This will be my first review of a blend. My intentions are not to provide a “yay” or “nay” for other pipe smokers, but simply to document my experience with the blend. I don’t think that my palate is all that refined, so you will hear no mention of soft hay, or grassiness… unless the blend really does taste like grass… and if thats the case, you might as well just stop reading. Do not take any of what I write here to heart, my taste are different from yours. Rather, use it simply as a reference point, the documented experience’s of one young pipe smoker.
“Blend of Lemon and Orange Virginia’s, Xanthi and Latakia aged in a cake form…”
I ordered a couple of McClelland bulk blends in my last tobacco order. This is the first one I tried and so far and I am pleased to say the least. I’m not used to the cake form, or broken cake which better describes this blend. Its a little more work, but it certainly seems worth the effort in this case.
The aroma upon opening the pouch is a little deceiving. Knowing the contents of this blend there are a couple things that I was surprised by. First, it does not have the McClelland “Ketchup” smell. Also, I could barely detect the scent of the Latakia. This was fine with me as I have found that I enjoy the mild Latakia blends, but I was a little worried that there was too little.
The look and feel of this tobacco is interesting too. It comes in a broken cake form, but a little darker than the picture. It almost reminds me of beef jerky, and I had to control my urge to grab a hunk and chomp off a piece. The colors are amazing, very dark with little specks of what I assume is the Lemon Virginia’s scattered in the cake chunks. The moisture content seems great to me. Smokable out of the pouch, but then again, some people may just like their tobacco more on the dry side.
I am not a fold and stuff guy, so I rubbed these cake chunks out. Unlike some flakes I have tried, it doesn’t rub out into a soft ribbon, however; it is not so firm that you cant pack the pipe well. It took a little more effort that most flake or broken flake to get this rubbed out, but worth the effort in my opinion.
This actually packed better than I expected. I was worried it was going to be difficult to get a nice even pack of tobacco, but it packed well with the 3 layer method, or in this particular case 2 layers. (I often don’t make it to three as I like to stay a little further down from the rim than most.) Light-up was typical from what I have heard of this style of tobacco. (Not having smoked a broken cake before, I did a little reading up first.) It did take a little longer to light, and I assume this is a result of the “chunkiness” of the tobacco.
The smoke was amazing. After char, tamp, light… it was thoroughly enjoyable right from the beginning. Very very smooth. I would venture to say that you could get bit if you rushed this, but I am a slow puffer, so I seldom worry about that. What I found great about this tobacco is that every component of this blend really worked as a team so to speak. There are blends out there than whether by design or accident have dominant flavors or components. This blend just sang together. Not to get corny, but it was like the 3 tenors in the middle of a song just as they hit harmony. You get subtle sweetness from the Virginia’s, not heavy, and I assume this is because they are the matured Virginia variety. The Xanthi and the Latakia work really well together as they are supposed to do. The flavor of the Latakia is a little more pronounced than the smell you get from the pouch, but not overpowering at all. All of these flavors are subtle, but not in a one dimensional way. This is a really good blend, smooth, mild, but not boring as some of the milder blends can be. This keeps you interested all the way through. It kind of reminds me of good barbecue, sweet, smokey and smooth.
I would recommend this and give this blend 9 out of 10. The only reason it is not a 10 is that I will smoke the entire sample before giving a final mark. If you like matured Virginia’s and English blends, I would recommend this for sure. It is a great “best of both worlds” tobacco in my opinion.