Dreams Of Old Virginia
    December 4th, 2014

Marshall "Butch" Armstrong
It sounds like a book title, doesn’t it, "Dreams of old Virginia?" For all I know, it could be, but for the purposes of this article it has to do with the smoking of Virginia tobacco. I was browsing through the forums here at Pipes Magazine.com and found one titled, "The art of smoking Virginias." The entries were very interesting. Before I decided to write this article I had only smoked Dunhill Virginia Flake. My friend Ted ( check out his Facebook page here) gave me a tin and I didn’t like it the first time I tried it because it seemed to be so mild that there wasn’t much flavor. After smoking it a few more times I started to enjoy it. Then I read the forum posts and realized that there were a lot of subtleties to a Virginia Flake. I came up with a plan to find out more about this intriguing tobacco. I would buy a few different brands of Virginia Flake and smoke nothing but those for a couple of weeks to find out what they were all about. Sound like fun? Well it was and I learned quite a bit.

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By Russ Ouellette
Virginia or Brightleaf or Flue Cured … whatever you want to call it, it’s one of the most widely used strains of tobacco for pipe smokers. You’ll find it in Latakia blends, aromatics and even Virginia blends (who knew?). It’s a versatile leaf with characteristics that make it suitable for a wide variety of purposes, but how much do you know about it?

Virginia flue cured tobacco originally came from … North Carolina. A farmer found that when a batch of leaf was exposed to high heat, the tobacco turned yellow and that it had very desirable characteristics. Over time, a method was developed to be able to consistently grow and cure what became known as Brightleaf.

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After a week straight of smoking Latakia blends, I was up for a nice sweet Virginia pipe tobacco. I also wanted to pop open a tin from my collection that I hadn’t tried before. It’s a cold rainy Saturday morning, the weekend before Christmas. It’s one of those lazy rainy days so I’ve queued up Lord of the Rings in the DVD player and grabbed a tin of Cornell & Diehl’s Manhattan Afternoon. Today’s Agenda: smoke pipes, and watch Lord of the Rings for 9 hours. (You may have guessed that the little woman isn’t home today.)

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I wasn’t planning on doing a review of Union Square, (since Bob did one already) but then I smoked it and was compelled to do so. I was actually traveling at the time and didn’t have a computer in front of me, so I took out a little piece of paper and wrote down: G.L. Pease Union Square. Tastes Tangy. Smells like Apricots, Prunes, Raisins. Moist out of the tin … later, towards the end of my first bowl, I wrote: Amazing Virginia blend. Great crossover for aromatic smokers. I almost don’t believe this isn’t an aromatic. (I mean that in a good way.)

G.L. Pease Union Square just became one of my new favorite Virginia blends. There are just so many good pipe tobaccos out there, and if you’re like me, you buy way more than you can smoke. When I was talking to our Associate Editor, Bob Tate, yesterday, he told me that he has a computer program that calculated that he has 9-years worth of tobacco if he smokes 3-bowls a day, every day for the next 9-years … and of course doesn’t buy any more tobacco. (Yeah, like that’ll happen.)

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Pipe TobaccoSo you’ve been thinking of trying a pipe but you’re not sure of which tobacco to try? Perhaps it’s time to stop pondering which tobacco to use and just take the plunge and buy something that the tobacco store clerk recommends.

You see the fact is that the type of tobacco that a pipe smoker uses ultimately comes down to their own personal taste and what suits them. Just about every one of us has started off with a tobacco that was recommended by someone else but I would wager that almost none of us are still smoking that brand or blend of tobacco that we first started with.

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