Mac Baren - HH Balkan Blend 1.75oz
An All-Day Blend
This blend smells nice in the tin, kind of honied, with some sourish fruit notes in there. With air time the Latakia becomes noticeable. This is no Latakia bomb, but it's a great blend. It has balance, but this is a sweeter style of this genre, which I appreciated. I think it's an all day blend.
Drucquer & Sons - The Devil's Own 100g
I Get It (Sir Henry Irving)
My tin has age on it, so I don't know how much better it might be than a fresh one. What I enjoy most about this blend is its relative simplicity, considering the components and the categorization of the blend. It's mostly Virginia with the flavors of the other components playing off the Virginia. Sometimes simpler is more special for me. This is a sweet, wine-like, and bready, woodsy blend with little cocoa, smoke and leather notes that weave in and out of a Virginia experience. It's thoroughly enjoyable. It is easy to get this to burn hot and harsh-tasting. However, this blend burns very well, and slowly if done right. Give it a go. I can see some others enjoying it, as I do, and it is an all-day kind of smoke.
Fribourg & Treyer - Special Brown Flake 50g
I thoroughly enjoy this flake. Tobacco aromas and tastes: semi- sweet, tangy, bready, and earthy. Lots of lovely flavors as you go down the bowl and things unfurl. It's just a little moist out of the tin. I love this stuff.
Mac Baren - HH Pure Virginia 1.75oz
Maybe The Best
This, and Opening Night are probably the best straight Virginia blends I have had. This has a range of tastes and has good body to it. It has some savory, earthy, vegetal, salty flavors, and has the barest hint of fig and some leather and wood smoke. It has a mostly malty, molasses-like,yeasty, bready flavor. It's complex and full, and satisfying. Give it a go.
Cornell & Diehl - Opening Night 2oz
The Best, Possibly
This blend has the range of flavors that Virginia can provide. It's sweet and earthy, soil-like, nutty, creamy, bready, fruity. It has it all. I've yet to try Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake or G.L. Pease Union Square, but this is probably the best and fullest straight Virginia blend I have had--this, and probably Mac Baren HH Pure Virginia. I can't think of any negatives with this blend.
Cornell & Diehl - Bow-Legged Bear 2oz
Sturdy And Rich
This blend has a lot going on, and all of the components get their minutes of fame. At some point there will be some flavors melding and things get cohesive into a cereal, Burley, Latakia, cocoa, creamy, fermented flavor. It's like having a deep, oaked wine, or some dark, malty ale. This one is strong in the nicotine department. Just take it slowly. It's an accessible blend with lots of flavor. I recommend it to anyone that wants an interesting smoke.
Drucquer & Sons - Red Lion 100g
Quite The Surprise
I like to refer to this blend as "athletic" because it achieves a somewhat Oriental taste component without actually having that component. This is a Virginia-forward, creamy blend that burns perhaps a bit fast, but the Latakia keeps the sweetness in check and the burn in check as well. What I get is a sweet and smokey, and floral experience from this blend. It is fascinating to see how the Virginia and Latakia play off one another.
Drucquer & Sons - Blairgowrie 100g
Robust Indeed, But Creamy
This blend is a creamy, sweet and savory mix. It's really spicy, yet creamy notes, bready, fruity notes balance it out . The Latakia never overshadows the other tobaccos, and what you get is an interesting, multifaceted flavor experience. It seems to be the favorite of the Drucquer line, but there are others worth trying and falling in love with.
Drucquer & Sons - Inns of Court 100g
I love these tins. They are so classic in their presentation. This blend is slightly sweet, slightly salty blend with great balance. Mostly you get a VaPer touch, and a Burley and Latakia touch, and points where all of that mix into a complex, and comfortable mixture. But it's not overly complex. Mostly, you get the cocoa and nuttiness of Burleys and the flavors of the other ingredients playing off of that. The combustion is great and its flavors and aromas are accessible when sipped.
Balkan Sasieni - Balkan Sasieni 50g
A great classic
This is based on the STG version. This a great middle of the road Balkan. I don't think I've had many mixtures that provide such a unified and consistent taste as this blend. There is a nutty creaminess. It's a touch sour, sweet and spicy. To me, the Latakia is silky as time passes with this blend in a jar. It also has enough Virginia to get better with time. The only negative is it can get a little bitey if not carefully smoked.
G. L. Pease - Laurel Heights 8oz
There aren't many blends out there with the same components that are really this good. The Virginias are outstanding and natural-tasting with great fermented character and just a bit of leather and smoke in the backdrop. It's kind of punchy and in your face with Virginia character which is unusual and I like it.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
Strong and rich
Take your time smoking this blend. It is wonderfully rich and earthy and there is some surprising sweetness, but it isn't citrusy or sharp. It's more like a bread compliment to the spice and nuttiness from the Kentucky. The only downside is it has potential to be too strong for some smokers.
Fribourg & Treyer - Vintage Flake 50g
This flake is stronger than many straight Virginia flakes, to me. There is a wonderful fermented character to the taste, but not like Perique. It has a range of sweet and earthy flavors, and it's on the oats, cereal, bread end of the Virginia spectrum with enough fruit notes to make it all the more interesting. Sometimes it is even buttery. Great blend.
G. L. Pease - Blackpoint 2oz
G.L. Pease was right
The flavor notes the blender mentions are usually spot on. This is a fruit-forward and spice-forward blend containing Latakia. The Latakia provides a nice backbone for the other tobaccos to express themselves in a quite unified experience. I also love the aroma of this blend in the pipe.
G. L. Pease - Gaslight 2oz
Based on a tin with about 18 months of age. This is a fine blend with a wide range of flavors, fruit, smoke, cereals, florals, spices. It is a joy to prepare and smoke. I think the age toned down the Latakia and made it silky. There is an enjoyable creaminess to this blend I love. Tobaccoreviews.com under 'Voyager' is my full review.
Mac Baren - Navy Flake 100g
This is a classic blend that has endured for some time. You must take your time smoking. It can easily get too hot and you will miss the charms this classic has to offer. I usually rub out flakes fully. This blend has Mac Baren's signature honey and molasses overtone that sort of provides the identifiable character of their blends. It starts off somewhat tangy with a touch of honey. There is a spicy mouthfeel and fermented taste you occasionally get. Down the bowl the body of the smoke may oscillate from mild to medium, but their are notes of hay, honey, dried fruits, molasses, nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It makes me think of coffee with cream or milk, or baking, and baking spices. In a jar or tin it smells like fruit preserves or jam with a touch of honey, yet slightly floral. It is both sweet and savory, and sometimes sour. They are all there. The nicotine level is maybe medium. For me, this is a comforting, all-day type of experience. I have smoked it in summer months and winter months and I find it tastes good in either time, and holds up in either weather type. If you don't like Mac Baren's blends of their regular line, I doubt you will like this one. It's like the apotheosis Mac Baren classic. It's similar to 4th Generation 1931 flake, but not as full as 1931 Flake. I love both blends.
Cornell & Diehl - Tuskegee Airman 2oz
Take Your Time
I tried this tin after about a year of age on it. I recommend letting C&D tins sit for a while, like six months at least. Since it’s a crumble cake, the flavors had plenty of time to integrate. The cake was pretty neat in presentation with a little bit cut off and rubbed out for a small bowl. The smell in the tine was sour and fruity with a touch of smokiness. I have smoked this three times in three different pipes (a pot, an apple, and a Lumberman) with no dry time. I like to slice off some tobacco with a knife and rub it out gently, then gravity-fill the pipe, then gently tamp with my finger. I feel comfortable writing a review because I like this blend that much and I got a similar experience with each smoke. In the first third of the bowl the taste was more fruit-forward, and bright. There are tons of tangy, fruity, and floral notes. There is a spicy mouthfeel and on the tongue for about the first two-thirds of the bowl. On retrohales I get some sort of combination of fruit—maybe nectarine, or some other stone fruit, flowers, leaves, and wood. Sometimes it is two or three of those four notes, and sometimes it is all four of the notes. It makes me think of fruit trees and flowers, and a forest in cool weather maybe. And those two things don’t have to exist in the same place, but that’s what the flavors and smells make me think of. There are dried woody notes, sometimes sweeter woody notes. Sometimes there is a fruity note backed by some smoke that, to me, is like a dark, stewed fruit (I mean like the fruit is cooking in some kind of warm batter). That touch of smoke is actually present throughout the bowl, really bringing some roundness to the taste profile. In the last third I got leather notes, and what I mean by that is that if I could take the smell of leather and convert it to a taste, it would resemble a ‘leather note’. Some of the fruit notes weave in and out, along with less spicy and floral notes, but those tastes become secondary to the leather and wood. The nicotine content is mild, for me. I do not smoke on an empty stomach, so my assessment of nicotine content is going to be different than others. This blend does not fatigue my palate, but it is somewhat full on your senses, yet not overwhelming.
Erik Stokkebye 4th Generation - 1931 Flake 1.4oz
Quite The Solid Blend
This is a good blend, but my first tin of this was age a few years. Lots of other people have compared it to Mac Baren Navy Flake, which is appropriate, because they have a similar flavor profile. I find MB Navy Flake has more casing and flavoring akin to MB's brand taste (which I love). 1931 is similar to MB Navy Flake in that kind of honey flavor profile that looms over the overall flavor of the blend. My tin had about two years of age. There is some earthiness with the sweetness of honey lingering. The flavor profile sometimes reminds me of waffles. I also get notes of toasted bread. It has a breakfast character. At times, when it's smoldering, I get notes of banana, or banana bread maybe. Sometimes I get dates. That honey tastes comes and goes as you go through the bowl, but it can remain to the end, which I find remarkable. This is an all-day type of blend. I did not get much of impact from the nicotine, which is good. I think anyone that likes simple, mellow blends should try this one. It is a simple mixture done really well, which is much appreciated by me. They are simple flavors, but this blend can be hot and bitey, so you have to be cautious. The citrusy sharpness can be exhaustive. There are things to enjoy in this blend. You can kind of just relax and not try to puzzle out too much.
G. L. Pease - Sextant 2oz
I have not tried all of the popular English Blends, but Sextant has been my favorite one so far. I like that G.L. Pease has a tendency to push outside some of the traditional blend component, Sextant being an example. As a navy blend fan, I enjoy the addition of rum to this blend. I think it really works when usually I would think whiskey works best with the Latakia flavor profile. The addition of Kentucky gives me that nutmeg hint I describe in my review of G.L. Pease Navigator. There are some notes of cooking spices and herbs (maybe coriander or cardamom) in this blend as well which, for me, make it an interesting and savory journey when smoking this. The sweetness you get from this is less obvious and not of a sugary nature, but works well with the rum to give me something indescribable. This is a beautiful mixture that I thoroughly enjoy, and just like Navigator, I find myself reaching for when I don't want any doubts about being satisfied for an after dinner period of contemplation and gustatory enjoyment. I would buy this again without a doubt. I have smoked this in a variety of slightly-wider bowls, all pots. I did not care too much for this blend at first, but it only got better with time, and also time and patience to find the right pipe for it. My tin is from 03/2017. I use an Aldo Velani pot with slight bend. I pack about half the bowl, because of the strength of this blend. I recommend a drink on-hand. Nothing more I can think of to say about this one. You have to try it to see for yourself.
G. L. Pease - Navigator 2oz
I keep coming back to this one. I recommend a small bowl for this blend due to its strength. I say that as a person that never smokes on an empty stomach. When you open the tin you can smell the rum, which is helping out some really fresh Virginias (smells fruitier with an aged tin upon opening). The moisture level was good for me right out of the tin, but burned better with time in the jar, allowing more air to get to it. I would keep coming back to this every couple of weeks or months and it only got better. The moisture level was good right out of the tin, if you don't mind some re-lights. At first light this usually begins spicy and woody, and you really get these flavors in the retrohales. Some of the flavors linger on the tongue. As you get down the bowl, the spiciness calms down and becomes more of nice compliment to a fruit sweetness. This blend is so pleasant and delicious. Some flavors that form remind me of dark fruits, some citrus notes, woody notes, some light cigar notes, cocoa, and tangy notes like stone fruits. All of the fruit notes are enhanced by the topping. The order in which you experience the flavors will vary from bowl to bowl because the flakes are broken and as you smoke through a tin or jar you will get different mixes, and the random bits of tobacco you pick up and load will vary as well. If you leave the room and come back it smells like someone has been burning wood, sort of. Overall with proper technique it should mostly smell sweet and bakery-like, mixed with the smokiness. Age on this blend brings out more of the fruit character of the Virginias, and you will still notice the rum further enhancing the character of the Virginias. I am a real navy blend fan, and this blend always makes me come back to it. This is one of my favorite blends.
Dan Tobacco - Salty Dogs 50g
Before I begin, I have to say that there are well-known VaPers out there that I have yet to try just because there is just so many blends out there. I haven't tried Escudo, just to name one. Salty Dogs is a flavorful one. Needs some dry time once slicing off flakes. I rub mine out. I tend to kind of shave off the pieces and you have to try and get as much of an even amount as possible so you get the right flavor. I like the spiciness of this blend. It's got more Perique than most VaPers. You feel the pepper on the retrohales and sometimes in the mouthfeel. The Virginias, I have mixed tastes with, but if you get the proper cuts during preparation you'll likely have success. I get some sweet stewy fruit flavors (dark fruit). This blend is also savory, I might add, which was unexpected, for me. There is a meaty quality to it. There have been instances where I have gotten cocoa/high cacao percentage flavors from the smoke towards the beginning of the bowl. As the bowl progresses it takes on a brownie-like chocolate taste, which can be light on the palate. There is somewhat of a molasses taste in the background. I don't get an obvious rum taste, but maybe some flavors associated with a sweeter Caribbean rum. It's just not obvious. I am a navy blend fan, so I was looking for it. I wish there was more rum, and that might be the only negative I can claim with this blend. I get a rum aftertaste (just a little) when I am finished smoking this. The nicotine hit may come as you get down the bowl. Don't be deceived. I smoke this is small bowls as suggested. Have a drink handy. I would buy this again, because I find it tasty and strong enough, and thus satisfying.
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Out Of The Trenches
- ► Nice read. I enjoy these historical pieces. -Alex