Mac Baren - Royal Twist 3.5oz
Another great limited coin cut from MacBaren
I always find these coins, particularly the thickness employed by MacBaren, to stuff and pack very well into most bowls. I may break this particular blend up next time though, because, for the first time among these MacBaren blends, I did find it quite hard to keep lit. This is the soul reason I've given this blend 4 1/2 stars and not a full 5. Otherwise, this blend was every bit as impressive as I expected it to be from my experience with the other MacBaren limited blends. The room note was a pleasant mix of sweet grass and baked goods and the flavor profile was, indeed, warm bread and sweet grass, but with steak sauce and ketchup coming through from the dark fired Kentucky and a touch of nutmeg. I also found it to have a slight hint of bread and butter pickles. That smell comes through for me in the background of the tin note as well, along with grass, hay, steak sauce and ketchup, respectively. There's just enough perique to give a nice kick to the dark fireds and provide a nice compliment on the retrohale as well. Among the other limited blends from MacBaren, I'd say this is probably my least favorite, but, if my rating is any indication, that's just more of a testament to how great of a job MacBaren does with these blends overall.
Cornell & Diehl - Sun Bear Black Locust 2oz
Sweet, floral, slightly darker
I found this blend to be actually very close to the flavor profile, room note, and even the overall smoking experience of the original Sun Bear (see my review for that blend for reference), with one slight exception. It seems to have a bit of a darker fruitiness to both the flavor profile and the room note. Both blends smoke well. They both seem to burn quite cool, with minimal relights, and keep a decent flavor profile throughout the bowl. I have to say, I was a bit underwhelmed by the lack in difference between the two blends, but I'm giving this blend the same rating as it's predecessor, because that doesn't change that they're still both very good blends regardless.
Stands & Pouches - Savinelli Cloth 1 Pipe Pouch Dark Blue
A handy little pouch
This is a handy little pouch for very little money. It's constructed quite well, for what it is, as I would expect from a company like Savinelli. It contains a liner for added protection, which has two pockets for pipe cleaners, pipe tools, ect. It's compact, but still has enough room inside for a small amount of tobacco. This pouch is, indeed, handy to just grab and stuff a pipe and some accessories in on your way out the door.
Stands & Pouches - Woodmere 6 Pipe Stand Teak
A great stand for the money
This is great little pipe stand. It's aesthetically pleasing and for the price range it was at, it was well worth it. Holds most average sized pipes well and has a felt bottom that helps against wobble while also protecting your furniture.
Stands & Pouches - Chrome Pipe Rest
Great little stands
These stands are great to just keep around the house for an extra pipe or even better for carrying with you, away from home, to have a place to rest your pipe anywhere. They're solid and fold easily to fit in your pocket or bag. I have quite a few myself and am always glad I do. They're super handy and convenient and I always do my best to bring one wherever I travel.
Ashtrays - Glass Round 2 Pipe Ashtray
A solid pipe ashtray
This ashtray is very solid. Solid enough to survive multiple falls from most end tables, unless you happen to have concrete floors or something. It has a decent sized ash reservoir and a sturdy cork knocker. It's clear glass construction makes it easy to visually inspect while cleaning and it came at a decent price as well.
Lighters - Zippo Black Matte Pipe Lighter w/ Pipe Emblem
An American classic
What can I say. It's a Zippo. It's an American classic for a reason. It's simple, reliable, easy to fill and operate, and for a little over 20 bucks, you can't go wrong, if you ask me.
Lighters - Xikar Pipeline Soft-Flame Lighter Black and Rose Plated
An great lighter for the price
This is a great lighter at this price point for a hinged style lighter. I also like the subdued look of the lighter. I've used it consistently for around a year now and it's worked well so far and is still very solid and smooth in operation. As far as I'm concerned, that's all it needs to do and there's no good reason for me to spend more on a lighter as long as it keeps doing it.
Cornell & Diehl - Sun Bear 2oz
Sweet, floral, and fruity
This blend has an airiness that very much reminds me of a fine Scandinavian blend, but with sweetness from the honey and a well rounded spiciness from the izmir and basma leaf. I also get undertones of grain and dark fruit from the orientals that I find quite similar to something like raisin bran. It's all smoothed out nicely by the splash of silver tequila. I found the room note to be bready, much like a good Scandinavian, floral, and to have a strong presence that reminds me of the smells that the walls and floors of an old 19th century brick and mortar building can give off sometimes. Overall, I found it to be very pleasing. The tin note is very breakfast cereal like. Raisin bran and honey bunches of oats. This is one that I find goes well on a mild early fall day.
Tabac De La Semois - Le Petit Robin 100g
A fine Burley
The flavor and retrohale of this blend are excellent. It's fine shag cut is perfectly suited for a slow even burn to allow those aspects to be fully enjoyed. As with all Tabac Manil blends, it's dry, but doesn't burn too fast or hot, as long as you pace yourself. The tin note is lots of hay. The room note has an airiness to it. Almost as if I were smoking it on a patio. The burleys used here have much of the traditional grainy/ nutty flavors often found in burleys, however, there is a pepperiness, no doubt from whatever mystery leaf Mr. Manil has used here for the forward element of this blend, which is quite reminiscent of the essence of perique in a VaPer, for example. Whatever it is, it works for me. A fine Burley indeed.
G. L. Pease - Spark Plug 2oz
An English plug with layers
I'm usually not the biggest fan of plugs. Not because there aren't great plug blends out there, but just because I'm lazy when it comes to preparing my tobacco. Lol This is one of the few I don't mind on occasion though. The layers in this blend are so pronounced. Not just visually in the plug itself, but also in the flavor profile. You can really distinctly detect each tobacco and pull out their individual nuances throughout the smoke. Those nuances themselves are deep, heavy, smoky, creamy, oily, goodness. There's those great notes of creosote found in many fine Englishes and I was able to pull out some hints of walnut as well. The room note is probably not going to please too many nonsmokers, as you might imagine, with big billowing clouds of rich woody and creosotey, if that's a word... lol, smoke. But, I like the tin note, as I find it quite fitting for a blend named Spark Plug, because, to me, it reminds me, very much, of the oily auto shops I used to work in as a teenager. This is one blend that I think the plug cut definitely lends well too.
Rattray's - Marlin Flake 100g
This is a very good VaPer that has a great sweetness thanks to the black cavendish. There's the traditional VaPer flavors of hay, grass, and pepper, but there's also a bit of honey that comes through and presents an overall flavor of fig newtons. I've found if you puff around enough, there's also a slight bock or dunkel beer flavor that comes through, not unlike what I've been able to find in other quality VaPer / Scandinavian blends. The tin note is hay, honey, and figs. The room note is fine. Nothing too harsh, but nothing too special. Burns cool, stays lit, and requires only about ten to fifteen minutes of drying time. On the whole, it's not the best of it's kind for me, but it's certainly a good blend to have around.
Peterson - Elizabethan Mixture 50g
Like so many others, I've been smoking this blend and all the other Dunhill/ Peterson blends since long before Peterson had any part in them. And, like the many who've tried the blends since, I have to agree with the majority of them that say the blends haven't changed and that's definitely a good thing. Elizabethan is one of the great Dunhill blends that survived under the Peterson moniker. Probably, my second favorite VaPer behind Escudo Navy DeLuxe. It's a typical Dunhill ribbon, so it's cut is uniform and it packs well. I've always found that about ten minutes of drying time helps it smoke the best. The tin note, to me, has always been hay and raisins with a hint of crushed sweet peas. The virginias in this blend are very good, of course, but where it really shines is in the perique, or rather the extremely precise use of it. There's just enough to give you that wonderful pepperiness and tingle on the retrohale, without overpowering those excellent virginias. The flavors that come through for me are stewed prunes, lemon grass, pepper, and coffee beans. It all makes for quite a satisfying smoke.
Solani - Aged Burley Flake - 656 50g
The third pillar of legendary burleys
Among burleys, I would rate this one number three. And, number two of the ones you can currently buy, when they're available. The dark burleys provide a rich coffee and dark chocolate flavor, while the lighter burleys bring flavors of roasted nuts that light burleys are well known for. The tin note is damp wood, fig, and molasses, while the room note comes through with a bit of that coffee, an earthy essence, and a note that I personally find quite common among good burleys that's something like freshly washed laundry and breakfast cereal, if that makes sense. Lol It may require a relight or two, but I find it to be quite easy to smoke. Cool and steady burning, given proper breaking up and drying time. Definitely worth getting your hands on, if you can.
Davidoff - Flake Medallions 50g
A great danish blend
I found this danish blend, or as I refer to it, Scandinavian blend, because the blending styles seem to be quite similar throughout Scandinavia, not just Denmark or Norway, ect., to do it's job very well as such a blend and provide much of that great airy, grassy, bready, countryside smoking experience I've come to expect from a Scandinavian, while burning cool and providing an even flavor profile through the majority of the bowl. It's not quite to the level of Reiner's Long Golden Flake or even Erinmore Flake for me, but it certainly holds it's own.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
A fantastic English in it's own right
Just looking at the beautiful colors of Presbyterian upon opening the tin, you can tell it is something unique among English blends. With a great smooth and creamy umami taste on the palate that has a briny smoked meatiness and an almost oily finish which almost reminds me of pork sausage. For this reason, it's a favorite for me to enjoy with a nice islay whisky. Among so many other great Englishes, it's definitely fantastic in it's own right.
Cornell & Diehl - Gentleman Caller 8oz
An old man's car
This blend always reminds me of the smell of the interior leather of an old man's car or, perhaps, an old wallet with traces of musk and vanilla bean cologne on it. That essence also seems to come through in the flavor of this blend and there's something about both of those characteristics that I find very satisfying. The tobaccos themselves are quite decent on their own, although the deer tongue can be a bit harsh, but I think the flavor and room note it provides are well worth it. Not everyone will like this blend, to be sure, but for those looking for something a little different or interesting, I'd definitely say give this one a try.
Samuel Gawith - Lakeland Dark 50g
Out of all of the Gawith blends and all other lakelands I've tried, I'd have to say this is probably the best one. I say probably, because it did take me some time to settle on that conclusion, but I'm quite confident it, "probably", is. Lol At any rate, it has that great traditional Gawith base flavor profile and base aroma that, to me, is almost like warm wood. Even almost like the interior of a sauna at times. Add to that it has, "probably", the best use of Lakeland essence in any blend in my experience and it's a winner in my book. I find it's great on the back porch of a northern Michigan cottage during first light on a fall morning.
Savinelli - Brunello Flake 100g
Strawberry fruit roll-up
From the beautiful uniform flakes and tin note you're greeted with upon opening, to the amazing flavor profile you're met with upon first light, this is an outstanding and truly unique Virginia blend. The nostalgic aroma and flavor of strawberry fruit roll-ups for the first quarter of the bowl is unmistakable and quite welcome to me. The flavor then turns to a profile that's almost like toast with butter and strawberry jam, which I find myself equally pleased with. My favorite among the Savinelli blends.
Cobblestone - Outdoors Camping 1.75oz
This is another great example of an aromatic done well. Not one of the very best, but still a job well done. And, it certainly does it's job as an aro. It has a wonderful toasted marshmallow flavor and room note throughout and, if kept at a good cadence, won't get too hot or bite too much. And, it does go quite well with a hot cocoa by the campfire, so I'd say mission accomplished, Cobblestone.
Butera - Pelican 2oz
A rare blend, a fine blend
Thus far, I've only done reviews on tobaccos I've deemed five star worthy, because, up until this point, I wanted to make sure that the truly great ones had my stamp of approval, so to speak. Well, I've finally decided to do one with a slightly lower rating, simply because of its notoriety. So, this blend is still really good, don't get me wrong. I'd say it might even be top 10 worthy, as far as Englishes go. That being said, it doesn't really stand up to the hype and the hassle, in my opinion. This stuff was harder to get, for me, than Penzance, so, naturally, I was expecting it to really be special. Unfortunately, if you're asking me, there are quite a few Englishes that are better. As I've said, it's still pretty darn good. It just ain't that good. First tin experiences can be tricky though, so I've cellared some away to revisit later and hopefully my mind will be changed when I do. I've also ordered some Kingfisher by Butera that should be arriving soon and so I'm also hoping I'll be more impressed with that as well.
A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
I have to agree with other reviewers here. This is the best VaPer I've had the pleasure of trying myself. The smoking mechanics are all great, but the flavor profile, for me, is what knocks it out of the park. It has all of the great grass and hay characteristics you'd expect from a good VaPer and I find it almost borders on cinnamon toast at times. But, there's also this unique sort of essence that I can't quite put my finger on. It's almost like the heather essence I get from Penzance, but not quite... Whatever it is, it's great. Anyway, that's all I got for this one. It's amazing and you should try it too.
Bengal Slices - Bengal Slices 1.75oz
An old favorite
This old English lives up to it's legendary status, to be sure. I've never quite been able to decide on exactly where I'd rank it amongst all other Englishes, but it'd definitely be toward the top of the list. I will say that I have seen some compare it to Plum Pudding from Seattle Pipe Club, but I would actually rank it at least a tick above that particular blend. The use of orientals in this blend is just right, in my opinion, and there is a sweetness that comes through from the black cavendish, throughout the smoke, that doesn't restrain the latakia too much and melds the blend together quite nicely. It's certainly stood the test of time, if you ask me, and is well worth having a nice stock of for the cellar.
Seattle Pipe Club - Plum Pudding Bourbon Barrel Aged 2oz
Best barrel aged
This is the greatest barrel aged blend I've smoked since Frog Morton's Cellar. And, I say that with a great deal of certainty, because I still have some FMC, tucked away within my own cellar, that I do return to from time to time. In fact, I find this blend comes very close to FMC's quality and characteristics. They're both rich and smoky, while having a very smooth and savory finish, thanks to their masterful barrel aging processes. They both pack well, stay lit well (given proper drying time), smoke cool, and hold a good flavor profile to the bottom of the bowl. If you liked Frog Morton's Cellar or are just looking for a great English with a bit of a smooth edge to it, this is definitely one you should try.
Rattray's - Bagpiper's Dream 100g
Top liqueur aromatic
There are few aromatics that get it right and this is certainly one of them. Aside from the fact that I can barely get my hand in the can, lol, everything else about this aromatic is an absolute delight. The cognac topping is exquisitely done. Not too heavy, not too light. Just right. But, of course, the blend wouldn't stand out anyway if it weren't for the great use of top grade tobaccos. There are some very good Virginia tobaccos in this blend, along with black Cavendish, obviously, and it shows. It burns well when you give it proper drying time and it does well at what an aromatic is supposed to do well at. It provides good flavors and they come through nicely and throughout the entire bowl with a room note that's just as pleasant as the taste. One of my top 5 aros.
Reiner - Blend No. 71 100g
Next level greatness
I did a glowing review previously on a very similar tobacco, in my opinion, to this one. That tobacco would be Erinmore Flake. In fact, this tobacco is nearly identical in all of it's smoking characteristics to Erinmore Flake, it just does it all a little better. So, in short, if you want to know what this tobacco is like, go read that review, then imagine this tobacco being slightly better in every way to that. Lol It really is that good. Wish I could give it 5 1/2 stars, because this is a step above in it's class for me.
Mac Baren - Burley: London Blend 3.5oz
Besides Edgeworth Sliced, I'd have to say this is the best Burley blend I've ever smoked. It packs easy, smokes cool and evenly with good flavor all the way through the bowl, and this is a great tasting Burley blend with a wonderfully smooth cocoa taste throughout and hints of nuttiness and maybe even a little toasted marshmallow here and there. The room note is also very pleasant for a burley blend, in my experience. I have to say, Mac Baren sure knows how to hit big with their special editions.
Esoterica - Penzance 8oz
The infamous and elusive legend
When I think of Penzance, I think in very much the same vein as I do Balkan Sobranie. They're both amazing tobaccos in their own right. And, if you just gotta have them in your cellar, then more power to you. But, there are tobaccos out there that are very, very close in smoking quality and that are much, much easier to obtain. For instance, I absolutely feel that something like a Quiet Nights by G.L. Pease comes quite close to Penzance. They do, however, have their differences, of course. G.L. Pease seems to have a slightly bolder and more separated flavor profile, while Penzance's flavors are a bit more subdued, yet melded together a bit more. The overall flavors and smoking mechanics are quite similar, however, with the exception of a slight bergamot and heather flavor that comes through on the back end of the smoke, throughout the first quarter to one third of a bowl of Penzance, but, after that, the two smoke nearly identically, in my experience. Hope anyone who's having trouble obtaining this blend and is curious as to whether it's actually worth the hassle, finds this review helpful.
Mac Baren - Stockton 100g
A fitting special edition
This is such great stuff. What more could I say that hasn't been said already. It's bright, yet smoky, bready and grassy, nuanced and robust. Leaves one wanting for more, to be sure, but it's well worth saving for a special occasion anyway, because it's just that great.
Balkan Sobranie - Balkan Sobranie 50g
Just get Black House
This is, indeed, an excellent balkan. Very nuanced, cool and even burning to the bottom of the bowl, but unless you just have to see for yourself or just have to have it for your collection, you probably shouldn't waste your time. Not when Hearth & Home makes an equally good and much more available blend. And I truly mean that. Especially, if it means spending outrageous sums of money. Sure, maybe the initial experience won't be the same, but, overall, the smoking experience should be just as enjoyable and with a lot less waiting and frustration.
Daughters & Ryan - London Dock 50g
Another great one gone
I'm greatly disappointed that this amazing aromatic will, once again, be missing from availability. Daughters & Ryan did a superb job of recreating it's original flavors, room note, and overall smoking characteristics. I very much hope to see it return again some day soon, specifically in this form. It's just too great of a blend to let go of and, in my opinion, one of the best aromatics of all time.
Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
The use of burleys and virginias in this blend provide a warm and inviting, yet still bright and refreshing quality that I've found in some other blends here and there. However, this blends provides a level of that quality that's hard to match, in my opinion. It's welcoming. Warm and bready. Even buttery and with an airiness, yet complexity, that almost reminds me of walking in a european market, past an old bakery. A wonderful smoking experience, if you enjoy virginia based blends. Perfect for spring mornings with breakfast rolls and a nice french or german roast coffee.
Samuel Gawith - 1792 Flake 50g
Cool Summer Countryside
Samuel Gawith shows a restraint in this blend with it's dark fireds that lets just enough of the virginias through in the flavor profile to really make this blend feel like a social gathering among old friends rather than a guided field trip of sorts. The cool brightness of the virginias is just enough to compliment the dark fired's smoky brisket flavor and mellow it out to an overall profile and smoking experience that I could only liken to sitting by the bbq, on an early summer night, in the countryside. For that very quality alone, it's one of the best in my book.
G. L. Pease - Quiet Nights 8oz
Top 3 English
This truly full bodied english is an awesome display of renowned master blender G.L. Pease's excellent blending abilities. The deepness and complexity of this blend are hard to match, to say the least. It's smooth, rich, relaxing, and above all, interesting in it's qualities. I would certainly venture to say it's one of the top three english blends you can buy.