If this plug had been created by a woodcarver and put on display, I would call it art - I would hail that craftsman as a master! I have spent many hours just looking at this plug and lamenting the passing of such exquisite craftsmanship in the preparation of fine tobacco, even though this was originally what you over the pond would call an OTC. OH! For the days when the everyday and mundane was done with pride and care!!!
I have just wallowed in ownership of this plug. Absorbed its glossy sheen. Been tantalised by its hidden promise. Been terrified by its reputation, wondering am I man enough. But, ultimately, I suppose, worried by its potential to disappoint.
This plug has been around for many years, in heaven only knows what conditions it's been kept before landing through my letter box. Would it be a limp and pale reflection of its former glory? A sad and bitter disappointment after all the expectation I have heaped on it? Could it live up to promises it never even made? Had it seen better days?
So, for the past few months I've been looking and pondering. Late at night as I try to sleep I imagine I hear the muffled snarle of this caged animal discontented in its confinement. If it could get its paws on me it would show me what for. In the mornings, I open my draw just to check it's still there in its jar and not waiting to leap out massacre me at the breakfast table before I've had a chance to have at least one last strong coffe.
This is how I have been thinking about this plug. I'm curious, excited, cautious, but ultimately terrified of its potential or possibly it's complete lack of potential.
So, anyway, the day came. I'd been busy, cutting wood being manly, and I felt emboldened. As I cut and split wood the notion just appeared and solidified. Today was the day. Once I'd done the work (to my mind, anyway), I washed-up, got clean and calm. Out with the heavy chopping board, and clean the cleaver. Retrieve the plug from it isolation in the bottom draw.
Why the cleaver? This is, without a doubt, the most solid, dense, impregnable plug of tobacco I have ever come across. Put this in a sock and swing it around your head and you have a lethal weapon. Load up a caterpault and this thing would make mince meat of an angry bull elephant. If I'd had something bigger, I'd have used it. No Katana in the house so cleaver it was.
I have never enjoyed shaving a plug so much as I have this one - because it's so rare - because I am a very lucky fellow - because I'm about to try something very very few people will now get a chance to try. I cut enough for one bowl. Why get greedy? Plenty of time for more? I've been patient thus far, let's not spoil it at the finish, eh?
I had a couple of nice slices, fairly even. Still had my fingers including the tips! Success. I was going to cube cut it, but given its potential strength I thought I'd rub it out. Also, this, while reasonably rehydrated, was still some solid lumps of tobacco, and I didn't want to be battling to light it and keep it lit. The slices were very dark, but had some lovely mahogany streaks in them, more towards the centre of the slices - you may notice that in the pictures. When rubbed out, the lighter colours were more obvious, and while reassuring, this was still very much a very, very dark tobacco. I assumed from age, though maybe it was quite dark to start with.
There was little to no noticeable aroma from this, at least not holding it some way from the face, as you can with a freshly opened tin. Up close and personal there was the remnants of a tobacco smell. It would once have been a deep, earthy, moist aroma - now it was faint, it hinted at past glory. This did not bode well. I thought this was going to be a disappointment. My spirits sank.
I loaded my pipe. The instrument of choice was a venerable old pre- Republic Pete I'd picked up in a junk shop and restored. It had to be a Peterson, as this was a tobacco made by the quintessential Irish tobacco manufacturers. Nothing else would do. Also, had to be a straight, not a system, so that I got the full experience of this tobacco. So, pipe loaded. Teapot ready. Off to the greenhouse.
I did a charring light - literally 2-3 short puffs holding the match over the tobacco, and then put the pipe down to rest. Remember, gently does it, patience. Held the smoke in my mouth, then exhaled through my nose slowly, hardly daring to acknowledge the sensations. Thin wispy smoke, from tiny, pathetic puffs. Even so, I was expecting a buzz-saw to my nostril; to fold over in agony as this animal ripped my membranes from my face and danced on them, leering at me all the while for my impertinence of daring to think I was man enought to challenge it.
It was sublime.
I had to take stock, as I was a little shocked. I sipped some tea. I sniffed the air - pleasant aroma - nothing over powering. My face was still intact. Nose where it should be. This is good. Though I must admit to being disappointed at not getting to be wheeled into causality and people shaking their heads at the folly of my actions, while secretly thinking how bold I was to tackle WARHORSE. Dreamland again! I didn't even contemplate the flavours of the tobacco at this point. Sadly, that moment is gone for good, and I missed it completely.
So I went for the main light, fully expecting it to spring on me and maul me. What I got was just the smoothest smoke I have ever tasted. This stuff was silk. Absolutely NO harshness, no kick, no surge of acidity, no miscreant behaviour of any type. It took light easily and evenly (more by chance than any design on my part). I sipped gently. Deep, rich, lustrous taste. Smooth, smooth, smooth. Denseness like I really can't describe. If all other tobaccos had a depth of flavour akin to sand falling through your fingers, this was like rich, vital, loamy soil fresh after a summer shower.
The smoke was thick, and clung to my mouth.
This has been compared to the mighty condor. PAH!!!! Condor plug is king in my book - the smoke is dense and fragrant. - the flavour is beyond anything else you will ever smoke. But, and I don't say this lightly: Condor Plug is the weak, skinny, sickly, but handsome, younger brother of Warhorse,. This is smoking the very earth we walk on. Smoking this I felt I should be striding majestically and purposefully across the land, in search of adventure, fearing nothing, and everything fearing me (albeit I would be a kindly tyrant).
This does not have Condors fragrance, or the oft maligned "Lakeland" (however you define it). This is no aromatic. This is TOBACCO - pure and simple and strong........but, oh, so smooth. If this were personified it would be a medieval knight, vicious, courageous, strong, resilient, but gentle and charming in female company. It is manly in the right way. It has strength, depth of character, resolve, but knows how to use it. It doesn't bully or flaunt itself. It is humble, unassuming, reassuring, companionable.
Back to the smoke. I won't say I didn't relight, or that I smoked it all the way down in only two lights. I took it gently and let the tobacco dictate the pace. Sipped tea. Pondered. Let the tobacco die gracefully. Relit as and when needed and progressed at a leisurely pace. As I did so, I noticed more in the taste. A lovely pepperiness developed and got more prominent the further down the bowl I smoked. It complimented the main pure strong tobacco taste excellently - neither overpowering or dominating the other. The smoke was full and rich. It was like a liquid merangue that had managed defy gravity and flow upward. Every puff was exhaled nasally - no harshness - even to the bottom of the bowl.
I spent a good hour in my little patch of heaven. I concluded that this tobacco is the old, world weary tom cat curled up contentedly in front of a glowing fire on a cold and wet winters evening having done his days prowling. He will let you rub his ears. Tickle his tummy. Revel in his soft, fur warmed by the fire.
BUT, make no mistake, this battered, unassuming old moggy has the DNA and heritage of his ancestress, and living wild cousins. He has claws, and by heck are they sharp, penetrating and lethal when taken unawares - it's in his very nature. Why do I say this? Well, having finished the bowl, and glowing in the hour of bliss I had just experienced. Having had all hopes and expectations surpassed bar one, I was feeling a little smug, maybe, a little off guard.
I had misjudged my new friend. It had beguiled me like the Sirens of old. I was doomed. I was in love. But the price was heavy - the claws were out. I stood up to go indoors and that's when I was pounced upon.
I have smoked for 29 years. First pipe at 14. Since then I smoked players navy cut, Sweet Afton, senior service, and all sorts of pipe tobaccos, and cigars. Now only pipes and the occasional cigar. Never, and I repeat, never, have I been buzzed by nicotine, or felt Ill. Until now. I actually had to go lie down for approximately 40 minutes - my stomach churned, my head swam. I'm still not sure how I made it indoors, but I did. I have never encountered nicotine like it. Amazing. Wonderful. The kick in the head I had been expecting initially. The beating I saw coming but then forgot about during the smoke. This was no chivalrous knight, this was a marauding Norse God, come to wreak havoc on a mere mortal who had dared to look him in the eye. He strode majestically across the universe while I meekly looked on and thanked my gods that he was moving away from me now.
I put the plug back in the jar and sealed it. Small bowled pipes from now on. After a meal fit for a condemned man, and then a bit more just to be sure.
So, the smoothest, richest, flavourful smoke I have experience, but with a kick to knock you into the middle of the 19th century. Maybe I'm hyping it, because a lot of to is about time, place, expectations, etc, etc, plus the exclusivity of the tobacco. Maybe not. All I know is that this is a beautiful plug, a wonderous smoke, a sublime taste, but a cruel mistress, for the unprepared.
Condor is still King - but only in the modern world, and because of longevity - in another time, Warhorse would be undefeated. It was named well. If I could, this would be my smoke de jour. for now, I have 1 and a half plugs of this in my meager cellar. But, I am a rich man for having it. It will be wheeled out sparingly, when I want to celebrate, commiserate, or simply reaffirm my own fragile mortality.
Sorry for the waffle - only my second tobacco review. Not really a review, more of an experience. Hope it makes sense to some of you.
Totally worth the 6 month wait. But now I must say I may be just a tad bit jealous LOL! I will need to try condor now if I can get my hands on some to try and get a better grasp on warhorse. Thanks for the read
Thanks, Gents. Much appreciated.
Dryseason, yes most of those packets contain tobacco. But, no harm to email the chap just to confirm when you see one you want. He's a good fella to deal with - just be patient . I bought a Condor Pigtail and 2 Condor Twists, amongst other bits and bobs, from him. But, that's another story altogether.
I think you get the gist of where I'm at with Condor (Rubbed, Long Cut and Plug). I have more of this in my stash than anything else.
Talk about having the ability to convey a unique experience, it was great reading about all this with all the vivid details and how you set the atmosphere totally put me there in my minds eye.
Absolutely top shelf,
I enjoyed the hell outta reading it and indeed this whole thread has been a real treat.
Remember that Condor Plug you so kindly sent over? Again I thank you!
Well, I had much of the same trepidation with it as you describe, didn't know if it was gonna knock me on my ass or harsh me out or taste yucky, but when I finally did smoke it, inna briar, I had a full-on classic Condor Moment for sure, it's really deep, pleasant, satisfying and surprisingly refreshing.
I'm so glad you had the chance to experience the WarHorse, and I'm glad it smoked well, and I'm really glad you've taken the time to take us all there with you, I felt like I had also shared a bowlful too smoking the very earth we walk on and enchanted by the fog of times gone by...
Wow. I wish I could write reviews like this one. I'm beginning to develop more of a palate when smoking, but I can't imagine how much I haven't found out yet about the tobaccos I've tried. Great review! A fun read.
Someone gave me a dehydrated Gallaher twist some years ago. It smoked fine, but I was told that it was no longer made. No Warhorse has come my way, but I believe that that is due to the distance it would need to travel to find me and that what there is is being smoked by, in this case, my more fortunate overseas brothers.
Thanks for all the smashing comments, fellas - it's really very much appreciated. But, as Wilson says, it's really 'well done all round'.
Mike, I've got 1 &1/2ozs of Gallahers twist sitting in a jar - and a 1/4 oz of pig tail! Might have to have at it, sometime in the near future.
Kyle, I'm really stoked you had a Condor moment - that's absolutely cracker - it is surely one of the all-time great plugs. Well, at the very least, it's a good 'un!! Also, thank you for your contribution to this thread. Mate, you bring something out of the ordinary when you contribute - I ALWAYS learn something new and interesting when you chime in - your enthusiasm and research add a totally new dimension to a topic and give it greater substance. Keep it up - I'm enjoying the education.