Squadron Leader...What's The Big Deal?

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branzig

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Jan 7, 2014
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So I have read a ton of reviews and have had Squadron Leader suggested to me by quite a few people, so I picked up a tin and I have to say that I am mildly disappointed...
Sure it is really smooth and has a good tobacco flavor and burns well, but other than that I just found it very bland and the latakia super lacking. When it came to overall flavor, it was super mild to me. And the strength on the light side. It did have somewhat of a redeeming factor towards the end of the halfway point when some good tasting spices broke through though. But still...
Am I just missing something? It was fresh out of the tin so maybe it needs to dry a bit? I guess I just don't understand why it is such a highly rated and recommended blend when it seems to be a very mild, nothing special tobacco.
Maybe my taste-buds just aren't as refined as others :lol:

 

lostandfound

Preferred Member
Sep 30, 2011
908
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High expectations usually lead to disappointment. Patience and realism are worthwhile investments when it comes to pipe tobacco though. Unless of course, you've written this miniature review-of-sorts after smoking through a tin or two. Fribourg & Treyer's Cut Virginia Plug started out disappointing to me, but after I finished a tin, and understood the tobacco better, I realized how good it is.

 

philobeddoe

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Oct 31, 2011
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Branzig, you are not alone I too find that Squadron Leader is bland and overrated. However......that is why they make so many different blends, keep trying different blends and eventually several of them will click. Don't discard the rest if your tin though, store it away and come back to it in several months and it may taste the same, or it may surprise you.

 

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judcole

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Sep 14, 2011
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Sure it is really smooth and has a good tobacco flavor and burns well,
That's why it's highly rated.
the latakia super lacking. When it came to overall flavor, it was super mild to me.
It sounds to me you were looking for a lat bomb, which SL is definitely not. It's a good quality medium English. If you want a blend that screams "latakia", this is not it. This is a blend with subtler flavors.

 

swampmouth

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Oct 4, 2013
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Juds' got it. My impression had me thinking it would be a nice mild english. Maybe for driving?

 

judcole

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Sep 14, 2011
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My impression had me thinking it would be a nice mild english.
It's a little more than that - that's Skiff, in the SG line. But it's not a flavor bomb or a nic bomb.It's a lat blend that you can have as a go-to.

 

swampmouth

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Oct 4, 2013
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Sounds good to me, Thanks. I wouldn't marvel about a blend like that, go through those like water.

 

rmbittner

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Dec 12, 2012
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branzig:
Yeah, I don't know how to get around the whole "expectations" hurdle. But it happens. Especially when a blend has been praised a lot by people we trust.
But from your post, it sounds like you've had one bowl of SL. In my experience, you need at least three bowls of a blend in any one pipe to burn away the remnants of what was there last and actually start to taste the new tobacco. So if you haven't yet had 3-5 bowls of SL in the same pipe, then I'd say you haven't actually explored it yet. And for some blends, I think it can take a half a tin -- if not more -- to really begin to understand a new-to-me blend, especially if it is well-reviewed by folks I respect and I don't seem to be "getting" it.
That said, there are still some very well-reviewed blends out there that just don't work for me.
===================
This may not help clarify things for you, but here's some of my review on TobaccoReviews.com:
"This is a solid English blend that puts a slight emphasis on the orientals and shifts the latakia into a support position. The orientals here are slightly sour and pungent, and they bring just the right note to the blend.
"My favorite tobacco style is a rich Balkan blend, so I had to keep reminding myself this was never intended to be that. It's a mild-to-medium English that just happens to highlight the orientals, balancing them with some darker-tasting Virginias and a good dash of latakia.
"Over the years, I've had a number of middle-of-the-road English blends that simply didn't bring anything special to the table. Squadron Leader stands out. It doesn't reach the heights of some richer blends that I absolutely love -- Westminster, Odyssey, Penzance, Yenidje Highlander -- but it soars."
Bob

 

allan

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Dec 5, 2012
2,429
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Bronx, NY
Squadron Leader is a mild English. It burns well and has a pleasant taste. Just mild and even.
It's nice in the rotation for a lighter change.

 

decigar

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May 2, 2013
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I have to agree that SL is not a Lat Bomb. Def Tur/Or forward. It seems time of day plays a lot into my enjoyment of a blend. I usually smoke after dinner so a more robust blend is in order, but when I can smoke during the day I do enjoy the Tur/Or forward English Blends. Lately I have enjoyed Skiff Mixture during the day a lot more than SL.

 

homeatsea

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Mar 6, 2013
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Hm the descriptions here make me want to try it. I try to avoid too much latakia in blends (with the expection being McClelland's Blue Mountain) and a good, smooth, mild English with good tobacco flavor that is not too heavy on the nicotine.
I'll have to add it to my endlessly-growing list of tobacco to order when I ever had disposable income again!

 

latbomber

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May 10, 2013
570
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I had the exact same reaction to SL. I tried it in all pipes, all humidity levels, and it just didnt do anything for me. Ended up getting through the remaining 2oz I had by muscling it up with some pirate kake or billy budd.

 

rickpal14

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Jun 9, 2011
1,433
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I have SL in the rotation but also have SG Commonwealth too. If you are looking for a heavy lat blend give that one a try!

 

branzig

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Jan 7, 2014
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Thanks for all the replies guys! I love this forum for all the insight and differeing opinions on subjects!
So just to clarify some things, I have had 2 bowls of it and I am not disregarding it, I have it jarred and don't plan on throwing it away or giving up on it yet. I'm going to let it age a bit and then come back to it more than most likely.
I guess the disappointment came from the fact that this is the first "highly" recommended blend that I have tried that has left me wondering what the big deal was or I thought was somewhat lacking in the flavor department. Of course what do I know, I have only tried maybe 10-13 blends so far so I am still really green here :lol:
As far as a lat bomb is concerned...I don't think that's what I am looking for...The most lat heavy blend I have had so far is probably Larry's blend and it was really good and thick and I really enjoyed it. But I wouldn't consider that a lat bomb. Maybe a medium flavor and body at most.

 

pitchfork

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May 25, 2012
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Squadron Leader didn't really click for me, either. But it's very good at what it does (smooth, delicate, easy-smoking). I compare blends like this to a dish like Dover Sole -- it's just a mild, white fish with butter sauce. But it can be amazing! I also like smack-you-in-the-mouth curries, pepperoni pizza, etc.
SL is in some ways comparable to Dunhill EMP, which never fails to deliver for me. Ditto Dunhill MM 965. At the same time, I really don't like GLP Lagonda or Odyssey, but I recognize that they're great for Lat-heavy blends.

 

phred

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Dec 11, 2012
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So just to clarify some things, I have had 2 bowls of it and I am not disregarding it,
Aha... :D
First impressions are important - but they're often not a complete picture, whether you're talking about people or pipe tobacco. I've read several reviews written by experienced reviewers that indicate that they reserve judgement until they've smoked at least a full tin's worth. I'm not that patient myself (and I don't smoke that often), so I also wind up making judgements bowl by bowl, which is one reason I started keeping a tobacco journal.
Your experience with Squadron Leader sounds very much like my experience with PS Luxury Navy Flake - I got my hands on a sample, learned how to cube cut it, filled up a bowl, and it almost completely failed to live up to expectations - it was actually kind of bitter and nasty that first time, out of that particular pipe. I've since had a second bowl that was better than the first one (in a different pipe), but still not as good as some other Va/Pers that I've tried. But I've only had 2 bowls, after all, and I may not have found the right pipe or the right packing method or the right lighting technique, or any of the other variables that cause differences from bowl to bowl.
And it's still entirely possible that Squadron Leader is simply not to your taste, and that LNF is not to mine. Fortunately, there are plenty of other blends that we can enjoy in the meantime.

 

rmbittner

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2012
2,098
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I think one of the challenges of evaluating tobacco blends is to understand each blend on its own terms.
Squadron Leader is mild-to-medium English; it should be judged on those terms. Frankly, it doesn't matter if a smoker prefers a higher-latakia blend or wants something with more nicotine. That only matters if you're looking at choosing something to smoke that you love. But if you're truly wanting to broaden your range of experience and evaluate a variety of blends that you may or may not love, then my feeling is that you need to take the blend as-is and, if you need to compare/contrast it, compare/contrast it with similar blends in that style. If you were to dismiss Squadron Leader because it doesn't have more latakia (or whatever), then I think you'd be missing the point. . . and, ultimately, you'd be robbing yourself of the chance to explore and better understand the blend.
True, you may not like mild-to-medium English blends. But, for me, that's a secondary concern. I don't smoke new tobaccos in order to find something to love; I smoke new tobaccos to learn more about tobaccos in general. If I love it, that's great. But even if I don't, I've at least learned something about a specific style or a specific leaf.
Just my .02!
Bob

 

branzig

Member
Jan 7, 2014
137
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True, you may not like mild-to-medium English blends. But, for me, that's a secondary concern. I don't smoke new tobaccos in order to find something to love; I smoke new tobaccos to learn more about tobaccos in general. If I love it, that's great. But even if I don't, I've at least learned something about a specific style or a specific leaf.
I guess maybe I will get to that point later on in my hobby. But for now and for the most part I definitely smoke new blends to find something that I like or love to smoke. That way I can get a solid rotation flowing and I will know what I prefer when buying other baccy's.
Maybe later on I will be more interested in the reviewing aspect and smoke blends just to learn about them, but for now I am huntin for something I love and want in my rotation.

 

rmbittner

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2012
2,098
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"for now I am huntin for something I love and want in my rotation."
Fair enough! :)
I'm not sure Samuel Gawith has anything in their line exactly like what you might be wanting, but you may want to give their Balkan Flake a try. I haven't had it, though, so I can't speak from experience.
If you're looking for a fuller-bodied English with a stronger latakia presence, though, I'd highly recommend GLPease's Westminster, Dunhill's Nightcap, Dan Tobacco's Gordon Pym, Esoterica's Margate, and Rattray's 3 Noggins, if you haven't tried them. All excellent blends, IMO.
Bob

 
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