I don't have a vast experience with plugs, so take this with a grain of salt, please, but I just don't understand the appeal?
I was playing around on a online retailer's site yesterday and noticed that they have SG Kendal Plug and GH Dark Plug available for purchase. I haven't tried these tobaccos yet, and since they don't commonly become avaiable in the US, I thought about purchasing some. The drawback is that you have to purchase fairly big quantities. The Dark Plug is only available in a 500g package (which I assume is several plugs) and the Kendal was 250g (if I remember correctly). I quickly talked myself out of the purchase, mainly because I'm not sure I want the hassle of dealing with them.
The first plug I played around with (awhile ago) was Jackknife plug. I remember that tobacco being a very dense brick that was a real bear to cut up. My cuts were either clumpy or I got big flakes that needed extra cuts just to be pliable. Because I'd already messed up the initial cuts, it was very difficult and frustrating... I tried later with a block of Wessex Gold Plug and had similar results, my cuts were clumpy and the layers of tobacco were very difficult to pull apart. Then you have tambolaka, which comes in a very convenient block resembling a lead bar. That one was damned near impossible. I am sure all that poor cutting was just my inexperience with them, but since then I have not had a desire to mess with plugs much.
Interestingly enough, Russ O (blendtobac) posted a tidbit on Facebook yesterday about plugs retaining a bit more moisture due to the compression of the tobacco. Makes sense to me. He even goes on to state that as a result he has to let them sit longer to dry out (longer than he lets flakes sit out for instance). It seems to me to be another "hassle" you experience when dealing with plugs.
I certainly recognize the appeal of holding a big chunk of tobacco like a plug, but am I the only piper that says, "to hell with it" when it comes to plugs?? Are there any benefits that I am missing?