How do you develop a taste for Virginias?

Discussion in 'Pipe Tobacco' started by Bent, Feb 16, 2012.

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  1. Bent

    Bent Member

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    I love Virginias; they are great and most of what I smoke has a healthy amount of them in the mix. However, the issue is that, for some reason, while I really like them in high doses in my blends, I can't seem to get an appreciation for plain Virginia and Va/per blends. Don't get me wrong, I haven't disliked the Va - Va/per blends I've tried, but after 2 or 3 bowls I just pass the tin to a friend. I see a lot of blends out there, I have tried many and have to admit they have to notch leaf. I hear others speak of the sweetness and complexity of Va's but when I smoke the, I don't get much flavor or aroma.

    This puzzles me because I love a good Balkan with a healthy dose of virginia, I love any Va's with a nice dose of Latakia, cigar leaf, or burley, but I just can't seem to appreciate those Navy Rolls, Va/per flakes, or straight Va's everyone raves about.

    This also puzzles me because I had a similar issue with Burley but I get a hell of a lot more flavor from them than Va's.

    I know everyone's tastes different, I suspect Va/pers and straight Va's aren't for me, but I'm wondering if it's a matter of changing tastes for you, if it's an acquired taste, love at first puff?

    Long story short, how did you end up preferring Va's and Va/per?
     


  2. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Can you list the VA's and Vapers you've smoked? Some of them have a simply hay-like or cereal flavor that requires acclimation but some of them have a natural sweetness and flavor that I would think would be hard to miss. Perhaps you've tried the former and not the latter.

    Or perhaps as you say they just may not be for you. No problem in that. There are plenty of tobacco genres and sub-genres for everyone's taste!
     
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  3. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

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    Try one of the Lake District ropes. Flavor issue solved.

    Swish! :)
     
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  4. jpberg

    jpberg Moderator Moderator

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    Bent,

    Smoke them, sip them slower than slow, and do it in a very clean (neutral flavor) briar. I really had to forget everything I knew about smoking a pipe before I could begin to appreciate them.
     
  5. DMWyatt

    DMWyatt Member

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    Tobaccos that I've sat down with and been able to note for their complexity are few and far between. I think what you're experiencing is the subjective and poetic nature of a lot of tobacco reviews not matching up to the actual flavor of the tobacco. Then again, that's all part of the fun. If you could read a website or book that's going to tell you what you like or don't like; you wouldn't get any pleasure out of experiencing them along the way!
     
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  6. Bent

    Bent Member

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    LOL at YingYang... Yeah, those ropes certainly solve the flavor issue. I guess that's one type of straight VA I do like, but I personally put them in a different category.

    I have smoked MacBaren's virginias, Briar Fox, GL Pease, PS Bullseye Flake, and I can't remember what else.

    Man, I was so bummed after not liking Briar Fox... The tin smell was one of the best I've encountered, but unfortunately I didn't get much flavor.

    Dmkerr, what are some of those sweet Va's you mentioned? can you make a few recommendations?

    I want to try a few more before I say for sure they aren't for me.
     
  7. Dondi

    Dondi Active Member

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    How did I know you were going to say that?
     
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  8. smokehouse

    smokehouse Member

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    Age does wonders to Va's so if you don't like them now. Put them away for awhile and come back, they are a total different animal with a little age. Some get a little sweeter with age.
    Had some Marble Kake awhile back that was aged 2 years. Didn't like it at first. Thought it tasted flat and harsh. Two years later it mellowed out and has a nice little sweetness to it. Can only imagine what more years will do to it.
     
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  9. Albert

    Albert Active Member

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    I didnt really start to "get" them until I smoked them almost exclusively and was working 3 or 4 different blends at the same time... that way my palate could note the differences between each VA blend. but when I smoked mainly english blends and tried to mix in bowls of VA, i never really tasted much either.
     
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  10. Bent

    Bent Member

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    Interesting insight, I think I might be having the exact same issue.
     
  11. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    First of all, if you want a highly sweet VA flavor, you can pretty much forget Cornell & Diehl or GL Pease. I enjoy a lot of their stuff, but sweet VA's don't seem to be in their repertoire much.

    Try Orlik's Golden Sliced, Dunhill Flake (a bit of spice with the sweet), McClellands #5100 Red Cake or even the artificially sweetened McClellands I'm sampling at the moment, their #2000 Fragrant Matured Cake. All have a good bit of sweetness that you won't find in Briar Fox or the GL Pease mixtures (by and large).

    I'm sure others can add their favorites here!
     
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  12. DMWyatt

    DMWyatt Member

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    I've also found it to be true that C&D Va's generally lack sweetness, but that's what I like about them. I really like Briar Fox. It's a buttery smooth Va, with a good no-frills tobacco flavor.
     
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  13. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    My reply...
    1) True
    2) Agree
    3) So do I
    4) Yep
    5) Absolutely
     
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  14. RTOdhner

    RTOdhner Well-Known Member

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    Not all Virginia blends are created equally. I never really got Virginia blends until I tried OGS for the first time - then that "sweet hay-like quality" that I had always heard about came flying off the top rope and slapped some taste into my mouth! Smoked on that for a while, and it seemed to calibrate my tastebuds. McClelland, McConnell, MacB, GH, SG (ifin you can find any), Stokkebye, and Orlik all have blends that feature some really nice sweet VA leaf goodness. (At least IMHO they do - the determination of which blend has more flavor than another can be pretty subjective at times).
     
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  15. Monkeyshine

    Monkeyshine Member

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    McClelland got me hooked on VA. I think it's necessary to dry it out a bit in order to get the full flavors. I never really understood burleys until very recently, took me about 8 months to come around on them.
     
  16. Bent

    Bent Member

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    Hmm, I've heard a lot about OGS but never tried it. I'm gonna order a tin and will let you all know how my Virginia Shennanigans turn out. I'll try smoking the whole tin this time and see what happens.
     
  17. DMWyatt

    DMWyatt Member

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    Dedicate a pipe to that one particular tobacco while you're getting your bearings. Sometimes having a ghost can help amplify flavor. I've been smoking a lot of 1-Q lately in a MM Ozark. At the beginning, it was a mostly flavorless blend. The pipe, now thoroughly ghosted, is helping to yield flavors I never would have noticed without the extra little push. I did the same thing and dedicated a MM cob to Briar Fox. It's helped to put some things in perspective.
     
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