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Straight Virginias Get a Bad Rap

(19 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by mikephillips
  • Latest reply from rmbittner
  1. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    I've been playing with blending tobaccos a little, and have picked up some straight bright VA ribbon, among other tobaccos, and quite frankly, because of my experience with other VA blends biting me so bad when I rush just a little, I've been about half afraid of it. Still, you have to know what your tools in your toolbag are like, so a few weeks ago when I first got it, I smoked a small bowl of it straight (in a tiny leetle dublin I have, bowl the size of your fingernail) and was surprised because it didn't bite at all. But, I figured it was because of the small bowl, short smoke, and dry tobacco.

    So this evening when I got home, I figured I needed to "do the deed" in a bigger pipe. Loaded up a cob and away I went. NO BITE. So I smoked faster. STILL NO BITE. So I start huffing like a choo-choo, and finally started to get a bit of a burn (by this time my pipe is hot enough it's uncomfortable to touch it and it's cob) so I backed off a minute, then finished the bowl. Ten minutes later, I load up a slightly bigger bowl, STILL NO BITE, and I'm sitting here puffing away, enjoying the hell out of it at this very moment (if you haven't smoked pure, un-adultered bright VA, you should, it's an amazingly pleasant smoke) and trying to decide which pipe I'm loading up with it next, 'cause this is some fantastic shit, if a little mild to suit me. Tomorrow I'm going to take a few ounces of this VA and press it with an equal amount of perique and see what I end up with. And really, I don't even care what I end up with because it can only get better than it is, adding perique to the mix (which I love just by itself), and it's great just as it is.

    So here is the problem: Everybody talks about how a "Straight VA will bite", and I'm included in that list of everybody. Not only that, I've experienced it repeatedly. When I smoke a blend I buy that has alot of VA in it, it bites the crap out of me if I'm not careful. About the only one that doesn't is Escudo, and even that will get me if I get a bit carried away.

    Can anyone explain this to me? Is it the casing, topping, other tobaccos in the blend that bit, or what? Seriously, this borders on the magnitude of a frigging religious experience, finding that PURE BRIGHT VA isn't biting like I expected it to. Why the hell didn't I do this 20 years ago?

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    lestrout

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    mike - I supposed Stokkebye Virginia Long Cut is a RYO/blender, and got some in a trade. I agree with you that something like this doesn't necessarily bite. Maybe the specific alkalinity is the culprit with some of the VA biters.

    hp
    les

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. bootlegbonvivant

    bootlegbonvivant

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    For me, the VA isn't much of the problem at all. I enjoy my straight VAs more than some of the other VA blends. What I seem to have an issue with is the amount of Perique that are in many VaPers. Very light amounts of perique and I'm fine.

    I think, honestly, it all depends on what VA is mixed with. The more sugar content from added flavorings, and of course, different types of tobacco can and will change the complete package of the VA. I guess, you could say, it changes the chemistry.

    Southerners don't talk slow because they're dumb, we do it because there's really no rush.
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    For one thing, if it's as dry as you say, your straight virginia's proclivity to bite is considerably ameliorated.

    For another, our tastes change. Our smoking style changes. I'm betting, going in to this, you were expecting the ol' familiar virginia bite. Think about why you didn't get it. It's not so much the tobacco. It's you.

    Congratulations and welcome to the world of virginias. Take your time, pick up those subtleties, and enjoy. It's a wonderful place.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    Mostly I think it's about not fully understanding why most VA's get me at least a little, but this one doesn't. Did a little more reading, turns out it's no mystery why this one didn't bite....brighter VA's = more natural sugars = less tendency to bite. Seems that the sugars, when burning, become acidic and help neutralize the alkali in the smoke which leads to less tongue bite, and is why unprocessed burleys and darker VA's can be so hard on the tongue. I've been a pipe smoker for many years and probably haven't changed the way I smoke in the last 15, so it's unlikely I'm doing anything different, and in fact I tried to get bit a little when it didn't happen on its own at first and had to really overheat my cob to make that happen.

    So now that I understand a little better, and know that it isn't VA's in general, I'm fairly confident I can put together a Navy style flake that will suit me. Only problem is that I'm starting to run short on perique and will need a few more pounds before I can try it on anything but a small scale. But that's OK, as I need to test my theory in ounces, first, before jumping into pounds. Trying to decide now whether I'm going to just press it and cut into a flake, or build something to compress rolled tobacco leaves so I can cut it into coins...

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Interesting. You might enjoy G&H CR Bright Virginia Flake. I jarred a pound of it recently and it's good; will only get better with a few years on it.

    http://www.smokingpipes.com/tobacco/by-maker/gawith-hoggarth/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=4011

    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    I'm going to try several straight VA flakes I haven't tried yet because of bite concerns, and that's one near the top of my list. Thanks

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. thesmokindragon

    thesmokindragon

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    What I have read (correct me if I'm wrong), it is because the high sugar content of
    a pure V and over heating them, chemistry.. and that causes the high
    PH/imbalance change, which will cause the burn/bite

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. cortezattic

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    Two straight Va flakes (well, broken flakes) that everyone should try are:
    Samuel Gawith Medium Virginia Flake
    4th Generation 1855 by Erik Stokkebye

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    .
    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    I thoroughly enjoy straight Virginias. . . but I've noticed that when folks here ask for straight Virginia recommendations, they usually get suggestions for Virginia/perique blends. I find that baffling. Because straight Virginias -- particularly matured-Virginia and stoved-Virginia flakes -- are some of my favorite tobaccos. I'm constantly recommending Full Virginia Flake, Old Gowrie, Dark Star, Royal Vintage: Dark Stoved, and others of that type. Some do need more care than others to reap the most benefits, but in my opinion they are definitely worth it. (And the character is much different than a Virginia/perique blend.)

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Mike, here is my list of Va and Vaper Flakes that have no bite for me. I cannot smoke much if any red Virginia's due to a body chemistry thing so all of my favorites have little or none. The TR next to the name designates ready to smoke out of the tin with no drying time. I smoke all of these on a regular basis and never have to deal with tongue bite.

    Virginia Flakes:
    Fribourg&Treyer Cut Virginia Plug
    Fribourg and Treyer Vintage
    Wessex Campaign Brigade Dark Flake
    Wessex Brown Virginia Flake TR
    Wessex Gold Virginia Flake TR
    Wessex Gold Brick
    Samuel Gawith Best Brown Flake
    Samuel Gawith full Virginia Flake
    Hamborger Veermaster
    Dunhill Flake TR
    Astley’s no. 44 Dark Flake TR
    Solani Silver Flake TR
    John Aylesbury Luxury Flake TR
    Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired
    Esoterica Stonehaven
    Rotary Navy Cut
    Petersons Irish Flake
    GL Pease Navigator

    Virginia/Perique Flakes
    Escudo
    Solani 633 TR
    Samuel Gawith St James Flake
    Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    cigrmaster:

    Just to clarify, though, there are a number of Virginia/burley flakes in the "Virginia Flakes" list. (In fact, I'd categorize some as primarily burley flakes with some Virginia.)

    Not that I don't love a good burley/Virginia flake. But they'll bring qualities to the mix that you wouldn't get with a straight Virginia.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Bob, I know that the Stonehaven and Old Dark Fired are burley/va's, but I figured Mike might like to maybe try one, I find they are fantastic and they have no bite. Which other ones do you see that are burley..Silver Flake? Plus I was too lazy too separate the va's. lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    cigrmaster:

    Didn't mean to be so nit-picky! It's just that I think there's a big difference -- in definition as well as in flavors and smoking characteristics -- between straight Virginias and blends that combine Virginias with perique, burley, and additional flavors (like rum, cocoa, whisky, etc.). I'm not disparaging those blends; I'm just saying that they aren't, technically, straight Virginias. (So. . . I guess that is nit-picky, isn't it?) If someone's trying to understand exactly what straight VIrginias are. . .

    Anyway, several of those on your list do include added flavorings. But I had in mind the ones you named, plus Peterson's Irish Flake, Pease's Navigator, and, yes, the Solani Silver Flake.

    I have to add, though, that I've been so narrowly focused on the straight Virginias I already enjoy that I've been overlooking many other options, which your list brought to light. (Great. More options. Just what I need.)

    Finally: Stonehaven. Um, yes, "great" is an understatement, IMO. Smoking it now and relishing every moment with it.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. cortezattic

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    Ummm, I think Old Gowrie has Kentucky and Perique in it.

    OTOH, Orlik Golden Sliced, which everybody says has Burley in it, actually has Perique.
    (Doesn't matter though, it seems that nobody can taste the Perique.)

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I'm told that many, if not most "virginia" offerings have some burley in them to round them out, and those don't usually advertise this on the label.

    Many, also have a topping (a sugar is most often used, but a liquor, fruit, and the like is not uncommon).

    For me, a little Perique goes a long way so I'm not in love with more than a few Va/Pers.

    I do enjoy some "impure" virginias (such as HH MV and a number of others) and dislike certain "pure" virginias (such McB Va #1 and SG FVF).

    Hey, smoke what you like and like what you smoke.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    Finally: Stonehaven. Um, yes, "great" is an understatement, IMO. Smoking it now and relishing every moment with it.

    I'm that way with this brown irish twist....Maybe not the perfect smoke for me, but it's unlikely it'll ever drop below my top 3. Love the brown rope #4, too, but it was out of stock when I made my last order, so it'll have to wait for the next.

    For me, a little Perique goes a long way so I'm not in love with more than a few Va/Pers.

    I'm the opposite. I love perique, to the point where I'm reasonably content smoking it straight. Only reason that isn't my constant companion is because I always feel like it's missing something when I light it up by itself (duh....virginias)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. cortezattic

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    Yup. I heard the same thing. No such thing as a "pure", un-ameliorated tobacco leaf.
    Either Pease, Ouellette, or Per Jensen (Mac Baren).

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. rmbittner

    rmbittner

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    Old Gowrie has Kentucky and Perique in it.

    It absolutely does not. I've smoked a number of tins of Old Gowrie, and I'm unable to smoke any blends with perique in them. And I would notice the flavor of Kentucky immediately.

    Bob

    Posted 1 year ago #

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