Andrew H.

Rattray's - Marlin Flake 100g
The Mystic One.
Funny thing is, 3 years ago Marlin Flake to me was like smoking red pepper. Nothing but complete mouthburn. I tried two different tins in completely different states and gave it away. But it was always the one I wanted to like. The mystique, the aura of it begged me to try again. Sure I could smoke HOTW and Old Gowrie fine but I approached Marlin Flake with trepidation. I finally broke down and bought 2 100gramntins in Jan 2018. Opened it up, it was a little flat but hey, no burning mouth. My how palates change. Fast forward to October and it has come around the bend. Rich and deep Red Virginia funk. Man it is addictive. And with this colder weather it isn’t hanging around. Cavendish gives a great mouthfeel and the aroma left in the room is Devine incense. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I Love HOTW and Old Gowrie. They have something unique to each, but the Marlin Flake is the Mystic one.

Cornell & Diehl - Kajun Kake 2oz
Cajun Goodness
Cue that old Gervais Matte and the Branch Playboys music and sit for a minute cher. This blend really does an excellent job of highlighting that Louisiana leaf us Va-Per smokers love. The red virginias provide just enough sweetness fresh to offset the musty slight sour notes of the perique. The unflavored black cavendish provides a smooth mouthfeel and just tops this stuff off in the right way. I can tell with a year of age the perique will strengthen up the blend and the virginias will sweeten everything else up further to make a more bold and defined smoke with the same smoothness that i have not yet found in many blends . The mouthfeel is crreamy, I love it. Good any time of the day and needs negligable dry time. Breaks up and packs easy. Leaves very little moisture in the bowl. I wouldn't compare it to Chenet's cake as that stuff is definately perique foward. This one is not. This one uses the other leaf to highlight the subtelties of that black fermented leaf and brings it out in a good ol Cajun waltz. One of the best Va-Pers I have come across.

Peter Heinrichs - Curly Special 200g
Needs more age
This tobacco is for the skilled piper. Does have a sharp edge to it fresh. 6 months of age has made it better. Also seems to like a bent pipe over a straight pipe. I think maybe a long Canadian would be the only straight pipe I’d enjoy it in. I have a bent Caminetto with a deep 20 mm chamber it sings in. Peeps easy and has just the right moisture. I’ll say now that My friend is right that it will really sing after 2 years of age. Even after 6 months it has toned down quite a bit. If you rush it it will bite. No question. But it is very enjoyable if respected. It might seem like I’m being negative but I plan to age some because I know it has serious aging potential and will be stellar.

Reiner - Long Golden Flake (Blend No. 71) 100g
Wowzers
So i put off trying this blend for many years saying to myself, Eh let me try XYZ first. So now i finally convince myself to try it and now i'm mad. mad at myself for not smoking this 3 years ago. I have been looking for a Golden Virginia that i can smoke regularly that 1. Dosen't nip and 2. is interesting enough to keep me coming back. I have tried many golden blends, FVF, CVP, G.S etc. the list goes son. But from first light, I just knew that need not search any more for the blend that hits all the notes. Sweet, Honey , Grass, Spice and Fruit from the perique and strength and balance from the burley. Easy to prep and pack, perfect right out of the tin. I can only count one one hand the blends ready to smoke as soon as you open the tin and this is one. R.L. Will, thank you for this masterful flake to our hobby.

G. L. Pease - Gaslight 2oz
Amazingly complex. And Tasty
Look I am usually a Va and Va-Per smoker but wanted to try something dirrerent. So I had to choose between Jacknife Plug or Gaslight. I picked up Gaslight actually confusing it with quiet nights thinking it had Perique in it. Sorry no perique. But what I found was an amazingly complex blend that is easy to prep and smokes easy and cool. Open it up and it smells like Lagavulin. Creosote and tarry rope. Smoky bbq. Sweet tang. Light it up and BOOM! Smoky incense notes with a plush full smoke. Satisfying notes of sandalwood and heather. Red Virginia on the end to sweeten it slightly. Lovely nicotine hit. The aroma and flavor are truly divine. I have never loved a Latakia blend until now. I can’t say enough about how good it is. G.L. Pease is a master.

G. L. Pease - Stonehenge Flake 2oz
Didn't like at first but after 3 months open....
Ok when this first hit the shelves told myself I had to try it. So i purchased a tin and my tobacconist and myself had a bowl together. We both agreed it was not worthy of our time. So me being me i said, I'll let it stay open in the tin for 2-3 months and revisit. I even tried a week later and hated it. The lakeland was in your face and the coco puffs just exacerbated the lakeland taste. and had a mild bite to it. So I left it alone. I said i will revisit it in the cooler weather. Smoked it after being in the closet for 3 months and i'm amazed at how linear it has become. It is amazing now. The lakeland has toned down immensely and so has the coco taste. it has a bold smoothness to it if that makes sense and all the flavors enhance the tobacco. The burn is slow and even. I split the flakes in halk and gave a light rub to keep the flake more intact. Consistent flavor that just kept getting better down the bowl and burned down with a few nominal relights to a small puck at the bottom. Now i will have to buy more and keep going. The taste is addicting indeed. Oh and no mouth bite at all. None. smoked two bowls back to back with no bite and no wierd after taste. A classic. Thank you Mr.Peace.

McClelland - Collector: Tudor Castle 50g
Sweet and mellow with age
I liked this tobacco better in a narrow chamber. It is sweet and rich with no bite. I can't really taste the orientals or the perique at this age over 9 years old but i feel that they have all blended into one unit. More golden Virginia forward than i anticipated. The tine note is amazing and burns really well. If you expect it to be strong, it's not. It is smooth and rich with alot of complex sweet flavors that an experienced pipe smoker can get behind. Can't wait to compare it to a fresh tin.

Capstan - Flake Blue 1.75oz
Some love it, but i don't get the premium
Good sweet caramel notes and a lot of minerality. I really wanted to like it more but i really don't see the premium as to me it just does not taste premium, And i don't think it smokes cool. If it were cheaper i might want to spend more time with it but until then I have other tobaccos to occupy my time with. I say Peterson Signature flake is better and cheaper.

John Aylesbury - Sir John's Flake Virginia 50g
Tasty and no bite
Good flake that burns easily to the bottom with a few relights decent depth. Nice light spice tones that fade away the further you get down but it also gets richer the further you go down. Definitely repeatable throughout the day and no mouth bite. Take it slow though as i gets a little ashy in flavor if it gets too hot, which is typical of many Virginia tobaccos. A very good predominately Golden Virginia blend.

Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 250g
Amazing with just 2 years age
My dear friend Ross shared some bulk FVF with me that had just a hair over 2 years of age and I must say that it is amazing! Rich sweet and the flakes are almost black. Looks like St James. It is worth the wait to age. And the thinner shag style cut is perfect.

Orlik - Golden Sliced 100g
Must amend my review below
Alright, with a little more than a year in a jar this has improved CONSIDERABLY. It is much more agreeable with my palate now that it has mellowed some. the top note of Bergamot has faded and now has a more mellow taste without the loss of richness. Just a slight tongue tingle from the perique. Recommend aging for best potential. Also not as grassy now and has gained alot of depth and sweetness toward the bottom of the bowl. Will pick up more to age in a jar.

Peterson - Signature Flake 100g
Amazing depth. should be tried by all Virginia Smokers
I had passed up these tins that had been in a baccy shop for a couple of years. I would always see them and just go meh probably just another Peterson aromatic. Then one day recently i picked up the tin and read african virginias. I like the depth of the African brown virginias so i looked it up on Tobacco reviews and said i'll give it a shot. Now i can't comment on fresh out the tin version, but the flakes I recieved were sticky and had an amazing tin note. Tiny Sugar crystals beginning to form on the flakes. About ten minutes of dry time and was ready to go. This blend started out the first few puffs and ok then the depth just slammed me. Dark rich brown sugar notes accompanied by earthiness amazing depth. Not as funky as Gawith BBF but the same grain of earthiness. I have found, and this is my opinion, It has an early finish, so I feel it will benefit from being smoked in a more shallow chamber, such as an apple or prince 18-19mm. Also be careful with lighting as i found the more relights you have the more the flavor dissipates. But man when it's on it impressive. I catch myself saying, Damn this is good quite often.

Dan Tobacco - Salty Dogs 50g
Go old school on this one
My advise is to smoke it in a clay pipe. Shag it out like a sailor and just go old school. Expensive, yes so make it last by treating yourself to a little at a time. good to smoke when you have a small window of time and want a quick smoke. Very creamy and rich with a light spice and a good nic hit.

Erik Stokkebye 4th Generation - 1855 1.4oz
Very suprising
I really enjoy the light taste of this blend and the way it develops down the bowl. It showed me a depth that sometimes you can't find out of a stronger Virginia. Let me clarify this. When you smoke a heavy dark Virginia you come to a point after 2/3 of a bowl that it goes flat at least to my taste. This one starts out light and builds all the way to the bottom. and when you get there it is like a caramel sweetness which is worth the price of admission. Go slow and let it build, a great smoke with a morning coffee or tea to warm up your palate for heavier smokes later in the day.

Esoterica - Hastings 8oz
Give it a chance
Most would overlook Hastings as a second tier Esoterica or "let me try this cause they always have it on the shelf Esoterica". I feel that this is a masterpiece of a blend.and it has a goodly amount of strength. I've had Penzance, I've had Stonehaven. Stone haven loses itself around midbowl and penzance, just can't figure it out. this blend as well as the other Licorice applied Esoterica blends are stellar and I feel are underappreciated. They have depth, smoothness and character with all their own flavor even when they run along the same vein. Try it I think you will be surprised.

Dunhill - Dark Flake 50g
Much better with a little age.
When I first tried this I was not impressed. But with a little jar time it has become stellar. Really deep with lite spice one of Dunhill's better offerings. Great mouthfeel and aftertaste. No bite at all.

Balkan Sobranie - Balkan Sobranie 50g
smoky and smooth
I usually don't enjoy latakia, but i do enjoy a balkan blend from time to time. This one is smooth and bold with good sourness from the orientals and slight smoke from the Latakia. Gregory V if you read this review try Arango Balkan Supreme it is very close to Sobranie, or so i am told.

Cornell & Diehl - Opening Night 2oz
Really rich tobacco
I am looking forward to this tobacco again as I am letting it rest in a jar. When I first tried it I found it to be really right but with a slight harshness on the back of my throats which I think will go away. Flakes were easy to prepare and didn't need much if Amy dry time. Will keep in stock. Well done.

Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 250g
The tobacco that just keeps giving.
What's left to be said about this classic that hasn't been said. Rich, deep, malty and sweet. Can be particular to figure out how to best prepare it and needs a good amount of dry time but skill rewards the smoker who hits it right. Took my palate a while to get used to it but I can smoke it multiple times a day now. It's amazingly good tobacco.

A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Beginning to replace Navy Rolls as a favorite.
I remember a time when DNR was my standard and replaced escudo as my top roll. But since I think they changed the formulation last year Escudo imho is better. At least to me. Sweeter with good spice, burns consistently albeit a little warm if broken up too fine. I usually take it out of the tin and rest for 2 weeks. Then it's good to go. An man is it good. Should be in every Virginia Smokers rotation.

Orlik - Golden Sliced 100g
Can bite hard. My palate doesn't match up with it.
I really enjoy the flavors but it's a picky beast. Light with a touch of spice. I know many smoke this blend and love it but my chemistry doesn't match up with this blend. It stings my mouth some and if I push it I get tongue bite. But I have found other lighter virginias do this to me as well. I'll stick with Red Virginias. Again love the flavor. Don't like the mismatch of my body chemistry.

McClelland - 40th Anniversary 100g
Great in the right pipe.
These McClelland reds such as Christmas Cheer and this one exhibit a richness not often found in modern straight Virginias. In my opinion it is a little monochromatic and linear in the flavor but it starts rich and ends richer. I found it really likes my bent Peterson shape 69 with a 20 mm bowl. I'm smoking it in an Upshall Canadian right now and doesn't like it as much. Such is the mystery of tobacco and what keeps us trying different combinations. It is a very slow smoker and produces a decent amount of smoke. I suggest a full rub out, a little dry time. I used the frank method on my Peterson and it was a stellar smoke with not many surprises just great, deep, sweet red Virginia excellence. Grab a piece of history and enjoy.

McClelland - Matured Virginia: No. 24 50g
Great blend here
I like this blend immensely. It's probably my favorite McClelland blend. Smoke it in a 19mm bowl and the insensce like aroma of the drama leaf really comes out nicely. Smoke in a 20 mm bowl and you get more oriental sourness which is amazing along with richness of the quality Virginia. Stellar blend and will keep in my permanent rotation.

G. L. Pease - Sixpence 2oz
Very tasty with a little age
I had a bowlful last night with a friend. Id smoked 4 bowls through the day such as Kendal plug, Hal o the Wynd, Ramsgate, and St James flake. When I lit this up I was impressed. Really empressed. Even after my palate had been tested all day this one provided no bite with a nice aroma of the Liquor topping which smelled of rum. Good strength and smooth at the same time. My friend stated that it was a little rough when he first opened it after Christmas. He kept it in the original container and was at to me the right smoking moisture. I just made a pluc and stuffed and was able to smoke it all the way down with minimal re lights. He gifted me a few bowls worth but I will be making an 8 oz purchase soon.

Rattray's - Hal O' The Wynd 100g
Rich with no bite
Great taste great burn great strength. No bite. Can smoke all day. It's definately one I reach for often.

Samuel Gawith - Kendal Plug 250g
Great plug will get better with age
This plug is really good quality and smokes really easy. It does need some age though to help it all come together. Glad I bought 2 to see how it ages

Samuel Gawith - Best Brown Flake 50g
Really excellent tobacco
I understand that this tobacco seems wet. From what I hear there are no added moisture or humectants just the ambient humidity the day it was made. The thing about these Gawith flakes is they make you figure them out. How much do I dry? What's the best way to prep? Fold and stuff cube cut? Full rub? I found that a full rub and an hour really work. Flavor. Absolutely brilliant when found. Cinnamon spice and mellow mustiness that is inherent in brown virginias. Leaves no dottor and burns all the way down. I really do enjoy this flake when done properly. I have a special love affair with these old fashioned English made flakes. I dont complain when any go out of stock for months cause I know that they will not sacrifice quality for production. And prepping and drying is part of the ritual for finding that sweet spot of a smoke that's truly sublime.

Dunhill - Navy Rolls 50g
Thin I got a bad batch.
Look I love Navy rolls. I mean I really, really love them. You can read my review down below and tell that. So I purchased 4 tins recently. I opened two to jar up for my daily rotation. Upon opening both tins I wasn't greeted with the familiar sweet rich coins usually associated with Navy rolls. The coins were drier and lighter shaded than before with barely a tin note. I had to try them to compare. What I found paled in comparison. Taste was below average Virginia with no perique influence along with a hot burn and a chalky ashy aftertaste. Also, tongue bite. Now look this alarms me cause I smoke a lot of Navy Rolls. I'm hoping this was a bad batch, as I'm sure it is. But if this is the new blend along with the new tin art you can count me out. I even emailed STG to let them know I think they have a QC issue.

Dunhill - Ye Olde Signe 50g
Rustic
I find this to be a no fuss rustic tasting smoke. Ready right out of the tin with earthy tones and a hint of citrus. Not overly complex but does have depth. Easy to light and smokes effortlessly. Also.... no mouth of tongue bite. Will stay in my rotation permanently

Rattray's - Marlin Flake 100g
Still trying to like it.
I'm giving it 2 stars rt now. When I first open a tin it stings my palate pretty bad. So I let it sit for a month. Where'd the flavor go? Dosent really bite me as bad now but I just don't get it. For me right now there are better VaPers such as navy rolls, Scottish Cake solani Virginia with Perique St. James flake . I have a few flakes left I'll let sit for 6 months or so and I'll revisit but for now I can't understand why it beat out St. James flake for Smoking pipes spring showdown.

McConnell - Scottish Cake 50g
Great blend in the right pipe
I really love this born even though I can't smoke it all day as my palate is a little sensitive to smoked Kentucky tobaccos. I also find that this blend is sensitive to how you pack it in your pipe. If too tight the sourness of the Kentucky burley really comes out. I find this blend really shines in a full bent pipe 19 mm or so. A system pipe would really be a nice one to smoke this out of. When you hit it right it really is an amazingly tasty blend that really does stand out from others. The Kentucky stays in the background and helps to enhance the depth of the perique in the blend.

Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 1.75oz
Amazing baccy
I mixed this one with escudo and Acadian perique for a camping trip and I wish I would have weighed them out because it was absolutely lights out. I usually don't smoke this one until the temps drop cause I really like it as a cold weather tobac.

A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Will satisfy not matter what you smoke it out of.
When I first started back smoking my pipe I bought this , Mac Baren old dark fired and Nitecap. This blend is why I smoke VaPers. I've tried a lot of blends since my first run in with Escudo and I still crave it even though I haven't smoked it in awhile (I have an addiction to Dunhill Navy Rolls). But the one thing that makes this tobacco rise among many others is its ability to shine in just about any width tobacco chamber you throw at it. .70 bam. Amazing. .90. Bam still smokes amazing. I've tried 4 different width chambers and it smokes like a champ everytime. That my friends is the mark of a classic. So out it in whatever you have and be sure you'll have a great experience everytime. Happy smoking everyone.

Samuel Gawith - St. James Flake 50g
Dreams are made of this flake.
This flake is like a drug sometimes. You hit the sweet spot and you will chase that experience everytime. Dark, brooding and utterly fantastic. I usually rub out or 1/4 inch strips and stuff. Always satisfies if done right.

Dunhill - Navy Rolls 50g
The one tobacco you will crave
I love these Navy Rolls. I don't smoke them everyday but when I do get the Envie ( Cajun for craving) I can't get enough. Take 2 coins and fold and twist down into my Tanshell Canadian or my Cardinal House Liverpool and enjoy. Just great dark tobacco flavors. When I first smoked this blend I thought they'd be similar to Escudo and boy was I wrong. Deeper, Darker and more piquant. Great after lunch or later in the evening. It really is a pinnacle of what a Va Per could and should be. Amazing!

Dunhill - Royal Yacht 50g
Great out the blocks. Wears you out down the bowl
If it finished as good as it started it would be stellar. But it tends to wear me out after 1/2 a bowl. Lots of Vitamin N to go around. Starts strong and lush. Smokes great for the first quarter and then bam just proceeds to numb you down. Will smoke with a little jar time to see if it meshes together a little better or I'll just relegate it to a small cob pipe that last 15 minutes.

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