Virginia Woes

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alex87

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Jul 30, 2012
194
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So I have been thoroughly enjoying my journey through the wonderful world of pipes and tobacco. I have broadened my horizons and tried blends from all over the spectrum. I have had my most pleasurable smoking experiences with mild lat blends and (my fave) orientals...
However, there is one area that I have immense difficulty enjoying. I love the taste and notes of Va's...but I cannot seem to be able to keep them lit.
I have tried everything from smoulder smoking, to jets of hot lava. Cobs to my '87 dunny, outside to indoors, and I always end up with the most delicious first half bowl, only to stall half way and end with what can only be described as soup.
No matter what I do I end up with the same result, a sopping mess of tobacco swamp in the bottom half of my bowls. I cube cut some dry, but not crumbly, Oxford Flake from peretti's this evening, and lit it up. Great char light. Great true light. And the lovely sweet Va smoked away.....for about 15 mins...after much fighting I dumped the remainder...and poured out the mess...yes, poured.
This is mostly just a gripe post haha but I thought I would share my Va woes with you all. Its not just this flake either, even ribbon cut va I have trouble with. I have little issue with packing for my other blends, but I just can't seem to crack the chestnut that is Virginia's.
Anyone else have problems of this nature? Any types of tobacco that you just can't seem to get "right" no matter how much you love the flavours?

 

sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,733
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My advice would be to start with VaPers and ease into straight Virginias. I've found Escudo to be extremely user friendly (as well as a world class smoke).

 

lestrout

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,639
6
Chester County, PA
alex - for me McClelland style VA flakes are the hardest to keep lit. I give them copious drying. The German/English/Danish flakes are easier to light and keep lit. Give MacBaren, Dunhill Flake or Erinmore a try.
hp

les

 

andrew

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
2,883
3
Yes getting the right level of dryness is the key to enjoying VA's. Either cube cut or rub out a bowl and let it dry about 30 minutes first. Some VA's take a good week almost to dry enough fresh from the tin, ESP. McClellands, if they aren't dry enough it's a gurgly mess that bites like hell

 

pitchfork

Preferred Member
May 25, 2012
3,847
18
Probably won't be the first time (or last) that you hear this, but looser packing helps. I'm fairly experienced with VAs, but if I end up with a hot, damp smoke, it's usually because I've packed too tightly.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,688
1,630
I don't mind my Va's to get a little on the crunchy side. But, I have to be even more careful to smoke slow with the dry leaf, slowly taking in those subtle tingles of flavor. If you go too fast, they'll bite.
I didn't find VaPers a help in easing into the Va's. In the beginning they were just too spicy for me. I just started with Astleys 109, and branched out from there. 109 is still my goto. It's just so delicate and I love that earl Grey tea note that it picks up mid-bowl. I am getting more into VaPers now, but earlier in my transition to Va's, they were just overwhelming.

 

petes03

Preferred Member
Jun 23, 2013
5,245
2
I don't fool with Va's very much. That being said, McC Deep Hollow is my favorite Va. I give it maybe 15min of drying time, with 2 or 3 relights per bowl, and I only get a slight moisture in the bowl. It's not super wet like a lot of aros are, and not as dry as an English. Just a little damp towards the end.

 

burlpettibon

Member
Sep 1, 2013
210
0
Tacoma, Washington
I am just getting into Virginias so I only have one blend and that is Ashton's Gold Rush. Its a mix of ribbon cut and rubbed out flake. It has a bit of tongue bite if you puff on it too hard but I havent had a problem with it going out or accumulating a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl and this is from a relatively new pipe smoker. My wife who is also just getting into smoking pipes likes it and though she has a bit harder time keeping it lit, also has never had a problem with this soupy mess situation. Maybe its just a Flake kind of thing? Or maybe Gold Rush is just an exceptional blend... I dont know what to tell ya! Just thought I would share my own experience with a Va blend

 

alex87

Member
Jul 30, 2012
194
0
I am fully placing the blame on my packing/drying. Just appears to be a long learning curve when it comes to Virginia's for me it seems. Just means I have to buy more to keep practising haha, or so i'm telling the wife. Maybe i'll have better luck with a ribbon cut Va...time for some Christmas Cheer to go on the next TAD order.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,892
1,970
United States
Alex, what Virginia's are you smoking? I would recommend grabbing a tin of Brigham Klondike Gold or Dunhill Flake and see how they smoke for you. Both come ready to smoke out of the tin with no drying. If they get wet, then it is definitely your technique.

 

northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
1,390
0
I have to agree with pitchfork's comment about packing looser at the bottom. I find this affects how wet the bottom of my pipe gets more than the dryness of the tobacco. In my experiences, a tobacco that would be considered "wet" will still smoke well if packed properly. And a dry tobacco will generate a soupy mess if packed to tightly.
As with all aspects of this wonderful hobby, prictise makes perfect.

 

metalheadycigarguy

Preferred Member
Apr 26, 2012
2,577
1
Washington State
I know that if I want a bowl of Orlik Golden Sliced its best for me to pack the bowl ahead of time. If I want a morning smoke I'll pack it the night before. If I want it in the evening I'll pack it that morning. Letting it sit out all day seems to help a lot.

 
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