McClelland Dark Star Review: Not What I Expected

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shaintiques

Preferred Member
Jul 13, 2011
3,596
48
Georgia
Last fall I got a little extra cash and went on SP and ordered a tin of about 10 different Virginia based flakes. I read reviews on them and if it didn't say sweet taste I didn't buy it. Tht being said when I initially cracked the tin of the Dark Star I was daunted. It smelled good, with a bit of the ketchupy goodness we expect from a McClelland red Virginia, but what daunted me was the moisture content. The flakes were thick, dark, almost rubbery feeling because of the moisture. And so it sat in the jar for a few months. I smoke mostly flakes, and I like my tobaccos moister than some, but what kept me from picking it was really prep time. I didn't want to have to set it out and let it dry. The other day I had some guys over and we planned to smoke, but we chatted a bit first before making our way outside. I pulled some DS out, rubbed it out on a piece of paper and let it dry. When I filled my bowl it still felt moist but the rubbery feeling was fine with it rubbed out and it really had a nice texture.

Now for the smoke. This tobacco was not what I expected. I like Blackwoods Flake another McClelland that is a bit thick and perhaps daunting, it has a sweet and tangy flavor, the flavor that I have come to expect from that red va goodness, but Dark Star didn't give me that at all. It was just sweet, no tang. The best approximation to flavor would be if you took a sugar cube and put it in your mouth while you smoked. And where I would normally offer a newer smoker or someone wanting to transition to flakes something like MacBaren Cream flake because of its aromatic properties I will now be giving them Dark Star. I would say that the sweetness is unmatched and this is the sweetest tobacco that I have tasted including aros. Also there was no noticeable N hit. I've only had one bowl but I can see this occupying a solid spot in my cellar.

 

mrenglish

Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2010
2,195
8
Columbus, Ohio
Thanks for the review! I don't smoke this one often but it is one of few McClelland tobaccos I can smoke that does not bite me. The moisture content is insane so I dry mine under a desk lamp.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,411
1,025
I found that I love this one totally dried out, just pouring it into a bowl and leaving it for a few days and then I use a grinder to break it down a bit. I found that rubbing it just didn't work. Not grinding it to dust, but just a click or two on the coffee grinder to quickly pulverize it down to compost like consistency. Then I will add a pinch of a straight Virginia flake to it. When you add it to a tangier mix, the smokey flavors come out and it has a deep bass note that can be tasted better against the flake, like FVF. Even though I like it better mixed with another blend, I still keep it in stock. It is just that good.

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
2
And so it sat in the jar for a few months.
One of the things this flake needs is to breathe.

I leave it in the original container and pop the lid about once a week for a few months.
the flavor that I have come to expect from that red va goodness
DS starts as a bright Va (Yellow) and doesn't have the same depth as BW which is Red and Black Stoved Va's.
It was just sweet, no tang.
This tobacco is quite finicky. If it's not dry enough or rubbed out too much it just "loses it".
This thread brought to mind another, started by cobguy last year
As I recall, you were inspired to verse in that thread as well! :)
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/ode-to-dark-star
I found that I love this one totally dried out ... I found that rubbing it just didn't work.
The common theme with DS ... breathe for a few months, cube cut with a light rub, DRY DRY DRY, gravity pack
It's the tobacco that you will most love to hate ... and most hate to love. :puffy:

 

tarak

Preferred Member
Jun 23, 2013
1,527
0
South Dakota
Intriguing....I've had some in a jar for almost 2 years. I've been too daunted to try it because I've heard its so daunting to prep....

 

salewis

Senior Member
Jan 27, 2011
413
0
Dark Star is a very good tobacco. I do not think that it is too sweet but rather full bodied and robust. However, it became too difficult to keep lit so I gave up on Dark Star. I have tried to dry this tobacco, however, it lost much of the taste.

 

huntertrw

Preferred Member
Jul 23, 2014
3,860
11
The Lower Forty of Hill Country
From cobguy's aforementioned thread on Dark Star here's a bit of verse which I added to the mix, and which seems appropriate to revisit in this current discussion:
Oh tin of Dark Star here's my plight

I find your contents resist light

It seems asbestos in my bowl

As if my flame meets some black hole

These posts I read and firm believe

Thy proposition - love or leave!

 

shaintiques

Preferred Member
Jul 13, 2011
3,596
48
Georgia
I don't personally like too dry tobaccos, and I didn't let this one get so despite that, only had a couple of relights, got lots of flavor, and no bite. Off to smoke another bowl now.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,605
930
I'm aging a tin so I will eventually try it. It doesn't sound like at all what I imagined, which was a subtle, nuanced Virginia with substantial flavor but certainly only low-key sweetness. Hmmm. Also, I thought rubbing it out would compensate for its reported various sized pieces of leaf. I will be interested to see how I do with it, but this has been fair warning. Maybe with my expectations lower, I will figure out a way to enjoy it more.

 

peteguy

Preferred Member
Jan 19, 2012
1,096
2
One of my favorites. I like mine aged for the sweetness factor.
Dry until you think it is good then dry a little more. A friend once told me that when I asked him about preparing flake and it has always worked well for me.

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
0
I have a couple tins aging, un-opened and I've heard more than once that DS is very similar to DNF which I like very much. Any truth to that comparison to those who've smoked both?

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
2
DNF and DS are similar but not the same.
DS does not contain the cutter grade leaf and is "triple aged, pressed and stoved".
Due to less processing, DNF is slightly fuller and less sweet, IMHO.

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
0
Thanks Cobguy, now I'm even more intrigued and will perhaps pop a tin that has maybe a year on it at least in my cellar.

 

fluffie666

Senior Member
Apr 4, 2014
498
0
DS is really great stuff. A couple of years ago, I was asking forum members about prepping a fresh tin. I got some great advice and found that cobguy has a great method. It takes months but the time spent is well worth the end result. A fine and very sweet smoke. Another member was kind enough to send me a nice amount of the stuff that was aged 17 years. That was some of the best and sweetest tobacco I have ever tasted. It tasted like molases. So sweet and absolutely amazing. I bought a few tins after that and put them away myself. I'm not nearing the two decade mark yet but hopefully I'll live long enough to crack one of those tins open in another decade plus to experience that taste again. There's no reason to shy away from this one. Spend the time it needs and be rewarded. The quick dry method gives some tasty results as well.

Cheers!

 

jefff

Preferred Member
May 28, 2015
1,917
0
Chicago
I have been smoking Dark Star for maybe 15 years. I find the complaints about preparation to be greatly overstated. I can rub it out right out if the tin or let it dry for a while. Either way I have no real trouble keeping it lit. Sometimes it take a few relights and sometimes not, but that is a small price to pay.
I have found it to be particular to the pipe I smoke it in. I find it smokes best in a taller, narrower bowl. Given that, it is probably my desert island tobacco.

 
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