G. L. Pease - Stonehenge Flake 2oz
Presentation: A grainy flake in terms of texture. Uniform slices throughout the tin with a few broken. Light to medium/dark brown layered upon each other. Tin art is a plus. Palate: Smells of a light chocolate with bread. Think pain au chocolat. Sweet and flaky bread with a center of sweet chocolate. The burleys add to the cocoa essence, along with a dry wood and nutty component. The virginias add to the sweetness and compliment the burleys to give it more profile. The perique is detectable but you have to concentrate to let it interfere with the burley and Virginia forward taste. It does add a nice dimension to the smoke and tickles your nostrils every once in a while. This blend has some Lakeland applied to it, but it is so lightly applied that if it weren't mentioned in the numerous reviews I wouldn't have even known. Performance: Burns at a reasonable rate and requires one or two relights. Because of the flake form, you could either fold and stuff or rub it out, in which the latter I prefer due to its slight moisture out of the tin. I let it dry for about 10 minutes and it seems to do the trick. Nicotine is mild. Not quite an all day blend, but some might make it a repeatable pleasure. Conclusion: I would consider this a mild aromatic, somewhere in the genre of MacBaren Scottish Mixture or Navy Flake. The topping is present but doesn't make the base components of the blend concede to it . It reminds me of Bobs Chocolate Flake with a pinch of perique added. I fell in love with BCF but it's damn near hard to find these days unless purchasing from overseas. I'm glad I tried Stonehenge as I prefer this blend and the availability of it. One of my favorites and is a nice change from the heavier burley/Virginia blends.
G. L. Pease - JackKnife Plug 2oz
Sweet and Spicy.
Presentation: A nice slab of dark Kentucky, red virginias and bright virginias. The dark fired burley and red Virginia surrounds the thinner layer of bright Virginia, sort of like a grilled cheese sandwich. From my experience, the plug is not uniform in shape every time- width, height or thickness, but varies from tin to tin. The weight stays the same though. Not as dense as some plugs (3P's, Dans Salty Dog), but still manages to stay together after numerous slicing sessions. Palate: A tin note of semi-sweet BBQ sauce, ketchup and a pig roast. The dark fired burleys along with the red Virginia are the main components. It's spicy, salty and reminds me of charred ribs. The burley adds the flavor that one might attribute to the aroma of a meat smoker. Its rich, heavy and leaves a savory taste in your mouth. The red Virginias smooth out and help with the mustering of the dark fired burley. The bright Virginia adds a sweet essence to the blend, but only for a short while. This is a stout blend. Performance: With plugs, you can cut this anyway you want. Some may want to cut thick slices and rub it out halfway, cube cut it, or in my preference, cut the plug as thin as possible into shag ribbons. I find that when cutting and rubbing it into a fine shag, I get lovely thick smoky clouds and all of the flavor at once, but it tends to burn quick. I haven't tried it any other way as I love the flavor it gave me with this method. A pretty strong nicotine hit. Not an all day smoke but I could see this as a morning blend to perk you up and then as an evening blend. Conclusion: I was hesitant to buy this blend based on what I heard about dark fired burleys being strong. I gathered my courage and went ahead and purchased a tin with just over 4 years of age on it and was glad I did. It has become one of my favorite blends that I buy in the 8oz tins. If you want a rich blend, this is it. It isn't as strong as MacBaren Bold Kentucky, but it offers a far better range flavors for some of the dark fired burley blends on the market today. Benefits greatly, in my opinion, from some age.
G. L. Pease - Triple Play 2oz
Presentation: The twin brother of JKP, this brownie looks almost identical. In my review of Jack Knife Plug, the plugs are not uniform in size dimensions. This plug is somewhat different in terms of appearance tobacco wise. The layers upon which Jack Knife Plug have, Triple Play seems to forego the uniform "sandwiching" in detectable constituents. From the eye, it seems that all the layers are equally spread out and cannot tell where each one is hiding. Palate: Like Jack Knife Plug, this blend has a savory aroma or BBQ sauce, ketchup, pig roast, charred ribs. I do detect a more spicy scent due to the perique added and seems a bit more heavy in the smokiness. It's a complex blend and at times where I want to taste the dark fired burley and sweet reds, I'm overwhelmed by the perique, which sometimes overtakes the whole experience. It's spicy taste with a little sweetness that comes up here and there. I hardly detect the bright Virginias added. Not an all day blend, but can be smoked a few times in the day. Performance: I also cut this blend into a fine shag as it releases all the flavors at once. Burns at a more than moderate pace with this method, but I prefer it this way. Medium to strong nicotine hit, depending on your tolerance. Conclusion: I really wanted to like Triple Play as much as I liked JKP, but the perique in this blend takes away from the Virginias and already somewhat spicy dark fired burley. It's a good blend, but I think it jumps around what it comes to tasting what you want to taste. I'll enjoy it from time to time, but I probably won't be buying any more tins after I finish the other tin I have in my cellar. It's taken me more than a year to finish even half the plug. I haven't tried it fresh, but I could see this benefiting from age, just like JKP.
G. L. Pease - Haddo's Delight 2oz
Dark and Spicy.
Presentation: Haddo's Delight comes in a chunky chopped ribbon. My tin had a melting pot of shapes and sizes. Throughout the tin, there are dark pieces of what I believe to be the perique or black cavendish that need to be broken up a bit more than what was provided. Amongst the darker portions of perique and black cavendish, lies medium brown/red virginias and a few brights and the lighter and smaller chunks of white burley. Nice sugar crystals had formed on the darker tobaccos due to the age of the tin, which was eye candy. Palate: The newly opened tin hits you with a plum and raisin aroma, with a slight feather tickle from what seems to be minuscule vinegar to the nostrils. Very strong topping, but not nauseating. This blend is complex. It offers a deep earthy bouquet and diverse taste. It's somewhat smooth and while the rum topping is heavy applied in the tin, it doesn't particularly overwhelm the tobacco taste, but is noticeable. The base of Virginias is mostly reds from what I can gather, which offer a delicate sweetness, with a hint of bright here and there. The black cavendish adds a creamy dimension to the mouth feel and retrohale, while the perique is a little spicy, yet more dark fruit natured than anything. The burley is barely detectable, as I feel it may have been added to round out some of the rougher spots. It does however have a lovely side stream. Performance: When I first smoked this blend, it didn't consistently give me the same flavor and was hard to keep lit due to the uneven cut. I'm not sure if this was just my tin, or if this is how all the tins are, but I feel that it could use a re-work in how it is packaged. Either new or aged, Haddo's Delight needs some breathing time to settle down. Even with the 4+ years of age, it was unrefined and had some sharp edges that needed to be dulled. Lights with two or three charring, and stays lit until the last 1/3 of the bowl. Requires an additional light. Burns at a medium pace, not too fast or slow. Medium to medium/strong nicotine hit, yet varies on your tolerance. Conclusion: This blend sat for another year in the jar before I came back to it. It developed a lovely deep dark chocolate aroma that was absent when initially opening it and the plum/raisin smell was diminished greatly and not sharp. Perhaps I needed to let it mellow a bit before truly experiencing this popular blend. I can see why so many people like it, but first impressions are everything. I enjoyed it after it went to rehab for 12 months and found myself reaching for it every night for two weeks as my nightly smoke. It's a delectable smoke and its complexity shines despite its shortcomings, but I can't see myself cellaring any more than one or two tins of this tobacco, due to the factors mentioned above. There are many tobaccos in which I prefer to this as of right now, especially as this is a Va/Per and I have a better palate for other blends in this category. I'm afraid I'll let this blend slip through my list of favorites as so many others before me have felt the opposite, but I won't be sad. I know that Haddo's Delight will stick around, and if something changes, then perhaps those few extra tins won't go to waste.
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #5 2oz
Presentation: Thick and non uniform flake. Some flakes are longer and bigger than others. The tin I had contained a massively thick flake about 3/4 inch thick and two inches long. Medium brown burleys, a few light and red Virginia leaves throughout and a decent portion of dark fired layered in between. Good amount of intact flakes with some broken and smaller remnants at the bottom of the tin. Palate: Burleys are not my favorite, and being that Cornell and Diehl is most popular for this leaf, I found myself struggling to find my place with this blend. The burleys provide a nice molasses, nutty, and a touch of brown sugar. Not a lot of chocolate that burleys are famous for. The Virginia adds a touch of sweetness and that supplements the somewhat bitter aspects of burley. The dark fired provides the semi coarse salt rub spice you might find on a nice brisket. While the blend sounds appealing on paper, it runs a little flat in the smoke. I couldn't find anything about this blend that I would write home about. It taste hot and dusty and there is an acrid aftertaste that itches my throat. Performance: The flakes rub out pretty easily but may take a little longer to prepare with some of the flakes being gigantic. It smokes with relative ease and leaves no moisture at the heel. Produces a fine ash that can easily be dumped out with no additional work. Burns at a moderate speed and contains a nice nicotine hit. Not an all day blend, although for a burley lover this could be smoked multiple times a day. Conclusion: I never cared for burleys that much, and it takes a lot to convince me on buying a new burley blend. However, I think that the Burley Flake series has a healthy range of options that I may want to try a different type and see how they fare, but as for now, Burley Flake #5 isn't cutting it for me. I didn't rate it 1 star simply because I love dark fired, and I know that Cornell and Diehl uses quality leaf, but despite that the actual feeling of smoking this makes me feel like I am parched for water. It's a very dry blend for my palate. I'm not sure if age will make this one better as I have had this tin jarred for over a year with not much improvement.
Cornell & Diehl - Redburn 2oz
A Warming Blend
Presentation: A eye pleasing crumble cake with mostly medium brown ribbon, and a few golds and darker portions speckled throughout compressed into a semi dense block. The same form factor as Black Frigate, Blockade Runner, etc. Tears apart easily and it fluffs out into a generous amount of tobacco. Grab less than you think you need. Palate: Tin aroma is burley throughout with hints of the bright and red Virginia. The topping provides a brown sugar note and the rum is applied moderately. The main portion of burleys provides a nice semi sweet chocolate and molasses flavor that is also a bit nutty and dry. The Virginias are a nice addition to the natural flavors of burley and provide a nice earthy glaze on top. The dark fired is represented well in this cake, adding just a touch of spice when you need it and not overdone. The perfect amount to keep your taste buds interested. Performance: Burns quite fast due to the nature of the cake. Essentially it's fine ribbons compressed, and it rubs out into smaller ribbons. You can either prepare this in small chunks slightly broken or fully turn it into it's each individual components. Either way, it burns with no effort applied to the draw. However, if you do decide to rub it out fully, be sure to leave a few thicker chunks at the bottom, as the smaller pieces can interrupt your airflow by being lodged in the shank. Medium nicotine hit. Not an all day smoke but certainly able to repeat it. Conclusion: I'm a sucker for plugs, cakes and flakes and it's no doubt that I wanted this. This is like the Captain Morgan of tobaccos. It's a little sweet with the molasses and rum topping and a little spicy with the addition of dark fired burley. I prefer smoking this in the late autumn and early winter as it has a warming quality to it, just like a nice adult spirit. Opening a fresh tin the burleys are quite dry in taste and it's hard to detect the Virginias. I've had the remaining portion of this cake jarred for a year and it has turned into a pretty great blend. The rum has tapered off and the sweet chocolate flavors of the burleys have intensified. The dark fired burley hasn't changed that much but the Virginias have given the blend a nice toasty bread note as well. I'm not sure if I will buy this blend again even though I quite enjoyed it. Another tin might possibly end up in my cellar, but not anytime soon
Cornell & Diehl - Black Frigate 2oz
Presentation: A mottled crumble cake with an arrangement of brights, browns and dark tobaccos with no uniform pattern. The same form factor as many of C&D crumble cakes. Pinch off less than you need as most of the time it expands out into a decent amount. Palate: As one might assume of it being a lat bomb, it most certainly is not. The initial aroma is definitely oriental and latakia forward, but offers a unique experience. I have never smelled a blend this entrancing. The latakia is not super heavy but provides a nice smokiness, more an oiled leather, musk smoke than a toasty campfire. The Turkish and orientals allow the semi sour and dry, woody aromatic features to shine. What really sets this blend apart is the navy cavendish that offers such a smooth and creamy quality to bring the whole blend together. You'll definitely smell the rum on the blend and taste it, but it doesn't take away from the character, just adds a little class. It's tangy, rustic, sweet and smoky all in one. Not going to win any air freshener contests, but for some like me, I could stick my nose in this all day. Performance: Like most crumble cakes I smoke, I like to leave some of the pieces in larger chunks and then top it with more rubbed out cake. I feel this provides an effortless smoke that prevents tobacco from reaching your mouth. Burns at a more than moderate pace and tamps down easily. Leaves most of the time no moisture and a lovely grey ash. Mild nicotine hit. Not quite an all day blend, but can be smoked more than once. This was the only blend I have smoked four bowls in a row. The flavor lingers on the roof of your mouth and your clothes and your hair and... well, you get the picture. Conclusion: I recommend dedicating a pipe to this blend, as you may find that your other pipes could get a slight ghost. This blend is like no tobacco I have had. When you smell Virginia blends, you know what it is. When you smell an English blend, you know what it is. When you smell this blend, your nose runs wild. It's admirable and mysterious but isn't something to be afraid of. Some say that Black Frigate is intimidating, and at first it is, but once you light it up, you will start to understand why this blend is something that you should have tried sooner. I love smoking this on cold rainy days the most.
Cornell & Diehl - Pirate Kake 2oz
Presentation: A hearty, dark dense block. My 6 year old piece had a nice oily sheen to the eye and a few spots of plume. Black mostly in color with some remnants of what brown tobacco was there. The age has definitely blended the strong latakia together into the others. Palette: Smells of rich peat, ash, campfire and a little spice. Had a light vinegar note on top. Taste like how it smells. Has a waxy essence to it and if you enjoy Latakia this will be a go to blend. You may even liken this to a creosote and tar aroma. Barely any sweetness in the blend, and if you do find it, it doesn't stay. With the majority of this being Latakia, you should know what to expect. Performance: A very cool burning blend. Absolutely no indication of bite even when puffing vigorously. Very creamy, smooth in the mouth and leaves a nice coating for you to enjoy for an hour. Leaves more than average moisture and requires a few relights and smokes at a less than medium burn rate. One dimensional taste. I didn't find this blend to change much in the bowl. Mild nicotine. Not an all day smoke,. Maybe once a week. Conclusion: A very interesting and heavy blend. You either love Latakia or you seldom partake in it. I fall in between. I enjoy a good Balkan or English blend, but not this much Latakia. I bought this because I found a 6 year old tin at a local B&M. I enjoyed the tobacco for what it's worth, but felt completely satiated for a while. A very straight and narrow taste profile with hardly any change. I can see why some like this alot, and some who would never smoke it more than an initial bowl. I don't think I will be buying another tin, but it was a good experience.
Cornell & Diehl - Sunset Harbor Flake 2oz
Presentation: Mixed together with smaller pieces throughout the semi intact flakes come in different lengths and sizes and not one is alike to the other. Looks more of which someone took a crumble cake and fashioned it into slices. Further breaking apart requires no effort and falls apart easily. Still, a unique presentation that I have yet to find in another blend. Moisture is a little more than usual out of the tin, but can be smoked right away. Palette: The Latakia comes through first with a slightly smoky essence. Not a typical campfire strong latakia, but a rather sweet BBQ glaze with a little bit of charring. The orientals play a significant role next to the Latakia in the minor wood notes followed by a sour zest. These two combined create an almost creamy like mouthfeel you might attribute to a plain Greek yogurt. What is interesting with this blend is that even though it contains no Virginia components, it still retains a delicate sweetness that is noticeable throughout the smoke. The perique adds just enough spice on the retrohale. It is slightly prune and black pepper, an even mix with both never dominating the other. It has a somewhat savory essence to it too. Reminds me of the salt on the rim of a well done margarita. As you take sips, the salt gently soaks up some of the sweet liquid until you are finished. You take swipes with your tongue to the glass and it is sweet, sour and salty all at the same time. Performance: You can either rub the flakes out and have medium sized pieces and layer them, or rub it out completely to have fluffy, even smaller sized pieces. Either way, the blend burns really well. Doesn't bite unless really pushed being that there are no Virginias to burn too hot. Nicotine is mild to me and even after a bowl I don't feel too much. Leaves a little dottle at the bottom along with some moisture. Requires about two false lights and one true light, with one relight, sometimes two. Not an all day blend, but some who fall in love can easily smoke this more than once a day, if a few bowls in a row. Conclusion: A super underrated Balkan that I'm surprised is top tier in terms of quality and flavor. I suppose some pipe smokers may be hesitant to purchase this blend seeing that there is no Virginia leaf added to the blend and may assume that it is bold and heavy, but I think that what Sunset Harbor Flake does with the form factor, it melds the flavors together to give it a unique and rich, mildly complex, semi sweet smoke. I can usually smoke this blend two bowls in a row. I wish they would make this in 8oz or 16oz tins, as I would love to cellar this deep. For now, 2oz tins it is.
G. L. Pease - Fillmore 2oz
Presentation: A flake that is well broken up, but still offers some larger pieces to be separated even further. Similar in form to Union Square. Rich dark brown and red tobacco layered with the oily and dark perique. As far as I know, this blend only consists of red Virginia and perique. If there is any bright, it's either applied very lightly or someone accidentally knocked some in. Palette: Upon first olfactory experience, the tin note is of wholemeal sourdough bread with no butter. An aroma of ripe prune and fig compliment the bread/sour note. It's semi sweet and I could keep my nose in it all day. It vaguely reminds me of MacBaren Navy Flake, but upon further investigation, my nose is playing tricks on me. Either way, it had a very reminiscent smell of another blend, I just can't put my finger on it. The taste is superb. If I could translate the flavor into a projection, it would be smiles upon smiles. The red Virginia is actually pretty sweet considering it's the the base of the blend, and without any brights it retains it's natural taste quite well. Definitely some 'Grade- A' Virginias used in this blend, or they have been aged quite a bit before being added. The perique is applied heavily, if you consider that most Va/Pers are more tame. Offers a creamy mouth feel to the whole blend. It's spicy black pepper essence is not dominant, but it reminds you that it's not going away anytime soon. As with most Va/Pers, the perique is noticeable upon the first quarter of the bowl and tapers off, usually mixing in with the Virginia's. Not this one. It's present throughout and I love it.It's a bold blend and if you don't like strong perique stay away. It has also been noted that Latakia made it's way into the blend too, but I can't find any trace of it. Performance: Slightly moist out of the tin, once might want to dry it a bit. I have tried both fresh from the tin and dried for 30 minutes, yet both produced the same experience. One false light and one true light and away we went. It maintains its composure until the last embers die out. Can leave a little moisture in the heel but it smoked effortlessly and without any bite whatsoever. The flake format makes it easy to customize your smoking experience. Nice thick clouds of smoke that never dulled and kept going. Only required one more light towards the end of the bowl. Nicotine is a tick past medium. Not an all day smoke but can probably smoke a few in the day for the Va/Per aficionados. Conclusions: Well, I've finally finished the 'Va/Per Trio' (Stratford/TH/Fillmore) of Gregs blends. You may be thinking "Why not Haddos Delight, Cumberland or Penny Farthing,etc?" Well, if we are talking strictly about a Virginia and Perique blend, those wouldn't make the cut, as they have some other constituents that would take away from the pure flavor of what a Va/Per truly is. They are Va/Per based, but some have added toppings or leaf. Therefore, if Stratford is the highschool senior going through bootcamp who just got word that tomorrow is the gas chamber experience and Telegraph Hill is the more sophisticated Second Lieutenant who graduated from West Pointe who decided a mustache was a good look for his newly appointed position, Fillmore is the guy who dropped out of his first semester at the small town community college after his girlfriend broke up with him, joined the Marines, has been on 7 tours in two different wars, received two purple hearts for non life-threatening wounds, has a slightly crooked smile and has killed a handful of men along with a few livestock animals from a grenade that "accidentally" went off. He's now 47 years old and it's not that society doesn't want him, it's that he doesn't want society anymore and knows nothing other than the military life. Unrefined but badass. Not the smartest but wise. Won't pick a fight but will break your nose just by looking at him the wrong way once. That's how Fillmore is. I recommend stocking up on this if you know what's good for you.