F & K - Lancer Ready Rubbed
Close to the original Bengal Slices
A pure, unabashed, English broken flake tobacco. The room note is extraordinary, deep, and rich. The smell took me all the way back to 1972, sitting at the tobacco counter in my Grandfather's Farm Supply store and Oliver Tractor dealership in Michigan. It is a perfect blend of Latakia and Virginia tobaccos, neither one overpowers the other. It smokes cool, burns slow, even for an aggressive puffer like me. A bowl in a Missouri Meerschaum General, which is a big pipe, lasted over an hour and a half and didn't require a relight for almost 40-minutes.
Cornell & Diehl - Crooner
Much better than I expected
I'm not usually a fan of big Burley blends because they are usually reminiscent of cigarettes. The Burley in Crooner is high quality, obviously cured properly, with care. The deer tongue is quite evident in Crooner although not as conspicuous as in C&D's New Market although it is more visually present in Crooner. This is, honestly, the first full Burley blend that I can say that I actually like. You have to smoke it slow or it will develop cigarette-like characteristics, but if you go easy, the Burley is nutty, with cocoa overtones that are complemented by the vanilla notes of the deer tongue. Smellwise, this stuff won't make you many friends but when it comes to friends, my goal is quality over quantity.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Sweet Coconut Twist
What an unspeakable tragedy it is that Gawith Hoggarth & Co. took their glorious rope tobacco and applied this horrendous topping to it. I love GH&Co tobacco and Lakeland blends in general but Sweet Coconut Twist is retch-inducing.
Planta - Full English
The Latakia is definitely there but it's not a Lat Bomb. The description of the tobacco doesn't include any Oriental or Turkish leaf but, if I didn't know that, I would swear that it is there. There is a distinctly sour note, but not unpleasantly so, that is usually associated with Orientals/Turkish. Perhaps that comes from the type of cigar leaf used... The Virginias are sweet, with a bit of fresh bread flavor.
Grand Croupier - Double Down
This is the best Burley/Virginia that I have had. I know it's characteristics can't be consistent all the time, except that it is consistently good quality tobacco. The nicotine hit from the batch I got is stronger than medium, almost at the upper level of what I am comfortable with; suitable for a Country Gentleman sized bowl, not a General or a MacArthur, in my opinion, but the next batch could be closer to mild I suppose.
Grand Croupier - Boneyard
I'm not going to go on social media and sound the trumpet for this blend because I don't want it to be perpetually sold out. I bought a pound of Boneyard on IPSD and was so pleased with it that I immediately ordered two more pounds, only two pounds because that was all that was left in stock at the time. I'm anxious to see how it is when it acquires some age. At this price, I can easily cellar a good portion of every pound I purchase, and compare the various "vintages" in a year, two years, or more. The tobacco is high quality, just what we expect from Cornell & Diehl. My first pound had all the flavor profiles that I look for in an English or a Balkan blend, just not in the usual proportions. Since it's an ever-changing blend there is no point in trying to describe particular tastes, but I can see a good percentage of flake, sparkling with sugar crystals so, it's a good Virginia. The Latakia is lighter than I prefer, but it's certainly there, as are some spicy Orientals.
Sutliff - Revelation Match
Better than the Original
It has a dark, fruity smell. I can detect the smell of the Perique but there's not enough of it to cause the characteristic tongue tingle that Perique often causes. The Dark Fired Kentucky and Latakia compliment one another without competing, or one getting lost in the other. It must be the Virginia that adds some sweetness as well as the plum casing. The Burley rounds it out and gives some body to the smoke. I had the original House of Windsor years ago, and I did not like it. I like this enough to call it one of my favorites and to try to always have some on hand.
Cornell & Diehl - Billy Budd
Billy Budd reminded me, briefly, of McClelland's Coyote Classic Full, which is one of my all-time favorites, but the resemblance was ephemeral, as the unique qualities of Billy Budd came to bear, such as Burley and Cigar Leaf which Coyote Classic does not have. Conversely, Billy Budd does not contain Oriental/Turkish leaf that distinguishes Coyote Classic. Billy Budd has a rounded flavor, no sharp notes. It is Latakia forward, which is perhaps the quality that first invited my comparison with Coyote Classic, as well as the fact that the tobaccos used are premium in every respect, no inferior Burley leaf as a cost saver here. It was a little slow to stay lit, but once it was lit, it stayed lit to the bottom of a large bowl. The nicotine is, I would say, past medium bordering on strong. The Cigar Leaf is evident without giving the impression of a cigar. It is a cool smoke with no chance of a tongue bite. The room note is strong but not offensive, although some who are sensitive may disagree. It burns to a fine gray ash, with no dottle, and no moisture.
Lane Limited - HGL
The combination of Latakia and aromatic compliment each other perfectly. I can't imagine anyone being offended by the smell except, perhaps those who are intent on being offended. The tobacco burns cool with plenty of smoke at a reasonable rate. There is no goop or dottle left in the bowl, just a fine gray to white ash.