Help me decipher VA taste

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dhizzy

Preferred Member
Aug 29, 2011
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Being a new pipe smoker, I am often unfamiliar with what I'm tasting. I tried Hearth and Home Marble Kake. To me it was akin to a cigarette and I didn't like it. Is that the natural unflavored tobacco taste you guys talk about? Is the Marble Kake taste what a VA is all about? Or at least similar too? It gets pretty high marks on tobaccoreviews.com. I wanted to try Christmas Cheer but if that's a similar taste then I won't waste my time or $.

 

matchstickman

Preferred Member
Jul 15, 2011
2,352
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When people used to tell me that Virginia tobaccos were sweet, I was thinking they were talking about a sugary sort of Captain Crunch sweet taste. Then someone told me that this was not the case with Virginia tobaccos and he told me to keep an open mind. The next time I tried a Virginia, I loaded a bowl of Orlik Gold Sliced. Mind you, Virginias can have a tendency to burn very hot if you are not careful and dont smoke slowly. So I packed a little looser, and smoked a little slower, and then I figured it out. The "sweetness" that I taste from Virginias is, sort of like Paul said, a bit of a bread flavor. To me, its the kind of sweet that you taste from a good quality wheat bread or a Wheat Thin cracker. You dont really associate those kinds of food as being sweet, per se, but its a sort of lingering sweetness/wheat flavor that almost resides, in my experience, more in the top of the mouth than on your taste buds. Alas, like Paul said, I am only one person, and YMMV. Hope this helps!

 

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yohanan

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Oct 1, 2011
1,656
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Some people may think Im crazy,(plenty of folks at work do.) But Virginias taste like Hay to me, with a very slight sweet and floral note. Thats my best interpretation of what a Virginia tastes like to me.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,974
4,134
Chicago, IL
I think both matchstickman and yohanan stated things pretty accurately. Of course there are a number of different Virginias ranging from lemon through orange to red; and they can be, and usually are, blended in any number of ways. The red's tend to possess a fruit-like character or sweetness.
To me, the quintessential Va taste is developed in a Va flake: somewhat grassy or hay-like; sharp, as in pinchy or sassy, but not bitey; and citrus-like, as in the rind of a citrus fruit, not the flesh or juice. Its sweetness is not particularly saccharine or sugary, but more like the sweetness developed by fully cooked vegetables: think steamed broccoli stem, or a boiled sweet potato that hasn't yet been sauced with brown sugar and butter :D
My top pick would be Mac Baren Virginia #1, although it is sweetened with (I think) a brown sugar casing (which to me, helps.)
If you're trying to sample straight Va's, be mindful that there aren't too many blends that are 100% Virginia leaf. Many may have Kentucky or other Burleys, Perique, Orientals, and or Cavendish processed leaf in them. Mac Baren Virginia #1 is 100% Va only.
Browse this list of Virginia tobaccos to help make a purchase decision.

 

matchstickman

Preferred Member
Jul 15, 2011
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When I think of pure Virginias I think of McClelland, there is no equal to their style of Virginia tobaccos in my opinion
I just popped a tin of the 221B Series: Black Shag last night. Tried it straight out of the tin with no dry time and it was a gnarly, overly hot, tongue biting mess. I let the tin dry out for about a half an hour and tried it again. Wonderfully smooth VA taste, nice and mellow, lightly sweet, with a great burn and very easy to pack. All VA fans should give it a shot.

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,521
835
Maryland
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Smoked my first flake of Samuel Gaewith Full Virginia Flake. It has a hard to decribe flavor, very different than Orik Golden Slice. It also has a lot more nicotine. I smoked in an enclosed room in my garage on an emtpy stomach and while the smoke was fairly pleasant, I was almost overcome by the end of the bowl (albeit a large bowl in my XXXX Castello). I had a hard time lighting it and keeping the bowl lit, which is unusual for the Castello. I perhaps stuffed too tight with a full flake? It was also very moist, so I'll let it dry out for a while on the next go around and probably chose a smaller pipe (say my XX Ashton Rhodesian).
I really like an English blend, like Boswell's "Magnum" or "English Light". Right now, either of those is perfectly satisfying (and reasonably priced to boot). You may want to step lightly and go with a blend. Those two will still be my regular smoke and flakes for an occasional smoke.

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
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835
Maryland
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I do like a Burley, so perhaps Solani Flake 660 might be more up my alley?

http://luxurytobaccoreviews.com/t/solani-silver-flake-blend-660

 

jlee

Member
Jan 1, 2011
216
0
Denver
The Stones had it figured pretty well I reckon. Deciphering VA taste is a bit like deciphering what angels, unicorns, and rainbows taste like. A bit like deciphering what the Stones sound like...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei6dkRztoTM

 

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,770
386
Detroit
A very fine Virginia is McCranie's Red Ribbon. It's a single crop blend, so when the crop runs out, the blend changes a bit with the next batch. It's tinned, absolutely sublime, and available only from McCranies. It's currently on the third iteration. I never got any of the first round ('83 crop), but have smoked many tins of the second ('96 crop), and a couple of the third (2000 crop, IIRC). I've got a 5 year old tin of the '96 in my rotation right now, and a lot of tins aging.

 
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