G. L. Pease - Ashbury 2oz
Comfortable yet Distinguished
There's a traditionalism and sophistication conveyed with Ashbury, traits which distinguishes it from the louder and more modern products that can overwhelm the tongue with Latakia. Ashbury is a departure from the dark-flavored, heavy latakia English mixtures we encounter today, and so Ashbury conveys a comforting lightness befitting of an all-day English mixture. Although lighter, it's a remarkably refined mixture which is richly aesthetic and generously flavored. It possesses a more pronounced Virginia flavor, slightly less Oriental and just a pinch of Latakia. The Orientals support the dominant VA and are redolent with a woody, verdant/floral incense. They are slightly piquant and savory. The dominant Virginias are of extremely high quality and reveal a soft pastry like sweetness with occasional sparks of sugary bright citrus to counter the dark, creamy, leathery, cedar-laden smoky Latakia, which is applied very sparingly. This light-handed application of Latakia complements the latter components so well, and it's this balance against the Virginias which reveal the expert hand in blending and allows for back to back bowls without overwhelming. The aggregate of such consummately refined leaf suggests… no, obliges with a slow contemplative smoke. Light to medium body and nicotine (2 out of 5). This is the epitome of traditional English mixture.
G. L. Pease - Gaslight 2oz
Amazing... this truly is amazing tobacco in a very traditional English form. Smells of horse stable; wood, sweat, hay and manure, which in tobacco language means GOOD. This is such a wonderful 'slow your roll' tobacco; sit back relax and explore the tangy VA, musty and buttery Orientals and cedar-laden Latakia. There's little sweetness from the VA, but what is there is sufficient. The plug form allows one to carry this about easier than loose cut. The plug isn't terribly dense and consists of larger leaf. Be careful not to pack too tight; larger cut leaf like this requires a loose pack. The Latakia is assertive, though the VA and Oriental are in greater proportions. I would call this a Latakia bomb, in the same vbein as Pirate Kake, but slightly more VA. It does something to the back of my throat... dries it out, coats it, something I've not experienced before but similar to what others have experienced. If it weren't for that, then it would definitely be 5 stars. Nicotine is 2 out of 5
Cornell & Diehl - Chocolate Cavendish
Sweet, Smooth and Chocolatey. This possesses an incredibly smooth mouthfeel with a milk chocolate creamy sweetness. Wonderful smoked neat and very similar to Prince Albert, this replaces the toasted oats of PA with hay. Used as a component to another mixture, this imparts smoothness, sweetness and noticeable chocolate note. I prefer this neat, but when added to English mixtures the chocolate goes well with Latakia and the smooth cavendished VA, mitigates any sharpness from a fresher Oriental or bright VA. Absolutely no bite and virtually no nicotine. Nicotine is 0.5 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Briar Fox 2oz
Comfort is: Bib Overalls and Briar Fox
Gimme this, a cup a coffee and my worn bibs... and I'm in my happy place. Briar Fox is a high quality, clean, unmolested and natural-tasting mixture. It's is as good as it gets when it comes to traditional pipe tobacco leaf. It provides a comfort similar to that of bib overalls and is a step up from those OTC burley blends in form, feel and flavor. Nicotine is 2 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Stratfordshire
An Unstoved Westminster?
A very bright, smooth and mild English. Imagine Westminster without the stoved depth and sweetness from cooked Orientals and VA... that's this. The uncooked Orientals are assertive and clearly out front; their freshness tingles the mouth and bursts forth with a bright and nuanced verdant effervescence. The cavendish acts to tone down the VA a little and give the impression of an aged mixture, while also adding a touch of sweetness. The Latakia is light to moderate and doesn't overwhelm. Remove the cavendish, stove this mixture, and you'd have Westminster. Nicotine fairly light and is 1.5 to 2 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Latakia
Cool, Rich and Fragrant
A high quality and sought after leaf, Latakia should be smoked neat by everyone in order to better understand it's nuance and contribution to pipe tobacco mixtures. Sadly, I can imagine world events and politics eventually removing this leaf from the world, and so it's prudent to cellar at least a pound to have on hand. The mouthfeel is silky/creamy and dense with absolutely no PH issues. It smokes very cool. The flavor is as what we all know it to be: campfire. It's a rich and robust flavor of cedar, some other herbal and woody notes, and charcoal/creosote. The room note is pungent; a bit like a horse stable with a mixture of manure, fermented hay, wood and horse sweat. Very little nicotine. I didn't feel anything after one bowl, so I'd place the nicotine level at 1 out of 5, or perhaps even less.
Cornell & Diehl - Red Virginia Ribbon
Woody, Tangy and just a Smidgeon of Sweetness
Unlike the sharper and sweeter Bright Leaf, this originates from further down the tobacco plant. The three star rating doesn't reflect the quality, which is high, but rather my taste preference. The mouth feel is silky and the PH is good. This is far less sweeter than bright or stoved VA, and is predominantly more woody, a bit tangy (no citrus) and has far less grass/hay nuance. The sweetness is there, but not at a remarkable level. This profile changes a little further into the bowl and becomes more earthy and ashy. Used for subduing the brighter notes of a mixture while maintaining a lighter character, this can add a smooth, woody tanginess to offset sharper profiles. Nicotine is 1 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Bright Virginia Ribbon
Bright Nuance; Sugar, Grass and Citrus
There's a bit of citrus astringency in the mouth, but that's to be expected. Otherwise, it’s remarkabley Smooth. Grass/hay, sweet and a bit of citrusy tartness are all present. These are all sharper in their flavor profile than Red or Stoved VA, and they contribute to a 'brighter' profile to the leaf. Deeper into the smoke, the grassy character becomes slightly more bready and the citrusy sharpness less so. Like Izmir, this is one we can smoke neat, and it's bright and sharp flavors are sure to freshen or brighten any mixture, though bear in mind that the brighter and sharper flavors will change half way through the smoke. The bright leaf is obtained from the top of the plant and are among the highest quality. Nicotine is light; 1 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Izmir Turkish
Exotic; Akin to Milk Oolong Tea and Hay
This is NOT a mediocre leaf, and it's an absolute pleasure to smoke, and one of only a few to be smoked neat. It possesses a silky/creamy mouthfeel, while the taste encompassed in that creaminess consists of a buttery verdant sweetness, with just a touch of woodiness... akin to Milk Oolong tea and hay. I expected more sourness, but received none. I detect the slightest bit of spice, but no sharpness, At times, it goes right to the edge but never gets sharp. The room note is light; verdant and slightly woody. Nicotine is a bit stronger than expected, but then I'm smoking this on an empty stomach, and so I'll place this at 2.5 out of 5.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Bright CR Flake
Grassy, Floral and a Bit Sweet
If you’re looking for a fermented, grassy/alfalfa-hay nuanced VA, look no further. It has a gentle sweetness and a very light Lakeland floral quality. I don’t detect the typical sharpness from a brighter, acidic, sugar-laden VA. This is fairly smooth for brights. A stark contrast from Mac Baren’s HH VA, which is earthy/dark and fermented. Further into the bowl, the Lakeland becomes cloying and a bit stronger for me (not a fan of geranium oil). This is most certainly brighter in flavor than HH VA. Nicotine is 2-3 out of 5.
Mixture No. 79 - Mixture No. 79 1.5oz
Wow... this is Surprisingly Good
I guess I'm surprised due to the negativity in the reviews and because it's an inexpensive tobacco. It's really pretty good; smokes sweet, light and offers a pleasant room note similar to kettle corn and toasted marshmallows. The pouch note is Birch Beer and anise. Birch Beer tastes like a combination of root beer and wintergreen, so this is definitely birch sap extract. This flavor doesn't come across in the smoke as strong as the pouch note, but smoked at a lower temperature certainly coaxes more of that flavor. There's bit of perfume or floral nuance on the back end too. Not Lakeland strength but it's there. I do not like Lakeland, so if I like this then it isn't a perfume-laden, geranium oil mess like some of Gawith's Lakeland scented tobaccos. Push it and puff a little faster will negate the wintergreen nuance and reveal more molasses and anise. The molasses and anise, which is ever-present, marks an old fashioned quality to this. No bite, no PH issues, just smooth and mild. Definitely an all day mixture with a distinct flavor. Think I'll buy a tub and a dozen more pouches. Nicotine is 1 out of 5.
Peterson - 3 P's - Peterson's Perfect Plug 50g
Like Smoking Chewing Tobacco
Boy, this one is stout. I don't get the medium rating. I smoke some pretty rich mixtures and some with a good amount of nicotine, and this one hits me harder than most. Initial light brings anise with a bit of baker's cocoa, which marks the burley, while the VA is very fermented, earthy and woody. Further into the bowl, those notes dissipate and it gets sour. There is this sort of a cross between chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco, so it kind of tastes like you're smoking chewing tobacco at times. To be honest, it's pretty uneventful and not nearly as flavorful as most pipe mixtures out there. I just wanted to try this. Imagine HH VA with a helping of burley... the burley kinda ruins the flavor but gives it substantial body. A higher amount of tobacco is used to make a true plug like this, so it's no surprise that this is pretty steep in nicotine. I'd place the nicotine level at 4 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Eight State Burley 2oz
An Elevated Dark Burley
**Updated 6/25: Smells of dates and raisons. After allowing this breath for a month and coming back to this, I love it! It's a sweet, floral and exotic mixture. Smoking this at a very low temperature coaxes considerably more flavor, while a higher temperature causes it to become muted and acrid. The Orientals have stepped to the front and are supported by a sweetness from the cavendish. The burley provides backbone. This is really well done, Jeremy. Just goes to show that allowing a mixture to breath and/or coming back after a while makes all the difference. Old Review: I don't like this. My rating is based on how it tastes to me and my preference - NOT the quality of work Jeremy did. He's one of the greatest blenders of our time, and this should not reflect negatively on his talent. I love burley (except dark burley), but I’ve never been a huge fan of Orientals. So why did I buy this? Well, the complexity of varietals of the sun cured used here drew me in. Most Orientals we experience today are a blend of generic leaf. These were special varietals that aren’t encountered much any longer and are worth experiencing. This is pretty much tasteless; a strong earthiness akin to smoking a bunch of partially composted fallen oak leaves. Look, dark burley is burley that's been allowed to go right up to the edge of composting before pulling it and allowing the process to stop. It's almost cigar-like in it's strength and lack of sweetness. The dark burley is overpowering in this and the Orientals are barely noticeable, with a subdued verdant sourness here and there. What VA is there is almost imperceptible. I probably won't be finishing the tin. Nicotine is 2.5 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Canal Boat 2oz
Beautiful, but Smoke it Slow for Best Flavor
This is very good! The latakia is there in small measure but it counters the sweetness of the cavendish and elevates the burley. It's such a joy to handle; the cubed burley and smaller cut latakia and cavendish makes this so easy and clean to load. Having a good burley, black Cavendish and latakia mixture is a real treat in the simplest of forms. Let this breath for a week or two after opening. There were times I got a big hit of cocoa, not a natural nuance from the burley, but rather an applied distinct chocolate flavor. Smoke at a moderate pace and you'll be rewarded with a richness comprised of smoky, toasted oats with a chocolatey flavor. Pushed or smoked too hot, and it'll get acrid and harsh. It's a great Autumn mixture. Nicotine is 1.5-2 out of 5.
Samuel Gawith - Full Virginia Flake 50g
The Benchmark for VA Flake
FVF is a high nicotine flake with a full and round flavor. The Virginias in FVF are redolent of hay, yeast, sugar, citrus, spice, wood, earth and pepper. All nuances are a consistent flavor and aroma from start to finish. But, there are rough edges and an underlying harshness that nip and tingle the palate. These lend to discomfort in what should otherwise be one of the most comforting and tasty flakes available. This is either from the chemical topping used and/or, as I suspect, more bright leaf VA are present. 5 years of cellaring will mellow much of the harshness associated with these, but why wait on cellaring when there is an alternative? That flavored topping is what I suspect a German manufactured "Aged Virginia Flake" liquid flavoring solution. Throughout pipe tobacco history, it's affirmed by all that Gawith Manufactures some of, if not, the best flakes in the world. Rare and highly sought after, consider your self lucky to obtain measurable quantities. FVF is the benchmark of super high-quality Virginia Flake, and all others are measured against this wonderfully traditional and old recipe. For me, it's a great smoke with a few negatives that can be countered with another brand of flake. Though I still keep modest amounts in the cellar if only for tradition. If you'd like to have a real treat, albeit slightly less flavor and strength than FVF, but considerably smoother, try Mac Baren HH Virginia Flake. It won't give you the strong punch of flavor and nicotine, but it does provide a smooth, consistent profile that's more acceptable for every day enjoyment. Nicotine is 3.5 out of 5.
Mac Baren - HH Pure Virginia 3.5oz
Perhaps the Best VA Flake
Mac Baren’s HH Line has achieved the halcyon of Germains and Gawith. Perhaps it’s the century old steam press they acquired to manufacture the HH line, or perhaps it’s the sourcing and blending... maybe it’s the combination of these. No matter, the entire HH line of flakes are among the most qualitative products manufactured by Mac Baren or any blending house for that matter. Unlike Germains and Gawith, HH is readily available and reasonably priced, which in my humble opinion, moves it beyond either of the former to a level not seen among Houses since the early 2000’s. Now, about HH Pure VA; A high quality VA Flake is a real treat, and this is one of them. The steam pressing removed the sharpness that accompanies brighter, fresher VA, and deepens the flavor profile while adding a bit of caramelization. This has a very clean, deep and round profile. There's the highly sought after malted/fermented VA nuance; it's delicately sweet with a slight honey flavor, bready/pastry and has a marked grass/hay nuance with just a tiny bit of citrus. It's incredibly smooth with absolutely no bite. The nicotine level is medium strength with a nice 3 out 5 nic strength. This is a great after-dinner smoke that rivals Sam Gawith FVF, and in many respects, is superior. I prefer this after a full-flavored steak dinner. The smooth and mild sweetness provides a great finish to counter the savory steak. Add to that a satisfying nicotine strength, and it pairs so damn well.
Cornell & Diehl - Poplar Camp
Yep. This is good fresh, but man... with these golden VAs, this is gonna age to something next level. Excellent quality; a true high-quality bulk blend, which is rare among most houses, but not C&D. C&D makes the most nuance rich blends with a pure, unadulterated flavor. This is a fresher version of a VA/PER flake. Instead of fermented bready sweetness, it's more grassy and refreshing. Beware, it'll bite as the brights are sharp and sugary. Much easier to keep lit than a coin or flake, but the tradeoff is again, less bready and fermented sweetness and more sugar. The Perique is minor and offers just a touch of spice. The unsweetened black Cavendish, which has the characteristics of the old blending houses, and which C&D does so well, adds smooth creaminess which goes so darn well with the fresh, sharp, grassy VA and slightly spicy perique. Definitely one to cellar and will most assuredly get even better with age. Nicotine is 2 out of 5.
Peterson - University Flake 50g
Decent Plum/Huckleberry-Topped Flake
They state plum, but it reminds me of huckleberry. The fruity topping is always present and adds the least bit of fruity nuance on top of a predominate woody and earthy mixture. It's not a sweet/fruity addition - just a smell that you can sense. I wouldn't classify this as medium strength, but rather medium/strong. The nicotine is there and you'll feel it first thing in the morning. Nicotine is 2.5 out of 5. I like Virginia/burley mixtures and especially flakes. But, I don't like fruit in my pipe. Vanilla, cocoa, coffee, whiskey, bourbon... these are my preferred flavors with VA/BUR Flakes.
Esoterica - Penzance 2oz
One of a Kind
Believe it or not, this used to be sold in bulk. I purchased a pound of it in 2013 from my tobacconist and just finished my last bowl. Penzance is/was truly a unique mixture. The VA used was like no other I’ve had; very mellow and incredibly sweet without any of the bite/tingle typically experienced with high-sugar content leaf. The lingering aftertaste was pleasant and sweet... sugary sweet, and similar to sucking on a hard candy. The flakes crumbled so easily that if you tried to pick one up it would fall apart. C&D does flakes much the same way in which they seem so fermented they barely stay together and just disintegrate when handling. The Latakia is minimal and squarely in a support role. It's nothing so heavy as say, SOTE. It’s a creamy and mildly fired Latakia. The Orientals are what I can’t quite figure... like the VA, it’s fermented and smooth as well, lacking any spice but very creamy and aromatic. I suspect this may be a varietal that’s since become extremely rare or even extinct. Perhaps that's why this isn't produced at large batches any longer. This company could make so much money of they increased their capacity, and I think they know it. That's why I believe this is more a varietal issue, and we know that any change in leaf, particularly in the Orientals or VA, would make this an over-priced run of the mill English. I haven't had any manufactured post 2012, so I can't comment on the newer versions. I will say though, Hearth and Home makes a Fusiliers Ration Special Reserve that has many of the same qualities as Penzance. It's not a dead ringer, but it's the closest I've found, based on mellow sweetness of VA and Latakia ratio, in my personal opinion to the hundreds of English I've smoked. The VA and ratio of Latakia is spot on in similarity, but the Oriental in FRSR is a blend of Orientals and not a single variety, which sets it apart. Also, there’s a topping to FRSR that differentiates it. But like I stated; the VA/Lat sweetness and ratio are spot on! Penzance isn't a powerhouse in strength as the nicotine is 1.5 - 2 out of 5. The flavor is full and the body is medium.
Mac Baren - HH Bold Kentucky 1.75oz
Earthy, Woody with Underlying Sweetness
As stated in another of my posts, Mac Baren has attained the halcyon of Germains and Gawith. HHBK is yet another stellar product in MB's HH line, and is of the highest quality. It's one of the most unique flakes not only in their line, but across all house lines. The only other flakes comparatively in boldness and nicotine strength, would be G&H Dark Flake Unscented or Peterson's Irish Flake. HHBK has a full, bold flavor. It's earthy, woody and the Virginia provides an underlying and consistent sweetness. Hot pressing melds these flavors and mellows the mixture thereby removing rough edges. Luckily, this lacks the vinegar that predominates in HH Old Dark Fired (can't stand that), but still possesses a bitterness now again as only Kentucky can provide. Sipped and smoked cool, as in pulling when the smoke gets thin, will yield great flavor. Too much puffing or pushing however, will only bring a sour bitterness that borders on rancid. The nicotine in this is perhaps the most potent I've had - aside from GH Dark Flake. Nicotine is 4.5 out of 5. This is stronger than HH Rustica and far better in flavor. I love the clean taste of MacBaren's HH line, and the presentation of their flakes; wrapped in gold paper and so cleanly cut and stacked, is appealing and denotes a special product for pipe smoking. I am putting POUNDS of this in the cellar.
Mac Baren - HH Latakia Flake 3.5oz
Penzance Replacement? No. But Close.
The lower proportion of VA and the lack of sweetness is what drops this from 5 stars to 2. Allow it to air out and the Orientals become more assertive and compete with the VA for top spot. They are a bit spicy and tickle the tongue, but a musty sourness is the primary nuance from the sun cured. I wish this had a sweeter VA... it would be amazing, but what is there is very earthy and woody. The typical VA sweetness, grass/hay and bread are missing. The Latakia is actually pretty robust in this. Not a Lat bomb, but pretty darn close. I think it's heavily fired. This is a decent smoky, verdant, woody, earthy mixture. The VA was too muted by the pressing and not nearly sweet enough. I swear that Penzance has sugar added. Had it been sweeter and the VA more bready and less muted, it would've been a dead ringer replacement for Penzance. Nicotine is 1.5 - 2 out of 5.
G. L. Pease - Sextant 2oz
Sweet, Woody and a Good bit of Strength
The tin note is WONDERFUL. If you want an assertive rum-flavored mixture, this is it. Sextant has a good dose of rum and melds very well with the component quantities. The VA is woody and sweetness is balanced by the ever so slightly sour, charred oak of the Kentucky, which provides more nicotine. The Orientals are musty and add a good deal of herbal quality to offset the Kentucky. The Latakia is well in the background and less noticeable. The nicotine is 3 - 3.5 out of 5. The nicotine is fairly stout in this mixture so tread carefully and smoke small bowls if you're sensitive to that.
Sutliff - Christmas Spice
A Smoke for Others in the Room
Resembles a lighter bodied Lane RPL6 with a dose of cinnamon to differentiate it. It's essentially a light-bodied cross between Angler's Dream (less vanilla with cinnamon) and RLP6 (caramel and heavy vanilla). I enjoy trying new tobaccos, that's part of the fun of this hobby. But some are just for fun and won't make it into one's rotation... this is one of those for me. Lane and Hearth and Home have more tobacco flavor, are less sweet and are stouter in body. This however, is much lighter, artificially sweeter and the toppings cover all traces of tobacco. The room note is wonderfully sweet and enjoyed by those who crave the nostalgia of a warm, sweet smell. Nicotine is 1 out of 5. If you want a light bodied, low nicotine, very sweet cinnamon/vanilla with no tobacco flavor, then give this a try. This should fit the bill. It's not bad, as a matter of fact it's better than most of Sutliff's aromatics. It's a good tobacco for a beginner and has virtually no bite.
Samuel Gawith - Navy Flake 50g
Sam Gawith VA with Rum
The earthy, fermented and bready sweetness of the Virginia is complimented by the slightest amount of Latakia, which lends complexity to the richness of a fermented Virginia. The rum is assertive and boozy at first - not aromatic, and supports the other two components very well. VA can smoke a little spicy at times, and this one does nip a little at the tip of my tongue, but certainly doesn't bite. Also, VA typically has a thin smoke, so don't puff and puff hoping for thick, mouth-filling smoke like burley. You'll ruin the nuance and get nipped. With lots of choices, why is this one worth trying? Gawith VA flake of course. There's no other manufacturer than does VA flake like Sam Gawith. It's in its own class, and the addition of Latakia in such small amounts melds so darn well with that sweet, deeply fermented depth of flavor of a Sam Gawith VA. Full flavor, thin body, nicotine is 2.5 out of 5.
Hearth & Home - Fusilier's Ration 1.75oz
2nd only to Special Reserve
Loose-pressed, this deep, dark, rich, sweet, and thick flavored blend has a medium nicotine kick. Cool-smoking with a thick, mouth-filling smoke combined with that sweet topping is absolutely marvelous! The latakia is mellowed, the VA is fermented sweet, the Orientals aren't spicy but rather decidedly herbal and woody, and the cavendish provides a sweet, smooth and round mouth feel. The aromatic element is what sets this apart. It's such an amazing composition of natural-tasting topping components that are completely harmonious with the natural tobacco flavor. While the toppings take this to the next level, without them it would be an extremely well-done and expertly-composed blend, regardless. I taste anise, vanilla, prune, plum or brandy? I have no idea... I'm thinking brandy as I pick up an oak nuance and fermented fruit rather than a linear plum. There a chewing tobacco flavor here that tells me anise is part of the toppings, and there is a vanilla note or it could be clove. Hard to tell as vanilla and anise, when combined, have a clove flavor. I also detect a slight perfume note. Not like G&H geranium oil, but there's definitely a slight floral nuance... could be the Smyrna? In my 26 years of piping, this is my #2, second only to the Special Reserve and Maltese Falcon. FR Special Reserve has better, well-aged VA, and that quality comes through loud and clear. The Special Reserve tastes exactly like my 8 year old Penzance due to the higher quality VA, but the topping places it squarely in the #1 spot for me, tied with Maltese Falcon. Oh man... if Smoking Pipes carried the Special Reserve, it'd be constantly sold out.
Peterson - My Mixture 965 50g
A Sweet and Linear Oriental Mixture
Similar to Rattray's Black Mallory, but 965 lacks the sweetness and complexity the VA offers. This one just seems too one dimensional and so the linearity of 965 is best suited to those who prefer Orientals. Simplicity is a good thing so long as it's the leaf you appreciate the most, but Orientals just aren't my thing. The Latakia is slight and the cavendish tends to overwhelm at times. But make no mistake, the Orientals are out front and herbaceous, spicy, sour and musty. Cavendish is a funny thing: in proper proportion it can pull a mixture together and spread flavors. If not adequately apportioned, it will result in an empty, dank and hollow mixture, which is what has happened here in 965. Nicotine is 1 out of 5.
Rattray's - Black Mallory 100g
Way too much cavendish. This has a 'hollow' like body as the proportion of cavendish is much too high. Too one-dimensional; cavendish and Latakia. The Black Cavendish delivers some artificial sweetness. When pushed it can have a remarkably thin and paper-like flavor. The Latakia is moderate with more emphasis on the Black Cavendish. VERY similar to Peterson's MM965, but sweeter (artificially). Cornell & Diehl’s Constellation is also similar, but Black Mallory has less Latakia, and more cavendish and is much sweeter than Constellation due to the addition of invert sugar. Constellation is deeper in flavor. I still prefer Constellation however, as the Orientals clash with my PH and C&D manufacturers a much more pure product.
Mac Baren - Scottish Mixture
Wonderful Room Note and Flavor - Honey and Spice
Honey, oak, grass and bread. There's an assertive honied sweetness to this that pairs with the grassy and bready VA. A woody and Oak-smoked nuance from dark-fired rises from the background every now again and projects a bit of acrid, woody, earthiness that balances the sweetness. I detect cinnamon or nutmeg, and it's stronger at times. The room note is beautiful and one of a kind... VERY comforting and pleasant. It's akin to baked bread with a honey scent, and just a touch of woody oak. It's a unique and pleasant aroma which I and others adore. Those two qualities provide the stars, and it ends there. This will bite the crap outta your tongue, lips and gums. Even after aging for twelve years, this must be sipped and yet it still hurts and leaves the tongue raw. The additives are what's doing it, and MacBaren is known for adding a multitude during casing that plays havoc with my PH, apart from their HH line of course. If Per George Jensen would adjust the casing and bring the PH to neutral, I'd probably smoke this daily. Filters help a little, but not much. Besides, they remove intricate nuance that allows me to appreciate the flavors and so I don't use them. The nicotine is mild, but the last 1/4 of the bowl asserts more of it. Nicotine is 2.5 out of 5.
Mac Baren - Latakia Rolls 3.5oz
Mac Baren Strikes Again
The Kentucky Dark Fired is balanced very well with the Latakia and VA. None take a leading role. The Latakia (smoky, campfire, leather, cedar-essence), balances with the sweet and sour, oak-laden, tangy Kentucky Dark Fired. The VA are tangy, woody and offer a bit of sweetness and spice. The balanced nuance is sweet, smoky, sour/tangy, woody and spicy. Oh no, the dreaded Mac Baren toppings are showing. Maple sugar, alcohol, and a multitude of other additives are clashing with my PH. Those spicy, needle-like prickles on the gums, tongue and lips are returing. I was given one tin and am glad I didn't purchase this. I enjoy MB HH - immensely, but this and the other MB products just don't appeal to me. The flavor and balance of this are good and the method of producing roll cakes are truly remarkable. Two stars for these attributes. But the toppings have ruined what was otherwise a 4 star mixture. For those that don't struggle with the PH thing, I think you'll enjoy this.
St. Bruno - Ready Rubbed 1.75oz
Strong Mix of Oak and Geranium/Tonka Bean
An old and well-established favorite among the pipe community, St Bruno is a classic. Really, a quite stout (high nicotine) mixture. The Dark Fired, combined with the Tonka Bean and Geranium oils, makes for a quite assertive flavor. A very slight, and I mean slight sweetness, comes from the VA and Dark Fired, but the smoky, earthy, oaky Dark Fired is what's most prominent. The Geranium and Tonka can be overwhelming for some, including me, if smoked in too large a chamber. It can get cloying with a long smoke and terribly astringent if pushed. I prefer this in a smaller pipe such as the more traditional Ropp stummels. A little goes a long way with St Bruno. It's one every pipe smoker should try. Nicotine is 3 - 3.5 out of 5.
Newminster - No. 702 Light Burley
It IS a secret to everyone. Graham Cracker, Oak, Cocoa and Honey.
A rubbed out flake with chunks of flake here and there. The flavor profile is brighter than most burley with a round but delicate flavor of graham cracker, a touch of oak, cocoa and a bit of honey. The white burley used has a slight floral and assertive grass/hay nuance. This is a light to medium bodied, fairly clean tasting burley with very little nicotine. Anise is the top note and can be assertive if not allowed to air. To hell with Prince Albert, this is better, I'm convinced this is what Peretti uses. I enjoy their blends and mixtures, and this is a dead ringer for one of their burleys. If you want a Peretti without paying for the cool paint can their blends/mixtures come in, try this. The nicotine is 1 out of 5.
Lane Limited - BL/WB
Light and Bland
I enjoy many of Lane's products, and most of them do a remarkable job of using toppings to compliment the nuance of various tobaccos - not sublimate them. This one however, failed. So imagine my surprise and disappointment when this one came across as bland and incredibly light. This reminded me more of Sutliff's offerings: bland with a topping that seems to be purely sugar. Any nuance that burley brings has been effectively removed and what's left is cellulose with a sugary topping. Imagine sucking on paper that's been soaked in clear simple syrup. It smells pleasant (better than Prince Albert), has no bite and is sweet. Sutliff did a great job of neutralizing the PH however. Nicotine is 1 out of 5 - virtually non-existent.
G. L. Pease - Maltese Falcon 8oz
Silky Smooth, Smoky, Sweet
Maltese Falcon has a deep, rich, dark flavor that's medium-bodied, silky smooth, and has a moderately-fired latakia. The ginger topping adds an intriguing nuance... it isn't spicy, but rather reminds me of candied ginger, and it imparts a slightly fresh note on an otherwise smoky, sweet and woody base. I love this stuff. Might/could be an all-day smoke, but it's definitely among my top three. It's better than Star of the East due to the depth and richness of the hot pressed VA, but the fresher/younger SOE gets the nod for my everyday due to price. Nicotine is 2 out of 5.
Granger - Granger 12oz
Cocoa/Molasses/Beechnut Chewing Tobacco
Love the rough cut. It makes loading the pipe much easier. This is very different than the original. This one is very heavy on cocoa, moderate molasses and a little lighter on anise. There's a sweet maple sugar in there too. When pushed, the baking cocoa or unsweetened chocolate flavor really comes across and tastes like chocolate kettle corn. Not as smooth as Prince Albert, but sweeter and a bit sharp at times. Leaves a sweet pleasant aftertaste like chocolate and Beechnut chewing tobacco. Definitely for those that want a sweet, chocolatey, light, old-fashion burley that you can suck on all day. WARNING: You can tell Scandinavian Tobacco and particularly Mac Baren, had a hand in this redesign of the old... beware of the after smoke tongue-bite as the PH is off. Nicotine level is 1 out of 5.
Sutliff - Holiday Mixture
Glue, Cellulose and Bland/Fake Sweetener
I've tried so many of Sutliff's offerings, and all but one have been bland, and artificial in taste. This one in particular, tastes similar to chewing on paper... remember back in grade school when you chewed on paper to form spit balls? Well, this tastes similar. Overly moist, cellulosic, glue and a bland and fake sweetener exists. It's really a shame because Sutliff isn't using bad leaf. It's the blender, and methods... they're ruining bad leaf. The only positive is the cut... I really like the rough cut.
Cornell & Diehl - Hearthside 2oz
Stale, Bitter, Sour... NOT Sweet in the Least.
The cocoa is detectable and is one of unsweetened chocolate. I didn't get the vanilla, but I did pick up a little alcohol of sorts. The VA lacks sugar and is sour and stale. The latakia is minor and contributes to a stale flavor profile of the mixture. I think had Jeremy used sweetened Black Cav, this would've been better. I added my own and it improved some. This needs to be sweeter. Not sure I'll finish the tin. This isn't a good mixture.
Amphora - Burley 1.75oz
Oh my... this is exquisite.
I’m a burleyphile, and have always wanted to try this. Solani, HH Burley Flake and this are the pinnacle. I may even choose this over the HH, it’s that good!
Sutliff - Tobacco Galleria: Fox & Hound
Tastes Like Seattle Pipe Club's POTLATCH
This is a dead-ringer of Potlatch by SPC. After learning that Sutliff makes SPC mixtures, I'm now convinced that this is in fact POTLATCH with a slightly different topping. If you like POTLATCH, Here's your chance to get it in bulk!. I'm not a huge fan of POTLATCH (except for the Yenji used), but for those that are - here's your bulk (inexpensive) version to cellar. Nic is 2 outta 5.
Sutliff - Sugar Bucket
Mild, Sweet and Tasteless
I've been on a journey trying various Sutliff mixtures, and this is parr for the course... sweet, tasteless and way too mild - more of a one star strength level. I suspect Sutliff acquires decent leaf, and I don't believe their toppings are the ruination of it. What I think's happening is that the casing's used on these are destroying the nuance of their tobaccos. Cornell and Diehl is way, WAY better than Sutliff's offerings, in part due to the kind of casings and the method(s) used. Nic is 1 outta 5.
Sutliff - RL-BD
Mild English Aromatic
Mild. This is more a two star in strength, so not sure why Smoking Pipes places three stars. It's smoky and mild - like Lanes HGL but milder. The rum topping's a bit sweet, but it's also distraction. It's not satisfying in the least... it's smoky and slightly sweet hot air and leaves a sweet taste on the tongue... the dreaded PG aftertaste. Not one I'll have on hand, but it's good to try. Nic is 1 outta 5.
G. L. Pease - Piccadilly 2oz
Sweet, Smoky, Spicy and Mild
15 month old tin: VERY sweet. In appearance, there's plenty of lemons mixed with mahogany and reds. Those lemons contribute a sharp, citrusy sweetness at first, but the reds and mahogany interplay and provide a wonderful Virginia symphony of sweet bread, wood and citrus. That sweetness is supported by a constant but unpretentious smokiness from the lightly applied latakia. The perique adds a small amount of plummy spice here and there, but like the latakia, it's never forward or a predominate element in the profile. This reminds me of Early Morning Pipe. Whereas EMP is less sweet and supported with toasted Orientals and their nuttiness - Piccadilly has a more contemplative VA nuance. The flavor profile of EMP tends to congeal into a monotony of stoved smokiness further into the bowl, however Piccadilly retains individual characteristics of various leaves... this is what EMP wants to be when it grows up. There's something else in Piccadilly I can't quite place... a honeysuckle/cinnamon note. Almost as if there's a tea element to this. At first I thought it was my imagination running, but there's definitely a topping to this that adds a subtle sweet spiced/floral nuance. This is great with a black cup of coffee. While it's a mild mixture, it does provide a bit of nicotine: 2.0 out of 5
Peterson - Nightcap 50g
Tastes Like C&D Mountain Camp
If you really want the true character of a mixture to reveal itself, let it dry out. That's right, unseal the tin and let it sit a couple months. Once the additives evaporate, the true character of the leaf quality and composition is revealed. Fresh, this can be a 4 star mixture, but once the added flavor is gone it becomes a 2 star. This is for those that appreciate English mixtures with a robust and spicy flavor. There's a noticeable richness among Peterson mixtures that isn't equivalent in other brands, and Nightcap is most certainly a rich, earthy, spicy, sweet and cedar-resin smoky mixture. The artificial degree of sweetness in this is disappointing as it volatizes after drying, which means it was sugar-topped. The peppery spice comes from the Perique, but it also attributes a slight plum flavor with pepper on the backend... a nuance detected in the aftertaste - not the body of the smoke. This does have some similarities to Ten Russians and C&D Mt Camp, but Nightcap is artificially sweet and peppery - whereas Ten Russians leans towards sour with less pepper and Mt Camp is more peppery and Latakia forward. Nightcap has less Latakia. The nicotine in Nightcap is higher than the other two, possibly in line with Ten Russians, coming in with 2.5 - 3 out of 5.
Sutliff - 504C Aromatic English
Weak, Overly-Topped, Bland
Nope. Like almost all of the Sutliff offerings, this was shallow and almost devoid of natural tobacco flavor. The topping was overly applied and took a week to dry. Once dried, the leaf was predominately cavendish with just a smidgeon of Latakia, and similar to smoking hot air. I've honestly tried to like Sutliff, but their products just don't appeal to me. The only two I can get behind are the Peterson Match mixtures of EMP and Nightcap... the Late Evening Match is actually a pretty good mixture - despite lacking any richness. I think I'm done with the Sutliff exploration. nicotine is 0.5 out of 5.
Mac Baren - HH Vintage Syrian 16oz
Tart with a Mild Smokiness
This is a delicately nuanced mixture. The Syrian is VERY tart, with a mild herbal and floral nuance. Unlike Cyprian, this doesn't scream smoky cedar essence, creosote and campfire. It's also far less sweeter than Cyprian. Also contrary to Cyprian Latakia, Syrian is quite high in nicotine. This is good, but not one that I'll smoke daily. Still have approximately a pound left and it should last me years. Nicotine is 3 out of 5.
Sutliff - Match Late Evening
Lacks the Richness and Depth from the Original
Not a match. It's a good mixture... not bad, but not great. I don't think Sutliff toasted the VA and Orientals in this... it just doesn't possess the same depth of flavor or nuance of Nightcap. There's a sweet and smoky flavor, and the Orientals provide the slightest herbal note. The VA can nip at the tongue at times, seems a little rough and the Perique is more peppery than fruity. It's just a very generic mixture, but worth the price if you don't care about complexity. The nicotine is also very weak in comparison to Nightcap... this is 2 out of 5. Nightcap is 3.5 out of 5.
Lane Limited - BCA
Pleasant Room Note
BCA is a mildly sweet and pleasant aromatic cavendish. It's smooth on the tongue and the Vanilla that Lane uses always has that nutmeg or cinnamon nuance to it that I appreciate. Not something I reach for very often as it's kinda boring. A fellow piper (Jon) smokes this stuff religiously. I guess he likes the simplicity; linear, sweet, smooth, fragrant, low nicotine... of which is 0.5 out of 5.
Cleaners & Cleaning Supplies - Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil 15ml
After deoxidizing and polishing the stem, I smeared this on the stem with my fingertips and allowed it to sit for 30 minutes. I then wiped it off and it looked nice and shiny. However, the stem did begin oxidizing again. I suspect this is simply mineral oil or castor oil. Overpriced for what it does.
Cornell & Diehl - Smooth English
Perfect Autumn Mixture
VERY well done! As most already know, VA/LAT is sweet and smoky, but VA smokes hot and is sharp. Well, Burley/Latakia smokes cool and is smooth, but lacks the sweetness... that's where the cavendish comes in, contributing a sweetness and enhancing the smoothness even more. Burley and latakia are wonderful autumn-like leaf, and this fits the bill. Smooth, mild and wonderfully composed. I love burley/latakia/cavendish mixtures, and a good one is hard to find, in proper proportions. This is an all day/everyday, mild, old-fashion mixture. It's offers a cool and smooth creaminess. The molasses tinged burley reminds me of honey nut toasted oats while the latakia provides a balanced bit of musty, smoky cedar essence. The cavendish adds a bit of brown sugar sweetness, smooths rough edges, and spreads the burley and latakia nuance across the palate. Nicotine is 1.5 - 2 out of 5, and the body is closer to 3 stars.
Cornell & Diehl - Sun Bear 2oz
Similar to MacBaren Navy Flake
The tin note is remarkably mince pie; raisin, clove, cinnamon, pastry bread and bit of vinegar... smells wonderful! The flakes are moist and loosely pressed. The taste is sweet - honey sweet, with a bready nuance. The Orientals are zesty and will nip and tingle your tongue and lips. Dried a bit and smoked slow, it's sufficient. C&D produces blends and mixtures of a 'rustic' nature and this follows in that vein. Personally, I enjoy C&D's style more than any other, though I'm not a fan of VA in general. Sun Bear isn't as refined as say SG FVF or HH Virginia Flake, and it's not as mellow as 1931. It's very similar to MB Navy Flake. It's good in it's own right and though I ordered only one tin, I'm fine with that. Nicotine is 2.0 out of 5.
Rattray's - Buckingham 100g
The strength is more of a 1 or 2 - certainly not 3, though this is always subjective. The Hickory nut is light and odd tasting.. I wouldn't characterize it as 'Nutty'. I pickup more vanilla and very weak bourbon. Cornell & Diehl does bourbon exceedingly better than any brands I've smoked. As for the leaf; not bad and not great. The VA is bready sweet and the burley has the toasted oats nuance. There's too much Cavendish used. All in all, it's too light, lacks depth and flavor. Nicotine is 1.5 out of 5.
Peter Stokkebye - PS306 English Oriental Supreme
A Mild Version of EMP with Burley
Think a VA/BUR... a roasted grain nuance with a bready sweetness. Supplement that with a touch of black cav for smooth sweetness, a touch of orientals for a slight woody and floral nuance and a whisper of latakia for the slightest of cedar smokiness. Really a mild and smooth mixture that's very well balanced. As a matter of fact, it reminds me of Early Morning Pipe - though milder, smoother, better mouth feel and less nicotine (also cheaper).
Cornell & Diehl - Engine #99
Tangy/Sour and Smoky
The orientals are very sour, while the latakia provides a resinous cedar smokiness. The VA's a bit sweet, but it seems in too small a ratio in the mixture. The burley provides good mouthfeel and body, while the perique adds a bit more tangy pepperiness to the already sour orientals, along with that toe-jam note often associated with perique. I'm not a fan of this one... too tangy/sour. Nic is 2.5 out of 5
Peter Stokkebye - PS17 English Luxury
American English with an Annoying Maple Sugar Topping
PS17 is a medium American English. The burley and latakia are a bit more assertive in proportion to the VA, and a bit too heavy on the black cavendish for my taste. The maple sugar used in the topping is an annoyance, but is typical of PS blends/mixes. Similar to MacBaren; it's an odd sweetness that you either like to don't like... I don't care for it. Whatever MB uses, it doesn’t bring the PH to neutral. This is more of a 'starter English' for those wanting to transition from aromatics to English. Not a bad mixture if you like maple sugar, and I could see this becoming someone's all day mixture. It has a woody, hay-like sweetness alongside the latakia, which is light to medium fired. The cav adds a smoothness and a little natural sweetness. Nic is 1 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Virginia Gentleman
Spice, Wood and Hay
Initially, VG is bright; grassy hay, tart/sour and the spice from the Orientals prickles the gums, cheeks and tongue. 1/4 way into the bowl, the Orientals become predominantly ashy, musty, buttery, woody and sour. The spice continues to prickle. VG is a mediocre mixture, and it isn't one I'll likely order again. Nic is 2 out of 5.
Lane Limited - HGL
Mr. Lane's Own
Yes, Mr. Lane created HGL specifically for himself. HGL is RLP-6 with Latakia, and should be tried by every pipe smoker. It's a velvety, sweetly smoky/vanilla fragrant mixture. It has a nutmeg, vanilla, dark cocoa nuance that goes well with the slightly sweet tasting woody/bready Virginia, and is supported by a creamy and lightly resinous Latakia. The latakia was applied with a light hand here, and just as DeWars blends the more smoky scotch at minimal levels to add just the slightest peaty smoke nuance, this is similar. In the Lat world, we have the Latakia heads who want more and more, and then those that appreciate the light hand to arrive at a more complex and refined nuance. Reminiscent of toasted marshmallows over a campfire; caramelized smoky sweetness. Has very little nicotine and virtually no bite. It's a crowd pleaser and offers the smoker a bit more tobacco flavor than typical aromatics. Nic is 1 on a 5 scale.
Seattle Pipe Club - Potlatch 2oz
I've never been more disappointed in a mixture as I was with Potlatch. I waited years to try it and was so excited to finally have the opportunity. The tin note had me excited - it's VERY reminiscent of McClelland. Seriously... the tin note is like no other today - SPECTACULAR! However, that's where the excitement ended. Potlatch is very earthy (dark burley), peppery and the latakia and perique annoyingly linger. The only remarkable leaf nuance is the Turkish... Yenidje perhaps? It's a very unique but elusive flavor that I miss since McClelland closed, and I swear that's what's used in this. I'll give two stars on that alone. This reminds me of some of McClelland's mediocre products... a mixture of quality leaf that's frustratingly unbalanced. The potential's there, but the blender just couldn't deliver. It's so close to a McClelland offering in fact, that I'm curious if perhaps Mike McNeil had a hand in this somehow. While it's not a bad mixture, it was so disappointing.
G. L. Pease - Quiet Nights 2oz
The smoky, spicy and subtle sweet/sour of this is very pure tasting. The Virginia balances the sour and spicy Orientals, with the latter slightly prickling the tongue. The latakia is moderately-fired and supports, and comes close at times, to overwhelming the former two leaves. The perique provides a black pepper spice and adds depth and complexity with a fermented tang, and when combined with latakia, you get the typical musty-sweet barnyard aroma. A well balanced mixture, though the black pepper is overdone. Nicotine is 2.5 out of 5.
Savinelli - Giubileo d'Oro 50g
Very Fine Latakia
This is a very fine hot-pressed Latakia. I suspect this may be mildly-fired as it’s creamy and woody with a mild cedar/pine nuance and possesses very little of the creosote we often encounter. This isn’t your average Latakia, and in proper proportion to the VA... oh my. It’s a supportive ratio with perhaps 20%, which allows for a refined, mild and balanced mixture - allowing the pressed VA to really shine. While we typically think of Latakia as an autumnal and winter leaf, this one is surprisingly mild enough for summer. Sweetness is negligible as the VA is bready and just a tad grassy. Nicotine is 1.5 out of 5
Sutliff - Spiced Rum
The room note smells of rum cake and you definitely taste orange rind, cloves, cinnamon and even a little nutmeg with a boozy rum. It’s one of their better aros based on preference of rum and spices, but its not one I would keep around.
Sutliff - B30 Chocolate Mousse
Tastes of chocolate, but not much else. I combine it with Latakia, VA and Scotch-topped leaf to make a chocolate-scotch mixture. I love scotch-filled chocolates and this helps to recreate that in a smoke.
Sutliff - 206 Honey
Burnt Honey and Ash
Oh it honey-flavored alright... strong burnt sugar note. As with most Sutliff offerings, the tobacco itself isn’t the star or reason for purchasing... it’s the toppings. Harsh, blah leaf is mitigated by the concoction of chemicals. This one’s almost sickeningly sweet... with an ashy tobacco taste to follow. I love honey, but good grief...
Sutliff - 212 - Burley Delight
Bulk MB London Burley
This is remarkably similar to Mac Baren’s London Burley. As a matter of fact, as I smoke both side by side, there very little difference. 212 is perhaps a tiny bit less earthy, but I’d be willing to bet these are the same. Chocolate, nutty, bites, burns hot. If you missed out on MB re-release of London Burley... here ya go. Nicotine is 2 out of 5.
Sutliff - 212 - Burley Delight
Bulk MB London Burley
This is remarkably similar to Mac Baren’s London Burley. As a matter of fact, as I smoke both side by side, there very little difference. 212 is perhaps a tiny bit less earthy, but I’d be willing to bet these are the same. Chocolate, nutty, bites, burns hot. If you missed out on MB re-release of London Burley... here ya go. Nicotine is 2 out of 5.
Samuel Gawith - Bothy Flake 50g
Scotch and Fermented Sweet Pipe Tobacco... what could be better?
Flakes are almost black. The slight tang of scotch hovers atop a foundation of fermented VA which gradually builds throughout the bowl. Halfway through is when that full VA flavor, as only Gawith can offer, steps forward. The Latakia is approx 5% and along side the malty fermented VA and tang from the scotch, results in a glorious, smoky/peaty scotch flavor. It’s extremely difficult to acquire. Bothy is one of my favorites. Nic is 2.5 out of 5.
Sutliff - Molto Dolce 1.5oz
Hot Sweet Air... NOPE
Blah... flavorless... hot, sweet, no body and so sopping wet it crackles when you light it. Drying doesn’t improve but rather reveals a really crappy leaf hiding beneath. Complete waste of money as I’m stuck with a full tin I’ll never smoke. Nicotine is 1 out of 5. An abomination of pipe tobacco.
Savinelli - Brunello Flake 100g
Tart and lightly sweet with a strawberry tin note, makes this remarkably reminiscent of strawberry rhubarb. Pressing brings about a matured VA smoothness and many of the typical matured VA nuance; grass with a bit of fermented sweetness that reminds me of sweet feed. Burley adds a touch of earth and the sun cured provides the woody, tart/sour and slightly floral note. I smoke VA during the summer, and this fits right in as it’s a rather light strength flake with a medium fruit/tart flavor... perfect for the heat of summer. Nicotine is 1.5 - 2 out of 5.
Captain Earle's - Ten Russians 2oz
Rich Full English
Smells like a barn stable; manure, musty, hay and wood... which in tobacco language means GOOD. There’s a lot of bready sweetness from the VA, the Orientals contribute a musty, verdant sourness with a spice that tingles the tongue, and the Latakia is heavily fired, which is more creosote and cedar essence rather than musty, woody creamy sweet. This isn’t a linear Pirate Kake kind of Lat bomb. As a matter of fact, with only 50% Latakia I wouldn't call this a Lat Bomb but rather a rich and bold English in the vein of the older and now extinct English mixtures. I really like this... but then I’m partial to Latakia and so I give most Latakia forward mixtures a star automatically. There's also a bit of burley and Perique in this too but in such small doses that it doesn't distract from the main components. It isn’t refined and contemplative, but rather raw or rustic, as are most C&D mixtures. It’s a good change of pace to Constellation, which I smoke every/all day. While I like the taste of sun-cured orientals, they clash with my PH and nip, which is why I absolutely love Constellation (no sun-cured). Nicotine level is 2 out of 5.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Dark Bird's Eye
Cloves, Bread and Smoky Wine
The Dark-Fired doesn’t have the typical smoky oak-laden barbeque note, but rather possess a finessed clove, floral and deep wine-like quality to it. This leads me to believe it’s African and not US Dark-Fired. The Lakeland is barely present and whispers a floral note, which actually goes quite well with the Dark-Fired. The VA adds a bready sweetness and lightens the heavy, dark, fermented cigar like notes. It’s a smooth, sweet and beautifully contemplative tobacco. The cut is fine and burns fast. Nicotine is 3.5 out of 5.
Mac Baren - HH Rustica Flake 3.5oz
Woody, Earthy, Bitter, Vegetative, Black Pepper
This has a ‘rustic’ ( no pun intended) tobacco quality. The maple sugar used in the binding allows this to open with a very, very slight sweetness, but it quickly dissipates to the full, rich flavor of earth, wood, vegetative/leaf litter, and a slightly burnt piquant note. There’s a bit of dry black pepper on the retro and a dark chocolate bitterness appears now and again. Gets a bit sweeter towards the end. Nicotine is there and is 4 on a 5 scale, which is a bit stronger than G&H Dark Birds Eye, and could be overwhelming for some. The flakes are cut small - commensurate with moderating the nicotine oomph it provides. Mixed with some C&D Black Cavendish elevates this to 3.5 stars. Not a fan this one.
G. L. Pease - The Virginia Cream 8oz
Rustic and Harmonious Notes of Bourbon and Vanilla
This is a beautifully rustic and harmoniously topped mixture. The topping is slight but accentuates the semi-sweet, grassy, woody and slightly spicy tobacco. If you like the weirdly topped Sutliff aromatics which attempt to hide inferior tobacco via crème brulee or peach cobbler – you’ll feel deceived with this as those are unremarkably linear and just plain gross. The Virginia Cream is a high quality leaf infused with subtle notes of a quality bourbon and natural vanilla. I don’t smoke aromatics, but this is one of the two that I do smoke on occasion and will always have in my cellar. Strong notes of quality bourbon are present on a slightly sweet but more pronounced grassy, woody and smoky foundation of Red VA and Dark Fired Kentucky in the first third. The nuance changes at the halfway point to a caramelized vanilla on woody grassy leaf. The last third is predominantly Virginia grassiness with touches of woody, oak-laden Dark Fired Kentucky. I didn’t pick up any noticeable perique notes. It’s got more nicotine that you’d expect and lands at 2.5 on a 5 scale.
Prince Albert - Prince Albert 14oz
A Comforting Burley with Molasses & Cocoa
***Updated 4/8/2021. I recently opened an unopened tin of Prince Albert from 1929, and compared the two. Tough decision, but I don't live with regrets. The older version wasn't as PH-neutral and came across harsher than the newer, smoother cavendished version. More noticeable, however, was the taste; the 1929 version had a VERY assertive pure cocoa and bourbon flavor, with just a touch of molasses. It was STRONG cocoa and bourbon... made my eyes water when I opened it. Not only was the flavor full, but the body was too. It tingled the nostrils, bit the tongue a little and filled the mouth and provided a round finish. Obviously, the casing used on the old version wasn't as good in adjusting PH. Nicotine on the 1929 version was strong at 3.5 out of 5. Modern Version: The soft and smooth burley/cavendish blend has a sweet toasted grain profile. You'll taste a sweet molasses-laden brown sugar, mild cocoa and a smidgen of bourbon. It's mild in body and nicotine, and you'll never experience bite. PA is the ultimate comfort tobacco. Best enjoyed under the shade of a large oak overlooking the broad expanse of landscape undulate with the autumn breeze. If I had to choose only one... Prince Albert would be it. Nicotine is 1 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Crooner
Smells Like Alfalfa Hay
The cube cut burley is fermented and offers some sharpness. The Deertongue contributes a sweet alfalfa hay aroma, but doesn't alter the taste of the mixture. If you like burley and want a fresh, grassy incense or alfalfa hay room note, this will do it. Nicotine is moderate.
Dan Tobacco - Sweet Vanilla Honeydew 50g
Sweet and Mild
I'm not an aromatic fan, but DTM makes some of the better aros in the European style of aromatics, which is less applied flavor with greater focus on leaf nuance. Fresh, the invert sugar adds considerably more sweetness to compliment the grassy and slightly woody VA, but this will eventually evaporate and result in less sweetness. The vanilla is barley present, but still offers a bit of vanilla bean here and there. I get more tobacco flavor from this vanilla topped blend than the horribly comprised concoctions of Sutliff. Contrary to some, this has never bit me. It's mild in nicotine at 1 out of 5.
Orlik - Dark Strong Kentucky 50g
Very sweet (maple sugar added). It's a predominantly VA in base, but the sugar sublimates the flavor nuance. The Dark Fired is negligible and offers limited depth. The nicotine is very light. There's virtually no tobacco taste in this... almost artificial. If you want candied tobacco without tobacco flavor, go for it.
Cornell & Diehl - Constellation
The Best American English... Period
This is quite simply the best darn smoke I’ve ever had. It’s Latakia-forward (60%), very well balanced, richly flavored, smoky, creamy and musty sweet. It reminds me of Dunhill MM965, but better. Because burley replaces the sun-cured Orientals, it has more of a toasted grain nuance rather than a verdant spice note. I've purchased pounds of this as I never tire of it and it's proven to be consistent. Constellation is the only one worth keeping in my large everyday tobacco jar. Nicotine's 2 on a 5 scale.
Planta - Full English
Wow… this is such a great - lesser known mixture. If more knew about this, I suspect this would be out of stock perpetually. It’s a really good Autumnal sort of mixture; hay, smoky, woody, earthy and sweet... perhaps too sweet for some. The Latakia is truly condimental and I suspect it's less than 30%. For the price, it’s remarkable quality. A smooth and full flavored mixture. The Java leaf adds the earthiness and depth, but in a very refined and sophisticated kind of cigar note. It isn’t as pungent or brash as C&D’s Billy Budd… that one has a definite cigar note and flavor. This is more gentlemanly,
Cornell & Diehl - Yorktown
Full VA Flavor: Sweet, Hay, Citrusy Tanginess
Mouthfeel is smooth, silky and quite comfortable. This possess all the nuance of both VA Bright leaf and Red VA combined, though in a deeper and more complex profile; the sweetness of the Brights are there though more caramelized and bready - akin to yeast sweet bread; the grass/hay is present but it's not as fresh and is more bready, the woodiness of the Reds are there but more on a lesser - earthier scale; the tanginess is also there, but without the fresh citrus flavor. Unlike the Bright and Red leaf, the deeper profile of this doesn't change further into the smoke, but rather remains consistent. It produces a thick smoke with a low to moderate nicotine level. Nic is 2 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Plantation Evening
Chelsea Morning Match?
For latakia lovers – this won’t satisfy… for VA/Per lover’s the latakia is an annoyance. This is one that can’t make up its mind; is it a VA/Per or English? This is a sweet, mild, verdant mixture that resembles Pease’s Chelsea Morning. The perique is more noticeable than the Latakia, which is a whisper on most draws, but its smokiness is present enough to compliment the verdant, tangy/sour Orientals well. Nic is 2.5 - 3 out of 5.
Dan Tobacco - Bill Bailey's Balkan Blend 50g
Sweet, Smoky & Tart
The combo of perique and latakia creates a room note that will clear the room! Seriously... I love Latakia but this one reeks. This is a sweet, smoky and tart tasting mixture. It’s dominated by the moderately fired, creamy and woody-sweet latakia, similar to Pirate Kake. The Orientals are unstoved and are slightly sour, musty and contribute a verdant brightness to the profile. The VA adds bready sweetness, while the Perique is just the way I like it – fruity with twangy raisins rather than spice. The Kentucky lends some toasted pecan like depth and isn’t the overly-smoky, spiced oak-charred flavor. I like this one, though I think Pease’s Quiet Nights is along the same lines, and is much darker, more refined, and less expensive. For the money and quality, stick with Pease’s Quiet Nights or Abington. While this has the Dark Fired to differentiate it, the difference in price vs the flavor doesn’t make sense. It’s still a very tasty smoke. Nic 2.5-3 out of 5.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - Dark Flake Unscented
Strong Deep Flavor with a touch of Lakeland
The intensity of flavor and strength in this blend is very potent; great depth of fermented earthiness. It's a very bold tobacco flavor… this is very cigar-like. The Dark-Fired doesn’t have the typical smoky oak or barbeque note, but rather possesses a finessed clove or slight wine-like quality to it, so it’s definitely not dark-fired from the US. Although the Lakeland is present it’s minimal in note and doesn’t sublimate the tobacco. For those that abhor the floral essence, you might find it intolerable as it IS there. Personally, I don't like it, so it has enough that I dropped it 1 star. Nic 5 out of 5
Planta - Anno MMX (After Dinner Mixture)
Chocolate and Scotch
Well, this definitely has the scotch notes; a bit fruity, sour and peaty. The chocolate is a minor taste and goes very well with the scotch. The cav is smooth and sweet, which offsets the sour notes of the scotch. Not much body or nicotine. It's a good after dinner smoke if you like sweet chocolate and scotch, but if you want heavy body and nicotine - look elsewhere. I've had many a scotch flavored leaf and even infused my own leaf with it. Scotch imparts a sour note, but the flavor is still true and very good. Don't be put off by the sour aspect... it's not as bad as it seems. Scale of 1 - 5: Nicotine 1; body 2; flavor 3
Cornell & Diehl - Star of the East Gold
Reminds me of Westminster - Unstoved
Very bright and fresh. The Latakia is light and the VA is citrusy tart at first, then fresh and very grassy. The Orientals are up front; floral, a bit musty and incense like. This is Westminster - unstoved. It lacks the toasted depth of flavor and caramelized sweetness that Westminster provides. Unstoved, the mixture is a bit sharp in flavor. 1-5: Nicotine 3; Body 3; Flavor 3
Sutliff - Match Sunrise
Tastes 'In the realm' of Early Morning Pipe at Half the Cost
With no likelihood of Peterson producing EMP in bulk, I just can’t afford to buy EMP tins by the dozen. I was really hoping this would fill the niche. This hasn't been stoved long enough or hot enough... bland, harsh, sharp and a tad bitey. The VA lacks the toasted sweet bread note we get from EMP and just doesn't have the invert sugar either. The Orientals are greener and are untoasted. The latakia is condimental. This is a mediocre tobacco at best and really disappointing. STG owns Mac Baren, which owns Sutliff... why can’t they share the recipe and produce this in bulk? Nicotine is 1.5 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Star of the East
Dark, Rich, Woody and Smoky Sweetness
The bready sweet and stoved Virginia is pronounced. This is easily among the best English style tobacco I smoke. An all-day, every-day smoke for me. I love this mixture for its simple, rich, dark notes and smooth refinement. The balance is very good: a predominate rich and bready-sweet VA; woody, aromatic and musty Orientals never exude the spiciness for which it's known; and the Latakia is strongly cedar essence but not so heavily fired so as to be creosote. Aging brings about a sweeter, more mellow VA and Oriental, while the latakia becomes deeper and less pronounced. I realize some don't like Cornell and Diehl, but I absolutely love their leaf. Each blender's taste is unique, and C&D has a rustic quality that showcases clean-tasting tobacco with little, if any, toppings and PG. Nicotine, body and flavor are all equally 2 out 5 in strength. LOVE THIS STUFF!
Cornell & Diehl - Yale Mixture
Light on the Latakia and Lacks Depth
While C&D is known for producing stout mixtures, this was surprisingly lacking. A touch more Latakia, pressing, toasting and just a bit of invert sugar would do this wonders. It lacks depth and not only is the taste thin, but the body is too. Could be great if it was made like Lancers Slices... why not do it Jeremy? This has the potential to be a great Classic English Flake, but alas, it’s just a little more than loose, thin and unremarkable pouch tobacco.
Gawith Hoggarth & Co. - #12 Mixture
Bright, Sharp, Flat
For a VA/Lat mixture, there’s so many finer ones out there. This one has little nuance and character. The brights are a bit citrusy and semisweet. There’s a lot sharpness to it, and not in the least comforting. The Latakia doesn’t seem to be the 45% as stated. I just got an oz to try, so I’m not really out anything. C&D Yale Mixture is slightly better, but if you want a real treat of VA/LAT - Lancer Slices is about the best VA/LAT mix I’ve found. Mild nic, body and flavor. This fell FLAT.
Cornell & Diehl - Super Balkan
Extremely Buttery, Verdant, Herbaceous, Piquant and Woody
Wow. Initial light was all the above in extreme… this is the brightest and most assertive Balkan I’ve had to date! The Orientals are front and center; they’re verdant, herbaceous, zesty and buttery. There’s a nice citrusy and grassy sweetness from the VA, and the Latakia is so sooty it coats my tongue leaving it gritty. The burley taste isn’t noticeable but it adds earthiness and body - calming everything down a bit. I get only a minor tang from the Perique and it adds depth – certainly no spiciness. Marvelous mixture… really well done. My only complaint is the sooty Latakia; man, it leaves my tongue feeling like I just licked the inside of a chimney - deducted 1 star for this. Nic is 2 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - London Squire
English for Burley Lovers
Yes... there's Turkish/oriental in this. Smoky, with a mellow toasted oats flavor. The smidgen of Turkish provides a distinctly verdant aroma and slightly spicy/sour nuance. While many English and English/Balkan available have more flavor and brighter, spicier nuance from the oriental/turkish, London Squire provides a respite from those with a mellowed, solid, earthy medium English. This isn’t one I sit and contemplate over, rather it’s one that I can smoke all day and never tire my taste buds with. Westminster, the unequalled traditional English, is an example of one that requires time to ponder and enjoy, but also bombards your tastes with a wash of rich nuance. It’s really a harmonious mixture that is easily an all-day English and can be had in bulk at a comparatively inexpensive price. Nicotine is light/med, body is med, and flavor is med. Solid mixture.
G. L. Pease - Abingdon 8oz
Bold, Richly Flavored and Refined Balkan
A very rich, dark and bold flavor profile; this is a moderately fired latakia with a good depth of dark stoved VA and oriental sweetness. The oriental is stoved, and so the brighter - sour, verdant and zesty notes are subdued, however the sweetness is greater and it retains a slight butteriness. The entire profile of this is similar to that of the last 1/3 of a bowl of English; Smoky, dark, caramelized sweetness and butter. Nic is 2.5 out of 5
G. L. Pease - Westminster 2oz
Elegant, Refined, Remarkably Balanced
Elegant and refined, Westminster is a remarkably well balanced mixture which is richly aesthetic and generously flavored. The Orientals are redolent with a woody, verdant/floral incense. They are slightly piquant and savory. The Virginia ascends as time passes, to reveal a soft sweetness with occasional sparks of bright citrus to counter the dark, creamy, leathery, cedar-laden smoky Latakia, which never boasts, but rather complements the latter components. The aggregate of such consummately refined leaf suggests… no, obliges with a slow contemplative smoke. Medium body and nicotine, the flavor is elegantly rich and full, though not intense. Pease has captured the essence of the old London Mixture and crafted an exceptional and traditional English. Embellishment, as witnessed throughout the tobacco world, may seize our attention temporarily, but the undeniable appreciation and admiration for beauty discovered in the most elemental, primary or basic, compels long-term devotion. Well done Mr. Pease.
Cornell & Diehl - John Marr 2oz
Smooth, Sweet & Satisfying
No one, and I mean NO OTHER, does bourbon or whisky topping at the high level that Cornell and Diehl does. Has elements of Redburn and Pegasus, but a little better than both. Whereas Redburn is stout, oaky, LOADED with nicotine and rummy sweet with bready VA, this lacks the nicotine, smoked oak and isn’t quite as sweet as the bourbon is a bit sour and the VA is grassy. The orientals and Perique set it apart from Pegasus, and lend more woodiness and tangy spice. I really like the bourbon and vanilla... adds a nice note even though the vanilla is very light. I really like this one, it’s smooth, sweet and satisfying. Light to medium body and nicotine, and the taste is subtle.
Sir Walter Raleigh - Aromatic 1.5oz
Hazelnut and Cocoa
Sweet Virginias and mouth-filling burley collide to provide a good, tobacco-forward smoke. It's mellow, sweet and has just a touch of the high quality hazelnut and cocoa liqueurs to lend a comforting note. You know what I mean... it's predominately a tobacco taste with just a little aromatic kick for that little extra. Can't stand the SWR regular, but this, especially mixed with Lane BCA, is pretty darn good. A good mixture for fishing or just kicking about. Light Nicotine, body and flavor. *UPDATE 4/20/2021* What happened?! The flavor changed and I detect a maple sugar flavor. It tastes like many of the Mac Baren products and it bites a little now... this NEVER used to bite. Please don't tell me Mac Baren ruined this once great product!
Sir Walter Raleigh - Regular 1.5oz
Anise, Molasses, Cocoa... Alkaline
Tastes like a cheaper version of Russ Ouellette’s Hearth and Home Burley Kake. Lacks depth and the burley’s been sublimated by the toppings. The anisette is sharp while the molasses provides a depth of sweetness. The Cocoa is dark and mildly bitter. This is more alkaline than Carter Hall and Prince Albert, and also stronger. It’s lacks the smoothness and can bite, whereas CH and PA are smooth and mild... almost cavendish like. Mild nicotine with mild to medium body. The flavor is sharp and medium-full, but it’s VERY artificial.
Daughters & Ryan - Three Sails 3.5oz
Clean, Grass, Hay, Citrusy Sweet
If you’ve ever tried flue cured ‘brights’ right out of the stove house, you’ll recognize this one. I don’t think this has even been cased... it’s alkaline and will bite your tongue if not sipped - typical of uncased VA. It’s grassy, bright and citrusy sweet. This is the 5 brothers Virginia version and the shag/crimp cut demands you pack it properly. It’ll burn fast. A very natural tasting Virginia with a mild to medium flavor, mild nicotine and body.
Cornell & Diehl - Black Frigate 2oz
Creamy, Smoky, Buttery, Spiced Dark Rummy Sweet
Sweet, Dark Spiced rum drizzled over a bed of smoky and musty, woody Latakia, further supported by buttery, slightly sour and incense like Orientals with a grassy sweetness. Good finish with medium nicotine, slightly less than medium body and full flavor. *Left a tin on the shelf for a month and a half to find it had dried out. The rummy sweetness is gone. At that point it became a very boring run of the mill mixture. 4 stars with the rum... 2 stars without.
Kramer's - Father Dempsey
An Improved Presbyterian
This is almost exactly like Presbyterian (not a fan of it), though it’s better constructed. The flavor is deeper, the quality of leaf is better and the proportions are spot on. However, every time I smoke this it bites my tongue. The first time left my tongue scorched and I took a day to recover… the 2nd time it began biting and I powered though as I enjoyed the flavor… still bit. Painfully smoked 2 oz and will never smoke again. Light on nicotine, just shy of medium in body and flavor is medium.
Cornell & Diehl - Mountain Camp
Black Pepper, Campfire, Musty and Bready Sweet with Buttery Eastern Spices
Creosote, black pepper and a touch of mustiness balanced against a bready sweetness. The initial nuance is bready-sweet VA and musty Orientals with a heavily-fired (creosote) Latakia. These 3 components mellow and then the peppery perique shows up and presents itself assertively with each draw. I like my stuff sweeter (think Star of the East) and without black pepper. I keep a pound in the cellar and it's aged pretty well. Not my everyday, but rather a once a month smoke. Nic is 2-2.5 out of 5.
Cornell & Diehl - Mad Fiddler Flake 2oz
Bready, Sesame and Mushrooms
Like eating a full bodied bread with mushrooms and sesame seed paste. Not my thing. Got a full tin and not sure how to unload it. Nicotine is light, body is medium, flavor is slightly stronger than medium.
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #3 2oz
Nutty, Oak, Black Pepper
Burley’s are nutty, and deeply earthy; Dark Fired provides oak and black pepper; VA lends a little sweetness with a bready note; perique is tangy, mushroomy. Medium-strong nicotine, flavor and body.
Cornell & Diehl - Burley Flake #2 2oz
Nutty & Bready Sweet
Burley’s are nutty, grassy and deeply earthy – good representation of light to dark spectrum. VA is sweet and bready. It’s a traditional solid VA/BUR, and has a good old-timey flavor smoked slowly, which is perhaps too organic or pure. Resembles Pegasus in a Flake form. Solani Silver is better, but it also has a topping. It’s a little rough, as with most C&D, and this, as VA/BUR goes, is average and doesn’t warrant shelf space in the cellar. Not as stout as #1 and #3. Medium-strong nicotine, flavor and body.