The Art of Smoking Virginias

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loseth

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2012
367
0
Someone once told me that your palate can either distinguish the beauty of a virginia or it can not. I long to enjoy virginias, the aroma is beautiful. Everytime I smell my Orlik Golden Sliced flake tobacco I get confused as to why I can't get any flavour out of it other than burnt paper. Same with a couple other virginia blends I have, like Astleys Dark Virginia which smells awesome but tastes like crap everytime I try it. I can smoke Latakia blends and burley blends all day long if I wanted, but why can't I seem to get any flavour out of virginias? I want to enjoy my Orlik, I really want to buy some Capstan and try it, but frankly I'm afraid its pointless if I can't seem to smoke the virginias I have correctly.
Any tips or do I just not have to palate? Is it possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias?

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
17,944
132
If you are having issues with Orlik, you'll definitely have issues with Capstan. I drink coffee all day long, and when I try to drink green tea my daughter makes, I can't taste it. Mainly because my tastebuds were overwhelmed by the stronger flavored drink. If I smoke latakia early in the day, I cannot smoke a Virginia until the next day. I mean, I can smoke it, I'm just not going to taste it.
When I got serious about Virginias, I just set aside all latakias and aromatics till I had learned what the flavor profiles were of the Virginia blends. Now, I will enjoy a bowl of latakia occasionally, but I also stay aware that I won't be able to taste my beloved Virginias for a while afterwards.
I hope that helps.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,617
119
Any tips or do I just not have to palate? Is it possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias?
Until recently I was firmly in the"I don't get it" camp with regard to virginias. It either tasted like nothing, or moldy grass. Added to that was its propensity to heat up the bowl very quickly. So I wrote this off as something that I didn't have the knack to enjoy for one reason or another.

A couple of months ago I came across a tin of Hal O The Wynd that I had put away after my last go round. I decided to give this spectrum another go. My initial response was that I still didn't see any there there. Pallid, bland, a little sweetness, not much else. But I was determined to give this a serious try. I decided to smoke nothing else, to immerse myself in what might be in the profile, and to experiment with different packing, different chambers, and ssssllllooooooowwwwwwwwwiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggggggg down my cadence.
After a while, I found a practice that allowed the tobacco to deliver what it has to offer to me, and I've been enjoying various blends for the past several months, pretty much to the exclusion of any other varieties, such as English or Balkan. I get a lot of flavor notes on the exhale, when I exhale through my schnoz. Immersion and patience enabled me to focus in on what flavors are in these blends without diluting the experience.
My experience says that it's eminently possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias. But I also take them on their own terms. A "bold" virginia blend isn't bold like a full bodied English/Oriental. None of these are "big" flavored tobaccos in an absolute sense. But within their more confined profile there's a lot of stuff going on in a nuanced way that is exceedingly pleasurable.
That lone, dusty can of Hal has been joined by stacks of HOTW, BCDF, St Jame's Flake, Astley's 44, FVF, and Stonehaven.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,800
3
The biggest thing with VAs is technique -- mainly not overheating. Otherwise, VAs taste like soot and hot air.
But the other factor is learning to recognize the flavors. I absolutely agree with the above -- the palate can be trained. I think the same is true of Latakia blends, burleys, etc., but VAs seem to be the most difficult.
In any case, it shouldn't take long to figure out. And once you get used to smoking VAs and tasting them, it will seem like second nature.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,800
3
My experience says that it's eminently possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias. But I also take them on their own terms. A "bold" virginia blend isn't bold like a full bodied English/Oriental. None of these are "big" flavored tobaccos in an absolute sense.
I found this particularly interesting. I smoke mostly burleys and some VAs, but maybe because I smoke them more often, burleys seem to my palate the most boldly flavored tobaccos in my rotation. Meanwhile, latakia blends (again, maybe because I dont' smoke them that often) seem a little on the thin side. The flavors are there alright, but they don't fill the mouth with flavor the way burleys do.

 

salewis

Senior Member
Jan 27, 2011
413
0
I have a friend that has smoked Dunhill's Mixture 365 for years. When I suggest a Virgina blend he stuffs in his pipe, which has only tasted Mixture 365, and he immediately announced this Virgina is crap. The reason is simple because he does not smoke Virgina's long enough to give them an honest try. Virgina tobaccos take a little time to get to enjoy the myriad of flavors. After smoking English blends for a long time Virginas are an acquired taste.

 

sailorjeremy

Senior Member
Feb 25, 2014
420
0
Virginia
I think smoking them in the right pipe is the other half of the problem. For me I get the most flavor out of a dry Virginia and a clean pipe with narrow or tapered bowl. Golden Sliced was a great VA introduction for me. It took some getting used to but from what I gathered from my own experience was that it was about 20% interpretation and 80% preparation.

 

billypm

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2013
302
1
I'll add that smoking most Vas too moist will degrade the flavor, at least that's what my palate says.
But I'll add this. Years ago I had opened, rubbed completely out, and dried a tin of Old Gowrie until it was definitely not moist to the touch, but far from bone dry. Smoked a bowl of it and thought...meh...I guess it's ok.Then I screwed the top back on the tin and promptly forgot about it for a month, after which I tried it again. Holy mackerel! It was sensational. Truly a transcendent smoke. So that is the little ordeal I now subject all my Virginias to, and I now favor them over all other baccies. It is my belief that not only the drying, but the airing out of the flakes, plus the rest in the tin, is the ticket for me-- which is why I rub out or cube cut first. More contact with the air.
This may seem like a lot of trouble and it may not work for everyone, but I'm convinced that for me it's the secret to getting the best out of Vas.

 

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
2,344
15
To me Virginias have to be very dry and smoked slowly. I can get them dry enough but I am natural born puffer.

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
As a former cig smoker, I gravitated to Va's right away. I'd been smoking Drum RYO for years and the papers I'd get in a tin of that were the best I've ever used.

Drum became so expensive that I went online and found 'pipe' tobacco to substitute. OHM, specifically. I kept searching for papers I could tolerate and had no real luck. Then I got the bright idea to bypass papers altogether.

I picked up a cob and smoked the ohm, inhaling. I think it was this website that sparked my looking further into this pipe smoking thing along with more 'sophisticated' tobacco.

My very first acquisitions toward pipe fulfillment were 14oz of SWR and a pouch of CBwhite.

Next, in short order came PS LBE and PS Peaches & Creme. Next came Escudo and JKP. PS LuxFlake, Mc's2015, and Newminster's Superior slices. I will not reorder the CB or the PS aro. The others are all nice tasty smokes that I've learned to smoke w/o inhaling and sip their sweet virginia flavor. Flakes, coins and slices of pressed VA and other stuff require breathing room in a smaller bowl and slow smoking.

In fact, the pack is probably the biggest impediment to pipe enjoyment.

 

drennan

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2014
344
0
Normandy
I get a lot of flavor notes on the exhale, when I exhale through my schnoz. I do get alot more flavour on the snork, it's a pretty big difference IMO
The biggest thing with VAs is technique -- mainly not overheating. Otherwise, VAs taste like soot and hot air. I would certainly agree with that, something I struggled with at first. Slow ain't slow enough
It took some getting used to but from what I gathered from my own experience was that it was about 20% interpretation and 80% preparation. It took me a while to figure this out too. I ended up drying out flakes for different times and recording the results in tasting notes. Whilst a bit anal it certainly helped me get the most from certain flakes.

 

andya27

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2014
501
0
This post may belong in a different thread, but for me it applies to this question.
I find that taking a week off from smoking every once in a while does wonders for clearing the palate. When I get to the place where I can't taste Orlik Golden Sliced, I know it's time to take a tobacco vacation. And for me, a vacation means a week or so. As I don't seem to be in any way addicted to the nicotine, this is not big deal for me. My experience is that a day or two usually isn't enough time - my mouth wants a good break - and so a week vacation from smoking has always worked so far. Whether this is more psychological than physiological I don't know, but it works for me.
Yesterday I tried to smoke Escudo, and it tasted like I was licking a well-used ashtray. Time for a smoking vacation.
By the way, the suggestion that technique with Virginias is something I've found true. Of course, I could probably say that with all tobaccos. The cooler I smoke, and the slower I smoke, the more I can taste.
Another thing that helps is that taste is strongly associated with smell. So I let the exhaled tobacco waft over my face and breathe the aroma. This helps my taste buds acclimate to the tobacco.

 

kimbiker

Member
Apr 3, 2014
144
0
I don't like the taste/aroma of OGS or Escudo type tobacc's...think perigue is obvously not my thing. Macbarens ODF, Germains rich dark flake, Sinclairs Highland slice...all Virginia heaven.

 

bulldogbriar89

Preferred Member
Oct 3, 2014
644
0
well I only use 2 pipes for virginias and I clean them after use, but I have to agree with all of the above ( I smoke allot of OGF) and I think both the pipe you use,and Technique (how fast you smoke it, and how you pack) it all come into getting the best experience out of smoking a Virginia.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
17,944
132
My Virginia pipes are solely dedicated to Virginias and some for VaPers. I sometimes will smoke a Virginia from one of my latakia pipes, but only to enjoy the mix of ghost along with certain Virginias.
I am not one to say that Virginias or VaPers aren't for beginners. I started off early with Virginias, myself. But, if it is becoming a struggle or frustration, or you don't like the flavor (or lack thereof), and you enjoy your latakias, why switch? ...or force it?
I barely ever smoke a latakia. It's just not a flavor or aroma that I enjoy. But, if you enjoy them, and are looking for something different, you might try some of the stronger oriental blend or VaBurs with Dark Fired. The flavor will come easier for you, and won't disrupt or infringe on your enjoyment of latakias.

 

brudnod

Preferred Member
Aug 26, 2013
938
0
Great Falls, VA
Preface: I am very sensitive to nicotine and my wife does not like the smell of strong pipe tobacco on my exhale (after smoking). My favorite tobacco is MV-1000, a straight mild, mature Virginia smoke. But if I smoke it after something stronger then go back to MV-1000 it tastes rather bland. So most my selections are mild and Virginia tobaccos. Slow: true.

 

krizzose

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
1,078
32
Michigan
I improved my experience with a couple of Virginia blends by smoking them in smaller pipes. That seems counter-intuitive, but what were flat and bland blends to me became much rounder and deeper in smaller bowled pipes.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,947
120
Granted people taste different tobaccos and different blends differently. One persons delight is harsh or revolting to someone

else. But since you don't seem to have any pronounced aversion to Virginia blends, maybe you're just trying too hard.

My pleasure with Virginia's is subtle. It sneaks up on me. It's sort of like peripheral vision, except it's taste and smell.

Puff it while your attention is directed elsewhere, like while you're reading or doing Forums. Don't make it the center of

your attention. Sometimes expectations get in the way of the experience itself. Try letting Virginia's come to you. See

what happens. Let us know.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,617
119
So I let the exhaled tobacco waft over my face and breathe the aroma. This helps my taste buds acclimate to the tobacco.
I only smoke outdoors, so that doesn't work for me. But exhaling through the old schnozzola does the trick.