Oliva - Connecticut Reserve Petit Corona
Good Short Smoke
As with many things, one's opinion here will come down to needs and expectations. For a mild smoke in a smaller format, the Oliva Connecticut Petit Corona is a winner. Unlike another reviewer, I found the flavor to be perfectly fine, with a solid basic tobacco body accentuated by a mild nuttiness and a bit of pepper to complete the profile. It's not a large cigar, nor a maduro flavor bomb, but it is a satisfying smoke in a smaller format that will not require a big time commitment. Construction and burn are good, though the draw leans toward tight. (Don't try to punch it; guillotine all the way.) Four stars for being a good smoke overall, and for occupying its niche in fine form. No hesitation to buy again, especially for those times when I want a ~20-minute cigar experience with no fuss. (PS: As a small cigar, this one seems especially susceptible to changes in humidity.)
CAO - Eileen's Dream 50g
Eileen's Dream is a tasty blend. Imagine the classic Lane RLP-6, but sweetened with Irish cream and chocolate. It maintains this flavor throughout the smoke, but it can run hot if you're not careful. But if you keep a good cadence, there is plenty here to enjoy.
Mac Baren - HH Balkan Blend 3.5oz
A Gentle English
HH Balkan is a beautifully blended, smooth English, but the overall intensity of the Latakia is less than in other English blends. In my book, this is a good thing, giving an English option that is both top-quality and easygoing. It's a bit like the difference between Scotch neat and Scotch-and-soda: Both are good, and you might prefer one over the other depending on circumstances. Between HH Balkan, Kramer's Father Dempsey, and Bengal Slices, my English needs are more than met. (Update: I like this so much that I ordered a pound to cellar.)
Cornell & Diehl - Three Friars
One to Grow On?
Update: This wasn't coming into its own, so I blended it 50/50 with C&D Bright Virginia for a nice Va with a bit of burley body and pleasant trace of sweetness from the subtle casing. ----------- I'll come back to this, because 3F seems like a blend that could grow on you. The perique and burley are in wonderful balance with each other, though overall I might like more Virginia. Still, this is nice as a straightforward, naturally presented burley blend, and is something I will go to before, say, Haunted Bookshop (I'm not that much of a burley fanatic.) Variety is a good thing, and while I'm not ready to rave about it, Three Friars deserves a few revisits before final judgement.
Peterson - Royal Yacht 50g
Strength without character. One star because it's tobacco. Half a star for the cool label.
Peter Stokkebye - PS400 Luxury Navy Flake
There's not much I can add here. It's a textbook, perfectly constructed navy that is delicious and smokes well. An incredible value. Can't go wrong.
Mac Baren - Royal Twist 3.5oz
The Virginia We Need
A delicious blend with wonderful flavor development. The casing is simple and subtle, like a wisp of sweet cream. This flavor marries with pastry-like Virginia on the draw, making for a smooth, elegant entry. From there, an excellent body unfolds, with toasty Virginias and flavors of nuttiness and grain. The DFK is clearly boosting the flavor here but is not forward - a mark of a well-considered blend. Perique steps up in the finish to put an exclamation point on the smoke, with a perfect level of peppery snap on the retrohale. The burn is good but, not surprisingly, requires some care to keep temps within bounds. In short, this is not your ordinary VaPer; it is a deft blend that showcases the Mac Baren sense of proportion. I would love to see this one move into regular production. PS: I've tried a few Mac Baren blends, including Mixture Scottish, Mixture Modern Danish, Original Choice, HH Old Dark Fired, and the MB-produced Newminster Danish Gold. For me, the Royal Twist is a close #2 behind Scottish and would certainly be a regular in my cellar.
Cornell & Diehl - Speakeasy Navy Blend 2oz
A Solid Option
A very good Navy flake, stout and nicely constructed. It tastes good, burns well, and delivers a good shot of nicotine. There are many navy flakes to try, but Speakeasy is a perennial good bet.
Newminster - No.48 Danish Gold
Balanced Flavor, Nice Burn
A great blend. The tobaccos are balanced and complementary, and the casing is tasty and reserved. Subtle raisin, plum, and vanilla caramel at the top of the bowl, with cocoa and burley edging forward later on. Excellent even burn, stays lit and is reasonably forgiving on cadence. I put this in the same general category as Mac Baren Danish and Peterson's Connoisseur's Choice, and I give it the edge on burn characteristics, overall steadiness of flavor, and bulk buy value.
Holger Danske - Mango and Vanilla 50g
I will give this tobacco two plaudits up front. First, it is exactly as advertised. Second, it is some of the best-burning tobacco I've encountered, with the caveat that, with a hefty proportion of Virginia, you can easily over-draw it into burning hot. But once it was lit, it kept going with no trouble. It almost smokes itself. I bought this to mix a little more flavor into Orlik Golden Sliced, and the experiment was a success. Instead of diluting the Danske, a 50/50 blend brought out the flavor in a way that was more than the sum of its parts. Just be aware that this concoction wants to run away from you, so you need to maintain a careful cadence. If you think you'd like this tobacco, you most probably will. It's a blend that manages to be exactly what it sets out to be.
Mac Baren - Danish Mixture Modern 3.5oz
As noted, Danish Mixture is lighter, brighter, and a bit sweeter than Scottish Blend. Danish features notably less of the burley body, which shifts the blend to the Virginia end of the spectrum. There is a hint of spice in the retrohale. By comparison, Newminster No. 48 Danish Gold is at least as flavorful, doesn't run quite as hot, and is available with bulk pricing. I went back and forth between the two for a month before giving the edge to Newminster.
Orlik - Golden Sliced 100g
OGS is a pristine rendition of Virginia. It's exceedingly clean and approachable, with naturally sweet hay, raisin and tea flavors with lemony brightness at the edges. A wonderful smoke.
Mac Baren - Mixture: Scottish Blend 3.5oz
A Stately Aromatic
Mac Baren Scottish is a stately aromatic tobacco that uses quality leaf and a light hand on the casing. The solid body is of bread, oats, and a stony groundedness from the burley. The sweetness is present but controlled, with toasty honey flavors. It can smoke hot, and in my experience is very responsive to tamping. Before relighting, give it a puff or two and it might well spring back to life. As you learn it, though, it becomes a steady source of enjoyment. I've bumped the rating to 5 stars, and this is now my favorite blend.
Cornell & Diehl - Visions of Celephaïs 2oz
Bold and Idiosyncratic
Yes, grape. But also woody earthiness and a wonderful body of cracked wheat and pumpernickel. No bite, burns very well. Certainly weird, but unabashedly flavorful. (Smoked in a cob.)
Cornell & Diehl - Granby Station
Decent But Generic
I could not pick out vanilla and applejack, only a light and variable sweetness. Maybe it was just this run, but Granby Station didn't seem to have a clear sense of identity.
Peterson - Connoisseur's Choice 50g
Refined and Fruity
A wonderful blend that expertly balances fruity flavors, custard notes and natural tobacco toastiness. It has a bright tang up front that moves gracefully into the rest of the palate. Room note includes toasted marshmallow. Smokes well, smooth, well behaved.
Lane Limited - RLP-6
Great Burn, Good Flavor
RLP-6 tastes good, smells great, and burns exceptionally well. With a bit more smoking experience, I've notched it back from 4.5 to 4 stars on flavor, which is nice but fairly simple overall. To me, it's straightforward burley and cocoa. The burn characteristics remain excellent.
G. L. Pease - Windjammer 2oz
There is much to like about this blend. I get stewed prunes and funky Roquefort cheese up front, with that tangy note later settling into rye bread, sour cherry, and even creamed spinach. Along with being a fascinating tobacco, Windjammer also is an education in smoking technique, with flavors being quite responsive to temperature. Wish it came in an 8oz tin.
Blog's Commented on
A Dedication to Tradition: Peterson Deluxe Classics
- ► @Dan: Thanks, and I agree with your preference for acrylic stems. Slightly less than half of my collection are cob pipes, and each of those features an acrylic Forever Stem. About half of my briars are acrylic, too. I think I prefer a fishtail to the P-lip, but it's not a deal breaker for me. Both the 150 and B10 are available in Peterson's Irish Harp line with acrylic, but I don't think a vulcanite P-lip would stop me from purchasing the 408 smooth out of this Deluxe Classic line (which would likely be the most I've paid for a pipe).
Italy, July, 2021: A Pipe Travelogue
- ► A fantastic behind-the-scenes. Thank you for taking the time to write this up. It's great to see the relationships behind the business. (Bravo to Castello for doing everything they could under tough circumstances.)I'm interested to hear about a "shape revival" with the Savinelli models. You mention the 404, which I recently bought from you in the Oscar Lucite finish. That's a great smoker, and being somewhat on the trim side, is an excellent pouch pipe. A perfect candidate for a refresh.Continued safe travels.