This is a discussion on General impressions of a pure Virginia within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; We had 5 guys (call us 5 brothers, pun intended) participate in what was a WTB-turned-to-Split. We each got some ...
This is my newb impression of a 100% Virginia blend.
It's Peter Stokkybe 701 Virginia. I understand this is a "blend of flue-cured leaf from lighter-colored grades".
The smell in the pouch reminds me of tamarind. Kinda sour but sweet at the same time. Subtle, not strong. Made my mouth water.
The taste when lit was hard to pinpoint. I got a clean bread (not yeasty) or pasta taste, maybe wheat or flour being the common theme between them. It was very light, almost not much flavor at all. I tried to figure it out and then I went back to the description and it said "hay-like notes". It wasn't a note to me, it was the only flavor. At this point I was taking it VERY slow, concerned with possible bite.
So about halfway through, I figured I'm gonna stoke 'er up a bit. As it got hotter I got some leather. And then the next level of heat quickly brought on some slight pucker and sour taste (lemon or lime sour, not in a bad way). Again after going back to the description, I see it says "citrousy". Maybe in citrousy in mouth reaction, but not in like a fruit flavor. The transition from leather to sour was fast, and then so was the next transition to mouth bite. There is a fine line here I found out, and it might be fun to play with, if I liked the flavors.
The description also says its "flavor is naturally sweet". I must be dull, because I didn't pick up on that. I'd just call that "light".
I don't think I like pure Virginias if this is representative of the lot. It was too light and kind of boring. The flavors really didn't do much for me. Although in cigars I like leather, I would probably have to babysit the heat to keep that note coming through (to be fair maybe I overstoked and thus overshot the leather after a few puffs).
I understand Virginias are mixed with Perique and other tobaccos, so I'm sure it's great in a blend, but I think I might miss the Virginia nuances because by itself the flavors were mild and nuanced anyway...but maybe in a blend the flavors might merge and take on a totally new characteristic that is not simply the sum of two tobaccos.
Stokkebye's 701 Virginia may not be the best intro to Virginias if one if looking to entice a newbie into falling in love with the genre. Pressed Virginia Flakes (like the Gawith Full Virginia Flake) is best for that. Where the PS VA 701 excels as a blender. I have used it to make my own VaPers, VaTurs and light English blends, and it plays very well with other tobaccos.
"Quite simply, my dear, tobacco is the greatest pleasure that we have ever discovered... I know of no other miracle like it in nature." -- Bela Lugosi, 1939
Your technique for tasting is spot on, it is refreshing and entertaining to read about someones experience especially when you take such care to note the nuance. And I agree with Christopher, virginias are a world all their own. 100% virginia doesn't mean much as all virginias taste different. A blend of 100% red VA will be totally different than 100% bright or "lemon" VA. Then also take into consideration if it is pressed into flakes or loose, flue cured, air cured, or fire cured...VA is such a delicate leaf with many possibilities. Try Samuel Gawiths Full Virginia Flake, McClellands 5100 Red Cake, and the 701 VA you just smoked all side by side and see how they can vary.
Keep posting! I enjoy reading your experiences.
"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
Thank guys for your encouragement on the review, and the further suggestions, and to Tobias for the offer (PM incoming!).
I do have another Virginia in my hands (thanks again to
) to try and that is Dan Hamborger Veermaster. What do you all think of that one?
I like Hamborger Veermaster, I'm sure you will like it better than the other blend. But it again is a bright va and can be a bit nippy if you don't mind the temperature.
for something naturally sweet (like actually sweet and not just an under tone) McClelland 5100 is great stuff. Mild, sweet, natural, and doesn't bite. An absolute must try.
Thanks Tobias for offering up your leaf.
"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
So I loaded the Veermaster and sailed her. It's a very mild smoke. I would say it was much nicer than the 701. I did taste a grassy hay this time, which was probably what I called light bread or wheat in the 701. The smoke and mouthfeel was more "present", if I could use that term. Sweet is another descriptor, but only very slightly so. Citrousy, again, I'm not getting that, but I do get some of that mouth dryness that I called "pucker" with the 701.
Now getting the Veermaster launched was a challenge. The rubbed pieces were still pretty thick, and I did not heed the advice of
to sprinkle the top with small pieces to get the fire started. It went out on me 3 times in the beginning. When I got it moving, it was fine on its own, with tamping (it was packed probably looser than it should have been).
I did crank on it a bit to test the reaction with more heat and I could sense tongue bite on the verge of getting nasty if I continued. Against the 701, I think the Veermaster bite would come with slightly more difficulty, but it would probably be more severe based on what I observed. Maybe that's a function of extra sugar in this mix, maybe not.
In the mean-time I have an Esoterica Tilbury that is on deck, packed and ready to go. This will be my attempt to discern the different contributions that a burley and a Virginia bring when mixed. I am wondering if I'll pick up something totally different and new...man, this is fun!
Great job so far, Ray. I think it's great posting your thoughts here. I think that is something a lot of new guys who are trying out new stuff miss out on. They get their baccies and go to town, but never give feedback so the veterans here can steer them in the right direction. There is nothing wrong with that, but they may miss out on something they would really like because they don't solicit recommendations.
To all the new pipers out there, if you want quality recommendations, what Ray is doing will go a very long way with the vets here being able to help you out.
Your reviews have been interesting to read to so please keep it up! I agree with all of the above in that I wouldn't write off all Virginias based on your impression of 701. There are some excellent VA's and VaPers out there as others have recommended.
I too am enjoying reading your perspectives on these tobaccos.
It interesting to see how they taste to you now...and it'll be even more interesting to you when you revisit these tobaccos down the road and see how you compare from then and now in flavors and whether you like them or not.
Nice review Ray. I've only had one bowl so far. I'm hoping to get some more pipe time this weekend and give these a better going over. I also saw you have hit the burley. I'm looking forward to trying two or three bowls of each and comparing notes with you and the other three guys. It fascinates me to see different peoples take of the same tobaccos.
I've held off on VA's for a long time because the first couple of tries were burny, bitey, ashy train wrecks. That was before I knew anything about how you need to romance a VA to get its best. You've got me tempted now, I have a jar of Wessex Gold VA that needs some attention...