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Sherlock Holmes kept it in the toe of a Persian slipper nailed to the mantelpiece. It was dry and strong. Kept at what we today have deduced to be proper smoking moisture and smoked gently, this excellent Stoved Shag will provide hours of smoking pleasure. Examine the ash carefully. A shag cut Black Virginia tobacco, making it very easy to pack a pipe and burn evenly.

Notes: The first in the 221b Series is Black Shag, introduced at the 1997 Sherlock Holmes meeting of the Richmond Conclave of Pipe Smokers.

Blended ByMcClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured ByMcClelland
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
Packaging50g Tin
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy Iwan Ries
Product Image
Mild to Medium
None Detected
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

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Wiseguy1982 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wiseguy1982 (23)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

Ok, first of all, this particular blend has more in it than advertised. Even tobaccocellar classifies this as a straight VA blend. However, tin aroma, and pipe flavor/aroma do suggest some Latakia, it's unmistakable.

I packed my mini meer with the strangely cut leaves (I've never seen bits so small) and lit her up.

I bought this because I love Sherlock Holmes, probably like everyone else, but also because of all the lackluster reviews on it.

As I sat there, slowly sipping on my pipe, the flavors of the tobacco proved something to me.

Sherlock Holmes probably would have smoked something like this. All the naysayers can kiss it. Sherlock Holmes seemed to be very practical, in that buying a pound of Black Shag and keeping in it a persian slipper tell ME one thing. This tobacco was cheap and meant for smoking, plain and simple. It wasn't a choice because of flavor or aroma. Elementarily, it's tobacco and it smokes exceedingly well.

However, I did have little bit of a struggle keeping it burning, that could just be me trying to avoid the tongue bite so closely associated with this blend. Nevertheless, I got it to burn all the way down, with minimal bite, and absolutely no leftover dottle, or moisture.

This blend, as I said, is for smoking, not necessarily enjoying (though it is enjoyable) and to pass the many hours of contemplation life throws our way whilst leaving our pockets slightly fuller.

Love it or hate it, there is no grey area. I love it.

6 people found this review helpful.

Captain Pete Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Captain Pete (83)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

I feel that this may possibly be one of the more under rated blends on this site. This may be due to the fact that it doesn't really fit into any particular category of tobaccos; it's an oddball. Neither an oriental, nor a typical va. mixture, it is all together its own beast. But, I have spent many enjoyable hours contemplating how to pigeonhole this blend while smoking it.

As its name implies, it is a dark shag cut tobacco. The black to light brown strands are nearly cut like cigarette tobacco, meaning that some measure of care needs be exercised when loading the pipe. I find that it smokes best in a medium sized dublin bowl, but will do fairly well in a group 4 size bull cap/ rhodesian. If you have cellared your tin so that it is 3-5 years old, then you have done all that is necessary to turn what ordinarily can be a fairly mundane blend into a spectacular tobacco. Time does wonders for this.

Getting past the charring light has always been a little problematic for me with this blend, perhaps due to my extra caution in trying to light a shag cut va. (a bowl of Cardiff, anyone?). But once lit, this blend burns pretty well. I notice ocassionally that it will require an additional relight halfway down if I'm smoking it in a deep bowl. But, it always burns down to a fine gray ash.

The flavors in Black Shag are petty simple, but then again, not always so. Sometimes, with the right measure of puffing, in the right weather, this blend develops a wonderfully complex body. The flavors range from a cinamon-like spiciness to a rich smoky caramel sweetness. Intermingled with this is a distinct background note of orientals, but done with a fairly light touch so as to provide only a slight lingering mustiness. I suspect there is some dark fired leaf in here somewhere. The flavor is similar to Bombay Court, but deeper, and with a less refined edge to it.

I like it; it's gentlemanly without being too genteel. This is for the guys who refuse to adorn themselves with colognes and hair gels; for the aqua velva crowd only. My wife comments on how 'strong' and 'overpowering' this tobacco smells, but I think she secretly likes it. She says it smells like man.

6 people found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (683)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

Reviewing a tobacco based on what it is not is an easy trap to fall into if one does not like the blend. I've done so myself. As I see a lot of that here, I'm going to consciously avoid that pitfall and review it based on what it is.

I would not classify this as a shag cut - not like G&H's Kendal Kentucky. This is a small, tightly cut ribbon but not a shag. Mostly dark in color but not quite black, with streaks of brown. The tin note was very nice and not overblown. Not a sweet tobacco, this is more of a mildly tangy blend... but tangy does not really describe it well, either. The flavor does not overpower; the smoker has to be patient and puff slowly. Snorking helps this blend immensely, as it is a subtle flavor. Dark and toasty, and nuanced with a light coffee with cream flavor. Nicotine addicts should look elsewhere. I found this to be a good "wind down" tobacco and I preferred it smoked as the last bowl before bedtime (never understood how people can smoke a particular heavy lat blend loaded with nicotine before sleep, even if it is so named!) and as a "thinking" tobacco. Perhaps that's why it's named after Sherlock Holmes' blend! Great for pondering life's problems.

I enjoyed what this tobacco brings to the table. If you want heavy in flavor, a stoved VA is probably not going to work for you. But if you enjoy nuances occasionally and a subtly complex tobacco, this is worth a try. More tins headed to my cellar!

4 people found this review helpful.

Backwoods Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Backwoods Piper (64)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Opened a tin of this tonight. I had the tin aging in my cellar for a good 3 years. Interesting cut this shag, it could easily be put in a rolling paper and smoked like a cigarette if one was so inclined. Gold and dark tone tobacco with a sweet Virginia aroma. I decided to be nostalgic and packed a bowl in my calabash. Smooth smoke but not as satisfying as I would have hoped. I would have fancied it a bit stronger smoke based on the description on the tin. It had a nice sweet taste and a bit of a bite from what seemed to be orientals. The room note was pleasant and unobtrusive. Certainly a sipper even in the bash probably due to the fine cut of this offering. Going to try a smaller bowl next time. The jury is out on this one, I will have to smoke a few more times before I decide if its worthy of the cellar shelf.

Pipe Used: Calabash

Age When Smoked: 3years old

Purchased From: JR's Tobacco

3 people found this review helpful.

JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (1152)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

They say this is just a stoved Virginia, but I suspect something besides the processing causes the spice note. A dash of Oriental perhaps? Anyway, it's more mild than medium with a very light sweetness and toasty taste. There's not a whole lot of complexity to this blend, and I have found that aging it doesn't seem to change it in any way. I'll blame the topping for that. It needs to dried a little because fresh out of the tin makes it harder to keep lit. This is more for a beginner than an experienced smoker if you're looking to explore the world of stoved Virginias. It's a little too gentle for my personal taste. I'd give it three stars for the beginner and two for the more seasoned smokers.

3 people found this review helpful.

Coda Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Coda (32)
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I agree with the comment that this tobacco is pretty underrated. A nice virginia shag, Black Shag has sweetness, roundness, and a bit of a good way. The blend is mostly a dark shag, leading me to believe that it has a high percentage of matured Virginias. The blend is plenty sweet, well balanced, and just musty/tangy enough, create a pleasantly complex blend. Improves with age, be it in a jar, or the toe of a Persian slipper nailed to the mantle...

2 people found this review helpful.

doc'spipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
doc'spipe (202)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

Bought this last night at JR Tobaccos. A very subdued McClelland tin note - meaning not as much by way of vinegar, but present none the less. Decent moisture content and cut which made for easy loading/lighting. Burned very nicely throughout. I didn't get much of the typical Va from this, the flavor was Latakia-like - but subtle throughout. I may have picked up some Oriental notes as well. Smoked it in a Dunhill Cumberland bent billiard and enjoyed the experience. I'm not a Latakia fan and for that reason, Black Shag is not a 4 star smoke for me. However, I can see myself smoking it not on a regular basis, but definitely more than from "time to time." I believe it would please most smokers who enjoy Va or Latakia, but perhaps not for the aromatic smoker. It reminds me of Revor Plug, but not as strong and minus the "perfume" of RP. As with RP, I do not believe BS has Latakia, but the stoving of the Virginias apparently brings out that flavor note along with a smidgeon of non-Latakia oriental to augment the sweetness. A bit nippy on the tongue if pushed, but no real bite and no palate irritation for me. Can provide a sweetness that IrF, 3P's, Highland Slice, and HH Dark Fired don't - so if that's what I require, I smoke a bowl of Black Shag. Very dependable. And like Holmes himself, not what it appears at first glance/puff.

2 people found this review helpful.

A. Morley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
A. Morley (82)
Mild to Medium None Detected Very Mild Very Pleasant

Enough has been said, said by Sherlockians far less knowledgeable than myself, but said all the same, as to how, in spite of the name, 221B Black Shag is nothing like what Holmes actually smoked, so I won't belabor that point.

I have occasionally found it sad that there are so few blends found today that employ black Virginia. It really is a wonderful tobacco providing such an interesting take on Virginia by right of such a simple process. It then donned on me that there is no real need for very many examples, as black Virginia is a tobacco best left by itself. It simply does not blend well. Its good, dry, toasted flavor is fine by itself, but will cause any other tobaccos it is blended with to taste bland, bitter, or already burnt. This is what has happened with Black Shag. Even something so endearing as McClelland's red Virginia is rendered very weak and flabby tasting in the combination affected. I even smoked this stuff on the streets of London and it didn't help. Rattray's Black Virginia, composed of 100% black Virginia, by contrast to Black Shag, realizes to unsociable nature of this type of Virginia, and that wonderful tobacco, for me, proves my point.


A. Morley Jaques

2 people found this review helpful.

Joseph Durham Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Joseph Durham (16)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

McClelland?s 221-B Series is surrounded around the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. We grew up reading and watching the films of the witty detective smoking his pipe, and finding clues, solving cases left and right. Now, we have a special line dedicated to the man himself.

The first blend in this series is ?Black Shag.? The tobacco is contained within a small tin containing 50grams of this wonderful blend. The covering of the tin makes anyone that is a Sherlock Holmes lover to tear right into it. On entering the store, I grabbed a tin, removed the plastic cover, and pulled back the seal. I loaded up my pipe and enjoyed a full bowl before even buying. On the cover is a picture of Holmes smoking a bent pipe staring into his magnifying glass. While the design is simple, it is nice to look at.

Upon opening the tin you are greeted with not only the aroma but fine cut strands of brown, red, and black delights. The tin has the slight hint of the famous McClelland ketchup, but very little. After smelling the tobacco for a while the ?ketchup? disappears and you are left with the real thing.

Load the pipe as you like, there is no science to smoking this blend. It lights right away and it stays lit. With the first puff you will be welcomed with a slight spice, very enjoyable.

One should make sure that they smoke this bowl at somewhat of a slow pace. You do not need to smoke extra slow, but tone it down a bit compared to your usual speed. If you go a bit fast you will be victim of tongue bite.

This tobacco remains the same throughout the entire bowl; this is a real pleasure to get your hands on. I recommend this to anyone that wants to smoke a good Virginia blend and one that will not hurt your wallet. I truly enjoyed it and this will be a continual line in my cellar. I can?t wait to tear into the other two blends which are seated right next to me.

Pipeing Joe ______(_)

2 people found this review helpful.

NapaWineLover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NapaWineLover (66)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Very Pleasant

This seems to be one of those love it or hate it blends by reading other reviews. It's also interesting how different folks seem to sense different things present. Here's my take:

First off I love it for those times when I'm looking for something that leans to Full but isn't overwhelming. Usually a good choice early in the day and always for me in a small bowl. I taste stoved VA and Orientals with just a tad of unsweetened black cavandish which may be what imparts the ever-so-slight sweet essence. The firm shag cut right off the bat alerts the lucky piper to continuous light tamping since a lot of air-flow exists naturally as a result of the form. If one doesn't adjust to the cut, their experience is going to be terrible out of the gate, because the more firm kernels of tobacco permit a lot of air-flow and that can mean 'hot' if you don't adjust to a lighter puffing. Also, if this tobacco is smoked in any condition other than slightly towards the drier side ... an equally rotten experience will result.

On plus side is ... if you are familiar with this style of tobacco or make a few adjustments .... it is delightful. Understated in room note and a nice nut-sweet taste. To my knowledge and olfactory system ... there is not even a hint of latakia in this blend. The Orientals are smooth with some spice and the VA's are of the creamy stoved variety. I think this tobacco smokes best when it's a little crunchy to the touch ... if you must hydrate your supply ... do it sparingly in a humidor. Recently a friend gave me a supply that was very dry in the tin ... I mixed it with a little from a newly opened tin and let it sit for two days. It was almost too moist to smoke. Wonderful stuff - always on the list.

Cheers, VC

2 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (424)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

I'm gonna do a lot of guessing here so I might be wrong on multiple points. I think I'm right though and I'm sure that this is straight Virginia. I see where some others think there may be more to it than that.

A visual inspection shows me three components. 1. Fire cured Virginia (looks like small, black pieces of broken pine needles). 2. Stoved Virginia (very small, thin pieces of black broken flake) 3. Red Virginia (short brown shag)

The flavor is awesome. Tart, tangy, sweet, fruity, toasty, and very mildly smoky. Surprisingly complex. I find that it doesn't necessarily need to be smoked slowly, but it does need to be smoked gently. This is grade A tobacco and a top-notch smoke.

Mild to medium in body and flavor. Burns well.

Pipe Used: MM Country Gentleman, Diplomat Apple, Mark Twain

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From:

1 person found this review helpful.

Ephraim Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Ephraim (2)
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I have had an interest in shag cut tobaccos for a while now. So the name and association with Sherlock Holmes was all I needed to give this one a go. I've now been through three tins in about two months, so this blend has been in my daily rotation and will likely remain there as long as it's available.

Appearance/aroma- I was somewhat disappointed in that this is not a true shag cut. The strands are cut very short, and have a "rice-like" appearance, rather than the angel hair pasta appearance of true shags such as Five Brothers, GH Kendal Gold, etc. No matter though. A short and very tiny cut blend of predominately black (about 80%) and reddish brown tobaccos. The tin aroma is smokey, with the fermented McClelland aroma in the background.

The Smoke - In a blind test, I would likely say that this blend contains a wee bit of Latakia. However it is subtle and I'm not at all convinced this is anything other than mostly stoved Virginia. The smokey and lightly sweet flavors meld into a delicious, dare I say barbecue-like flavor with a similar aroma filling the room. Nicotine content is mild, so in that category I'm not sure this blend would be to Sherlock's liking.

Even though Black Shag is ready to smoke straight from the tin, I prefer to dry it a bit before firing up. I give it two charring lights and it's ready to go. About halfway through the bowl, a pleasant creaminess replaces the smokey flavor, while the sweetness turns to a gentle spiciness. Thoughts of (imagined) Latakia disappear as straight Virginia flavors take over in full.

Very easy on my tongue. This blend simply doesn't bite me at all. I could see potential for mild tongue burn for those given to such things, but given the cut this one should be smoked rather slowly of course.

Final Thoughts- McC. Black Shag is one of my go-to tobaccos. I simply love it and must have it on hand at all times. As a fan of Virginias, I find this one to be very unique. I really can't think of anything that tastes similar to Black Shag. Smokey, sweet and lightly spicy goodness. Highly recommended.

Pipe Used: Modded MM Eaton "churchwarden" cob

Age When Smoked: 3 years

Purchased From: Online

1 person found this review helpful.

Latakia Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Latakia (70)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

Beutifully shag cut. Bouught this at JR's out of whim not knowing anything about it. Not bad but nothing to rave about either. Very fruity and reminded me a bit of Dunhill Royal Yacht but then it has been a long time since I had that. Burned well. Something missing. Perhaps it is just that I don't like a full Va Stoved blend and need more latakia but this will not be a regular. I will keep it stored for a break from my usual English and Oriental blends that I prefer much more.

1 person found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1272)
Medium Mild Mild Pleasant

If you want a nice, cool smoke with a mostly virginia flavor interspersed with a smidgen of oriental leaf, then here you go.

Black Shag is a very fine shag cut dark tobacco with just a hint of English flavor. If you are after a big taste, look elsewhere. This whets the whistle without drowning the taste buds.

I smoke this on occasion and find it to be a delightful change of pace.

1 person found this review helpful.

idbowman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
idbowman (24)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

All in all, not bad. Unremarkable, but not bad.

In the tin, it is very, very black. The tin note is dark virginia, a hint of the usual McClelland "twang" and something decidedly woodsy. The description does not mention latakia, but I swear I can smell it in the tin.

It takes the light fairly easily and stays lit. Being a fine, shag cut it tends to expand and puff up in the bowl upon the first lighting, and I found that two charring lights were better than one to get things moving. Once it settles in, it keeps on truckin' and puffs through to the end of the bowl.

The flavor is very subdued. It is sweet/sour, tangy, and dark. After tasting my way through half a tin, I was no longer convinced that latakia was present - I can't taste any in the smoke. That said, there's got to be more going on here than just Virginia - I'd be willing to be there's a fair pinch of oriental in the blend, even if it's not included in the description.

Overall, the smoke is mild. What flavor is there is quite good, but you have to look for it a little bid. This makes for a good smoke in the early evening when you're trying to relax and just enjoy the pipe. If there's anything else to distract you, the blend is far less satisfying and overpuffing by just a hair can turn "understated" into "flavorless" in a hurry.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Jacinto Cupboard Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Jacinto Cupboard (120)
Medium Extremely Mild Full Tolerable

Visually a dark mix, roughly half black tobacco and the rest comprised of a mahogany coloured leaf with the occasional pale or blonde pieces. More granular that I would have thought a shag to be, could also be thought of as cube cut.

The tin note is predominantly caramel and dried fruit with an underlying spicy pepperiness.

Takes a light easily and burns to a fine white ash.

This is a very distinctive tobacco with an aroma that clearly divides and puzzles people. Well done to McC, the irony in this is sublime. The stoved Virginia component speaks for itself and scarcely needs elaboration. It forms the core of this tobacco, along with some complex red Virginias. The latter remind me of the quality and type of leaf in GLP's Filmore. They contribute a certain abrasiveness. My best guess, and I stress I am not trying to pass myself off as any kind of expert, is that the much noted spice notes in this tobacco come from Yenidje. Certainly, this tobacco has the sort of Perique like pepperiness and harsh mouth feel that I have noticed in McC's Yenidje forward mixtures. This also helps complicate this tobacco's almost perfume like notes.

This is a unique tobacco and well worth trying just for the adventure into strange blends. Probably not for the casual smoker or for those looking for a simple, unchallenging experience.

Lasts an absolute age in the bowl.

Pipe Used: Lepeltier/MM Missouri Pride

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Puff..puff..puff Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Puff..puff..puff (5)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

I smoke a ton of Gawith And Hogarth Dark Birdseye and love that stuff. Believe it is just dark stoved Virginia tobacco cut into a fine shag cut. I thougt I'd try Black Shag because it sounded like what I like and I enjoy a number of other McClelland tobaccos. I'm smoking a bowl of Black Shag right now and can't tell it apart from Dark Birdseye. This one comes tinned and the other comes bulk. Take your pick they are both great. Strong, lights and burns easy. I like it!

Now that I've had a bowl or two I actually think DS is a little better than DBE to my thinking. That little bit of distinctive McClelland taste comes thru just enough to give it a little more depth. I think it might smooth out a bit with a little aging but.....don't they all?

Pipe Used: Various

Age When Smoked: No aged

Purchased From:

Similar Blends: Gawith and Hogarth Dark Birdseye..

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SmokeDawg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SmokeDawg (73)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

It's a mistake to compare tobaccos against each other… every blend is carefully crafted with many reasons in mind, taste, burn, quality, aging.. but never " I made this so people can compare it to…"

With that said, if we knew nothing of McClelland and Black Shag was the only blend they produced they would be a success. Black Shag is a unique quality blend of tobacco that stands alone. I'm primarily a VA and Vaper smoker and Ive been meaning to try this but put it off until today. I found a tin of Black Shag at my local tobacconist with a date of 2011. Popped the top and found what is usually red and stoved VA in flake form but finally shredded. It had the McClelland VA smell and bit of vinegar and what's this? I touch of oriental that is giving it a small hint of English blend vibe, and dotted here and there with what I believe may be a wee bit of Black Cavendish they may be keeping a secret. It could be small bits of black stoved VA. What's not to love?

First impression, this was the exact rate of moister needed for a smoke now junky like me. This just didn't happen, McClelland designed it this way. This finally shredded VA goodness will have you locked and loaded faster than Delta in a Taliban firefight. I packed it in a pipe I just smoked and had handy, my monster Peterson XL305 (Ironically the Sherlock Holmes shape). Easy light and burn….

Ah….! There's that tasty sweet Red and Stoved Va I have come to know from some of my favorite McClelland blends, Blackwoods and No. 24 and even St James Woods. This time its in a easy ready-to-rock like a Hendrix CD. I can see Black Shag and I are going to be good friends. This is a great blend by McClelland. I highly recommend it if you like VA's. Easy tasty smoke I am giving my highest 4 stars as I can't find any fault with it.

On a side note: This blend is PERFECT for breaking in a new pipe. Easy to pack and control. It will burn even and easy to a sweet fluffy ash. You'll get the sweet VA carbon as well.

Pipe Used: Peterson XL305

Age When Smoked: 2011

Purchased From: JR Cigars.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Deleted Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Deleted Account (700)
Very Mild Very Mild Mild Pleasant

McClelland's 221b Black Shag smells amazing straight out of the tin. Stays well lit due to the cut of the tobacco. Upon initial lighting, this tobacco has quite a mild sweet taste with hints of vanilla. Room note is pleasant as well.

Pipe Used: Brigham Voyageur

Age When Smoked: Brand new tin

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tplumm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tplumm (32)
Mild Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I like this blend when I don't want to think about anything. Just puff on it mindlessly while reading a good book. A little sweet from the Va and a nice bit of latakia, regardless of what the package says. Great cut, probably one of my favorites. It's the smallest ribbon cut ever and loads nicely in a small pipe. This was also the first blend that I could truly smoke all the way to the bottom of the bowl to a fine white ash.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sgt_Fig Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sgt_Fig (3)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a distinctive tobacco that really hits the spot regularly and very enjoyable. Not as appreciated by my wife, but acceptable. The blend is a "little" rough, which is good from time to time. Quality is number 1; and I find myself going back and back to this special blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

seriousdan2000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
seriousdan2000 (3)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I purchased this tin on the fly from my local tobacconist simply because I liked the artwork on the tin (what can I say, I'm a sucker for good labels). Long story short, it has quickly grown to become one of my favorites. It packs very easily and stays well lit through the whole bowl. It has a wonderfully tangy sweetness that is perfect for outdoors on a warmer day when you just want to have some nice R&R.

For best results, after opening the tin I'd let it sit with the lid on for a few days before smoking. It really helps bring out the wonderful tang of this blend.

If your looking for a heavy Vitamin N hit you'll be let down but it does has just enough to make it a really enjoyable smoke. Try it and find out for yourself!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tsunoda Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tsunoda (3)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Just received my first tin in the mail and out of the box it is a very dark tobacco in real short cut shag, the tin aroma is very sweet and smelled(to me) a little ketchupy but with a stronger aroma of dried raisins and apricots, very pleasant indeed!. Passed the charring light and puffing on it now it can tend to burn a little hot being it is a pure Virginia(or just me lol) and the flavor is nothing surprising or complex, but it has a very nice Virginia flavor with pleasant tones of dried fruits and dark chocolate or coffee on the finish. Over all it's a nice smoke nothing suprising, but a good change pace for a die hard Latakia fan or anyone looking for a light summer or all day smoke. This is my take on it and I'll be keeping a tin in my seller regularly.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jhigh58 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jhigh58 (13)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild Pleasant

I bought this tobacco because the cut is advertised as shag. This is not the same cut shag as the G&H Kentucky Kendall that I have also smoked and that is also advertised as shag cut. This tobacco is cut in a shorter length strip than the Kendall. Some of the strips are shorter than others and appear broken. It is dark, very slightly oily and has a sweet smell. During my smoking I do hear and feel a gurgle or bubble. It is a little more difficult to keep lit and going than the Kendall. Because of the gurgle and the lighting I only recommend this tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Antihero Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Antihero (8)
Medium to Strong Medium Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong

As far as a shag cut goes, McClelland has set the bar very high, indeed.

I always keep a tin of this in my collection.I only ever keep this and the Sherlock Holmes tin from Peterson's as my aromatics selection.As a general rule, I am an English-blend-only smoker.

There is the smell of American BBQ , mesquite I believe it is called, although don't quote me on the spelling. The taste is full and somewhat strong, however as it is a shag cut, it is to be expected.

Shag, as many know, is not a type of tobacco, rather it is just the way the tobacco is cut. So, therefore, it is easy to pack and easy to light. It doesn't burn out and has a nice taste. There is the downside of a somewhat strong room oder. Not a wife-pleaser.

I, as a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society, had an immediate attraction to the blend by its name and known to be one of Holmes' favourite tobaccos. I was not let down and have always kept a tin in my collection. I even went as so far as to tack a real persian slipper on my wall and kept a bit in and to my shock, it enhanced the flavour! Perhaps there is something behind what Doyle had written upon.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ASKJDOG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mild Very Mild Very Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Tried this because I have read Sherlock Holmes, and love the movies. Off topic you must see the new English TV series Sherlock. Back t the baccy.. I was very disappointed. Don't bother with this one.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

krg1000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
krg1000 (155)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Like a number of other reviewers here, I had to try this simply because I am a Sherlock Holmes fan. This does not have the usually strong ketchup smell associated with a lot of McClelland's Virginia blends. It is there, but is very muted to me. This is a fine blend that lights and stays lit well. It produces a nice amount of smoke. I sometimes detect a slight peppery flavor about mid- bowl. Nothing offensive at all. The wife really does not like the smell that much, so it gets the pleasant to tolerable rating on room note. It burns down to a nice ash at the bottom of the bowl. YMMV, but all in all, I would recommend this blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

TTQC Driver Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TTQC Driver (6)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

I prefer English mixtures and enjoy watching Sherlock Holmes on PBS, so I ordered a tin. It is a pleasant change from blends with Latakia. I have enjoyed several pipes of Black Shag when at the dog park with my Borzoi, Lara. It is a mild tobacco which burns to a nice grey-white ash and is a cool smoke in my Canadian shape pipes.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JohnnyMcPiperson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnnyMcPiperson (94)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

This blend was a must try simply because of the name. Upon opening the tin I noted that it was indeed a shag cut, very similar to that of RYO tobaccos. On the same token, it reminded me of smoking an unfiltered cigarette, perhaps a Lucky Strike in flavor. This is a very mild smoke, a bit of sweetness, but very simple. For me it has ended up being a good blend for a night out on the town here in Spain, it is easy to pack and does not require attention. This blend did not wow me in any way, but it was enjoyable all the same. I think this would be an interesting one to mix with just a smidge of Latakia perhaps, although I wouldn't want to overwhelm the subtle flavors already present.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Fife&Drum Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Fife&Drum (22)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

This is a medium strength Stoved Virginia in a thinly cut shag. It's flavor has a muted sweetness, a nice toasted flavor, and a rounded, smooth spiciness. Not a strong tasting Virginia by any means, but fairly smooth and non-biting. The thin shag cut makes for excellent burning quality. I like this blend. It grows on you. Medium scores all across the board.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

paulw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
paulw (45)
Extremely Mild Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

If you want a very mild smoke that makes you think, you're here!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Claudius Stradivarius Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Claudius Stradivarius (171)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting a stronger mixture.

Quality is obvious but it lacks taste. Too bad!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Rustica Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rustica (16)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

For me this one really deserves a GOOD two stars. For what it is,a shag cut all virginia smoke, there is some really good flavor here if you are patient and sip it slowly. It is hard to go wrong with a Mclelland virginia and I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of ketchup smell. Not that I dislike that as it has been a precursor to some really enjoyable smokes, but this blend in the tin has a kind of zesty, spicy sweetness that transfers to the smoke as well. It's a mood blend for when I need something simple and pleasant tasting while I am studying. Why only two stars? Burns fairly hot even when sipped slowly and the taste falls a little flat in the last fourth of the bowl. Probably would be useful in blending. I found that adding a little cigar leaf helps a little bit.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

strongirish Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
strongirish (246)
Very Mild None Detected Very Mild Tolerable

I really looked forward to trying this one as a Sherlock Holmes fan. I expected a very fine, black VA blend like I pictured old Sherlock smoking. Now I understand why he kept his dottle to smoke the next day! He was looking for taste! First off, this is a fine ribbon cut, but not like shag as I know it. Five Brothers is a shag. This is not a black or even a dark brown but dark brown with a little reddish brown mixed in. It does have the dark VA aroma with the Heinz note wafting up out of the tin, but other than that, it does not have the wonderful VA aroma I look for. OK, so I load it into my pipe, it does load very easily and it is not too moist out of the tin. Upon lighting it, well, nothing really, kinda like a light cigarette. So I smoked it down some more, it never builds any charactor. It is mild, and it does stay lit well. But after smoking it all the way to the bottom, and again,I must give credit here for it smoking all the way down to a fine grey ash with no dottle and moisture, I never felt I really tasted much. No satisfaction at all. If this was my first intro into a VA blend, I don't think I would ever have smoked any more VA. This has to be the blandest VA I have ever smoked. So....I dried it out and tried it again....nothing! So, it goes into my cellar to age a few years and then try again. Hopefully it will gain some sweetness, but I cannot in good conscience recommend this blend. I mean it's not bad, but it's not good, and after all, lifes too short and there are so many good VA's out there.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

colt25314 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
colt25314 (42)
Strong None Detected Extra Full Overwhelming

Unique in cut and texture. Lacks complexity, but makes up for it in the way GH and SG do. I would not smoke this everyday but it is a classic in the old world sense of the term It is simply a 18th-19th century poor mans blend; and that is where it shines. You will not find another pipe tobacco like this one. Best to let it air out overnight. It tastes better, a least to me, dry.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

221B Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
221B (9)
Mild to Medium Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Well, being a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories I decided to give Black Shag a try. I have had one bowl and neither am love with it or despise it. To me, it will make a nice every now and then bowl....Holmes sent out for a pound of it before hard cases and surely this is what he stuffed in his pipe before solving a "3 pipe problem". This mixture is much milder than what he would have smoked I imagine however.

The first half of the bowl seemed to be burning rather lightly so about midway I applied a new match and noticed a nice change in flavor and smoke thickness. The taste was a bit zesty and had a lemon taste to it almost. There also lingered in my mouth the taste of cardamom for some if I was enjoying an Arabic coffee in Beirut.

I did find that it made a nice first pipe of the day and that I was able to read my Spurgeon devotional with the utmost concentration. I think this tobacco is a nice smoke for someone who wants to just be lost in thought or a daydream for an hour or so. The pipe I used was a Peterson Rocky Donegal B-10 and the bowl lasted for around an hour. As I said, perhaps my light did not do well the first time because the 2nd light applied halfway caused me to enjoy the last half better.

No bite whatsoever, and that might have been due to the Peterson P-lip. But I was also taking care of the tobacco and sipping it in thoughtful light puffs.

Final thoughts: Not the best ever, but surely not terrible....will finish the tin and perhaps buy another.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

wosbald Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
wosbald (111)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is a long, fine ribbon the aroma of which is typical McClelland funk with a touch of spice.

Though not particularly black, Black Shag is yet another take on a McC red and dark stoved VA blend. Of course, the VAs are of unimpeachable quality. The gentle touch of exceptionally smooth and aromatic Turkish leaf adds variance and an exotic elegance. The string-cut makes this both accessible to use and easy to abuse with harried puffing quickly conjuring a harsh bitterness.

Perhaps a McC homage to Presbyterian Mixture, Black Shag is a thoughtfully constructed blend exhibiting both élan and depth.

Chamber Gauge: Narrow to Medium

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kilmarnock Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kilmarnock Piper (233)
Mild Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Black Schwag. I don't like to give a tobacco one star. I would even give most drug store tobaccos two stars. Except Mixture 79. I wouldn't even review that one. Black Shag has no horrible flavors. It seemed to smoke well at first. But then I found that it was not at all pleasant and not like any McClelland I had smoked, but not in a good way. Harsh taste if you push it, no taste if you don't. I give it two stars only because pipe tobacco appreciation is highly subjective and others might like the blend. The tobaccos in the blend seem to be quality and I might like them if they were blended...differently.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pipe_organist Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pipe_organist (14)
Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

UPDATE: After letting the open tin sit (with the lid on) for about a month, and trying this blend in several different pipes, I've concluded that it smokes best when well-packed and in a smaller pipe. It's not my favorite blend, but given the price I paid for it I'll smoke it until it's gone, or trade it with someone who likes this kind of stuff. I raised my rating to 2 stars.


I picked up a tin of this just to try something different. It was an expensive mistake, as it was purchased in Michigan, so between the federal, state and local taxes plus the shop's markup it was one of the most expensive tins of tobacco I've ever purchased.

I've tried every method to pack it: loose, tight, air-pocket method, layer method, Frank method. It fought to stay lit every step of the way; it didn't char light and had to be relit constantly, burned unevenly, tunneled down the middle of the bowl almost every time, and gurgled and smoked wet in a pipe that has never had a wet smoke issue. It left a heap of grey/black ash in the ashtray with plenty of blackend chunks of half-burned charcoal-like bits.

It bites back hard if you over-stoke, which you have to to get the wretched stuff to light and stay lit.

About the only positive things I can say is that the room note is pleasant enough and the flavor on the pallete, when not scorched, is sweet and pleasantly tangy, without the usual McCelland "hot ketchup" taste.

I think I'm going to cellar this tin for about a year and then come back to it to see if it improves with age. It was too costly a purchase to either throw away or put into a catch-all "Hoover blend" tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mrmiloboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mrmiloboy (6)
Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

Upon opening the can, I wasn't sure about this blend. As I kept with it I developed a taste for it and have grown to really like it. I thought is filled the pallet and had a "round" flavor. Give it a chance, it might grow on you.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Guyrox Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Guyrox (131)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

I am sure that the black shag Holmes was smoking was definitively stronger than this one. And I cannot presume to compare between his or McClelland's for I am not among Doyle's characters.

Nevertheless, this tobacco is not unpleasant, by all means. But didn't hook me up either. I was expecting a bit more stoved VA than what was contained. There seems to be some oriental beacause I denote a spiciness, almost saltiness to this mixture.

The advantage is that it fills really easy and smokes easier still. The stoved VA is delicious, backed by that little saltiness in the background. Smoked slowly, it definitively has some good taste to it. Being a shag cut, don't push it or it will bite you.

Of the 221 B series, Arcadia remains my favorite. Then this one.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Punisher Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Punisher (44)
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

Black Shag is not a strong tobacco by all means, which contradicts the tin description. There is no major nicotine hit like Irish Flake, which spontaneously comes to mind as a good example of a "nicotine hit".

However, the nice lightly sweet and fairly present earthy taste derived from the dark stoved VA, supported by the spiciness of some oriental leaf makes this tobacco really interesting. The taste fully remains in my mouth for the whole time and even after finishing my pipeful but does not consist in an annoying experience, quite the contrary.

Its taste is quite unique. A tobacco does not have to make your head spin or make you sweat to be a good tobacco. It simply has to taste good. And Black Shag does.

However, I was expecting a stronger tobacco. That is the reason why I purchased it. Which impacts negatively on my final assessment

2.5 stars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

bigjonburley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bigjonburley (64)
Medium Medium Medium Tolerable

I originally purchased this blend nearly 5 years ago to the the day. my mason jar is labelled 02-14-04. Though at the time I though that this tobacco was very similar to 2035, though the volitized esters were constricted, at the time, due to the cut and presentation. With nearly a decade of age, this is sublime. If anyone else out there has a similar specimen let his opinion be heard because I want to know. This has the taste of prunes, black pepper, and citrus. I recently opened an 8oz jar of 2035 from the same vintage and it is very similar, yet because of the cut it smokes very different. If you can get this one aged it is different than anything you've had. For you you sherlockians(I ain't one, I'm a southern boy with a fetish for fine tobacco. not someone smoking a certain pipe shape living out a fantasy) this one wont find its home in the toe of a slipper. It will enjoy itself burning to a nice ash in the belly of a peterson.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tillmanj Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tillmanj (73)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

Well, the best thing I can say about this particular offering from McClelland is that it isn't offensive. There really isn't anything here to make me reach for it again, but I was not put off by it in any way, except for its complete mediocrity. Flavor is decent, strength is negligable, and room aroma is not particularly bad nor pleasant. If tobacco blends were created by government oversight comittees, this would be the end result.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipemanuk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipemanuk (76)
Mild Extremely Mild Very Mild Unnoticeable

If this is supposed to be a reflection of the kind of tobacco Holmes would have known, it fails miserably. It's thin, flat, bitter and really not worth the money. Absolutely NOTHING like an english shag tobacco...

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Big bad Jon Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Big bad Jon (232)
Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I was not sure what to expect on this one. I like Arcadia fairly well, but as we all know liking one in a series does not make the entire series worth smoking. I would like to make a warning to novice smokers = be careful = the cut of this blend (somewhat like cigarette tobacco will burn hot. If you have the discipline and a smallish pipe, read Dunhill group 3 or smaller, this tobacco has some good attributes. There is a slight casing of spice, like cinnamon that is present on match, but what I mostly taste while smoking is a nice warm earthy taste that is not very sweet. I do not know what a newer tin is like on moisture content, but my nine year old tin was drier than most McClelland tobaccos. There was still a vinegar smell but not as strong as most of their blends. I did like my tin a bit better after letting it dry out more, but it was smokable as soon as the tin was open. Over all there are a lot of other VA blends that I like better, and the possibility of third degree burns on my tongue if not careful leads me to go elsewhere for my VA fix.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

I thought this was decent. It did not make much of an impression on me. It will be only an occasional smoke for me, but it is decent enough that I will smoke it once in a while to mix things up. The shag cut packs and burned pretty well. Had not so good results in a small pipe. It went better in a medium one for me. Seems to go ok with coffee.

It just had that already burnt taste like when you smoke half a bowl and then let it sit all day and get back to it later to me off the start- probablly due to the dark va not being a good blender. I like dark va alone. Just not my cup of tea. By far I think Mclelland has better blends.

I could see some english smokers really liking this though, so I will say try it. Just don't order more than one tin till you see how it treats you is all I'm saying. I like the #25 va more than this. The cut is simillar but it is rich dark stoved va without the latakia. I'd rather see more latakia in the 221b honestly.

I like the honeydew in this series much better and that is on my "A" list.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

LeGunnCat Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LeGunnCat (18)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a nice offering from McClelland. Cool in the bowl, no bite as reported by others. I opened a tin from 2000. The condition was ready to smoke.

Lighting was a bit of a chore. Frequent relights kept me a bit busy. I was a bit lazy and didn't tamp this down more than once. Eventually we were set.

The sugary taste of Virginia hit the tip of my tongue about 1/4 into the bowl. I like this. The sweet nutty flavor satisfying enough to not have to puff hard to achieve. Mellow enough to roll through the nose and enjoy the aroma of the smoke. I was wary about opening a ton of this after reading the poor reviews, but had the opportunity when asked to trade some. VA smokers would enjoy this blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pop-pop's pipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pop-pop's pipe (96)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

Strong shag cut VA. Stoved. Not a wife pleaser. The wife didn't complain when I smoked Peterson's Irish Flake but complained on this one, go figure! Even Penzance only got a funny look, but this got a verbal opinion! EEWW! I like it. It's better than Honeydew, I like heavier smokes. This isn't too sweet,but isn't too strong either. I imagine drying out a bit would increase it's stregnth, but it would also make it a bit harsh too. I can't down this tobacco but it won't be in my rotation no more either. I imagine this would be overwhelming to a newbie, but after smoking Irish Flake, 1792, and Penzance, this is like BCA to me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

constantsmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
constantsmoker (63)
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Probably McClelland's weakest entry in its 221-B series of tobaccos. I presume that it consists predominantly of stoved VA and, if so, McClelland does it better with their MC 5105 Stoved Virginia product. An unremarkable product, at best.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

petersonsmoker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
petersonsmoker (9)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

This blend is a little underrated. It is a great Virginia tobacco with which to start the day. I have smoked pounds of this over my morning coffee and never experienced tongue-bite or a hot bowl. My only criticism is that I wish Black Shag was a little bit more of a proper English blend - but I guess that is why McClelland gave us Arcadia. A great AM tobacco!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

puro66 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
puro66 (74)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Blech! Wretched stuff and an insult to the venerable detective. To be fair though this is probably what the tobacco in the persian slipper tasted like after years of neglect.

Note: Deserves no stars. Moriarity was clearly behind this.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Moe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Moe (45)
Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable

Interesing shag cut. More reminicent of RYO cigarette tobacco. for the way its cut you would expect a bit more flavor. But you can puff and puff and it always seems like somthings missing. I think this ones kinda boring, and what flavor is there, isnt all that appealing. McClelland has some really good blends. This isnt one of them.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

donk93953 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
donk93953 (20)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild Tolerable

Ok, I'll try to think of something nice to say....the tin will be great for keeping something in...paper clips. In a word, awful. I've read the other reviews about lightness on the tongue, etc...I found it to smoke way to hot, the tobacco cut lends to that, flavor...uh, what flavor...smelled like cigarettes...I liked stoved Virginias, but with some taste..I'll stick with Rattray's Black Virginia...

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jackal Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jackal (11)
Mild Medium Medium Pleasant

This the kind of blend you love or hate. I love it. The lightness on the tongue and the smooth but spicy taste keep this blend interesting from the lighting to the ash. This could be an all-day smoke. I liked it best in a churchwarden.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

bernie c Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bernie c (6)
Mild to Medium Medium Medium Tolerable

My first couple of bowls of this were most dissapointing. Little taste, infact rather bland all round. Maybe I dumped the bowl out too soon instead of letting it really get going? My last smoke started just the same, and I had to really persuade myself to keep smoking. "Life`s too short to smoke stuff like this" I kept thinking to myself. The pipe was a very deep Comoy Oom Paul. A full 2 inches of bowl depth. Maybe this had something to do with the experience that unfolded. As I smoked away, it eventually hit me that this was actually "sort of o.k" and half an hour into my smoking, I suddenly got it. It was starting to taste sweet and deep and full. Rather like one of the Rattrays virginias like Old Gowrie. The sweetness also reminded me quite a lot of Escudo Navy Flake! After some time I was actually really enjoying this smoke. It does seem to take a long time to manifest itself, but when it does...a delightful sweet smoke will reveal itself to you. Most suited to large pipes with a deep bowl in my opinion. The impatient puffers need not apply. This needs dedication and patience.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Cosmoline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Cosmoline (13)
Medium Mild Medium Strong

I've approached this tin from several directions. The first smoke burned me badly. I switched to a HCA churchwarden and took wee little puffs, but it still burned and I had to relight it several times. I let the tin sit for a few weeks, and approached it again with a different pipe. Smoking carefully after the leaf had dried, I was not bitten or burned. But the taste isn't pleasant. And the smell is pretty nasty. I know Holmes kept his stash in the toe of an old Persian slipper, but ths stuff smells like it crossed the desert riding in one. I'll take the 7% solution, or better yet the excellent Arcadia blend in this same line.

EDIT: I let the tin dry for a few weeks and smoked another bowl in a church warden today. It's still not exactly good, but it's much better now that the leaf has dried out. I also packed it more loosely. It did not burn me this time, but the taste isn't really there. I'm going to stow it for a few months in a sealed container and see how it is after that.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (141)
Medium Mild Medium Tolerable

The smell in the tin was unpleasant, it smelled burnt or ashen, maybe that comes from the persian slipper it was stored in. The taste was unpleasant, again burnt wood. One can find far better stoved Virginias out there, pass this by.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Spike Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Spike (296)
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

If you are a fan of Dunhills' Royal Yacht mixture or would like something like R.Y. without the flavoring give this a try. This is a good change of pace tobac. I wouldn't recommend smoking this after smoking anything strongly flavored or following a mixture that includes Latakia. As a first smoke of the day or after one of the lighter Virginias it is tasty and satisfying.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

miracleman83 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
miracleman83 (13)
Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium Pleasant

For some reason this blend hasn't recieved the respect it deserves. I found it very tasty and very enjoyable. I've never had anything else like it. Not for virginia lovers. I'm not into all Va blends. Will buy Black Shag again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Top Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Top (3)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

This stuff was awful! No particular flavor either from agents or tobacco it was just plain flat, harsh and nasty tasting. Sort of like smoking dryer lint soaked in gasoline. Very finely cut and extremely fast burning, it provides maximum tongue bite for the masochist in a hurry. Halfway through the bowl I decisively knocked out my pipe and threw the tin into the trash. I'm sure somebody else out there will love it, but this one was definitely not for me. Top

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dougster Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dougster (31)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

This is a lot like a straight virginia in that it is fairly bitey, but it doesn't have the sweetness of a virginia. I don't detect any latakia unlike some of the other reviewers but I concur that it must have some orientals on account of its flavor characteristics.

The small chunks burn slowly, and since you need to smoke this fairly gently a bowl lasts a pretty long time. The flavor seems to build up as you smoke it. Its pretty good tobacco, but I don't think I would get it again. It reminds me mostly of a very mild virginia except it still has a bitey nature, which if I have to deal with bite then I prefer a fuller taste overall.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DUPE.1512 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DUPE.1512 (196)
Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is monochromatic, flat, and will melt the tounge. There is some latakia flavor in it and that is its only positive quality.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipeline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipeline (206)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

Enough has been said about the rich, tangy flavor and intoxicating room note (appreciated by the hardest to please non-smokers in my clan), not to mention its mercy to the tongue.

Becareful to not over pack the first and second fillings when you load your bowl. The cut of tobacco lends itself to clogging easily if aggressively packed or tamped.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

imago Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
imago (63)
Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a goody, in my opinion, but, if you're not careful, you'll blacken your tongue faster than a New Orleans chef can burn fish. The flavour and aroma have just enough heft to make this worthwhile and interesting without being overwhelming. Just don't puff too fast.

UPDATE 01/06/2005: My opinions as stated above are further proof that it is never wise to review any tobacco prematurely. I had written this review after smoking three or four bowls of 'Black Shag', but, now that I've (mercifully) almost finished off my tin, I can say without reservation that I do not care for this tobacco at all. Yes, the latakia presence is there, but that's about the only redeeming quality I find in it. This is one of the most flat, one-dimensional mixtures I've ever loaded up a pipe with. The only part of my previous review that I do not retract is my note about the tobacco's incendiary character. It STILL blisters my tongue to smoke it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DeltaSnake Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DeltaSnake (31)
Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

My first impression when opening the can was disappointment as it wasn't black tobacco at all but a dark brown virginia shag with some black in it. As I had told my tobacconist, it was going to be my gamble of the week (the new blend I try every now and then). It's a nice virginia, with a good strong flavor that stays lit well, so it's easy to slow down the puffs to avoid bite at the early stage, and from the middle on down it doesn't seem to matter how hard you puff. The flavor stays well to the end, it's not particularly sweet, almost more like a virginia-perique type flavor. Good enough to smoke the rest of the can, and I'll see if this blend is in my future then. I should note that people have speculated on Holmes' favorite tobacco endlessly, and having worked in a tobacco shop in my youth, I doubt this is the kind that he smoked. Holmes would puff all night with a clay for example, can you see anyone doing that with any virginia blend?

Nobody has rated this review yet.

chaplikc Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
chaplikc (135)
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I did not like this even when tried several times in several differant pipes. I find this to be rather harsh and bitey even when smoked slow. I could not see myself smoking anymore of this with all of the good virginia blends on the market. Mcclelland has several very good virginia blends in my opinion and this is not one of them.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Montague Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Montague (32)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

McClelland's Black Shag is the first of the 221B series. This is a blend with no major faults but at the same time has no great preeminently favorable qualities.

The pouch aroma is weak and holds similarities to that of a stoved Virginia blend. This blend contains Virginia, Oriental, perhaps Turkish, and no Latakia tobaccos.

This blend has a pleasing, easy to pack shag cut that contains the occasional stem. Black Shag is tinned with medium to low moisture.

Black Shag lights easily and burns in the same manner. An interesting side note would be that the smoke produced from this tobacco seems to almost have a blue hue to it. The room note, although not offensive, is somewhat bland and uniform.

The taste, like the room note, is quite mild, yet not in the least way offensive. Even though this is a more mild English tobacco, it still has the ability to produce tongue bite.

Overall, I recommend this blend to anyone who enjoys very mild English tobaccos or to those, like myself, who smoke it occasionally to create a change in pace from the more Latakia-rich blends.

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WxGuy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
WxGuy (95)
Mild Extremely Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable

Well, I guess that with over 100 blends in McClelland's repertoire, there are bound to be some I do not like at all and Black Shag is one of those. My tin was quite dry on arrival, a somewhat welcome change for a McClelland offering. Problem was, the tobacco tasted and burned dry. I don't know- probably the shag cut does not go well with my puffing style. I tried smoking real slow, but never really got much more than a hot musty flavor- kind of reminded me of that smell you get when you first turn on the heat after the furnace has been dormant for several months. I did not get bitten by this blend, but I can imagine it could raise blisters on a devil's butt if misused.

I cellared my tin for about six months, with a bit of rehydration. End result- dusty furnace. I can't say that it tasted "extremely mild" but I sure could agree with "flat".I hope I can find someone that appreciates this tobacco and I'll give them what remains. I have had enough for this lifetime.

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Darwin Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darwin (101)
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Smoking Black Shag is a flavorful, unique experience. I can't quite put my finger on its composition. Sometimes I think there's latakia in Black Shag and sometimes I don't. It probably contains a stoved Virginia and a little latakia; maybe there's a little perique or Oriental as well.

The flavor is rich and spicy and it leaves a tickle when I exhale through my nose. If you puff too hard it can be a touch cloying Towards the end of the bowl the spiciness builds and I get a nicotine kick. My main complaint is that it can be a little sharp and not as round as I would like.

This would never be an everyday smoke for me, but I will finish the tin.

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ilDominante Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ilDominante (11)
Medium to Strong Medium to Strong Medium Pleasant

This tobacco isn't bad. If you have a taste for stronger tobacco and you don't NEED to taste the Virginia in any pipeweed you use then this is a good choice.

It packs well given its composition of slightly harder-than-normal tobacco; it is moist and as soon as you open the tin you can smell Latakia and orientals distnctly. The ratio Virginia to orientals favors unequivocably the latter tobaccos, and frankly that's exactly how I like my smoke to be.

It lights very easily, often without the need of a second light.

It burns evenly and well, but as most McClelland blends it should be smoked slowly to really appreciate every draw. No need to puff nervously, you'll get a tongue burn and overheat your pipe. My advice is: smoke it in a pipe with a longer stem, such as a 3/4 of a bend or a full bend.

The Latakia is evident as soon as you light up; other orientals and some Virginia complete the picture and are more evident farther down the bowl. Some moisture is left at the end, as with every McClelland.

It is a strong tobacco, not necessarily adequate for all day smoke. It is sold in a 50 gr. so if you are an habitual pipesmoker it would difficultly last more than a couple of days as an all day smoke.

The room note is pleasant and not too strong. A good tobacco to keep around for those pensive moments.

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Danno Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Danno (89)
Mild Mild Mild Pleasant

Black Shag is a tobacco I will smoke in the evening, whilst reclining on the porch. Loaded in a large Peterson bent, it provides over an hour of no-frills smoking. Black shag is the tobacco equivalent of reading the comics page: easy and entertaining enough to keep you at it. Although I'm certain that Sherlock would have felt this leaf was far too wet and mild, I do enjoy its company from time to time.

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Willy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Willy (75)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I went on and gave Black Shag the highest rating because though I don't smoke it daily it is "One of my favorites" and I smoke it as often as possible. The shag cut packs and lights readily enough and I like the sweet, nutty flavor. I find that the sweetness lasts well into the bowl while becoming richer as you smoke down. Mostly VA flavor with a bit of tanginess, the hint of English flavor keeps the smoke interesting and tasty. Smokes cool down to a whiff of dry whitish ash. No bite and no problems w/gurgle when smoking this in a bent Castello Sea Rock dedicated to this blend. I didn't use any cleaners until the pipe was finished. I enjoy smoking this, and I think maybe ol' Holmes might even approve of this. Works for me.

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Deleted Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Deleted Account (700)
Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Strong

It has been a snowy month of February, so I thought I might get a tin of this to sample the next time I got "snowed in". That opportunity came over Presidents' Day Weekend. I opened the tin and did as the tin says, "smoke immediately". I poured myself a miniscule of a nice VSOP and loaded up a large Boswell 1/2 bent and switched on the stereo. Generally speaking, what one expects from a shag is a lesser quality of leaf, but the VA in this blend is quite good. While loading, I did notice a preponderance of stems, but after removing what I could I was left with a rich, dark, oily tobacco that makes me salivate. As Jeff Beck played "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", I fired up my Boswell. I was greeted with a rich volume of blue/grey smoke that was a little sweet, a little nutty. This gentle sweetness played with my palate for the length of the bowl. It did not gain much srength, nor did it develope much as I s-l-o-w-l-y worked my way down the bowl. It was my intention to smoke this as a pace that just barely kept it lit. What I received was a good and satisfying smoking experience. I will need to get more of this. No dottle remained - just a fluffy white whisp of ash and a desire to smoke more.

Give this a 4 out of 5.

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daniel5522 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
daniel5522 (2)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I was attracted to this tobacco by the image of sitting by a fire, persian slipper in hand, and puffing away late into the evening deep in thought and solitude.

The tobacco is predominantly back with dark brown strands. A few lighter brown strands are barely visible. The smell is ketchup light, and similiar to McClelland's Virginia #25. And yes, it will bite like McClelland's mature Virginia line of tobacco's.

The fine ribbon cut packed well in both large and small pipes (Ascorti bented apple and Small Barling pre-trans). It was moist, but stayed lit.

Once lit, the taste is predominantly sour with sweet/ nutty/ spicy leather undertones. I find it to be on the stronger side, though the smoke itself could be described as thin as opposed to creamy. The flavor did not change through the smoke with the exception of increased sweetness at the end.

There is a peppery effect when blowing smoke through the nose, and I find the overall pungent room aroma pleasant. I suspect, however, non tobacco lovers would not.

The finish was short with little aftertase (or does the toungue bite distract?)

I like to smoke a bowl as a break from standard engligh blends. It seems to rejuninate my taste for them while providing an interesting diversion. I would recommend this as an occasional smoke to stimulate the palate.

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Noorrmm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Noorrmm (193)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Appearance: Fine cut ribbon, almost entirely dark brown. Perhaps a bit finer cut than Royal Yacht. Seems to be the same cut as Va. #25, but #25 contains a fair amount of Red Va. More moisture than I like, but typical for McClelland.

Aroma: Pleasant stoved Virginia aroma, not particularly rich but naurally sweet.

Packing: The shag cut is fine enough for even my smallest pipes. It does require a bit of care packing into larger bowls to ensure evenness.

Lighting: Almost lights itself when you open the matchbox.

Initial flavor: Smooth, slightly sweet Va. Flavor, cooler than the cut would lead you to expect. Not as rich and flavorful as their Virginia #25.

Mid-bowl: Seems to hit mid range and high notes, but no low range which I miss. Can bite if you smoke too fast

Finish: Gains a bit more strength at the bottom, but leaves a nice gray ash.

Summary: I really wanted to love it for several reasons. The Sherlock connection for one, and the fact that I like Va #25. However, the hype failed in my case. I still prefer #25.

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pokrsmokr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pokrsmokr (32)
Mild to Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable

Let me start by saying that while a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuth, I am not an obsessed fan. Thus I was not terribly biased when tasting McClelland's Black Shag. With so many other wonderful tobaccos I can't see ever purchasing a tin of this. It seemed very one dimensional and that single dimension wasn't much to keep me interested. I much prefer Rattray's Black Virgina which is similar but burns much cooler and has a distinct sweet/tangyness which I found much more intriguing. I guess if your love for Holmes and Watson is so great that smoking the namesake is important, then go for it cause quite frankly it's the most interesting thing about this tobacco. It's ironic that the good folks at McClelland blend some of my favorite virginia & VA/Perique tobaccos (Dark Star, St James Woods)..what can I say, this isn't one of them.

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trevert Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
trevert (32)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

This is a pleasant black mix of ribbon tobaccos that's not so powerfully overwhelmed by that ominous ketchup smell in the tin. Still, the threat of tongue-frying lurks always at the edges of the experience... like finding Joe Pesci under your kitchen cabinets, you never know when it's going to punch you somewhere painful. It has a lot more flavor than most of the other McClelland's blends I've tried, and you can actually taste real tobacco over the heat. When smoked VERY slowly and VERY carefully, it's a decent experience and a nicely flavorful smoke though not particularly outstanding.

Nobody has rated this review yet.