Joseph D.

Drucquer & Sons - Trafalgar 100g
Really nice English mixture
I have tried a trio of Drucquer offerings -- Trafalgar, Blairgowrie, and Levant Mixture. I may try a couple more, as these are uniformly excellent. Of Trafalgar, I'd say this is the more balanced of the three, with a good but not overpowering dose of Vitamin L balanced by Virginias and Turkish tobacco. I love the tin note, which is rich and a bit spicy. The smoke itself lights nicely and burns clean. It does not bite, of course, except if you really push it. If you don't, you'll be rewarded with a really nice middle-English that I'd compare to GL Pease's Westminster, or maybe Piccadilly. I'll try it again at some point as it is really nice. But, honestly, it sits in competition with a LOT of other blends boasting a similar ingredient mix and taste profile. English mixture smokers will love it.

Missouri Meerschaum - Lord Morgan 1.5oz
Unique and interesting
Most "aromatic English" blends are cavendish thrown into a normal English blend to sweeten it up a bit. I don't really care for them. This "aromatic English" is quite different, though. With a heavy dose (65%) of Latakia, this one doesn't have room for such sweeteners. The remaining 35% is Virginia, some burley, and a bit of Perique. But aromatic it is. Beautifully, lushly so. Its sweetening agent is the bourbon cask it was stored in, which made it a bit moist, uniformly dark, and fully loaded with a wonderful, boozy smell. This is a nightcap smoke, and an occasional one at that. It doesn't taste like a lat-bomb, despite the high proportion. This blend achieves something different -- a heady, nice-smelling, deeply flavored "dram." I visited Sutliff's factory in Richmond, Va., more than a year ago, and the tour guide showed us a run of this and commented on it. "This will be something special," he said. He was right.

Cornell & Diehl - Sunday Picnic 2oz
VaPer with a turkish twist
This is a really delicious Virginia-Perique (VaPer) mixture with added turkish tobacco, which lends it a slightly brighter flavor and a refreshing change from the darker VaPers I normally smoke. I like it quite a bit and would compare its flavor to GL Pease's wonderful Fillmore, but with a lighter more floral taste.

Drucquer & Sons - Blairgowrie 100g
Really really good
The first thing you'll notice is the cut. It's a rubbed-out flake and that means 1) its flavor is consistent, bowl to bowl, and 2) you can pinch and pack it without having to rub it out at all. The next thing you notice is the tin note, rich and full but with a bit of molasses-type sweetness to it. Not overpowering, just a good, manly aroma. After you pack and light you'll notice this lights pretty easily and it burns very well. I typically finish a bowl in 30 minutes and with Blairgowrie I might re-light it once or twice. That's because the moisture level is right and the tobacco packs very well. The flavor is a mixture of that molasses sweetness, a bit of smoky undertone, and really nice Virginia hay. Love this stuff.

G. L. Pease - Samarra 2oz
Great mouthfeel
This is a really nice English mixture with some Turkish in there to fill it out a bit. It grew on me as I worked through the tin and it is definitely a well-balanced, repeatable smoke. Ribbon-cut that loads easily and packs well. The latakia is noticeable but not overpowering, but it's got a lot of ingredients. Red and a little bit of bright Virginia, Turkish, Latakia and a bit of Perique... the gang's all here. But they're all well behaved and play their role.

Cornell & Diehl - Blockade Runner 2oz
Just okay
I try different Navy Cavendish styles and really enjoy Windjammer and Navigator from Pease. Blockade Runner didn't really do it for me. I'm generally not a big fan of crumble cakes, but this one breaks apart easily enough, and it may have been drier than intended. But it does burn a bit hot which leads to biting, and the others I mentioned are "better behaved" in my pipes. Nice, but not a repeater for me.

Cornell & Diehl - Sunset Harbor Flake 2oz
Lighter alternative to Nightcap, but definitely an evening smoke
This is a really nice, smooth blend. The tin description prepares you for a full-bodied, sip-don't-pull experience, and Sunset Harbor is a full tasting blend. But it's also more comforting for me than Nightcap and a bit smoother. It packs and burns very nicely, too, needing few relilghts. For me, it is a last bowl of the day.

Cornell & Diehl - Orion's Arrow
Turkish Delight
I'm mainly a VaPer, Virginia, and English smoker, but I do crave some Turkish once in a while. It's lighter-bodied but very full flavored, and has a great aroma some describe as vaguely "floral." It doesn't smell like that to me: more like a sharp sweetness, but I enjoy it as a change of pace. Orion's Arrow scratches that itch, and I like to have some on hand once in a while. It's a blessing that OA is available in bulk, too, which makes it cost-effective. Treat your palate.

Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Morning
Bayou Morning is not a morning smoke.
I always thought those Cajuns got up early, but maybe they sleep in til the afternoon and can handle a hefty dose of perique off the bat? For the rest of us, though, I'd suggest waiting until the sun is high over the bayou before sparking this little treasure. Twenty-five percent perique is ENOUGH. Don't misunderstand me; I really do like this one. It is delicious mid-day and into the evening , "plummy" and spicy enough to put some zip in your lip. The Virginia base settles things down a bit once you're mid-bowl and it finishes very nicely. Great blend. I actually tried this one after trying "Bayou Night," which I did not like at all because of its heavy perique and "locker room" smell in the jar. Bayou Morning is very different, though.

G. L. Pease - Piccadilly 2oz
Great Morning option
I've smoked a bit of Early Morning Pipe, and GL Pease's Chelsea Morning, and this blend fits right in that category. There is both latakia and perique in there, but lightly so. This, like those other two, is best paired with black coffee and a morning breeze. I prefer the ribbon cut of this one to Chelsea Morning as it is easier for me to load, but taste-wise I like both equally.

War Horse - Bar 1.75oz
Hard to start, but tasty once it's rolling
I was intrigued by the SmokingPipes guys' "Mystery Blend" review of this one, and gave it a shot. It's a very different smoke for me. High in nicotine, strong in flavor, and aromatic with anise and I guess tonquin flavors. This one is a plug, comes as a block inside the tin, and I have experimented a bit with how much I rub it out once I've sliced a chunk from the cake. The aroma in the tin is strongly of anise, like sweet licorice. It's rough on first lighting, for me, but settles down once it's fully lit and has been tamped a bit. The nicotine hit is strong, so I'd suggest it for after a meal or you get a bit woozy.

Sutliff - Match Victorian
Really enjoyable, whatever it's trying to match
I ran through 4 ounces of this mixture on a recent road trip and will definitely get some more. It has a new "old friend" quality, like the guy you meet at the pipe show and instantly feel as though you've been friends for years. I plan to buy some more, along with a tin of Elizabethan Mixture, to see whether Victorian Match is the great deal I think it is.

Cornell & Diehl - Haunted Bookshop
Wanted to like it, but it's just not for me.
This one seems to polarize people, but I'm just ... meh... about it. It has quite a bit of burley, which I think doesn't sit right on my palate. But if you like burley this may be for you. I think everyone gets curious about this one because, let's be honest, it's one of the greatest NAMES for a blend I've ever seen. Such an evocative moniker begs for a complex, musty smoke. And while HB does provide that, it didn't win me over. I may try it at another time of the year (February in Virginia) to see if it's a seasonal thing, but it's just not my blend.

Sutliff - Match Late Evening
Nice, but not a keeper for me
I tried 2 oz. of this and did enjoy it, but there was nothing about it that really grabbed me.

Sutliff - Balkan II
Very nice and full-bodied
I have been bouncing around some of Sutliff's English/Balkan mixtures. I seem to favor English in the cold months and this one was in rotation with Sutliff's excellent Lord Nelson and their Heavy English. I like the variety each offers, and Balkan II is very nice and shares a slight sweetness with Lord Nelson. Think I prefer Lord Nelson, but this one is very nice too.

G. L. Pease - Navigator 2oz
Saucy, sweet, and luscious
I've been working through GL Pease's various Navy flake offerings since trying -- and really liking -- "Windjammer." Like that one and Sextant, these are Navy flakes with a twist. The twist here is the dark-fired Kentucky. Navigator gives you that rummy bouquet in the tin and in the early smoke, while the dark-fired Kentucky works up a head of steam. By mid-bowl the flavors harmonize to a deep-tasting spiced rum kind of flavor. When I'm in the mood for a Navy flake, I want that boozy, fruity character that Navy flakes give me, and this gives less of that than the more perfumed Windjammer. But it's a great alternative when you want something darker, deeper, and more satisfying.

Tampers & Tools - Joseph Rodgers Premium Smokers Knife Stainless Steel
Solid, functional, and a good knife
I've gone through quite a few pipe tools. I do like the folding style, as it provides for a longer poker tool and a better knife than the simpler "stalk" type tools. But most of the folding tools are cheaply made and either start to get loose or the tamper foot manages to fall off or be too large. This one is built to last and feels solid. I worried when I ordered it whether the tamper foot would be too large to fit into smaller bowls, but that is not a problem and the tamper foot fits in all my pipes with no problem. The blade is really good, too. It is a straight-edged blade, not the serrated style some tools offer, and it scrapes rims and bowls easily and smoothly. I expect this tool to last forever because it's solid all the way through. Should have gotten this one sooner.

Sutliff - SPS-14 Majestic English
Not bad, but I won't buy again
I'm not sure what this blend is trying to be. If it has a "higher-than-usual portion of Latakia" as advertised it doesn't taste like it. It tastes rather flat and very lightly sweet. I am a big fan of Sutliff's Lord Nelson, which does have a hefty dose of Latakia but also a nice, sweet undertone. I thought this one might be similar, but it's no match for Lord Nelson to me.

Half and Half - Half and Half 1.5oz
Better than I expected
Like many snobby pipe smokers, I've been trying out some of the "codger blends" lately and have sampled SWR, PA, and now this. And I have to say I like Half and Half more than those others. H&H has a subtle flavor from the anise topping. It's not cloying in the way I found SWR to be. I also like the cut better, which is a little shorter and not as ribbon-cut as PA. Packs better and stays lit very well. This is never going to be a regular blend for me, as I really do prefer the darker, spicier flavors of Virginias, VaPers, and english mixtures, but H&H is definitely my favorite so far of the historic blends. I still need to try Carter Hall.

G. L. Pease - Ashbury 2oz
You won't "Haight" this one!
Ashbury is a middle-English mixture that could be an all-day. I like the flavor profile, though I don't often detect the "leather" that others do. The problem is that this blend is not particularly memorable, and doesn't really stand out in the sea of all-day English mixtures. It's good, and you will enjoy it, but there are other, cheaper options out there that are just as nice.

Cornell & Diehl - Buffalo Soldier 2oz
Not bad, just average
I like the strength of this one. It's a middle-English, if you will, with Latakia in the background. I found it a little dry-tasting for me, almost a chalky sort of taste, but I got used to that and came to like it. This mixture burns very nicely, too.

Kramer's - Father Dempsey
I feel like a Hollywood bigshot packing this stuff up. It is a lovely English mixture and there's something subtly sweet about it that other English mixtures don't give me. I'll be back for more.

G. L. Pease - Montgomery 2oz
Nice Virginia blend
The "wrinkle" here is the addition of the dark-fired Kentucky to Greg Pease's patented delicious Virginias. And it's a good addition, opening up some complexity and depth. This one, smoked fresh, burns nicely and has a toasted flavor that I enjoyed. I love Union Square a lot and this one shares a lot of its glorious qualities.

G. L. Pease - Lombard 2oz
You can't go wrong with a GL Pease VaPer
I liked this one quite a bit, as I have all of the Fog City Series blends I have tried. This one adds a tiny bit of Latakia to what would otherwise be a similar blend to Fillmore or Telegraph Hill, which are both favorites of mine. I find I don't really notice the Latakia in this one, but I do prefer Fillmore and especially Telegraph Hill. If anything, the lat makes this one a little more earthy, rather than smoky, but it's intriguing.

G. L. Pease - Westminster 2oz
Classic and savory
This is a wonderful and typical English mixture and I did enjoy it very much. It burns beautifully, the latakia does not overwhelm the orientals, and it doesn't bite. Much as I enjoyed it, there are less expensive English mixtures that are, for me, just as good at a better price.

Sutliff - Creme Brulee
Occasional aro
Not bad. Needs to dry a bit before smoking, but the flavor is nice and the aroma is nicer.

G. L. Pease - Stratford 2oz
Very nice perique spice in this one
GL Pease does great things with VaPers, and I use his "Telegraph Hill" as my yardstick. Stratford is a little more mellow than TH, but delicious. The red and bright Virginia base makes this one a little bit more round than Telegraph Hill. It's a keeper. The perique is always there, but the sweetness of the red Virginia comes in and out through the bowl. This blend burns very well, too.

Sutliff - Buttered Rum
Nice flavor and burns well
I'm not an aromatic smoker in general, but I do like to keep one or two around for times my sweet tooth needs a fix or if I know I'll be smoking in mixed company. This one smells very nice and it burns pretty well too. That's not true of many aromatics I've tried and I give Sutliff points for making a nice blend that doesn't need constant relighting. The flavor is interchangable with many other aro's, but it does the job.

G. L. Pease - Embarcadero 2oz
Gotta get some more of this
GL Pease's Fog City Series has become a "Murderer's Row" for me, with each blend earning a spot in my lineup. Embarcadero is a little different from the VaPer offerings in this series (Fillmore, Telegraph Hill) in being a Virginia-Turkish blend. Where the perique-spiked blends offer some peppery spice, Embarcadero offers a more heady, almost floral edge for the Virginias that I miss already. I will get more.

G. L. Pease - Laurel Heights 2oz
A nice complement to Union Square
I am in LOVE with Union Square from the same "Fog City" series. Laurel Heights is also a straight Virginia (with a tiny bit of latakia) but it has a darker, more orangey tang to it than the more lemony tilt of Union Square. They are both terrific and I could easily see alternating them in the same role in your standard rotation. GL Pease has made a believer out of me. I've yet to try anything of his that I didn't love after a bowl or two.

G. L. Pease - Embarcadero 2oz
Fog City Series for the Win!
I have really enjoyed making my way through all of the matured Virginias and VaPers in the Fog City Series from GL Pease. Each one is a home run. And Embarcadero is too. Rather than its VaPer cousins, for this one he combines that tangy Virginia base with Izmir Oriental leaf. And the result is a slightly lighter, even floral, entry into this series. The Virginia is nicely complemented by the Izmir, and you get the tang and the nice oriental aroma in one blend. Love it.

Sutliff - 503 Heavy English
A great bulk English
The quality of this blend convinces methat a lot of the tinned mixtures like Squadron Leader are over-rated. This bulk English is every bit as good, in my opinion, and a lot less expensive. I wouldn't say it's got one distinctive characteristic that separates it from everything else, but it's proof you don't have to pay tin prices to get tin quality. Lovely, lat-forward English at a great price. If I have a bone to pick with this one, it is only the name. "Heavy" English seems wrong to me for this one. Perhaps Sutliff should find some as yet unused or hilarious English town name for this one, rather than trying to scare off lovers of lighter mixtures. How about "Squatney Mixture," (Spinal Tap reference) or (actual town name) "Bitchfield Blend."

G. L. Pease - Sextant 2oz
Please Pease Me, Whoa Yeah! Like I Please you!
GL Pease is my new favorite brand. I haven't found anything from him that I don't want more of, and Sextant is no exception. I tried this after enjoying Pease's Windjammer Navy flake and wanted to see what else he could do with that style. I think I still prefer Windjammer to Sextant by a whisker, but it is a very creative melding of a Navy flake with a bit of Olde England. On the stronger side, it works well in the evening or late afternoon. The tin note is delightfully rummy, it packs and lights well, burns well, develops nicely and doesn't bite. That dark fruit taste with boozy notes is like a Cherries Jubilee kind of experience, and I will come back to this one again for sure. Delightful.

Sutliff - SPS-17 Lavish English
Slightly sweetened English
I'd rate this one as a well-crafted example of a style I have little use for personally. It is a nice, creamier alternative to the normal English mixtures I smoke, and I think it is a good "crossover" blend for aro smokers looking to walk on the Brit side.

G. L. Pease - Fillmore 2oz
Full flavored VaPer but with a smoothness and nice savor.
Another winner from Pease! This is a full-bore VaPer, strong on the perique, but still smooth, multifaceted, and smokable at any time of day. I'm torn between this and Telegraph Hill, which is not a flake and not quite as strong, but this is a terrific smoke.

G. L. Pease - Telegraph Hill 2oz
Great VaPer with a nice aftertaste
Unlike a lot of what I've had from GL Pease, this is not a flake. It's a ribbon-cut Virginia with Perique that packs very easily, smokes well and has enough spice to satisfy that urge for the Perique tingle. I really like this and will return to it often. If you like this, you will also like GL Pease's Fillmore, which is also a VaPer but in broken flake form.

G. L. Pease - Quiet Nights 2oz
Very, very nice
I'm having trouble finding a GL Pease blend I DON'T like, and Quiet Nights is no exception. An evening smoke, as its name implies, it is rich with latakia and perique, and quite full. It is a sipper after supper. But it's very smooth and comforting. Another great smoke from Pease.

Samuel Gawith - Squadron Leader 50g
Nice, but overrated
I'd been curious about this one because so many people seem to like it. It's nice, but for the price I don't think it's much better than the typical, heavy latakia bulk blends. At least, it wasn't for me. There's a slight ashy taste to it. It burns well and I had no trouble keeping it lit. I just wasn't blown away by it.

Sutliff - 507C Virginia Slices
Wonderful, clean Virginia flake
This is really a lovely smoke, and great for those of us who like matured Virginia's that don't cost an arm and a leg. At the price, it is a good substitute for Capstan Blue, I think, though not as deep a flavor. But it's a great flake at any price, and I will keep it in regular rotation.

G. L. Pease - Windjammer 2oz
Great Navy Flake from Pease
Windjammer is delicious. The tin note is dark fruits and some sweetness from the added rum. The Virginia-burley-cavendish "meat" is the star here, and Windjammer leaves a very nice aftertaste that I'm still savoring. The perique is felt but not really tasted, to me. It gives the slightest tongue "zing" but that's about it. And that's all I really wanted from this one. Not really an all-day blend, but a definite keep-around. Really like this one.

Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Dark Bird's Eye
Very dark, very full
This is a great one to try. Not quite as good as ODF but very similar in style. The shag cut is a nice change from flakes and ribbon cuts. Takes a bit of finesse to pack it well, but the tradeoff is it lights easily and stays lit longer. My advice on this one is to smoke slowly and sip this one. It is very full flavored and packs plenty of nicotine. Even taking my own advice I get the "niccups" from this one.

A&C Petersen - Escudo Navy Deluxe 50g
Great stuff
This is often billed as the gold standard for VaPers, and I'd have to agree. It's really nice, can be smoked any time, and the coin presentation means it's consistent bowl to bowl. Just wish it were a bit cheaper, or sold in bulk.

Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 1.75oz
Nice for a change of pace
Latakia flake is another well-crafted, nicely presented, easy-smoking flake from MacBaren. I have been sampling quiute a few of their HH tins lately, and this one delivers a nice English taste from flake form. Despite its name, it is not overpowering with the Latakia leaf. It's nicely balanced, tart, and a good walking companion. The flake crumbles a little too easily (in my opinion) which makes loading it a bit messier than with other flakes. Still, once loaded it burns beautifully and slowly, and finishes clean. Worth your time.

Mac Baren - Vanilla Flake 1.75oz
An aromatic I can live with.
I don't usually smoke aromatics, but picked up a tin of this on a whim and I must say I'm really enjoying it. The moisture content right out of the tin is pretty low, which enhances its smoking properties though it does make the flakes very crumbly and a bit tricky to load, but once it's lit you are in for a quiet, smooth-burning and flavorful ride. I will definitely keep some of this around, and watch for similarly well made aromatic flakes from MacBaren. I would recommend this to my flake-loving fellows who get the occasional itch to re-live their pipe-smoking "youth" smoking vanilla flavored aromatics. It's the good stuff you remember, without the gooey reminders of what you didn't.

Erinmore - Erinmore Flake 50g
Once in a great while.
Once in a very great while, I get a hankering to give this flake another go, in part because my first taste was from a neighbor who gets it sent to him in large quantities from the Middle East where, apparently, it's a lot cheaper. So, there's a sentimental attachment to it. The flake itself, right out of the tin, is too moist for me, and I'm too impatient to rub it out and wait a while before loading a pipe. So, right away, I'm faced with having to light it four or five times before it's really cooperating. Once it's lit, I do get a wonderful, fruity aroma in the room and a smoke that is mild with a bit of a nic hit. For me, that initial burst is nice enough that it's what I remember about the flake. But there are lots of flakes with or without different flavorings that impress me more and come with less moisture. This one will remain a very occasional smoke for me.

Hearth & Home - Virginia Memory 1.75oz
Very similar to Luxury Twist Flake
I am an occasional fan of Stokkebye's Luxury Twist Flake, and especially to this type of "twist flake" presentation. It makes counting out the day's allotment easy, breaks apart nicely, and holds enough moisture to slow the smoking down. I purchased my tin elsewhere and it arrived at the right moisture level. That said, I'll probably stick to LTF when I get the hankering, as this is more expensive and too similar to justify the cost. It is a bit aromatic but not overpoweringly so, and I find it a nice change of pace blend.

Peter Stokkebye - PS52 Proper English
Lovely companion
This one is well named. Everything a true English blend should be -- balanced, correct, smooth. That's doing it a bit of an injustice, since it really is a lovely smoke. "Proper," if you like, but the lady has her romantic, lusty side too. She just won't show it right off. You must be patient.

Sutliff - 523 Voodoo Queen
Fun little gal
How to describe this one? It's a somewhat English blend but with some broken Va. flake and some very subtle mocha flavoring that just wafts in and out during the smoke. I like this one quite a bit. It has a very distinct character, burns well, and the flavoring serves as just one more current in a swirling mix of flavors. Maybe not an all-day kind of blend, but we pipe smokers have many moods, and Voodoo Queen is one to keep around when you feel like something singular.

Sutliff - Lord Nelson
Round, well balanced English mixture
This has been a staple blend for me for some time, because I find I prefer my latakia as a presence, not a star. I suppose it is the nutty burley here that smooths out this blend, but the orientals, Virginias and the latakia all take turns vying for your attention. Good all day long, burns nicely once you're in, and leaves a very nice after-taste. I'm sold.

Cornell & Diehl - Constellation
Not bad,but slightly metallic tasting
I wanted to like this one, but there is a distinctive metallic taste to the two ounces I tried. With so many other similar blends, this one just won't rate a second purchase. I'm comparing it with Stokkebye's Proper English, which is about the same strength and latakia level, but without that metallic twang that I get only from Constellation.

G. L. Pease - Union Square 8oz
Wonderfully pure and delicious.
A full Virginia this well balanced and delicious deserves to be savored and sipped. I have been smoking this even in hot weather and it is a delightful companion. It burns very well after an initial char light, and the slightly loose and broken flake rubs easily and packs without fussing. The flavor goes to the darker, tangier side of Virginia for me and when sipped slowly it will yield up a lot of nuance and a very nice, satisfying aftertaste. I'm sure it would be even better with some age on it, but I don't believe it needs it. It's great straight out of the tin. Wonderful stuff.

Cornell & Diehl - Bayou Night
Read LOTS of reviews first
Just... no. I am writing this after the first bowl of a newly delivered 2 oz. bag, but Bayou Night has made quite an impression on me. I HATE it. I've never written that about another blend that I've tried, so this is a first for me. The bag note is just gross. I'd describe it as falling somewhere between a locker room and a cesspool. Ugh! It motivates you to pack the pipe quickly so you can close that jar, that's for sure. It lights easily and burns quickly, which is a mercy because I did not enjoy anything about this tobacco. Its nicotine content is very high, as some have noted. It has a cigarette-y harshness and thinness, and the retro-hale is, while not as "scatological" as the bag note, distinctly unpleasant. To each his own. I will try again with this mixture but am not a fan. Yuck.

Cornell & Diehl - Star of the East Flake 2oz
Wanted to Love It
This is a very fine tobacco, and as full of Latakia as you're ever likely to want. In the end, though, it just wasn't for me. But I think a review should evaluate the blend itself, and Star of the East Flake is rich, very strong, and burns beautifully. If you like full Latakia, Balkan-style flakes, you will prize this. The flakes do break easily (to me this is more of a crumble cake than a flake) and it packs itself lightly into your pipe, with plenty of air space. This may be why it burns so well. Personally, I found it overpowering. I smoke 4-5 bowls a day, generally of VaPers and lighter English mixtures, and this one was simply too much for me. I found it best outdoors where its strong smell could dissipate and its stronger flavor could be sipped more easily. I'm glad I tried it, for sure. But it's on to something else.

Arango - Balkan Supreme
Wonderful "walking mixture"
I think I found this mix from reading someone's review of something else that was similar but disappointing. But this fine balkan mixture is wonderful. The latakia is strong here, which you should be expecting, but there is enough roundness under it to support it and make it multi-dimensional. I enjoy this blend while walking my dog in the evenings, and it's a terrific companion because it doesn't need a lot of re-lightings, only tamping, to stay lit during our stroll around the neighborhood. I am comparing this mixture right now with a match mixture for Dunhill's My Mixture 965. One of them has to lose, but they're both really nice. I think I prefer the darker flavor and drier burning qualities of the Arango Balkan Supreme, but the fight ain't over yet.

Newminster - No.306 English Orient
Wonderful "committee" blend
There is plenty of room in the tobacco world for an English blend that insists on allowing all its components equal time. "Will the gentleman from Latakia kindly take his seat?" Newminster English Orient has a wonderfully round taste, where the Latakia is present in a supporting role. The addition of the Turkish leaf and the Cavendish make sure their dark companion doesn't take over, and that makes this blend delightful, especially earlier in the day. English Orient packs well, lights well (does need a char light) and burns cleanly. Save your "Lat-bombs" for later in the day, and enjoy this with coffee, while writing, or after lunch.

Tampers & Tools - John Aylesbury Midnight Blue Pipe Tool
This tool was nice while it lasted, but after less than a year the tamper foot has fallen off. For a $23 pipe tool, I'm disappointed that it fell apart after such a short time. I also caution that the tamper foot on this one is oval, not round, and it will not go deeply into your narrower bowls. I'd really like to find a nice pipe tool that combines the two necessary tools with a tamper that is smaller, and have it built not to fall apart. This one was a disappointment. UPDATE: A customer service representative from Smoking Pipes saw this review, reached to me through email and offered to make this right. THAT, friends, is good customer service! I really like doing business here and SP's willingness to proactively help an unhappy customer is very much appreciated. Way to go!!!

Cornell & Diehl - Billy Budd
Unusual, but nice
I was curious about blends that contain cigar leaf, and tried this one after reading several reviews. It grows on you and could be an occasional treat for those who like the heady aroma of cigar leaf, or as a blend to introduce a cigar aficionado to the subtler joys of pipe smoking. As this is the only cigar blend I've tried I can't compare it to others like the ones McClelland used to offer, but I might order this again in the winter time as an occasional change from my normal range of VaPers and English mixtures.

Tampers & Tools - Brigham Green Pipe Tool
Right size, wrong shape
This is the style of pipe tool I prefer, but I don't like this one because the tamping foot is too large and too square to be useful. It won't even fit more than halfway into my smaller bowls.

Comoy's - Cask No.4
My eternal beloved
It's a pity that this flake is so often out of stock, here and elsewhere. I really love it, and I snap up what I can when it comes back into stock. If you like the "citrus-y" and "hay" types of Virginia flavors, Comoy's Cask #4 is worth your time. I prefer it to Stokkebye's excellent Luxury Navy Flake because it's a little tangier on my tongue, but LNF gets the call-up when CC#4 is on the "disabled list." Comoy's burns beautifully and rubs easily. Personally I don't fold-and-stuff it, as I think its flavor works better rubbed out a bit. But it's an easy, thin flake to do that with if you prefer. It's lemony, smokes clean, and is a wonderful choice any time. If only it were in stock more, it would be perfect.

Peter Stokkebye - PS402 Luxury Twist Flake
Great traveler, with a slightly sweet presence.
I like the convenience of the twisted flake for when I travel. If I'm going out for the day, I can confidently drop three or four flakes into my pouch and know I have enough for the day. This is another winner from Stokkebye, perfect as an all-day smoke. The smoke is rich and thick, and the taste is light enough for any time. It's part of my rotation, all year.

Newminster - No.400 Superior Navy Flake
Honey and Graham Crackers
I like this Virginia flake very much, particularly in the morning. It is light in body, very subtly sweet and easy to rub out into my briars. The flavor reminds me of graham crackers, with a very nice, understated sweetness. It's a nice morning smoke, stays lit and burns nicely but will get a littler hot if you push it. With a cup of strong coffee and a morning breeze, it's a solid start to the day.

Lane Limited - Crown Achievement
Full-flavored, nighttime smoke
This is a little too latakia-forward for my taste, but it is a well-behaved, cool-smoking full English mixture that you will enjoy if you like the Latakia "campfire" experience.

G. L. Pease
Union Square 2oz

Currently Out of Stock

Cask No.4

Currently Out of Stock
    A Closer Look At Aromatic Pipe Tobacco
  • ► This is a nice primer on aro's. I'm still less likely to go there, but now you make it sound like a challenge to smoke them the right way once you know what you're doing.