Classic, out of production Virginia blends

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escioe

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Oct 31, 2013
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We all know the real classic oriental and latakia mixtures, and there has been a great deal of interest surrounding them the last few years. I'm thinking of blends like Balkan Sobranie White and 759, John Cotton's various latakia mixtures, Bengal Slices, Sullivan & Powell Gentleman's and Special Mixture, the various Murray and pre-Murray Dunhill latakia mixtures, Elephant & Castle's The Stout, old Rattray's Black Malory and Red Raparee. The list could go on.
With perique blends, there are also a few timeless classics that go way, way back. Three Nuns before it got castrated, Escudo, old Dunhill's Deluxe Navy Rolls and Elizabethan Mixture. Just as with oriental and latakia blends, you have a few timeless classics that have been or at least were around for a long time.
All these are blends you'd see sell on eBay or pipestud's site for $50 an ounce or more.
Other than the ancient and polarizing Lakeland blends, I can't really think of any Virginia blends that had and still have the sort of cult following that most of the above do. Sure, you've got the various McCranie's Red Ribbon or Flake vintages, and the various Christmas Cheers, but what about before those? What are the classic, non-Lakeland Virginias from the 1980s and before?
I've seen Greg Pease mention a few over the years, mostly Dunhill's Ye Olde Signe and Benson & Hedges Original Virginia Flake. But you don't see the variety in straight Virginias that you do in perique or especially latakia blends from the same time period. What gives? Were there fewer folks smoking straight Virginias back then? Or are some of the older guys holding their cards way closer to their chest than latakia smokers?

 

billypm

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2013
302
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I don't know about "classic" or not, but the day Ferndown Mild Brown went out of print was a sad day at my house.

 

escioe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2013
702
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Balkan Sobranie Virginian #10 was a cigar leaf blend with latakia. Looking more for straight or almost straight Virginias.

 

peckinpahhombre

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Dec 24, 2012
7,118
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I would say E&C's Deerstalker, as per my recent post. http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/a-tobacco-worth-too-much-to-smoke
An auction for a tin of Deerstalker went off today for a more reasonable amount, so I do intend to smoke my two tins up.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
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Great topic!

I think you're right about the cult following, it seems to be more of an individual preference thing with the older Virginias.
Maybe if B&H OVF had better distribution like Sobranie, we'd be talking about it more and see tins coming out of the woodwork for the big bucks auction - but you hardly ever even see old empty tins of it!

An older version was called OMV and it is equally as rare.


Godfrey Phillips had BDV...




I'm sure there's a few devotees of Godfrey Phillips Grand Cut out there too, maybe.
Tad Gage has mentioned how absolutely great Gallaher's King's Flake was, but it too it totally under the radar.
If you count the British classics like Capstan, St. Bruno, Rich Dark Honeydew, Mahogany, etc etc, then the horizon widens.
Likewise, G. Smith & Sons - Old London 100% Virginia seems to be a stone cold classic,

http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/2533/g-smith-sons-old-london-100-virginia
Dobie's Four Square Matured Virginia may have a small cult following?




Cope's High Card may have possibly been the greatest straight Va ever made, but if it really was, only a small handful of people would know about it.


Elephant and Castle's The Roanoke or Deerstalker, plus other Robt. McConnell made stuff are very well respected.


Maybe this?


All in all, I think you're correct about the straight Va's with a devoted cult,

their numbers seem pretty scarce.

 

mikestanley

Preferred Member
May 10, 2009
1,330
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Akron area of Ohio
Hopefully, McClelland will continue to produce the fantastic range of Virginia (broken) flakes they do, and if you add in GLP Union Square, I'm contenet with those two blender's Virginia offerings. I never smoked most of the offerings mentioned but I do miss the Mac Baren Va #1 formulation that was made prior to 1999. I've been working through an old 7 oz. tin from the 1970's which brings back fond memories.
Mike S.

 

jpberg

Preferred Member
Aug 30, 2011
1,033
140
It's a great topic. When I started smoking the oldest McClelland blends already had 10 years on them, and I guess there was never much thought about smoking aged tobacco. Hell, I don't think that anybody ever talked about aged tobacco much until maybe 8 or 10 years ago.
That being said, the finest bowls of aged Virginias that I've smoked were some '79 McC #24, and a few tins of various early eighties Rattrays blends.
I think that it would be tough to find a bad aged Virginia.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,988
1,686
I grew up with pipe smokers -- grandfather, father, uncle, cousin -- but never saw tinned tobacco in the 1950s

or 60s. All I ever saw were pouches or cans. 'Must have been a big city, uptown clientele for tins. Did anyone

see tins growing up ... in the 70s or 80s?

 

escioe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2013
702
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mso489: it's not likely all that different today. Most pipe smokers today are smoking, at best, a bulk they like from a local place. Many others are smoking tubs of this or that over the counter blend. My guess is that the premium tobacco market is still tiny, though maybe a bit less tiny than it used to be. The difference is that now you're part of it.
mrenglish: Virginian #10 sure is a strange name for a blend with something like 20% latakia and significant cigar leaf. GL Pease's Robusto is sort of inspired by it, and I've been slowly working through a tin of that from 2002, and it's outstanding. Check it out if you used to like Sobranie #10.
jpberg: I guess the McClelland brown label Virginias came out in 1977 or so, right? I've not smoked any of them, but of them, #24 is the one that appeals most to me. That 79 tin of #24 must've been godly.
mikestanley: agreed regarding McClelland's various Virginias and Union Square. I smoked a 2009 tin of Union Square earlier this year and it was unreal. Then I bought a bunch of the fresh stuff, and it just isn't the same. Yet.
misterlowercase: I was hoping you'd weigh in. What a list, and thanks for the photos. The only of those I've ever seen are Dobie's Four Square and the Robert McConnell flake, but I'll keep an eye out for those at pipe shows and such now. Have you smoked any of those?

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,847
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I grew up with pipe smokers -- grandfather, father, uncle, cousin -- but never saw tinned tobacco in the 1950s

or 60s. All I ever saw were pouches or cans. 'Must have been a big city, uptown clientele for tins. Did anyone

see tins growing up ... in the 70s or 80s?
Only cans for me. Mostly black and white ones with ships on them.

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,847
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mikestanley: agreed regarding McClelland's various Virginias and Union Square. I smoked a 2009 tin of Union Square earlier this year and it was unreal. Then I bought a bunch of the fresh stuff, and it just isn't the same. Yet.
Fresh, aged, I love Union Square. If it were to go away, I think it would become one of those sought-after classics like 3N's or BS.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
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Have you smoked any of those?
Sadly, I have not.

They are only mythological creatures to me.

:crying:
All I ever saw were pouches or cans. 'Must have been a big city, uptown clientele for tins.
I think you're right about this, and add in the fact that perhaps only a select few pipemen had a taste for straight Virginias?
It was probably a regional type thing as far as certain brands go, like the case of Marcovitch with Fred Hanna in Ohio - it was virtually unheard of and had been totally forgotten in the rubble dust of pipelore until he brought attention to it --- maybe some of the older straight Va's had the same fate?
In the case of 3N, it enjoyed good distribution just like Sobranie, it was handled by the American Tobacco Company for quite a while:



But it does beg the question, surely ATC also brought over other Imperial products, what made 3N rise to the top, because it was so unique? So utterly good?
Another possibility might be John Cotton's Mellow Virginia,

it has exactly one review on TR, and it is glowing:

Why did I do it to myself? Why?! I knew when I opened the tin this was going to be something special. Of all the tins I have, this was the one and only of this blend but I popped it anyway. A sweet, almost heavenly aroma emerged as the lid was removed. The sparkle of sugar crystals appeared as the rather stubborn paper advert was removed from this vintage tin. A medium dark leaf in a short ribbon cut, very easily packed. Only a match would do for this tobacco adventure. It was exceedingly smooth but full flavored at the onset. It had everything going for it; chocolaty, nutty, sweet you name it. Once it settled in, it presented itself as a Virginia powerhouse but still smooth with no bite or overwhelming kick. I could smoke this all day and night, the flavor kept getting better as it reached the bottom of the bowl. To the end, the flavor held strong. I never felt as though I was getting smacked with nicotine but it was there, flavor was King. I wish that I could compare it to something so the readers would have a frame of reference but I have to be honest and say it was THAT unique, I can’t compare it to anything else. I will say this without hesitation, should I ever see another tin again (which I hope I do), I will fight tooth and nail to make it mine!
Pipestud has another G. Smith & Sons tin up this week, the last one he sold fetched $157.50,

G. SMITH & SONS "OLD LONDON" 1980s FULL AND SEALED 50g TIN - PIPE STUD
There was also alotta stuff that probably never made it across the pond,

like this, maybe it was great?

We'll simply never know.



 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,746
758
New York
I used to buy all my tobacco from G. Smith & Sons on Charing Cross Road as I used to have them send my monthly account bill to my bankers Drummonds & Company who were down the road. In later years it was called Smith's Snuff and then just vanished which was so sad.

 

escioe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2013
702
0
Likewise, G. Smith & Sons - Old London 100% Virginia seems to be a stone cold classic,

http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/2533/g-smith-sons-old-london-100-virginia
Smoking my first bowl of this right now. It's pretty great. Really deep in flavor, slightly tangy, not especially sweet. Lots to unfold here.

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
2,023
4
Great thread, and a subject I've wondering about too after reading the "not as good as it used to be thread". Thanks for putting the time in mrlowercase. Very interesting reading.

 

drrock

Senior Member
Oct 20, 2011
313
4
|I don't know about "classic" or not, but the day Ferndown Mild Brown went out of print was a sad day at my house.
Couldn't agree more.

 

loneredtree

Preferred Member
May 27, 2011
518
7
I have a rectangular tin labeled "The Balkan Sobranie Flake" from the 1980s. It claims that it is "rich in aroma". I assumed that it was Virginia. Does any one know if it is a Virginia?


 
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