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In Praise of Rattray and Esoterica

(7 posts)
  1. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    Don't get me wrong: I love a lot of blends from GLPease, McClelland, the Gawiths, Dan Tobacco, Robert McConnell, and Robert Lewis. But I think if I were restricted to just one or two brands, the top of my list would have to be filled by Rattray and Esoterica.

    Apart from the flavor and quality of these companies' blends, one of the main draws for me is the simple fact that their ranges are fairly limited. Because neither company has dozens of blends in their line-up, it's easy to go through their lists and sample everything they produce. That makes it possible to really dig in and get a very well-rounded sense of each brand's "house style": The flavors/aromas they focus on, the tobaccos that typify their blends, their philosophy -- if you will -- of tobacco blending. I love that. I look at some other companies, and their lists are so overwhelming, I tend to pick a handful of mixtures and then stick with them. (I compare it to reading. If you really want to get a well-rounded sense of an author, it's much less daunting to pick up a Dan Brown novel -- of which there are only a few -- than to dive into Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates.)

    As a result, I've discovered that I like virtually everything I've tried from both companies.

    Rattray does three amazing Virginia-forward blends (Old Gowrie, Hal o' the Wynd, Marlin Flake), some amazing blends that bring unflavored cavendish into the mix (Jocks Mixutre, Black Mallory, 7 Reserve), and some oriental/Turkish-forward blends that set a high standard for that style (Highland Targe, Red Rapparee).

    I'm still digging into the Esoterica range (a challenge, given the limited availability lately), but this company also works wonders with the addition of cavendish to rich blends like Penzance and Margate. And So to Bed is a lighter take on that style, resulting in something that makes it very hard not to just keep refilling the pipe. And, for me, Stonehaven is the Virginia/Burley flake by which all others should be judged: rich, mellow, smooth, surprisingly sweet and not a bit harsh. (Esoterica also produces flakes unlike any others I've encountered: soft, easy to crumble. . . like velvet on the fingertips.)

    Sure, their limited lists mean that you're not going to find a true Balkan here or anything in the style of an American aromatic. But if you've never paid much attention to these companies outside of some of their Big Names (Hal o' the Wynd and Penzance, respectively), I'd really encourage you to give them a chance and explore everything their ranges have to offer.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. brewshooter

    Brewshooter

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    I've tried all the Esoterica blends you mentioned except Margate. I also enjoy Tilbury and Blackpool from them. I have a tin of Rattray's Hal O' the Wynd, but haven't opened it yet. I enjoy their Black Mallory immensely!

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    -C. S. Lewis, English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)
    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    I wish I could smoke the Rattray's Virginia's but unfortunately they have too much Red Virginia's in them for me. I have tried them all and really like the flavors, but alas they burn my tongue very badly.

    I am a huge fan of Stonehaven and it is now my number one bulk blend. I used to be a huge fan of Penzance when I smoked English blends and also enjoyed Dunbar and Dorchester when I used to smoke shags and ready rubbed blends. I think both companies make some very high quality blends, my only bitch is with Esoterica and their inability to satisfy the demand for Stonehaven.

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. papipeguy

    papipeguy

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    For something on the sweet side I recommend Rattray's Bagpiper's Dream. Several cuts to it and the cognac flavor is wonderful.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    One blend not mentioned that I enjoy is Esoterica Dorchester. I jarred a half pound of some new stuff recently. I'll pop an aged jar of it from the cellar when I get a hankerin' -- it is a Va/Per made to my liking.

    But you know ... Esoterica brings a whole new meaning to the word patience LOL. Better stock up when you see it cuz just about all of their blends disappears almost at the same time it hits the shelves.

    I always have a few 100g tins of Rattray Hal O' the Wynd in my cellar as well. When I decide to open one, another tin goes on the next order.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. matchstickman

    Pipe Novelist

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    I have a tin of just about everything Esoterica makes except for ...And So To Bed and the ever elusive Penzance. They all sound really good and I am waiting for all of them to age before I pop any of them open. I dont have a whole lot of experience with Rattrays blends, but I do have tins of Black Mallory and Marlin Flake in the cellar and like papipeguy, I too have had some pretty good smokes with Bagpipers Dream, pretty tasty stuff.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. judcole

    Jud

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    I've smoked a goodly number of the Rattray blends over the years. Got a few I haven't tried - Marlin Flake and Red Rapparee,from the list above,but have also tried Accountant's and Professional. Really need to get some more Old Gowrie - haven't smoked any in much too long.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 1 year ago #

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