Tobacco Reviews

Mac Baren's Amphora Burley Blend ..... by Eric Kahn

amphoraburleyBased on some overheard conversations at the club last month, not everyone is a fan of the new Amphora Burley Blend.  But SHPC past President Eric Kahn said this blend came to his rescue and he found it quite enjoyable.  Here's what he had to say:

So I'm heading down to the Cape for the weekend just to hang with family. Clothes all packed, extra pipes and a couple of cigars. In the pipe case I put in cobs and a Sherlock Holmes head Meer, some pipe cleaners and an extra lighter.... you know the usual stuff. Oh! There is that Amphora Burly blend I've been meaning to try. Throw it in, just in case I run out of my usual and off the wife and I went.

First thing I want to do is sit in the densely wooded back yard and have a bowl. Birds of all types singing their songs, little critters scurrying about and even some mice minding their Ps and Qs. It was really relaxing. I reach for my usual tobacco in my back pocket. Hmm..., other back pocket. Hmm..., thigh pockets? Oops! Good thing I brought the Amphora. I hope it's good.  Ready rubbed, nice aroma in the pouch, moderate moisture, packs well, should light nicely.  First charring light, I'm expecting a bite... no bite. Let's see how it goes. Subsequent light, no bite. In fact throughout the smoking experience, no bite. Pleasing taste, if not exceptional. Mild. Nutty. Pleasing. Overall I'd rate this blend very nice. After I finish this pouch I'll try another and if it stays as good as the first I will buy a large can. I don't usually expect much from a Nutty blend, but from my view, Mac Baren’s has hit this one out of the park with their new Amphora Burley blend.

Planta's Presbyterian Mixture ........ by Ernie Whitenack

Presbyterian Mixure ImagePresbyterian Mixture contains Latakia tips (the highest leaves of the plant used to make Latakia) in a modest amount, along with premium-quality Virginias, and select small-leaf Orientals. It's a mellow yet complex blend that makes a perfect introduction to Latakia blends, and won't tire your taste buds. It's especially nice with a morning cup of coffee.

Nelson gave me this so I will write my thoughts on Presbyterian Mixture and give him something for the Gazette. Guess he didn’t much like it. In the tin, the smell was just tobacco with not one element  predominate. My first thought, upon lighting up was; Man, this is strong stuff! It caused quite a tingle on my tongue and mouth that stayed with me long after the bowl was finished. At that time, I was thinking I didn’t want to go any further with it, but the next day I figured that wasn’t fair and would continue with it the
rest of the week.I discovered Presbyterian Mixture needs to be smoked very slowly; probably because of
its thin and daintily-cut elements. It cooled down some and the flavor increased. By Friday, about half way through a wide chambered bowl, it settled into a soft smoke. The problem is, I cannot discern any flavors other than tobacco. Very little, if any, sweetness comes through from the Virginia, or smokiness from the Latakia. Perhaps they are shadowed by the other Orientals in the mixture. Is that why it’s called a mixture rather than a blend?
All that being said, I don’t believe it is a tobacco I want in my stable; although knowing how tobacco flavor seems to change from time to time, for reasons I do not comprehend, I might continue trying it occasionally, but only in a large chambered pipe smoked very slowly.
Presbyterian Mixture has a fine reputation and many smokers like it. You might too. I think I am so used to the (standard) English blends that perhaps I can’t appreciate this one.

G.L. Pease: Odyssey ........ by Ernie Whitenack

“Odyssey is huge: the biggest of the Pease blends. It's loaded with Latakia and harmonized by exotic Orientals. Wonderful red and jet-black stoved Virginias provide a perfect counterpoint.”

Obtained through the club’s Yankee Swap at the last holiday meeting, the two-ounce tin of Odyssey was tucked away in a box holding a minimal hoard of unopened tins. I found the box the other day and wondered what was in it; guess I completely forgot about my small stash. Anyway, I noticed the G.L. Pease Odyssey has “7/3/09”, in black marker, on the cover. I suddenly remembered Derik making a remark about who decorated the very attractive package housing this tin and decided to give it a try. Thanks Derek.

Having never had Odyssey before, I cannot compare this ten-year-old tobacco to any thing, so I’ll just tell you about it. The tin essence is a melody of wonderful smells, reminiscent of baking day in my mother’s kitchen when I was a kid; a combination of bread, cookies, cake and pot-roast, but not exactly.

In the pipe, Odyssey is delightful. The Latakia is definitely up-front but mixed in and tempered by the Virginias. The Orientals move in and out adding a bit of digression from the Latakia while the sweetness of the Virginia seems to bind it all together and is always there. I don’t think I have ever smoked such a complex blend. Now, I’ll have to purchase a tin just to compare the new to the ten-year-old Odyssey.

Bothy Flake ........ by Ernie Whitenack

Samuel Gawith Bothy Flake was made for the Kearvaig Pipe Club. It's a flake made of ripe, matured Virginias which are combined with a modicum of smoky Latakia and then pressed and sliced into easy to prepare flakes. The Virginias used have more depth than most flue-cured tobaccos, and retain a mellow sweetness that's perfectly compatible with the small amount of Cyprian Latakia. To tie the flavors all together, and to add a bit to the aroma, they infuse the tobacco with a splash of peaty Scotch whisky. The result is gently sweet, with nice depth and a pleasant, tangy finish.

Wow! What can I say? They sure did this one right. I don’t know if the Kearvaig Pipe Club thought this one up, or Samuel Gawith devised it on an assignment from the club. This I do know, it is a delightful blend perfectly put together and processed -- to my taste anyway.

The Virginia is forever in the for-front, but not rudely. One is aware of a sweet and citrusy flavor that often allows the smoky Latakia to pass through. The peaty Scotch, however, doesn’t seem to present itself. Perhaps I just couldn’t differentiate it from the Latakia or it simply becomes a part of the whole. What ever it is, this tobacco is smooth and gentle with a wonderful natural flavor I have never experienced before.

Bothy Flake burned readily, cool, and long. Being a flake, how it is rubbed-out, shopped, or folded might change how readily and cool it will burn for you. I rub flake tobacco, if thin flakes, in the palm of one hand with the heel of the other (as taught by my father).
It’s Great, and Bothy Flake will be a desert tobacco for me, smoking it after dinner or on special occasions.

Pssst, I have a hunch I’ll be looking for times to call special occasions.

Peter Stokkebye’s English Oriental Supreme ........ by Ernie Whitenack

Peter Stokkebye’s English Oriental Supreme is a rich but gentle blend of excellent bright Virginias, mellow white Burley, smooth black Cavendish and Cyprian Latakia which creates plenty of sweet and smoky flavor is a very well-behaved mixture. English Oriental Supreme has been one of their most popular gentle Latakia blends for many years.

I just had to give this one a try! As you might remember, I have praised Stokkebye’s Proper English in this spot before and haven’t changed my mind. Fact is, as of now, it is my favorite English blend. However, the #306 English Oriental Supreme is finding its way into my pipes more often these days. It has many of the attributes of Proper English I enjoy, but is a touch sweeter and milder – just the thing for the last pipe of the day or if one has had a heavy pipe day.
The mildness does nothing to retard the flavors of its elements and they blend together nicely. The sweetness of the unflavored Black Cavendish mixes with that of the Virginia to offer a slightly different flavor while the Latakia hangs in the background unobtrusively.
If you are looking for a flavorful but mild smoke, give it a try.


Missouri Meerschaum American Patriot........ by Ernie Whitenack

 Missouri Meerschaum American Patriot is a highly unusual type of blend to find in a pouch. This is a Latakia-based blend, enhanced by quality Virginia leaf, and the exotic influence of Turkish Smyrna, with just a touch of Burley for excellent burning characteristics. A light top note of Kentucky Bourbon makes for a nice addition to the aroma, but is undetectable in the flavor. For a superb value in an English-style blend, light up a bowl of American Patriot.

Well, sorry to say, I didn’t find this blend even close to the provided description. After the first try, I decided it should dry out a bit, so left the pouch sit open for a couple of days. When I went back to it, it hadn’t improved even though it dried out slightly. There were times when the Virginia and Smyrna were noticeable, but generally it was just very harsh and hot. I was hoping for something reminiscent of the “American English” blends I remember form the 1970s but was sorely disappointed. Perhaps it is the proportions of individual tobaccos, or the quality of same.

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