G. L. Pease - Haddo's Delight 2oz
Chemical Burn Deluxe - Too Much Rum - Too Much Perique
Perique & whatever else was too abundant in this mixture & the flavor of any aroma other than vinegar & cocoa had become unnoticeable… maybe the Rum putrefied in the aging process... what could have happened remains a mystery to me. There is so much Perique & I guess that, combined with the Rum flavoring fried my palate & turned me into a fire-breathing dragon. This tobacco finally started easing up on my palate only during the fourth quarter... too late! Who was Haddo anyway? Throughout my ordeal I was able to discover something of his character... he was a real boozer who liked Perique. Because of this & a few other GLP blends (I also thought Westminster was awful) I tend to stay away from them. I recently purchased a tin of Blairgowrie & if that one doesn't work, the Prince of Pease & I will be parting ways. Honestly, after ten years of aging, imagine how disappointed I was... expecting a much better smoke. Just goes to show that aging might even detract from the quality of some blends. I think extra Perique gave it additional strength but at the cost of a chile pepper effect & the Rum made it burn like a forest fire in June. It has a good burning quality about it. Perique & vinegar is dominant initially but subsides a little after all the tobaccos meld into a halfway decent smoking experience. When the bakky melds after about one third is burned off is when this blend improves a little & treats you with that blissful Vitamin N. That was the best thing about this blend... the strength! This concoction provides plenty of Vitamin N... something I seek out while shopping for pipe tobacco & I respect those who rated this highly as it appears to be quite a popular blend. Finally, I didn't like it too much then & after twelve years of aging, don't like it too much now... maybe even less. Not too bad but shall never purchase another. Maybe another 10 years of age?
Seattle Pipe Club - Plum Pudding Special Reserve 4oz
Not Bad For A Balkan Style Blend... Enjoyed This One
A little better than the original Plum Pudding. A better blend with better tobaccos. It is equal to or better than most English/Balkan blends but lacks the sweetness of a "noted" Balkan blend but still enjoyable. The Cyprian Latakia shines but doesn't overwhelm this blend. All the varietals get a chance to make their presence known & meld together well at the halfway point. Join me at the dinner table for some dessert. Plenty of flavor plus some Vitamin N punch. Can't go wrong with this purchase if you prefer a good Balkan.
Rattray's - Stirling Flake 50g
Vary Tasty & Enjoyable VA/Bur... One Of The Best
As for VA/Burs, it doesn't get much better than this. Packs a good Vitamin N punch & that's what makes a blend. Strength saves $$ because you don't have to smoke as much and this provides both taste & flavor for more satisfaction. Great blend & I have cellared the few tins I was able to obtain. All good blends sell out quickly and this is one of them. Superb, IMHO, of course.
Solani - Virginia Flake - 633 100g
A Little Too Wimpy In Vitamin N But Good Flavor
I wasn't all that impressed with this mixture due to the lack of strength... a rather wimpy VA/Per blend. If you want a good, strong Va/Per... get some Salty Dogs & you'll know what Va/Pers are supposed to be. I won't repeat another expenditure on this blend. However, I've discovered that many pipers prefer these wimpy blends. Taste doesn't mean so much to me as does strength plus flavor. I like my money's worth & this didn't provide & is rather costly.
Esoterica - Penzance 2oz
Lacking In Strength & Vitamin N... Very Wimpy
Sampled from a 2008 vintage tin. The aroma is of a smoky Latakia presence combined with Oriental essence. I did not detect any flavoring from the sniff. I don't know but the majority of reviewers say it contains an extremely mild flavoring...I'll just go along with the majority on that one. The flakes were packed upright & sideways through the entire length of the tin. They are tender flake strips that crumble more than seperate but the end result provides easy packing and a fantastic burn rate. The main differences I found between this and a quality English/ Balkan mixture is: Penzance isn't as sweet or as flavorful & doesn't pack much of a Vitamin N punch. However, I can see why so many pipers are attracted to this particular blend... because most pipers seem to prefer the milder blends. However, it is very comfortable on the palate because it is almost like stoking your pipe with plain air. It seemed to have lost its flavor & became rather bland after about 1/3 of the bowl is smoked down. To my way of thinking, it's like drinking decaffeinated coffee. What's the use? Since I don't inhale, I prefer a stronger blend & Penzance was wimpy, wimpy, wimpy. My first & last tin. There's much better to be had on a regular basis that is more satisfying. Try some Levant, Arango BS, HH Balkan, Crystal Palace, Blairgowrie, Trafalgar or blend your own Balkan by adding more Oriental to HH Syrian or just start from scratch with a good Cyprian leaf, Oriental Yenidje, Red VA, SG VA flake, Black Cavendish, & a touch of Perique & Burley for a much better result. It's easy & far more rewarding to simply blend your own... try it & see for yourself & save $$!
Captain Earle's - Ten Russians 2oz
I Disagree That It's Like The BSOM - It's More Like Nightcap
This is a Lat Bomb... more like Nightcap but not quite as strong. It is not even close to the BSOM. I liked it fairly well due to the strength & taste of the relatively sweet Cyprian Latakia which overwhelms this mixture. Not something I'd want to smoke on a daily basis but I enjoy a bowlful on occasion. Mostly before beddy-bye. Mix a little Syrian into the blend & you'd be close to a Nightcap mixture. However, it's a fairly good replacement for Nightcap as is.
Dunhill - Three Year Matured 50g
Look At This & It's A Dunhill Tobacco
A foul tasting "aromatic" blend. Rated #2 in sales on this website? Get real... we all know better. The taste of this tobacco is awful. It's near top of the list for sales purposes only or it would have been sold out long ago. Not many like this blend including me. Not all Dunhill blends were a winner & this one is certainly a loser. Even the older Murray's blend tasted fowl. Give me a break & come down to earth. Some like the flavor but I abhorred it!
Balkan Sasieni - Balkan Sasieni 50g
Close But No Cigar... Ordinary Clone
Sampled from a fresh tin, aired out and dried a little. Tin aroma... typical Balkan smell... Latakia & Orientals. Aroma reminds one of the Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture but that's where the similarity ends. I'm using The Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture for comparison purposes since it is unquestionably the hallmark of Balkan blends. This stuff has a good burn rate. After a light & relight to let my pipe cool, I'm getting a slightly bitter taste. With Balkan Sobranie, I got an abundance of sweet, creamy smoke from each draw after the first few puffs. This blend was also a little wimpy in nicotine. The Balkan Sobranie OM was perfect in strength for any smoker... medium to strong. I toked until there was nothing but ashes left & I failed to get that depth of tasty flavors from the aforementioned king of Balkans. Toward the end of the bowl, I was beginning to get a minute amount of the sweet taste & flavors with only a slight semblance of the BSOM. It was fleeting, however and only lasted a short while. I found this to remain a little more bitter than sweet & it took too long for any flavor to develop. This blend did not propel me to immediately reach for a second bowl. I found it rather bland near the end, whereas BSOM flavor remained to the end & kept me coming back for more of that elusive, palatable flavor that I deemed exceptional. I also preferred PS Balkan Supreme over this mixture. It had more flavor & sweetness nearing mid bowl. This will be my first & last tin although I'm glad to see that many pipers like it quite well. I will however, keep searching for that Balkan Sobranie flavor in a blend & have started blending my own Balkan which is much better than 95% of Balkans on the market today. Want a good Balkan? Then blend your own... it's the only way to go if you truly love a Balkan mixture & it is relatively simple to accomplish.
Rattray's - Marlin Flake 100g
Not What It Used To Be - Not Bad If You Like Rum & Pepper.
I once tried an aged tin of MF back in 2010. It was superb. Now, the newer stuff seems to contain some sort of an additive that I didn't notice in the older tins. The older stuff wasn't sticky when being rubbed out. The newer MF in the yellow tins seemed to have an additive that I feel negated the flavor of the older. I could tell when rubbing it out… seemed more sticky than the original that had the beige labels. It creates more chemical burn than the original... maybe too much Acadian Perique & Rum. I think the change came about the same time K & K switched to the yellow label. Five stars for the original and only around three stars for today's rummy, peppery blend... give or take a few percent, IMHO, of course. I'm staying with Doblone d' Oro, Escudo & Salty Dogs. I don't smoke Marlin Flake any more. It sets my palate ablaze. Something has gone awry with this mixture compared to "days of old."
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
Set My Palate Ablaze & I Became A Fire-Breathing Dragon
How this stuff can possibly be rated number one in sales on this website is beyond me! After reading all the reviews on Presbyterian Mixture I felt compelled to see for myself what some of the "hype" was about since the majority of users gave it at least four stars... is it because they're Presbyterian & felt compelled? Still, there were objectional reviews as well. I finally broke down & purchased a tin & concur with those who claimed it had some bite... it set my palate ablaze. Whether it contains Latakia or some specially treated Virginia concoction is academic. Taste, flavor?... the tin I received had none. My tin created severe chemical burn. Just a flavorless burning of something like fallen leaves from a Red Oak tree & didn't even taste like tobacco of any kind. I found very few redeeming or alluring qualities in this mixture & found it to be lacking in flavor, smoke volume, aroma & it was really wimpy in the Vitamin N department. I found the room note to be objectionable... similar to a pile of burning leaves. It smoked the same from start to finish & had an extremely fast burning rate. A full bowl didn't last very long & my Cavicchi felt raped. What I'm unable to fathom is that almost half the ratings received four to five stars. You wonder how this can possibly happen but here we are at the most divisive opinions of any blend that's been reviewed. Did I receive a tin of "road apple" or cow patty mixed with dried leaves instead of tobacco? This is the most God-awful tobacco I've ever stoked into a pipe bowl. I wouldn't even consider giving this away for fear of reprisal. Obviously, the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin didn't know what tobacco was supposed to taste like. Rather than send it back as a faulty mixture, I simply trashed it but regret not sending it back to be analyzed. Never again will I trust ratings. I'll simply stick to my favorites! It rates zero IMHO but the lowest rating available is 1/2 star & so, I was forced to settle on that.
Mac Baren - HH Balkan Blend 1.75oz
A Very Good Cyprian Balkan Blend
OK... it is only about the halfway point that you'll finally experience that tasty interaction process. It just seems to take a while for this flavor to finally develop but when it does, Balkan lovers can expect that alluring & elusive flavor that we expect from a good Balkan. From my experience thus far, it would seem that this blend would be better served up in a deeper bowl... at least 1 3/8 inches or more... similar to what we might use to smoke a Virginia blend. FWIW, I liked this better than the HH Vintage Syrian Balkan because HH VS contained an abundance of Syrian Latakia that sort of overwhelmed the Orientals but then again, they are two different animals... one heavy Syrian & the other Cyprian in moderation.
Tabac Manil - Reserve du Patron 3.5oz
A Fairly Strong Belgian Burley With A Unique Flavor
Reserve du Patron, Pure Semois came very dry in the brick. It appears that this is standard practice for all Tabak Manil blends... at least that was the way with the Le Petite Robin I sampled. Le Petite Robin had a slight, floral, tea-like aroma & provided a semi-sweet floral flavor whereas Reserve du Patron's brick aroma was cigarish but doesn't burn so much with a cigar-like flavor in the bowl... It possesses a relatively strong, earthy, Burley flavor that is obviously different than a Kentucky/Burley grown in specific regions of the US. After about a third had burned down, the strength became akin to a medium to strong cigar with mainly a cool, earthy flavor/taste. This is not a blend but rather a solid brick of pure Belgian Burley with a unique flavor.
Mac Baren - Plumcake 3.5oz
Good Flavor But Chemical Burn Is Unavoidable
I popped the lid and noticed that unmistakable aroma of Latakia & the heavy rum topping. I didn't notice the "good enough to eat" aroma that others have... just a flavored aromatic with a pleasant tin note and a smoky aroma that is not overwhelming. I sampled this blend in my large, Peterson 9S pipe and it was quite mild with a sweet taste. The Latakia was... feint, or not too pronounced, but noticeable. I felt, more than tasted the rum topping...must have been the 151 proof. In that respect, this stuff could have been called Rumcake as it bit me regardless of the manner in which it was finessed. Plumcake has a really good taste & aroma but I never was able to cope with more than a few bowls due to the harshness & chemical burn (bite.) I suppose I could have been smoking it improperly for I see many had no problems with it. I tried it & failed but such is the way of tobacco blends & pipers having varying degrees of sensitivity with taste receptors & proclivity to tongue bite.
Peterson - Sweet Killarney 50g
Not All That Sweet But Has A Fairly Good Aroma
First sampled in 2009. I've since started the pipe hobby again. I found this blend to be similar to Solani 131 Red Label in tin aroma & similar in taste, strength, etc., but not a total clone. This will bite like wildfire if one isn't careful to take slow, small sips while indulging. Not overly searing to the palate in that respect for an aromatic & does provide a slight sweet flavor. One would expect more sweetness from the name & tin note. It leaves no goopy dottle in the bowl but it will leave a ghost in there for the next couple of rounds. I don't smoke many aromatics these days & this review is based only on the merits of an aromatic blend. It didn't propel me into purchasing another tin but it isn't totally awful. Could use a bit of "refinement."
Peterson - Sunset Breeze 50g
A Fairly Decent Flavor But A Tad Harsh
Reviewed in 2011... Back in 2009 when I was a relatively newbie piper, this and Peterson's Luxury Blend were the first two samples of vacuum sealed tins that I tried. This stuff tasted pretty good as I recall but was a bit rough on my palate. The tin aroma smells good enough to eat... if it only smoked like that. The nicotine content of this mix was a bit lacking for me and it smoked a tad harsh. Not bad for an aromatic but just didn't ring my bell. I've since moved to "topped" rather than heavily cased tobaccos... they always seem to burn cooler. I didn't get the tobacco flavor out of this that I was expecting. Not too bad, however. My rating is based only on the merits of an aromatic blend.
Peterson - Sherlock Holmes 50g
Fairly Tasty With A Unique Flavor
Back in 2009, I received a sample of this along with some Old Dublin from the good folks at the Peterson Pipe Factory in Dublin, Ireland. I had sent them a pipe to repair & the samples were complimentary. I enjoyed the Old Dublin really well and liked the unique flavoring of this one fairly well. The pouch aroma sort of smelled like a tea blend. The moisture content was perfect for immediate stoking. I can see why many find this blend appealing. It's a very mild & smooth smoke. I recently started smoking Tabac Manil's Le Petite Robin a few months back and noted a slight aroma & flavor comparison to Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, since I found Le Petite Robin to be extremely enjoyable but found Sherlock a bit lacking in strength, will only allow three & one half stars.
Peterson - University Flake 50g
Fairly Strong With A Tasty Plum Flavor
This review is based on UF back when it was still packaged in square tins. This is a very good VA/Bur blend & I see why it has a large following. It is very enjoyable with a fruity plum note which was quite noticeable initially but fades into the background as more of the tobacco burns off... but still lightly resides in the background. Initially, I didn't care for VA/Burs that much but have grown more accustomed to these types of blends with Stonehaven being one of my favorites. UF will be placed in my rotation & sampled from time to time. It has plenty of strength... almost as much as Irish Flake & you'll still get that Vitamin N blast in short order. I rub & dry this out to an almost crispy state, the same as Irish flake for a better burn rate & they both burn fairly slowly & last a good while especially in a large bowl. They both require picking & tamping & a few relights. It's not bad at all for a VA/Bur blend and the plum flavoring was lightly applied & added an extra dimension that gave it a smoother edge & a sweeter tobacco flavor. I bought the square tin back in 2010 but prefer the newer round, screw-top tins which facilitates freshness for a longer period of time.
Peterson - Hyde Park 50g
Better Than Anticipated & Fairly Strong
The Burley is the predominant player in this mixture but is tamed down somewhat by the Virginia & a little by the flavor additive. Then, slightly more of a detectable flavor from the rum/maple sugar infusion about 1/3 down into the bowl. I favor this blend because it is not overly cased & only slightly topped with a flavoring that helped to make this strong tobacco taste & smell better & one will notice the nicotine blast early on. This is another fine offering of Peterson blends. I would purchase this one again but have many other blends cellared for sampling before I replenish this one. If you like good, fairly strong VA/Burs with a mild, slightly sweet, aromatic topping that is barely noticeable, you might be interested in giving this one a try. For me, this one turned out better than anticipated & the strength will get your head right. This probably won't be an all day smoke for everyone but one that can be smoked on a daily basis or relaxing on a day off, an after supper treat or before beddy-bye. I smoke it any time of the day or night as I'm used to strong blends & prefer them over the milder, wimpy stuff.
Samuel Gawith - Best Brown Flake 50g
Not Too Bad But No Bell Ringer For Me
My sample required picking, tamping & relighting throughout the smoke session & my pipe had to be left unsmoked during several cool-down intervals which served two purposes... less bite & a cooler smoke. Now I have time to prepare a strong cup of Irish Breakfast Tea before resuming. This is a slow burning tobacco and one deep bowlful lasts for at least forty-five minutes to an hour & strangely enough, doesn't leave a very strong tobacco odor in the room. That tells me there's very little Vitamin N in the mix... a rather wimpy concoction. Unfortunately, I like so many other types/blends of tobaccos & will be setting this one aside and doubtful I'll ever revisit it. It was a gift from a friend & thought I'd give it a go. However, I love Samuel Gawith's FVF, especially after a few years of age... one of my all time favorites but there's nothing better on the planet than C & D's Small Batch, Carolina Red Flake which is the best tasting & strongest VA I've ever smoked. I found BBF to be lacking in strength with little flavor. However, we're all of differing DNA with varying taste receptors & many prefer milder blends. I just couldn't get past the harsh, biting nature of Best Brown Flake. I'm glad many find this exceptional but it will not remain in my rotation.
Ashton - Guilty Pleasure 50g
Very Mild Smoke & My First & Last Tin
This review is based on my notes from 2009. Tin aroma...very nice. Moisture content was just about right out of the tin. Taste...flat & bland. Where is that great smelling topping taste? Where is that very pleasant room note that an aromatic should emit? Where is the sweet Virginia and burley tobacco taste & strength? Smoked a large bowl and still felt the need for some Vitamin N. Didn't get much out of this stuff. The only other quality attributes this blend possesses, other than a pleasant tin aroma, is mildness & minimal tongue bite. I don't think quality tobacco was used in blending & feel the topping was lacking in flavor. Ashton would be well advised to improve on this blend. This tobacco is being judged on the basis of an aromatic blend only. That being said, GP IMHO, is worthy of no more than two & one half stars.
Five Brothers - Five Brothers 1.25oz
A Fairly Strong, Straight Kentucky Burley
If someone wants to bum a cigarette from you, always have one of these ready rolls handy. Better yet, have some Picayune ready rolls on hand. Not likely they'll come back for another but then again, they might want to tough it out if they have a comfortable chair to sit down in. This is some strong, straight Burley & is good to stoke in a pipe or RYO. I rather like very strong tobaccos on occasion as well as a strong cigar since I don't inhale anything. I like to keep my lungs free of "asphalt." This doesn't have any flavor to offer other than just plain old Burley tobacco taste which is sufficient if you're just after a Vitamin N blast. This is simply a no frills, straight up Kentucky Burley that only takes a few puffs to get you going but when you get there, you may not remember where you came from. Excellent blend for what it is with a good price tag. I liked it & sometimes use it to top off a wimpy blend. Warning: Smoke only on a full stomach if you're not used to strong stuff like Five Brothers or you might be headed to Barf City to toss your cookies.
Ashton - Artisan's Blend 50g
A Very Good English Blend w/Some Kick
This review is based on the Syrian Latakia variety sampled in 2010 & will update should I opt to try the Cyprian variety. After lighting up this Latakia blend for the first time I thought... not as bad as I was expecting & I loved the salty flavor I tasted occasionally from the Orientals... probably the Macedonian variety, & started enjoying the flavor really well and thought this reached its peak when the salty flavor came through but it was very slight, subtle & the taste only came through at varying times when it hit that certain taste receptor on the tongue. There is much to like about this blend & I found it similar to other Latakia blends but much better than many others that I've tried since then. AB is a good English with some Vitamin N punch that I will probably sample once again later on down the road. I've since tried many other Latakia blends including the aged Gallaher version of the Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture & ever since have been on an odyssey in hopes of acquiring that Holy Grail flavor once again in a ten dollar tin. Good luck, right?
Astley's - No. 44 Dark Virginia Flake 50g
Lacking Strength & Burns A Little Hot
Based on a tin w/6 years of age... not much of a tin note. About halfway through the bowl is when you can expect the best flavor from this "dark" Virginia. Lacking a well trained palate, I can't note much about the fresh cut hay & grass, lemony citrus Virginias, or mild sweet reds, wood, graham crackers, fresh baked bread & butter, toast & jam, plums, prunes, figs, raisins, glazed donuts, grandma's biscuits, nuts & bolts, earth, wind & fire, etc., but I do know a good VA tobacco! This is a straight VA with a little sweetness that developed about mid bowl. This blend seemed to burn a little hot and bit a little. It required a number of relights & I employed the DGT method to reduce bite & let it sit & cool on several occasions. I wouldn't classify this as a great VA & it wasn't a total, blockbuster bell-ringer for me but it is a fairly good smoke & doesn't produce much condensation if dried to the proper moisture level. The bowl was dry when the dottle was emptied. This, as stated earlier was my second trial run with #44 & it seemed a little smoother but actually, very little had changed.
Drucquer & Sons - Blairgowrie 200g
Excellent Scottish With Old World Flavor
Another example of G. L. Pease's blending ability. It's a tasty Scottish blend that has some punch & smokes mildly. I'd say it's perfectly blended... producing a subtle sweetness. Once you pop the lid & give a whiff, you know you're going to like it... that is, if you prefer these types of blends. The Red Virginias are the main player in this blend & the Cyprian Latakia is basically condimental. The mild, sweet Orientals lend some extra spice & flavor & play an important roll in this mixture. The Perique provides a subtle, sweet, fruity flavor. The strength level is very close to the strong threshold which surprised me because it smokes so mildly.
Drucquer & Sons - Trafalgar 100g
A Very Good English w/Limited Latakia
If you were to take some Blairgowrie & mix in the right proportion of Levant Mixture, you'd have something akin to Trafalgar. I'm nearly halfway through my first bowl & that is my initial impression of Trafalgar. This is a very comfortable blend to smoke... no harshness or bite & still produces a pretty good nicotine punch. It didn't produce as much flavor or sweetness as anticipated but at least the Latakia does not overwhelm & gives the other varietals a chance to attend the party & toward the end of the bowl, is not so notable. There is only a very slight sweetness in this mixture. I prefer the Balkan flavor far & above any English Blend I've ever smoked. This is a typical blend for those who prefer an English that is lighter on Latakia & might find this blend quite appealing, as did I.
G. L. Pease - Stonehenge Flake 2oz
A Tasty Virginia Perique Mixture
October, 2018 AD... Anno Domini, the year of our Lord. About the re-released Stonehenge Flake: First of all, there's nothing much to be noted from the tin aroma. This review is based on a second bowl I've sampled in a clean Meerschaum to be sure I was getting the truest, purest flavor from this blend. I lit up and took several good puffs & at that point, didn't really notice much other than a regular VA/Per, tobacco flavor. Then, I let the pipe sit & cool for about twenty minutes, tamped & then relit. I always use this DGT method with any blend containing the Virginia leaf. Upon relighting & after a few more tokes, I started noticing a little more sweetness & then the cocoa flavor came bursting through, although very slight, it complimented the smoking experience considerably & this mix started tasting so good, I just wanted to jet-stream this stuff but maintained my composure & continued sipping this wonderful concoction.
Esoterica - Stonehaven 8oz
Stonehaven Is The Finest VA/Bur On Planet Earth
Sampled from a three year old Mylar bag when purchased in 2010. The large flakes are neatly arranged in a clear plastic tray inside the bag. It is very dark & thinly sliced... needs drying out for sure. They were very moist from this eight ounce pouch. An interesting flavor this one has... I tasted a little chocolate. This is & probably always will be my favorite VA/Bur. It is unquestionably the BSOM of VA/Bur blends. It's a tangy, zesty, sweet smoke with a mild topping that enhances the flavor and allows it to deliver a cool, sweet, chocolate flavor that doesn't detract so much from the tobacco taste. Whatever, the smoke tasted good & I felt a cool, tingly sensation on my palate that felt... soothing. It left a pleasent aftertaste in my mouth. For me, the taste is indescribably delicious. I like to fully rub out the flakes to remove the little stems. It burns relatively slow & delivers a soft, mild smoke with a good Vitamin N blast & is totally biteless & forgiving. Good flavor, for me, anyway & this should satisfy any demanding pipe smoker. Varying flavors & nuances derived therein will perk up your palate Seems to take on a little sweeter note as the bowl progresses and Brother Burley's flavor becomes more dominant near the end. Can't see why anyone wouldn't like this. The nicotine content is fairly substantial... you'll be doing fine long before the bowl is finished.
Daughters & Ryan - Picayune 40g
Five Stars For Strength & Flavor
Strong?... extremely! Could this contain the pure St. James Parish, Louisiana Perique? Possibly. Most of what is used today in our pipe tobacco blends is Acadian Perique which is basically the same thing... just comes from different regions to supplement the meager St. James supply but the fermentation process is the same. After a few puffs, I finally found the way to my lounge chair without aid from anyone. Wow! this is the strongest blend I've ever stoked into a pipe bowl. Has a slight cigar aroma to it & is shag cut... somewhat on the dry side and could be used to RYO. It has a good flavor for such a strong blend. I'll keep a tin of this on hand at all times to top off any wimpy blends should the need arise. However, this blend is good to smoke by itself, if you dare, or can be used to add extra strength to a wimpy or a PG aromatic blend you've been wanting to finish off without changing their flavor all that much. The moisture content is just right for smoking right out of the tin or to RYO. If you like extremely strong blends & think you're tough, give Picayune a try. If you roll your own, you might want to sample some on a full stomach. A couple of king sized RYO cigarettes might last you all day long... it's that strong & I wouldn't try to inhale this stuff... there's no need to.
Robert Lewis - Tree Mixture 50g
Enjoyable Smoke - More Of A Balkan Flavor
This is a slow burning full flavor tobacco. Well balanced between the different types of leaf make this a very satisfying smoke. This is one, not the best but "one" of the best English mixtures I've smoked and to me, similar to Old Dublin, in my opinion, also seems much more like a Balkan Mixture although the terminology of either is relatively academic. The interplay among the varietals join together and provide a very satisfying and enjoyable smoke session with a unique taste and sort of an aromatic essence that I can't put a handle on. One reason I liked the blend is because it didn't seem to be overladen with Latakia... just the right balance. I'll be trying this again as soon as it becomes available somewhere. The good stuff is always "on backorder" & one must endure the waiting game to acquire the better blends. Tree Mixture like Old Dublin both had a unique flavor that I enjoyed.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 1.75oz
Excellent Burley Preparation
I bought a one ounce pouch of this from P & C back around 2013 just to give it a try. It is a dark, fairly strong flake tobacco similar to HH Bold Kentucky only not quite as strong. It had an earth aroma to it with a slight sweetness & maybe a mild spice. Anyway it had a slight vinegar smell to it and I aired it out for a day. I sealed it back up in its zip-lock bag after taking out enough to rub out & dry to stoke my pipe. It readily took to the flame & produced some thick, creamy smoke & didn't taste harsh & smoked mildly for a strong blend & I remember liking it really well & will most likely buy a tin or two when I finish off my tins of HH Bold Kentucky. This blend leans more toward the stronger side of the medium to strong selection. I liked it fine but preferred the stronger HH Bold Kentucky blend over this one.
A & C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Escudo Has Stood The Test Of Time
Escudo is still one of the biggest sellers of tinned tobacco in the world today & those of us who like it understand why. I'm not going to waste time explaining the smoking characteristics, tastes & subtle nuances of Escudo as it's all been well covered by many more brothers of the briar who are far more experienced in sampling tobacco flavors than I. For me, it 's much simpler... I either like it or I don't & the reason/reasons why matter not to me. Escudo is the sweetest & number one VA/Per in my rotation. I bought a roll of the vintage Copes version of A & C Petersen Escudo... you know, the stuff in the smaller tins but of the same weight. It was ten years old when I purchased it about ten years ago for a hundred dollar bill & needless to say, it was sublime. I didn't have enough sense at the time to put any aside and because it tasted so good & mellow, what did I do? That's right! Smoked it all up in no time... seemed like it only took about two or three weeks to burn it all up. I think back what they might be worth today... priceless! I still had several new tins in the cellar, so, I really did a number on the old stuff.
Drucquer & Sons - Levant Mixture 100g
My Favorite Balkan In This Time Period
I'm overwhelmed! Taste is mild but this mixture is strong... room note is fairly pleasant. The Cyprian Latakia in Levant is more pronounced initially but doesn't steal the show & this "mixture" is perfectly balanced & provides plenty of Vitamin N... plus a great flavor with a slight sweetness that increases as the bowl progresses & morphs into an indescribably delicious Balkan flavor... almost like a fine aromatic but this mixture is all natural. Nearing mid-bowl where the interplay of tobaccos meld, more flavor develops, improves & gets a little sweeter & tastier as the smoking session progresses. My advice... spend a few extra $$ for a trip back in time & try this mixture & see for yourself. It's worth it. There's something magical & special in this Levant Mixture like you might experience with other quality, aged Balkans. "Magical" meaning the whole is equal to more than the sum of its parts... an incredible blending achievement. Levant becomes a little stronger toward the end but doesn't bite or get harsh. This stuff can sneak up on you due to its mild smoking nature. It really does seem to possess characteristics from days gone by that will take you back in time. This is not an English blend... strictly & totally Balkan & I think it might possibly be the finest Balkan blend available in this time period. I predict Levant will rise to number one & will become legendary... hence the reason I purchased plenty for the cellar. I think it's wise to have extras in your tobacco "portfolio."
Rattray's - Hal O' The Wynd 100g
Excellent VA/Per/Bur Mixture
I smoked a five year old tin of Hal back in 2010... sampling it around the same time I tried a six year old tin of Marlin Flake. Back in those days, one might get lucky enough to get a fairly aged tin straight from the online dealer. Back then, both of these blends were excellent examples of their genre. Today, fifteen years later, I think the quality has diminished somewhat. You might get my thoughts by reading my review on Marlin Flake. I felt the tobaccos were similar in taste & strength but preferred Hal over MF & OG didn't quite satisfy in the Vitamin N department. Hal, like MF requires some serious drying... almost to a crispy state to smoke properly & smokes great after a couple of relights... settles down into a mild, tasty smoke with plenty of the flavor you've come to know from these types of blends that provides a good nicotine boost. The slight fruity flavoring from the Perique enhances the tobacco flavor & the aroma was not overwhelming as it seems today & didn't seem as harsh. I think the Acadian Perique sweetens the mix & portions of the flakes are very dark. This stuff didn't bite and the initial harshness quickly faded. I found this to be a quality blend that compliments the briar. Very flavorful to me and didn't finish harshly. It's similar to Marlin Flake with a slightly different flavor from the Burley infusion & both are good blends worth trying but cousin Marlin tends to bite these days. Hal is much smoother & more comfortable on the palate.
Rattray's - Bagpiper's Dream 100g
Not Bad For An Aromatic But Must Be Sipped To Avoid Bite
After sniffing the tin of Bagpiper's Dream, I immediately started salivating. I loved the combination of Vanilla & Cognac & how it interplayed with the tobaccos which developed a delicious, sweet flavor that hangs on the palate. It's a bit harsh however & causes a bit of chemical burn. As with any tobacco that may tend to bite initially, employing the DGT method will negate that issue somewhat but will still bite a little if not sipped. It is fairly moist but can be smoked from the opening or dried to the smoker's preference. The tasty flavoring is there at the beginning & remains throughout but after some has burned off it improves a little... the point where all the varietals & flavoring meld together & form a unique flavor with a pleasing aroma. Drying it out doesn't seem to diminish the flavor or aroma which is my preferred method for preparation. My thoughts: Bagpiper's dream would be better with less cognac which would most likely negate much of the chemical burn & harshness. The Vanilla flavoring is overwhelmed by the Cognac.
Peterson - Irish Flake 50g
An Exceptional Strong & Tasty Va/Bur Blend
I purchased a couple more tins after a few years of absence from pipe smoking & I didn't smell or taste any cigar aroma in the tin or smoke that I initially noticed back in 2010. Back then they came in the rectangular tins. This strong blend might put you back in your easy chair for a while. I prefer these round tins now which can maintain freshness for a much longer period of time & prefer the round screw top tin over all others. The tin description states the contents are a dark brown Virginia flake. However, I see that it also contains dark fired Kentucky & Burley which, BTW, has twice the strength of any Virginia tobacco & hits harder & faster. This is still one of my favorite go to blends & I sometimes use it to add to some blends that are a bit on the wimpy side.
Cornell & Diehl - Sunday Picnic 2oz
A Very Tasty Va/Per w/Oriental Tobacco
Sunday Picnic is one of the tastiest VA/Per & Oriental infused tobaccos I've ever tried. The combination of tobaccos meld together very well after the first 1/3 burns off to deliver one of the tastiest smokes of this genre. The apportionment of the various types of tobaccos seem to be just right to create a remarkable, well rounded flavor. If Yenidje, rather than Izmir leaf were used, it would taste similar to McClelland's Tudor Castle... another extremely tasty oriental blend that is "Gone With The Wind." Well, "That's The Way Love Goes." It doesn't get much better than this & the oriental adds an extra dimension that creates a unique, well rounded flavor that will leave most pipers craving for more. This mixture smokes cool & won't bite. Although not overly abundant, there is enough Lady N in this mix to add plenty of extra pleasure to an after picnic dinner. Needless to say, C & D are "crafty" blenders. Many fine blends circulating & this Simply Elegant series is aptly named. This stuff will keep calling you back for more... especially if you're not too nitpicky & enjoy "picnicking," especially with a pretty young lady who knows how to "cook."
Dan Tobacco - Salty Dogs 50g
What All VA/Pers Should Be Judged By - Best On The Market
The pouch aroma is very similar to Escudo but delivers a tastier & stronger Vitamin N blast. I've been out of the pipe hobby for around 5-6 years & decided to make a comeback because I missed the varied flavors of pipe tobacco blends. I barely detected the Rum aroma but noticed a slight hint of it from a whiff. It is a very dark, hard & moist block. It is very well sealed within a small plastic bag within another well sealed plastic container inside the pouch. It should last for years as packaged. Initially, I tasted both varietals in the first puff along with the slight Rum infusion. I noted the Virginia, noticed very little Rum but it probably added the slight sweetness to the blend along with the natural sweetness of VA & a slight, sweet, fruity note from the medium apportioned Perique. Very well prepared & is a fairly potent blend, well processed & closer to the strong threshold. I shaved it from the end with a sharp blade, dried it to an almost crispy state & stoked a small bowl. Burns better if properly dried out and smokes down to a dry, gray dottle. This is the best VA/Per selection on the market & I reach for it on a regular basis. This plug is the best of the best & well worth the additional cost, IMHO, of course. The only VA/Per I smoke because nothing else compares & I thought the Dunhill VA/Per Navy Rolls were awful & trashed them. Escudo is far better than Dunhill Navy Rolls. Most other VA/Pers are a bit too wimpy to suit me but "This one was just right!" As far as I'm concerned, this is now the King of VA/Pers since the original Bell's Three Nuns is obsolete. None better!
Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 50g
Excellent VA "Blend" - 2nd Only To The Royal Yacht Mixture
There wasn't much of a tin aroma to speak of... not even a tobacco smell but only a slight hay or dry grass essence. This tobacco took a little longer to dry out than most. This VA blend has a lot going for it... hence the reason for many, if not the most reviewed tobaccos. First off, it's a relatively strong VA. Using the DGT method will reduce or eliminate any bite or harshness if encountered. Regardless, I knew instantly that I was going to like this blend. After about 5 or 6 tokes, It developed a sweet taste/flavor. Then I set the pipe aside & let it cool completely. When I tamped & relit, it was heavenly... sweet, creamy clouds of thick smoke, great flavor with a smooth & mellow quality that smoked mildly and had some Vitamin N punch to it. I think there are three different types of Virginias in this blend & is also an excellent blending VA. It is very comfortable on the palate & has a relatively slow burn rate & at about $20.00 for three tins back in 2010, I felt this was a real bargain even though it was quite moist. However, the burn rate compensated for that & even the room note had a slight sweet aroma to it. I was totally satisfied with my first sampling & understood why this is such a popular VA blend. It is excellent, exceptional even & is probably about the best VA blend on the planet next to the now, obsolete Royal Yacht Mixture & this, coming from about a one year old tin... imagine what a little more aging might do to FVF. I have 500 grams aging in my cellar.
Wessex - Brigade Campaign Dark Flake 50g
Excellent Straight Dark Virgina Tobacco
This is a very well prepared Virginia flake with a sweet, tobacco flavor. Tin odor is a good Virginia aroma. The flakes were slightly sticky from the molasses or honey topping but rubbed out easily. It is biteless and smokes mild but delivers favorable nicotine content. A slight harshness initially...characteristic of Virginias. After a relight (employing the DGT method) & a few more puffs, no more bite & this stuff provided pure, sweet Virginia flavor with a mild accent while still providing a pretty good nicotine boost. Packs easily & burns nicely & doesn't bite. An excellent Dark Virginia and much better than most. I thought it was better than Astley's No. 44 which I will avoid unless they change their recipe to reduce bite & find a way to produce a better, sweeter, flavor in their dark VA version. If you like straight, dark Virginia, give Wessex Campaign Dark Flake, Brigade Series a try. I promise, you won't be disappointed if you like dark VA tobacco. WB Campaign is more pricy than similar blends but worth the extra $$. It provided a nice, sweet flavored smoke. A great blend with extras in my modest cellar.
Solani - Silver Label - 660 100g
One Of The Best VA/Burs Money Can Buy
I stoked this mixture into a Large, Cavicchi CCC... lit up and immediately recognized the DF KY & the sweet taste of Virginia tobacco, which, BTW was named after the state which was named after & in honor of the "Virgin" Queen, Elizabeth I... a quick lesson in 16th century tobacco history, for all loyal subjects of interest in the "leaf," as it were. I'm unable to distinguish positively which tobacco is up front. My impression is slightly more VA than KY & the flavor remains consistent with maybe a little more sweetness at the halfway point. Some might say it's "cigarettish" but due to the flavor of the quality leaf, expertise in the preparation & blending, it's so much more than that. OK! Moving on! Puffed a few times & let it sit a few minutes... I always use this DGT method on VA blends. Didn't take long to get a nicotine jolt. It is very mild tasting & doesn't bite but has a relatively strong nicotine content, especially toward the end. I recently started inhaling one single puff after acquiring a good burn rate to judge the Vitamin N content. I contend SF Number 660: to be of exceptional quality.
St. Bruno - Flake 1.75oz
Almost Like the Original Ogden's Version w/Exceptions
October, 20, 2018 AD... Anno Domini, the year of our Lord. I just recently noticed St. Bruno was available again... I've been smoking tasty, Cuban seed cigars grown in the Dominican Republic for the last five years & have neglected my piping until around June of 2018 but still enjoy an occasional cigar. I just recently sampled a fresh tin of Mac Baren's St. Bruno Flake. If memory serves me correctly, it seemed like the aged flakes were of a thinner cut. The similar flavor remains however & I liked the flavor of St. Bruno Flake from the onset & appreciate the flavor & smoke aroma of Mac B's production. The flavoring is about the same as the older blend and I enjoy it just as much as its predecessor. I love the floral/citrus flavor of this blend which produces a pleasant aroma while smoking. This is not the usual soggy, heavily cased aromatic that you might be concerned about... it has a topping with a tasty floral/citrus-like flavoring & doesn't contain the heavy PG humectant. It has a fairly slow burn rate & must be picked & tamped occasionally. There is some sweetness combined with the flavoring & could be an all day smoke for some. It is best to rub this out rather than stoke whole flakes as I've noticed a few small stems which have to be removed from each flake before drying and stoking the bowl. I started piping again because I missed the flavors available in pipe tobacco blends.
Tabac Manil - Le Petit Robin 100g
Unique Flavor & Aroma w/Good Burn Rate
This is an extremely fine cut shag blend that is fairly dry due to the packaging. My first sniff noted a slight tea aroma which I noticed in another blend I once sampled... I believe it was Pete's Sherlock Holmes. The charring light produced a burst of flavor that improved considerably after about 1/3 had burned off & provided more flavor & a better taste without any harshness. I loved this Belgian Burley flavor combined with the VA from the very first puff but the third ingredient or ingredients seem destined to remain a mystery but I think it's an Oriental variety. Whatever, the varietals play well together. I've never seen or tasted anything like it before. Very unique indeed & fairly strong. There's a lot of tobacco packaged in this brick-shaped, gold foil, wrapped container. It didn't feel like it weighed 3 1/2 ounces when I received it but I didn't put it on a scale. It comes in a very dry state so I hydrated it within a zip-lock bag with a pouch humidifier for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, I could feel that it had gained a little weight. It is not packaged to retain moisture & the folded ends are not sealed. It will inevitably contain a moisture content of its environment. It must be packed tight & drawn lightly to get the best flavor & won't bite if puffing cadence is properly controlled. It has a tingly sensation on the palate & leaves a pleasant aftertaste. I liked this well enough to reopen the package & load up again. I'll be keeping this in my rotation as long as it's available & ordered another brick & will be filling up my Mason jars after a proper moisture content is achieved. From my experience with cigars, cigarette & pipe tobacco, they all seem to smoke best with the proper moisture content & from my experience, Le Petite Robin is no different. If you're looking for a quick tobacco preparation with an easy load and good flavor & a decent burning rate, you might consider giving this one a try. Much better than expected.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
A Very Good VA/Per/Bur Blend
This newer mix is pretty good but the vintage tins are otherworldly. However, I did note a similarity in taste to the original Bells Three Nuns on occasion. The quarter size coins rub out easily & burn cool & evenly. They require a little drying time which was not the case with the "old" version & the coins seemed to be smaller "back in the day." The initial tin aroma was a nice, smoke fired tobacco smell with a bit of sour note. One might notice a slight acrid taste initially but after a little is burned off, you will get a little burst of sweet, natural tobacco flavors that meld together fairly well. Three Nuns has not earned legendary status for no reason & this newer blend works OK for me. As good or better than most blends of this genre. Mac Baren's Three Nuns is strong enough to satisfy and delivers a semi-sweet smoke well above mid strength. It starts tasting pretty good a short while after the charring light to the end... not much waiting for the flavor to develop. It can be smoked right out of the tin if one desires to do so. I'm sure it would be much better with a little age & will cellar some for later consumption. It smokes/burns well all the way to the finish. There's a lot of tobacco packed in a 50g tin and it is a fairly good value as the leaf is not weighted down with excessive moisture & I haven't noticed any stems thus far.
Arango - Balkan Supreme
Better Than Most Balkans I've Sampled & Not as Costly
After sampling a few bowls of Arango, I can easily understand how most lovers of Balkan blends find this mixture appealing & I concur with some of the other reviewers in that it is somewhat similar to the BSOM. However, although similar it seems to me that it does lack that certain subtle sweetness & unique flavoring of the "Original" mixture that I tasted in each & every draw. It does possess some sweetness as the varied tobaccos begin to interact after about maybe one third of the way down through the smoking session & at the halfway point is when it really begins the melding process reaching a truly exhilarating Balkan flavor. I guess this contains some Turkish Yenidje but couldn't tell for sure & If not, whatever Orientals used seemed to act as a fitting substitute. My one half pound bag arrived with the perfect moisture content, meaning that it required some drying to be at a proper smoking level. I think many so called Balkan blends are more English than Balkan due to a Latakia overload that detracts from the flavor of the Oriental, unsweetened Cavendish & other varietals. At two saw-bucks for a half pound it's a steal.
Cornell & Diehl - Mississippi Mud 2oz
As Good or Better Than Most Balkans
What an outstanding Latakia blend...scrumptious! I haven't as yet finished the bowl but this stuff is easily judged with just one puff...it's that good. Since smoking the Balkan Sobranie OM & enjoying it to the max, I've been on a quest to find a good Latakia blend that can compete with the great Balkans & English mixtures from days gone by...something that takes me back...& this one works. When one considers smoking a subsequent bowl, that's a sign of excellence. MM is a black/very dark, oily looking, ready rubbed blend that produces tons of creamy smoke. Tin note is similar to SPC's Plum Pudding...leathery, hickory smoked bacon, earthy, muddy, musty like an old horse blanket, smoky, sour & fermenty with a noticeable Latakia presence & the blend melds together well after one third of the bowl has burned off. Mississippi Mud... what a befitting name! The tin art is beautiful... incredibly nostalgic & takes me back to the reading of Mark Twain novels. If you're looking for an outstanding Latakia blend that is unique in flavor and reminiscent of the finer English/Balkan blends from yesteryear, look no further.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
A Fairly Strong VA/Bur Blend w/Great Flavor
Great blend if one likes stronger mixes. It isn't the least bit harsh nor does it have a tendency to bite. It has a true Kentucky/Burley & VA flavor & the tin note was an earthy sweet & sour aroma. The flakes were quite dark & very moist with a minimal amount of yellow Virginia. I rubbed out a flake and let sit for about twenty minutes. I thought I'd try this out for a change of pace because I prefer stronger blends & Burley usually delivers a quick, strong vitamin N blast & this stuff works. It is a strong tobacco that smokes mildly. It expands quite a bit after the charring light & provided an excellent burn rate and keeping it lit was not a problem. I didn't notice the Virginia that much but it's probably what tamed the slight bitterness of the Burley which soon subsided. The mild topping is barely noticeable and the flavor was mostly nutty, earthy Burley with additional sweetness coming from the Virginia infusion.
Peterson - Old Dublin 50g
Another Peterson Quality Blend W/Unique Flavor
This stuff, I'd say, is a cross between a Balkan and an English... if that makes any sense. Whatever, it's academic. I'll refer to it as an English since that's stated in the description although Balkans are my definite choice when it comes to Latakia Blends. I think this is an excellent blend and many find it exceptional. The way the other tobaccos melded with the Cyprian Latakia created a really tasty, unique English unlike any I've tried before & I liked the results. I've never been a big Latakia fan like some who'd smoke nothing else but I did take a liking to this. It was a welcome change from most of the "ordinary" flavors of other English blends containing the Latakia leaf.
Cornell & Diehl - Carolina Red Flake 2oz
A Strong & Tasty Red Virginia - Nothing Better
This is a broken flake tobacco... can be smoked as is or rubbed out into its course cut condition & has a long burn rate. Very satisfied with the flavor & appreciated the extra strength. One medium or even a smaller bowl would be enough to satisfy the Vitamin N necessity of any piper. This is probably not an all day smoke for many but can certainly be enjoyed on a daily basis, being much closer to the strong side in the medium to strong classification, especially toward the last third. It is much better in a deeper bowl & provides you with a long, cool burning smoke session... like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going & going, getting stronger and tastier as the smoke wafts over the lower portion of the tobacco in your bowl. Dried properly, it burns down to a fine grey ash with very little moisture to contend with, depending on the quality of your pipe which has a lot to do with gurgle & moisture content.
Savinelli - Doblone d'Oro 100g
Reminds Me A Bit Of The Original Bell's Three Nuns
The tin aroma is like nothing you'll ever experience... almost made me salivate. However, it is not an aromatic & has a delicious semi-sweet flavor with some punch to it. The Perique is fruity... raisin-like, complimented by the VA sweetness & strength of the Dark Fired Kenyan Burley. It seemed to smoke just as cool toward the end but about halfway through the bowl is when this mixture really starts to shine. This is a fairly strong blend as you approach the halfway point that won't bite & provides abundant, creamy smoke with a perfect burn rate. I think this will become even sweeter with a little more aging. One might discover a taste of molasses or brown sugar, maybe a minor touch of Ouzo (Greek Rum) & possibly a slight Curry infusion, also grown in the Kenyan region.