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Benjamin Hartwell's Quail Breath Inn offered comfort and serenity to tired wayfarers during America's early days. Ben made his own
liquor. He blended his own tobaccos. This is his signature blend, kept in a keg near the hearth near the churchwarden pipes on the wall.

BrandBenjamin Hartwell
Blended ByAltadis U.S.A.
Blend TypeUnknown
ContentsVirginia
FlavoringNone
CutFlake
Packaging50g Tin
CountryUS
ProductionUnknown
Where to Buy 4noggins.com
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Strength
Mild
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
3.0
24 reviews
Reviews
4 star:
9
3 star:
7
2 star:
8
1 star:
0
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (567)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable

A little dull, though there's a very mild spice and some sweetness along with some vinegar. It's pretty decent if you want a "McClelland light" type of Virginia flake. Burns decently, cool, though you'll get a little dottle at the bottom of the bowl. More for the smoker who wants a break from heavier blends or just prefers a mild to medium Virginia with some ketchup.

1 person found this review helpful.

musicman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
musicman (81)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

This tobacco gets a solid "meh" from me. Its not great, its not bad, but with a whole slew of really exciting pipe tobacco out there life is too short to smoke "meh" tobaccos.

First let me tip my hats to the publicity department on this one. The tin looks fantastic and that nice little story about this made up Hartwell character is both intriguing and transcending back to simpler times.

The tobacco instantly has the McC ketchup type smell to it. The blend comes in a broken type flake that rubs out very nicely. Moisture level is spot on and it burns well.

All this blend needs is a little taste and it would be a real winner. Just chugging steam for me.

1 person found this review helpful.

rhogg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rhogg (10)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant

Smoking nice and smooth, not bitter at all. No tongue bite either, which is something I am struggling with.

I believe this is all Virginia. It is not a sweet sugary taste, and not too smokey.

When I opened the can it reminded me a of a pungent BBQ sauce and had the earthy undertone of a damp forest floor. That greeny undertone had me worried that it may be bitter, but I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth mild smoke.

I like it!

==UPDATE== Just smoked my first bowl of Escudo, and this BH tobacco is every bit as good. I am surprised that this tobac doesn't get more attention.

1 person found this review helpful.

Pipeline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipeline (206)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable to Strong

There are several references amongst my fellow reviewers to McClelland's style of Virginia flake associated with Signature Blend. I would go so far as to make the conjecture that this is made by McC for Consolidated. The fermented aroma from the tin, broken flakes, texture and quality says someone like the McNeil's put this together.

Anyway, my tin was from 1997. It produced an extraordinarily mellow effect, smooth on the mouth and nearly biteless. There seems to be a middling amount of Perique to my delight. Despite the flakes being properly hydrated upon popping the lid, the tobacco is nearly without aroma while burning, something associate with dried out tobacco. It does burn the eyes somewhat, though. Even flavorwise, I get the structure of flavors rather than distinct flavors when smoking and also a nice little tang. Hopefully that makes sense to someone else. I enjoyed it most in the morning with black coffee.

Not my cup of tea, as it is sort of bland as others have noted. I imagine that a little fresher, this flake had more character and edge. However, smoking 11 year aged tobacco makes this special and that means, to me, that there was good quality to start. Time does not heal all wounds, and this would not be what it is if started with inferior ingredients.

1 person found this review helpful.

ken_mays Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ken_mays (8)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I have tried a lot of VA flakes, but the great majority of them torture my tongue too badly to smoke more often than once a week.

Hartwell's Signature Blend is far and away the coolest smoking VA flake I've ever encountered. It gives up a fraction of flavor intensity but it's a very welcome trade for me. For the first time I was able to smoke a pipe all day while working outdoors.

The tobacco isn't overly moist and quickly dries to a smokeable consistency. It rubs out very satisfactorily without the difficulty sometimes encountered with the gummier stoved VAs. Once properly dried, it smokes all the way down with minimal relights.

I generally like perique in my flakes but do not miss it here. The flavor is a bright Virginia without a lot of dark complexity. The room note is typical VA as well.

It's my favorite flake by far, simply because I can smoke as much of it as I want without forced timeouts. I'd love to find it in bulk someday.

1 person found this review helpful.

langston302 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
langston302 (14)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I have been looking at this tin on the shelf of my B&M for over 6 years. I have intrigued by the tin and had no preconceived notion of what to expect. I opened the can and found the smell to be unique and strong. I liken it more to a honey hickory smoke smell. I liked to look of the flake and its easy to rub out. It packs well in the bowl and takes a prelight well. I find the smoke itself to be cool and rewarding. I am able to get copious amounts of smoke and I can tastes the slight undertones of sweet hay and some spice. Its a predicable smoke as for me it does not change much throughout the smoke session.

For me its a damn good light VA blend that will see regular rotation in the day.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

al1 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
al1 (58)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Kinda like sweet and sour. Not the best va around. Not the worst either. A little vinegary smelling to me. Kinda makes my eyes want to water sometimes from the smoke smell.

Scotty's old red is superior for less money in bulk though.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1005)
★★☆☆
Very Mild Mild Mild Very Pleasant

Wow..... Here's a tobacco blend that I think is summed up perfectly by Tantric and Flint. If you read their reviews, you will notice that Tantric finds the flavor to be a bit too monochromatic for his tastes..... But, Flint finds the lighter flavor delightful. I think both gentlemen hit the nail right on the head. If you are into a heavier Virginia taste, old Ben's John Henry won't float your boat. If, on the other hand, light and spicy sounds good, then here you go.

As for my humble two cents worth..... If I felt like a rapid follow-up load after chugging away on a headier brew, I would fill 'er up with Signture Blend for a lighter, sweeter smoke to give my palate a rest.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ajaj Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ajaj (69)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable

I am reviewing a tin from 1997 so please keep this in mind. I have never seen so much sugar on a tobacco before; about half of the tobacco is covered in white crystals. The standard McKetchup smell is there but its a little muted and joined with a musty odor. The smoke has a similar musty odor and taste which is a little dissapointing. Overall, a nice straight forward virginia with a little pepper to boot.

aj

Nobody has rated this review yet.

'Baccy'Ho Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
'Baccy'Ho (10)
★★★☆
Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a copy of a review I did in alt.smokers.pipes. The tin. Typcial pop-top 50g tin. Black label with Silver print. The tin description reads: "A balanced mixture of smooth refined virginia tobaccos, naturllay sweet with a little zest. A broken flake to be rubbed to taste. Light enough to smoke in the morning, rich enough to satisfy after dinner."

Popping the tin. The description is accurate, an amount of reddish broken flakes reside in the tin. The appearance reminds me of McClelland 2010, but has more the color of 5100. The tin aroma is nearly identical to 2010, or to say...catsup. The broken flake seems a bit moist, but not excessively so. Rubbing. I opted not to fully rub the broken flake, but to partially rub some of the smaller crumbled flake. The bowl loads and packs fairly easily.

Flame to bowl. Charring light..... The initial flavor is that of bright but somewhat stoved virginias. The smoke is typical white/blue.Not overly sweet, and if there is a topping, I can't detect any. This seems to be good straight VA.

Tamp and a Relight......smoking... Honestly, I can't tell the difference between this and 2010. While both are a good VA smoke, I prefer 5100. The flavor/palate is very bright and indicates to me that this would age well, and sweeten over time.

Required relight. Approaching Midbowl, the flavor is rounding out nicely, the brightness is still there and is indicating the possibility of bite and some good ole' VA sweetness is coming on. The ash is fairly course and gray mottled with black. I suspect this is due more to my not having fully rubbed out the flakes than to the leaf itself.

No more relights required even after setting the bowl down to type and take a drink of coffee. Mid to bottom bowl. The flavors of good VA's are really coming on. The sweetness is also coming on very well. Our lady nicotine is making her presence known , but not strongly. The brightness is subdued a bit, but still present. I am really enjoying this bowl as I contemplate what to type next and altnernate adjectives I might use.

A little gurgle and a pipe cleaner.... Bottom of the bowl. There is some moisture present and I swab with a pipe cleaner, there is little steam with the smoke, but the pipe is fairly dry. I suspect a little drying after rubbing would alleviate this. The flavor is sweet and rich with what VA lovers smoke VA's for. That wonderful rich flavor is present, but makes it's appearance late in the bowl.

Comparisons For the money, I will stick to McClelland 2010 or 5100 for a good reliable VA smoke. Rated on it's own merit, Altadis has done a nice job with this blend. I recommend fans of VA's to give it a go. I will not however be buying more tins of this. If Altadis where to sell it bulk and price it to be competitive, I would consider adding it to my cellar for aging. That is where the remainder of this tin is going. I will probably revisit it in a year or so. I bet that it will age wonderfully.

Overall, this is a good smoke in the traditions of what a pure, straight virginia should be.

'baccy'ho

Nobody has rated this review yet.

fatherjohnny Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fatherjohnny (4)
★★★☆
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

Opening this tin is an experience in itself as the first whiff reminds one of sort of a good beef jerky with a slightly pungent odor. It has a Earthy ochre colored and thick broken flake. Smoking this little gem I found that even extensively rubbing the flake out I had some difficulty keeping the pipe going without multiple flames. The flavor is slightly spicy and a very slight tongue bite which may be due to many relights required to finish the pipe. However it smokes cool with a mild to slightly medium spicy flavor. Once one gets use to this blend I would think it would be an all day Virginia blend to add to one's smoking pleasure as I found it builds to a rich and slightly peppery flavor finish which is quite enjoyable. The room note is not as nice as evening stroll but certainly is tolerable to passerby's. One final note: this would be a good blend to clear one's palate after a more strongly orientated pipe experience.

Rev. Father Johnny Shepherd O.C.S.T.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mr. Dottle Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Dottle (162)
★★★★
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Several previous reviewers have mentioned a citrusy / spicy flavor. I noticed neither but the taste is what YOU perceive. The perique, if in this blend, went unnoticed by me. On my palate, Signature Blend, by Altadis, delivered a mild and mellow roasted and toasted VA flavor with a slight sweetness and no bite. Yes, it is largely one-dimensional but I never fault a blend for this quality, i.e., if it is good in the beginning, you know it will be just as good at the end. This is an excellent blend to curl up with on a cold winter?s night in front of an open fire???..with your chestnuts.

A cigarette is to be smoked. A cigar is to be enjoyed. A pipe is to be savored.

I rate this tobacco 9.5 out of 10.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

UncleGar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
UncleGar (107)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

I bought a few closeout tins of this and I suspect they have a few years on them. Please keep this in mind if your results are different.

This has to be the most tin-pungent of all Virginias I've smoked. Woof! It makes my eyes water. I keep it in a pouch and wonder if the fumes alter the lining at all. That said, it is indeed a very mild tobacco and remarkably well behaved: no bite, no sourness, no burning mouth. Indeed, no perique is present; I might be tempted to add a tiny bit despite my issues with it. It just needs something more to grab my interest. Its only fault is a recurring bitterness in the last quarter. I do like the room note, it smells far richer than it tastes. Compare this one to F&T's flakes for subtlety.

I suppose this is a good intro Virginia for those unsure of the genre. It's just too bland for me for most days; give me my Hal O' the Wynd. It still was a bargain, though, and is nice to have when my mouth is sore or when I've had enough nicotine but still crave the comfort of a smoldering bowl. Not quite a three-star for me, but it might be for you.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dizzy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dizzy (13)
★★★★
Mild Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

Signature Blend is one of the most beatiful flakes I've encountered, and I tend to gravitate towards flakes so have seen quite a few. In the tin it is an earthy ochre colored thick broken flake. Not dense, but pliant, and easy to pack as is or rubbed out further. It burns effortlessly and cooly, delivering a slightly sweet, unobtrusive flavor. I don't detect the spiciness it claims nor the citrus tang I would expect from this type of VA except as a very subtle undercurrent. Signature Blend is an attractive friend that I enjoy spending time with but know we'll never become lovers and don't even bother flirting with her. She's a pleasant companion for strolls around the park or watching a movie, and while I'd call her up every once in a while, it isn't a steady sort of relationship. I recommended it as a 'favorite' because it's an excellent tobacco at a great price point that ages well, but honestly I'll smoke Signature Blend only on occasion and as a palate cleanser more than anything.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Noorrmm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Noorrmm (193)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

If McClelland Virginias remind you of ketchup, this one might be BBQ sauce. There is a pronounced vinegary, sweet and spicy aroma to the blend. The flakes are well formed and of medium thickness. Any packing metnod from fully rubed to fold-n-rolll works well.

The tobacco lights easily, but not too fast, and starts cool. There is a definite tangy note to the smoke, but the BBQ sauce isn't there when it's burning.

It is a bit monochromatic for my taste, totally without layering or nuances and unchanging from start to finish.

Overall, a nice enough medium blend, but not good enough to displace any of my favorites.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Bootknife Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bootknife (17)
★★★☆
Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable

I am not a Virginia fan but decided to try this anyway. The tin aroma is almost grassy/hayey under the vinegar top notes. The burn is fairly even, either rubbed out or folded and stuffed. The flavor is spicy and citrus like with a slight sweetness to it. I was supprised that the flavor is fairly consistent, only getting a little spicier toward the end. I do not detect Perique, I think the spicy "Hot" notes are more from the fermentation (evident from the vinegar aroma) of the Virginias. Ash is whitish grey and the burn is average. One relight per bowl, usually resulting in a complete burn. No bite. Public reaction has been about 50/50 accepting/put off by the aroma, which does have some of the typical cigar/cigarette notes to it, albeit sweeter than these for the most part.

I plan on keeping this on hand.

If this is the sort of thing you like, you will like this sort of thing.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SlowDraw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SlowDraw (23)
★★★★
Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Ben's blend seems to me to be carved from a similar mould to McClell's 22,But it is lighter in colour, flavour & zest ( & bite respectively) In fact you'd have to puff away like a man-posessed to get this to bite. Very tasteful, general mild fruitiness to it, both in the tin & in the bowl which is pleasant to me ,nice rich VA finish , Minimal relights needed. Personally I don't sense any Perique - I could be wrong, but I think that's just it's mild yellow-VA zestiness that folks find 'peppery'. It may also have very subtle topping as well -though far from aromatic levels. IF this is McClelland work,this is easily their most accessable VA, either way whatever. I'd recommend this to old & newcomers to virginia, though not if you crave complexity.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tim W. Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tim W. (5)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I bought this tin on a recommendation that it was a very good Virginia / Perique blend. I can't really detect any Perique. The tin aroma is indeed reminiscent of "a certain company" as Evil Catfish notes. I found this a bit off-putting, but hey, the tin is open and the pipe is waiting.

The colorful broken flake rubs out a bit and packs easily. A charring light and then in to the bowl. This stuff has a great somewhat sweet flavor, one of the tastiest of the few Virginia flakes I have fired up. Signature Blend smokes very cool, no bite here - just smooth and very tasty.

I'm glad I got past the tin aroma, the smoke is very rewarding. I guess I found a Virginia that like me. The feeling is mutual. Good stuff indeed! If you get a chance to try this blend, do so even if you aren't a big Virginia lover.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

flint Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
flint (30)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Being new to flakes I'll try to do this justice. Upon opening the tin it has a wonderful tangy, citrus and pepper smell. This is a straight forward honest virginia. It's mild, sweeter and cooler than other virginias I've tried. Some will say this is one dimensional but that's exactly why I like it. This is cool with no tongue bite and won't make the room spin, my all day virginia blend. You don't have to search or concentrate to find the flavor it delivers without a fight. It rubs out, packs and lights easily burns down to a white ash very nice. Leaves the palate and pipe clean ready for another bowl. Try this if you like straight virginia.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tantric Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tantric (263)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Signature Blend is a very tasty Va broken flake. I find it a good option for a change of pace, but I would not smoke it constantly. A slight vinegar-acid aroma emanates when opening the tin, but it doesn?t carry on to the pipe. It is easy to pack, and it burns very nicely. I had no trouble keeping it lit. It has a tangy-sweet natural flavour, yet there is nothing complex about it.

I think it is a blend every Virginia lover should try. But if looking for the more mysterious subtleties in flavour and composition that other Virginian blends possess, this may no be your best choice.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Paul Tatum Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Paul Tatum (86)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I have a hard time with Va tobaccos , but this blend is very smoker friendly. I was at a pipe show and had no tobacco . In a hurry I grabbed the first thing I laid my hands on at my partners table. I was a little disappointed to find that I had selected a va ( I had assumed that anything with a black lable would be a latakia blend!), but upon lighting it I was very pleased. Spicy in the tin and cool and flavorful in the bowl. This packs a lot more flavor than a lot of the va's I have had. I'd reccommend this for anyone interested in va blends.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

NEWMAN Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NEWMAN (260)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is the 1st blend that I've tried from Consolidated Cigar and I wasn't disappointed. A nicely formed flake that is easy to pack and keep lit. Overall a cool smoke that starts with natural sweetness from the VAs and grows into a slightly more tangy and richer taste. I sometimes use this for an all day smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Evil Catfish Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Evil Catfish (10)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I received a tin of this for free at the 2001 St. Louis show and swap and am quite glad I did. Upon opening the tin there is that wonderful tangy virginia smell inherent to a "certain" company's virginia blends. The flavor of this tobacco starts somewhat light and sweet but builds to a rich, slightly peppery finish which can be appreciated by all. Try some, you will not be dissapointed.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

arnie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
arnie (4)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I'm a perique-weenie, finding it too strong and unpleasant in Escudo and Haddo's Delight. I like Signature Blend however, despite its presence.

While good enough when young, some age makes this absolutely delicious; citrusy sweet and sour, with that hint of pepper. It satisfies in a single bowl but I can smoke three in a row without getting tired of it, and the bite is manageable. This could be the everyday VA/P blend for perique-weenies!

Nobody has rated this review yet.