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Blind Sample Reviews

WalkinStick

Not a daisy at all
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Patron
Old Ted Award Winner
I'll apologize publicly as I did privately to Adam for dropping the ball on my end. I let the last two samples get really dry and was generally lazy about the whole thing. I have turned in my badge, and look forward to whoever jumps in next. Adam is an awesome trading partner, btw.
Don’t feel too bad. I forgot about the bonus sample that @davidbeinct sent me, and now I can’t find it.

Along with the pipe that I had packed a bowl of it in.
 

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Sales
Forgive me if I am overstepping my bounds as a newbie, but this thread is too riveting not to comment and I would love to participate. I didn't see any participatory rules governing "newbies," so if anyone wants a trading partner, I am game. :cool:
You are more than welcome. However, I'll be away from home for the holidays until the new year. If you're willing to wait until then I'd gladly trade some blind reviews with you.
 

Kamkiel

Well-known member
So I’ve finally gotten around to smoking this final sample. I was a little worried at first because the plug seemed a little dry as I cut it, but honestly this may have helped the smoke. I cut it into paper thin flakes that packed easily and lit up on first light.

The first part of the bowl felt a little strong, but had a nice leathery chewy taste. As it progressed, I believe the virginias opened the flavors up providing a deep sweetness that melded perfectly with what I presume are burleys. This smoked perfectly and the flavor was consistent. It demanded my attention like dog that wants to be pet does, if that makes sense. Like, “I won’t let you forget that I’m here.”

I really like this and fear that it may be difficult to find. Due to lack of plug smoking experience and exposure, my guess is really just a shot in the dark. I say Warrior Plug, but I’m sure @Spillproof can correct me on that.
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Sales
So I’ve finally gotten around to smoking this final sample. I was a little worried at first because the plug seemed a little dry as I cut it, but honestly this may have helped the smoke. I cut it into paper thin flakes that packed easily and lit up on first light.

The first part of the bowl felt a little strong, but had a nice leathery chewy taste. As it progressed, I believe the virginias opened the flavors up providing a deep sweetness that melded perfectly with what I presume are burleys. This smoked perfectly and the flavor was consistent. It demanded my attention like dog that wants to be pet does, if that makes sense. Like, “I won’t let you forget that I’m here.”

I really like this and fear that it may be difficult to find. Due to lack of plug smoking experience and exposure, my guess is really just a shot in the dark. I say Warrior Plug, but I’m sure @Spillproof can correct me on that.
Yes it's a Plug, yes it's a VaBur, and yes it has some strength (*but not too much) - very well done!

The Final Sample was 2010 Mick McQuaid's Plug.
Sadly it's a goner but at least you got to try some.
 
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Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Sales
Blind Sample #1 from @DrumsAndBeer

Appearance: Mostly rubbed out with some conspicuous flake strands still in there. Some lighter browns and some darker bits. A very clean, evenly cut flake of medium thickness.

Bag note: My first impression was "wow, this smells like fruit". There's certainly some kind of a bright, fruity topping on this (perhaps berry of some kind?). Once I dig my nose in there I'm getting plenty of sweetness with a combination of chocolatey and dried fruit smells.

Initial impressions: This seems like a European continental flake with plenty of Virginia and probably some kind of burley in there.

BR_1.jpg

Smoking:

First Bowl in a GBD Canadian

From the first light, this is expressing a really interesting and unique flavor profile. Creamy, coriander, slightly mouth-cooling herbal (like the feel you get from an aromatic herb like celery), and some berry like sweetness. Also getting some bright, citrusy edges from lighter virginias.

After sitting for a while, the flavors on the relight are a bit more muted and the topping is slightly less evident and less fruity, perhaps. I'm still getting a lot of creamy, milk and honey type sweetness with that flash of spice at the end which still reminds me of coriander and ginger. The overall impression is like a ginger snap cookie with milk.

Overall, the experience was super smooth. No hint of tingle on the retrohale and no discernable nicotine hit.

Second bowl in a Brian Kalnitz Diamond Shank Dublin

So far, the taller narrower bowl has had the effect of turning up the volume on the virginias and slightly turning down the volume on the condiments. That milk and honey creaminess (almost like eggnog or something) is there but behind the more standard grassy, bready, sweet virginia flavor with just a hint of a dried fruit in there.

The fruity flavor sticks around through the finish though, so if I think about it I can imagine this taste as something like strawberry shortcake. Not fresh strawberry, but like what nestle strawberry syrup tastes like (which I loved as a child, still probably do).

The last half of this bowl saw things turn a little more savory and spicy. Not much, but more than previously. It ended more like your typical medium virginia with some herbal spice creeping back up just a hint of that sweet creaminess through the finish.

Conclusions: This was a really interesting and enjoyable blend. Very “foodie” in flavor but not overwhelmingly sweet either. I’m guessing that this is Virginia, burley and some orientals with a bit of top note. The combination of flavors is distinctive enough that I’m pretty sure that I’ve not had this blend before. Based on the large number of descriptions I’ve read of it on here and in other places, I became convinced pretty early on that this is Savinelli Brunello Flake. It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong and that my hunch tainted my perception but I couldn’t get it out of my head, so there ya go. So…What do we got?
 
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DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
Adam,

Excellent review.

Now for the reveal, Sample #1 is one of the neglected blends from J. F. Germain's Esoterica catalog, Brighton.

The sample I sent you is roughly 5 years old, so it has darkened down a touch both in color and flavor, yet it has retained some facets of its youthfulness. I usually enjoy it as a mild to medium warm weather smoke but recently decided that with age it becomes sturdy enough in flavor for winter.

You described its flavor profile extremely well and I agree with you.

According to Germain, it's a straight VA! Anyway, I agree it's an interesting blend and a good smoke for sure.

Chris

PS - I have a draft of my first blind sample review. Sample #4 from Adam. So stayed tuned to this channel. ;)
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Sales
Blind Sample #1 from @DrumsAndBeer

Appearance: Mostly rubbed out with some conspicuous flake strands still in there. Some lighter browns and some darker bits. A very clean, evenly cut flake of medium thickness.

Bag note: My first impression was "wow, this smells like fruit". There's certainly some kind of a bright, fruity topping on this (perhaps berry of some kind?). Once I dig my nose in there I'm getting plenty of sweetness with a combination of chocolatey and dried fruit smells.

Initial impressions: This seems like a European continental flake with plenty of Virginia and probably some kind of burley in there.

View attachment 22059

Smoking:

First Bowl in a GBD Canadian

From the first light, this is expressing a really interesting and unique flavor profile. Creamy, coriander, slightly mouth-cooling herbal (like the feel you get from an aromatic herb like celery), and some berry like sweetness. Also getting some bright, citrusy edges from lighter virginias.

After sitting for a while, the flavors on the relight are a bit more muted and the topping is slightly less evident and less fruity, perhaps. I'm still getting a lot of creamy, milk and honey type sweetness with that flash of spice at the end which still reminds me of coriander and ginger. The overall impression is like a ginger snap cookie with milk.

Overall, the experience was super smooth. No hint of tingle on the retrohale and no discernable nicotine hit.

Second bowl in a Brian Kalnitz Diamond Shank Dublin

So far, the taller narrower bowl has had the effect of turning up the volume on the virginias and slightly turning down the volume on the condiments. That milk and honey creaminess (almost like eggnog or something) is there but behind the more standard grassy, bready, sweet virginia flavor with just a hint of a dried fruit in there.

The fruity flavor sticks around through the finish though, so if I think about it I can imagine this taste as something like strawberry shortcake. Not fresh strawberry, but like what nestle strawberry syrup tastes like (which I loved as a child, still probably do).

The last half of this bowl saw things turn a little more savory and spicy. Not much, but more than previously. It ended more like your typical medium virginia with some herbal spice creeping back up just a hint of that sweet creaminess through the finish.

Conclusions: This was a really interesting and enjoyable blend. Very “foodie” in flavor but not overwhelmingly sweet either. I’m guessing that this is Virginia, burley and some orientals with a bit of top note. The combination of flavors is distinctive enough that I’m pretty sure that I’ve not had this blend before. Based on the large number of descriptions I’ve read of it on here and in other places, I became convinced pretty early on that this is Savinelli Brunello Flake. It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong and that my hunch tainted my perception but I couldn’t get it out of my head, so there ya go. So…What do we got?
I really like your review style Adam. Well done.

I get all sorts of fruity notes from some Esoterica Va's.
 
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Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Sales
Adam,

Excellent review.

Now for the reveal, Sample #1 is one of the neglected blends from J. F. Germain's Esoterica catalog, Brighton.

The sample I sent you is roughly 5 years old, so it has darkened down a touch both in color and flavor, yet it has retained some facets of its youthfulness. I usually enjoy it as a mild to medium warm weather smoke but recently decided that with age it becomes sturdy enough in flavor for winter.

You described its flavor profile extremely well and I agree with you.

According to Germain, it's a straight VA! Anyway, I agree it's an interesting blend and a good smoke for sure.

Chris

PS - I have a draft of my first blind sample review. Sample #4 from Adam. So stayed tuned to this channel. ;)
Wow! Consider me Gobsmacked. I've actually had Brighton before and enjoyed it a LOT (have actually been keeping my eye out for some) but honestly don't remember it tasting anything like this in terms of complexity. To be fair, the brighton that I had before was a bulk sample from a shop that probably had it sitting out for a long, long time, so whatever other character might have been in it was perhaps long gone by that point. In that case, this might be an eye opening example of what proper vs. improper storage can do to a blend (and will redouble my efforts to find more Brighton).

The depth and variety of flavor in this pretty incredible, then, for a straight virginia. The mouth-cooling herbal/spice notes are things I've only ever gotten from specific oriental varietals before.
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
Blind Sample #4 from @Adam Bybee

A thin ribbon cut mixture with a mish mash of smaller pieces. Overall, looks a lot like a post 2016 C&D or a STG produced Dunhill blend. The color is a variegated mix of medium to dark brown with a moderate amount of black latakia present. I counted 2, perhaps 3 different shades of brown which leads me to believe that at the very least, that there's an Oriental varietal tucked in to go with what seems mostly like a Virginia foundation. The pouch note is smoky with a light fermented sweetness coming from the base tobaccos.

IMG_0098.JPG

I smoked this blend in 3 different pipes, a group 4 sized Peterson Sherlock bulldog with an average chamber that I regularly use for latakia blends, a large Savinelli Hercules Prince with a wide shallow bowl, and finally a group 2 sized Stanwell featherweight Lovat with a very small bowl.

After 3 bowls and exhausting the entire sample, I am torn. I believe this is something that I have tried but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t. However, I’ll save my guess until the end of this review.

In the Peterson, the flavor initially came through as mildly sweet and toasty, but the sweetness was quickly edged out by a forward sensation of pepper on the tip of the tongue. Slightly down the bowl I got hints of dark bread and a touch of molasses which worked well with the flavor of the latakia. The smoke had a dry, woodsy quality to it, the mouthfeel was sprite and spicy and the finish quite clean. Past the half way point the smoke became a bit more complex and a bit harsh, although not unpleasantly so. I was surprised by how "bright" this blend smoked, not in taste per say, but more in mouthfeel and liveliness of the overall sensory perception created by the smoke on the palate.

In the monster Savinelli, I experienced a smoother smoke and the flavor was nuttier tasting, with a few more toasted grain and malt notes coming through as well as a subtle caraway like essence. The wider bowl did wash out some of the concentrated richness that I experienced in the first bowl but for whatever reason it also allowed me to pick up on a few more nuances from the base tobaccos that went entirely unnoticed in bowl #1. With the wider bowl, I also picked up on a rotten fermented fruit flavor, and there was a subtle ammonia aroma coming of the bowl periodically. Altogether the wider bowl provided a mellower experience, and with the spiciness toned down a notch I was definitely able to taste a larger range of flavors.

Now for the big surprise. After striking out with the average sized Peterson and feeling somewhat mixed about the experience with the bigger wider bowl, this blend absolutely sang in my Stanwell featherweight. The spiciness was in full force, but so was a sweet rich taste that put everything in balance. Needless to say I enjoyed pipe #3 immensely. The flavors I experienced with the Savinelli were all there but were distilled down into a more intensified version. Sweet, smoky, spicy, all good attributes in an English mixture and all were present. This tobacco performed very well. It was easy to work with, stayed lit with very little in-bowl maintenance required. Very much one of those 2-3 matches and off to the races type blends with only a handful of relights along the way. Left very little moisture in the bowl and burned down to a mottled grey ash with only a smidgen of dottle left behind. No added flavors or essences here and it left each of my pipes with a pleasant, dry, smoky aroma
.
What I enjoyed most about this tobacco was its light, clean finish. I also enjoyed the fact that the latakia was quite restrained and never came across as sooty or acrid. My only complaint was very likely a body chemistry thing, I did experience some harsh notes in the first 2 bowls. However, there was nothing even remotely harsh in the 3rd bowl, so this could very well have been a pipe related variable.

Now for my guess. I could imagine this being any number of blends from C&D, perhaps one that I haven’t tried. I did compare the cut to a few post 2016 C&D mixtures and it’s very similar. On the other hand, back in 2013 I smoked through a single 50g tin of a Dunhill blend that had very similar attributes, so I guess I’ll hedge my bet there. My guess: Dunhill’s My Mixture 965?
 
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Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Sales
Blind Sample #4 from @Adam Bybee

A thin ribbon cut mixture with a mish mash of smaller pieces. Overall, looks a lot like a post 2016 C&D or a STG produced Dunhill blend. The color is a variegated mix of medium to dark brown with a moderate amount of black latakia present. I counted 2, perhaps 3 different shades of brown which leads me to believe that at the very least, that there's an Oriental varietal tucked in to go with what seems mostly like a Virginia foundation. The pouch note is smoky with a light fermented sweetness coming from the base tobaccos.

View attachment 22108

I smoked this blend in 3 different pipes, a group 4 sized Peterson Sherlock bulldog with an average chamber that I regularly use for latakia blends, a large Savinelli Hercules Prince with a wide shallow bowl, and finally a group 2 sized Stanwell featherweight Lovat with a very small bowl.

After 3 bowls and exhausting the entire sample, I am torn. I believe this is something that I have tried but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t. However, I’ll save my guess until the end of this review.

In the Peterson, the flavor initially came through as mildly sweet and toasty, but the sweetness was quickly edged out by a forward sensation of pepper on the tip of the tongue. Slightly down the bowl I got hints of dark bread and a touch of molasses which worked well with the flavor of the latakia. The smoke had a dry, woodsy quality to it, the mouthfeel was sprite and spicy and the finish quite clean. Past the half way point the smoke became a bit more complex and a bit harsh, although not unpleasantly so. I was surprised by how "bright" this blend smoked, not in taste per say, but more in mouthfeel and liveliness of the overall sensory perception created by the smoke on the palate.

In the monster Savinelli, I experienced a smoother smoke and the flavor was nuttier tasting, with a few more toasted grain and malt notes coming through as well as a subtle caraway like essence. The wider bowl did wash out some of the concentrated richness that I experienced in the first bowl but for whatever reason it also allowed me to pick up on a few more nuances from the base tobaccos that went entirely unnoticed in bowl #1. With the wider bowl, I also picked up on a rotten fermented fruit flavor, and there was a subtle ammonia aroma coming of the bowl periodically. Altogether the wider bowl provided a mellower experience, and with the spiciness toned down a notch I was definitely able to taste a larger range of flavors.

Now for the big surprise. After striking out with the average sized Peterson and feeling somewhat mixed about the experience with the bigger wider bowl, this blend absolutely sang in my Stanwell featherweight. The spiciness was in full force, but so was a sweet rich taste that put everything in balance. Needless to say I enjoyed pipe #3 immensely. The flavors I experienced with the Savinelli were all there but were distilled down into a more intensified version. Sweet, smoky, spicy, all good attributes in an English mixture and all were present. This tobacco performed very well. It was easy to work with, stayed lit with very little in-bowl maintenance required. Very much one of those 2-3 matches and off to the races type blends with only a handful of relights along the way. Left very little moisture in the bowl and burned down to a mottled grey ash with only a smidgen of dottle left behind. No added flavors or essences here and it left each of my pipes with a pleasant, dry, smoky aroma
.
What I enjoyed most about this tobacco was its light, clean finish. I also enjoyed the fact that the latakia was quite restrained and never came across as sooty or acrid. My only complaint was very likely a body chemistry thing, I did experience some harsh notes in the first 2 bowls. However, there was nothing even remotely harsh in the 3rd bowl, so this could very well have been a pipe related variable.

Now for my guess. I could imagine this being any number of blends from C&D, perhaps one that I haven’t tried. I did compare the cut to a few post 2016 C&D mixtures and it’s very similar. On the other hand, back in 2013 I smoked through a single 50g tin of a Dunhill blend that had very similar attributes, so I guess I’ll hedge my bet there. My guess: Dunhill’s My Mixture 965?
That is one heck of a thorough and well written review, and also a very good guess. This is 2015 Dunhill Durbar.

I personally find this blend to be one of the savoriest blends I've had before and often get plenty of peppery, spicy, aromatic wood notes (and indeed some harsher, dry stuff sometimes.)
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
That is one heck of a thorough and well written review, and also a very good guess. This is 2015 Dunhill Durbar.

I personally find this blend to be one of the savoriest blends I've had before and often get plenty of peppery, spicy, aromatic wood notes (and indeed some harsher, dry stuff sometimes.)
Interesting! I have never smoked Durbar, but I definitely got the STG manufactured Dunhill vibe from this one.

Having only smoked their versions of Nightcap, London Mixture, EMP and 965 as references, I feel pretty good about my guess, Hahaha... I only ever got harsh notes from 965, btw.

Fantastic round 1, Adam. I really liked your review.

On to the next blend!
 
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