100g (3.5oz) round tin. Same elegant branding as all the others in this line of tobacco. Backside has a description of the blend in the words of Erik Stokkebye, and a tin date (mine says Oct 2012).
“Erik Peter, my Great Grandfather, founded our family’s tobacco business in Denmark and was known for his deep passion for natural tobacco flavors. Truly for the experienced pipe smoker, 1855 is a ready-rubbed blend of exceptional golden, mature Virginia tobaccos that demonstrates the natural sweet Virginia taste and its pleasant aroma.”
White paper wrapper as we are used to. Surprised by the quite long and coarse cut. This is one of the longest ready rubbed strands I have seen. This appears to be some very natural Virginia blend. Color ranges from bright white to deep red/brown. Intense aroma of fresh hay, very grassy. When I close my eyes it conjures images of fresh hay on a summer morning, rays of sunlight shining through the fog. Yes, imagine morning dew on tall grass and a scent of fresh hay. A little citrus and honey, too. This will be very interesting.
Moister than usable out of tin, allowed for one hour drying time. Rubbed out to finer cut, still individual strands are quite long. This called for a larger bowl size 5 or 6 to allow for proper packing. I’d have a hard time getting this into a group 4 bowl and probably quite impossible to properly pack this into a group 3 or smaller. Gravity feeding into the bowl, light pressure on top. I want to allow the Virginias to expand when lit.
Nothing special to not here. Charring light reveals a true, pure Virginia tobacco taste. Takes light easily, tobacco expands quite a bit and I am happy that I packed lightly.
Bright Virginia flavor, and a very light sweetness. Produces a satisfying, dense, grey smoke with a light mouth feel.
Within the first 5 puffs it becomes apparent that this is a very different Virginia blend from the rest of the pack. I’d categorize Mcclelland’s Virginias as earthy and sweet. Then, Samuel Gawith’s Best Brown Flake and Full Virginia Flake as pastry sweet. However, 1855 goes in a different direction again - the closest I’d say might be MacBaren’s Club Blend. While MB Club Blend has more of a leathery, horse stable character, 1855 brings a bright and fresh, almost herbal Virginia experience, lightly sweet and grassy.
Becomes a bit sweeter, I assume the tobacco was now lit long enough to produce some sugars. The taste shifts from grassy to bready. Still very bright and fresh. The tobacco doesn’t like to be pushed, becomes quite stingy and bitter if smoked hot. Circular inhale tickles the nose - it appears to have a good amount of Nicotine, but also reveals some interesting floral notes that are otherwise far in the background.
This was the best part of the smoke. The Virginias turn caramelly, but not a candy sweetnes - more of a slightly floral, grassy sweetness. Quite unique. Reminds a little of the Lakeland toppings - but not nearly as floral. Think spring flowers.
Burned to the bottom and left a medium, fine gray ash. Over the whole time the tobacco smoked very cool and dry - I’d say this is one of the more forgiving Virginias. With a lot of Virginia blends you can ruin the rest of the bowl when you get it too hot at one point, but 1855 might sting you a bit, yet go back to ‘normal’ after 5-6 puffs. I like that, as I don’t have to concentrate on smoking that much to avoid a bad experience. The taste of this blend is quite unique and I agree with the recommendation on the tin for this blend to be “for the experienced pipe smoker”.
This blend is probably a fantastic spring and summer smoke. The fresh, grassy, herbal notes call for those two seasons. For a long time, Mac Baren’s Club Blend was pretty unique and in its own genre. I think Club Blend now has a brother. However, they are quite dissimilar. 1855 offers a purer, more grassy Virginia taste, while Club Blend offers leather and spice.
The above tasting notes describe this blend when very young - my tin was about a month old. Since 1855 is based on pure Virginias, aging might help to meld the individual flavors that I experienced in each third of the bowl. Now that would make quite an interesting smoke. As it is now, each third was interesting, but rather one-dimensional. My recommendation: buy now and age until spring 2014.
[Editor's note: Read more about the 4th Generation line here.]