Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 50g
Another perfect tobacco from Samuel Gawith. Many complain that Gawith tobaccos are very moist; sure, they require a few more relights than optimal, but I find the moisture to be the perfect level to bring out the best in the smoke and the flavor. This particular Virginia flake produces a heavenly robust yet mellow taste, sweet and spicy, dark, woody and leathery, with a wonderful lingering sweet aftertaste. I find myself returning to this time and time again almost as an indulgent treat. It burns slow... one average-sized bowl lasts 60-90 heavenly minutes for me. Highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Ashton - Artisan's Blend 50g
I recently discovered English blends and very quickly fell in love with Dunhill London Mixture. It's one of the most perfectly balanced blends, with just the right amount of Latakia without overpowering the Oriental and Virginia. It was the blend I had found myself returning to more often than most others. Then I discovered Ashton Artisan's Blend; it takes that perfect balance of Lat/Oriental/Va and threw in the most subtle nuance of Perique to elevate that experience to what can only be called Pipe Nirvana. This is my new gold standard for English blends to which which I now compare all others. And one more note: although it's labeled as being for "the experienced pipe smoker", I would even say that because of the perfect balance where no single flavor is too overpowering, this would also be the perfect introduction to anyone who wants to experience an English blend without being blindsided by an overly spicy and smoky Lat bomb or an overly tart Oriental bomb.
Mac Baren - Scottish Mixture
Robust, earthy, complex—but only in small sips
In my first attempt at smoking this, it ran pretty hot and I got a tiny bit of tongue bite. I therefore hesitated to try it again for a couple of weeks, but after seeing so many glowing reviews, I decided to give it another go. What I discovered is that if you really take your time to smoke this slowly, sipping it gently, you will really experience SO much more of the flavors as well as spare yourself any chance at tongue bite. Because I'm used to puffing away steadily on most pipes (which is just fine for blends that are much heavier on the black Cavendish, which is sparse in this one), this involved some active self-control on my part, but was well rewarded. I originally did not expect this to be in my frequent rotation, but I'm finding myself going back to this again and again to the point where it is an almost daily thing, and find myself comparing so many other blends to this as a sort of "gold standard".