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Blind Review Thread II

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buistd

Active Member
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Hi there - Forgive me for jumping in here, but I had one blend left over from the samples I reviewed back in June. I had promised Hazy that I would review them if there was a lull in proceedings. It looks like we are between reviewers here so I thought now would be a good time to review this tobacco that is definitely worthy of a review here.

Let me start by saying that I have already smoked this blend twice before, once with Bluepipe and once on my own. I also gave some to a chilled out Latakia-phile at the Pipe Club of London who declared it, "Pretty good, yes, mmm, pretty good", which from him is a positive review! Having had a few of Hazy's secrets revealed, I have a suspicion of what this tobacco is, but in the interests of a fair blind review I did not look at the description of what I thought it was before smoking.

PRE-LIGHT: This tobacco is mostly dark browns and blacks, mostly small pieces of tobacco. A couple of lighter flecks here and there. There are some dark red pieces of tobacco that look very similar to some of the components of a 30 year old tin of Mac Baren Solent Mixture I bought a couple of months ago, so I'm guessing this one has quite a bit of age on it. The smell is sweet, sour and smokey, although it has an element to the smell that most of the blends Hazy sent me so some of the smell could be a result of the vacuum sealing process or packing material.

CHAR: The charring lights reveal Latakia and a smooth Virginia sweetness that is rich and long-lasting. Having smoked the aged Mac Baren, I am now able to recognise the taste of some well-aged tobacco here; in fact, it is very similar in charring light taste to the Mac Baren blend, but noticeably smoother, more well-rounded and far more tongue-friendly! When I first smoked this with Bluepipe, we followed it up with a Balkan blend (I believe it was original Balkan Sobranie) and both decided that this blend was much more about the Virginias than a typical Balkan, and I'm just starting to think that there isn't much contribution from Orientals when on the third charring light I get a big hit of floral incense. I am aware that the taste of Orientals varies depending on type - this is definitely not the blue cheese oriental I get in GH Balkan Mixture (thanks dmkerr) but this taste is more akin to some of the flavours I get from C&D Oriental Silk. I'm guessing Orientals at this point then, but I could just be confusing it for an aspect of the Virginias.

1/3: The start of the smoke yields a deep brown sugar sweetness, then settles to a deep syrupy sweetness like a rich Port or Sweet Sherry. This is followed by a slight ashy taste on the tongue and a hint of red wine. I have read online that Syrian Latakia imparts a red wine note to smoke so I'm definitely going for that as a component of this blend. All the while at this point I get a sensation of the aftertaste and mouth feel of a strong booze. The wine gives way to an incense flavour again, accompanied by all kinds of flavours I can't label; the best I can come up with is fruits stewed in booze but that isn't quite it. There is also a very slight savoury quality to the smoke, like those sweet crispy bits you get on roasted meats. There is a little hint of bonfire smoke now, but it's the taste of the smell if you see what I mean, and the fortified wine flavour continues to lurk in the background. The smoke then develops what I described as a funky taste. It reminds me of the smell of heating acrylic in Design Technology classes when I was a kid - it's not a bad thing as it still imparts a sweetness. The funky taste is also similar to the sourness you get when you eat certain fruits that aren't quite ripe. The fortified wine taste now switches to a dry sherry/vermouth taste. The end of the first third brings a smokiness which reminds me of the smell of the mesquite pit at the Silver Saddle Steak House in Tucson - a subtle, sweet smokiness.

2/3: Tamp and a relight brings out a different kind of sweetness: more of the spiced cider I tasted in at least one of the other blends Hazy sent me, along with a perfumey sweetness, further reinforcing my thoughts that there is some Oriental in this blend. The background to the smoke is slightly sour and tart and still somewhat dry-tasting. There is a deep, dark Virginia sweetness creeping in, but still a wine-like flavour every now and then. I'm getting a little tongue bite, similar in sensation to the Mac Baren Solent, but on a far smaller scale - I'm wondering if this is a reaction I get to certain aged tobaccos though, as it is a tingle I have only experienced with these two blends. The perfume/incense is still there but it has taken on more of a talcum powder/baby powder quality, accompanied by a very very slight citrus hint, similar to candied peel but with the sweetness toned down a notch or two. At this point the smoke takes on a very dry and dusty taste, similar to the smell of an old store cupboard. I realise that whilst the appearance of this blend suggested a large amount of Latakia, it is not really showing itself in the blend in the way I would have expected. Perhaps the age has mellowed its effect taste-wise? It is still definitely contributing to the smoke, but more in the way it seems to round everything out, and bring the component tobaccos together. The sweetness has now shifted up a notch and has become a little brighter. The booze quality has also shifted from fortified wines to Highland Whisky, heather honey sweetness.

1/2: Just over half way a relight brings out an apple donut/banana fritter taste. I'm wondering if the Latakia is responsible for this fried dough taste perhaps? The sweetness is definitely in a different category to that of the first half; it is now more of a baked cookie/cake taste and is not at all floral. There is still a very subtle wine taste in the background though. I start to notice a sweet and creamy macadamia nut taste which I had not previously noted. On the back of my tongue I have a strong sensation and taste of dry sherry and vermouth. The smoke mellows out into a consistent, but not boring, rounded flavour at this point. The sweetness shifts to cookie dough.

3/3: If I was handed the pipe at this stage, I would not instantly think, "Latakia" (at least not the Latakia I know). The smoke is sweet, with a grape skin-like dryness. The booze note has shifted to a more mellow, sweetness like Creme de Cassis, and I am getting a little woody/oaky hint. The smoke reminds me of a dessert sauce or a traditional egg-yolk ice cream - it has that richness to it that egg yolks impart (think custard if you know what that is). The sweetness has become deep and rich again, and when I start to push the tobacco to see if it has anything else to offer in these late stages I get an amazing toffee/fudge sweetness. This is an outrageously good finish, and unlike a lot of blends towards the end, pushing this blend does it a lot of favours. Slowing down again allows the floral sweetness to come back out, with a very faint herbal/medicinal taste in the background. At this point the smoke reminds me of the St Bruno I smoked in a heavily ghosted briar a couple of days ago - is this a bit of burley? I look up St Bruno on TR.com and it is listed as containg Va and Kentucky. Pretty sure it's not Kentucky giving this sweetness. I have a look at the St Bruno pack and it says it contains "Virginia and other fine leaf", so maybe there is Burley in there. Could explain the macadamia nutiness I noticed earlier. The sweetness in this final third has been so intense and almost maple syrup-like that I would be tempted to say there is some artificial sweetness in here, but I don't think there is.

CONCLUSION: Sorry for the long description but I felt this blend deserved a lot of attention. A great smoke, with a lot of nuances I did not notice when smoking the blend "for fun", rather than reviewing. Judging by the identity of the other blends I had, along with Hazy's assertion that this blend would "blow my socks off" (or something similar), I would venture a guess that it is the House of Calabash blend that has all the 40 year old tobaccos in that costs an arm and a leg. If it is, then Hazy is the most generous man around. If it isn't then he has still provided me with some great tobaccos to review here. Apologies again for not doing this review earlier.
 
Yeeeees, Great reveiw buistd. Lol, no it is not the Imperial from HOC, I'm po' white folk c'mon now. You were right though on it being a remake. The day I bought that stuff was from the first time I walked in to the house of calabash. Steve had just got back from the Chicago pipe show and was showing off his second place trophy of the John Cottons blend 1&2 throw down. He then let me make a comparison of look and smell from the original to first and second place. IMHO steve should have won based on smell and sight alone. The sample I bought was from the the batch that he sent to the judges. Come to find out there is some sort of scandal surrounding the comp. Lets just say you smoked the true first place john Cotton 1&2 throw down winner. Steve calls this blend Avalon, but I remember him mentioning that he has to change the name because theres is already a blend named that by someone else. I'm glad you enjoyed it Buistd, and thanks for the wonderful review, You have quite a nack for putting things into words.
 

buistd

Active Member
Member
Yeeeees, Great reveiw buistd. Lol, no it is not the Imperial from HOC, I'm po' white folk c'mon now. You were right though on it being a remake. The day I bought that stuff was from the first time I walked in to the house of calabash. Steve had just got back from the Chicago pipe show and was showing off his second place trophy of the John Cottons blend 1&2 throw down. He then let me make a comparison of look and smell from the original to first and second place. IMHO steve should have won based on smell and sight alone. The sample I bought was from the the batch that he sent to the judges. Come to find out there is some sort of scandal surrounding the comp. Lets just say you smoked the true first place john Cotton 1&2 throw down winner. Steve calls this blend Avalon, but I remember him mentioning that he has to change the name because theres is already a blend named that by someone else. I'm glad you enjoyed it Buistd, and thanks for the wonderful review, You have quite a nack for putting things into words.
It's quite a tobacco that's for sure. Any ideas what's in it? I remember reading about that blend recreation challenge. Will have to find it online. Thanks again for sending me such great tobaccos and apologies it took me so long to get around to doing that last one.
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Moderator
This thread has gone completely off the tracks. As I understand it, it's supposed to work like this:

1) Timely review of each sample. Not just a shot in the dark at an ID, but a review of what you smoked. Taste/flavor/burn/etc. are what "we" are interested in here. A rating (i.e. 4 out of 5) is a nice thing. If you think you can ID the tobaccco, or the components of the tobacco that's great, but what we want are reviews. You should only participate if you can smoke something every day. If you receive 5 samples, a week should be adequate time to smoke them all AND send out samples to the next guy. I did 8 samples in 5 days. Glenn did the same.

2) If you cannot get through the samples for whatever reason, say as much, and send some samples to the next guy to keep things moving. I actually think it would be good for more than one person to have samples at a time, so there are more frequent updates to the string. This is an AWESOME thread when it's working; one of my favorites.



So, who wants some samples given my completely made up and unapproved "rules" ?

Spill
 

Spillproof

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
Moderator
OK Mike I'm going to PM you because we've already done some trading and I forget what I've already sent you.
I will send you samples TODAY to get things moving.

Whoever wants to go after Mike (or concurrently), please PM Marker.

Thanks!
 
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