Sutliff - 526 - Old Professor
I like it. I turn to this blend when I want a little bit of a plain, uncomplicated smoke. I'd classify it as a bit more of a balkan blend than a typical english, but that's not a problem. What is a problem is that every now and then I pick up some kind of soapy notes in the smoke. I thought at first that it my pipe had been ghosted with something, but I switched to a new pipe and it was still there. It isn't a huge deal, and it is a quality blend on the whole, but I think it does hold it back.
Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop 2oz
Dust, Cobwebs and creaking floorboards
In the tin, are pecan-like ribbons of burley tobacco, coupled with lighter virginias, but no sign of distinctively dark perique. An aroma like raisins, cream and cinnamon, like a cinnabon. Tastes nutty and sweet. Despite the apparent absence of perique in the tin, the signature umami flavor is present to spice it up I rarely reach for any C&D blend because it is almost always low quality tobacco, barely above a drug store blend and sometimes worse. I’ve purchased this particular blend about three times, wrestling with my thoughts about it. The truth is that this blend is greater than the sum of its parts. You get the distinct feeling like you are walking through and abandoned bookstore. The books covered in dust, untouched and cobwebs strewn about the place. There is a distinct cigarettiness about this tobacco that reminds you of how poor the tobacco is, but that plays into the overall sensation of walking through this abandoned building. Spitting is as much a part of this smoke as tasting it and makes you feel almost as dirty and poor as the creaking wooden floorboards beneath your feet. In the end there is something comforting about it. It almost feels like I’m communing with my dead grandparents whose home was scented with the fragrance of cigarettes. You’re not quite sure if ghosts are really in this deadened place, but you stay with it because you can feel the warm memory of what used to be. In the end I think I’ll make more than one visit back.
BriarWorks - Unsweet Tea 2oz
A very interesting virginia based blend
Got notes of a dark, toasty bread flavor, hay, lemon, raspberry. Some sweetness, but it is not very strong. Did it taste like unsweet tea? Not incredibly so, but after relaxing a bit the components produced an overall flavor resembling an unsweetened lipton tea with lemon. Though the leaf itself was on the dry side, it smoked surprisingly well out of the jar. It did taste a little harsh, but I think that can be remedied by rehydrating it a little. It has a tendency to smoke on the hot side, but if you are careful with your pace I don’t think it will be a problem. It is not as on the mark as say Oxford Blend, but overall, I’d say it is a very interesting virginia based blend and one that I may be keeping in rotation if I can get it to smoke right.
Hearth & Home - WhiteKnight 1.75oz
Surprised at first, but disappointed
I've ordered three different tins of this and so far each of them have yielded different results. The first tin surprised me with how rich and creamy the orientals were, which complemented the virginias and the latakia well. I was blown away by it and ordered more. As my second and third tins arrived I realized something was different about them. It just tasted like any other balkan. I still had a tin of the original tobacco, which I smoked again to see if I was crazy, but I wasn't. All the distinctiveness was lost in the following two tins. The orientals were there, sure, but they seemed to lack the character of the tin that won me over. It actually tasted like lower quality tobacco. I really don't know what happened, but there are other Balkan blends out their that I enjoy, and I don't think I'll be soon ordering this again.
Sutliff - Crumble Kake Red Virginia 1.5oz
This one came as quite a surprise to me. Notes of both orange and apple cider. I'd normally only expect that kind of flavor from an aromatic. I'd easily recommend as an autumn blend, and hell, it might just be one of my new favorites.
Seattle Pipe Club - Hood Canal 2oz
My Favorite Balkan
This and Plum Pudding are both billed as Balkan Blends. In my cursory research, the term Balkan, as applied to pipe tobacco is just a very nebulous term with almost nothing distinguishing it from a regular English Blend except for the taste (the blend type itself being named after Balkan Balkan Sobranie). All that to say, Plum Pudding never struck me as a true Balkan. Plum Pudding is too singular and unique to be confined to that category. By contrast, Hood Canal definitely does fit the bill in this regard. I compared Hood Canal against some other Balkans from Hearth and Home, Peterson, Gawith and Mac Baren. For my money, Hood Canal is the clear winner. It is exceptionally balanced and is an excellent smoke for any time of day. All of the different tobaccos are well balanced with each other, not being either too forward, or absent. This blend needs to be more appreciated.
Seattle Pipe Club - Deception Pass 2oz
It is a Ca/Per
I'd hardly call this a Va/Per. Despite what the description says about condiment doses of Cavendish, this is very Cavendish forward, making it more of a Ca/Per. I can suss out the Virginia, but the Cavendish is so strong it is relegated to the background, and I couldn't detect any trace of the orientals. The blend actually reminds me of brown sugar the most. If you're looking for a typical Va/Per, this is not it. I think your mileage will vary depending on how you like cavendish, which in my case is not very much.
Seattle Pipe Club - Mississippi River Rum Barrel Aged 2oz
I tried this as well as the original Mississippi River. Between the two I'd have to say that I prefer this one. I didn't pick up any notes of oak like the description said, but I was able to faintly taste the rum in the background. In my experience smoking this one, I found it to be rather unbalanced. I mostly tasted the oriental tobacco, with the other ingredients rarely reaching some kind of equilibrium with it. The Virginia and Perique were mostly absent, and the Latakia was there only after much sussing out. I can't say what it is people enjoy about it, but for my money I won't be buying either blend again.
Peterson - Early Morning Pipe 50g
I hadn't tried this in over a year since I started smoking. I was looking to try it again since I was looking for a light English blend. Unfortunately I think this is on the side of too light. It has a creamy mouthfeel which I enjoy, but I think it leans too heavily on the oriental tobacco. Not for me.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
I can't say that I enjoyed this one. It is definitely forward on the dark Kentucky with some notes of rum or whiskey. Ultimately though I thought it was too sweet and burned way too hot. Instead of throwing it out I mixed some red Virginia ribbon and dark burley. The addition didn't overwhelm the original flavors, but it did add a nice woodsy taste to it which I enjoyed a lot more. Ultimately though I don't think I will be buying it again.