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McClelland Dark Star Review: Not What I Expected

(19 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by shaintiques
  • Latest reply from jefff
  1. shaintiques

    shaintiques

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    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.

    I know what I need, smoke, I can't recall the last time I tasted it....Gandalf in the mines of Moria.

    "we shall have to share pipes, as good friends must at a pinch'....'I keep a treasure or two near my skin, as precious as rings to me. Here's one: my old wooden pipe. And here's another an unused one...He held up a small pipe with a wide flattened bowl, and handed it to Gimli. 'Does that settle the score between us', said Merry. 'Most noble hobbit, it leaves me deep in your debt."
    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. mrenglish

    mrenglish

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    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.

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. huntertrw

    huntertrw

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    This thread brought to mind another, started by cobguy last year, and which may be found in the Pipe Tobacco Discussion forum. Its title was "Ode to Dark Star."

    Love Me, Love My Pipe
    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    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.

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. cobguy

    Darin

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. tarak

    tarak

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    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....

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. salewis

    salewis

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. huntertrw

    huntertrw

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    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!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. shaintiques

    shaintiques

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. mso489

    mso489

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. peteguy

    peteguy

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    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?

    De gustibus et cloribus non disputandum.
    'There is no arguing about tastes and colours.'
    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. cobguy

    Darin

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. settersbrace

    settersbrace

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    pilotage16

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    I've been avoiding dark star for some reason, maybe I will have to give it a try.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. brass

    brass

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    Got a tin of Dark Star, on deck. Look forward to trying it. Dark Navy Flake is terrific. I hope DS is as good.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. tarheel1

    tarheel1

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    I love dark star. Was almost out and got ahold of some 2035 to compare.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. fluffie666

    fluffie666

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    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!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. jefff

    jefff

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    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.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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