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What is the BEST American Virginia blend?

(55 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by hiplainsdrifter
  • Latest reply from okiescout
  1. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. docwatson

    docwatson

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    ANYTHING made by McClelland,end of story.

    It's good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling---Mark Twain
    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. pitchfork

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    Union Square.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    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.

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. beefeater33

    beefeater33

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    McC's Dark Star and Butera's Golden Cake are two of my favorites.

    "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dream..."
    Willy Wonka
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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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.)

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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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).

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. buroak

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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.

    Life contains a particle of risk. - Allardyce T. Meriweather in Little Big Man
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    Butera golden cake. It tells the whole story of what American bright leaf is all about.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. mso489

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. lochinvar

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    McClelland Matured Virginia No. 24

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    billypm

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. escioe

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    McCranie's Red Flake or Ribbon
    GL Pease Union Square

    I list two because why not.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. cosmicfolklore

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    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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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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.)

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. northernneil

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    McClelland Christmas Cheer and GL Pease Union Square

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. seilerjp

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    Anything by McClelland, but as far as a specific, McC #5100 Bulk, Red Kake.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. gripsie

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    I love C&D Sunday Picnic. One of my favorites. But there's a little Turkish in there...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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    This thread has become as contentious as I had intended. 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.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. cobguy

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    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!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. bloodwood

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    As a fairly green piper, threads of this ilk are much appreciated.
    Everybody has their own tastes and favorites (some like Ford, others Chevy).
    Here's the key, instead of giving a simple yea or nay you delve right into a blend's background and nuance.
    You're insights are very helpful to the unlearned smoking schlub et al.

    Plans are nothing; planning is everything ~ Eisenhower

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. pitchfork

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    Christmas Cheer is great, but it's a different style from Union Square. The McClelland VAs in general are sweet, dark and well aged before they even reach the tin, whereas Union Square is brighter and has more clarity of flavor (if that makes sense). Both are excellent in their own way.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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    Honestly, I have been rather underwhelmed by the McClelland VAs to date. Don't get me wrong, they aren't bad at all, but if I am going to smoke a red VA I prefer Red Ribbon, if I am going to smoke a VaPer, I prefer Gawith St. James Flake to McC St. James Woods. I think the best McClelland I had was some early '90s Christmas Cheer- although I had a couple spectacular bowls and a couple flat bowls with it.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. smeigs

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    Christmas Cheer.

    “A pipe in the mouth makes it clear that there has been no mistake–you are undoubtedly a man.”
    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. hiplainsdrifter

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    In light of this thread, tonight I decided to try a sample of 1983 McCranie's Red Flake that a forum member gifted me. WOW. I'm ruined on red Virginias.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    I've heard McClelland's Acadian Ribbon from their Blakeney Toasted line is a top notch VaPer.

    "The thinking man always smokes a Peterson." -Peterson of Dublin
    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. kcvet67

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    McC's Dark Star

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. cobguy

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    if I am going to smoke a VaPer, I prefer Gawith St. James Flake to McC St. James Woods

    Gawith does not qualify as an "American" Va/Per

    Honestly, I have been rather underwhelmed by the McClelland VAs to date

    McCranies RF / RR is made by McClelland and contains the same familiar tin note.

    Some McC's 5100 bulk with a little age is another option for those tasty reds.

    The Blackwood's Flake is Reds and Stoved Blacks ... an awesome smoke that actually supplanted Darkstar for me.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  29. gtclark

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    Union Square, hands down. Smoked it for the first time last month and the heavens opened. I've smoke my fair share of McClellands VA bllemds, and they are all excellent, but Union Square is better, IMHO.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. cobguy

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    So be it ... Union Square is on my radar!

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    I think you're missing out on some of the best examples by keeping things "'merican". There's a ton of diversity in the leaf and blenders won't let a pesky thing like an international stamp stop them from using the ingredients they need to bring out the best in a blend. If it was me, I would comfort myself in the knowledge that all bright leaf has sprung from the good 'ol US while enjoying the variation.

    Maybe open it up to top examples of each style of VA?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  32. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    Best? Quality? Isn't it interesting that we can discuss tobaccos (Even just Virginias) with their many curing techniques, colors, tastes, packaging, age, cut, strength, consistency, inconsistency, additives, etc... and we can accept that quality is subjective in the product we burn, but suggest that quality is subjective in pipes and people lock in for the arguments, ha ha.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  33. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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    Gawith does not qualify as an "American" Va/Per
    I know, I am just saying that I haven't found American tinned blends that beat out my favorites that are tinned somewhere else.

    I think you're missing out on some of the best examples by keeping things "'merican".

    I am not trying to exclude anything from my consideration, I am just curious if 'merican' tobacco can be as good as some of ye olde English tobacco houses.

    McCranies RF / RR is made by McClelland and contains the same familiar tin note.

    Also a fact that I am aware of. However, I have heard that the single crop batches used for the McCranies is unique from the McClellands offerings. I think the tin note similarities (ketchup) are due to both being red VAs.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  34. escioe

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    In light of this thread, tonight I decided to try a sample of 1983 McCranie's Red Flake that a forum member gifted me. WOW. I'm ruined on red Virginias.

    It's good stuff! The 1996 batch is pretty similar. Can't speak to the 2000 and 2008 crops, but I'm guessing they are all in the same realm.

    I think I might prefer Union Square at 5 years over Red Flake at 21 years. It's that good. I was not impressed by a fresh tin, but once it mellows for a few years, there is some special stuff in there.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  35. cosmicfolklore

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    I didn't list McCrannies, because he had already listed it. But, yes at the very tip top of my list.
    But, I always find it humorous that NO ONE EVER lists a Sutliff or Lane Virginia, ha ha.

    Good to see you back escioe. I haven't seen you around in a few weeks. Hope all is well.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  36. cobguy

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    Can't speak to the 2000 and 2008 crops,

    The 2000 crop is sublime ... deep, rich and luxurious.
    I'm sad to say it's my last tin, at the moment, but I've been really rationing it.
    This tin was popped open in August of 2014 and STILL requires dry time:

    I always find it humorous that NO ONE EVER lists a Sutliff or Lane Virginia ...

    ... or English, or VaPer, or Burley ...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  37. menuhin

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    This is definitely a mouth-watering thread. So many more items will be added to my list of mail ordering.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    frozenchurchwarden

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    Hokey pow I got a second batch of McClelland 2015 in today and it just about melted my face off!
    I was using a fully bent pipe and the smoke wouldn't stay out of my face, which is almost becoming enjoyable with some Latakia blends thus it didn't click that my choice of pipe would have some extreme consequences.
    It felt more like being attacked by something than smoking a pipe but there was definitely some flavour there.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  39. acutabovebriar

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    I would go with Dark Star and Red Flake. Depends on the time of the day but i like the both.

    Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  40. leacha

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    Sorry. I like to post my own pics whenever possible. I finished my stock last summer and have yet to replenish..

    Lets say there is a reason McC is mentioned so much.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  41. saint007

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    Hard to beat Union Square as I am aging a couple of 8oz tins. Flue cured Virginias with zero toppings or flavoring makes it easy to smoke all day long!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  42. tarak

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    I agree anything McClelland is amasing, but to be specific...I really enjoy McClelland Blackwoods Flake for a pure Virginia. If you're gentle with it, I find it to be intensly, mouth-wateringly sweet.

    Also, virtually any McClelland Christmas Cheer is a very good Virginia Tobacco.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  43. troutface

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    Another vote for any McClelland VA, though I admit to having a soft spot for Christmas Cheer. Brindle Flake ain't too shabby either!

    "Each of you be a light unto yourself; betake yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth. Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself." -The Buddha
    Posted 4 years ago #
  44. escioe

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    Leacha: I thought for sure, based on reviews and descriptions of McClelland's Rich Virginia Ribbon, that I'd love it. I've had a tin open for three months now, and I have to force myself to smoke it. The nougat sweetness is way over the top for me. Shame, too. I will agree that McClelland makes great Virginias.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  45. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I'm enjoying McCranie's 2008 Red Ribbon very much. And while it doesn't have the depth of the '96 that I've sampled, it's a very enjoyable smoke right now that should improved with age. I would love to try one of the older vintages. Hopefully I'll snag a tin one of these days.

    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 #
  46. cortezattic

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    Soooooo much orthodoxy here that I think McClelland has the pr on Virginias locked up.
    Nobody got goodies from the likes of Russ Ouellette or Rich Gottlieb of 4noggins? I'm surprised.

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    Posted 4 years ago #
  47. User has not uploaded an avatar

    bigpond

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    You go first Cortez! If you have some favorites outside of the main, let's see 'em. I think ever blend mentioned thus far has used leaf sourced from if not blended by McC's. Any variety would be good.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  48. cobguy

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    Soooooo much orthodoxy here that I think McClelland has the pr on Virginias locked up.

    It's not PR for me ... it's the flavor and quality, both of which are top notch from McC.
    If we were talking Burley, I might opt for C&D. For Latakia ... GLP. Etc...

    Nobody got goodies from the likes of Russ Ouellette ...

    Russ has some great Va/Per's but I don't know of a straight Va that ranks at the top.

    In fact, Marble Kake is the only straight Va that even comes to mind.

    What others would you suggest?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  49. planetary

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    List of prime contenders includes McC Blackwoods Flake, McC Dark Star, McCranie's Red Ribbon, McCranie'sRed Flake, GLP Union Square.

    Candidates with early good marks, but requiring further investigation, include: C&D Opening Night, various vintages of McC Christmas Cheer, McC Rich Virginia Ribbon.

    If I had to pick an overall winner now, I'd choose 1983 Red Ribbon. If I had to pick a readily available blend right now, I'd probably lean toward Dark Star or Union Square.

    I need to clear my pipe calendar and make a much more thorough study of Virginias, is what this means.

    I like aged pipe tobacco and Cuban cigars. planetary on forums, and occasionally Posthuman on YouTube.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  50. escioe

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    I need to clear my pipe calendar and make a much more thorough study of Virginias, is what this means.

    I did this a year and a half ago, and now it's 90% of what I smoke. Beware.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    redstar

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    Union Square is heavenly.

    I was terribly disappointed when I first tried it - my first Pease blend, such high hopes and such a mediocre experience. Left the tin for two weeks, tired again and loved it.

    Just need to get another tin into Dubai somehow!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  52. 4nogginsmike

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    Christmas Cheer
    Red Ribbon
    Blackwoods Flake, McClellands Virginias in general
    Union Square

    Posted 4 years ago #
  53. samcoffeeman

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    I jumped off the McClelland bandwagon in the last year. Everything Mc virginia blend bites me to high hell. Recently got a tin of Union Square. Haven't smoked enough of it yet to give it a real recommendation, but it is a very different Virginia so far. Very meaty for a virginia blend, lot of flavor with little bite. I would recommend it for a try, and once I get further into the tin perhaps I can give a better recommendation.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  54. briarguys

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    I'm going to caste my vote for McC Blackwoods.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  55. okiescout

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    I am still a newb to VA's and VaPer's having smoked aromatics so many years. The only times I have had trouble with either of the former , was when I was in a hurry to get a pipe in and found myself smoking too fast. I really have enjoyed the input on this thread.
    Just ordered some Aurora, and Union Square.

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

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