THE PROFESSOR'S PIPE TOBACCO REVIEWS

McClelland Tobaccos


Based in Kansas City, McClelland's tobaccos are popular all over the USA. It so happens that their 2000 and 5000 series blends (and some aromatic blends that they manufacture) are sold in bulk to quite a few shops who rename them, so maybe you're smoking their tobacco without knowing it... A number of their blends are available in tins, and they also prepare mixtures under brand names such as PCCA, Butera and Ashton.

Ashton Celebrated Sovereign
This is a dark-looking English blend that contains quite a bit of latakia: medium-brown flecks mixed with blackish brown at less than 50%. Also found in the mixture is the occasional piece of broken flake. I have never smoked the original version of this blend before McClelland began manufacturing it, so I can't compare this mixture to its former self. Upon opening the tin, there is a rich, very appealing, slightly spicy aroma that is reminiscent of roasted nuts. Initially, I found the tobacco to be a little moister than I would want, but over time, the tobacco slowly dried out to a level of moisture that is more appropriate for me. The tin aroma is so fragrant, albeit in its unique latakia-blend fashion, that it reminds me of the way some aromatic tobaccos just smell great. This is not though, in any way a cased aromatic blend; it's an English blend that's heavy in Oriental flavour. According to the label, it contains Syrian latakia, Turkish Dubec, black Cavendish, bright Carolina and Red Virginia—aged, pressed and mixed in several stages. I have also smoked the bulk version of this, but found the pouch aroma to be significantly weaker and not so extraordinary, even though the flavour when smoked seemed to be the same. What I find outstanding about this blend is its aroma. Best of all, the aroma does translate into the smoke's flavour, but, like a flavoured tobacco, not quite to the degree that one might expect. At times, this aroma almost comes off as a topping of sorts that you taste only weakly while smoking. For example, the fairly abundant latakia, which adds a slightly bitter smokiness to the flavour, doesn't come through as strong in the rich nutty aroma in the tin as it does when smoked. This blend definitely has a certain complexity and originality, but the nuances of bouquet are subtle and, overall, the flavour is quite unified, to the point that some smokers might find it rather flat in character. Like its aroma, its taste is nutty, somewhat spicy-tasting, dark and rich. There is an underlying sweetness that nicely balances its slight bitterness. I presume this slight sweetness is largely the black cavendish's contribution, and I also presume that this ingredient, along with the latakia, is one of the reasons that this is such a smooth and mild smoke. Having stated that it is smooth-smoking and fairly mild, I would add that it is only medium or medium-heavy in body, even though its prominent latakia flavour suggests that it could be a fuller-bodied blend than it actually is. This is ideal for a smoker who is seeking excellent, refined aroma in an English blend, but with very little nicotine punch. It burns slowly to a clean, whitish ash, and becomes slightly more bitter-tasting toward the end of the bowl. At the same time, the nutty aspect of its flavour becomes more pronounced. At this point, the slight bitterness almost comes as a surprise, given the unburnt tobacco's sweetish aroma, but the increased intensity of the nutty flavour is more than welcome, since it is a flavour that was weaker than anticipated throughout the smoke. Since its aroma is more exciting than its actual flavour, I often blow the smoke from this tobacco out my nose or inhale it occasionally through my nose to obtain the most aroma possible. I think this blend would benefit from being smoked in a bent pipe, which keeps the burning tobacco—and thus more of the aroma—close to one's nose. Like all tobaccos, but perhaps moreso than many, this blend benefits immensely from being always smoked in the same pipe so that the pipe can take on the tobacco's special, subtle aroma. Comparing this to an aromatic blend is appropriate again when considering the room aroma. The room aroma is very pleasant, one of the sweeter room aromas I've ever experienced from an English latakia blend, and it includes that beautiful aroma of the unburned tobacco in the tin. Even the bulk version has this same sweet room aroma, despite its weaker character in the pouch. Since I like my latakia blends a bit more stout than this one, I think sitting next to someone smoking this blend and enjoying the aroma could be almost as satisfying as actually smoking some myself. Well, maybe not.... A special thanks to Mark Shelor for the tin version of this blend. Here in Montreal, it's only available in bulk form to my knowledge (at Blatter and Blatter's). '96

Butera's Blended Flake
These dark-brown, marbly slices feel just a little thicker than most others. Not only is their dry, extremely compressed touch noticeable, but their pungent scent is sure to catch your attention. It's a complex scent, that includes a fruitiness that is more of good olive oil than of fruit and a dominant, fermented, vinegar-like aroma. Anyone familiar with McClelland's (the company who makes this mixture for Butera) tobaccos will also immediately recognize the presence here of that rich, caramel-like sweetness that is common in many of their blends. After rubbing out a couple of slices, some of the scent remains on the fingers. The aroma is intriguing in an intensely savory way, and it could easily be interpreted as either very appealing or repulsive, depending on one's tastes and expectations (I personally like it a lot). Luckily though, this doesn't taste like vinegar when smoked (!), and it seems odd that practically none of the fermented smell is transferred to the flavor. According to the tin, it contains red Virginias, Orientals, North Carolina and Perique. It's almost confusing at first: the smoke's body is quite full, but the subtle nutty and dark, oily flavor doesn't come close to matching this fullness. For a second, it even seems bland and hollow. The thickness of the smoke promises smooth smoking, but then an unmistakable perique tang in the sidestream smoke suggests that serious bite might be on its way, however it isn't. After about the first third of a pipe-full, the flavors meld together more and become smoother and smoking continues like this to the bottom of the pipe. The perique is very well integrated and, frankly, this particular combination of spicy and neutral flavors couldn't achieve a much better balance or smoke any cooler. I don't wish to imply that this is a mild tobacco though—it contains a decent amount of perique, offers only enough sweetness to avoid bitterness, and is likely a little too strong for a new pipe smoker. This is an obviously high-quality blend that provides good smoking and is worth trying if you enjoy natural blends or perique. After finishing a pipe of this, I notice that the caramel-like McClelland's aroma is clinging to my moustache even though the aftertaste is not sweet at all, just a bit spicy. '96

Captain Cool
CAPTAIN COOL
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 3/10
Flavour Depth: 5/10
Flavour—sweetness: 7/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 0/10
Flavour—floweriness: 0/10
Flavour—smokiness: 1/10
Flavour—mustiness: 2/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 3/10
Bite: 3/10
Room Aroma: Sweet
This tinned tobacco is part of the "premium aromatic" series. As the name might intend, it is reminiscent of the ever-popular Captain Black (in the white pouch), which I haven't smoked for several years. This blend mixes coarse-cut black cavendish with reddish-gold, ribbon-cut tobacco in roughly two-to-one proportions. It's moist, but not wet, to the touch and stays this way for many months after the tin has been opened. It's also a little oily and sticky. A heavy caramel-vanilla scent emanates from the tin and some of it clings to the fingers after filling the pipe. Lighting up, the smoke is pretty much what I expect: sweet, creamy and light-bodied, but fluffy, spiced with just enough lighter tobacco to transcend black cavendish's one-dimensional smoothness. There's not much authentic tobacco flavour to speak of, but there's lots of that pleasantly sweet, murky, vanilla-caramel taste that I associate with this genre of tobacco. It's mild enough that I might like to smoke this all day long if this were my regular type of tobacco, and if I were an "all-day smoker". Unlike some similarly moist American aromatics, I can smoke this quite dry to the bottom of the pipe. Still, there does remain a small black dottle that refuses to be smoked. I'm not familiar with McClelland's regular bulk aromatics, so I can't judge how this "premium aromatic" compares to their standard fare. This tobacco leaves the kind of sweet vanilla scent in the room that some folks expect from a pipe smoker and deposits a strong caramel flavour in the moustache. '02

Coyote
I originally reviewed this as a bulk blend of the same name from John B. Hayes Tobacconist, Fairfax, VA, without realizing it was a McClelland blend until alerted by a kind reader. Indeed, a sample of McClelland's Coyote proved to be similar to the John B. Hayes blend. It is a fairly wide-cut English blend that is about 75% very dark and 25% lighter tobaccos. It contains a good measure of latakia, but I don't think it's 75% latakia. I suspect some Turkish as well, but it's hard to say for sure. This doesn't have much natural sweetness from whatever Virginias are in the mix. The flavour is heavy and somewhat dusty or sandy. As I went through my samples of this, there were times when I really liked its smooth latakia-based smoke, but then there were other moments when it came off as rather flat-tasting. As I smoke it right now, I am appreciating its thick smoke, but I just don't find the flavour quite as deep as I might like. This is difficult to describe because it is definitely a full-English mixture, fuller tastewise than many for that matter, so I should find it more exciting than I do. If its flavour were in fact diluted by the addition of burley, that would explain my reaction, but somehow I don't think that's what it is. Oh well... It's nonetheless a high-quality blend that is well-suited to smoking in a big-bowled pipe due to its wide cut and slow-burning characteristic. It smokes dry and cool all the way and leaves a light-grey powder as its residue. It's a very good, bite-free and relaxing smoke that I'm sure some folks puff on all day long, but I personally just don't find myself craving it. It leaves a fairly strong English-type room aroma, but I doubt it if it could be called offensive; in fact, in the presence of cigarette smokers, its aroma goes relatively unnoticed. Thanks David and Spiffyng for the samples. '95

Dominican Glory
Medium-dark brown, medium cut, this blend has a pleasant, nutty flavour due to the inclusion of cigar leaf. Other than that, the flavour is a typically dark and smooth English, with a slightly sweet McClelland's-tasting Virginia base and latakia. The body of the smoke is very full and rich. Smokes very nicely, with only a slight bite that develops later during the smoke. And the aroma while smoking, well, not surprisingly, it smells like a heavy English blend with a bit of cigar. Smelling the combination of both pipe and cigar aromas at the same time remind me of visiting a smoke shop. '94

Frog Morton
This is a very dark tobacco, medium-cut and blackish overall to about 75%, with medium and dark brown pieces making up the remaining 25%. It is quite moist and remains that way for quite a while after being opened, which is remarkable and for an English blend. Some smokers have told me that they don't consider this to be an English blend at all: one told me that he considers it to be a dark Virginia blend with some latakia thrown in for character, and another told me that he considers it to be a light aromatic in comparison to the heavier blends that he frequents. Although it is a nonetheless a latakia blend of sorts, it provides a lot of sweetness, and is reminiscent of Blatter Reserve. It is not, however, of the dark, earthy sort of latakia blend, like Bengal Slices, where latakia predominates. So what this means is that all the dark tobacco in this blend is not latakia. What else it includes is speculation. Some have suggested stoved Virginias, but I still think that black Cavendish and Orientals are probably in this mix as well. I am very fond of this blend, probably because it successfully produces a rich, dark and cool smoke that is mild, somewhat sweet and has no harshness at all. This blend was developed to be an all-day smoke and it is indeed excellent at this level. Its extreme smoothness would make it appropriate for beginning pipe smokers who want to experience a darker flavour without the harshness, bite or higher nicotine content that come with some English or burley blends. In fact, this is a smoke that has very little kick and is smoother than most aromatics I've ever smoked. It would also be a nice smoke for those who tend to inhale from their pipe. I suspect that there might be an alcohol topping added as well, such as rum or whiskey. There was a potent aroma upon opening the tin that instantly suggested that to me (of course it may have been just the aromas of the tobaccos aging in the tin), but even the sweet smell that remains in my pipe reminds me of an alcohol addition. I am compelled to compare this to Blatter Reserve, my old standby, simply because it is one of the few tobaccos I have smoked that reminds me of it. Overall, the flavours are quite similar, but Frog Morton has a more uniform flavour that is perhaps a bit darker-tasting overall than Blatter Reserve. Blatter Reserve, on the other hand, is a little more lively and complex in flavour, partially due to the recipe, and partially because it's a mixture that hasn't undergone any aging process in the tin. Frog Morton is a slow-burning blend that smokes clean to a greyish ash and, along with Blatter Reserve (and to a lesser extent, a few other blends that I've discovered) is part of a unique genre of semi-sweet English-style tobaccos. '94

Mellow Mack
MELLOW MACK
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 3/10
Flavour Depth: 5/10
Flavour—sweetness: 5/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 0/10
Flavour—floweriness: 0/10
Flavour—smokiness: 1/10
Flavour—mustiness: 4/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 6/10
Bite: 3/10
Room Aroma: Lightly sweet
This tinned tobacco is part of McClelland's "premium aromatic" series. Its familiar caramel-vanilla-nut scent in the tin, its coarse cut, and its inclusion of roughly one-third black cavendish mark it as another classic American-style aromatic. In keeping with this style of flavoured tobacco, I expected it to be a bit sticky when my fingers reached into the tin. It wasn't. Smouldering in the pipe, this is mild and smooth and produces the kind of fluffy, steamy, lightweight smoke that fans of black-cavendish based tobaccos enjoy. The added flavourings all meld together with the neutral tobacco underneath to produce an effect that is more subdued than I was expecting. Sweetness does increase somewhat toward the bottom of the pipe, and the taste intensifies a little. In a sense, this could be considered a middle-of-the-road, almost generic, tobacco in the American aromatic genre. It would be perfect for finicky moments when one has a hankering for an aromatic tobacco, but not for one that is too sweet or which has a really strong taste. '02

Navy Cavendish
A varigated medium-brown tobacco in broken-flake form with some darker pieces as well. Its aroma in the pouch is a bit musty, a bit sweet, a bit dark, but understated overall. My first bowl of this tasted horrendously bland to me and I was sure that I had just discovered the world's least interesting tobacco mixture. However, given a bit more time to work its way into my pipe, it has proved to be a very decent, although unexciting, blend. If this blend were a person, you might appreciate him for his calculated, thoughtful, but entirely unflamboyant attitude. It doesn't have a pronounced flavour of any kind. There are the subtle flavours and sweetness of natural matured Virginias, but here they present themselves in a rather muted form. The slightly dark, grassy taste that results is actually quite pleasant, just very toned down. Rum is supposedly used as a flavouring agent here, but it's quite transparent and its use does not qualify this blend as an aromatic by any means. The rum probably contributes a lot to the underlying sweetness and a bit to the flavour, but I would never have detected it without the blend's description telling me that. Despite my mention of blandness, it is paradoxically also fairly rich in character. I think what I like best about this blend is the contrast between its laid-back flavour and its fuller, medium body. Its smoke has the smooth, almost creamy, body of a matured Virginia, almost (but not quite) as thick as many of the British matured Virginias. It's certainly as full in body as Dobie's Medium Navy Flake, if not a bit fuller, with a similarly equivalent strength. Best of all, it's very smooth-smoking and doesn't bite. Although it's a somewhat light tobacco in certain respects, it can be comfortably blown out the nose or even inhaled. It has a certain relaxing quality that,combined with its flavour reminds me of Rattray's Old Gowrie, except less grassy and less vibrant. For me, this is best as an early day smoke due to its unassertive flavour, but I can see how that this quality could make it attractive as an all-day smoke for some. It doesn't have much taste after smoking anything more flavourful. It has a very light and clean aroma that should neither disturb, nor elicit positive comments from, one's entourage. '97

PCCA's Quest
Medium-to-dark brown broken flake, this mixture is heavy on the Orientals, and medium on the latakia, much in the way that McClelland's Ashton Celebrated Sovereign is. It reminds me of Celebrated Sovereign very much in all respects. The body is rich, but not overwhelmingly full, and, like the bulk blend #2020 it's a little bit mellower than its dark flavour and appearance might suggest. A nice balance between the Virginias, Orientals and latakia is achieved where no one ingredient stands out. Quest has some of that nutty, naturally sweet aroma that characterizes Celebrated Sovereign, but it's not nearly as aromatic, nor as sweet-tasting, likely due to the lack of black cavendish. Its flavour is a bit darker, earthier and duller, perhaps a little less creamy and a little less smooth. Like Celebrated Sovereign again, it's full-tasting and cool-smoking, but not really heavy. It comes close to producing the chocolate-like flavour that one finds in many dark English blends, but it stops short with its more neutral, slightly nutty taste, especially toward the bottom of the bowl. It's definitely a pleasant smoke if you like a relaxing, dark-tasting English blend without too much kick and practically no tongue bite. It smokes dry to a fine, light-grey ash and leaves a clean, almost nutty room aroma. Could it be the presence of Yenidje in the mixture that makes this blend what it is? PCCA blends are generally one-time, limited-run blends that come out periodically and this one is no longer available. Thanks Bubbamike for the chance to sample this. '95

X-40
This is a bulk blend that I reviewed a while ago, but the shop that sold it to me was unwilling or unable to tell me who made it. Thanks to S&R Pipes and Pleasures, I now know (or at least I think I know). Mostly dark brown with a few medium and light brown flecks, this comes in a sort of pressed, broken, ribbon-cut flake which also contains some cross-cut stems. The result is a pellet-like texture mixed with longer broken-flake strips. This is a moist and soft tobacco that needs to rubbed out quite well for good burning. When rubbed out, it is slightly sticky on the fingers. It is definitely sweetened a bit, but I don't notice any particular added flavour, even though there might well be a little subtle something added—perhaps like the undetectable (to me) almond essence added to Gawith & Hoggarth's Kendal Flake. The dark, natural burley flavour is unusually mellow, a bit sweet and very tasty. When I think of a full, dark burley flavour, I automatically think of something that is tangy and rough on the tongue at the same time. Not here... This is slow-burning and cool and is all the more pleasant since it creates a good volume of creamy smoke. Although it contains no latakia, it has similar smoking qualities as a blend which does. It has a full taste and is of medium strength. It burns to a fine, white ash and leaves a heavy, slightly sweet natural tobacco aroma in the room. '97

#25
From their tinned (not bulk) series, this is a fine, blackish, aged-Virginia tobacco that is not only of a shag-cut, but is also cut quite short. So it looks a bit like blackish cigarette tobacco or like shredded Condor Ready-Rubbed. In the pouch, it seems like it will be a fairly strong dark-Virginia smoke, almost of the British style, but it falls a bit short of that in terms of strength and needs to be appreciated on its own merits. It seems to be free of added perfumes and flavouring agents with its smooth, natural, aged-Virginia taste that is somewhat sweet, straight-forward, without flavour highlights and not at all perfumy- or smoky-tasting. Smoking this in a small Oom Paul pipe, it becomes noticeable about 1/4 of the way into the smoke that it isn't quite as smooth as it seemed at first. The smoke rolling off the top of the pipe is unexpectedly piquant as it hits the nostrils. It's very much a medium-bodied smoke that slowly becomes sharper and more citrus-like as the bowl is smoked. I find that this slowly-developing citrus quality comes close to being harsh on the tongue after a while, even though it doesn't come right out and bite. Luckily, it seems to subside somewhere around 2/3 of the way down the bowl and the sharpness seems to mellow out. It reminds me of a much-weaker, more-refined version of a simple-tasting British blend like Mick McQuaid Square Cut, especially in the way its sweetness seems to disintegrate toward the end of the bowl and be replaced by a slight burnt taste. Overall, it's a decent medium-strength tobacco that makes for a surprisingly satisfying smoke. Although there's something quite pleasant and calming about it, it also has a somewhat bland character that you will either find comforting or boring in the long run. Being such a fine-cut blend, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, it's easy to smoke this a bit hot, but on the other hand, it's ideal for smoking in a tall narrow bowl, in which some tobaccos tend to be more difficult to keep burning. It burns clean to a fine, medium-grey ash. Thanks Spiffyng for the sample... '96

#2010 (Classic Virginia)
A fairly dry medium-brown, broken-flake tobacco that includes light and dark components as well. In the pouch, this has a very prominent and appealing caramel-like aroma. I find that some of this aroma translates into flavour during the first few puffs off the pipe, but then this flavour gives way to an underlying natural sweetness that remains constant during the smoke. Its taste is surprisingly neutral and refreshing after the first few puffs given its caramel pouch aroma. My first few pipes of this left me thoroughly unimpressed, but I've come to enjoy it quite a bit as an occasional smoke. Being a Virginia blend, it does have a distinctly drying effect on the palate which could easily become biting if smoked fast, too dry, or on an already tender tongue. Medium-to-light in body, this is a pleasant and relaxing smoke that is not the slightest bit heavy nor harsh in flavour; it barely has a smoky flavour at all. Even though this blend obviously contains some light and potentially biting tobacco(s), there is something else in it (darker Virginias?) that provides a concurrent smoothness. The result is an interesting balance which, combined with its neutrality and subtle sweetness, creates the taste sensation that Jim Key described as "buttery." Although "buttery" describes the smoke's body fairly well, I don't feel that its flavour is even nearly rich enough to merit that appellation. Rattray's Old Gowrie is an example of a blend that is somewhat similar, but much richer in flavour and body, whereas Dobie's Curlies is an example of a blend that is a bit in the same vain, yet lighter in taste and body. Toward the end of the pipe, 2010's sweetness finally subsides and a light, somewhat hot, smoky flavour sets in. The ashes that remain are dry and light grey. The room aroma is distinct, but pleasantly light, slightly sweet and clean-smelling, almost the way one would expect cigarettes to smell if their stenchy aspect could be removed. '96

#2015 (Virginia Flake)
A Virginia and perique broken-flake blend that is overall dark brown in colour, but contains flecks of medium-to-light brown leaf and birdseye (cross-cut stems). The pouch aroma is slightly musty and slightly sweet. Once rubbed out, the tobacco appears to contain more lighter leaf than its appearance originally suggested. Upon lighting up, the flavour is quite consistent with the pouch aroma—semi-sweet and a touch musty, with the addition of a distinctive tangy quality. This light-to-medium bodied smoke is really quite pleasant and refreshing with its vaguely fruity character that combines with a slight pepperiness. Its taste has a smoothness and a well-balanced subtle complexity about it (probably owing to the different Virginias used in the mixture), but its tang could easily evolve into tongue-bite if you smoke it too quickly—it is definitely to be savoured slowly. As you approach the end of the bowl, you realize there was a slow, gradual strengthening of the flavour, and an almost total elimination of the contrasts between the flavours. The final taste seems to be dominated by the perique in the mixture, its force reduced by the residual burnt sugars from the Virginias. Although this is by no means a weak mixture and it is fairly strong on the tongue, it doesn't have much nicotine kick—in short, a medium-strength mixture. It's similar in many ways to Esoterica's Dorchester, but not quite as rich and smooth. Even its room aroma is quite consistent; it smells clean, slightly sweet and slightly musty. Of course, it burns clean and dry, the ash being largely a fine grey powder. '96

#2020 (Matured Cake Mixture)
This blend comes in a dark brown broken flake, parts of which have a reddish tint, parts of which are blackish. Before opening the pouch, I notice a typically distinctive latakia aroma coming through. However, a closer sniff once the pouch is open reveals a slight sweetish, sourish aroma also, which is undoubtedly the Virginia component coming through. When smoked, I find the flavour acts similar to the way its aroma does. In other words, it has some of the flavour of a dark latakia blend, but is unequivocally a medium strength blend, and not at all as heavy as I first expected. The smoothness of the latakia is important to the blend's body, which I would say is on the heavy side of medium. However, a creamy, lighter, and slightly spicy, caramelized Virginia flavour surprisingly manages to makes its presence felt through the latakia. I presume that there's also some Turkish in here contributing to the nuttiness and richness of the aroma and taste of the smoke. I must say that I'm not sure what I think of this one. It's certainly a classy and fairly rich English-style blend that smokes fairly smooth, tastes good, and has a nice latakia aroma. However, the mixture is very unified, so there aren't any special complex flavours to savour. And being a follower of the heavy latakia mixtures, there is something that I find disappointing about a smoke that somehow seems like it should be of a fuller strength than it is. This one reminds me of Bengal Slices or Esoterica's Penzance without the "oomph" and a touch sharper. Although I say this in a pejorative tone, I realize that it is this very quality that will be most appealing to many smokers. My sample of this was quite dry and it burned well and to a grey ash. '96

#2035 (Dark Navy Flake)
This one stands out visually, if not in other ways as well. It's jet black, comes in slices, and has a subtle, dark, fermented aroma in the pouch that's just barely sweet. It rubs out rather oddly; its thick and rubbery texture causes it to break into crumbs more than flake apart along the blurred lines of the pressed tobacco leaves. This said, it's perhaps not surprising that this isn't the easiest tobacco to get lit. But once lit, it seems to keep smouldering reasonably well. Its flavour is a bit different than most of the darker Virginia blends I've tried. It's hardly sweet at all and its dark taste is rather flat, and mellow, not at all overpowering as one might expect. It almost has a slightly salty taste, a result of the particular leaf used and its processing, I suppose. I know this description hardly sounds appealing, but I do find this to be quite tasty; it reminds me of a good black cavendish blend with all the sweetness and vanilla removed from it. In other respects, it recalls Rattray's Dark Fragrant, but with only a bit of the deep, raisin-like flavour that characterizes that mixture. Knowing it's a matured Virginia blend of such darkness, one might expect a full-strength, rich, British-style effect. Well, the taste is full and rather rich, but the strength is more medium, or a bit on the heavy side of medium, making it a relaxing, but not excessively heavy, smoke. This one seems to keep growing on me with each bowl of it I smoke. It's medium to full in body, doesn't cloy the palate and is a very smooth smoke. In fact, it's one of the coolest burning tobaccos I've smoked in some time. It has just a slight tang that intensifies at the bottom of the pipe (where it also, rather suddenly, loses a lot of its flavour), but it doesn't bite. Despite its darkish flavour, it has a surprisingly neutral character when it comes to its blandly smoky aftertaste. The room aroma, however, is a bit more pronounced, rather musty, a little sweet, almost a bit liquorice-like in its dark scent. Since I don't like liquorice, I shouldn't therefore like this aroma, but I do quite a bit. It burns clean and dry to a fine, medium-grey ash. This is one tobacco I can definitely imagine smoking more of. '97

#2050 (Oriental Cavendish)
ORIENTAL CAVENDISH
Body: 6/10
Nicotine Strength: 3/10
Flavour Depth: 7/10
Flavour—sweetness: 6/10
Flavour—fruitiness: 3/10
Flavour—floweriness: 2/10
Flavour—smokiness: 3/10
Flavour—mustiness: 6/10
Flavour—nuttiness: 3/10
Bite: 3/10
Room Aroma: Sweet-musty
Though numbered in the 2000 series with mostly natural tobacco blends, this mild, black-cavendish mixture is distinctly flavoured. In the jar, it's dark and moist and smells almost good enough to eat. In fact, I once had a batch of this that was so moist and aromatic that I wasn't sure if I had received the correct tobacco. I've smoked quite a bit of this during different periods over the past year (I can still smell it in my tent and bicycle saddlebags from last year's desert camping trip), but I don't necesarily notice the same scents each time I go to light up a bowl. As I detect hints of cloves, raisins, maple, and vanilla (and orange?), memories of fruitcake and plum pudding are evoked. It is aromatic, for sure, but much of that pouch-aroma sweetness is transformed when smoked. The black cavendish provides a dark, heavy bass note and a creamy body from start to finish, but the Orientals in the blend cause a lighter, musty, autumn-like freshness to develop after the first quarter-bowl or so and it slowly becomes more prominent. The constant contrast of this leafy quality and the sweeter base is the focus of the smoke from here on. The total flavour remains semi-aromatic and, after a while, becomes fairly dense, lightly smoky and a little meaty at times, which is rare for a mixture in the American black-cavendish genre. It generally smokes dry, but you can bring out the moisture of the black cavendish by puffing too hard. This blend leaves an aroma in the pipe that I was unable to discern for months... then it occurred to me that the sweet smokiness I was sensing reminded me of bacon! This has got to be one of the more complex aromatic tobaccos I've ever smoked. For a while, I was fond of mixing this about 50-50 with Two Friends' Redwood for something a little stronger, but in the same flavour zone. It's a low-to-medium strength smoke and leaves an aroma that I find earthy and sweet. Though it's not heavy on the vanilla to my nose, I've been complimented more than once on its pleasant vanilla fragrance. '01

#5105 (Stoved Virginia)
This is a black tobacco that is cut in medium-width and short-to-medium-length strands of a tough, pellet-like texture. Each strand actually consists of several layers of tobacco leaf, which accounts for the thickness of the "pellets." As the name "stoved" implies, the leaves have been heated to make it taste mellower and darker than the untransformed base tobaccos. In the pouch, there is a slightly musty and vaguely sweet aroma, which gets transferred to the smoke's flavour. This is supposed to be along the same lines as Rattray's Dark Fragrant, and it is, particularly in the way it has few flavour contrasts. However, the rich, dark-raisin or spice flavour of Dark Fragrant is less apparent here and exists more as a teaser of sorts. In this mixture, the dominant flavour is a more natural, slightly sweet, slightly smoky Virginia flavour. The sweetness does becomes more pronounced in the second half of the bowl and begins to resemble Dark Fragrant a bit more at that time. The smoke is of medium body and on the lighter side of medium at times. Although it smokes fairly smooth, it does develop more tang as a pipe full is smoked, reminding you that this is a Virginia mixture. It doesn't bite per se, but it leaves the mouth quite dry after a smoke. The taste is not really all that strong, which will either appeal to you or not. This tobacco remains in distinct pieces as it burns. In fact, it burns quite slowly, so if it dries out a little, burning is facilitated quite a bit. Overall, I like this, but it isn't quite vibrant enough to call me back for more. '96