Two Friends - Redwood 2oz
It may not be a pure va/per, but this blend is probably in my top five. After a couple years of age on it, my current jar smells like a fresh red velvet cake. The flavor is very reminiscent of cedar, very woodsy with a slight sweet undertone. It's velvety soft when smoked properly, but it can get a little steamy if you puff too fast. It's little fruity from the perique, and builds up just a little bit of spice toward the last third of the bowl. For my tastes this is a wonderful blend
Cornell & Diehl - Bijou 2oz
This blend won't beat you over the head with flavors but it's very pleasant. It smokes as well as any chunky flake will, and as long as you don't puff too hard it will be kind to your tongue. The flavor that comes to mind the most is tangy, i'm sure from both the red virginias and the Katerini working together. As the bowl goes on I get a pleasant collection of spice flavors, and a soft sweetness as well. There's nothing offensive about this blend, and it's only gotten better with age. What i've got has about 8 months of age on it now, I can't wait for it to reach the 1 and 2 year marks.
Cornell & Diehl - Blue Ridge 2oz
I was initially drawn to this blend from it being named after my favorite mountains, but the description made me very curious. It hasn't disappointed at all, this blend is great. Red virginias will always make a great base, and the condiments do exactly what they're supposed to. The cavendish (which i don't see at all visually) definitely adds a little more sweetness, but it doesn't make it burn hot or steamy. The perique is quite subtle thankfully, just lending some fruitiness and a hint of spice in the back of my throat. Doesn't overpower anything else. The orientals seem to be the most prominent condiment, because there is a definite incense and oddly floral taste that increases as the bowl progresses. The blend as a whole is earthy and woodsy, a little sweet, and has a great floral quality. I highly recommend it, it tastes great and I think it's going to age nicely as well.
McConnell - Glen Piper 50g
A nice departure
Just to start out, I am not an aromatic tobacco person. They tend to end up burning hot and harsh, with a chemical aftertaste, and I do not enjoy it. This tobacco, however, is one of the few aromatics that I genuinely enjoy. No harshness in my experience, and very little chemical aftertaste. The base tobaccos are extremely high quality, so the base tobacco flavor is definitely there. The added flavor doesn't take away from it at all; most of what i taste is a very general fruit flavor (I would guess apple if you put a gun to my head). There is a hint of cocoa as well, but it's not especially strong. The flavors are excellent. It doesn't smoke as well as i would like (tends to take more relights for me), both due to the extra topping/casing and also the cut. This isn't really enough to take away from the experience personally. I highly recommend this tobacco, even if you aren't necessarily an aromatics fan. It would never convert me to aromatics but it's a wonderful change of pace.
G. L. Pease - Embarcadero 2oz
Subtle, complex, and delicious
This blend is the perfect segue between a straight VA and an English. It has more body and a bit more complexity than your typical straight VA, but isn't as "in your face" as a full English blend. The nicotine might take you by surprise if you're on an empty stomach, but it won't leave you feeling ill. The Virginias are sweet but earthy, and the Izmir brings a touch of tanginess and plenty of herb & spice flavors. If you love Orientals or just want to make yourself more acquainted with them, this blend is a great choice.
Peter Stokkebye - PS402 Luxury Twist Flake
Pleasant and simple
This blend has a nice niche, it provides a pleasant room note while still having a good base tobacco flavor. There's definitely an added flavor, and on the first light it's a bit harsh and chemical for my taste. Thankfully that fades after a few minutes and it settles in to a pleasant Virginia breadiness (with an occasional grassy note breaking through). The smoke is very creamy in both taste and smoke texture, which meshes nicely with the sweetness. This would be a daily smoke for me, but it's in the niche already filled for me by the Country Squire's blend Merriwether, which is a little more flavorful and has no harshness on the first light. This is still a good blend however, and i'm going to put some back for aging to see if that mellows it further.
Dan Tobacco - Black Velvet 50g
I tried this blend because it sounded very different from blends i've had in the past, and I was not disappointed. This blend is pretty unique. Most of what I tasted were the Virginias, which seemed to be an even mix of brights and darks. The Latakia was way in the background, I could taste it but it wasn't strong. The topping is really what made it interesting, as I was hoping. Guinness is the stronger of the two topping flavors, and it came through to me as a surprisingly rich malty taste. The champagne was faintly there, and mixed well with the bright Virginias. It did occasionally have a harshness to it (which I always get occasionally with more aromatic blends), but not bad at all. It probably won't be a regular part of my rotation but it's a great way to change up the palate.
Fribourg & Treyer - Waterloo No. 2 50g
I've had one or two other English blends without Orientals before trying this one, so I had some expectations about what this blend would be like. It didn't really meet them, and while this blend is not bad at all it's just a bit...underwhelming. The Virginias are definitely the biggest flavor in the blend, with bright Virginias being the standout. I was not expecting this blend to be very sweet or citrus-y, but it definitely was. Most straight Virginias that i've tasted weren't this sweet, it took me by surprise. The Latakia is there but definitely in the background, which surprised me. It gives a little smokiness, but mostly just some incense notes (and those didn't really show up until about 1/3 of the way through the bowl). Is it good? Yes, it's definitely made of quality tobacco. But if you're looking for a hearty, heavy English blend then you really should look elsewhere.
Mac Baren - Golden Extra
Did not agree with me
The taste of this blend was overall fine, with the typical burley nuttiness topped with some lightly sweet vanilla flavor. It was pleasant, but something in this blend did NOT like me. It bit my tongue like nothing else, and the bite started almost immediately. Didn't matter how slowly it was smoked, it bit me quickly and hard. Your experience may be very different since bite varies so much between every person, but mine was not good.
Cornell & Diehl - Awakened Elder 2oz
There's just so much going on in this blend, it's hard to find a place to start. The black cavendish is probably the least influential ingredient, if it wasn't listed in the components list i wouldn't have even guessed it was here. Perique is a little more present, building up some peppery spice and mouth feel in the second half of the bowl. Latakia is clearly present, bringing some campfire smokiness to the mixture. Virginias are likewise very present, giving some sweetness and rich earthiness. The two most obvious ingredients are the burleys and Orientals; you get the rich nuttiness and a hint of cocoa from the burleys, and some rich spice flavors (mainly cloves and cinnamon) from the Katsuri. This blend is one that you'll want to sit back and pick apart to truly appreciate, and it's well-worth your time.
Brebbia - Latakia Flake 50g
Simple, high-quality English
There's not a ton going on with this blend, but it's delicious. The Virginias are at the forefront, very smooth and more on the earthy and nutty side than the bright and grassy. From looking at the flakes themselves you would expect a Lat-bomb, but being Syrian Latakia it's much more subtle. It doesn't beat you over the head with a campfire, it's more of a spicy and musty incense flavor (almost reminded me of Orientals at times). It's very straightforward and extremely high quality, I highly recommend it.
Mac Baren - HH Old Dark Fired 1.75oz
Deep and earthy
This blend is full of "dark," earthy flavors, and it's lovely. The first thing that the tin note brought to mind was red wine, with a sort of dry and fruity aroma, but on top of that is a very heavy smokiness. It's not the campfire sort of smokiness that you get from latakia, it's closer to that of smoked meat. The dark fired Kentucky's retain the nuttiness from normal burleys, so the result reminded me of smoked almonds. There's a little bit of tanginess and sweetness as well, which i'm assuming comes from the Virginias, but it's definitely in the background. Overall it's delicious, and a good departure from my usual English and Virginia blends. I highly recommend it.
Padron - Maduro 2000
This is one of the cigars I think of when I want to describe what the standard for a good cigar is. This is more at the peppery end of the spectrum, but it's smooth and well-balanced. It's probably one of the best cigars for the money as well, it's hard to find a better sweet spot between cost and quality.
Drew Estate - Kentucky Fire Cured Fat Molly
A unique favorite
It's been a while since i've had one of these cigars, so this is pretty much all from memory but the cigar makes quite the impression. For the most part this cigar is pretty classic in terms of flavors; leathery smoothness, some aromatic wood notes, and a little bit of pepper. What sets it apart is the rich smokiness that sits right on top of all the other flavors and mixes with them perfectly. It's a rich, campfire smokiness like you get with Latakia in pipe tobaccos, but when thrown in with more traditional cigar flavors it takes on a whole new dimension. If you like English-style pipe tobacco blends or want something that's a departure from the typical cigar flavor profile, this is the first thing I would recommend to people.
CAO - Flathead Carb
Rich and earthy
This is one of my favorite cigars. It's got a rich, dark flavor, like a dark roast coffee, with some chocolate notes and that awesome Nicaraguan sweetness. It's got some noticeable touches of pepper and leather as well, and that maduro wrapper makes it taste thick and oily. Perfect medium to full nicotine level gets you a good buzz but doesn't overpower. Excellent and under-rated smoke.
My Father - Flor de las Antillas Robusto
This a wonderfully smooth cigar, with all the right notes of cedar, a little cocoa, and a touch of pepper. It's got some of that typical Nicaraguan sweetness as well, and some classic leathery smoothness. For me, this sets the standard for what a good quality cigar should be like.
Seattle Pipe Club - Mississippi River 2oz
It's not my favorite (especially at this price point), but it's a good blend. It's definitely an English, but lighter on the Latakia and maybe a little heavier on the Perique. It's tangier and spicier than a lot of other English blends out there. Pack it lightly and smoke it slowly to keep it burning and from getting too harsh, and it will do you well. Worth trying at least once.
Peterson - Irish Cask 50g
Pleasant and consistent
It's not my go-to tobacco, but whenever I do decide to smoke this blend it doesn't disappoint. It's a bit of a kitchen sink blend so sometimes it can be hard to pick apart all the different flavors, but overall I find it to be like a good Va/Per with a slight bit of extra sweetness. The Virginia's have more of the bread-y flavor profile, and the perique isn't especially heavy but brings some good spiciness to the table. I'll take their word for it on being aged in sherry barrels, because I can't taste anything that would indicate it. Worth a try if you like Va/Per blends and want something a little different.
Three Nuns - Three Nuns 1.75oz
Not for me
Maybe I just expected too much after hearing the hype around this blend, but I found this extremely disappointing. It does have a some bright Virginia flavors, and some earthy/nutty flavors from the Kentucky's, but they're very light flavors and do not make up for the poor smoking mechanics. I've tried smoking rubbed out loosely, rubbed out very fine, and just folded and stuffed, but none of them worked well for me. It was an infuriating combination of refusing to stay lit and smoking harshly/biting my tongue when it actually stays lit. The jar that I have has been almost completely untouched now for probably a year, because there's never really a time when it sounds appealing to me.
Tabac De La Semois - La Brumeuse 3.5oz
I have yet to taste any pipe tobacco remotely similar to this one. You can tell it came from a burley, but the flavors are completely different. The bag note is very cigar-like, and it has a similar flavor once you start smoking it. I get some floral notes, as well as an earthy mineral sort of flavor. I don't smoke it often but it's always a fantastic experience. Pack it tight and smoke it slow, and it will reward you with flavors completely unique in pipe tobacco.
G. L. Pease - Union Square 2oz
Smooth and subtle
This is about as natural a flavor as i've ever tasted in a pipe tobacco. I can't taste any noticeable added flavors, and the sweetness is VERY light, and doesn't hide any of the more subtle flavors underneath. I mostly tasted the earthiness of the red Virginias along with a little bit of a baked bread flavor, and the bright Virginias brought a little bit of fresh hay along with the light sweetness. I wouldn't call it a complex blend, it's really quite simple, but the flavors are subtle even by the standard of Virginia blends. This will end being a favorite of mine and I can't wait to age some.
Presbyterian - Presbyterian 50g
I was excited to try it for the first time after being off the market for a while, and I am so glad I decided to pick up a tin. This is the perfect medium in terms of flavors and strength, you can taste every part of the blend easily and nothing overpowers the mixture. You get smokiness and incense from the latakia, you get some spice and mustiness from the Orientals, and you get some sweetness and grassiness from the Virginias. Whatever flavor you decide to focus on you'll be able to find easily. This is now my go-to blend when I just want something uncomplicated and delicious, and is absolutely in my top three blends.