Sutliff - Balkan II
Rustic yet Delicate
Sutliff knows what Balkans are about. Heavy on the orientals, latakia for support. Hits the mark every time. This is a gorgeous creation. Luxury blend, indeed.
Peterson - Sweet Killarney 50g
Delicious Burley Aromatic
It’s perfect. Prepare well, rub out to a fine grain. Pack lightly into a tall, narrow bowl. Sip slowly. It’s divine.
Peterson - Sweet Killarney 50g
Delicious Burley Aromatic
It’s perfect. Prepare well, rub out to a fine grain. Pack lightly into a tall, narrow bowl. Sip slowly. It’s divine.
Peterson - Early Morning Pipe 50g
Even Better with Age
Early Morning Pipe is indeed the perfect wakeup smoke for the early morning. Located firmly within the English camp, the latakia in this blend will not disappoint lovers of the smokiest leaf. There is just enough Virginia to add some depth and some grassy, bready, sweetness; and the orientals add the perfect amount of delicate spice to waken and invigorate the palate. What’s more is that EMP gets so much better with age. It’s great right out of the tin, but gets even better with time — smoother, sweeter, more thorough marriage of flavors.
Sutliff - Cringle Flake 2021 1.5oz
Since having tried this a second time, I have been informed by the good folks at Smokingpipes that Cringle Flake is cased in vinegar. That explains everything. Just… Wow. I’m going to cellar both of my opened tins for a year and see what happens, hoping the vinegar settles down. I’ll review them again much later.
Sutliff - Cringle Flake 2021 1.5oz
Pure Vinegar, with Bubbles
After reading all the reviews here, I am very confused. The tin note ASSAULTS the nostrils with a very strong, sharp, SOUR vinegar, with carbonation bubbles. It smells offensive, like an over-fermented kombucha. And it tastes like salad dressing. Seriously, it’s like dipping a cigar in concentrated balsamic vinegar. It’s just nasty. Hopefully with some time the vinegar casing will die down and I can write a better review.
Peter Stokkebye - PS306 English Oriental Supreme
Very Balkan, Very Delicious.
Orientals reign supreme in this blend, redolent of glorious sourness and delightfully dancing spiciness. Everything is perfectly proportioned, perfectly harmonious. Beginning with a sour nose, it develops by turns into something alternatingly creamy, toasty, sweet, spicy, smoky, rich. It burns very coolly, gurgles but little, and leaves no moisture in the bowl. Once lit, it stays lit, and it burns down to fine ash. Of the utmost importance, it gives absolutely no tongue-bite. It satisfies while still remaining somewhat mild of body and nicotine. For me, Peter Stokkebye’s offerings are usually either hit or miss, and this one is a BIG hit. His Balkans and Englishes have all been big winners IMO, and English Oriental Supreme is a jewel in the Balkan crown. Absolutely top shelf, head of the class, cream of the crop, the 1%, the star of the show, the angel on the Christmas tree. Six out of five stars. EOS is everything a great English or Balkan should be (and yes, again, I locate it firmly within the Balkan sub-genre of the English camp because the orientals are emphasized far and away over the latakia; latakia is present, but serves only as a plinth to elevate the orientals).
Cornell & Diehl - We Three Kings 2oz
Oriental Aromatic Bliss
We Three Kings is just a little bit amazing. It is a lightly aromatic classic American blend with orientals forward. It’s brilliant. As punkrockpiper observes, even non-aromatic loyalists would approve of this one. It’s certainly a warm, relaxing holiday treat, but I would smoke this any time of the year. It’s particularly good for English/Balkan lovers who sometimes appreciate a break from latakia but don’t want to stray too far. The subdued aroma preserves and perhaps even enhances the delicate orientals on display here.
Bengal Slices - Bengal Slices 1.75oz
Loses Flavor Early
Has a sublime tin note. Beautiful balance of latakia and orientals. Cavendish is a bit heavy, but the virginia is nice. One problem is that it begins to taste muddy and ashy halfway through the bowl - even with a very shallow bowl, just an inch deep.
Sutliff - Balkan Sobranie Original Mix Match
Best of the Balkans
Of all the balkans available today, this one is simply the best.
Sutliff - 526 - Old Professor
Smoothly Soothing English
The rough cut of Old Professor deceives one into believing that the taste will likewise be rough, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It is perhaps a bit rustic, but it stays smooth and it burns coolly and is just complex enough. Latakia is the star of the bag/tin note and on the palette its influence is present but reserved. The oriental leaf adds some lively spice to keep things interesting. The Virginias add a mild sweetness but I don’t focus on them very much.
Cornell & Diehl - Snug Harbor
Snug Harbor is a fairly good, fairly average English aromatic. I am pleased to report that it is more English than aromatic, and that the latakias and orientals are not drowned out by the topping. Somewhat muted, perhaps, but not swallowed whole. It is pretty good, and I would smoke it again, but I like Kramer’s Cary Grant better.
Newminster - No.306 English Orient
Goopy, Sweet, AROMATIC Sugar-Bomb
The description says “non-aromatic”, but that is 100% false advertising. This is definitely an aromatic; there can be no question about it whatsoever. It is SOAKING WET, gooey, goopy, overly sweet, medicine-y, absolutely DRENCHED in vanilla, marshmallow, caramel flavors like a children’s breakfast cereal with a ridiculous cartoon character on the box. Latakia is barely even detectable. The orientals are drowned out almost completely in the sea of syrupy caramel goo. Rude cavendish overpowers everything else while burley and Virginia play a rowdy and unruly supporting role, egging on the belligerence of all parties to this travesty. Everything “English” and “Oriental” — i.e., refined and subtly exotic, respectively — is savagely beaten into submission by the clown show of cotton candy carnival flavors. Why would Newminster pull the proverbial wool over our eyes, working so hard to convince us that this is not aromatic when it so clearly is? It’s covered in sugar syrup! I’m so confused and disappointed. When this super-soaked aromatic blend first showed up on my doorstep, I contacted Smokingpipes to express my confusion because the description clearly says “non-aromatic”. I did not even have to ask, Smokingpipes sent me a replacement the same day (thanks guys! excellent customer service). But what showed up in the replacement package was the selfsame sugar-coated, gooey, goopy, caramel-vanilla-marshmallow mess. What is happening here? It’s like living in Bizarro World. But since I have received the same aromatic ab0rtion twice in a row, both times under the label of Newminster no. 306 English Orient, I can only conclude that this is in fact the genuine article, and that Newminster is reeeeeally stretching the definition of “casing”. Most of us can tell the difference between an aromatic and, say, a Virginia that has been heavily cased. Take for example Newminster’s own #400 Superior Navy Flake. It is technically not an aromatic, but it does smell like a sugar factory in the bag or tin because of the casing process. However, the flake is relatively dry because it is not topped with heavy flavors and syrups. And I love Superior Navy Flake! I have four pounds of it in my cellar. And I have many other flakes, cakes, ribbons, ropes, and coins which do evince an application of a sweet casing but which are not goopy, sappy messes because casing is not topping. But English Orient is not just heavily cased. It seems also to be topped with a sea of sugar flavor goop. I will give it half a star for the very nice orientals they used, but they ruined them by brutalizing the mix with all the childish candy flavors. How could anyone do that to something so beautifully complex? It’s like taking a gorgeous filet mignon or aged flank steak with rare truffle sauce, and then dumping ketchup all over it. What a tragedy. What a loss.
Kramer's - Blend for Cary Grant
This is English aromatic done exactly right. The aroma is almost unnoticeable in the bag note. Just barely enough to let you know it’s there. No single leaf stands above the rest, and you can actually taste the tobacco. The cavendish is creamy and a bit nutty, the Virginia is sweet, the latakia is there for support, and the orientals never get lost. It’s simply amazing. I didn’t even smell the Irish until halfway through the bowl, when it gave a nice mellow finish to the whole project. Nothing here will make you go “Wow” or slap you in the face. It is all very subtle, very soothing, very harmonious, incredibly understated. This is by far the very best English aromatic I have ever tried. I imagine my four ounce purchase will not last long. Full marks.
Sutliff - SPS-17 Lavish English
Aro for English Lovers
I was a bit hesitant about this one when I opened the bag. It’s a bit goopy and perhaps a bit overly sweet smelling. I thought the orientals would surely be drowned out. But I have been pleasantly surprised. The flavor greatly subsides after a few minutes but until then it is a delicate work of art. Maybe with a bit more drying time the orientals will shine through even more. It is interestingly complex. If you don’t like it at first, give it a few more minutes. The flavors develop with time.
Sutliff - 503 Heavy English
Cool and Easy-Going English
Sometimes it’s nice to smoke something that doesn’t stick to your tongue and palette, something that allows you to smoke bowl after bowl. That’s what you get with Heavy English. It straddles the fence between English and Balkan, burning coolly and mildly.
Cornell & Diehl - London Squire
Yes, there are orientals here
When this blend was first formulated by Amar Blends Co., it had orientals in it. But C&D bought the rights to the blend and now the description lists no orientals. Without orientals it could absolutely NOT be called a balkan. But because they are calling it a balkan that has to mean there are orientals in it. And on closer inspection we reveal that oriental leaf is definitely a part of the blend. Search your stock: wherever you see green leaf, that is Turkish/oriental. But perhaps they do not list it because there is so little of it?
Peterson - Early Morning Pipe 50g
Sets a High Bar
Medium of body and flavor, yet somehow still “light”. Virginias are prominent without drowning out the very nice, very delicate orientals. Just enough latakia is present to support the orientals without overtaking them. This stuff is brilliant. It makes me want to reevaluate all of my previous 5-star reviews of other marques and blends. Peterson/Dunhill does set the bar quite high. Early Morning Pipe is indeed the perfect English eye-opener.
Peter Stokkebye - PS52 Proper English
I’m giving this one another review. After having been on a balkan kick, this one goes near the top of my list of English blends, because the orientals are so forward. There’s something special here, something sweet and buttery, not altogether characteristic of most oriental/balkan blends I’ve had lately. It starts off sour, then it gets buttery smooth, then it ends on a peppery finish. I would love to know where Stokkebye got these orientals from. PS Proper English is gorgeous.
Cornell & Diehl - Engine #382 2oz
If You Like Deertongue
This stuff is fantastic if you have been initiated. If you are familiar with the magical condiment leaf, you will love Engine #382. It is a bit more complex than might be called for as a first introduction, but if you are already acquainted with deertongue, this one is a winner.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Why doesn’t the tin list any orientals in the mix? My tin just says Virginias and latakia. But it does look like there is a tiny bit of oriental leaf in there. The tin note is pretty great. Whatever topping or casing they use is very creamy or marshmallowy. It smells of flavored cavendish, even though there’s none in it. The yellow/golden Virginias are incredibly mellow and very sweet. The latakia “tips” are barely present, just enough to lend the definitively English character. And the orientals are hardly present either. I’m not really sure how I feel about it. It’s almost a hundred years old so a lot of people love it. It’s different now because Mac Baren makes it, but people still love it. I guess it would be great if you couldn’t decide whether you wanted a Virginia blend or an English one, because this one straddles the line.
Sutliff - Balkan Sobranie Original Mix Match
Oriental Balkan Perfection
First, I have not tried the original BS, but that’s not important. This match from Sutliff is amazing on its own, regardless of whether or not it really matches BS. It is sweet and sour and spicy, smooth and creamy and delicious, so contemplative and relaxing. It’s definitely not a powerhouse, which is a good thing. It’s mild enough that you can really taste the orientals, the star of the show by far. The latakia is present but it just supports the orientals. And the virginia gives it the perfect balance of grassy sweetness to round out the spice. Lately, I usually go for balkans and Englishes with burley (e.g., Sutliff’s companion to this blend, BS 759 Match), but leaving out burley or cavendish helps to put the orientals on center stage, which is great because whatever orientals they use in this blend are uncommonly nice. They have this beautiful sour tang, almost savory. As Old Timer…’s review points out, many relights are needed as it is quite a task to keep it lit, but that does not seem to affect the flavor much. The smoke is cool and rich and flavorful. It is a bit wet, even after rubbing and setting out to dry for 20 mins. But that problem is easily solved with a wide and shallow bent pot pipe. Full marks for a gorgeous smoke.
Drucquer & Sons - Blairgowrie 100g
Creamy, Peaty VaPer Goodness
It does remind me somewhat of McConnell Scottish Cake, just without the burley. It’s like a toasty VaPer sprinkled with a bit of latakia and orientals as a garnish. It’s creamy, smooth, grassy, and bready, with notes of raisins or dark stone fruit — almost everything we appreciate about our Virginias and VaPers — and they manage to get a sort of toasty, earthy, nuttiness in there without the addition of burley; it’s very peaty. I think that must come from the dry aging which comes from being stored and shipped in tins which are definitely NOT vacuum sealed, and never have been, as reviewer GLPease reminds us. So if you’re looking for something inclined towards the English side that isn’t all the way English, maybe something with just a bit of an English accent, you should give this a try. It’s very smooth, not very heavy, and it has some complexity too. The latakia is present but not at all heavy or emphatic, and the orientals show up as kind of an ethereal phantom, something you just barely notice out of the corner of your eye (or, palette, I guess). The latakia and orientals serve to elevate the VirginiaPerique rather than make a showing of their own, like an ottoman that the Virginias and perique rest their feet on. It’s really quite interesting. Blairgowrie will likely not satisfy the craving for a big, bold English or a spicy, incensey Balkan, but if you are a dedicated Virginia/VaPer fan considering a venture across the pond into latakia territory, Blairgowrie is a very good place to start.
Mac Baren - HH Balkan Blend 3.5oz
Big n’ Burley Balkan
Like most every HH mixture featuring burley, the burleys here are the only constant presence. It remains earthy and nutty for the duration of the bowl, opening up the experience and then ushering it out the door at the end. Very nice orientals tickle high up in the sinuses right away, starting the show with a bang just below the eyes and then slowly fading into the background. The latakia is present as a harmonizing and supporting player instead of a lead, which is exactly what you want in a balkan. These virginias are rather bright and sweet, which is very tasty can play a bit of havoc on the tip of the tongue if you’re not careful. HH Balkan Blend is significantly different from most of what Sutliff does with its burley-balkans. The tin note is sweet and round and barbecue-like, calling to mind a nice dark fired Kentucky( I had to double check the tin just to make sure they hadn’t snuck any in there). I was just reviewing Stokkebye Proper English and wishing it had some burley in it, but now if I ever want a balkan with tons of nutty burley I can turn to HH. Sutliff Crumble Kake English #1 and Sobranie 759 Match are still my daily go-to balkans, but I will definitely continue to keep HH balkan blend around for those days when that big burley craving hits. HH is not what many would regard as a “top shelf” marque, but it is incredibly reliable and consistent. For what it is, this blend is close to perfect.
Peter Stokkebye - PS52 Proper English
Turkish Forward, Very “Stokkebye”
This is very Stokkebye. It just has that Stokkebye je ne sais quoi. The Virginias are very fine and subtly sweet; the latakia is uncommonly mellow, taking a place way back there in the nosebleed seats; while the incense-like, almost floral orientals steal the show. At the moment I find that I prefer an English with burley — such as Sutliff’s English #1 or their BS 759 Match, or even H&H’s Blackhouse if I’m in the mood for some cavendish — but that preference does not diminish the quality of what Stokkebye has here. It’s as if orientals serve as the base while latakia and Virginia play a much smaller, merely supportive role as condiments, or even garnishes. So if I were in the mood for a bowl of something mostly Turkish, this is what I would probably reach for. For now I’ll stick to big burley balkans, and I’ll cellar this one for a year or so to see how it does with some more time.
Arango - Balkan Supreme
The Samsun in this mixture is incredibly interesting. It’s very spicy in a way that I definitely like. Its aroma is like incense, which is a prized characteristic of fine oriental tobaccos. The way it works on the palette is a bit like wasabi, the way wasabi is spicy not in the mouth but high up in the nose, just beneath the eyes — which, again, is one of the defining characteristics of oriental tobaccos. And it tends to take over the whole bouquet in this mixture. But, then again, that is pretty much exactly the definition of a Balkan: a latakia & Virginia blend that emphasizes the orientals over the latakia, using Virginia to activate the front of the tongue and add some sweetness, while the latakia is just there to support and emphasize the orientals. My one complaint is the cavendish. The cavendish used in this mixture is just all wrong for me. Combined with the orientals, including the very nice incensey Samsun, it comes off as very rough and sharp. One-sided. Unbalanced. Too much of a one-note chord. If you like your balkans rough, sharp, earthy, spicy, floral, then this one is for you. But for me it has too much cavendish competing with the Samsun. In a balkan, the cavendish is added to round out the palette and add a creamy, fuller mouthfeel. But you can do a very similar thing by adding burley, and I would like this one a lot more if they had used burley instead of cavendish. Good examples are Sutliff Balkan Sobranie 759 Match, Sutliff Crumble Kake English #1. These use burley instead of cavendish and I really like them. Hearth & Home’s Blackhouse uses both cavendish and burley, and gets great results too. Those three are my go-tos at the moment. So, Arango is very smokeable, but not a favorite.
Sutliff - Balkan Sobranie 759 Match
Very Tasty, Complex
This is really a very good balkan blend. The burley gives it structure, the Virginias give it a bit of soft sweetness, and the latakia is a sound base. But the real star here is the orientals. I can’t identify which ones they used, but they are so complex and they continue to develop and unfurl throughout the bowl, it’s just wonderful. Very different from many of the other English/Balkan blends I’ve been smoking. Perhaps a bit more balkan than English? These orientals start out with a great sour note on the first light, then they provide exotic spice in the middle of the bowl, and then something magical happens in the last third of the bowl. They soften out and become more round and mellow. So curious, so relaxing. Very tasty. Incredibly pleasing. I’m only 39 so I have not had the original that this blend was created to match, but what an excellent smoke, regardless of whether or not it successfully recreates its namesake. It’s good enough to stand as its own achievement.
Sutliff - Crumble Kake English #1 1.5oz
Exceedingly Mellow English
Another win for Sutliff’s Crumble Kake label. On my first try I thought there was not nearly enough oriental leaf or latakia to call this blend a balkan, but whatever you call it this stuff is fantastic. It is one of the mellowest, smoothest, most soothing medium English blends I have ever had. The red virginias from Sutliff are always flavorful - hay, grass, bready, a bit raisiny. A very nice burley gives it structure and ensures a slow, cool burn. Choice latakia gives it definition. And just a bit of oriental leaf is sprinkled in as a zesty condiment. If you don’t taste the orientals right away, smoke more slowly and allow them to develop. SCK English #1 is best enjoyed right at the edge of extinguishment. Right at the edge of needing to relight is when it’s at its most flavorful. That’s where the harmony lives.
Warped - Scarecrow 2oz
I was blown away by the tin note. Somehow they got a very “goopy”, liquory, candycorn aroma without making the tobacco itself goopy, like Sutliff Creme Brûlée (which is another favorite of mine). The topping is excellent, but, as with all aromatics, it evaporates within two minutes. And that’s when you need a superior tobacco base. If your powerful aromatic topping is concealing a bad blend job, once the topping evaporates you’re left with a disappointment. I can’t describe what went wrong with Scarecrow. You can tell there is some quality tobacco here, but the blending is just off. It tastes dirty. Like smoking hand processed boutique tobacco that someone stored on the dirt and didn’t clean before processing. These burleys are incredibly *raw*. And the addition of Red Virginia cavendish was just a bad choice to go with such raw burleys. They both taste like dirt in their own way, so why would you put them together? The only real saving grace was the Virginia, but the other two really drown it out. But the nicotine is a blast to the face. Seriously, I use a ton of nicotine so I have never felt nicotine effects from pipe smoking, but this blend nearly gave me a stroke. The “nic hit” packs a wallop. So if that’s something you’re after, give scarecrow a try. Not for me, though. Shame too because I have three tins of this stuff.
Hearth & Home - Black House 1.75oz
I give this one five stars because it deserves six stars for what happens in the first 3/4 of the bowl, and then it loses a star in the last 1/4. But that still makes it a five star blend. From the smokey, earthy, sour-sweet tin note; to the spicy, raisiny, figgy, smokey, bready, nutty, truly Balkan flavor three quarters of the way through the bowl, this stuff is top notch. Yes, the tin note is blissful. The first charring light is smooth. The medium strength is satisfying, without coating the roof of your mouth with tar and nicotine. The flavor profile is colorful and brilliant. It is everything you want in a balkan. At first I wanted less cavendish and more Virginia, but towards the middle of the bowl everything melded together exactly the way it should. The latakia is a constant presence. Burley gives it structure. The orientals stack up on top of the latakia for that ineffable something that makes oriental tobacco what it is. And the cavendish and Virginia work together as a sort of matrix into which the rest is woven. Blackhouse is absolutely a new favorite. It will be gracing my evening pipes for weeks to come, following the Plumcake of my mornings. Now, the sad part. The last quarter, or maybe the last fifth, of the bowl was not very good. Yes, there was a reminiscence, a memory of the greatness from the first 4/5 of the bowl, but mostly it tasted of freshly doused campfire. Wet, stale woodsmoke. Which is curious because I was using a small bowl, a Peterson system 303, which always smokes very dry. Indeed, even this time it did smoke very dry, but the end of it *tasted* wet. There was not really any moisture left in the bowl but it tasted wet. Like when you toss a bucket of water on a campfire, or when you wake up in your tent to find out it rained all night, that smell when you approach the previous night’s campfire pit to find the coals and ashes soaking wet. That smell of fragrant spicy fire logs having been extinguished by a prolonged rain. So the end of the bowl was a disappointment, but nothing so perfect can ever last. Edit: I find that this stale, wet taste shows up in every balkan or english blend that uses cavendish. When cavendish burns down to the end of the bowl, it tastes wet and nasty. All of my balkans and englishes taste this way at the end when they contain cavendish. So I mostly try to avoid balkans with cavendish. It just seems to ruin everything. It might provide a toasty-ness or a marshmallow creaminess for 3/4 of the bowl, but, in my estimate, it’s not worth it. When that last 1/4 of the bowl is THAT bad, it’s just not worth it.
Mac Baren - Plumcake 3.5oz
A New Favorite Medium Smoke
I was cautiously optimistic about trying this blend because Mac Baren, a Sutliff company, is hit or miss. Their products are usually either really good or not very good at all. Few and far between are their offerings rating at “just okay”. There’s not much middle ground. But I was pleasantly surprised. The tin note does *not* smell like goopy fake medicine-y aromatic topping. It smells of deep, rich, classic tobacco, and a bit of subtle sweetness from the rum. It is a bit moist right out of the tin, so I will definitely lay it out to dry for half an hour before my next bowl. But what a bowl! It’s perfect for waking up with a cup of coffee. No one tobacco is forward, drowning out the others; instead, they all work complementarily to produce a very harmonious chord. At no point could I say, “oh, there’s the Virginia” or “now I taste burley” or even “there’s the latakia”. I could never single out an individual tobacco. For the duration of the bowl, I could taste every one of them at the same time. It very classic and very “American”, as there is not much latakia here. I do love me some very heavy latakia, and at first I wanted more in this blend, but it was so perfectly harmonized that I think adding anything to it or changing the proportions would have tipped the scales and thrown off the balance completely. It is not strong, but not weak either. It is right there in the middle. So if you are looking for a shocker to slap you awake in the morning, this is definitely not the one. But if you want something medium bodied with classic tobacco flavor and the subtlest bit of sweetness, this will be a go-to blend for you. Also, for those thinking about a foray into English or Balkan territory, considering a taste of latakia, you simply must try this. Plumcake is a perfect introduction to that venerable old leaf, an encounter proving that latakia is as versatile as any other tobacco, not something to be relegated to overbearing, overwhelmingly strong blends. Latakia is for everyone, and this Mac Baren offering proves it. My morning pipes will feature Plumcake ever more often in the future. -- Edit: to all these reviewers claiming tongue bite, you must be doing something wrong. I experienced one of the most soothing smokes of my life with this blend. A fantastic room note, flavorful but not heavy smoke, a very cool burn, a slow burn. It was gorgeous. If you’re getting tongue bite, it’s almost always your own fault. Smoke more slowly, smoke cooler, smoke drier. Try laying out the tobacco to evaporate moisture. Try a deeper, wider bowl and a longer stem. Don’t over-pack, and don’t pack too tightly. Apply flame a lot less frequently. Sip-don’t-gulp. And, finally, just relax.
Sutliff - Crumble Kake Virginia Perique 1.5oz
Sillem's - European Blend: Copenhagen 50g
Overwhelmingly GREAT Aroma, No Flavor
So…. I was so excited for this blend. It is hard to find true aromatics with real strength and depth. Try searching Smokinngpipes for an aromatic at the 3 level and you will find a handful. Level 4? Only several. Level 5? I think that number is zero. The aroma of this blend is, by far, the best I have ever found. Just, wow. And the taste you get when you pack the pipe and sip before lighting is also fantastic. Even the first few puffs deserve an award. But all the flavor evaporates in two or three puffs, and then it tastes medicine-y, and the tobaccos taste like a light cigarette, like a Lucky Strike. The room note, again, for the first few puffs, is delightful; but after the topping evaporates, it’s like the room note from a “nice” cigarette, a high grade cigarette. It does not stay lit, requires constant relights. I was so, so very excited for this tin, but the greater the excitement the harder the letdown. Such disappointment.
Cornell & Diehl - Red Virginia Ribbon
Very nice reds, sweet and hay-y, and a bit stronger than the Sutliff RVR. An excellent blending component.
Cornell & Diehl - Super Balkan
A Go-To Balkan
I have had this stuff sitting in my cellar for a year, never tried it. And now I’m kicking myself for all the time I’ve been wasting. I could have been enjoying this gorgeous blend the whole time. There’s nothing wrong with it. Absolutely nothing I can fault. It’s perfect.
Seattle Pipe Club - Plum Pudding Special Reserve 4oz
Okay, so I reviewed this stuff about a year ago and I didn’t like it at all. I gave it another try and now I think it’s excellent. There is really nothing I would change about it. I *might* sprinkle in some more red Virginia, but that’s something I can do at home. The tin note is enticing; the bready, grass-and-hay of the Virginias is addicting; the raininy Perique is enthralling; the smokey, piney Latakia is well-proportioned and adds beautiful complexity. If you like the Northwestern style of VaPers, this one will never disappoint. Stock up. Cellar a tin for a year or more and it only gets better.
Sutliff - John Rolfe Match
Very Excellent Aromatic
This is a jewel in the crown of C&D. A perfect VaBur aromatic. It is difficult to find a real aromatic boasting the strength and depth of John Rolfe Match, especially without latakia or DFK. The Virginias are very forward — sweet, grassy, figgy, bready — while the burleys add depth, structure, and a bit of complexity. The moisture is just right, even straight from the tin or bag. The brandy topping is salient but not overpowering, never cloying, never hiding the beautiful tobaccos present here, and definitely not even a bit “medicinal”, as some aromatics can be. This blend may be a bit tough to keep lit, especially if you sip slowly to get the best enjoyment without the bite, but that is not a hard problem to solve. Use a wide bowl to allow for the evaporation of moisture, or use a system pipe or reverse calabash, anything to allow for a slow burn and to mitigate the collection of too much moisture. To sum up, this is an A1 aromatic: delicious, classic Virginias and Burleys; a room note you would pay to have floating around inside your home; no bite, fuller bodied than most any other sweet aromatic; you just cannot beat it. Perfect as a dessert smoke, a nightcap, an accompaniment to pancakes or sweet coffee, or as an anytime all day smoke. Full marks.
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
Simply the Best
This is hands down one of the best flakes ever. It’s all Virginia, no burleys getting in the way of the figgy, bready, grass &hay Virginia charm. It is so, so nice. Warm, sweet Virginia. Doesn’t get any better. Oh, but if you add just a tiny pinch of Perique???? 10/10 VaPer.
Cornell & Diehl - Autumn Evening
Excellent, EXCELLENT Virginia Aromatic
I have had this stuff sitting around since March and never tried it, and that was time wasted. This is one of the very best Virginia aromatics I’ve ever had — seriously, ever. The smoke is pretty light, definitely not what you’d call full bodied, but it is satisfying if you like maple and Red Virginia leaf. I’d put the strength at the high side of a two, somewhere around 2.6 or even 2.7. It’s smooth, it doesn’t bite, it keeps a light exceptionally well, and it smells HEAVENLY. Seriously, it smells like something you would pay to have floating around in your air, not like a stinky latakia or DFK (yes, both are tasty, but they stink up the house like a burnt skunk). It’s just beautiful. Autumn Evening is indeed perfect for a nightcap in the autumn season, with its warm mapley sweetness, but it does just fine on a summer night, too. If you’re a Virginia fan, you’ll love it. It’s an all-Virginia blend, so there’s no heavy burley getting in the way of that Virginia cut-grass, hay, and baking bread charm. And it doesn’t taste like cigarette factory floor sweepings either, like some of these cheapo aromatics do. The Virginias are actually quite good. Red Virginia is the King of Virginias, as far as I’m concerned, and C&D knows how to cavendish a nice leaf to make it even nicer. I just can’t say enough about this blend. I’ve had a pound of it for five months and never lit it up, so now I’ve got plenty to spare. It’s my new favorite nightcap, going straight into everyday rotation. Use a light-ish pack to get the best burn.
Old German Clay - Markus Fohr Flowing Fountain Black
I had to give this pipe another shot. I do still think it’s cheap and low quality, but there are a few pros to offset the many, many cons. The first thing to take note of is that it does give a very dry smoke. This may be due to the small size of the bowl — its not being able to hold much tobacco — or it may be that the clay absorbs moisture, or both. But the smoke is indeed very dry, which is great. Next, it does hold a light well. Whether yours does or not will depend on your tobacco, your packing method, your smoking speed, etc., but if you use all the conventional techniques — smoke slowly, sip-don’t-gulp, etc. — it will hold a light quite well. Now, onto the cons. It is fragile as hell. It will break. The bowl might even crack on its maiden voyage. The bowl is quite small. The bowl gets very, VERY hot. Finally, the worst thing about this pipe, which is indeed rather catastrophic, is the damage it does to the taste and aroma of very fine tobaccos! It tastes and smells like a kiln, like burnt clay. It stinks. You will still taste your tobacco, of course, but it will taste like a dirty cigarette from a corporate machine factory. It might taste like a relatively fine cigarette, depending on what you pack into the bowl, but we smoke pipes because they smell and taste so much better than cigarettes. In summary, it’s inconvenient because it’s too hot to handle by the bowl and too delicate to handle in the manner of most any other pipe; and it utterly destroys the complex taste and nuanced aroma of your fine tobaccos, which completely defeats the purpose of pipe smoking. They smoked these things in the 1800s and earlier because they were cheap and easily made and readily acquired by even the lowliest of peasants. These days, with pipe smoking having seen an economic reversal — having gone from being a treasured smoking option of the proletariat to becoming ever more expensive and supplanting the cigar as the favorite of the rich capitalists — if you can afford to smoke a pipe, you can afford to smoke a REAL pipe. German Clays are a kitschy curio these days, a quaint reminder of earlier times, and nothing more. As functional tools, they are terrible. Yuck! Leave the “oily, black clay pipe” firmly in the pages of Doyle’s Holmes, in the 1800s, where they belong.
G. L. Pease - Stratford 8oz
Five Star VaPer
This is by far one of the best VaPer blends I have ever tried. I’m so happy I bought the 8oz tin. No cloying tin note, just a fresh, harmonious chord of well aged classic tobaccos. The ratios are spot-on: the red Virginia base is gorgeous; the bright Virginia, about which I was admittedly worried (I like red much more than bright), provides an excellent counterbalance; and the perique is just right, juuust enough to liven it up and give it that figgy, raisiny, fresh baked bread aroma we VaPer lovers cannot do without. It is a bit moist right out of the tin, but that’s not really a problem if you use a large enough pipe and take it slow. It’s full bodied and yet still very mellow and inviting. Finally, the room note is HEAVENLY. I’m smoking this INSIDE my apartment right now, and it smells incredibly pleasant. Smoke around non-pipe-smokers or even non-smokers with no fear. GL Pease has worked their magic yet again. This is going into my full time rotation.
Cornell & Diehl - Riverboat Gambler 2oz
Nutty, Complex… Soapy
This is certainly a very classic-type non-aromatic blend, with burley and cavendish very forward. The Virginias are barely present. Turkish leaf brings in some interesting complexity but it has a soapy finish. If you like burley/American type blends you should find it quite excellent. For me it rang a bit flat or hollow. Better for fall or winter, not much of a summer blend. I have five tins of this stuff, most likely going in the cellar. Perhaps age will liven it up or mellow it out.
Peterson - De Luxe Navy Rolls 50g
Not So Navy, Definitely DeLuxe
So, this is not much of a “navy” type blend, but it very much a deluxe smoke. It is mild, citrusy, fermenty, bready, hay-y, toasty, delicious. The tin note is a thing of beauty, like the comfort food you reach for to tell you everything’s going to be okay. It crumbles into perfectly sized shreds for easy packing. It keeps a light relatively well, which will depend on your pipe and your packing style. The best thing about this blend is that comforting flavors and aromas stay consistent from first spark to last ash. It’s a mellow all-day smoke. Perhaps a bit mild for some, but, as I said, it’s comfort food. Four stars.
Cornell & Diehl - Eight State Burley 2oz
King of Burley Blends
I won’t spoil it for you. This stuff is superb. Su-Perb. The 5 stars must be taken in context. This is a five star review of a burley blend. It is a five-star burley blend. If you like traditional burley blends, you will find it Su-Perb.
Comoy's - Cask No.12 3.5oz
Bland, sour, flavorless.
This stuff is nasty. Imagine a cheapo gas station cigar that got wet and sat at the bottom of a sweaty gym bag for about a week. Sour and muddled and dirty. And I would definitely not call it an “aromatic”. There’s no tin note at all and no real aroma in the bowl, except for the fermenting ammonia smell, and it certainly offers no flavors of caramel or vanilla. Even though the tin was sealed, all the ribbons are stale and “salty”. I was terribly excited for my first Comoy’s experience given their good name, but now that I’ve had this experience I will stop working so hard to get my hands on their navy flakes. What a disappointment. I’ve got half a pound (two tins) of yuck and I don’t know what to do with it because nobody I know enjoys sour, vinegary, ammoniac, bland, stale tobacco.
G. L. Pease - The Virginia Cream 8oz
Excellent VA Blend
So, the first tin of this stuff I opened had a spot of mold in it, about the first 1/8th of the can, but the great folks at SmokingPipes replaced it for me with no hassle. These are truly good people. Now, as for this blend, it is very good. Like the label says, there is something “creamy” about it without being a “custard” or “vanilla cream” aromatic. It is very much a red Virginia blend, and smokes like a Virginia blend and not an aromatic. The warm, bready, figgy creaminess is maintained throughout the experience, enduring from first light to final puff. If you want a bit of creaminess without resorting to a goopy aromatic, this is the stuff for you… and definitely for me.
Sillem's - Red 100g
Very, Very Good
This is a very, very good aromatic. Don’t let the tin note put you off. It is very typically “American”. It does ghost your pipe, however, so be aware. Don’t use it in a pipe you want to use later for more subtle and complex blends. Use your dedicated aro-pipe for this one.
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
AMAZING Tin Note, But…
I am not as impressed with this flake as I would like to have been. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not a 5/5. At first light there is almost a “powdery”, perfumey note to it, something akin to lakeland essence (of which I am most decidedly NOT a fan). But midway into the bowl and beyond it is pure joy. It has that soft, silky, mellow creaminess which only Stokkebye seems to be able to pull off. Towards the end of the bowl I notice subtle notes of honey, figs, and stone fruits. So it’s great. It’s just not THAT great. I have been trying to get my hands on this stuff for a LONG time, and I am definitely pleased (bought 24 ounces, so it would’ve sucked if I’d hated it), but it’s not living up to the hype I created for it in my own head. It’s like a promise not kept. The tin note is heaven, and the middle of the bowl is close to perfection for a navy flake, but I feel underwhelmed by the finish. It lacks follow-through.
Savinelli - 145th Anniversary 2oz
Food of the Gods
I don’t smoke many blends from Savinelli, but, if every one of their blends were as good as this one I would smoke a lot more. The tin note is pure perfection. I cannot even describe what I smelled when I first popped that seal. If you have not experienced it, you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t even conceptualize it. Burley, Virginia, brandy, cocoa, hay, Mana, Soma, Ambrosia… And what’s great is that it actually tastes like what it smells like. This is simply one of the best things I’ve ever had in my pipe.
Solani - Virginia Flake - 633 100g
New Favorite VaPer
This is truly the Champagne of VaPers. I simply cannot think of a better one. It is right up there with the very best I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot. The tin/jar note is awe-inspiring. It smells of hay, citrus, bread dough, and a bit of fig. And there is this wonderful, bubbly, almost “carbonated” note to it, just like a good champagne (hence the honorific moniker, “champagne of Virginias”, perhaps?). The Virginias in this mixture are choice, top shelf quality, and perfectly blended. The perique is exquisitely apportioned for the perfect ratio of spiciness to that round Virginia sweetness. At first light there is a little bit of a bite, but once you get that bowl cherried the bite disappears and is not even a memory -- it’s all smooth sailing from there. I would say that this blend is “perique-forward” but that is not exactly correct. Saying that would mean the perique is more noticeable than the Virginia, which is not the case at all. From start to finish there was never a moment when I could taste more of the perique than the Virginia or vice versa. Both are very present, all the time, and neither one drowns out the other. They meld together in perfect balance to create a flawless VaPer experience, both notes complementing and enhancing the other to form a harmonious chord. Always smooth, never harsh; full bodied and yet still subtle, it burns down to a fine white ash, leaving no moisture in the bowl. It does gurgle a bit, but show me a tobacco that doesn’t and I’ll kiss your @$$. Put quite simply, there are VaPers which I would rate as just as good as this one, but none that I would rate as better. If you want different flavors in your VaPer (red Virginia vs golden, mature vs stoved, etc) there are a number of very good blends out there for that sort of thing, but Solani Virginia Flake is the very best of Pure Virginia style VaPers. Five stars, fully recommended.
Missouri Meerschaum - Country Gentleman Straight
Inexpensive = Cheap
My shank cracked in two places after only a handful of uses. I bought it direct from MM, so no question of inauthenticity or “fake”. I was smoking mostly aromatics in the pipe but, even so, I wasn’t smoking hot. There should be no reason for the shank to crack, but it did, in two places along the shank. Both cracks are proximal to the bowl (closer to the bowl than the bit), and one of them looks catastrophic - it goes all the way through to the bore and is more than half the length of the shank. I will be trying a resin woodfiller for repair, but am not entirely hopeful of being able to save the pipe. Okay, yes, these are inexpensive items that we are not supposed to have to worry too much about, but when they break down right away and we have to buy more then they become expensive and the only selling point is lost. When cobs turn expensive and become cost sinks, they become pointless. What’s more is that *nobody* wants a new cob every time. Breaking in a new cob is pain. It tastes bad. It takes up a lot of time. It wastes what would otherwise have been very flavorful tobacco. You keep smoking a bad-tasting pipe because you know that eventually it will taste good once it’s broken in, but when it breaks before it’s really even broken in and you have to start over, it’s wasted time and taste and tobacco and money. I’m just not sure Missouri Meerschaum is for me. Yes, they are the go-to corncob brand, but if their pipes are just going to break every time then it’s not worth it, even if they are inexpensive. Save your pennies and buy a real pipe.
Cornell & Diehl - Dark Burley
Very, Very Good
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys burleys. Pairs very, very well with Red and Bright Virginias, as well as lighter burleys.
Sutliff - 707 Sweet Virginia
I use these for blending. When I’m blending an aromatic these are my go-to VA. When I’m blending an American style I use Virginia Slices. Both are very good.
Cornell & Diehl - Nutty Irishman
Once again, fantastic aroma but zero flavor.
Chacom - #2 50g
Great aroma, no flavor at all
Sutliff - Maple Street 1.5oz
Another overhyped aromatic, surprise surprise. I need either aromatic flavor or tobacco flavor. I don’t even need both, just one! And this blend provides neither.
Peter Stokkebye - PS41 Cube Cut
There is a bit more Virginia than I expected but, nonetheless, still a very good burley. A very good *American style* burley. Pure tobacco flavor.
Mac Baren - Navy Flake 16oz
This is my third favorite navy flake. Almost as good as Newminster.
Mac Baren - HH Burley Flake 16oz
This is an interesting little number from HH. Not a pigeonholed one-note burley show. Unexpectedly complex and reasonably rich for its medium body. A pleasant surprise, although I should not be surprised that Mac Baren is putting out such quality goods.
Cult - Militia 50g
Another Aromatic Letdown
Fantastic aroma, zero flavor. I just don’t get it. Sure, you want your baccy to smell good. That’s great. I love it. But don’t you also need flavor? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can have both! Who wants to smoke something with no taste? Who wants a mouthful of flavorless steam? Where’s the benefit? This stuff is just expensive air freshener. Costly potpourri.
Cornell & Diehl - King Cake 2oz
Once again, an aromatic with zero flavor. Smells AMAZING! Tastes like nothing. Not much aromatic flavor and almost no tobacco flavor either. I need one or the other; pick one and give it to me.
Cornell & Diehl - Autumn Evening
Not very good. Doesn’t taste anything like the aroma. Very disappointing. The aroma is very, VERY nice, but there is no flavor at all. No aromatic flavor and no tobacco flavor either. It’s great as an air freshener but it does nothing for my pipe.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 16oz
King of Latakia Flakes
If you like latakia flakes, this is THE blend for you. There is simply no other. Far, far superior to Pirate Kake, which latter is a joke. PK taste like a pine forest fire in your mouth and up your nose. HH LF is heaven. Perfect ratio of latakia to other nice things that round out the piney latakia. Can’t beat it.
Cornell & Diehl - Long Cut Perique
I get whole leaf perique straight from St. James Parish, and C&D’s longcut perique is every bit as good. The fermenty, mushroomy, earthy aroma is unlike anything else. The spice is strong but it’s also a bit sweet. Keep this around to add kick to any of your favorite blends. Buy two pounds.
Peterson - De Luxe Navy Rolls 50g
This is the quintessential VaPer blend. It burns a bit hot but what a flavor! Look up VaPer in the piper’s dictionary and you will find a picture of this stuff.
Sutliff - Red Virginia Ribbon
King of Virginia Ribbons
This stuff is simply excellent. You will not find a better red Virginia ribbon in bulk. This is the definition of Red Virginia tobacco. Sweet, complex, grassy, bready, figgy, even a bit of a brandy note. It’s not full bodied, only a 2/5, but it is incredible stuff. You simply CANNOT go wrong by adding a pound of this stuff to your cellar. It’s great on its own, better in a blend, and it ages with grace. I cannot wait to see what it’s like in 5-10 years.
Peter Stokkebye - PS701 Virginia
It’s Good Enough
As a blending component it does just fine. A nice hay-and-grass Virginia without much of a tin note at all, but by itself it falls flat and leaves much to be desired. I use it in my blends but only as one of several components.
Peter Stokkebye - PS402 Luxury Twist Flake
Like Newminster 400, but…
This seems to be a knockoff of Newminster 400 Superior Navy Flake. And ya know what? Newminster is indeed superior. Don’t get me wrong, LTF is good too, just not as good as Newminster. You will find the tin notes very similar, and the quality of the Virginia blend is even similar, but Newminster is fuller bodied and just better overall.
Cornell & Diehl - White Burley
Very Good Burley
This is a tamer burley, but still deep and complex. Not nearly as good as Sutliff J4 Burley, but a close third runner-up. If your blends call for a bright and distinguished burley but not a show stealer, this is the one you want. More bread and brandy than chocolate and cocoa. If you want chocolate burley go with Lane LW/AB (light without a bite) or Hearth & Home Classic Burley Kake.
Sutliff - J4 - Burley
Best Burley Ribbon!
This stuff smells like brandy, cocoa, raisins, figs, and baking bread. Oh. My. God. The tin note is INTOXICATING! I cannot get enough of it. And here’s the kicker: it tastes a lot like what it smells like. If you like very complex bright burleys, you MUST add a few ounces or a pound or two to your cellar. Your life is incomplete with this.
Cornell & Diehl - Izmir Turkish
This stuff is a great condiment or blending component. A little flat on its own, but adds a very nice depth and dimension to any blend. Really good stuff for home blending. Mix a pinch in with some red Virginia ribbon and some bright flake, then sprinkle on some burley and DFK with a little perique? Then you’ve got yourself one helluva bowl.
Rattray's - 40 Virginia 100g
An Enduring Classic
Rattray’s 40th Anniversary Virginia is a classic Va/Bur which I hope will never go out of production. It is everything you want from a Virginia tobacco: sweetgrass and hay, figs, raisins, baking bread, satisfying body. The burley adds depth and notes of cocoa. It runs a bit hot if you’re careful so sip very slowly. Burns down to a very clean, fine ash. Put a few tins in your cellar and your future will be brighter.
Peterson - 3 P's Peterson's Perfect Plug 50g
Good but not great
This is a really good plug. It’s not Great but it’s really good. The aroma is one of a kind. Very difficult to light. Do not rub it out too fine or you will find a puddle in your pipe and most definitely burn your tongue. I live the aroma but the plug is difficult to work with.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 3.5oz
If you like latakia but don’t want a pine forest burning in your mouth, this is the flake for you. Full of smokey latakia goodness, but with other nice things rounding it out. Much, much better than Pirate Kake. If you had a bad experience with PK but still want to enjoy some excellent latakia, give this one a try. It will not disappoint.
Cornell & Diehl - Pirate Kake 16oz
I like latakia as a condiment, even sometimes as a chief component — take HH Latakia Flake for example — but this stuff is just disgusting. It’s almost nothing except latakia. It’s like setting a pine forest on fire inside your mouth. There is just no reason for it. Put a pinch in a very large bowl of mature Virginia and you’ll have something nice, but by itself it’s just nasty. And this stuff will haunt your pipes for eternity. I smoked one bowl out of one of my nicer pipes and now it’s a latakia pipe forever because the nastiness of pirate kake will never be exorcized. The pirates have commandeered and taken up residence in my pipe.
Cornell & Diehl - Crooner 2oz
If you like Haunted Bookshop you will probably enjoy Crooner. This blend includes the most deertongue I have seen in any popular blend so far. If you are not a fan of deertongue you will not like this blend one bit.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 16oz
This blend is everything it’s cracked up to be. Absolutely beautiful tin note, smoke and barbecue and sugar, deep and dark and rich and complex. ODF is flavorful from the very first light to the last spec of fine ash. If you have any affinity for dark fired Kentucky, you must try this. On par with any other premium dark fired. Five Stars
Capstan - Ready Rubbed Blue 1.75oz
So hyped up is this particular offering that I was expecting wizardry in bowl, but what I found was nothing of the sort. Yes, it is a very straightforward Virginia… and that’s all. A one-note affair. So if you’re looking for a purist’s Virginia, this might hit the spot. Very, very heavy on the hay-and-grass, but the baking bread one comes to expect from Virginias is patently absent. It is a bit harsh at the top of the bowl, so sip slowly or she’ll bite. By about mid-bowl, however, it does mellow out quite a bit, becoming remarkably smooth. The finish is slightly bitter, but it does burn down to a very fine ash with almost no dottle. It’s probably a straight-Virginia lover’s dream, but, even so, I have had some better Virginias. It’s good but it does not warrant almost $17 for a tiny tin of the stuff. Try it at least once so you can see what Tolkien was raving about, but it will most likely not become your daily puff.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Rum Flake 50g
There is no way to fault this blend. Enthralling tin note. Perfect moisture right out of the tin (if you don’t mind a little gurgle, and I don’t). Immensely satisfying while still incredibly cool-burning. No bite or burn whatsoever. It is indeed an aro, but one that smokes like a non-aro. Neither the Virginia nor the burley takes center stage, but, true to the advertising on the packaging, they blend harmoniously like a seductive and well-choreographed dance. It doesn’t get much closer to perfect than this. I just bought ten more tins. Can’t wait till they get bulk back in stock.
Peterson - Irish Dew 40g
I don’t get much of the whiskey or fruits supposed to be forward in this blend — neither in the tin nor in the pipe — but it is definitely a nice, *very smooth* burley/Virginia blend. Most blends of this sort are very burley-forward with barely any Virginia present, but Peterson has done an excellent job of balancing the two. A bit mild for a medium blend, but still quite satisfying. The baking bread and hay of the virginias, along with the toasty cocoa of the burley conspire to form something delightfully relaxing. Smoked in a Peterson system bent apple spigot, this is a combo not easily overlooked. Four stars.
Peterson - University Flake 50g
University Flake will always be one of my favorite tins. It does burn my palette, almost every time, but I still have to say it’s usually worth it. I wish I could buy it in bulk. Smoking Pipes gets one thing wrong in their description, however: Peterson says UF is a 4/5 strength (back of the tin), but SmokingPipes says it’s a 3/5. And I think I have to agree with Peterson.
Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
Go-To Navy Flake
This is my daily navy flake. I bought a few ounces and then a pound and then three more. So sweet and creamy, but not like an aromatic. Everything you want in a Virginia tobacco, but with visions of honeyed phyllo dough dancing through your head. Fantastic room note, no bite, smokes cool and dry. I cannot recommend this enough.
Sutliff - Creme Brulee
Best Aro Ever
Not as “sweet” as other reviewers have it — doesn’t actually taste sweet, just smells sweet — but excellent nonetheless. Virginias are barely present, with the Cavs and Burleys taking center stage. Hardly any nicotine, if that’s a concern for you (it’s not for me), a very light and pleasant room note. It smells like a bakery, not like smoke. If you like sweet smelling aromatics, this is definitely one to try. Edit: No, wait, it actually does taste sweet. At first I didn’t taste anything, as per usual with aromatics. Halfway through the bowl, however, I was hit with a wallop of crème brûlée flavor. Although very mild in strength and low on Virginia content, the flavor is indeed quite strong. I see another bowl in my immediate future. Second Edit: this has become my go-to aromatic. I bought six pounds to never be without it. Man, is this stuff good. This is everything an aromatic should be.
Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop
I was hesitant to review this tobacco, as I was not sure what I thought about it at first, but I have decided that I like it. It is most flavorful about halfway through a bowl, when notes of chestnut, treenuts, butter, and leather all mingle to form something subtly remarkable. “Subtle” is an interesting descriptor here as I did not expect anything subtle to come out of this blend. It smells pleasant and interesting enough from the jar or tin or bag, but the first few puffs are nothing to write home about and forecast a disappointing session. But, lo and behold, a pleasing butteriness spreads across the tongue, rounding out the nuttiness of the burley, while sprinkling of the peppery perique livens things up. If you like burleys and perique, this blend is a likely winner. I am cellaring about half a pound for a few years to see what develops.
Daughters & Ryan - Three Sails
Smooth VA Flavor
I actually like this blend quite a bit. It is smooth, easy to keep lit, and has all the mellow breadyness we love about Virginias. Not very figgy, but very bready. One downside is that due to the cut it is quite dry, which means a faster burn and a hotter burn. But, then again, that makes it a perfect option for a quick smoke. It is also quite ideal for balancing out some of the wetter blends. A necessary staple for any well-stocked tobacco cellar. 3.5 stars. I recommend it.
Mac Baren - Dark Twist 3.5oz
This tin had apparently become unsealed somehow, or at least had leaked, because the rolls are all very dry, resulting in a hot burn and flavorless smoke. This is incredibly disappointing, given the great reviews I see here and the quality I have come to know from Mac Baren. I might try again, but, once bitten… Real shame.
Old German Clay - Markus Fohr Flowing Fountain Black
Get What You Pay For
Yes, this pipe is very inexpensive and we should expect to get what we pay for, but I guess I expected more. The bowl is not round and it is of an inconsistent thickness; the stem is not straight but bent, and almost kinked in several places; it is not of solid texture but extremely spongey and porous.