Cornell & Diehl - Carolina Red Flake 2oz
I am a Virginia snob, and a long-time lover of McClelland's small-batch special releases. If this sounds like you, I implore you to try to get your hands on some of this; it's a deep, sophisticated Virginia that ranks right up there with some of the best I have ever tried, but even more...clean? There's a clarity and smooth, natural flavor that I absolutely love. Excellent work C&D!
Hearth & Home - Virginia Memory 1.75oz
Heavy aromatic, not for me
Wish the description was more accurate. This is a heavily aromatic Virginia flake that arrived crispy-dry. Definitely not a fan of the strong honey, vanilla, and almost peachy topping. Couldn't get through 2 minutes of a bowl.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Pretty darn solid
I think "very solid" sums up my experience with Presbyterian Mixture. It has my perfect level of Latakia (contimental), has relatively smooth and sweet Virginias, and a good dose of Orientals to give some rich tangy and creamy incense/floral overtones. If I was looking for something to smoke all day long without thinking too much about it, this would be one of my top choices. However, as someone who exclusively sits down to savor and enjoy pipe tobacco, I feel like there are more complex and more interesting smokes for my personal tastes. That being said, everyone should try at least one tin of this! Very glad I did..
Peter Heinrichs - Curly Block 275g
Apart from some now-discontinued McClelland blends, this is very likely my favorite Virginia Perique. It has an amazingly deep and complex flavor similar to Escudo and Dunhill Navy Rolls, but richer, creamier, and overall fantastic. This is a must try if you are a fan of coins and VA/Pers in general.
Brebbia - Latakia Flake 50g
For me, pure bliss...
I'm honestly not sure why, but this blend pushes all of my buttons. The clarity of the creamy, rich, nutty Virginias combined with just the right amount of condimental Latakia (for my tastes) results in an absolutely perfect smoke. If you love McClelland 2020 and/or the way that Plum Pudding keeps everything in balance with a reserved use of Latakia, I think you'll love this blend. The Syrian Latakia is so floral that I even detect rose and berry notes. Everyone at a recent pipe club meeting was a bit surprised by this one. Really something worth trying.
McClelland - Ashton Revival: Pebblecut 50g
Supremely Complex VA/Per
I've smoked about half a tin and I couldn't be happier. The Virginias seem a little slow to ramp up, so the bowl starts off with the rich, well-baked brownie notes of high quality Perique. The orientals have a very clear, tangy fragrance that harmoniously welcomes the supremely good Virginias that make a strong showing about 10 minutes in, reminding me of the creamy mouth-feel of Brindle Flake. The last third of the bowl is a beautifully complex mix; every component shines through perfectly and gives each other room to shine, and the orientals are used masterfully, in my opinion. Pretty close to Tudor Castle with a different balance for different tastes. Easily one of my top 3 Va/Pers!
McClelland - CPCC: Epitome 50g
"Simple but satisfying" sums up this tobacco rather well. The closest match for this flake in the McClelland line seems to be Boston 1776, but this varies in a few ways: darker color, earthier tin-note, more rounded/smooth smoke, but more monochromatic. It has a beautiful, sweet almond/pistachio note throughout the bowl (although it takes a few minutes to ramp up), and I was surprised how consistent it remained over the course of an hour or so...zero ashy flavors developing whatsoever. Overall, this is a beautiful VA, somewhere between a Christmas Cheer and Boston 1776 in flavor, albeit a bit simpler, and to my personal taste, still leagues ahead of many Virginias from other producers. If you love the McClelland house Virginia style (like I do) this will be a fine addition to your cellar. The moderate rating on a certain other review website is nonsense...buy this; it's excellent.
McClelland - GKCPC: Boston 1776 50g
I'm surprised that I haven't read more about this tobacco. I've been smoking this between McClelland's 40th anniversary flake and a tin of Christmas Cheer 2016, and I'm rather torn about which one I prefer. If forced to choose, this one could very well be the sweetest and most nuanced of the three. 40th is certainly darker and fuller in flavor, and CC has a beautiful round nuttiness, but I get a lovely light sweetness from 1776...almost marzipan? Glorious Virginia, try without hesitation!
McClelland - 40th Anniversary 100g
My Favorite Virginia
My cellar is full of McClelland; I absolutely love complexity and character of their blends. This is a beautifully-made red Virginia Flake. All throughout the bowl, it shares many characteristics with Christmas Cheer, but when comparing side-by-side, this strikes me as a bit deeper in flavor and aroma, almost to the point of reminding me of many of my favorite lighter VA/Per blends, to a certain extent. However, it's subtle, much like a Burgundy red wine;some of the complexity is hidden unless you go looking. Dried citrus fruit flavors accentuate the consistent complexity, and there is very little VA grass/hay here, at least what my palate recognizes as such. If you love Virginias, buy without hesitation.
G. L. Pease - Stonehenge Flake 2oz
Very perfumed, great if that's your thing
The two stars reflects my personal taste. If you enjoy incense & flower-scented aromatic tobaccos, I imagine that this will be a favorite for you. It has an extremely well-balanced and rounded flavor, but...I personally happen to hate the added Lakeland essence. For comparison, I generally gravitate towards pure VA, VA/Per and milder English blends, and for me, this tobacco was a huge miss. If you enjoy aromatics, your mileage may vary.