Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop 8oz
An old favorite
A big burley bomb with a very nice, plummy perique punch. What this blend lacks in complexity it makes up for in consistenty and buttery smoothness. It's a blend a return to again and again. The virginias are very much in the background on this one, with the burley and perique being the real stars. If that combo sounds appealing, this is it.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Dark Flake Aromatic
Stout and Sweet!
This is one of those rare aromatics where the casing and tobaccos are both equally present and equally strong. The dark fired Malawi is a smoky delight, and the tonquin and licorice toppings are flavorful and indulgent. This blend is finicky, though; I recommend rubbing it out very finely and giving ample drying time for the best results. Great blend for someone who wants stout tobacco flavor and a lot of sweetness to go with it.
Cult - Blood Red Moon 50g
Probably the best cherry aro on the market
The title says it all. This is probably the best cherry aro on the market. It's like smoking a cherry-chocolate cake. The tobacco notes are very much in the background, but if you got a sweet tooth, then this will certainly fit the bill. The casings taste delicious and the room note is wonderful. Great aro!
G. L. Pease - Stratford 2oz
Balanced traditional VaPer
This is an excellent and very underrated traditional VaPer. The bready sweetness of the virginias and peppery and figgy notes of the perique balance each other very well. A great all-day VaPer and a very traditional one at that!
G. L. Pease - Windjammer 2oz
This is a wonderful blend! The rum is pungent and vibrant and plays well with the perique. The burley and cavendish smooth out any rough edges and produce a smoke with some body. The virginias are rustic and sweet. This is a great sipper of a blend!
G. L. Pease - Cairo 2oz
G.L. Pease has always had an adventurous spirit with their blends, and that same spirit is imbued in their Virginia and Oriental blend, "Cairo." Blending Virginias and Orientals together well can be a tricky business, but Cairo is a rather good attempt at such a union. The tin notes hit the nostrils with peppery spice and grassy sweetness. The tobacco itself is a typical ribbon cut with appropriate levels of moisture. Packing this tobacco is simple, and I found myself not having to relight it too often, though it can burn slightly hot if pushed recklessly. But this is no blend to enjoy recklessly. At first, this blend reminded me other VaPers in Pease's lineup, particularly their "Stratford" blend. Like that blend, there are lot of bright and red Virginias and touches of Perique. What sets it apart are, naturally enough, the Orientals. In addition to the traditional bright and slightly citrusy lemon flavors of the Virginias and the peppery notes of the Perique, the Orientals add additional smokiness and a more seasoned sweetness; the taste of cloves are omnipresent, but cinnamon and nuts also leave their imprint on the palate. When all things work in unison, and by and large they do, this proves to be a very enjoyable and zesty blend with some punch. The first two-thirds of the bowl in particular shine, but I find the last third tends to give way to a more ashy and sometimes overwhelmingly peppery profile. Not always, but often enough. Despite the flaws, Cairo is a blend very much worth trying, especially those who relish a spicy VaPer and are looking for a unique twist to an old favorite.
Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
A classic standby for a reason:
C&D's Briar Fox is a burley and virginia forward blend that has a very storied history, being the favorite (and sometimes, not-so-favorite) of many pipe smokers then and now. I may be a bit out of bounds to suggest this, but for me at least, Briar Fox can act as a sort of test to see exactly what an individual smoker prefers in their smoke, largely because BF is so decidedly old-fashioned in its approach. The tin note immediately lets you know the burley is the star of the show, with earthy and slightly nutty notes hitting the nose immediately. The crumble cake is firm but easily pliable, and as such is enjoyable to prepare any way the user sees fit. C&D states that BF starts with a strong tobacco taste, with more complex notes being apparent mid-bowl and spicier notes on the back end. This largely holds true. There are no toppings here to muddle the tobacco flavor, and the virginias largely complement the burleys by adding a brightness to the mix, but never upstaging the burleys. More nutty flavors do emerge mid-bowl, but the promised spiciness at the end is touch-and-go, but it is there (mostly). I suggested earlier that this blend can really reveal what an individual smoker prefers. What I mean by that is that for those who prefer complex blends with a multitude of flavors playing harmoniously with another will likely find BF to be boring. But for those who prefer simplicity in their blends, where individual components are not upstaged or interdependent on a multitude of leaves and methods, and instead each component has its time to shine and gracefully bows out at the right time, then this blend is likely to satisfy. And for those who prefer their tobacco old-fashioned, which is to say, they want their tobacco to taste like tobacco, then BF will likely be seeing an old friend again. For me, BF scratched an itch, and it stays in rotation because of that. Are there better or more complex burley-forward blends out there? Certainly. But few are as consistent, easy to enjoy, and readily available as this old fox.