Trial by fire : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Trial by fire

by Tad Gage and Joe Harb

There’s no shortage of pipe tobacco introductions these days (lucky for all of us)—both new blends and seemingly regular reintroductions of classics. We decided to review some of the new and a pinch of the new/old. Cornell & Diehl collaborated with artisan Danish pipemaker Tom Eltang, who has been considering the idea for more than a decade, and introduced four tobacco blends that expand Tom’s vision of pipes to pipe tobacco. Dunhill’s Aperitif and Durbar mixtures, having been dropped after Murray’s ceased blending Dunhill tobaccos, return after a lengthy absence from the market. The blends, now manufactured (like other Dunhill brands) by Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), fill two notable holes in the classic Dunhill tinned tobacco line. Venerable Virginia blender Samuel Gawith (SG) has completed the introduction of its Four Seasons line of four solid Virginia flakes, and we picked two. The SG blends share credit for their creation with Czech entrepreneur and tobacco connoisseur Dr. Josef Stanislaw, and the blend is listed as a Stanislaw Pipe Tobacco product distributed by SG. W.Ø. Larsen, one of the first labels to kick off the now-popular trend of limited-edition blends, introduced “2014,” an intriguing aromatic we sniffed out. Finally, McClelland Tobacco Co., continuing its unique and exciting introduction of blends created by veteran members of the pipe community, offers two blends created by Kansas City tobacco connoisseur Steve Stein. We couldn’t resist stepping out with Steve’s Top Hat and Black Tie. — Tad Gage

Eltang Virginiavirginia
Gage: Perhaps expecting something different, I was surprised by a potent tin aroma of spicy wild honey, which has a far more pungent tang than the tamer domestic stuff, and an undertone of something like molasses. It was certainly an intriguing first olfactory impression for this uncased medium ribbon-cut mixture. The mix of medium brown flecked with appealingly ragged dark tabs of leaf delivered a cool and even smoke, with a hint of zesty honey flavor promised by the tin aroma. And nibbling on a couple of those dark leaves (yes, tasting sometimes helps isolate flavors), well, they carry that pronounced sweet honey flavor. Whether this is Burley treated as a flavored Cavendish, I don’t know. I can say that Virginia is sweet and appealing and has no aromatic characteristic or ghosting, but it is most assuredly different from a straight Virginia. Aged well, it’s ready to smoke and what I’d call a distinctive crossover blend.

Harb: As described, the Red and Bright Virginias take center stage, and a small amount of Burley rounds out the blend. The Bright Virginia is in a higher proportion, and this mutes some of the Red Virginia flavor. The small proportion of Burley is enough to elevate the body of the blend to a notch just below a medium level. The overall flavor level is mild, so puffing hard to try to get more flavor will promote overheating of the blend. Sipping the tobacco with a slow draw will keep the heat level low, and it will also let the character of the Virginia tobaccos be expressed and add to the enjoyment of the blend.

Other tobaccos reviewed in this issue’s installment of “Trial by fire” include:

Eltang Sweet & Mellow, Eltang Mixture, Eltang English, Samuel Gawith/Stanislaw English Summer Flake, Samuel Gawith/Stanislaw Scottish Autumn, Dunhill Durbar, Dunhill Aperitif, W.O. Larsen Limited Edition 2014, McClelland Piper’s Choice Top Hat and McClelland Piper’s Choice Black Tie. Read the rest of the reviews by subscribing to Pipes and tobaccos magazine or the online digital edition.

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Category: Trial by Fire, Winter 2015

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