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Why Do Virginias Taste Harsh to Me?

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  • Started 2 years ago by stevuke79
  • Latest reply from lordofthepiperings
  1. stevuke79

    stevuke79

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    Obviously its all personal preference but ive read that virginias are generally more mild.

    Ive really enjoyed stanwell fruit and vanilla, macbaren vanilla and mcclelland bombay extra (an aromatic burley/Cavendish, an aromatic Cavendish and an english)

    But mcclelland navy Cavendish, blackwoods an matured Virginias (all Virginias) taste harsher and more caustic....

    Actually... as i say this... im smoking matured Virginias right now... and its getting much better as i type...

    So maybe one of 3 explanations...
    1. This is my first time leaving out the balsa filter
    2. This is my first time breaking up a flake and packing it like ribbon
    3. Maybe as i type... im slowing down... and virginias need to be smoked more slowly...

    What do you think?
    Anyone else get sour tastes out of virginias?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. mso489

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    I think you have it with number three, that you are puffing too fast. Sip don't puff. The other two would also contribute. I think with filters of any kind, you tend to puff harder to get the flavor, so it throws you off when you smoke unfiltered. And, smoking flake requires some learning, so you can play around with that, rubbing it out more, packing it a little tighter, until it suits you. Smoked properly, most Virginias are pretty mild.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    kanse

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    I may have experienced what you called harshness, in Full Virginia Flake, but it was absent from a flake that had 10 years of age to it.

    Try with a filter on, maybe that's what caused the harshness?

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    aldecaker

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    I have to be very careful with Virginias due to the pH of my mouth not agreeing with them very well. I like them, just have to smoke them in moderation.

    A man who serves his country is a patriot. A man who serves his government is an employee. The two are not always the same thing.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  5. stevuke79

    stevuke79

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    Yeah MSO... i think its number 3.. perhaps tge burleys and Cavendishs didnt compell me to puff as much.

    I do like filters.. hopefully ill be able to work a filter back in.

    Kanse.. yeah... i bought the navy and the blackwoods months ago... by now they've aged 6 months in mason jars.... maybe the trick is also that ill like my Virginias better with age.

    I may also have packed the flake in a way that didn't allow the moisture to cook off... there was often a larger than usual puddle at the bottom of the pipe with my Virginia flakes ...

    Definitely MUCH better today!
    Thanks guys!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

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    For me, the best Virginias are the dry crunchy Virginias. YMMV

    Michael
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    kanse

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    Yeah, what Cosmic said. Don't go all crunchy but dry that stuff.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. paulie66scandinavian

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    Me Too, I have to be prudent with virgina and bright vapers, Yes I do like them,this spectrum of tastes,but often they tend to bite me more than burleys.I do air all tobaccos prior to smoke minimum 10 minutes up to a half an hour,

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. toobfreak

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    IMO, too many virginias don't get aged enough before put up for sale.

    To Master Po: Is it not being able to see that makes you tire of life?
    Master Po: No! It is being able to hear!
    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. cosmicfolklore

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    Crossed my mind, Toob, but the ones he mentioned were McClellands. Those should all be perfecto.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. mothernaturewilleatusallforbreakfast

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    Virginia's can be harsh, including McClelland's. Give it another month and come back to it. If it still bites, give it another month. It will eventually come around and mellow out to your liking. I opened a fresh tin of Boston 1776, smoked one bowl, and it's now sitting in the cabinet waiting for me to try it again next month. Virginia's need time to relax.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. stevuke79

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    Ahhh.. and when you say "let the sit and age"...

    You mean aged in sealed tins/jars... where im not opening it in between?

    Good to know... i can do that... i can jar this up and i do have plenty else to smoke in the mean time... including virginias aged from 6 months ago and other non virginias..

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. stevuke79

    stevuke79

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    I actually didnt dry them this time... but i usually do for like 20 minutes and they still bit in the past.

    So going forward ill age and then dry a bit

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. johnbarleycorn

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    As everyone else said slowing down makes a world of difference. Also #2 breaking or rubbing out the flake helps. Especially until you get more used to smoking flake. In the beginning, if you are not careful you will puff vigorously in an effort to keep a flake lit. Just don't give up on it because once you get the hang of Virginia flakes there is a good chance you will prefer them to anything else. At least that is my experience.

    And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. stevuke79

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    Yeah... when i pulled them apart into a ribon i just got a nice smoke.

    Perhaps it was easier to keep lit.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. johnbarleycorn

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    Some say it alters the flavor to rub out a flake. But I don't get that myself. I do it more often than not. The bowl does seem to last longer when folded and stuffed.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. cosmicfolklore

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    How long a flake sets out to dry doesn't mean diddlysquat. There are so many variables, such as room humidity, temperature, light. Some days it is so hot, but humid, that I can leave an open tin open on my dashboard all day in 105F temperature, and it will actually get more wet than it started. I have left open S&G products for months at a time, with them never drying. But, 8-10 seconds in the microwave does the trick. Or, placing it under a light bulb. Drying out tobacco is a chore in 100% humidity, Alabama.
    All of my blends in rotation, I just leave the tops off of the jars or tins while I smoke my way through them. If they ever do get crunchy, that is when it is best IMO. The bowl, practically smokes itself, and the flavor is so much easier to get to, because no puffing is required. It's like work-free smoking.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. didimauw

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    As much as I want to like Virginia's, my tongue hates them. Just the way it is. I no longer fight it.

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. tschiraldi

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    I keep the blend I am currently smoking in a leather pouch that I never close tightly. Sometimes, in the first days, I will leave the pouch all the way open. It may not be as fast as Cosmic's open tin method, but it works the same way. The tobacco will continuously dry as I work my way through it. This seems to work best for me.

    Tim

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. dread

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    Let it age, slow your cadence. And McClelland Navy Cavendish is really harsh to me too.

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    I am the captain of my soul."
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    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. sablebrush52

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    I find that Virginias definitely improve with a few years of aging. Not that they can't be enjoyed fresh, but the sweetness in them becomes more pronounced and the flavors seem a bit bigger in general. I smoke them very dry and very slowly, just sips and wisps of smoke. Smoked too fast, too moist, and too hot, Virginias can be harsh.

    You may also find that different types of Virginia leaf react differently with your mouth. Some smokers can't take bright Virginia, others have issues with red Virginia, and so on. Try a variety of blends to see what works best for you.

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

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. cortezattic

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    Sable just took the words right out of my mouth. Reds tend to be less harsh for me. Try Dunhill Dark Flake, Astley's #44, or Solani #660 -- there are many, many more soft, wine-like Va flakes available. IMO, the brighter, grassy Va's tend to be "hot & sassy".

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. snoopy311

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    I’m smoking PS LTF now on it is wonderful. Sip and enjoy.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. toobfreak

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    I don't know if this was any advantage or not but I cut my teeth on virginias when I first started out. My first tin was MacB Virginia No. 1 and that is what I learned to smoke with. Stuff looks and smells great! That is what I thought "good" tobacco was. So sweet, it used to make my mouth water and so bitey, it was like someone had ahold of my tongue with a pair of pliers, until I either got used to it or learned to smoke it. Ever since, most everything has been a lot easier.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. paulie66scandinavian

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    Toobfreak: you Just described what I had been thorough,arguably the Virginia nro 1 is one of the most renowned Mc Barens blend for its refreshing hay like and bitey qualities,after I was done some pouches of this almost led me to ER

    have a great weekend, Paul

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    rtd1

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    I'm a new pipe smoker but straight Virginias taste like hot air to me. I prefer VAPers, and even better English/Balkan blends with lots of Latakia and Orientals.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. woodsroad

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    My gosh, I misread the thread title.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  28. mcitinner1

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    All of the OP's conversations are hard to understand with the lack of correct punctuation and capitalization. Lazy Typing. Or is that what you get with smart phone typing?

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. huntertrw

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    "My gosh, I misread the thread title."

    Me, too, although some of the comments above would be appropriate:

    "Not that they can't be enjoyed fresh, but the sweetness in them becomes more pronounced and the flavors seem a bit bigger in general."

    "...my tongue hates them. Just the way it is. I no longer fight it."

    "Give it another month and come back to it."

    "IMO, too many...don't get aged enough before put up for sale."

    "So sweet, it used to make my mouth water..."

    "Yes I do like them, this spectrum of tastes..."

    Love Me, Love My Pipe
    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. cosmicfolklore

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    Some come too wet. I like to dry them a little with a light bulb. And, they've made my tongue raspy like a cat over the years, but no complaints.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. jefff

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    I find that they need to be smoldered more than smoked.

    And then I find them delightful.

    I wouldn't want to, but if I HAD to smoke only McC Va's for the rest of my life, I could live with that.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  32. woodsroad

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    Some like theirs aged and mellow, but I prefer them young and lively. A wonderful way to start the day.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  33. warren

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    I was stationed at Langley which, apropos of nothing, is in Virginia when I had my first Virginia. She was an airman's delight. I've been a fan of Virginias ever since.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  34. huntertrw

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    My favorite is a mature natural red, although I have always been curious about black.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  35. warren

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    Come ooonn! You guys knew the thread would eventually go in this direction. I've been ready since I saw the headline. Woods just couldn't wait any longer. Apropos of nothing, mine is a true story.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  36. cosmicfolklore

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    Ha ha, the golden blond ones tend to be bitey.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  37. woodsroad

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    I love an aromatic Virginia, If it's a burley Virginia, all the better.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  38. warren

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    Subtle but, not too subtle. Well done!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  39. huntertrw

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    "I love an aromatic Virginia..."

    So long as it's not from that stinky anise!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  40. jefff

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    Cosmic likes a dry Virginia.

    That's kinky

    Posted 2 years ago #
  41. kylef

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    Did a search and found this thread.

    Fairly new and infrequent pipe smoker here. I've been trying all different kinds of tobacco to see what I like, and I've found I like most of what I've tried among the aromatics and English blends. To give an idea of my tastes, I've found MacBaren's 7 Seas regular to be my favorite, along with Peter Stokkebye's Black Dansk and Golden Dansk. And also Orlik's Dark Strong Kentucky.

    However, I've had a couple bad experiences with Virginia blends. I first tried Peter Stokkebye's Luxury Navy Flake, and it tasted pretty harsh to me. Then I tried C & D's John Marr (which I think is mostly Virginia). I didn't like it the first time, so this past Sunday I let it dry out for a couple hours before I smoked it, and tried to smoke slowly. It burnt well and tasted fine while I was smoking, but yesterday and even today my throat is a bit sore and phlegmy---not a pleasant result. I've never had this from aromatics.

    Reading this thread, I'm seeing that Virginias can cause some issues. Or I it just the John Marr blend specifically? Should I just give up on them, or give them some time?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  42. hoosierpipeguy

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    Those two blends are hardly what I'd consider great representatives of Va blends. Try some GLP Union Square. Try some Rattrays Brown Clunee (not pure Va but mostly a Va taste to me). The new Sutliff Red Va Krumble Kake is quite good.

    Some people do have a allergic reaction to Va but I think more people have problems because they smoke it way too moist and puff too aggressively.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  43. cosmicfolklore

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    I can explain why some people say that Virginias are harsh. They are. They are more acidic, so that the effects of the heat and smoke are exacerbated by the acidity. You do not puff Virginias. If you like big puffs of smoke, avoid Virginias. The flavor is subtle, and they are meant to be smoked slow, with no puffing, just gentle sips or breathsmokes of gentle trickles of smoke slowly drifting through your mouth as you breath.

    I know that a lot of guys hear us talk about Virginias being "for the more experienced smokers," and they are tempted to try these exclusive tobaccos. But, the reason we say this is because it takes seasoning and skills to smoke them. We aren't just denigrating other smokers. You seriously have to have skills other than puffing on an easy aromatic or even chugging a lat bomb.

    Just jar up whatever remains you have, and come back to them. No worries.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  44. kylef

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    Thanks, guys.

    Yeah, I'm sure my technique is part of the problem. I tried to smoke it slow, but I guess I was still puffing more than sipping. And along with that, maybe that particular blend just isn't for me.

    But I think will indeed just put that jar aside for a time while I try other blends.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  45. workman

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    When packed too tight or tamped too hard, virginias will become harsh as well. I'm hardly a seasoned smoker, but virginias are my favourites so far. Well, some of them. I was quite disappointed with Astleys 44, which among other things always turned harsh towards the end of the bowl.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 7 months ago #
  46. rdavid

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    Still a newbie and left aros behind for a full on english/lat bomb stage. Wanting to expand my palate, I did tons of research on reviews about Virginias and Burleys etc. Well, I ordered some Escudo and this stuff melted my face off. Burnt tongue and scorched nostrils. WTF? How can this stuff be so popular. It was then I realized that it was definitely something I was doing wrong. I learned early on to never totally give up on a tobacco so I jarred it and put it away. I’ve also tried other Virginias with pretty much the same result.

    Anyway, as I’ve learned to finesse my techniques, the wonderful taste of Virginia started to show itself to me. Meanwhile, the Escudo in my cupboard was always there, quietly whispering to give her another try. Just a few weeks ago I rubbed out a couple of coins, loaded up and had one of the best smokes ever. I’m guessing it was a combination of my learning how to slow down and a few months of age in a jar.

    Virginias still burn my tongue if I’m not super careful so I’m convinced there is an acid and/or PH component here. It’s a different kind of burn than from an over puffed aro etc. Definitely feels like a chemistry issue to me. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to exploring more Virginias in the future as they are so good when you find that groove.

    "May my last breath be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled in a jest." Charles Lamb
    Posted 7 months ago #
  47. peckinpahhombre

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    I think this thread ques it up quite nicely for another manliness thread, explaining that only real men smoke straight Vas.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  48. johnmosesbrowning

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    I'm apparently way too much of a newbie for straight virginias as well. I ordered several styles of various tobaccos in 1oz. bulk to get a sense of the varieties. The virginia I tried is C&D Yorktown and although I've attempted several bowls thus far, each of them has tastes like dried pencil shavings. Clearly I need to master the "sip don't puff" in order to get any flavor from it.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  49. crashthegrey

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    I just finished a bowl of McClelland 40th Anniversary. What a good Virginia. It took me a couple of years of pipe smoking, getting deeper and deeper into lat bombs, before I got hooked on Virginias. Then I smoked nothing but, mostly McClelland, Virginia flakes for probably close to a full year. With McClelland closing I figured it was time to branch back out. I have since fallen for burley, and experienced a bunch of tobaccos in a whole new light, as smoking Virginia for so long taught me how to really slow down and enjoy the bowl. Many guys go through the same evolution, but not all. I'm going to be an aromatic smoker before long based on the trend.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  50. cosmicfolklore

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    Yeh, I think that some people can take to Virginias earlier than other people, because they were cigarette smokers. I know this was my case. Virginias are the main leaf in most cigarette blends. And, it is easier for them to acclimate. But, for someone coming to pipes from a non-smokers perspective, it does require some skills of sorts. I don't think smoking Virginias makes someone tougher, more manly, or even more exquisite. It's just another type of leaf, but a more acidic leaf that requires some foresite and respect, as it can bite hard. I split my tongue on Virginias, puffing too hard in the beginning, and getting over a bloody acid burn that splits your tongue is not fun, nor manly, nor more exquisite at all.

    But, once you get the slow smoking part down, Virginias do offer a whole world of naturally sweet flavors, which are more subtle and nuanced. It's not sweet like an aromatic, but it has a whole world of flavors, for the smoker that is ready for them. And, even in saying that, we have seasoned smokers on here that still avoid them, because of the bite, or because they just never taste the flavors, or because they just enjoy other types of blends more. There's no shame in any of that.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  51. cosmicfolklore

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    Crash, I know what you mean. I think that acclimating my smoking style for Virginias, now has opened up burleys and other leaf to taste whole new dimensions of those types as well. Even cigars. I can now slowly sip a cigar for almost three hours, slowly taking in more flavors that I would have otherwise just have burned up into thin air.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  52. crashthegrey

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    I didn't even think about the effect on cigar smoking. I used to really not enjoy cigars, but now have found that I like them once in awhile, but usually do not have the time for them. They really do last an awful long longer than they used to.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  53. foggymountain

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    Because they ARE harsh.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  54. johnmosesbrowning

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    So what would more experienced pipers recommend as a "starting" Virginia? A "Virginia-with-training-wheels" so to speak? Are there known "gateway" Virginias that are more forgiving and can help newbies along to wonder of Virginias?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  55. cosmicfolklore

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    Peter Stokkebye Luxury Twist Flake is a Virginia Cavendish with a coconut casing, which is very mellow and easy to smoke. But, maybe it isn't exactly like smoking a true Virginia, but it might be a good "gateway" tobacco.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  56. lawdawg

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    So what would more experienced pipers recommend as a "starting" Virginia? A "Virginia-with-training-wheels" so to speak? Are there known "gateway" Virginias that are more forgiving and can help newbies along to wonder of Virginias?

    Orlik Golden Sliced ("OGS"). It's a forgiving, easy-to-smoke bright Virginia. The "bright" means that its tasting notes are grass / hay / citrus and less of the dark, dried fruit of the "dark" Virginias. Several members of this forum recommended OGS to me a few months back when I decided to step into the world of Virginias. After trying quite a few different popular Virginias, I'd say OGS is a great place to start.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  57. workman

    workman

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    OGS is a manageable boring bright virginia. Capstan Blue Flake is a nice medium dark virginia blend. Very tasty.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  58. tenfiver

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    Orlik-Golden Sliced
    GL Pease-Union Square
    Samuel Gawith-Best Brown Flake

    Those shouldn't be too much of a boot to the rear end for a new VA smoker, and they're tasty too.

    **as I was thinking of suggestions, I checked in on one of my favorite cellar blends and realized I can't find it online anymore. Anybody know how if it's possible to buy Park Lane Red Paramour online anywhere?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  59. mso489

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    Uh-oh, someone mentioned McC's Navy Cavendish in this context. I am aging a tin, so maybe it will be tamed by the time I pop the lid. Burley Cavendish is usually pretty easygoing. +1 on Orlik Golden Sliced; if sipped, it is a mannerly non-edgy tobacco in my experience.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  60. blackadderlxx

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    So what would more experienced pipers recommend as a "starting" Virginia? A "Virginia-with-training-wheels" so to speak? Are there known "gateway" Virginias that are more forgiving and can help newbies along to wonder of Virginias?

    I was afraid to try them at first. I still prefer lat blends, but OGS, LNF and LBF were all pretty easy for me to start with. I still have yet to smoke a straight Virginia.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  61. lordofthepiperings

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    Personally I started out on aromatics only. At first they burned the heck out of my tongue. After some time though eventually I learned to slow down enough to not get the tongue scorched. That's when I moved on to VAs/VaPers. I started with Luxury Bullseye Flake from Stokkeby and then into Orlik Golden Sliced and so on. I got the gist of VA flavors from them and then moved on to others like Newminster 400 Superior Navy Flake (highly under the radar blend), Capstan Blue, Dunhill Flake (RIP), HH Pure Virginia, Sutliff's 507C Virginia Slices etc..

    I would agree you HAVE to slow down and also not expect for plumes of smoke. Also you need to make sure your palate is moist and stays moist. I HIGHLY recommend sipping water just water when you're starting out on Virginias. The more moist your palate is the more flavors will come to light and the less likely you are to burn your tonuge (probably because the flavors are more pronounced or noticeable so you realize you can puff more infrequently and keep the heat down).

    Recently I cracked a tin of McClelland's Mature VA 22 from 2008 and it was HEAVENLY. The age just mellowed it out and made it even more naturally sweet. It was an incredible smoke. The people that I gave a bowl to at the West Coast Show concurred.

    "The thinking man always smokes a Peterson." -Peterson of Dublin
    Posted 7 months ago #

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