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The Art of Smoking Virginias

(31 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by loseth
  • Latest reply from tanzebjorn
  1. loseth

    loseth

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    Someone once told me that your palate can either distinguish the beauty of a virginia or it can not. I long to enjoy virginias, the aroma is beautiful. Everytime I smell my Orlik Golden Sliced flake tobacco I get confused as to why I can't get any flavour out of it other than burnt paper. Same with a couple other virginia blends I have, like Astleys Dark Virginia which smells awesome but tastes like crap everytime I try it. I can smoke Latakia blends and burley blends all day long if I wanted, but why can't I seem to get any flavour out of virginias? I want to enjoy my Orlik, I really want to buy some Capstan and try it, but frankly I'm afraid its pointless if I can't seem to smoke the virginias I have correctly.

    Any tips or do I just not have to palate? Is it possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. cosmicfolklore

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    If you are having issues with Orlik, you'll definitely have issues with Capstan. I drink coffee all day long, and when I try to drink green tea my daughter makes, I can't taste it. Mainly because my tastebuds were overwhelmed by the stronger flavored drink. If I smoke latakia early in the day, I cannot smoke a Virginia until the next day. I mean, I can smoke it, I'm just not going to taste it.

    When I got serious about Virginias, I just set aside all latakias and aromatics till I had learned what the flavor profiles were of the Virginia blends. Now, I will enjoy a bowl of latakia occasionally, but I also stay aware that I won't be able to taste my beloved Virginias for a while afterwards.

    I hope that helps.

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I think it is your tastebuds. Maybe your mouth does not pick up the sweet as well as it does the salty, bitter, and sour. As long as you can enjoy some types of tobacco, you are a still a winner.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Any tips or do I just not have to palate? Is it possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias?

    Until recently I was firmly in the"I don't get it" camp with regard to virginias. It either tasted like nothing, or moldy grass. Added to that was its propensity to heat up the bowl very quickly. So I wrote this off as something that I didn't have the knack to enjoy for one reason or another.
    A couple of months ago I came across a tin of Hal O The Wynd that I had put away after my last go round. I decided to give this spectrum another go. My initial response was that I still didn't see any there there. Pallid, bland, a little sweetness, not much else. But I was determined to give this a serious try. I decided to smoke nothing else, to immerse myself in what might be in the profile, and to experiment with different packing, different chambers, and ssssllllooooooowwwwwwwwwiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggggggg down my cadence.

    After a while, I found a practice that allowed the tobacco to deliver what it has to offer to me, and I've been enjoying various blends for the past several months, pretty much to the exclusion of any other varieties, such as English or Balkan. I get a lot of flavor notes on the exhale, when I exhale through my schnoz. Immersion and patience enabled me to focus in on what flavors are in these blends without diluting the experience.

    My experience says that it's eminently possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias. But I also take them on their own terms. A "bold" virginia blend isn't bold like a full bodied English/Oriental. None of these are "big" flavored tobaccos in an absolute sense. But within their more confined profile there's a lot of stuff going on in a nuanced way that is exceedingly pleasurable.

    That lone, dusty can of Hal has been joined by stacks of HOTW, BCDF, St Jame's Flake, Astley's 44, FVF, and Stonehaven.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. pitchfork

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    The biggest thing with VAs is technique -- mainly not overheating. Otherwise, VAs taste like soot and hot air.

    But the other factor is learning to recognize the flavors. I absolutely agree with the above -- the palate can be trained. I think the same is true of Latakia blends, burleys, etc., but VAs seem to be the most difficult.

    In any case, it shouldn't take long to figure out. And once you get used to smoking VAs and tasting them, it will seem like second nature.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    My experience says that it's eminently possible to train yourself to enjoy virginias. But I also take them on their own terms. A "bold" virginia blend isn't bold like a full bodied English/Oriental. None of these are "big" flavored tobaccos in an absolute sense.

    I found this particularly interesting. I smoke mostly burleys and some VAs, but maybe because I smoke them more often, burleys seem to my palate the most boldly flavored tobaccos in my rotation. Meanwhile, latakia blends (again, maybe because I dont' smoke them that often) seem a little on the thin side. The flavors are there alright, but they don't fill the mouth with flavor the way burleys do.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. salewis

    salewis

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    I have a friend that has smoked Dunhill's Mixture 365 for years. When I suggest a Virgina blend he stuffs in his pipe, which has only tasted Mixture 365, and he immediately announced this Virgina is crap. The reason is simple because he does not smoke Virgina's long enough to give them an honest try. Virgina tobaccos take a little time to get to enjoy the myriad of flavors. After smoking English blends for a long time Virginas are an acquired taste.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. sailorjeremy

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    I think smoking them in the right pipe is the other half of the problem. For me I get the most flavor out of a dry Virginia and a clean pipe with narrow or tapered bowl. Golden Sliced was a great VA introduction for me. It took some getting used to but from what I gathered from my own experience was that it was about 20% interpretation and 80% preparation.

    ~ Jeremy "Doc"

    "This is not recreation, this is therapy. This is essential... I consider the tobacco I put in my pipe all the grief and suffering. And I will burn it.”- US Navy Chaplain (RET) A.P. Sholtes
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    billypm

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    I'll add that smoking most Vas too moist will degrade the flavor, at least that's what my palate says.

    But I'll add this. Years ago I had opened, rubbed completely out, and dried a tin of Old Gowrie until it was definitely not moist to the touch, but far from bone dry. Smoked a bowl of it and thought...meh...I guess it's ok.Then I screwed the top back on the tin and promptly forgot about it for a month, after which I tried it again. Holy mackerel! It was sensational. Truly a transcendent smoke. So that is the little ordeal I now subject all my Virginias to, and I now favor them over all other baccies. It is my belief that not only the drying, but the airing out of the flakes, plus the rest in the tin, is the ticket for me-- which is why I rub out or cube cut first. More contact with the air.

    This may seem like a lot of trouble and it may not work for everyone, but I'm convinced that for me it's the secret to getting the best out of Vas.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. kcghost

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    To me Virginias have to be very dry and smoked slowly. I can get them dry enough but I am natural born puffer.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. newbroom

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    As a former cig smoker, I gravitated to Va's right away. I'd been smoking Drum RYO for years and the papers I'd get in a tin of that were the best I've ever used.
    Drum became so expensive that I went online and found 'pipe' tobacco to substitute. OHM, specifically. I kept searching for papers I could tolerate and had no real luck. Then I got the bright idea to bypass papers altogether.
    I picked up a cob and smoked the ohm, inhaling. I think it was this website that sparked my looking further into this pipe smoking thing along with more 'sophisticated' tobacco.
    My very first acquisitions toward pipe fulfillment were 14oz of SWR and a pouch of CBwhite.
    Next, in short order came PS LBE and PS Peaches & Creme. Next came Escudo and JKP. PS LuxFlake, Mc's2015, and Newminster's Superior slices. I will not reorder the CB or the PS aro. The others are all nice tasty smokes that I've learned to smoke w/o inhaling and sip their sweet virginia flavor. Flakes, coins and slices of pressed VA and other stuff require breathing room in a smaller bowl and slow smoking.
    In fact, the pack is probably the biggest impediment to pipe enjoyment.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. drennan

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    I get a lot of flavor notes on the exhale, when I exhale through my schnoz. I do get alot more flavour on the snork, it's a pretty big difference IMO

    The biggest thing with VAs is technique -- mainly not overheating. Otherwise, VAs taste like soot and hot air. I would certainly agree with that, something I struggled with at first. Slow ain't slow enough

    It took some getting used to but from what I gathered from my own experience was that it was about 20% interpretation and 80% preparation. It took me a while to figure this out too. I ended up drying out flakes for different times and recording the results in tasting notes. Whilst a bit anal it certainly helped me get the most from certain flakes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. andya27

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    This post may belong in a different thread, but for me it applies to this question.

    I find that taking a week off from smoking every once in a while does wonders for clearing the palate. When I get to the place where I can't taste Orlik Golden Sliced, I know it's time to take a tobacco vacation. And for me, a vacation means a week or so. As I don't seem to be in any way addicted to the nicotine, this is not big deal for me. My experience is that a day or two usually isn't enough time - my mouth wants a good break - and so a week vacation from smoking has always worked so far. Whether this is more psychological than physiological I don't know, but it works for me.

    Yesterday I tried to smoke Escudo, and it tasted like I was licking a well-used ashtray. Time for a smoking vacation.

    By the way, the suggestion that technique with Virginias is something I've found true. Of course, I could probably say that with all tobaccos. The cooler I smoke, and the slower I smoke, the more I can taste.

    Another thing that helps is that taste is strongly associated with smell. So I let the exhaled tobacco waft over my face and breathe the aroma. This helps my taste buds acclimate to the tobacco.

    -Andy
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    kimbiker

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    I don't like the taste/aroma of OGS or Escudo type tobacc's...think perigue is obvously not my thing. Macbarens ODF, Germains rich dark flake, Sinclairs Highland slice...all Virginia heaven.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. bulldogbriar89

    bulldogbriar89

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    well I only use 2 pipes for virginias and I clean them after use, but I have to agree with all of the above ( I smoke allot of OGF) and I think both the pipe you use,and Technique (how fast you smoke it, and how you pack) it all come into getting the best experience out of smoking a Virginia.

    "Sometimes I cannot help but to think that too often we transform our smoking practice into a fetish--chasing the vaunted and supreme--things with allure and cachet--whilst forgetting the simple pleasures of pipe smoking. Making things too complicated sure can lose some easy moments..."
    -Patrick (ae1pt)
    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. cosmicfolklore

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    My Virginia pipes are solely dedicated to Virginias and some for VaPers. I sometimes will smoke a Virginia from one of my latakia pipes, but only to enjoy the mix of ghost along with certain Virginias.

    I am not one to say that Virginias or VaPers aren't for beginners. I started off early with Virginias, myself. But, if it is becoming a struggle or frustration, or you don't like the flavor (or lack thereof), and you enjoy your latakias, why switch? ...or force it?

    I barely ever smoke a latakia. It's just not a flavor or aroma that I enjoy. But, if you enjoy them, and are looking for something different, you might try some of the stronger oriental blend or VaBurs with Dark Fired. The flavor will come easier for you, and won't disrupt or infringe on your enjoyment of latakias.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. brudnod

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    Preface: I am very sensitive to nicotine and my wife does not like the smell of strong pipe tobacco on my exhale (after smoking). My favorite tobacco is MV-1000, a straight mild, mature Virginia smoke. But if I smoke it after something stronger then go back to MV-1000 it tastes rather bland. So most my selections are mild and Virginia tobaccos. Slow: true.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. krizzose

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    I improved my experience with a couple of Virginia blends by smoking them in smaller pipes. That seems counter-intuitive, but what were flat and bland blends to me became much rounder and deeper in smaller bowled pipes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. mso489

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    Granted people taste different tobaccos and different blends differently. One persons delight is harsh or revolting to someone
    else. But since you don't seem to have any pronounced aversion to Virginia blends, maybe you're just trying too hard.
    My pleasure with Virginia's is subtle. It sneaks up on me. It's sort of like peripheral vision, except it's taste and smell.
    Puff it while your attention is directed elsewhere, like while you're reading or doing Forums. Don't make it the center of
    your attention. Sometimes expectations get in the way of the experience itself. Try letting Virginia's come to you. See
    what happens. Let us know.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. cosmicfolklore

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    ^^^+1&2 Both great posts MSO and krizzose.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    So I let the exhaled tobacco waft over my face and breathe the aroma. This helps my taste buds acclimate to the tobacco.

    I only smoke outdoors, so that doesn't work for me. But exhaling through the old schnozzola does the trick.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. jmsutton

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    A lot of guys may give me grief about this but I recently had the same experience with OGS flake. I tried it in a nice briar that I just cleaned and got ready for the first VA bowl... and it was not at all what I was expecting. Then I waited a few days and tried it in my MM cob and it was wonderful! I have two more VA blends and have found with both of them that I enjoy them more when I smoke them in a corn cob pipe. Maybe this is because of the natural sweetness of the cob... but whatever it is I'm using a cob to break myself in and learn the VA flavor before moving into a nice briar.

    In pursuit of chivalrous empire.
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    In my younger days I smoked all sorts of things with Virgins. Like the Supertramp song, some they do, some they don't, and some it's just as well.

    ON EDIT: Sorry, my eyesight is going. I can't offer any insights on Virginias...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. loseth

    loseth

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    Thanks for all the great information and tips everyone, it was just what I was looking for. I think I'm really going to tackle this Virginia beast with a lot of patience. I need to learn to smoke slower anyway, maybe this will force me to.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Thanks for all the great information and tips everyone, it was just what I was looking for. I think I'm really going to tackle this Virginia beast with a lot of patience. I need to learn to smoke slower anyway, maybe this will force me to.

    Watching you cherished briar glow red and catch fire will definitely encourage you to slow down your cadence.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. murf

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    I enjoy aros, lats, and VA blends. But lately, I've been reaching for the VAs almost exclusively. Like for the past 6mos or more. I've found that cube cut flakes or fully rubbed out work best. Matches help the flavor, weather permitting. Tamping lightly and often helps too. Something I do is pack the bowl with a pipe cleaner through the stem into the draught hole, and pull it out when done. It keeps a nice little air pocket in the bottom.

    Definitely pay attention to what you eat/drink beforehand. A cup of hot black tea might help cleanse your palate.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. wallace

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    Two weeks ago I dropped by House of Calabash and picked up a pouch of Legion of Honor, a VaPer. I've had only one bowl of it and it seemed very bland to me, same as most Va blends I've had. I attribute this to my lead tongue, not Steve's blending capabilities. This thread gives me motivation to focus on enjoying Virginias and overcoming my dull palate. Great advice here. I've always felt a bit ashamed for not "getting" Va's.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. cobguy

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    Wallace, there are many Va's that I find bland.
    Lighter flakes such as OGS, Capstan Blue, Klondike Gold, etc, don't trip my trigger.
    I like a deeper richer flavor such as McCranie's Red Flake or McClelland Christmas Cheer.
    On the sweeter side, Wessex Brigaid Campaign Dark Flake and Mac Baren Navy Flake.
    Cube cut and a gravity pack with fine "kindling" on top and a slower cadence than you feel is needed.
    Good luck and Happy Smoking!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  29. okiescout

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    Newminster No 400 Superior Navy Flake, or McClleland No 2010, slow an easy mmmmmmmmmmm
    I just started these recently but I really like them.

    "Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."
    Benjamin Franklin
    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. sallow

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    The lemons or goldens are harder for me to taste than a deep rich red or brown Virginia. I also have trouble if they are stoved at all.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  31. tanzebjorn

    tanzebjorn

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    If you are having issues with Orlik, you'll definitely have issues with Capstan. I drink coffee all day long, and when I try to drink green tea my daughter makes, I can't taste it. Mainly because my tastebuds were overwhelmed by the stronger flavored drink. If I smoke latakia early in the day, I cannot smoke a Virginia until the next day. I mean, I can smoke it, I'm just not going to taste it.

    As mentioned earlier: I think that if you are used to smoking tobacco with more flavour like latakias/aromatics, your taste buds will get used to it. I have been experimenting with latakias bit and have found out that I stop getting a consistant sensation from smoking only latakia for some time.

    I think that the flavor profile of pure VAs are more subtile than other tobacco types, but there is a possibility to train the pallet.

    I may add that I get more rich and better taste from Orlig Golden Sliced when i fold the flake rather than rubbing it out...

    Posted 4 years ago #

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