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Ongoing Virginia review thread

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#1
So, back a couple years ago now, I started a wide-scope virginia exploration, hoping to get a whole bunch of people adding content with the baseline of two tobaccos to compare against.

The base line blends were Dunhill Flake and Mac Baren Pure Virginia. The Dunhill Flake is sweet, fairly mild, a little citrusy, and full flavored (for a virginia). I found the Pure Virginia a little flatter in flavor profile, like some of the excitement was steamed out. It's totally bite-free, and less citrusy by a long shot.

Neither is probably real "pure" in terms of treatment or additives or whatever.... if you've ever smoked the shaggy virginias from the 60s, they are pretty mean and punchy in comparison, sharp, hot, and prickly.

I did McClelland 24, 25, and 27, and 5100, not in that order. 5100 is caramel-sweet red virginia, mild and friendly. Red has a slightly... deeper or woodier flavor somehow. 24 is great, sweet and balanced by some oriental stoutness. 25 is ... pretty flat to my taste, shaggy cut cake, easy to smoke but nothing too exciting. 27 is sharp and sweet, really tasty but a little fussy and prone (for a McC to biting if you aren't gentle with it). Probably my favorite of those 4.

I smoked Mac Baren Club and their "Virginia Flake" in the tiny yellow tin. Club is one of my favorites, sweet, spicy, smoky, full of life. But the addition of the kentucky/cavendish maybe puts this stuff out of the "pure virginia" category by quite a bit. It's more like a baby va/per. The Virginia Flake proper is nice, sharp and sweet, it settles into a really tasty smoke (typical mac baren notes, not so much honey but the sweet/toast).

Some Dan offerings - Mellow Mallard, Hamborger Veermaster, and Tordenskjeld. The Mallard is real sweet and raisiny, very "virginia" to my tastes. Plain and perfect. Veermaster adds some chocolatey notes to me (does it contain burley?). I find it full and a bit flatter in flavor (again burly-ish), a little bready. Tordenskejd has a neat apple sort of tin note, just comes through in the smoke - again a very friendly top quality offering from Dan. These are all good.

A bunch of MB products - Capstan in both forms and Savinelli Brunello. Capstan Blue is ethereally topped with... lavender or something? Some sugar on there too - it leaves the pipe stem sweet. The yellow is more generically sweet, I can't put my finger on the topping. It's a little brighter and sharper, more like the Virginia Flake to my taste. Brunello is something else again, sweet (and topped) balanced against a weird smoky/sour Macedonian. This is simply brilliant blending. First few bowls I wasn't sure, and after that, I started buying a lot. It's truly excellent.

Another monster in Reiner Long Golden Flake - simply put, this might be the best pipe tobacco ever. Not a pure va, but the toppings used, the sprinkle of perique and the bit of burley just work so well together, it's like smoking a great virginia that is improved in any number of subtle ways, and it all works. REALLY works.

I got me some Dunhill Dark Flake and Ye Olde Signe. The YOS is dark and bready, a real british style va to my thinking. Not grassy sweet, no citrus. More like rye bread. The Dark Flake is nice, it's like... Dunhill Flake only darker, a little woodier or something, but not beastly strong or anything like that.

I smoked a bunch of Rattrays, Brown Clunee, Hal-o-the-wynd, 40 Virginia, Old Gowrie. I like the basic flavor profile of this house - "watery sweetness" is one descriptor on tobacco reviews for the background flavor in some of these, and I agree. Clunee smells and tastes great, it's easy smoking stuff, brown toasty yum. Hal is a lot punchier, healthy pepper snork. Gowrie is more in the middle, a little fuller, a bit of spice, but driven by good quality red va. The 40 virginia I have no real use for. It's.. boring.

McConnell Scottish Flake is a win - like the McC 24 it's a va/or mix and whatever the blend is, it's just perfect. I call these "dirty" virginias - clean good quality flake with an addition of some other "bigger" element that makes the blend sing.

Fribourg and Treyer Vintage Flake is crazy good - a weird cinnamon nose but it smokes like a straight va with maybe... maybe just a touch of black cavendish in it. Lots of flavors, all good. Smells nice.


New to me, the Peterson Signature Flake is a fave - if Orlik Golden Sliced, Reiner Long Golden, and Dunhill Flake form a triangle, this stuff is right in the middle of that triangle. Nice job Peterson!

I'm still working on Gawith "Sam's Flake". It's delicious, smells weird (tonquin), and smokes like heaven.

Two absolute dogs in the pack.... Astley's 55 and Fribourg "Golden Mixture". These are not fit to make cigs with.


I will add more as I hit new blends, and I encourage anyone who has smoked either of the base line blends to add reviews of other stuff.


I did put my nose in a "Union Square" in Chicago and it smelled nice. But I was being offered all kinds of crazy stuff to smoke so I don't think I ever packed a bowl. My loss maybe!
 

bluesy

Blissfully Unaware
Staff member
#4
Love this! I have a ton of Union Square in my cart somewhere and should have already pushed the button
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#9
On deck: Astley's 109, FT Cut Va Plug and Cut Blended.


I think the story so far is that I've smoked a lot of continental virginias, and ignored almost entirely the dark/dirty British flakes, so I should maybe dig out a tin of Best Brown soon. And I've totally missed C/D and GLP stuff cuz frankly, they aren't big Va blenders, and I just don't have a ton of stock here of their products.

It's amazing to me the casual reviews of things like McC 5100 I did 2 years back, no idea that this stuff would soon be gone. Doesn't change my impression of it retrospectively, but it is funny to think that something so ubiquitous would just dry up and blow away. The good news is, there's a ton of great stuff out there if you sniff around.
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#12
Orlik Golden Sliced smokes to me as though it has both burley and perique in it. I find the flavor a little flatter and just a bit boring, to be honest, but the snork I find kind of spicy. So it's a weird mix of uninteresting and rude, to me. Dunhill Flake to me is milder and sweeter than this, I find it easier to get "more" flavor from it, and the smoke is not prickly in any way. It's full, mellow, and rounder in flavor somehow. I don't quite "get" OGS to be honest, I almost do, and maybe if I smoke more of it I will have that moment, but whenever I smoke it, I think "Why do people like this stuff so much?" where when I smoke Dunhill Flake I think "Oh my god I can't believe this is even available to buy, it's so good."
 

mwong61

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog"
Patron
#13
So, back a couple years ago now, I started a wide-scope virginia exploration, hoping to get a whole bunch of people adding content with the baseline of two tobaccos to compare against.

The base line blends were Dunhill Flake and Mac Baren Pure Virginia. The Dunhill Flake is sweet, fairly mild, a little citrusy, and full flavored (for a virginia). I found the Pure Virginia a little flatter in flavor profile, like some of the excitement was steamed out. It's totally bite-free, and less citrusy by a long shot.

Neither is probably real "pure" in terms of treatment or additives or whatever.... if you've ever smoked the shaggy virginias from the 60s, they are pretty mean and punchy in comparison, sharp, hot, and prickly.

I did McClelland 24, 25, and 27, and 5100, not in that order. 5100 is caramel-sweet red virginia, mild and friendly. Red has a slightly... deeper or woodier flavor somehow. 24 is great, sweet and balanced by some oriental stoutness. 25 is ... pretty flat to my taste, shaggy cut cake, easy to smoke but nothing too exciting. 27 is sharp and sweet, really tasty but a little fussy and prone (for a McC to biting if you aren't gentle with it). Probably my favorite of those 4.

I smoked Mac Baren Club and their "Virginia Flake" in the tiny yellow tin. Club is one of my favorites, sweet, spicy, smoky, full of life. But the addition of the kentucky/cavendish maybe puts this stuff out of the "pure virginia" category by quite a bit. It's more like a baby va/per. The Virginia Flake proper is nice, sharp and sweet, it settles into a really tasty smoke (typical mac baren notes, not so much honey but the sweet/toast).

Some Dan offerings - Mellow Mallard, Hamborger Veermaster, and Tordenskjeld. The Mallard is real sweet and raisiny, very "virginia" to my tastes. Plain and perfect. Veermaster adds some chocolatey notes to me (does it contain burley?). I find it full and a bit flatter in flavor (again burly-ish), a little bready. Tordenskejd has a neat apple sort of tin note, just comes through in the smoke - again a very friendly top quality offering from Dan. These are all good.

A bunch of MB products - Capstan in both forms and Savinelli Brunello. Capstan Blue is ethereally topped with... lavender or something? Some sugar on there too - it leaves the pipe stem sweet. The yellow is more generically sweet, I can't put my finger on the topping. It's a little brighter and sharper, more like the Virginia Flake to my taste. Brunello is something else again, sweet (and topped) balanced against a weird smoky/sour Macedonian. This is simply brilliant blending. First few bowls I wasn't sure, and after that, I started buying a lot. It's truly excellent.

Another monster in Reiner Long Golden Flake - simply put, this might be the best pipe tobacco ever. Not a pure va, but the toppings used, the sprinkle of perique and the bit of burley just work so well together, it's like smoking a great virginia that is improved in any number of subtle ways, and it all works. REALLY works.

I got me some Dunhill Dark Flake and Ye Olde Signe. The YOS is dark and bready, a real british style va to my thinking. Not grassy sweet, no citrus. More like rye bread. The Dark Flake is nice, it's like... Dunhill Flake only darker, a little woodier or something, but not beastly strong or anything like that.

I smoked a bunch of Rattrays, Brown Clunee, Hal-o-the-wynd, 40 Virginia, Old Gowrie. I like the basic flavor profile of this house - "watery sweetness" is one descriptor on tobacco reviews for the background flavor in some of these, and I agree. Clunee smells and tastes great, it's easy smoking stuff, brown toasty yum. Hal is a lot punchier, healthy pepper snork. Gowrie is more in the middle, a little fuller, a bit of spice, but driven by good quality red va. The 40 virginia I have no real use for. It's.. boring.

McConnell Scottish Flake is a win - like the McC 24 it's a va/or mix and whatever the blend is, it's just perfect. I call these "dirty" virginias - clean good quality flake with an addition of some other "bigger" element that makes the blend sing.

Fribourg and Treyer Vintage Flake is crazy good - a weird cinnamon nose but it smokes like a straight va with maybe... maybe just a touch of black cavendish in it. Lots of flavors, all good. Smells nice.


New to me, the Peterson Signature Flake is a fave - if Orlik Golden Sliced, Reiner Long Golden, and Dunhill Flake form a triangle, this stuff is right in the middle of that triangle. Nice job Peterson!

I'm still working on Gawith "Sam's Flake". It's delicious, smells weird (tonquin), and smokes like heaven.

Two absolute dogs in the pack.... Astley's 55 and Fribourg "Golden Mixture". These are not fit to make cigs with.


I will add more as I hit new blends, and I encourage anyone who has smoked either of the base line blends to add reviews of other stuff.


I did put my nose in a "Union Square" in Chicago and it smelled nice. But I was being offered all kinds of crazy stuff to smoke so I don't think I ever packed a bowl. My loss maybe!
Great to see this thread revived over here. This has been an excellent guide on my own Virginia journey.
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Staff member
#15
I didn't mind the 44, @DannoH brought a nice tin over, I haven't reviewed it officially yet, but it struck me as something like the Dunhill Dark - it was okay tasting and not hugely strong, certainly a far cry from the "grassy citrus" style of virginia - much more of a molasses sweetness and texture. But I didn't find it developed much as I smoked it - kind of lit it up, it tasted good, and it tasted exactly that way for another hour and 24 minutes.
 

DannoH

Well-known member
Patron
#16
I didn't mind the 44, @DannoH brought a nice tin over, I haven't reviewed it officially yet, but it struck me as something like the Dunhill Dark - it was okay tasting and not hugely strong, certainly a far cry from the "grassy citrus" style of virginia - much more of a molasses sweetness and texture. But I didn't find it developed much as I smoked it - kind of lit it up, it tasted good, and it tasted exactly that way for another hour and 24 minutes.
That's a fair assessment. I think you'd prefer the 109.
 

Olmstead

Well-known member
#18
I found the Pure Virginia a little flatter in flavor profile, like some of the excitement was steamed out. It's totally bite-free, and less citrusy by a long shot. [...] (McClelland) 24 is great, sweet and balanced by some oriental stoutness.
I like your thread and OP @Sasquatch ! I was lucky enough to get one tin of the MB Pure Virginia from 2015. The other tin wasn't dated, but I assume it was fresh. The differences between it aged and fresh were astonishing. When it's fresh, it is a little "flat", or as I'd put it, sort of a one-note song. Still, I really like the stuff, and I put some away in the cellar shortly after I had a taste of the aged tin. Does it stand up to good ol' Dunhill? When it's fresh, no—but when it's aged, maybe! On a final note, I have heard good things about Union Square, but never tried it myself.

As for McClelland's masterpiece that was No. 24, I have @WalkinStick to thank for hooking me on that stuff right before I could stock up on any, heh! If there ever was a perfect marriage between Virginias and Orientals, that's the one; truly amazing stuff, and it's great right out of the tin too.

@ChristTiger - Astleys 44 is a great flake, but like the aforementioned MB Pure Virginia, it's a flake that completely transforms after some quality time in the cellar. When it's fresh it's alright, but when aged, it's heavenly. All the same. it's an incredibly popular flake, and for good reason—it's never in stock anywhere for long.

@Teddy Jeavons - I haven't tried Capstan yet because I've read several times that folks don't think it's worth the money, but I'm growing more and more curious.
 

ChristTiger

Resident Feline
Sales
#20
I didn't mind the 44, @DannoH brought a nice tin over, I haven't reviewed it officially yet, but it struck me as something like the Dunhill Dark - it was okay tasting and not hugely strong, certainly a far cry from the "grassy citrus" style of virginia - much more of a molasses sweetness and texture. But I didn't find it developed much as I smoked it - kind of lit it up, it tasted good, and it tasted exactly that way for another hour and 24 minutes.
Agreed, I often like consistency, especially if I'm working on something and don't want to think about it too much.