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The plug thread V 2.0

DannoH

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#1
Hi, all.

I had a semi-regular plug review thread going on PSF, and thought it would be good to resurrect at the new digs. Since I was using PB for photo hosting a few years back, many of the pics embedded in these reviews disappeared, so I'm planning to repost 'em with the disappeared pics replaced.

The first review I made was in October of 2016, and concerned Murray's Warrior Plug. It follows here:

Partly inspired by the ongoing review efforts of Slow Tri and The Mighty Sasquatch (and ‘cause I think it will be great fun), this here will be the ‘Dan shares his thoughts on the random plugs he has acquired’ thread. I’m planning to do this once a week, so we’ll see if folks are interested.

Plugs are fun. And weird. And I like to fuss with all manner of pipedom, so… Let’s get at ‘er.

Today’s contestant is Murray’s Warrior Plug. My samples are recent production, which I believe is courtesy of STG. I haven’t had the pleasure of the actual Murray’s, so my thoughts here pertain specifically to the currently-available offering.

Okay, unzip the pouch, and inside is a beguiling, dark brick of tobacco, sealed in a little plastic bag. Unpackaged, it looks like this:



The aroma is intensely fruity. Not dark, like a syrupy Mac Baren’s fruit pie, but really bright, in a tropical way. Imagine lounging around the pool in Jamaica, and then paddling over to the swim-up bar, and ordering a fresh fruit smoothie. Really fruity and sweet in the nose.

Preparing a plug is intensely personal, and I’m pretty sure wars have broken out over such things. I’m gonna try to avoid offence, while still sharing my preferred methods. I take a very sharp kitchen knife (Japanese please… German only if there is nothing else available), and slice the whole plug into thin flakes. In the photo, I am about half-way through:



Warrior isn’t the densest of plugs, but it takes a firm hand to slice up. The resulting flakes are gorgeous, and shot through with darks n’ blonde leaf, shiny with tobacco oils. They look like tiny sheets of Gabon ebony to my eye, just lovely.

I like to gently rub out a flake or two, and then let dry about 10 minutes. This particular plug isn’t overly wet, but a little drying time will ensure it is better behaved in the pipe. A few charring lights, and off we go. The first few puffs are as intensely fruity as the aroma, and slightly spicy on the retrohale. Relights are infrequent, and uneventful, and the flavour darkens in character a bit as you progress through the bowl, but never loses its bright, spicy presentation.

The taste is full, and I rate the strength on the high side of medium. Not much worry about tongue bite, but the spice factor increases as you work your way along, so a slow-to-medium puffing cadence is advisable. Pushing it will turn things ashy, and speaking of ash, Warrior produces the stuff of legends. It will make you attractive to wimmen and the envy of tall men.

I’ve been smoking Warrior in a couple of different pipes over the past few days, and found I prefer it in a group 4ish piece. In a larger pipe, it can be a trifle monotonous, and the richness of the tobacco can fatigue your palate. It could make a good outdoor/au natural option, as it will hold up weather, and unlike other strongish blends, leaves your mouth feeling reasonably intact.

So, that’s it for Warrior Plug. It can be hard to come by, but if it piques your interest, check with the usual suspects, a la James Fox, etc.
 

DannoH

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#2
Number 2...

Welcome! It’s that time again, time for a plug review, and the subject of today’s little seminar is a good ‘er: Salty Dogs plug, by the estimable Dan Tobacco.

Salty Dogs comes in a basic white olde-timey pouch, emblazoned with a low-res graphic of some swashbuckling ne’er-do-well types lounging about. The Old English font adds considerably to the fromage factor, but our concern is with the contents, and not the wrapper.

Opening the pouch, the eye (and nose) is greeted with a very dark, bordering on black, rectangle of tobacco. Compared to Warrior, say, Salty Dogs has been compressed longer and harder, resulting in a denser, darker plug. Straight outta the pouch, it looks thus:



The aroma is fetching: a sweet Virginia tang, supported by seemingly bottomless stewed fruit, including berries, rhubarb, and syrup. This hits the nose like a quality compote, with notes of Saskatoon berry pie, just delivered, bubbling, from the oven. I don’t pick up much to suggest the application of rum, but a mild fermentation scent is present, manifesting in an ultra-sweet top note.

If’n you don’t go in much for descriptors, suffice to say, if you like to sniff pipe tobacco, this’ll smell pretty damn fine.
In plug or sliced form, this is another gorgeous tobacco to view. The cut flakes are hefty in the hand, and slightly dewy to the touch. Rich looking, and a bit oily. Promises of great things!

On my trusty blue cutting board, mid-way through slicing:



Salty Dogs needs a few minutes of drying time, in my view, and a gentle rub works well. I have also smoked it folded, straight from the jar, and with a few relights throughout the bowl, you are off and running.

Initial taste on the lightup is slightly tangy, with undertones of syrupy fruit and smoke. There is a slight tickle in the nose on retrohale, in a very pleasant sort of way. The perique is noticeable immediately, and never wavers throughout the bowl, with a little spice and lots of that stewed fruit. The Virginia is present but unassertive, and the whole thing comes together in an effortless sort of way: both spicy and fruity, with well-defined top, middle, and basso notes.

Taste is medium-full, increasing slightly as you progress, and there is some nicotine here as well. This is a cool-burning blend, and won’t punish heavy puffing, but a slower cadence allows the richness of Salty Dogs to really unfurl. It burns slowly and evenly, and rests well, if you can’t get through a bowl in one sitting.

In all, a very pleasant plug, in the vein of Mick McQuaid, but with a Navy orientation. I picked up my lone pouch of Salty Dogs up from a vendor at the Chicago show in 2016, but have since ordered more. Folks in the US will find it spendy, but a little goes a long way, so that has to figure into the equation.
 

DannoH

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#3
Number the third:

‘Tis that time again, I reckon. I was a trifle excited about this week’s review, being as it is none other than the Mighty Condor Plug.

I obtained my meager provisions of the above from the good lads at James Fox in Dublin. As far as I am aware, Condor Plug is only sold in the little green wrapper, in 25 gram weights. A fetching wee wrapper it is, too, looking (and feeling) like a solid little bon-bon. If only candy were as much fun as this!

Peeling the thing open, a small, rectangular plug drops out, and I catch a familiar floral whiff, quickly followed by a muscular meatiness, finishing with a somewhat dark and rancid bouf. There are a number of essences hitting the olfactory here, but they present as a kind of dense musk. At any rate, the little bugger means business, and me chops are wet with anticipation.

The packaging (with a Canuck quarter included for size n’ scale):



The plug is dark to the eye and slightly pliant to the touch. It slices easily, and is the moistest of the three that I have reviewed thus far. The resulting flakes are stunning: mottled strips of black, brown, blonde, and mahogany, all the while oozing that signature perfume, one sure to polarize. As the old maxim goes: those who like it, like it a lot.

Sliced n’ arranged:



Okay, on to the tasting of the thing. I did my usual gentle rub, followed by about 5 minutes of dry time. I was careful not to over pack, which is easy to do with plugs, and the charring light was like an old friend. Now, I have danced with Condor Long Cut many times, and also enjoyed a few giggles with the ready-rubbed version a time or two, so the overall presentation wasn’t new. However, there is a certain relief at finding you are treading familiar – yet exciting – ground, and this was how Condor Plug struck me at lightup.

Working through the rest of a bowl takes some time, relights, and patience. The flavour is full from the start, and soon the floral notes recede, largely replaced by a briny sourness, not unlike the aftertaste of a strong meat dish, such as lamb. I have experienced the same sort of thing with Irish Flake, and to a much lesser extent, Old Dark Fired. Big, heavy, and unrelenting. If you like those tobaccos, you may dig this one. But a few caveats, first…

If you let Condor Plug go out, and return to it a few hours later, the relight will be funky. All that florality and rancid fat ramps up three-fold, for about 30 seconds. If you can persist, things settle back into the ‘dark, and increasingly strong’ camp. And they stay there, gathering in intensity until finally, the thing won’t take fire anymore. No surprises, no tangent lines, just a blast of fervent flavour.

This stuff will haunt the everlovin’ hay-soose outta your pipe, so fare-thee-warned. Maybe try it in something modest before breaking out your unsmoked Nordh.

It may not be obvious, given the review, but I really like this tobacco: it’s like smoking colonial history. It isn’t an easy companion, but with a gentle cadence, and some respect, it delivers flavour, nicotine, and depth in spades. Skip it if looking for complexity, but if fulsome, arresting, and definitely not your run-o’-the-mill ‘baccy floats yer boat (or redheaded ‘hair artisans’ named Tiffany), Condor Plug should put you out to sea.
 

DannoH

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#4
4th:

Tonight’s feature: the sinister looking and bewilderingly scented Dark Plug Aromatic, courtesy of Messrs. Gawith & Hoggarth. If you are fan of Dark Flake from that same ineffable company, you’ll be trodding familiar ground with the plug version. I elected to order a sample of the aromatic offering, and it did not disappoint: not only did both shipping envelopes emit a staggering bouquet, so did everything else inside them. I was glad the other tobaccos were in factory-sealed pouches, as the heady scent given off by the little black block was enough to induce swooning.

My 50gr sample was a touch worse for the wear upon receipt, perhaps due in no small part to its lengthy journey. Opening the glossy black pouch revealed a muscular appearing plug, shot through with browns and blacks, and uneven edges – this one won’t win any beauty contests:



Trying to describe the carnival of scents added to this puppy seems a fool’s errand. G&H lists maple and tonquin bean, but my sniffer smells bergamot, incense, anise, liqueur, fruit jam, and other things that give a limbic system a good workout. A chap on Tobacco Reviews wrote that this stuff reminded him of Turkish Delight, and I could see that, if said Turkish Delight was dragged through the blood of Ottoman Turks, dried, and used as railway spikes. This plug is olfactory overload, and will probably polarize pipe smokers into one of two camps. I dig it.

The plug slices nicely, a medium density affair, and streaks the blade of my santoku with jet-black nicotine smears. @Sasquatch, you’ll want to give this one a miss:



The resulting flakes fluff up nicely in the hand, and are quite moist. This needs a bit more drying time than usual for me – somewhere around 15 minutes rubbed out and aired does the trick. Twisting a goodly portion of a gently rubbed flake into the pipe, and then sprinkling some shards on top has also worked well.

At lightup, there are no real surprises: brawny and thick, cigar-like tones. If you are familiar with the heavy English flakes, or ropes and twists, you’ll find Dark Plug Aromatic is firmly in that vein. Even with some drying, it will need a number of relights. This is not a plug (hah!) n’ play tobacco, but rather one that is best enjoyed sat down, without other distractions, and a glass of whiskey or water at hand. As I work my way through a bowl, a black liquorice note persists, and the flavour is weighty, and slightly briny in the mouth, with floral top notes. The retrohale is busy: I sense custard, pudding, nutmeg, spices, and liquor, floating atop a non-nonsense virginia/burley base. Running a cleaner through mid-bowl is helpful, as there will be some moisture there. As regards puffing, even with a speedy cadence, I can’t coax any bite out of this. It can sucker punch you though, if your mind wanders – there is nicotine in spades here, and the flavour is never less than ‘full’. This is easily the strongest plug I have reviewed thus far.

A bowl ends quietly, and the aftertaste left in the mouth and on the lips suggests maple and anise. You’ll be tasting these things for a while too, and smelling them on your upper lip. Also, your spouse may or may not request you sleep elsewhere. The room note is correspondingly thick, and while I don’t think it is too bad, it probably won’t impress your friends or pets.

Short version: Lakeland lovers rejoice! Others should look elsewhere.
 

DannoH

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#5
And on...

The subject of this little investigation is none other than the much-lauded Revor Plug. I have a stash of the stuff that is over a decade old, but for our purposes here, recently popped for a few pouches of the current production. I believe this is produced by the good people at Gawith & Hoggarth.

The pouch is an odd shade of yellow, and the olde-timey red script is plain but immediately catches the eye. As does the rather distasteful health warning – more like a command - which occupies a large portion of the pouch’s real estate. Sigh.

Pressing on reveals a longish, rectangular black clump of tobacco, rather softer and messier than the tightly cubic plugs that have graced my blue cutting board previously. Running my sniffer along its length reveals a cornucopia of scent, all remarkably understated – those loathe to engage with ‘Lakeland sauce’ shouldn’t be put off. Hints of leather, lavender, cinnamon, mint, and dark burley are immediately apparent, but without much fanfare, nothing aggressive. Interesting!

There is also a trace of the slightly fetid scent that ropes give off, something suggesting fermentation and slightly rancid meat, that lets the user know that Nick O’Teen is nearby, and will be coming ‘round shortly.

Plug n’ pouch:



On the board, the plug is very easy to disassemble, and I took the liberty of taking it apart in three different ways, attempting to showcase its utility: cut into lengthways flakes, simply pulled apart, and then cubed widthways. It is remarkably easy to handle, and a knife isn’t really necessary if you haven’t one to hand. This stuff would be easy to throw into a pipe bag and then just pull hunks from when ready to enjoy afield.

As such:



I crumble Revor up, gently, wait 5 minutes or so, and then stuff ‘er into a pipe. One or two crowning lights (matches, please), and let it sit for a moment or three. Then light slowly and methodically, and the thing commences.

The very first taste I get is… latakia. You can smell it in the roomnote, too: faint, but definitely there. In perusing other reviews of Revor, this has been made mention of, and the presence of the smoky stuff might serve to soften the firmer edges of the blend, or just add another dimension. It is a bit pale, though, and as my mouth warms to the smoke, the ability to taste it lessens.

The dark-fired shows up in the retrohale, and in the tickle that dances around my epiglottis. There is some spice here, not reminiscent of perique, but of the throat-drying and woody type particular to DFK. Revor is rich in taste, and suggestive of something like cocoa pudding: big, round, and filling. I can’t smoke this stuff after a large meal; it’s just too rich. Getting past that, this plug is full in flavour, and with some strength too, but remarkably easy to get on with. Smooooth, it is.

What a treat. Still available on the Atlantic side of things, and not cheaply, but well worth a look for a chance to experience a throwback of tobacco taste and dimension.
 

DannoH

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#7
Numbah 6:

So, we are back, and with a previously-untried offering originally hailing from the Emerald Isle. Sure’n, it could only Erinmore Plug. While sadly no longer Irish in manufacture (currently produced by STG), this little beauty has much to recommend of itself. To business, shall we?

Pulling open the pouch reveals a sturdy rectangle of tobacco, sealed in a tight-fitting cellophane wrapper. To my eye, this plug looks slightly more compact than the usual UK offering, and it feels weighty in the hand. The exterior is cool and dry to the touch, and leaves no residual oils on my fingers. The colour is rather lighter than others of its ilk, too – more brown and blonde, with the fine tobacco grains running straight as arrows. Methinks this one has been pressed mightily, and will be interesting to disassemble.

Outta the pouch and posing coyly:



On to the olfactories… The plug smells mildly fruity, with some whiffs of anise or liquorice. Better sniffers than I have declared that the abiding aroma is that of Juicy Fruit chewing gum, and I understand why they’d feel that way, but there’s more here than just that. I pick up an inherent smokiness, that winds its way through the general fruit nose – smells like there’s some power in this heah plug, too. Let us slice it up and partake.

My intuitions about the firmness of Erinmore Plug proved correct: this is the sturdiest plug of those reviewed so far, with an almost wood-like density. With a good knife, though, it is no trouble, and actually, the firmness of the thing makes it easier to cut razor-straight slices. While cutting, I was struck by the lack of moisture, and again, no visible oils. This won’t need much drying time.

Slices, in all their tobacco-ly glory:



A gentle rubbing apart of a nice flake, and a few minutes on the board suffices. Into the pipe, and a crowning light. Immediately, I sense the dark fired stuff: the signature epiglottal tingle is a dead giveaway, as is the woody spice apparent in the retrohale. Nice, but can be hot on lightup. Dunno whether that is a function of the dark leaf, the burning off of the essences, or my own body chemistry. In the mouth, the taste is insistent, and the overall impression on the palate is one of smoke, wood, and fruit. I initially thought this presented very similarly to Warrior Plug, but a side-by-side revealed differences, mainly that Warrior is tropically fruity – bright and fresh – where this is generically fruity, and darker in presentation.

Relights are no issue, and a bowl progresses without remark. The flavours gather in strength, but don’t change much, with the anise/liquorice notes always present but not dominating. I found myself a little surprised (pleasantly) at the punch Erinmore Plug packs – this isn’t kidding around tobacco at all, but one with a firm backbone. Nicotine aplenty, ye weary travellers.

I smoked this in a few different size pipes and found the experience differed among them. Group 2-3 pieces really brought out the liquorice character, but constrained the bass notes of the blend, making the experience a touch thin. In my biggest pipes, Erinmore Plug is perhaps too much of a good thing, and can be cloying. Group 4 was just about right, providing a lip-smacking combination of flavours and duration.

I really like this, and have ordered more. It isn’t an everyday tobacco, but in this dreary fall-to-winter weather it is most welcome company. Worth finding, says I.
 

DannoH

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#8
7!
Salutations, fellow enjoyers of plug things. Let us sit back, light a good pipe, and ponder the multitudinous qualities of Mick McQuaid Plug.

This storied little gem started its life many decades past, thanks to one P.J. Carroll, he of The Carroll Tobacco Company, Dundalk, Ireland. Until lately, MMP was produced by the largeish STG. I understand it has been ‘delisted’, which is a euphemism for ‘ya’ll ain’t gonna get no more a’ this’. More’s the pity, but remaining stocks can be had at a few UK-based vendors. I shouldn’t dally in acquiring some, if of interest.

The cherubic countenance of the smiley gent on the pouch puts a fellow in a good place, and the little black bar of tobacco inside only increases the joie de vivre. Fans of Warrior, Velvan, or Erinmore Plug will find themselves on familiar ground vis a vis packaging: the tidy wee lump is wrapped up in an industrial cellophane blanket, easily discarded. T’is a hefty little bugger that one finds in the hand, mottled looking, and very firm.

The nose is familiar, to those plugs listed above, with a few exceptions: I can make out a solid vinegar note, bright and pungent, mixed with a general bouf of fruit and an essence of some kind of liquor. I understand that that MMP is (or has been, at some point) flavoured with an almond extract and a dash of brandy, but I can’t definitively identify them. All that suggests itself is a general aroma of booze and nuts. I ain’t fancy.

Undressed, and reposing:



Slicing the plug took a firm hand. It cut up beautifully, however, with a slightly wet, sinewy look to the flakes. They feel rubbery to the touch, so some drying time is needed. The aroma of fruit and vinegar will adhere to fingers, cutting board, and anything else that touches the tobacco. T’has me fairly faint with anticipation.

Halfway there:



Once dried a bit, and rolled n’ stuffed into a pipe, the unlit draw is lovely: sweet, fruity, a bit ascetic, promises of great things to come. Being a regular plug smoker, I like to give the tobacco a couple of crowning lights over a few minutes, and then let the pipe rest for a few more, prior to stoking up. Once all that is done, the tobacco should light easily, and you can then concentrate on the flavours and progression.

As to smoking: MMP is, in a word, ‘smooth’. Gobs of rich and creamy smoke bounce around in the mouth, with a slight tickle on the retrohale. The flavour is deeply fruity, with a lingering, undefinable dessert-like quality. I get a sense of something cake-like - perhaps marzipan - or a really well-made pistachio pudding. The aftertaste is just as delicious, and I find myself sniffing at my upper lip often. Wonderful!

The strength is firmly medium, with the taste being medium-full. This is the most accessible plug I have reviewed to date, and it could be a real winner for a lot of people, making its demise all the more regrettable. It tastes great, and is very consistent, but manages to stay interesting, too – just full enough, just sweet enough, just friendly enough. I’d like to have about 5 pounds of this stuff sliced and stored. Erin go bragh!
 

DannoH

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#11
And still more...

I had another offering in mind for this evening’s review, but when my postal person arrived with a gift pack containing (among other treasures) a hefty bar of Wessex Gold Brick Virginia Plug, I felt my hand was forced. That, and it looked delectable. To business, then!

I dunno who makes this plug for Wessex (perhaps the K&K folks?), but it is an impressively presented specimen inside its gold-wrapped plastic pouch. The whole affair is solidly Teutonic – no wasted packaging or script, fairly intoning ‘Just get at it, lad’.

Worth a pic, while still encased:



Unwrapped, the physical presentation is not unlike what we’ve been seeing with the STG plugs, but there are differences, namely the hardness and thickness of this mottled brown beauty. Recall, this comes in a 100 gram size, and while it is approximately the same length and width dimensions as your average plug, it is twice as thick, and so has an appreciable visual impact.

Lo, the mighty terbaccah (it even casts a shadow):



Slicing is a doddle, as the hardness of GBVP falls in between that of the STG ‘hockey puck’ offerings and the rather ‘gently pressed’ creations of C&D/GLP. You could tear hunks of this stuff off with your fingers, if you prefer, but that sorta thing is beyond my purview. Ahem.

The nose is delicious, if a bit subtle: whispers of sweet virginia, a touch of citrus, some oats and hay, very little grass. I can also pick up a bit of fruitiness, but it is waaay in the background. This is decidedly not Revor! The resulting flakes are a lovely mahogany colour, and reassuringly pliant to the touch. No need to dry these, just load n’ light.

On zee board, unt arranged:



Reviews for this plug on TR are all over the place, so the best I can do is offer up my own amateur observations, to be taken with howsomuchever salt you can stomach. Lightup is soft and a bit sweet, with some zip in the nose. The throat tickle lets me know that there is a trace o’ burley lurking nearby, but it never raises its voice over the virginia din. The taste is medium-dark, sweetish, and with very few bright spots. I’m not intimately familiar with Wessex’s catalogue, but the few virginia offerings I have tried exhibited a trend towards a savoury, virginia-focused taste, one without many peaks or valleys. You could consider GBVP of that same ilk, but I would hesitate to label it dull or uninteresting. Indeed, it is very consistent, with a restrained creaminess and decent heft as you work your way down the bowl. It’s also very easy on the mouth, for a virginia-heavy blend.

A little DGT goes a long way with this plug, and it is very pleasant to pick back up, even days later. It relights easily, and hits its comfort zone in a few puffs. GBVP is also reasonably forgiving of heavy tugging, but definitely tastes best when an easy cadence is employed. The overall presentation is medium through-and-through, with just enough taste and nicotine to keep one interested.
 

DannoH

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#12
Nine.

Our focus today is one Yachtsman Navy Plug, formerly produced by the concern of Murray & Sons, Belfast, and late of the Scandinavian tobacco conglomerate, STG. I don’t know much of Yachtsman’s history, save that it is of a lineage with other well-known offerings such as Warrior, Mick McQuaid, Velvan, and so on. The physical resemblance to the previous is immediately obvious when removing the plastic-wrapped lump o’ bacco from the pouch – a standard 1” x 3” brick a la STG, as seen here:



Compositionally, this is a virginia and burley blend, with a mildly fruity nose. The plug has been firmly pressed and steamed, running light-to-dark brown in colour, with sinewy veins of blonde leaf tracing through the thing. It is an easy affair to slice it up with a sharp knife and firm hand, yielding delightful flakes with a tacky texture. STG is deserving of full points for presentation, as I’ve not yet encountered one of their plugs that wasn’t beautifully turned out. The nose is, as above, mildly fruity, and shares some commonality with Warrior et al, but the overall scent impression is light and suggestive of citrus.

Apportioned and displayed:



So, on to the smoking of the stuff… The flakes are quite moist, so a mild rub and 15-30 minutes of drying time worked well for my tastes. I had a number of bowls in a variety of pipes, and the usual crowning light, followed by a short rest and then full light was sufficient to stoke the tobacco nicely. First puffs are sharp, lightly sweet, and offer a good deal of citrus and spice in the retrohale. Things settle down quickly, and the presentation is that of a middle-road, sweetish Virginia, enhanced with a solid backbone of burley, giving YNP a roundness of flavour and satisfying mouth heft. The room note is gorgeous, perfume-sweet and rich.

My impression is that this is friendly stuff: clean tasting and not inclined to nip the tongue, very much reminding me of a lighter version of Warrior. In terms of flavour and nicotine, it is near medium on the strength-o-meter, and bang-on medium in fullness of flavour. Things darken a shade near the bottom of the bowl, and truthfully, I wish the denouement were rather where YNP began. I prefer full tobaccos, and so this is more along the lines of the promise of a bit o’ sublime rather than a heaping helping of it.

The heftier plugs that shared this one’s lineage are no longer being produced, so if you are inclined to chase the Irish ghosts of tobacco productions past, YNP is currently the only game on offer. It is in no way of suspect quality, but could be considered on the subtler end of things as compared to those listed earlier. I have a small supply that I will gladly render to ashes, so if an inherently approachable plug with a UK heritage appeals, have a look-see at YNP.
 

DannoH

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#13
XI...

I have been meaning to get ‘round to reviewing this little beauty, so better late than never, yes? Something like that, anyway. Moving along, then…

On the chopping block today (literally) is a foin, foin offerin’ cur-te-say o’ those loav-e-lay lads in Dublin: Peterson’s Perfect Plug (hereafter, PPP). The tin on review is a few years old, so as you’ll note, it is square, rather than the (more recent) round containers. No matter, though: inside you’ll find a wee lump o’ baccy, cloaked in industrial-grade plastic wrapping. Discarding the wrapper is as easy as a quick tug on one corner, and then… one is free to ruminate on the beauty of such a simple thing as a plug of tobacco. If you need coaxing, then do peep at the photo below:



This plug fairly screams ‘Scandinavian Tobacco Group!’ in cut, colour, and press – it is firm, mottled brown and black, and evinces a mildly fruity nose, recalling other recently STG-produced plugs such as Velvan, Warrior, and Yachtsman. On the blue board and quaverin’ under the knife, slicing this one is very straightforward, and the resulting flakes are peppered with colour, tobacco veins, and promises of goodly, nicotinous things. Based on the bountiful nose alone, had PPP been ‘round when St. Patrick was active, surpassing few snakes would have left the Emerald Isle.

Ready for action:



My tin of PPP opened at a very acceptable moisture level, so there was little need for extended drying – a few minutes sufficed. I smoked this plug in a few different pipes over the course of a week or so, and experimented with folding a flake, giving it gentle rub, and then handing out a full mechanical pulverizing. The flavour from PPP remained quite consistent no matter the format, but I found it most rich and creamy when given a gentle rub. This is a sinuous tobacco, with a good deal of depth, if not complexity. It shares in common many of the traits of the plugs listed above, so you can expect a burley-forward experience, delivered with a solid virginia chaser. In a larger pipe, with a relaxed cadence, this stuff is sumptuous – it will hit a zone and just stay there. Marvelous.

There is very little not to like here, if you have any affinity for plug tobacco. For those curious about the more legendary English/Irish plug offerings but put off by cost/availability, PPP is a very worthwhile (and easily available in NA) substitute. It is relatively easy to prepare, forgiving of technique, and economical in duration of smoke. I will be stocking up.
 

DannoH

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#14
An even dozen!

I look forward to the seasonal shift from summer to fall, where the air grows crisps in Northern Mountain Country, and my thoughts turn to changing-up the tobacco rotation. In that spirit, on the docket today is G&H’s Dark Plug, in unscented form. Happily, there is no need to hop through various international hoops to acquire it, as there are a number of NA vendors. It is mostly sold in bulk, so unless ya spring fer the 1# box, Dark Plug will arrive sans fetching packaging.

In hand, this plug tends toward long and thin, with a looser composition than that of the STG offerings, and rather more like what you would expect from Revor: a bit haphazard, with a tendency to tear iff’n you don’t use a sharp knife to skive it. It is almost uniformly dark brown in colour (the additional ‘u’ in ‘colour’ indicates how dark it really is), with some flecks of lighter leaf showing through. The nose is heady: deep, earthy, slightly fetid, a bit like rotting leaves and wet soil. Fetching! I get a bit of the same nose with Revor, but this is deeper, with less cocoa. It also puts me in mind of fence posts that have been treated with creosote. This ain’t a tobacco for everyone.

A (questionable) attempt at an artistic shot:



There is a fair bit of moisture here, so I like to rub a flake and then dry it for 15 minutes or so. A neat feature is that you can slice n’ dice this plug in any number of ways, and each iteration changes the flavour presentation. Balling up a flake will yield a slow, even burn, with a cascade of basso flavours, while a firm rub will speed up the burn, and present some sweeter notes. Cube-cutting seems to land in the middle of either, so it pays to play around with preparing the stuff.

Regarding flavour, charring lights are sweet – very sweet – following with a slightly acrid, earthy taste. 10 seconds in, things settle down, with the basic profile being cigarish, without actually tasting like a cigar. In the mouth, Dark Plug is rich, and indeed dark, lots of nicotine here, and the burn is slow – glacial even, if ya fold and stuff. Pretty economical, if that is a concern.

The room note is inescapable: if you get 2 or 3 folks smoking this plug in a small space, it will put you in mind of a garage herf in the dead of winter – thick and ‘chokey’. Outside, in the fall air, it is brilliant, and will easily hold up to activity.

This is not an all day, every day affair for me, but I do repeat it regularly. Also, although its taste and strength would suggest using a small pipe, I have found that in a larger bowl Dark Plug sits in a winning zone, one where if just kept lit, it delivers a potent combination of flavour and satisfaction as long as you wanna hang with it. Again, worth trying in a variety of vessels.

It’s a favourite!
 

DannoH

Well-known member
Patron
#15
Baker's dozen...

It struck me recently, that in this here little review thread, the goodly House of Gawith – the Sam Gawith side of the thing – was not especially in evidence. How fortunate that I have a decent supply of Cob Plug at hand. Been meaning to get around to reviewing this, and now seems like the perfect time. Shall we?

This stuff is only available in bulk, as far as I know, and I don’t see it offered anywhere in North America. Options for US buyers seem to be limited to Synjeco in Switzerland; I picked my supply up in the UK through My Smoking Shop. At any rate, Cob Plug is supposed to be plug version of 1792, a hefty, Virginia n’ burley confection doused in the seed essence of dipteryx odorata (known to you and I as ‘tonquin’ or ‘tonka beans’), and stoved to the Earth’s end.

I enjoy 1792, occasionally, and so felt I’d be in familiar territory here. My batch of Cob Plug came in little squarish bricks, not unlike the STG stuff, but a bit more rough n’ ready. These squares look all the world like chunks of some delicious dessert confection, being more brown than black, with reedy, sinewy edges. The blocks are well-pressed, and the aroma, while having a distinct whiff o’ the tonka/coumarin of 1792 infamy, is decidedly much less aggressive. My nose picks up a good deal of dark, murky tobacco in the sniffing, with the applied essences relegated to background status. Well, well – interesting!

Slicing up is straightforward, and the little flakes that result are an attractive hodgepodge of colours and leaf. Unlike tinned SG offerings, this is not dripping wet, but I find it to burn best when lightly rubbed out and left to dry for 15 minutes or so.

The visual:



Into the pipe, and a quick light, then a rest. Relight, and flavour rushes over the palate: earthy, a bit sweet, and lots of heft from the dark-fired. This is no wilting daisy tobacco, but it is very smooth – deceptively so. It burns slowly, and when puffed at a very restrained pace – think ‘optimal Mac Baren speed’, there are suggestions of bread and something vaguely fruity. No stewed figs, though, so @Sasquatch will have no cause to rage (although the nicotine here would render him comatose). This is very easy stuff to smoke, and it can lull the human on the receiving end into a false confidence. Left to rest for a few hours and then relit, Cob Plug shows its muscle – very full flavour and strength, but unless huffed, not harsh.

I have been picking away at my sample for a week or so, and the experience is very consistent. I smoked this side-by-side with a recent tin of 1792, and while they are certainly close kin, 1792 presents as much more aggressively scented, and bit more tarry. These two tobaccos also share some similarities with Bracken Flake, another old SG fave and now gone. Of the three, I give the edge to Cob Plug, and wish the stuff was easier to come by. The tragedy of curiosity, I suppose.

In all, I really like this tobacco. It has enough going on to be interesting, and is plenty strong enough to remind the smoker to be aware of it. Whether it’s worth hunting down is another matter, as it isn’t earth-shatteringly different from 1792, and if tonka ain’t your bag, definitely not.

Ciao for now.
 

DannoH

Well-known member
Patron
#17
Last one for now...

First plug review of the New Year, and I wish each and sundry all the best for 2018. To business, then.

The Grousemoor series is produced by the venerable folks at Samuel Gawith, and as most likely known by them what drops by this thread, is available in two versions, both a ready-rubbed, and the focus of my little treatise today, a plug. What also may be known is that Grousemoor, in any form, is a polarizing tobacco, being rich with Lakeland history and ‘additives’. I admit to little fondness for the ready-rubbed version. Hell, even the review process for the plug dragged on longer than anticipated, as I was tryin’ to give it a fair shake. I did find some points of interest, so do read on.

The plug itself is your usual affair, firm and brick-like, showing lots of light brown-to-blonde streaks. The scent is a bit understated at his point (my sample has been in a jar for a few years, and along with being dried a good deal, smells more muted than fresh), with a small but insistent nose of citrus and something like a honey dew melon. It is sweet and grabs the nose, reminding me of all sorts of Asian delights, like calamansi, various fruits, and of course, lemon grass.

Plug on a board (2018):



Slicing up took a bit of effort, as this plug had been dried a good deal, and that made it rather more brittle than usual. With a good, sharp knife, though, not especially difficult. More of the lemon-y scents during slicing, and with a bit of rubbing, the stuff was good to go. I smoked it in a variety of pipes, and soon settled on smallish pieces, as the flavour doesn’t vary much, and in a big pipe Grousemoor Plug can persist a touch too long.

The smoking experience is smooth – very smooth. A little too smooth for my preference, but the taste is sweet, subtle, and by degrees, fruity. This profile hardly changes throughout a bowl, and you can put ‘er down and come back days later, and after a few puffs, things are as they were. Doesn’t seem inclined to go bitter with heavy tugging, but you won’t find much more depth of flavour or taste in that pursuit, either. This is very mild stuff, probably best left for sitting in a chair and contemplating. Outdoorsy types would do better with firmer fare.

So, I didn’t find the Lakeland style of this plug to be off-putting; indeed, it has a lovely flavour, but the overall presentation is too mild for it to be regularly enjoyed in my pipes. For someone looking for a gentle plug experience, albeit one with various scents, this could be a winnah.