragrant tin-note: sweetness from the Balck Cavendish and fresh hay from the Virginia. It rubs out and packs very easily, and takes a char light gracefully. Once lit, it produces generous volumes of creamy smoke packed with Virginia flavour. Not much Perique to my palate--certainly no spice. Perhaps a little dark fruit, but that is often caught in the notes of sweet Black Cavendish. BC takes the cake with a molasses/brown sugar aftertaste that lingers in the back of my throat, sometimes for hours. The blend never burns hot, even in windy conditions, and it keeps a true light almost devotedly. The burn is consistent, if your light is good, all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Little dottle remains among the small pile of white ash in the bottom. Very little moisture, too, even though I am a wet smoker, generally. Finally, the blend has not, as yet, ghosted my pipes--even the one I have dedicated almost exclusively to this blend. As an aside, I usually smoked this blend in a pipe with a wider and shallower bowl. All in all, I highly recommend this blend to any and all pipe smokers. It is generous to a beginner, will captivate an expert, and will charm an aromaticon or an Englishman. Cheers to all!
G. L. Pease - Maltese Falcon 2oz
Between Westminster and Piccadilly
Not the stuff my dreams are made of, but definitely a pleasant, well-behaved companion. I would say this base blend is somewhere between Westminster and Piccadilly, probably closer to the former in strength and Latakia. It is, consequently, somewhat smokier in flavor, though it never tastes ashy. The Orientals shine through more than the Virginia, too. The whole is helped along by the scent in the tin and flavor in the palate of ginger. The ginger leaves a faint tingle in the mouth as a parting gift. If you are sensitive to ginger, as I am, this is not ideal: it definitely takes this blend off the "all day" list. One bowl is enough to satisfy, though two or three bowls has never bitten me. But there are limits. The tobacco came a little wet, but that has helped it stay fresh in the tin. It packs well without drying, burns without a care in the world, and does not spike temperature if you puff on it a little. The smoke is full and smooth, but not as creamy as Blackpoint. It burns down to a fine white ash at the finish and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. All in all, this is a desirable change of pace for an English smoker, and it may even satisfy some aromaticons as well. Cheers!
Sutliff - Revelation Match
For starters, I have never had the original Revelation, so my review is de novo. To be frank, I was disappointed by this blend; although, my dull palate may bear the lion's share of the blame for that. There are no defects to the blend, but there are no real positive traits to it either. The tin note was bland and unremarkable in any particular. I could not identify any particular component by the smell. Nor did it seem to have any flavor beyond a tinge of brown sugar sweetness. The smoke, of medium volume, was a bit "rougher," if you will: more ashy than creamy, and I am sure that affected my overall impression of its taste. It burned on the edge of hot as well, but remained under control. None of the components stick out in the smoke either. There's no smokiness from the Latakia, no fruit or tingle from the Perique, no dark flavor from the Kentucky, and little from the Virginia. I get a little nuttiness from the Burley, combined with that vague sweetness mentioned above, but little else. 2.5 stars because I imagine that this blend will work wonders for some smokers, and I recommend it on the basis of other reviews. It just did not do it for me. Cheers!
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
A quality Va-Per
I have limited experience with straightforward Va-Per blends. Unfortunately, I have missed the boat on Dunhill's Elizabethan, but I will be sampling some Escudo Navy Rolls in the future. My first Va-Per was G.L. Pease's Stratford, and it did not leave a lasting impression. It was bland, and my wife did not find the atmosphere appealing. P.S.'s flake is an improvement. It is grassy rather than fruity, and it tastes and smells like a bakery in a musty barn. It behaved quite well in all weathers and in a tall, narrow bowl. Despite my poorer first experience with a Va-Per, I began reaching regularly for my dwindling supply of this flake. I will have to revisit it again for the sake of comparison, but it already can stand on its own. I recommend this blend to all smokers with reservations to aromaticons: do not be misled by expectations. This is a good, solid, reliable blend that will stand any smoker in good stead. Cheers to all!
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
Worth the try
I have not had the original Va-Per blend (or any of the recent new releases), so this review is not a comparison. At first, this blend did not appeal to me. I liked the tin note; it reminded me of rich fermenting hay with notes of dark fruits. My first few bowls did not deliver on that unfortunately--it smoked hot and gave me an ashy palate profile. However, after a break and some patience, the blend redeemed itself, showing dark fruit notes throughout the bowl, with a nutty aftertaste. I find it a very pleasant flavour now. Mechanically, this blend burns well from first light to fine white ash, if it's handled properly. This blend seems to like smaller pipes or at least shallower bowls. Nicotine content is light/medium. I recommend this blend to English smokers and adventurous aromaticons. Cheers to all!
Peterson - University Flake 50g
A good flake
Overall, this is an enjoyable, easy-going smoke. It's not the best flake I have had, but it does satisfy all the points I look for in a good flake. It is cut to medium thickness, and arrived moist, but ready to smoke. The cut does not crumble like a cracker, but folds neatly into a pipe. Generally, a wide, shallow bowl works better, although, it can behave itself in a taller, thinner bowl. I also found that it behaves best if rubbed out rather than folded and stuffed. The plum topping is very present in the tin note, and plays about in the blend during the smoke. It does not dominate the palate but makes a nice complement to the rich Virginias and dark Burleys. It smokes cool, producing good quantities of smoke, but requiring a few relights in the process. On a final note, it does have a good dose of vitamin N--probably medium/high. Even though it is not exceptional, this blend has impressed me as a good bread-and-butter blend. I recommend this to all smokers. I think aromaticons and English lovers would both find things to love about this blend. Cheers to all!
Comoy's - Cask No.2
Ambassador for Aromatics
Well-balanced, well-mannered, lightly and consistently flavoured: this blend is a winner for me. I tend to prefer middle-English blends (Blackpoint is my reigning favourite blend), but I have recently begun more boldly to seek and to find good aromatics. In my mind, a good aromatic does not extinguish its foundational blend, but complements it; a good aromatic does not present an overpowering topping; a good aromatic does not behave badly or lose its flavour quickly. This blend meets all those requirements. It has a pleasant and easy smell with hints of cocoa and vanilla as advertised. It behaves well, even though it can be temperamental and burn hot. And it does not lose flavour, even though the aromatic component dissipates towards the end of the bowl, the underlying blend takes over with nuttier tones than were present before. Moreover, the wife likes the smell--says it reminds her of autumn. This blend will certainly sit in my rotation--especially once I have an indoor venue for smoking. In the meantime I highly recommend this blend to all pipe smokers. It's a real treat. Cheers to all!
Cornell & Diehl - Three Friars
This blend stuck out to me from the first. It was the grassiest Virginia I had smelled in the tin. It was also the lightest coloured mixture I had purchased up to that time. I am not sure what my expectations were, if I had any, but I can say that ultimately I was not disappointed by this blend. The somewhat unsophisticated tin note did not prepare me for the variety of specific flavours that the palate actually presents. It starts with grassy notes, and then develops into very distinct notes of green and black teas. It remained consistently herbal with some faint hints of fruit, but did turn ashy toward the end. Mechanically, it could burn hot in light winds or with some steady puffing. But it packed so easily and lit so quickly that I could readily forgive such temperamental behaviour. Moreover, it burned down to a fine white ash with few, if any, relights required. Finally, the wife found the room note inoffensive, but not as favourable as other blends. All in all, I enjoyed the company of these Three Friars. I have this on my list to buy again. I recommend this blend to smokers of all stripes. It may be too light for many, but it is worth a try. Cheers to all!
Mac Baren - Scottish Mixture
Molasses and dreams
This is a very pleasant aromatic blend. I will have to buy it again soon. It starts out with tin notes of brown sugar, molasses, and, I think, maple. It is not cloyingly sweet either in its scent or in its taste. Mechanically, it smoked nicely. It packed easily, lit quickly and burned down to a clean finish. It could burn hot, if a light breeze is blowing or if you puff at it. Otherwise, it behaves itself very well. The tin note does not disappoint: it translates well into the flavour palate, which remains fairly consistent. Again, the flavour is not overly sweet; it is not unlike an unglazed gingerbread cookie. It also leaves a pleasant room note. This was one of the first blends which caused my wife to say: "You smell good. What is that smell?" I recommend this blend to aromatic smokers and even to English smokers (like myself). You may be pleasantly surprised as I was. Cheers to all!
G. L. Pease - Abingdon 2oz
This blend reminds me of a line from 43rd Bengal Lancers: "May be too strong for Forsythe: late of the 'Blues'." This is a strong blend, and no mistake. The tin note is smoky, meaty, and makes no bones about it. I did not find any fruity presence whatever. Mechanically, this blend was harder to smoke. It seemed either to go out easily or to burn hot without much prompting. That could be due to my inexperience and poor technique but I did try to vary my pipes and my packing style. It was flavourful (mostly campfire, smoked meat and roasted nuts) and kept the flavour consistently through the bowl. It had a medium-strong nic-kick. The room note is dark and nutty, but also smoky. The wife did not like it. All in all, it reminded me of Dunhill's "Nightcap", the quintessential Latakia for many smokers. And to those smokers I would highly recommend this blend as an alternative to that waning apogee. To others, particularly lightweights, I would say be aware of the strength this blend. But make no mistake: this blend is, like all of Pease's work, of genuine quality. Cheers to all!
Mac Baren - Navy Flake 100g
Pleasant, but light.
This blend is...okay. The tin note is a forecast of what is found in the smoke: light notes of grass, hints of fruit, and a trace of alcohol from the rum. Mechanically, the blend smokes well. It rubs out easily, packs well and lights quickly. It burns a little hot in windy conditions, but otherwise is tame and well behaved. It burns down to a fine white ash with little prompting and almost no need for a relight. It leaves no moisture in the bowl. Unfortunately, the palate flavour does not last throughout the bowl, but tastes more of ash towards the end. But this does not seem to be the universal experience. My wife does not particularly like the room note either. I would recommend this blend, partially from the consistent quality Mac Baren presents in its blends. It will definitely appeal to others. Cheers to all!
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
What an experience!
This is an excellent Virginia flake. It reminded me of everything that I enjoy about Capstan Blue Flake, but did not seem like a mere copy. This blend presents a strong, dark, dried fruit palate: notably figs, currants, raisins--and just more than a hint of grass. Mechanically, it rubbed out easily and packed easily. Once lit, it stayed lit to the bottom of the bowl. It smoked cool and dry with volumes of creamy, tasty smoke, and the flavour palate lasted throughout the bowl. It burned down to a fine white ash every time. The wife enjoyed the smell as well, saying it reminded her of chocolate and fruit. I did not notice any cocoa notes, but maybe I will now that I know to look for it. I will definitely buy this blend again, when I can. I highly recommend this blend to any and all smokers, especially those who enjoy flakes and Virginia blends. Cheers to all!
Comoy's - Cask No.1
To sum it up at the beginning, this blend is my idea of a perfect English "breakfast" mixture. It's light and flavourful, presenting a consistent series of nutty and cocoa notes throughout the bowl. It seems seems to favour the Virginias, with a dash of Latakia thrown in for spice. The Orientals do not make a decided appearance either. But the proportions do the blend credit. Mechanically, this blend is all quality. My bulk package arrived ready to smoke. It packs well and sits easily in the pipe. It burns down to a fine white ash with little dottle, and today, required only one relight. It does not smoke hot, even in breezy weather, and it produces good volumes of cool smoke. I would recommend this blend to English smokers in general, and to Aromaticons looking to branch into English blends. This would be a good introduction to the species. This blend deserves its high place in sales and in smokers' regard. Pipe used: Comoy's estate Zulu. Pack used: finger stuff. Cheers!
G. L. Pease - Blackpoint 2oz
Incense for the temple
Well done, G. L. Pease! On buying my first tin, I found this blend to be a bundle of joys and delights. It smoked consistently and was full of flavour. Revisiting this blend in a recently purchased second tin, I found that even my happiest memories of this blend fell short of its actual performance. In the first place, this blend is packed with flavour. Now, that is not to say that any particular flavour stands out, but that is this blend's strongest point: the almost perfect balance of every component. I think this blend has just the right amount of Latakia to give the blend a dark, smoky quality without making the entire palate experience reminiscent of charcoal. The orientals give a fine show of perfume again without overpowering other notes presented by the Virginias and Perique: dark, tangy fruits mixed with various spices (Nutmeg among them). The smoke is as smooth as silk, and as voluminous as a steam locomotive in winter. It also leaves an unoffensive room note. Mechanically, this blend is a gem. It is easy to light and keep lit, and it smokes cool even in breezy conditions. My bowl's worth today burned--as it did for every bowl of the last batch--down to a fine white ash with almost no dottle and no wetness (even though I am a wet smoker). It almost never burns hot, and do not recall having to relight a bowl, once I figured out its favourite packing style. I recommend this blend without reservation to any and all English smokers. Aromaticons may want to proceed with caution, but this blend may also work as a gateway into the slightly darker side of the English spectrum. An 8 oz package of this blend has my name on it in the near future. Pack employed: finger stuff method. Pipe used: various (usually wider and shallower bowls) including Peterson 999. Cheers!
Cornell & Diehl - Winchester
This blend is multifaceted, but not in a good way. It presented good almond and chocolate scents from the tin. Both the wife and I thought the tin note was rather enticing. However, the smoking experience was entirely different. The blend tasted like it had been heavily topped with a chemical flavouring that I could not identify. My wife disliked the room note, too. We both agreed that it reminded us of cigarettes rather than pipe tobacco. My experience being so bleak, I do not think that I could recommend this blend without having dared to try it again. Cheers!
G. L. Pease - Westminster 2oz
A shade too English
This blend seems to have more in common with Pease's Abingdon than it does with his Blackpoint or with Peterson's Old Dublin. It is a more substantial and Latakia-forward blend: dark, smoky, rich , but not heavy or strong in nicotine. I never was able to pack it properly. It seemed dissatisfied with a light pack and a heavier pack, three pinch or the Frank method. I had trouble lighting it and keeping it lit. It burned hot almost every time, and its palate offering turned out to be rather limited. I did not find any bright flavours, just wood smoke and light taste. Even though it did give off a substantial volume of creamy smoke, that did not endear me to this blend. Perhaps I shall look at it differently some years from now. I still recommend this blend to others. This is not my cup of tea, but I am not the only tea drinker alive. I know long-time smokers who adore this blend. Give it a puff. Cheers!
G. L. Pease - Chelsea Morning 2oz
As an English blend smoker, I was certain that this blend was going to be right up my alley. Sadly, I found it somewhat deficient. It did not behave very well for me. I had trouble keeping it lit. I also did not find any real flavour to set it apart. Perhaps that is intended: could it be easier on the morning palate that way? I did not find anything truly favourable in this blend. It burned hot regularly, too. Perhaps I will revisit this blend after having tried some other "breakfast" blends. At this time, it proved a disappointing experience. Nonetheless, I count myself among a distinct minority of smokers, if the general reviews are to be believed. I would still recommend that newcomers smoke this blend: experimenting is the heart and soul of this hobby. Cheers!
Captain Black - Original 1.5oz
A "blue collar" blend
This was the blend that convinced me to reconsider my aversion to aromatic blends. This blend has several things going for it from start to finish: it has consistently (a) lit with only a char light, (b) burned coolly in all kinds of winds and weather, (c) burned down evenly to a fine white ash, (d) left the bottom of the bowl dry with no gloop (even though I am a "wet" smoker), (e) pleased my wife, and (f) left a charmingly light room note. I call this a "blue collar" blend because of its manner. It is not a pretentious blend. It is nothing more and nothing less than an OTC aromatic. And it is a blend that does most of the "work" for the smoker. It hardly requires any maintenance, merely a tamp or two from time to time. I recommend this blend to those looking to start smoking and to those smokers who are looking for a tried and true aromatic. Cheers to all!
Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
A solid smoke
This was my grandfather's favourite blend, and I can see why. It has a dark, strong flavour profile and a top note that piques my interest while it eludes characterization. It reminds me of anise, but is not clean licorice. It smokes with a bready quality: plenty of smoke and flavour to chew on, as it were. As my first foray into a flake cut, I had to learn how to approach this blend. After a while, I discovered that it needs to be rubbed out, rather than folded, and packed with medium tightness regardless of the width and depth of bowl. Once properly lit, it burned down to a fine white ash without requiring much effort or many relights. I would recommend this blend, but with the reservation that it may not be for average aromatic smokers. On the other hand, English blend smokers may profit from this as a foray into aromatics. As one of the latter type of smokers, I find Erinmore Flake to be a winner.
Edward G. Robinson - Edward G. Robinson 1.5oz
If it's old...
This mild aromatic combines fruit tones of grape and red fruit with darker notes of campfire and dried meat. At first, I found it inclined to smoke a little hot, but after practice and experiment, I discovered how to keep that in check: shallower bowl and a slightly tighter pack delivered to the bowl by slowly stuffing from a tobacco pouch rather than the three pinch method. It delivers a consistent flavour profile throughout the bowl, turning from lighter to darker tones as it progresses towards a fine white ash. Mechanically, it smokes almost as well as a flake requiring almost no relights. The wife, who is an asthmatic non-smoker, loves this blend. To her it smells like "warm happiness" with lower tones of dark fruit and Christmas spices. Add freshly baked bread, she says, and it would smell like a Hobbit hole. I agree with her. While this is not my overall favourite blend (I enjoy Balkan blends like G.L. Pease's Blackpoint and Peterson's Old Dublin, straight Virginias like Newminster Flake and Capstan Blue, and aromatics like Captain Black Regular), it is an aromatic that has won my attention. A larger tin is on my list of immediate acquisitions. As my brother says, "if it's old, it's probably good." I must agree. This is definitely a good, old blend.
Capstan - Flake Blue 1.75oz
A winner for me
It's easy to see how this tobacco (even in its reincarnation) could have inspired such wonderful reflections in an accomplished author. I have recently fallen in love with flake blends, having tried only Erinmore Flake before this. Although Erinmore and Capstan Blue are in different categories, the former being much darker by design, I found that I prefer the lighter "fruit-drying barn" flavours of Capstan. It smokes easily, down to a fine ash, with no relights needed in the right pipe and with the right pack. It also set my personal record of 1 hour 4 minutes from true light to tap out with no relights. It is an absolutely delightful long-smoke, and the flavour stays throughout the bowl, at least in my experience, if it is smoked slowly and in windless conditions. I will certainly be buying more of this in the near future.
Samuel Gawith - Squadron Leader 50g
Not a favourite
To begin with, this blend smelled great in the tin. It presented me with the classic (to my experience) English nose: dried meats and a hint of starch, but with a clear finish of dried fruit, primarily fig and currant. However, it did not live up to the nasal advertisement. I got a very distinct basic taste, not unlike soap, which spoiled much of the bowl. Now, I will admit that I am not an experienced smoker, nor am I an expert in all things English blends, nor do I claim to have an excellent nose and palate. I would happily try this again, perhaps after a decent period of aging. Sadly, my first impression was not too good. In all other respects, though, it appeared to be a good, tasteful, but not robust English blend. Not a match for say, MM 965, or Blackpoint, or Old Dublin, but certainly a light-middle weight contender. Cheers to all and good smoking!
Peterson - Old Dublin 50g
This blend is a work of art. From the opening tin notes of dried fruits and smoked meat to the unmistakable smoking notes of banana bread and plum pudding, down to the fine white ash left in the bowl, this blend held me fast and has swiftly moved to join my reigning favourite, G.L. Pease's Blackpoint. I was laughing out loud to myself with pleasure while smoking this blend. I found this blend to be the manifestation of all that I have discovered and wanted: a cool, bite-less, flavourful, mouthful culminating in the columns of smoke emanating skyward. Perfect balance of all components. I have never bought a pound of tobacco (sadly, I smoke irregularly maybe 3-4 times a week), but this one has got my name on a 16 oz. bag in the near future. If you are interested in breaking into English blends, but do not know where to start, try this. If you are an old hand with English blends and have not yet put this into your rotation, give it a try. I can hardly wait to put some of this aside for aging. Cheers to all and good smoking!