Moving From English Blends to Pure Virginias

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Sobrbiker

Lifer
Jan 7, 2023
2,324
28,393
Casa Grande, AZ
The Missouri meerschaum I ordered has a little ramp at the bottom of the bowl where the bore hole is, so tobacco doesn’t pack all the way to the bottom. Seems weird to me.

Some of the MM cobs I have this annoys me, some I’m fine with. As they are handmade by the 1000’s I’ve ran into even to exact same models being different in stem/bowl gaps and draw.
I’ve got 5 MM’s, and have filled the bottom of the bowl on two with pipe mud made from clean cigar ash and water (google, YouTube, and this forum are places to find good info on the process). FB399175-9CD4-41F3-88B8-16E9FD2C2DD5.jpeg
 
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Sobrbiker

Lifer
Jan 7, 2023
2,324
28,393
Casa Grande, AZ
I’m newish to piping. And found it good to have English, Balkan, and VaPer blends on hand to mix up. I’ve found what I can think I love one day isn’t so hot the next. Like you, some of the straight virginias I’ve tried are a little to cig-ish to my developing palate, and I canleanto smoking too fast and hot to appreciate their subtleties (doesn’t take much).
 
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rmbittner

Lifer
Dec 12, 2012
2,759
1,995
Slow down and sip and flavors will open up.
This simply cannot be said enough. I’ve been an avid reader of pipesmoking and tobacco books, worked in a pipe shop, etc., but it still took me about 35 years to “stumble“ onto this through my own experience. Blends really can transform—sometimes dramatically—when you really slow down and sip.

I’d also encourage you to try directing the smoke to different parts of your tongue. Sweetness is experienced most on the tip of the tongue, so at least see what registers there. Try releasing the smoke over different parts of your mouth and gums. (Weirdly, I have a way of doing this that actually helps me to identify cavendish tobaccos in English blends.)
 

mateusbrown

Might Stick Around
Apr 24, 2022
84
260
Georgia, USA
C&D Virginia Ribbon: a straight Virginia that smokes well and has a citrus and hay note to it.

I mixed the Virginia ribbon with some C&D Burley-Perique #3: very nice, too.

I mixed the Virginia ribbon with some Mac Baren HH Dark Kentucky flake and some of the C&D Burley-Perique #3 in relatively equal proportions: wow, it was fantastic. I couldn't place it precisely, but it brought back a scent memory from childhood.
 
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ADKPiper

Part of the Furniture Now
Dec 13, 2020
588
1,435
Adirondack Mountains
For me it’s not my tongue, the roof of my mouth feels like it gets slightly scalded and raw, and then it throbs and aches slightly.

I’m actually on a pipe rest now, haven’t smoked in two weeks because of this. I’m probably going to wait one more month, you know, getting old, you slow down healing.

One bloody thing is for sure, I will dry my VAs/VaPers drier and sip them even slower than before.

edger there has some good advice too, just barely keep them smoldering. I personally will barely light them, take a few sips and let it go out.

Jim mentioned to me before, to watch out for Bright VAs.

P.S. I can’t wait to get back to the pipe from resting from the VA Blues! LOL 😆
Smoke it in a smaller diameter bowl also. A poker works. If I just limit myself to one or two bowls of Virginia flake a day I'm fine. If I smoke it exclusively it catches up.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
43,431
109,328
For me it’s not my tongue, the roof of my mouth feels like it gets slightly scalded and raw, and then it throbs and aches slightly.
Your body may have a reaction to Virginias. Some can't smoke them while others can't smoke burley or perique. No amount of drying or slow smoking will fix that.
 
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PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,453
26,766
Hawaii
Your body may have a reaction to Virginias. Some can't smoke them while others can't smoke burley or perique. No amount of drying or slow smoking will fix that.

It seems to be the PH of some blends bother me. Like Hamborger Veermaster will bother me, but C&D CRF doesn’t.

But the ones that bother me, as long as I dry them fairly well, and sip them really slowly I’m ok.

Not sure if you saw it, but Jim mentioned to me to stay away from Brights.

Or when I can find or afford, to get aged VAs...
 
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LudwigB88

Starting to Get Obsessed
Nov 4, 2023
201
243
Yes, it’s taken me a good number of years and leaving/returning to pipe smoking to finally understand what people appreciate in Virginias. My palate is changing and I am now looking for different more subtle things. I did the usual new piper thing: I started with original Frog Morton and branched out into aromatics and different non-aromatic English blends. Every time I thought I found what I liked my palate shifted. In retrospect, Frog Morton (now discontinued) was a great place to start. If it was still around I might keep it in my rotation as it was unique. As far as English blends I was gravitating toward Oriental forward and sweet/perfumey blends like Perretti Royal and especially H&H Black House. Along the way I tried and always loved Gaslight for its non-sweet creosote take on English. I still love that tobacco. I no longer am into the English blends that chase the Balkan Sobranie flavor profile. I’ve settled on Quiet Nights as my go-to English. None of the cloying perfume rose/geranium note. And I’m moving into Virginias and VA/Per’s. Now unfortunately I wish I could go back in time and taste McClelland VA’s. But alas, there are still great VA’s. I AGREE: it’s an entirely different experience, and narrow/tall pipes are better: pokers and stacks and corn cobs ! For now I’m training my palate with Escudo, Elizabethan Mixture, and assorted darker VA flakes like Astley’s 44. I’ll add that I really like SPC Mississippi River as just a great balanced unique blend. Again, I no longer like blends that hit you over the head with a single effect.
 
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anotherbob

Lifer
Mar 30, 2019
15,788
29,615
45
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
I’ve recently returned to pipe smoking after a long hiatus. Both times I’ve been into it I’ve exclusively smoked English blends, so I’m trying to branch out a bit and see what I might have been missing.

I ordered some Cornell & Diehl Autumn Evening as a first aromatic blend and some Sutliff 507C Virginia Slices as a first pure Virginia blend.

I tried the 507C tonight in a brand new corn cob and I found it to be incredibly light to the extent that I felt like I was smoking a cigarette through one of those long filters :LOL:

I used to roll my own cigarettes and the experience was quite similar. Almost felt strange not to inhale it.

I even smelled like I smoked a cigarette after I came back inside…

I guess what I’m wondering is…. Is this just the specific blend I ordered or are Virginias supposed to be this light?

My go-to blends these days are Presbyterian Mixture and Peterson Nightcap occasionally.

I’m open to the possibility that I got it right the first time and English blends are my thing.. but I’d hate to write off other things based on this experience.

Is 507C exemplary enough of straight Virginias that I should be confident that they’re not my thing? Should I try VaPers or something else?

I love buying new blends but I’m not made of money so I’m trying to narrow things down a bit before I go spending more. 😆
Virginias are more subtle and testy then others. You have to go more gently on them and they love being dry more then other tobaccos. I find Va blends seem best when dried to almost dangerously too far. The other thing sip sip sip the smoke. They're my favorite but they are more subtle then others.
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,830
31,012
71
Sydney, Australia
When I first got back to pipes (from cigars) I couldn't get enough of Latakia/Oriental blends.
As my palate re-adjusted, I got into VaPers and Virginia/Cavendish/ Burley blends

I've recently re-discovered a love of aromatics - eg Peterson's Connoiseur Blend, Sillem's Green, MacBaren's Signature, Erinmore, Amphora Full Aroma and even the much maligned Mixture 79

Perhaps it's because I've learned to dry the tobacco more
But most importantly not to huff&puff
 

WerewolfOfLondon

Can't Leave
Jun 8, 2023
467
1,568
London
Been at it for almost five years now. Same old story, started loving latakia, and have now settled on virginia's and vapers. Truth told, I began to understand virginias about 18 months in. I remember smoking capstan blue, and here and there it was clicking. Then moved to FVF, and after a few tins of that, BOOM, lightbulb moment.

But even then, I decided to keep searching, mostly with aromatics. I concentrated on them purely because of the breadth of flavours one can potentially have in an aromatic, the chocolate, the mango, coffee, and whatever else. And truth be told, I could never taste any of those things, all I ever really tasted was black cavendish.

Then on to burleys, some of which I do like, but only the ones who in some quarters are not held to be representative of burleys at all, such as ABF and HH Burley Flake.

And so full circle back to virginia and vaper blends, which now make up probably 80% of my rotation. I am at the teleological endpoint of my pipe smoking journey...maybe. Now on to the pipe shapes and sizes I prefer, and which works best with what blend.
 
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brandaves

Can't Leave
Jan 5, 2020
347
2,663
Kentucky
I'm working my way through a tin of Briar Fox at the moment. I have found so far that the Burley in it adds body and a bit of flavor but the overall taste is the sweet Virginia. That may be a decent crossover blend. My Aha moment with Virginia tobaccos came with Orlik Dark Strong Kentucky. When I found the sweet Virginia countering the DFK I was absolutely hooked. Maybe try something with a bit more flavor, like Stokkebye Luxury Twist. It is listed as a Virginia but the flavor hits like an aro for me. Once I figured out Virginia blends I found most aromatic blends to be too much. A flavor overload in a lot of cases. Ultimately, it just takes time.
 

FLDRD

Lifer
Oct 13, 2021
1,736
6,525
Arkansas
Virginias are more subtle and testy then others. You have to go more gently on them and they love being dry more then other tobaccos. I find Va blends seem best when dried to almost dangerously too far. The other thing sip sip sip the smoke. They're my favorite but they are more subtle then others.
Sip, sip, sip the smoke,
Gently from the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Smoke the pipe and dream.
 

sparker69

Part of the Furniture Now
Feb 25, 2022
642
2,714
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When I first started smoking a pipe, coming from Cuban cigars, I went right into the English/Balkan blends, loving the spice and deep rich flavour. At one point, I decided that I wanted to start to train my taste buds to recognize the different tobaccos in a blend, which put me onto Virginia - especially in flake. I think, despite some thinking to the contrary, Virginia is great for newbies. Why? Because it teaches you to slow things down, keeping the pipe cool while looking for subtle flavours. If you smoke them too fast - yes, you're going to get that cigarette taste. But slowed down, you get the citrus, grassy taste that is wonderful. What I originally thought was a taste exploration, became a big part of my pipe smoking as I saw Virginias dominating my tobacco at home. Like a few other comments, I'd recommend the Capstan Blue. Orlik is great as well. Opening Night, with a bit of age on it is great and I really enjoy blends from Fribourg & Treyer. HH Virginia Flake is an interesting one as well. And yes - if you like Virginia, try a VAper.