What is the BEST American Virginia blend?

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hiplainsdrifter

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2012
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Looking for you nominations for your one (1) best American tinned Virginia blend. I have a cellar full of awesome English/Euro Virginia blends, but only a few American. VaPers are OK for your nomination, but nothing with latakia. My favorite thus far are some of the older vintages of McCranie's Red Ribbon.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,150
484
Aurora by McClelland is one of my favorites. Good stuff. Flue-cured, tangy, a nice mix of citrus and deeper earthy notes in there too.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
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How convenient, today I had a bowl of McClelland 2000 Fragrant Matured Cake, and Sutliff Elizabethan Match (about nine hours apart).
Fragrant Matured Cake was mildly sweet and fairly consistent throughout.

Elizabethan match was intensely sweet from the get-go, it did have the downside of some bitterness halfway through, but other than that it almost reminded me of the great VaPers. It probably has some casing to encourage the sweetness on the charring light, but it still has some virginia flavour at the end and it has the characteristic VA aftertaste I get with FVF and Escudo. There were a lot of stems in the mix, you can tell it's cheap, but it was good too.

I have tried almost everything McClelland has to offer in the Virginia category and they're all flat. I can find some reviews agreeing with me that the primary traits of McClelland are a starchy flavour and somewhat light on taste otherwise, so I can't be the only person.

I know my tastebuds are not into subtlety, but I cannot find anything they make that comes remotely close to the best VaPer blends on the market.
Cosmic, do you actually get sweetness out of a fresh McClelland Virginia blend or are you smoking something that's been aged more than a year?
(I will note Deep Hollow was decent but it was also definitely an aromatic.)

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
1,977
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(takes deep breath)

Ok, people (variety of reviews) honestly describe McClelland 2015 as having bold flavour, and I have no reason not to believe them. I've seen none of it personally, but it must be in there waiting to come out in two or three years.
In the meantime, Sutliff Elizabethan match is good stuff.

What little info I can find says it's a pure VaPer with no topping, so it should get even better. The bitterness I note must have been me enjoying it too much (fast puffing).

 

buroak

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2014
1,858
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ANYTHING made by McClelland,end of story.
I concur. McClelland has the best American Virginias. I would, though, be hard pressed to select just one to stand above the others - my hankerings are too variable.
frozenchurchwarden, I am not sure what accounts for your experience with McClelland blends. I have smoked "fresh" McClelland tobaccos and some with a couple years of age (or more), and I have never felt the tobaccos were flat.

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
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Butera golden cake. It tells the whole story of what American bright leaf is all about.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,243
447
Tres ordinaire, but I like McClellands 5100. I'm aging some Dark Star; Forums members have spoken well of it. The cut is uneven, but I am used to prepping flake and plug, so that is not an issue for me.

 

billypm

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2013
302
1
So who exactly ARE the non-McClelland US producers of straight Va blends? Don't say Butera, cuz those are McClelland, too. If Wessex is a stateside firm I'll gladly give them a huge vote.

 

escioe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2013
702
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McCranie's Red Flake or Ribbon

GL Pease Union Square
I list two because why not.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,150
484
frozenchurchwarden, yes, but it didn't come easy getting to the point to where I could discern the flavors. If someone went back and traced my posts from the very first one, to now, they could see the journey. I can now almost tell the differences between the pure Virginias.
Those you noted all have casings to boost the flavors. To me at this point, those almost come across as Aromatics. But, once you can discern tastes between Virginias, it will broaden your understanding of the flavors of Virginia based Englishes and Balkans, and just about all of the other blends. But, no, unless you start with Virginias, it takes some work and focus.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
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As far as I know McClelland, Cornell & Diehl, and Sutliff are the only widely distributed blenders in the US.
Maybe we should add Russ Oulette for getting the SPC blends out there, Mississippi River may be an English but I still thought it was primarily Virginia (I have no idea really), and we'll see how Deception Pass turns out (only hearing good things thus far).
(Thanks Cosmic, I always appreciate your advice.)

 

hiplainsdrifter

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2012
981
0
This thread has become as contentious as I had intended. :twisted: I notice some people are having a hard time sticking to the specified paramaters- American tinned, straight VA or VaPer. So far I am thinking that Union Square should be on my short list. Dark Star sounds interesting too.

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
2
McCranie's Red Ribbon.
Well ... you already started with the bar raised high! :)
Two of my favorites that are Virginia and American are McClelland Blackwoods Flake and Christmas Cheer (older the better)
McClelland St. James Woods is my pick for an American Va/Per ... hard to beat IMHO!