Is it Me, or Is it the Tobacco?

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Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,967
5,447
U.S.A.
Years ago I used to smoke Bengal Slices {BS} and enjoyed it very much. Then they changed it and I didn't care for the new version so I quit it. Then again I heard it had been change again so I gave it another try. It was better but still not a good as the original, so again I quit it.

Many years have passed and recently, while talking with a pipe friend BS came up in conversation. So, today I received an Xmas present in the form of a can of BS. I've been puffing on a pipe full for a while now and I'm sorry to say it's a big disappointment. Smokes nothing like it used to. No rich latakia flavor, not smooth and what little taste it has is not that good. I simply don't like it!

My "regular" blend is an English I buy in bulk and I did some math. A 1.75oz can of BS costs about $14.75 and the same amount of my "regular" blend cost me about $4.30, and the regular is a much better smoke!

So, the bottom line is this. With tobacco, you don't always get what you pay for. puffy

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Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,967
5,447
U.S.A.
Yep. That's why I've always said that relying on tobacco reviews is pointless, taste is too subjective. Most of my favorites are under $40/pound.
I tend to agree about the "pointless".

First... I'm what you would call an "old timer" and I remember what blends used to be like, say 50 or even 60 years ago. Trust me, they were better than today. Back in the 60s I smoked a house blend from a local shop. It was an English that had a rich latakia flavor and was smooth as a baby's bottom. It's long gone and I've never been able to find anything like it again. I look at tobacco reviews occasionally, if I can stand how boring those guys are, and am amazed at what they seem to like I hear them rave about how wonderful some blend is that I wouldn't smoke if they paid me. It all comes down to this; the only way you'll know if you like a blend is to try it. Next time you order tobacco add some 1oz. samples of blends you're curious about. Then you'll know. puffy

p.s. By the way, I'm smoking my first bowl of TEN RUSSIANS and I can say this, it's better that Bengal Slices, but not by much.

My negative reviews reminds me of the old story about little Johnny. Little Johnny was 10 years old and had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at breakfast he blurted out "God damit! This fucking milk is sour." His parents were astounded and shocked. His mother said "Johnny, we thought you were mute, why haven't you said any thing before now?" Johnny replied "Up till now every things been ok."
 
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Auxsender

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 17, 2022
892
4,907
Nashville
I tend to agree about the "pointless".

First... I'm what you would call an "old timer" and I remember what blends used to be like, say 50 or even 60 years ago. Trust me, they were better than today. Back in the 60s I smoked a house blend from a local shop. It was an English that had a rich latakia flavor and was smooth as a baby's bottom. It's long gone and I've never been able to find anything like it again. I look at tobacco reviews occasionally, if I can stand how boring those guys are, and am amazed at what they seem to like I hear them rave about how wonderful some blend is that I wouldn't smoke if they paid me. It all comes down to this; the only way you'll know if you like a blend is to try it. Next time you order tobacco add some 1oz. samples of blends you're curious about. Then you'll know. puffy

p.s. By the way, I'm smoking my first bowl of TEN RUSSIANS and I can say this, it's better that Bengal Slices, but not by much.

My negative reviews reminds me of the old story about little Johnny. Little Johnny was 10 years old and had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at breakfast he blurted out "God damit! This fucking milk is sour." His parents were astounded and shocked. His mother said "Johnny, we thought you were mute, why haven't you said any thing before now?" Johnny replied "Up till now every things been ok."
If you feel like it, try more blends. You’ll find something you love.
I promise it’s not ALL shit.
 

VDL_Piper

Lifer
Jun 4, 2021
1,080
11,417
Tasmania, Australia
I certainly agree @Searock Fan. We have lost some wonderful varieties of tobacco that were grown in unique parts of the world. We have also lost some of the curing techniques that those growers used to achieve sublime tobacco that we all took for granted. There are still hidden gems out there, it just takes patience and maybe some cellaring to unlock a lot of potential but you already know this I'm sure.
 

Auxsender

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 17, 2022
892
4,907
Nashville
I tend to agree about the "pointless".

First... I'm what you would call an "old timer" and I remember what blends used to be like, say 50 or even 60 years ago. Trust me, they were better than today. Back in the 60s I smoked a house blend from a local shop. It was an English that had a rich latakia flavor and was smooth as a baby's bottom. It's long gone and I've never been able to find anything like it again. I look at tobacco reviews occasionally, if I can stand how boring those guys are, and am amazed at what they seem to like I hear them rave about how wonderful some blend is that I wouldn't smoke if they paid me. It all comes down to this; the only way you'll know if you like a blend is to try it. Next time you order tobacco add some 1oz. samples of blends you're curious about. Then you'll know. puffy

p.s. By the way, I'm smoking my first bowl of TEN RUSSIANS and I can say this, it's better that Bengal Slices, but not by much.

My negative reviews reminds me of the old story about little Johnny. Little Johnny was 10 years old and had never spoken a word in his life. Then, one morning at breakfast he blurted out "God damit! This fucking milk is sour." His parents were astounded and shocked. His mother said "Johnny, we thought you were mute, why haven't you said any thing before now?" Johnny replied "Up till now every things been ok."
Have you tried blends from:
LJ Peretti
Wilke
Watch City Cigar
Ken Byron Ventures

I ask because as a self proclaimed “old timer”, there’s a chance, with the exception of Peretti or Wilke, you might not have tried any of these blenders.
Also, please know about Pipe Stud if you don’t already. In his website (google it) you’ll find all sorts of goodies from yesteryear, many containing Latakia you might be more familiar with.

For what it’s worth, I don’t like Bengal Slices either.
 

burleybreath

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 29, 2019
985
3,428
Finger Lakes area, New York, USA
Remember that the Latakia of today is not the Latakia of yesteryear. Further, your palate may have changed in the interim.
I remember latakia/oriental tins of yesteryear had quite a wallop when you first opened a tin. It was glorious. I used to inhale it for a minute or so. Not so much any more, but I'm haunted by the suspicion that this may be due to age (mine, not the tobacco). Maybe both. I speak with a one-time Covid-addled palate, so who knows? Not I.
 

Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,967
5,447
U.S.A.
Have you tried blends from:
LJ Peretti
Wilke
Watch City Cigar
Ken Byron Ventures

I ask because as a self proclaimed “old timer”, there’s a chance, with the exception of Peretti or Wilke, you might not have tried any of these blenders.
Also, please know about Pipe Stud if you don’t already. In his website (google it) you’ll find all sorts of goodies from yesteryear, many containing Latakia you might be more familiar with.

For what it’s worth, I don’t like Bengal Slices either.
Thanks for the tips! I certainly haven't tried everything out there. I guess I'm lucky in that I don't have to buy a lot of blends to try them. I have a good pipe pal who seems to buy almost every new blend that sounds good in the reviews.... and he looks at a lot of reviews! He gives me samples of quite a few. I hate to admit it but none have been anything to write home about that I can remember. He doesn't do forums so I guess I'm safe in saying that I like getting a free ride on the samples. I call it "riding the pipe line". puffy
 

Wet Dottle

Starting to Get Obsessed
Mar 20, 2023
168
559
Littleton, CO
I certainly agree with you, Searock Fan. The new BS is quite different from the old. Fusilier Slices also were a disappointment. To me they taste a bit like they did the sauce right (more or less), but the tobacco base is all wrong. It reminds me of Sutliff's Edgeworth Ready Rubbed match, where the sauce was close but the burley was all wrong. I was a fan of these blends (the BS and the ERR), but the new releases are different. They are decent blends in their own right, they only disappoint because of the expectations they create.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
43,636
110,432
Tobacco not as good as yesteryear? Must not be since i read a post about it on this forum almost daily
Wait until they reformulate one of your favorites, Kholhouse & Kopp as well as Esoterica did several of their blends this year alone. Not pleasant lighting up a favorite to find its nearly an entirely different blend.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
19,898
45,790
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
Even blends as early as 30 years ago were a different animal compared to what they're offering today.
Yep, but even in the '90's, smokers were commenting on a drop in quality from blends even a few years earlier.

First... I'm what you would call an "old timer" and I remember what blends used to be like, say 50 or even 60 years ago. Trust me, they were better than today.
I've been smoking pipes since 1971 and I would tend to agree with you. Blends had a rich smoothness that's simply not much in evidence today. The style of processing and aging before release is gone.

But, I think that it's more accurate to say that blends today are different than blends of 50, 60 years ago. I think the older blends were "better" because that's what I imprinted on. Today's smoker is imprinting on what's available today and probably enjoying today's product as much a I did with those blends of yesteryear.

As for Balkan Sobranie, I've made it no secret that I do not think what's in the tin is anything like the Balkan Sobranie I smoked in the '70's and '80's. And how could it be? The components that Sobranie Ltd, and later Gallaher, used aren't available. It's just a famous name on a tin of "whatsis". But if someone really enjoys that "whatsis" that's ultimately all that matters. I find Germain's Balkan Sobranie completely unsmokeable.

Same with today's "Escudo". It's not Escudo. The Perique used is a bore compared to the Perique used in the Copes and A&C versions, and the Virginias are, for me, a faint bland proxy. But someone who never smoked what I call Real Escudo may love the current product, and again, that's all that matters.

I just wish the tobacco business would just stop sticking famous names on their "whatsis" product. It feels dishonest to me. But that's just me.

All this said, I do find many blends highly enjoyable on their own terms, like some of the HU, KBV, G&H, Watch City, and Sutliff blends. And there have been some really wonderful special releases, like the RO Perique Series.

When you and I were smoking all those decades ago, the blends were the product of many individual makers. Rattray was made by Rattray and McConnell, Dunhill was made by Dunhill, St Bruno was made by Ogden, etc. They rentained the individual character of their creators, sourcing their own components. Today these are reduced to IP's bought and hanging on the belt of one or another of a few conglomerates and have lost that individuality. Personally, I feel that Denmark and Germany are the places where British blends go to die.

But if people like those current blends, that's all that matters.

A lot of growers have left the business, turning to growing other, less labor intensive, and more profitable crops. That leaves fewer suppliers, some of whom are using more cost efficient methods to get their crops to market.

So it is you, and it is the tobacco, both.

As for reviews, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are "pointless". Yes a lot of reviewers are semi-literate, incapable of providing a coherent, much less cogent, statement, not surprising as they are enthusiasts and not particularly expert writers.

But there are a few who do a pretty good job of conveying their experiences and that can be of some benefit, in fact has been of great benefit, to others curious to try out something new. None of it is fact, nor should it be conceived of as such. They are opinions, the same as most reviews, one person's "take" on their experience.