Virginia taste

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GreatWhiteNorthPiper

Starting to Get Obsessed
Feb 3, 2022
252
805
Ontario, Canada
As a very new pipe smoker (about two months now), I'm still developing my palate and sampling a bunch of tobaccos to figure out what I like. So far, I've only smoked aromatics and have found a few nice ones that agree with me. What I haven't been able to figure out is what Virginia tobacco tastes like. Are there any Virginia blends you folks could recommend that would provide that classic or archetypal taste for a beginner like me? I'm just trying to get a sense of what people mean when they say they can taste Virginia tobacco in a blend. Thanks in advance!
 

TheWhale13

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 12, 2021
803
3,417
Sweden
Some people disagree with this but I find it at least reminiscent of the smell of hay. It's really not easy to describe, at least for me, I wouldn't say that it translates over well to a similar food.

There are too many great blends to count, but I would myself suggest that you would try Peterson De Luxe Navy Rolls and Old Gowrie for great Virginia perique mixtures. I'm not really that deep in straight Virginias but somebody here knows what to buy. Also cheap bulk blends could be nice? I haven't tried them myself since I live in Europe but you've got a lot of nice choices.
 
The flavors of Virginias are very subtle, like flavors of tea... very subtle, and requires you to smoke very slowly to get the most flavor. I suggest trying a ribbon first, and save flakes for later. Maybe, Astley's: No. 55, or F&T Blackjack
Also, maybe avoid VaPers till you get the actual flavors of Virginias down.

The reason for slowing down is that the flavors come from the oils being driven off of the tobacco surrounding the cherry burning in the chamber. The slower you go, the slower the cherry can push off those oils into the smoke for you to savor. YMMV
 

PiedmontPipe

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2022
145
2,921
I love Virginia blends. With some of them I get a light toasted bread with a little honey flavor, others are like a honey graham cracker. I second the “hay” descriptor. The mild sweetness is like the smell of hay or the sweet smell of leaves on the forest floor: a little wood-like.
I have enjoyed:
Peter Stokkebye Virginias,
Mac Baren Va. No. 1,
Newminster Superior Navy Flake,
Mac Baren HH Pure Virginia,
Orlick Golden Sliced (which might be a Virginia-Perique blend),
And Robert McConnell Folded Flake.

Smoke ‘em slow and enjoy.
 

canucklehead

Lifer
Aug 1, 2018
2,863
15,326
Alberta
Daughter's and Ryan 3 Sails and Windsail are good (and cheap) basic Virginias. C&D Yorktown is a decent readily available straight Virginia too.

There are also plenty of unicorn flakes you can chase if you decide you like straight Virginia flavours, they tend to have deeper, darker, characteristics and lots of competitive fanboy buyers.
 

SBC

Lifer
Oct 6, 2021
1,525
7,264
NE Wisconsin
The flavors of Virginias are very subtle, like flavors of tea... very subtle, and requires you to smoke very slowly to get the most flavor.
This is exactly right. You can compare some categories of tobacco to food parallels pretty simply -- eg. latakia to smoked meats / jerky -- but VAs are complex and subtle, and sometimes defy neat food comparisons. Cosmic's illustration (not parallel, but illustration) of tea is perfect.

(On second thought, one of the great VAs could be not only illustrated by tea, but actually paralleled to it -- Capstan Blue. It does have a sweet iced tea sort of taste.)

And what Cosmic said about the careful technique required to taste VAs is spot on. If you draw like you would on other tobaccos, you'll just taste acrid ash and wonder why others love VAs.

And red Virginias are completely different - more like dried fruit
Yes, different sub-genres of VA have different and typical notes -- yellows CAN taste cigarette-y if you're not extra careful, but with age and technique, they can taste like sweet hay/silage. Reds can have notes of dried fruit, dough, toasted sweet breads, etc. And so forth.

My favorites include HH Pure VA (probably my pick if I had to choose just one), Union Square (can be inconsistent... a little age helps... but when it's good, it's good), and Capstan Blue (which has a tangy, and as I said sweet-tea like character).

A couple others were mentioned which, while great, may not be what to cut your teeth on --
Newminster 400 is delicious, but it does have a caramel topping which may give you the wrong impression of straight VA.
And Orlik Golden Sliced is one of the best things I've ever smoked once it has a decade on it, but fresh it isn't nearly as good. More importantly, it's got a lovely apricot topping which may likewise get in the way of getting a feel for straight VA.

If you're new, you may shelve VAs a while. Many of us smoked latakia for years before VAs opened up to us.

Enjoy!
 

pipingfool

Can't Leave
Sep 29, 2016
369
1,476
Seattle, WA
Orlik Golden Sliced for classic bright, grassy, fresh cut hay, and citrus flavors.

Newminster 400 Flake for a slightly more fruity flavor.

Sam Gawith Full Virginia Flake (if you can get your hands on it) for dark fig, prune and molasses flavors.

A straight Red Virginia will give you more dark fruit flavors with some sharp/tangy flavors.
 

PoplarWight

Might Stick Around
Feb 13, 2022
88
604
Trapped in the root ball, Alabama
Orlik Golden Sliced is what "unlocked" a virginia sense for me when tasting blends. I feel like that was a perfect intro to a "straight VA" (it has some light citrus topping that brings out the brightness, and they say it has perique but that is absent to my taster). I think if you try that and Capstan Blue, you'll get a feel for what it adds to a blend. I haven't tried any straight Red VAs to know what that tastes like, but in blends I can't really tell it apart.
 

beefeater33

Lifer
Apr 14, 2014
4,089
6,188
Central Ohio
Hay-like............ Virginias are very much like hay smells......
I grew up on a farm, and as a teen baled hay for many local farmers. I still can recall the distinct smells of the different hays- Alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass, red clover, they all had a similar smell, but each was unique.

This is how I view Va tobaccos-- They all sorta taste the same, but if you spend enough time with them they are all completely different..............
 

judcole

Lifer
Sep 14, 2011
7,180
33,461
Detroit
What I haven't been able to figure out is what Virginia tobacco tastes like. Are there any Virginia blends you folks could recommend that would provide that classic or archetypal taste for a beginner like me? I'm just trying to get a sense of what people mean when they say they can taste Virginia tobacco in a blend.
There ain't no such thing as an 'archetypal taste", because there are too many ways to prepare Virginias.
I will give some suggestions for exploring these blends, however, some of which have been made.

Don't get anything with any perique in it - at all. Not for what you are trying to do. No Orlik Golden Slices, no Peterson Deluxe Navy Rolls. I will suggest the following, as fairly easy to find:
  • Amphora Virginia
  • Peterson Flake
  • Sutliffe Virginia Slices
  • Mac Baren HH Pure Virginia
  • Capstan Blue - Flake or Ready Rubbed

I mention these, specifically, because you can go out to your favorite etailer right now, and can buy each one of them. They are all pleasant, easy going, but interesting smokes. Enjoy. puffy
 

Grangerous

Lifer
Dec 8, 2020
3,266
13,164
East Coast USA
Quite informative. I dabbled in VA’s and I’ve smoked FVF and many of those listed but had no real dislike or appreciation. I did get subtle bread-like flavors when smoked slowly.

Of late I’ve been enjoying a Red VA/Burley blend and because of this thread I believe I’d enjoy Capstan Blue—which I’ve never tried. I have some Orlik cellared and some of the HH line and some jarred MacBarren Virginia #1. Perhaps a revisit or the addition of a few samples next order.

Great thread.