What's new

Blind Sample Reviews

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Blind Sample Review, Sample #2: from @Adam Bybee

Presentation: Thinly cut, firmly pressed flakes that appear to be torn from longer flakes. The color is a dark mottled brown with noticeable crystallization and it appears as though Adam was kind enough to dry these down some, as they do have a dusky look to them as well.

When held they hold their shape, proof that there’s plenty of moisture left in them and they have the look and feel of product from one of the Gawith houses.

View attachment 23120

Pouch Note: Sample number #2 has a delicate aroma reticent of stoved Virginia tobaccos with a light yet sharp tang that suggests that there’s perique in the mix. The sweetness is that of prune or raisin along with a deeper dark sugar note.

Tasting Notes and review: I smoked this two different pipes. My first go was with a Kirsten that I use for smoking milder Lakeland blends (just to be safe). After smoking this in the Kirsten I was comfortable enough with the absence of a Lakeland floral note to give it a whirl in a small group 2 sized GBD Esterel prince shaped pipe that I mostly smoke Virginia flakes in.

Anyway if this is in fact a blend of "Gawithian" origin, I would assume it’s from the Samuel Gawith side, as there was no obvious floral note in the flavor or sidestream. The flavor that came through in both pipes was sweet and plum like. It was also quite tangy at times with plenty of spice on the finish, especially when pushed. The Kirsten provided a smoother experience that was more fruit-forward with the pepperiness coming through only on the finish. However, the GBD provided a richer tasting experience and accentuated the fullness of the smoke, with a forward spiciness that I can only describe as being punchy. In both pipes this blend was very enjoyable. But after smoking it in my GBD, I think I was really able to tune it in and get the most out of it. Tangy, sweet, peppery and a bit earthy with layers of complex yet smooth rich tobacco flavors. A tobacco that I found myself savoring right to the very end of each bowl. Altogether, medium flavor strength tobacco with a nicotine level that barely pushes medium as well.

Conclusion: The thing that has me somewhat stumped is the thinness of the flakes. I compared these to a blend that I have in stock that I am thinking is the culprit. However, mine are twice as thick! Still I am going to take a stab at this and say that Sample #2 is Sam Gawith’s St. James Flake, and given the thinness of the flakes, more than likely from a 250g or 500g box?
Very concise and accurate review. You've nailed the Gawithian provenance. This is actually Samuel Gawith Best Brown Flake from 2007
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
Blind Sample Review, Sample #1 from @Adam Bybee

Presentation: Evenly cut, firmly pressed flakes. Like a idiot, I took the picture after breaking them up but they did have that perfect stick of gum look that one typically finds within a tin of several European manufactured tobaccos. Mottled reddish brown in color and ready to smoke with no dry time needed.

IMG_0117.jpg

Pouch Note: Sample number #1 smelled honey sweet and bready with a light, tangy raisin-like aroma. The aroma isn’t terribly complex but it’s very pleasant, mouth watering to me truthful. Appears to be comprised of mostly Virginia tobacco, although darker shades of it.

Tasting Notes and Review: I smoked Sample # 1 in a few different pipes. I thick walled Boswell poker with a narrow conical shaped bowl, and a small Stanwell featherweight Lovat. Both smokes were very enjoyable but this flake really shined in the smaller Danish made Stanny.

In the poker, I found the initial flavor to be light and sweet with some grassy high notes coming through in the side-stream aroma. Several minutes in the flavor intensified some, and while the smoke retained its casual character and sweet tone, the grassiness was replaced by a sweet malty taste, and deeper draws on the pipe revealed a pleasant piquant tang. It was a this point that I decided that this particular blend, whatever it is, belongs in the category of Virginia tobaccos that are more toasty and robust, than light and ethereal. Blends in the vein of Dunhill Flake, Capstan Blue and Amphora Virginia. I do suppose that there could be a scant amount of perique in this, but after my last blind review I discovered that my taster is not always up to snuff, so all bets are off.

In the featherweight this tobacco absolutely knocked my socks off. Proof that a pipe can make quite a bit of difference in how a blend smokes. There was no gentle warm up period with the Stanwell. Instead the flavor was sweet and rich right from the start and deeper draws were tangy, pushing citric sour, but I really enjoyed this! The shifting in flavor between sweet and acid created quite a bit more complexity and made the experience all the more delightful.

Performance and room note: Adam’s Sample #1 burned fairly slow and smoked cool and bite free. It was also quite forgiving of a greedy cadence. The room note was pleasant to tolerable. Pipe smokers would like it but non smokers would likely describe the aroma as sweet but still very much tobacco-like.

Conclusion: Whatever this winds up being, it’s one I would consider purchasing if it is actually still on the market. The slow burn rate was McClelland-esq, however the tone of the sweetness was reminiscent of something Danish, lightly cased and not heavily fermented in aroma. Frankly I have no idea what this is so I am going to take a wild guess here. F&T Cut Blended Plug?

Anyway, that wraps it up for me on this end. @Adam Bybee, it was a pleasure. Great learning experience for me and I look forward to your next two reviews!
 
Last edited:

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Blind Sample Review, Sample #1 from @Adam Bybee

Presentation: Evenly cut, firmly pressed flakes. Like a idiot, I took the picture after breaking them up but they did have that perfect stick of gum look that one typically finds within a tin of several European manufactured tobaccos. Mottled reddish brown in color and ready to smoke with no dry time needed.

View attachment 23775

Pouch Note: Sample number #1 smelled honey sweet and bready with a light, tangy raisin-like aroma. The aroma isn’t terribly complex but it’s very pleasant, mouth watering to me truthful. Appears to be comprised of mostly Virginia tobacco, although darker shades of it.

Tasting Notes and Review: I smoked Sample # 1 in a few different pipes. I thick walled Boswell poker with a narrow conical shaped bowl, and a small Stanwell featherweight Lovat. Both smokes were very enjoyable but this flake really shined in the smaller Danish made Stanny.

In the poker, I found the initial flavor to be light and sweet with some grassy high notes coming through in the side-stream aroma. Several minutes in the flavor intensified some, and while the smoke retained its casual character and sweet tone, the grassiness was replaced by a sweet malty taste, and deeper draws on the pipe revealed a pleasant piquant tang. It was a this point that I decided that this particular blend, whatever it is, belongs in the category of Virginia tobaccos that are more toasty and robust, than light and ethereal. Blends in the vein of Dunhill Flake, Capstan Blue and Amphora Virginia. I do suppose that there could be a scant amount of perique in this, but after my last blind review I discovered that my taster is not always up to snuff, so all bets are off.

In the featherweight this tobacco absolutely knocked my socks off. Proof that a pipe can make quite a bit of difference in how a blend smokes. There was no gentle warm up period with the Stanwell. Instead the flavor was sweet and rich right from the start and deeper draws were tangy, pushing citric sour, but I really enjoyed this! The shifting in flavor between sweet and acid created quite a bit more complexity and made the experience all the more delightful.

Performance and room note: Adam’s Sample #1 burned fairly slow and smoked cool and bite free. It was also quite forgiving of a greedy cadence. The room note was pleasant to tolerable. Pipe smokers would like it but non smokers would likely describe the aroma as sweet but still very much tobacco-like.

Conclusion: Whatever this winds up being, it’s one I would consider purchasing if it is actually still on the market. The slow burn rate was McClelland-esq, however the tone of the sweetness was reminiscent of something Danish, lightly cased and not heavily fermented in aroma. Frankly I have no idea what this is so I am going to take a wild guess here. F&T Cut Blended Plug?

Anyway, that wraps it up for me on this end. @Adam Bybee, it was a pleasure. Great learning experience for me and I look forward to your next two reviews!
Very nice review! This is a currently produced blend (but isn't super available at the moment, like seemlingly all virginas) and apparently contains Virgina, cavendish, and some perique. It is a relatively young version of Rattray's Marlin Flake.

Btw, will be posting a review in just a minute here as well.
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
Very nice review! This is a currently produced blend (but isn't super available at the moment, like seemlingly all virginas) and apparently contains Virgina, cavendish, and some perique. It is a relatively young version of Rattray's Marlin Flake.

Btw, will be posting a review in just a minute here as well.
Cool. Loved it & I actually have a tin or two of that on ice in the cabinet! How convenient. :)
 

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Blind Sample #3 from @DrumsAndBeer

Appearance: Somewhere between a ribbon and a chop, some small even brown ribbons with larger pieces of black and yellow leaf in there.

Bag Note: Latakia with something sharp and fruitier behind. A little BBQ perhaps?

Initial Impressions: Well, this smells like an English blend. The cut is interesting, seems like something C&D or similar would make. Either that or a B&M blend of some kind. Not sure.

BR_3.jpg


First bowl in a Jirsa Calabash/Dublin

Packs easily, lights very easily, no bite. A burst of smoky right at the first but quickly settles into a bright, zesty, tangy lemon virginia flavor with some wisps of incense and mustiness in support. Medium bodied but light and summery in flavor for an english blend. The lighter virginias are really in the driver’s seat to start with, which is just fine by me.

Second half of the bowl is starting to taste more bready and less tang, the orientals and savorier elements have come out to play, still not a heavy blend by any means, but a lot more crisp, herbal flavors and camphor, especially in the aftertaste. Tasting like a much more typical light/medium english blend.

The end of this bowl displayed more of the variable character. Some puffs were bright and lemony as before, some were nutty, some were sharp and smoky. There were a few instances where I got a darker, mustier flavor that leads me to think there might be some proportion of a darker burley in here (perique, dark fired, etc.).

Second Bowl in a JL Thompson Egg

Fairly sweet and light again. Getting more of a maple like sweetness with a little bit of peachy/lemony tang as well and just a hint of smoke and incense at the end. Long, sweet and sour caramel and slightly woodsy aftertaste. Really nice.

Second half of the bowl sees the sweetness moderated by some musky herbal, sage and cardamom flavors and some creaminess. The latakia is more woodsy and incense than heavy, sour smoke. As far as english blends go, this one is pretty well balanced for me.

Third Bowl in a Weber Paneled Billiard

Much the same as the previous bowls. This blend was surprisingly consistent between pipes. To sum up, if I were an English football analyst I’d say that this bowl was a tale of two halves. The first half is driven by brighter Virginia flavors with the latakia playing the backup role and the second half is driven by the orientals also with latakia playing backup.

Conclusions: English blends are tough to tease out. Overall, I’m saying that this was a medium English blend with a good portion of light Virginia and some dank, musky orientals, cyprian latakia and perhaps a small portion of burley (of some kind). It doesn’t strike me as something that I remember tasting before, but I’ve been wrong about that before too with English blends. Any guess at this one would really be me just shouting into the abyss, but I’ll say something like GLP Chelsea Morning?
 
Last edited:

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
Blind Sample #3 from @DrumsAndBeer

Appearance: Somewhere between a ribbon and a chop, some small even brown ribbons with larger pieces of black and yellow leaf in there.

Bag Note: Latakia with something sharp and fruitier behind. A little BBQ perhaps?

Initial Impressions: Well, this smells like an English blend. The cut is interesting, seems like something C&D or similar would make. Either that or a B&M blend of some kind. Not sure.

View attachment 23789


First bowl in a Jirsa Calabash/Dublin

Packs easily, lights very easily, no bite. A burst of smoky right at the first but quickly settles into a bright, zesty, tangy lemon virginia flavor with some wisps of incense and mustiness in support. Medium bodied but light and summery in flavor for an english blend. The lighter virginias are really in the driver’s seat to start with, which is just fine by me.

Second half of the bowl is starting to taste more bready and less tang, the orientals and savorier elements have come out to play, still not a heavy blend by any means, but a lot more crisp, herbal flavors and camphor, especially in the aftertaste. Tasting like a much more typical light/medium english blend.

The end of this bowl displayed more of the variable character. Some puffs were bright and lemony as before, some were nutty, some were sharp and smoky. There were a few instances where I got a darker, mustier flavor that leads me to think there might be some proportion of a darker burley in here (perique, dark fired, etc.).

Second Bowl in a JL Thompson Egg

Fairly sweet and light again. Getting more of a maple like sweetness with a little bit of peachy/lemony tang as well and just a hint of smoke and incense at the end. Long, sweet and sour caramel and slightly woodsy aftertaste. Really nice.

Second half of the bowl sees the sweetness moderated by some musky herbal, sage and cardamom flavors and some creaminess. The latakia is more woodsy and incense than heavy, sour smoke. As far as english blends go, this one is pretty well balanced for me.

Third Bowl in a Weber Paneled Billiard

Much the same as the previous bowls. This blend was surprisingly consistent between pipes. To sum up, if I were an English football analyst I’d say that this bowl was a tale of two halves. The first half is driven by brighter Virginia flavors with the latakia playing the backup role and the second half is driven by the orientals also with latakia playing backup.

Conclusions: English blends are tough to tease out. Overall, I’m saying that this was a medium English blend with a good portion of light Virginia and some dank, musky orientals, cyprian latakia and perhaps a small portion of burley (of some kind). It doesn’t strike me as something that I remember tasting before, but I’ve been wrong about that before too in to with English blends. Any guess at this one would really be me just shouting into the abyss, but I’ll say something like GLP Chelsea Morning?
Excellent review. English blends are very tough to nail, I can only think of a few that I might be able to pick out from the rest.

Anyway, lovely review Adam and the fact that you guessed that it could possibly be a blend from a B&M is all the more impressive since what you smoked was L. J. Peretti’s Omega.
 

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Excellent review. English blends are very tough to nail, I can only think of a few that I might be able to pick out from the rest.

Anyway, lovely review Adam and the fact that you guessed that it could possibly be a blend from a B&M is all the more impressive since what you smoked was L. J. Peretti’s Omega.
As far as latakia mixtures go I did quite enjoy this one. I have had their Tashkent before and found it to be a little bit too far on the earthy, musky side for me, but haven't had their other English blends.
 

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
Blind Sample #2 from DrumsandBeer

Appearance: Flake pieces of medium thickness, somewhat dark but fairly consistent in color and texture, some lighter streaks and a lot of deep browns.

Bag Note: Somewhat sharp, sweet and sour with a whisp of savory smokiness.

Initial Impressions: This reminds me of either Solani Silver Flake or GLP Sixpence. (Just opened my tin of Sixpence and it isn’t nearly as pungent as Sixpence).

BR_2.jpg

First bowl in a Linkman's Grabow Billiard

At first light it’s immediately crisp, sweet, and spicy all at once. Some dry charcoal roast quickly joined by graham cracker and a blend of dried fruits.

Really an engrossing blend. The crisp smokiness has receded well into the background and changed into more of burning autumn leaves impression. The sweet graham cracker note has really amped up and is joined by a creamy, tangy ginger and citrus thing around the edges.

Last bit of the bowl got deeper, woodier and somewhat spicier, although the flavors in general started to get somewhat fuzzy. There’s an interesting twang on the very end that reminded me of the aromatic spice of an oriental, perhaps. Aftertaste is sweet/earthy with still a note of ginger. Last dregs of the bowl, unsurprisingly, turned much more earthy, dark and fermented. Some nicotine as well. The end of the this bowl reminds me a lot of perique.

Second Bowl in a BST X-mas Oom Paul

Wow. So far this bowl is reading even sweeter and richer than before. Not really tasting any deep roasty flavors this time, but perhaps something like cocoa powder and lightly toasted grain. What's really going on is a big, super creamy, custard, sweet honey and yeasty flavor with some tangy spice around the edges (ginger and cinnamon?) and perhaps an apple fruitiness right at the end. I'm imagining something like a slightly over baked cream cheese danish with an extra dollop of honey and spiced apple compote on top. Even in my own head that sounds a little flamboyant as a tasting note, but there's a lot going on and it's delicious.

Some of these flavor notes are making me think there might be an oriental leaf or two in there. After sitting overnight and a relight in the morning, the flavor is a little bit flatter and more crisp and zesty than before. Still sweet but more tang and more savory notes. Rather than baked apple it’s more green berries and herbs, still with a base of creamy and bready.

Third bowl in a Jared Coles Apple

…I enjoyed this but don't have much more to add from this bowl. I was working on detail shaping on a stem and forgot that I was supposed to be paying attention. I do remember it being sharper and spicier than it was in the BST. More like the first bowl.

Conclusions: A very tasty flake. My first impression was that this had a good portion of dark fired in it along with some sweet Virginias. My mind quickly jumped to a sample of Solani Silver Flake that I’ve had before. However, I don’t remember it having quite the range of flavors that this blend was giving me. Particularly the cream and baking spice sorts of notes. This isn’t a McClelland blend but some of the impressions that I got from this reminded me of the wonderful mix of flavors they get when they combine their signature virginas with perique and orientals. I’m talking blends like Pebblecut and Tudor Castle. So I’m not quite sure what direction to go with this one. My theory is that the earthy spice of the dark fired combined with the sweet dark Virginias were doing a sly perique impression and rest of the flavor was just really nice quality bright Virginias. Is this Solani Silver Flake?
 

DrumsAndBeer

Well-known member
@Adam Bybee

Great review, and I agree with your assessment of this one. I too was quite suprised with how good it was and there really is quite a bit going on with it. At first glance, it struck me as just a pleasurable quality Virginia but the more I have smoked it, the more I have come to appreciate it as a high quality, well nuanced pipe smoke, even at its price point.

The reveal: You were smoking 3 year old, slightly dried down, (my preference), Capstan Original Navy Cut.
 

Adam Bybee

Well-known member
@Adam Bybee

Great review, and I agree with your assessment of this one. I too was quite suprised with how good it was and there really is quite a bit going on with it. At first glance, it struck me as just a pleasurable quality Virginia but the more I have smoked it, the more I have come to appreciate it as a high quality, well nuanced pipe smoke, even at its price point.

The reveal: You were smoking 3 year old, slightly dried down, (my preference), Capstan Original Navy Cut.
Hahaha, wow. That's the second time that I've gotten Capstan as a blind review and whiffed on it. Apparently Capstan tastes like everything to me. Next time I'll probably guess that there's latakia in it. Anyway, many thanks to @DrumsAndBeer for an excellent set of blind reviews, that was fun.