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Years before tinning, this tobacco begins as bright yellow, sugary top grade Virginia and Carolina leaf. Through careful triple aging, pressing and stoving, it becomes rich, cool and dark. A seductively spicy aroma develops during the extended maturing process to complement the complex flavor of this concentrated, smooth broken flake, which is easily rubbed out to suit any occasion.

Notes: From McClelland: Occasionally we meet someone whose familiarity with a variety of tobaccos, sensitive palate, and desire for "that special tobacco" provide an inspiration for us. In seeking to satisfy a taste other than our own, we pleasantly surprise ourselves with beautiful results. This is what the Personal Reserve Series is all about. We developed this concept early on as a way to enhance our creative spirit. We are proud to offer these fine pipe tobacco blends, and hope you will enjoy them.

BrandMcClelland
Blended ByMcClelland
Manufactured ByMcClelland
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
ContentsVirginia
FlavoringNone
CutBroken Flake
Packaging50g Tin, 100g Tin
CountryUS
ProductionCurrently available
Where to Buy Iwan Ries
4noggins.com
SmokingPipes.com
PipesAndCigars
Product Image
Strength
Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable

Favorite Of 13 Users

3.1
190 reviews
Reviews
4 star:
84
3 star:
62
2 star:
32
1 star:
12
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ruraldean Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ruraldean (3)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This is my first review, never having had the confidence to do so before, so it'll likely be a short one.

to start with I'm predominantly an English and Balkan smoker, so that's where I'm coming from. That said, I knew I needed to overcome my fear of being bitten by VA's, and to be honest the tin design sold this to me. I am a simple soul.

On opening the tin I was hit predominantly by the smell of uncooked Christmas cake, a rich plummy odour. The ketchup smell was also there but expected, and I know it has no bearing on the smoke whatsoever. The flakes themselves were dark, rich, and had a rubbery feel, moist as they were. Being fairly new at contemplating the tobacco itself, rather than the pipe I smoke it in, I was surprised not to see any trace of bright colours, something I found reassuring as a man with VA phobia.

I know that flakes can be a problem, and I prefer dryer baccy, so I gave it 30 minutes before rubbing out and packing a small Kaywoodie Zulu fairly solidly. I then sprinkled some of the "dust" on top as kindling.

I light using the "5,3,1" method, ensuring a deep overall burn, and settled down with some trepidation, praying my tongue would survive this pure Virginia experience.

It did.

Not only that, but I was rewarded with a long, cool smoke, free of any bite. I put this down to the triple ageing and stoving. As always the second half of the bowl produced the most satisfying flavours. The smoke is white and billowy, and unlike many other reviewers I had no trouble keeping it lit, mainly I think due to frequent and gentle tamping, and that good initial light.

This is a great introduction for a new VA smoker, which surprises me as it has the feel of a "high end" tobacco, which I would have initially imagined would be fairly temperamental, as most pedigrees are. I am pleased to say this has been an outstanding introduction for me to the world of VAs, and has given me the confidence to approach VAs as a regular part of my smoking experiences. Highly, highly recommended.

7 people found this review helpful.

Inquisitor Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Inquisitor (155)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

One of the best damn tobaccos you will ever smoke. Period. This has incredible high, middle and low-range notes. It has delicacy and complexity, while simultaneously being rich, flavorful and deeply satisfying. Every six months of additional age it receives makes it even better. This is perhaps the finest example of the naturally high-sugar, zesty American style of Virginia.

Can this one bite you? Absolutely, due to the sugar content. Should you avoid this because it bites? Absolutely not. My tips to maximum enjoyment of this blend are: grind it quite finely (I usually do 3-5 seconds in the coffee grinder); have some saliva on your tongue when you light up, and light it thorougly (for best tongue-bite protection); smoke it slowly, consciously and cool (essential to get the most out of DS); and finally, as with all McClelland Virginias, let some sidestream air enter your mouth when you draw smoke. This makes the Virginias sing!

7 people found this review helpful.

briarroot Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
briarroot (4)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Ok so if you have tried this you may be aware of the McClelland tin smell, I won't debate it here, other than I personally love it. You may also be aware that it is hard to keep lit, is a pain in the ass to rub out, is to wet to smoke out of the tin and can bite you hard if your not careful. But wait...? I thought you gave it four stars?

So first off let my start by letting you in on my ritual with this fine 'baccy. I pop open a 100g tin and then rub the whole thing out as fine as I can make it, takes about a half hour. After transforming the black and dark brown rubbery, leathery, jerky like flakes into something resembling crumbled up rubber I then let it sit out on a piece of wax paper for forty eight hours. I then pour back into the tin and let it sit a week to "rest". (all that work for a pipe? are you crazy?) Now that this stuff is at a smokable consistency, I gravity load a bowl and pack as one would normally, making a few slight adjustments for humidity, time of day, wind speed, ect...

give it about four chars ( maybe more ) then its time to go to flavor country, and yes it's a big country. This is one of the sweetest, tastiest flakes ever produced. It coats the palate with a slight tingle and a delicious sweetness right off the first few puffs. Don't over do it or it will burn you. You have been warned! Then a myriad of delicate and subtle flavors come knocking at the door. Stewed stone fruits, plums, zesty citrus notes, some exotic spices, smoked wood, and a dense syrupy note. Then there is more, a thick creamy back drop develops as you puff your way down. things get a little more dense ( don't get carried away she's good to you now but she's gonna bite if you rush her). some warmth starts to really develop, not heat mind you, but warmth, a soothing chocolaty delicacy like a bowl of tiramisu with lemon zest, honey and some clove and nutmeg. this tobacco starts getting rich and dense on the palate. all the while remaining sweet and savory. As you go down things get ever richer to the point where a little bit of bitter hits you at the dottle then it's time to stop, and your left thinking "done so soon?" The reality is this is a long lasting smoke that you can get so absorbed in that you didn't even notice the hours going by.

Not what I would call an all day smoke, though I have made it that at times, and too damn tasty to keep only for "special occasions. this is a great achievement in blending, fermenting, aging and stoving.

I like the classy feel of the tin art work, gives me something nice to look at while contemplating, thought I don't like much to take away from my focus on the 'baccy at hand. weather you have been smoking a long time or are new to the hobby learning the ropes of this one is a true reward. for me this is what VA is all about.

Fully rubbed out you can smoke it in any pipe shape so suite your self on that one. I personally favor a peterson 05 shape.

4 people found this review helpful.

quantumboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
quantumboy (119)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Yes, Dark Star is as unique as everyone says it is. Think Stonehaven with ketchup. And maybe a little Irish Flake thrown in for good measure. My tin is date stamped 2006.

It's a coal black flake not unlike Stonehaven in appearance. First time I tried it, I tried rubbing it, but it doesn't really want to cooperate with such treatment - the flakes just broke up into small chunks. So I started cube cutting(a very fine cut with the small scissors on my Leatherman) and gravity feeding (my method for almost any flake anymore) and it burns perfectly from the very first light. A lot of people complain about lighting this stuff and keeping it lit, but the cube cut-gravity feed method works great for me with virtually any difficult flake.

I made the mistake today of working in the yard with a pipeful of this in my jaw. Not a good idea, since I can't concentrate on the pipe when I'm hanging Christmas lights. I unconsciously puff too hard and it gets bitter like Irish Flake seems to be all the time for me. This tobacco needs to be treated like a fine Virginia - slow and easy, sipping and savoring. When I pay attention to it, it comes alive.

On sipping, the VA sweetness is very forward in the flavor, while the Carolina (I think just another name for Burley - please correct me if I'm wrong) and dark stoving provide a smokiness that borders on cigar- or cigarette-like ashiness, but if the temperature is carefully controlled this can be eliminated. Then you're left with just a rich, primal, slightly complex, smoky flavor that simply satisfies.

Dark Star fills a void somewhere between FVF and Irish Flake. It's got enough quality Virginia (which we expect from McClelland) to provide a solid foundation of flavor, and enough whatever else they throw in there to create a diversion from your everyday smoke. I'm going to give it four stars because I like unique, especially when done with such high quality constituents. I certainly hope to buy more for long-term aging.

3 people found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (590)
★★☆☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

This stuff pisses me off. It's a wonderful tasting smoke... when you can get it to hold a light for longer than 2 minutes, which is rare. I tried drying it to almost tinder, various methods of loading and everything else I could think of and it's just too much of a pain. A tobacco that won't stay lit (much like Rattray's Black Virginia) but that tastes great screams to become a blender. I'll have to experiment with the remainder of this. On its own, it's not worth the effort, simply because no amount of effort makes much of a difference. Four stars for flavor, zero stars for smoke-ability.

3 people found this review helpful.

NapaWineLover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NapaWineLover (66)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Dark Star IMO is another very complex tobacco that is probably not attractive to the those that like to load and go. So that my opinion will be weighted properly, I enjoy pipe smoking, pipe cleaning, pipe browsing, rubbing-out pipe tobacco and experimenting with new tastes etc... It's a very personal relaxation and reward time for me, which explains the burn marks on my laptop keyboards.

This tobacco rates an exceptionalyl high recommendation from me for a number of reasons but mostly because it requires a patient rubbing out and a lot of experimenting in different size pipes. I believe it smokes well in any size pipe with some adjustment in approach, rubbing / loading / puffing. There's nothing straight forward about it. It is mysterious.

The taste and note are loaded with nuance of deep sweetish tones contrasted with high tones of spice. Like a finely prepared dish the blend isn't just a list of ingredients ... it seems to me that I notice something new about it each time I light up.

I recommend using a Peterson pipe for this tobacco while one gets acquainted (unless your bird-watching or star gazing of course.) since it has me drooling just thinking about it.

VC

30 Sep 2005 I recently tried a recommendation from another reviewer. I have been taking the flake and cutting it with kitchen shears into small cubes. I then rub the little cubes for a bit, in fact quite a bit in order to distribute the essential oils and moisture. Despite my fear that the morsels were going to be too small and burn hot ... I was astonished at how well DS took to this practice. I had already enjoyed this beyond expectations and its reached a new high in my enjoyment. In a small sized pipe ... this was a very slow, long, and cool smoke. I'm amazed it got better.

Cheers, VC

3 people found this review helpful.

CaptnDan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CaptnDan (242)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I recently had the pleasure of trying Dark Star, thanks to a friend who sent me a good portion of it from a tin he had been aging since 1999. (Review written in June 2004)

This was my first encounter with the famous (or infamous) ketchup smell. I definitely smelled vinegar with a bit of tomato sauce.

I dried the flakes a bit and loaded up. The initial charring light gave a bit of the vinegar taste, but it vanished quickly. It was replaced by a smooth, rich Virginia taste that was both sweet and dark at the same time. A hint of spice dances across the palate from time to time giving dimension to the smoke that I simply didn?t even expect.

Smoked slowly, DS is a cool flavorful smoke. Lots of full Va taste that just seems to get better and better as the bowl progresses. Properly dried, DS burns easily and evenly. I smoked it in a variety of pipes, and as I expected, I enjoyed it the most in a narrow bowl. I now smoke DS in my deepest narrow bowl Stanwell. The deeper the bowl, the better as this one definitely improves as the bowl burns lower.

I never had a hint of tongue bite, but then I am very careful with Va?s and smoke them very slowly. I have no doubt that rushing this (or any Va) would be a major mistake.

When I finish what I have here, I will no doubt be ordering more Dark Star. In fact, I plan to order quite a bit of it, because I know how well it ages!

3 people found this review helpful.

Puff..puff..puff Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Puff..puff..puff (5)
★★★★
Very Mild None Detected Full Pleasant

Dark, heavy, sweet and almost aromatic unlike most Virginia's. Excellent stuff! While it is delicious I wish it was a little stronger. Very moist as everyone says but I opened my first tin of it today, spread it out on coffee filters for a few hours and am smoking it right now with no issues. For those of you who are use to working with thick flakes, you won't have any issues either. Really different and very enjoyable and satisfying in the taste department. If you smoke for a nic kick, this won't give you that. I consider it more like a taste treat after a meal. I'll get more for sure.

Pipe Used: Various

Age When Smoked: Got it today

Purchased From: Smokingpipes.com

Similar Blends: Not like anything else I can think of.

2 people found this review helpful.

Uban Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Uban (38)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I'm doing this review just to boost the rating. Hard to rub out? Well, yeah... Hard to light? Well, maybe... Hard to keep going evenly? Maybe sometimes... Worth it all? OH YES you bet Sho' nuff righto ETC... This is TO MY TASTE the very best straight Va on the planet. I will admit I am smoking a 9-year-old tin that I just opened last week. I believe that all Va tins shoulkd age at least 3 years, but I sometimes forget about 'em, like this one. Starts off very sweet, maybe a bit much for some, but settles quickly into a rich, smooth, bite-free melange of flavors like hay, grass, caramel, even cinnamon at times. Leaves little or no dottle & smokes nice & dry when properly shredded & aired first. The best in my book. RIR

Pipe Used: Meer, Dunny Oom Paul.

Age When Smoked: 9 years

Purchased From: J&R

Similar Blends: Butera Dark Stoved.

2 people found this review helpful.

Pilotpuffer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pilotpuffer (6)
★★★★
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

It's my second pipe and I just love the relaxing flavor. I usually dig Blackwoods Flake, and it's a great and favorite blend over the years, but when listening to Tom Waits wail this is the cool smoke. Nice and full VA flavor but smooth and mellow. Maybe it's the fine VSOP that I've chasing it with. I really enjoy the fine mellow and slightly smokey flavor. Your mileage may vary. Best to just set back and enjoy the scenic ride.

Highly recommended!

EDIT: I did not dry this mixture prior to smoking. Just pulled it from the tin and lit 'er up. Usually McClelland brands are a tad moist out of the tin. This tobacco smoked full down to the bitter end without a relight. That's a first for me.

P.S. No tongue bite noticed, Enjoy!

Pipe Used: Ardor DR Urano - RTDA special 2003

Age When Smoked: Got 'er today

Purchased From: Pipesandcigars.com

2 people found this review helpful.

JohnMA Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnMA (14)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

This is one of my favorite blends. I'm strickly a VA & VA/Per guy. Yes, it's hard to rub out into ribbons but this is a wonderful smoke. Very rich and smooth taste. Yes, it can come a little wet.

I have a lot of experience smoking black stoved blends so I don't find lighting too hard as others have commented. I break up into chubby ribbons and then rub a little to loosen them up. Put the small pieces on top and then get a very good char light. Let it slow a little and enjoy. I think it may take a little practice lighting the dark stoved blends.

I like to enjoy this in a big bowled meerschaum. It's very nice at night. Very low nicotine and very relaxing. Doesn't interfere much with my sleep if I smoke just before bed.

Doesn't seem to have any topping or added flavors. Just fantastic natural virginia and carolina taste. Sometimes I put a pinch of blending perique in to spice things up. I find that more often than not I need some perique in my smoke.

Don't buy any. I want it all for myself!!

Pipe Used: Meerschaum apple, Lovat

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: smoking pipes.com

Similar Blends: dark fragrant & black virginia.

2 people found this review helpful.

Peppino Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Peppino (74)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

One great Virginia! Put out a paper plate and put some flakes in the palm of your hands and rub out. Pick up the larger pieces and fill your pipe. Continue this and near the end you'll have small pieces left that help to start your fire. I've never had trouble lighting it in this manner. It does burn quite slowly and due to it's moisture content will go out more often then what you may be used to. However as you arrive at about the 1/4 mark of the bowl Dark Star will have taken hold. All the work you put in to get it really cooking will be rewarded with a great smoke that just get's better and better. The flavor of those rich Virginia's is fantastic, it is one tobacco you must smoke (as in bucket list) it's that good. Don't pass the opportunity up to get some. It burns to a nice white ash and the flavor just intensifies as you get farther down the bowl. It burns very slow and cool, this is a must try. From the ritual of preparing the tobacco to the final puff this a wonderful smoke!

2 people found this review helpful.

Marshall Law Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Marshall Law (50)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

I can't seem to find a McClelland's blend I DON'T like, and this is by no means an exception. This is a truly unique smoke - rich, tangy, sweet, smooth and alluring virginias, and then some. It's almost like someone threw a light dose of the finest black cavendish and a pinch of Royal Cajun Ebony into some aged Aurora. Certainly not an aromatic, but a delicious treat all the same. I find myself ramping up the cadence regularly to accelerate and intensify the wonderful flavor experience, especially mid-bowl, and have to stop myself from smoking it like a runaway chimney out of sheer amusement and indulgence. No tongue bite, either, despite placing unreasonable and selfish demands on the bowl. The trademark tangy, smokey-sweet BBQ undertones and a slight, not-unpleasant, earthy tar-like quality enhance this particular blend, rather than imbalancing or dominating it.

Unlike some other reviewers, I tend to break this down by peeling the flakes longwise into fine strands with some length to them, rather than rubbing and crumbling it down into little hard bits. Once it is fine enough to tangle, I pack it more tightly than normal, usually into a low, wide bowl. I then have no issues whatsoever getting it lit and keeping it going, right to the bottom of the bowl. Puts out rich, luxurious clouds of dense, fragrant smoke. This has become one of my frequent evening companions, sitting out over the lake bidding adieu to the fleeting sunset and ushering in the blackness of night, as the balmy breezes rustle the maples. As the darkness descends, Dark Star provides euphoric accompaniment to Lustmord's The Place Where the Black Stars Hang and a quality tawny port. A worthy and memorable experience, now go find out for yourself what McClelland's can do with virginias and carolinas in this savory blend...

UPDATE: It was so tempting I decided to, in fact, throw a pinch of Lane's BCA in with a bowl of Dark Star. The results were predictable...an even more intoxicating smoke, with slight hints of sweetness which counter and balance the tanginess and slight tar-like qualities, to further mellow the smoke and smooth out the taste very slightly. Even more fragrant room note, just as cool smoking, and simply low-maintenance to light and keep lit, right down to the bottom of the bowl, with an occasional gentle tamping. If you like Dark Star, and are also an aromatic fan, try a small pinch of Lane's BCA or some other high quality black cavendish such as Bennington's Raven or McClelland's VBC. You won't be disappointed.

2 people found this review helpful.

Winter pipe fan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Winter pipe fan (11)
★★☆☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

McClelland's Dark Star is in a category of its own in the world of tobacco. Upon opening the tin, I couldn't believe how this tobacco appears. If you told me it was beef jerky, I might have believed you - especially with the tin aroma of vinegar and worchestershire sauce.

I have mixed feelings on Dark Star. First, it is too moist to smoke out of the tin - even though you may think otherwise. Second, it is one of the most finicky of flakes to rub out. One has to take delight in having to really work a bit to get this stuff in smoking form. I preferred to fully rub out Dark Star rather than to fold it into the bowl. I use the term "rub" with this tobacco, but you have to physically break it up almost like one would snap twigs. Third, Dark Star is touchy at staying lit. It will take a few matches to get it going consistently, but eventually, it finally does stay lit. Fourth, if you smoke it too fast, it will heat up your pipe to levels you want to avoid.

Now, with all of that said, it is an intriguing smoke. If you take it real slow and just meditate on the flavor, a number of flavors will unfold, the most dominant being dark chocolate and smoke. The smoky taste may overwhelm some but I can guarantee after a full bowl of smoking Dark Star, one's mouth does taste like an ash tray - so much so, you will need a smoky scotch on the rocks to tame the smoke of Dark Star. Fortunately, the nicotine level is low, so the depth of this tobacco can be enjoyed. There is no hint of tongue bite on the positive side.

So, do I like Dark Star? Hard to say - especially when I have Frog Morton to compare it to. When I make the comparison, the ease and softness of the Frog is much more appealing. In conclusion, I'll repeat what the salesman at my tobacconist said about Dark Star: "it's different than anything else on the market and one should try it at least once". Will I smoke it again? Sure, but in a smaller bowl after it has a chance also to age a bit. This one is somewhat recommended.

2 people found this review helpful.

pufdragn63 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pufdragn63 (13)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dark Star has become one of my favourites, but it's a finicky tobacco that needs a bit of preparation before it's ready to smoke. It has a higher moisture content than most flakes and needs quite a bit of drying. My preference is to rub it out and leave it for a few hours on a piece of A4 paper on my desk before I'm likely to use it. Packing a pipeful the night before also helps.

Dark Star needs a few relights while you're smoking, but in between those relights, what a wealth of flavours! Sweet, Spicy and Smoky. With a few hours drying beforehand, and slow and gentle puffing, I've never experienced tongue bite.

I've heard many McClelland blends described as having a tin aroma like ketchup, but I personally find it closer to the English "HP Sauce."

Dark Star not only has that distinctive McClelland tin aroma, but for the first half of the bowl you can actually taste it in the background. If you're like me and love the McClelland aroma, this makes for a delicious smoke.

Further down the bowl, new flavours come through. In some places it's almost like Latakia, in others - particularly in the bottom 1/3 of the bowl - it's vaguely like licorice or aniseed.

I reckon it's beaut.

2 people found this review helpful.

Montague Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Montague (32)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Perhaps one of if not the most popular stoved Virginia is McClelland?s Dark Star. Dark Star is a prominent member of McClelland?s Personal Reserve Series.

Dark Star has an almost choclately aroma with definite hints of spiciness. The initial slight acidity of the aroma disappears after the tin has been opened for some time. The Dark Star blend is the result of aging, pressing, and stoving of Virginia and Carolina leaf tobaccos. The color of Dark Star is, as the name implies, dark black/brown giving the flakes an almost fudge like appearance.

Dark Star?s cut is a medium-thick, wide, flake cut with some pieces measuring 2? x 1.5?. Theses flakes are quite stubborn to rub out, especially to a finer consistency. Packing of Dark Star can best be done with the more course portions nearer the bottom and the finer well rubbed portions on the top to help facilitate lighting. The initial moisture of Dark Star is on the medium high side but can be remedied by drying for at least two hours.

Dark Star needs more charring relative to other tobaccos for an even first light. Once lit, Dark Star burns surprising well to a complete thick gray ash. This blend burns best with deep, steady, and long draws. This tobacco burns very slowly and tends to become cooler as the smoke progresses. The room note is pleasant in a tangy natural tobacco way.

A dark, tangy, and spicy taste characterizes this tobacco. The taste seems to become only richer and more complex as the burn continues developing and almost creamy characteristic. No flavorings were detected. Dark Star, being a bright tobacco, certainly has the ability to bite but smoking slowly and removing most of the moisture can all but eliminate this. Dark Star smokes especially well in a calabash pipe.

Dark Star is a refined and elegant smoke. Its rich and tangy yet spicy flavor fails to impress. A true accomplishment by McClelland.

2 people found this review helpful.

bigblends Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
bigblends (46)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

My review is based on tobacco with two years of aging.

In the tin: Mostly very dark flake with some deep shades of brown too. The aroma upon first opening is a real stinger. This is a byproduct of fermentation, and the smell will blow away if you just let the weed air out. It's too moist for me in the tin, so I let it air dry for several hours.

The pack: I prefer to take a small pair of tailor's scissors to the flakes and produce a rough and smallish cube cut. I fully rub out some to feed on top to start a good burn, and I only cut up as much as I need for the bowl in hand.

The light: My technique produces a bloom of embers, but I find a good tamp will start the bowl off right.

The smoke: I don't smoke flavored, scented, topped, cased, dressed, or otherwise adulterated tobacs. So when I find a natural blend that packs so many experiences into one bowl, I'm hooked. Dark Star is such a mixture. The top third is dominated by sweet, tangy, cilantro-like, grassy, and clean notes. These flavors move in and out, and each puff can be different from the next. The smoke is cool and the mouthfeel moderate. Awesome.

Midbowl ushers in depth I didn't think possible. We're talking a hint of spice, lots of natural sweetness, roasted nuts, dark chocolate, dark-roasted coffee, toasted pine nuts, etc. It's a completely savory field of flavors that pretty much defies all the fancy adjectives I'd love to throw at it.

Bottom bowl: A good representation of the entire experience. Notes from the charring light, top third, and mid all yield to each other at random. The smoke remains as interesting as ever, and the bowl finishes off sweet and cool without becoming sour or bitter. Dottle can be avoided by simply smoking this on the dry side or carefully controlling your smoke if you choose to puff it right out of the can.

Overall: Dark Star is marvelous. A tin with even a little age on it should be enjoyable without bite. I've found that messing with the ash -- stirring, scooping, dumping, etc. -- can color the flavor a bit, but that passes quickly. On the other hand, leaving too much ash can create a musty, granny's attic flavor upon relight. You'll have to find the balance that suits you.

I highly recommend this blend to anyone who loves VAs or those who want a high-quality, interesting, and natural entry into the world of Virginia tobacs.

2 people found this review helpful.

RCUSElder Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RCUSElder (244)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

6-6-04 I was very excited to open my tin which had been layed down for two years. Although I did not get what I was expecting, nevertheless it was worth the wait. As I have mentioned before, I am primarily a Balkan smoker, so any deviation is ussually a "I smoke this on occassion". On to the review:

Appearance: Well, it looks like beef jerky. It is tougher and drier than "Stonehaven" though.

Tin Aroma: That wonderful tang that you either love or hate (I love it!)

Packing: It is a little too moist upon opening, be sure to leave open for a few hours upon initial breaking of seal. Can be a little daunting to break up fine enough to get decent airflow in the pipe. I had frustrating results if I tried the stuff method (it kept going out this way and would get an inconsistent draw). Fully rubbing out is my recommendation.

Initial Flavor: I was expecting the rich fullness that I recieved from "Stonehaven", but instead recieved a medium to full Va flavor with a spicy kick to it.

Mid-Bowl: This is where I liked this blend best. Nice mellow stoved Va flavor with a nice interplay between the sweet and salty elements of the leaves. The spicyness mellows somewhat.

End of Bowl: Flavor intensifies ever so slightly, spiciness comes back too. You can almost taste the "redness" of the Va at this point. Ash that is left is fine and grey with a nice clean aftertaste left in your mouth.

Overall: This is a high quality blend that is definitely a "niche" or "special occassion smoke". It is not a Va that I would smoke everyday. The Spicyness caused taste overload for me when smoked all day. I would not recommend to a beginner because this has to be packed and smoked properly in order to get the most of the blend, otherwise you will just frustrate yourself and you may burn your tongue. I will definitely keep a tin "in the cellar" and open for special occassions though. I still prefer "Stonehaven" or "Marlin Flake" over this blend, but it is still in my top ten of VA's

Rating: 4 out of 5 points, enjoy...

2 people found this review helpful.

wain Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
wain (1)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant

Disclaimer: I'm fairly new to pipe smoking.

I let it sit out for half a day and then broke it up into little pieces.

It was hard to keep lit at first but not that much harder than other tobaccos. I also didn't let it sit out as long as I could have. My taste and smell aren't the most sensitive so take that into account. That being said, it was hard for me to detect much for the first third of the smoke.

The second half was a big improvement. I got a good, even smoke with rich, filling taste and smell.

Throughout, I loved that there was no bite. When I choose to smoke something else, it will be because I want a little more flavor and a little less work, not because there was anything unpleasant in Dark Star.

I'd recommend that anyone at least try this for the experience.

1 person found this review helpful.

silentvisions Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
silentvisions (2)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I actually came to this tobacco from Mississippi River, which is a blend I totally love. I despise aromatics but love latakia, so it was also an idea for me to try and find something to mix up my habit of smoking latakia heavy blends.

I found it.

As my initial thought about this blend was totally right - the notes you find in Mississippi River from the stoved virginias are just the same as in Dark Star - I knew I had found what I was looking for.

I don't usually smoke a lot of pure virginias, finding them a bit bland and especially since I tend to favor more sturdy flavors. But this is something different. There is a more concentrated sweetness from these stoved leaves which I find very alluring and tempting. The aroma (especially from the kindling in the pipe bowl) share the same kind of sweetness which sort of reminds me of honey, raisins, fruits and sometimes the occasional flowery breeze. Very savory! Sort of like a dessert after a nice meal.

As mentioned way too much before - The McClelland "Ketchup" smell. Sure, it's there but who cares? Doesn't fine cheeses smell like you've been wearing the same pair of shoes for a year? Once you get McClelland's fine blends fired up, the last thing on your mind is ketchup, so why bother focusing on a tin smell?

One other thing mentioned regarding this blend is the moisture. Once you open the tin, the broken flakes are very damp and sure, you have to let them dry out a bit before firing up. However. You can smoke them right of the tin with a bit more ease if you use a reverse calabash pipe. I smoked it fresh out of the tin with my reversed Alex Brishuta in smoldering summer heat with high air humidity - worked fine. You get no bite and absolutely no gurgle thanks to the extra space in the pipe. Thanks to Michail Revyagin for that invention!

So! Never mind the ketchup and moisture and give this wonderful dark leaf a go. If you, like me, favor tobaccos with depth, a lot of flavor and something to break off your other tobacco routines with, try this.

I like to think of this as a virginia trying to be a latakia.

Age When Smoked: Fresh out of the tin

Similar Blends: Seattle Pipe Club - Mississippi River.

1 person found this review helpful.

plugnsmoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
plugnsmoke (6)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

My first experience with McClelland tobaccos was the 996 blend. I didn't care for the ketchup and I found it didn't dissipate while in the bowl so I was hesitant to try another blend. I talked myself into ordering a tin of Dark Star after reading the reviews and looking for very complex smoke. What i received was a tin that looked and smelled of beef jerky. This tobacco is very moist and sticky and requires drying time. My first bowl was simply mind blowing. The char light tasted of the fermentation but that was gone within the first puff or two. Everything about it was beautiful and tantalizing. There's so many flavors and different notes that your pallette is constantly stimulated. The sugars, which is why this flake is so sticky, sing a burnt caramel song, almost creme brulé. If you've not learned how to sip a pipe this one one will teach. Nice and slow and if you rush it your tongue will pay the price. Paul

Pipe Used: pot/Lovat hybrid briar

Age When Smoked: less than a year

Purchased From: pipes&cigars

1 person found this review helpful.

DrumsAndBeer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DrumsAndBeer (94)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This tobacco is a patient man's pleasure. It's not exactly easy to prepare. Compared to most flakes it requires quite a bit of dry time as well a good amount of in-smoke attention in the form of relights, careful tamping and eventually aeration. The broken flakes are dense and almost impossibly moist out of the tin. Dark Star is best left for when I have nothing to do but wait for moist tobacco to dry with ample time left over to sit around and smoke it. A perfect lazy Sunday afternoon affair.

Dark Star produces a copious amount of creamy smoke. The flavor is not as lively as say for instance Blackwoods Flake. Comparatively, it is more brooding, earthy and a bit more muted. At a smolder it gives a touch of sweetness on the tongue with a slight lingering tang on the finish. As the bowl warms, hints of the sour & deeply fermented tin aroma resonate, and a pleasant tartness builds. Mid to end bowl flavors are a complex amalgamation of wood & spice with a broad warm tone and a fairly dry mouthfeel. Wonderful flavors to be had here, a perfect balance of rustic & refined.

Preparation time aside, along with a few frustrations, an easy four star tobacco.

Pipe Used: Jesse Jones Billiard

Age When Smoked: 6

1 person found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (513)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I often times don’t have the patience to wait for McClelland blends to dry. I opened a tin of Dark Star about 18 months ago but after a bowl or two, I moved on to other things. When I returned to it, the leathery flakes were almost crunchy. I broke them up into small pieces and had very good results with it. I really think that DS responds best when really dry as I had no need for relights. I tend to gravitate to Virginias and VaPers from the EU, but Dark Star has a decent amount of body, and a combination of sweet and tangy that is quite nice. There is a bit of an earthy quality to it too. I also find a bit of bitter, in a good way, along with the sweet/tang in the bottom third of each bowl. I find that Dark Star starts on the mild side, but by mid bowl, there is a decent nic kick too. I am not sure if I would be willing to wait another 18 months for a new tin to dry out, but that will be something to contemplate while finishing my remaining half of the 100g gram tin.

Age When Smoked: 2006 tin

1 person found this review helpful.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (227)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

A naturally sweet mature Virginia . If you like McClelland Vinegar Virginia (MCCVV), as I do, this will be a winner. You will have some prep work as you need to rub this out real well and let it dry some prior to smoking and even with this ,this tobacco is hard to light and keep lit. Unfortunately , keeping this lit requires a faster puffing cadence than recommended as slow sipping brings out the best in this tobacco and also keeps bite to a minimum. Have the time to sit and savor this, as it is a long smoke. Not an on the go type of blend.

This is the second tin of DS I've tried. The first tin I made the mistake of letting the whole tin dry before I rubbed out the "beef jerky" flakes, an impossible task. When I was done, I had every size from dust to 1/8"x 1" pieces and it seemed like my 100grs. was left with 10grams of tobacco by volume. My recommendation is to keep the flakes moist in the tin and rub out only what you need for a bowl, hit it 5 second in a microwave (or you get a damp dottle) and fill.

The flavor of this tobacco reminds me of Rattrays "Dark Fragrant" , sweet with a bitter aftertaste. All in all, DS is a nice tasting blend that requires too much attention to smoke. I probably won't buy again for that reason.

Got to love and agree with reviewer "DK 06/09/2009"

Update 4/21/12 - I've been working on this same tin for about a month and it has really become something special. Smooth , flavorful, sweet and more complex that Rattrays " DF" and takes a match . The key is to rub the entire tin out while it's damp taking care to give an extra rub to those bigger pieces then let it breath and dry a little. Moved this to 4 stars.

1 person found this review helpful.

DragonBreath Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DragonBreath (8)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

McClelland Dark Star presents itself in thick black flakes, almost uniform in their coloration, and bearing a strong aroma of acetic acid. The moisture content of this tobacco is high. I usually store my tobaccos in Le Parfait glass jars with a rubber gasket and bail closure, and the moist Dark Star flakes have adhered themselves to the bottom and sides of their jar.

Because of this high moisture content, it is very hard to light Dark Star, but I prefer to smoke it immediately without drying. I feel that drying this tobacco would make it lose some of the interesting characteristics it exhibits. I tend to fold the tobacco firmly and either push or screw it into the bowl of a pipe with just enough firmness to hold it in place. Two or three flakes will fill the bowl of a pipe of medium size while still allowing enough space between the folded flakes to allow for expansion while burning, allowing for a good draw. Adding a sprinkling of fine particles from the broken flakes in the bottom of a Dark Star tin to the top of a pipe bowl just before packing will reduce the time and effort it takes to light this tobacco.

This tobacco seems to be well suited to a briar pipe of a Liverpool, Cumberland, Lovat, or Zulu shape. A pipe with a tall and narrow chamber would be ideal. However, something like a dry system Oom Paul from Savinelli or Peterson might also be a perfect pipe for this tobacco, since Dark Star can smoke very wet if you don't approach it slowly and with care.

I would recommend a Zippo lighter with a pipe insert to be used for lighting this tobacco. Getting Dark Star to burn well can be a chore, and the aforementioned type of lighter will ignite the tobacco without risking rim charring of your briar. The initial vinegar tang of Dark Star will mask any taste from the liquid fuel of the Zippo that a sensitive palate might detect. (Personally, I have never had a problem with using a liquid fueled lighter, but some people claim they can detect an altered taste to their tobacco when using such a device.)

At the start of a smoke, Dark Star asserts itself strongly, with a tingling sensation on the palate and a taste of vinegar. These sensations are bracing and surprising, but not unpleasant. I could detect a hint of what seemed to be fresh mint in the background at first, which was most unexpected.

After a few minutes, the taste of Dark Star becomes softer and much more complex. Something of molasses and currant can be felt, and a meatier tobacco taste begins to appear in the background.

For the final act, Dark Star begins to taste more like a traditional English blend, such as Dunhill's Early Morning Pipe, or perhaps it could be perceived as a milder version of Gawith, Hoggarth's & Co's Black Irish X.

All in all, Dark Star is a pleasant tobacco that presents the smoker with a taste that evolves almost like what could be expected from a layering of different blends in a Chimney. I found this tobacco to be a surprising experience.

Dark Star is a chore to get burning, but it rewards patience and persistence well. A good, bracing tobacco that smokes like a three-act play.

Pipes used for testing: Brigham Chinook (65), Falcon A16-19, Peterson Darwin, Peterson Tankard, Freehand Baglan Meerschaum, Peterson Aran 268, Dunhill Shell 0314 Bulldog (1976)

1 person found this review helpful.

Sinister Topiary Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sinister Topiary (74)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I bought this on a whim when I saw it on the shelf (before I discovered tobaccoreviews.com!). I didn't even know it was a virginia flake when I handed over my cash because I didn't read the tin: I wanted to be surprised. I guess the name intrigued me that day, and I trust McLelland to deliver quality tobacco. I'm so very glad I took the chance! This instantly became my go-to Virginia flake.

My first bowl was a revelation of just how sublime some tobaccos can be. Every bowl that followed has confirmed my initial impression (but you never forget your first...). It's a finicky blend that requires just the right pipe to tease out its delicate mysteries. (For me it's a rusticated 1/4 bent apple now dedicated to Dark Star.)

Part of my obsession with this particular tobacco is that it's elusive: just when I think I've figured it out it shimmers to reveal some new facet -- it's veritably a cubist flavor. I didn't know tobacco could be like this: biteless, subtle, darkly sweet (like sulphur molasses), complex, full, spicy, lush, mysterious and even romantic, like a Berg string quartet. This blend for me enters the realm of high art.

Others cavil about how difficult the flake is to work with, but I haven't had any trouble -- I rub it out very thoroughly and have no trouble keeping it lit.

I can't get enough of this one. Honestly, I didn't expect that I could fall in love with a tobacco like I have with this one.

1 person found this review helpful.

DoctorThoss Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DoctorThoss (146)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable

I had previously penned a very long and nasty review of this tobacco, prompted by a singularly unfriendly tin. I've since developed a somewhat better opinion of McClelland Vas (I finally "got it," I think) and have opted to revise all my reviews in light of this. With all that being said, I still can't bring myself to give this mixture more than two stars. Why? For one, it's smokability remains poor, even when rubbed out. Secondly, while the flavor starts out nice and finally hits the mythical "zone" about midway through a bowl, it's FAR too mild for my tastes. I like bold, assertive blends as a rule, and this stuff is exceedingly delicate.

To sum up: This stuff ain't bad, but it just ain't worth the effort.

1 person found this review helpful.

indyf1 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
indyf1 (17)
★☆☆☆
Medium Mild to Medium Overwhelming Tolerable to Strong

31MAY07 Update: I was dead wrong on this tobacco. Each successive bowl has been less enjoyable than the previous one, until now I absolutely dread smoking it. The flakes don't really rub out -- they just congeal into these nasty little balls of tar that are nearly impossible to light or keep lit. I have to puff like a mo-fo to keep it going, and by that time the smoke is harsh, hot, and tastes like I'm smoking burned microwave popcorn! I'm too cheap to just throw out what I have left -- the tin cost me $20+, so I guess I'll force myself to smoke some of it once every couple of weeks until it is (thankfully) gone. As much as I may try, it is not possible for me to convey how much I despise this tobacco.

12APR07: While I won't claim to be an expert, Dark Star is one of the better flakes I've tried. The tin aroma is deep, rich Virginia with a hint of that ketchupy sweetness. The flakes are dark brown, moist hunks that rub out somewhat easily. With a newer can, you have to be a little careful not to pack too tightly due to the moistness, but after a while, you can slowly begin to pack more aggressively. You might have a little trouble keeping the bowl lit at first, but eventually it burns OK. The flavor is delightful -- sweet tobacco with little noticeable flavoring. The smoke is dense and blue. The downsides to this product are two: (1) it tends to be hot and harsh toward the end of the bowl; and (2) the flake format in and of itself. I prefer not to have to manipulate my tobacco too much before packing it in and lighting it up, so the latter point is merely a personal preference issue. Overall, though, the annoyances seem minor and this is a fine tobacco well suited for a good, long, enjoyable smoke.

When I smoke Dark Star, I can see myself on the front porch of a fishing cabin down on the bayou, easing back and forth in a wooden rocking chair with my feet up on a rail. My old hound dog is snoozing next to me, and the thick puffs from my briar waft slowly through the humid air along the river bank, becoming lost in the low-hanging Spanish moss, glistening with the late afternoon humidity.

1 person found this review helpful.

aadelma Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
aadelma (55)
★☆☆☆
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a rather tasty flake that is a total pain in the butt to keep lit. I've tried rubbing it out (with great difficulty), folding, etc., and it's just too much trouble to bother with. It is the slowest burning tobacco I have ever tried. If you smoke outdoors this might be a good quality, but the last time I smoked it I was puffing on it for 2 days.

1 person found this review helpful.

emmbee Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
emmbee (174)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Oh, yes! It's undeniably McClelland, only this time the ketchup and worcestershire are turned down while the stoved Virginias are turned up several notches. This is pretty much an all Virginia cake knockout. It's in the McC Personal Reserve line, but a very different and totally refined offering. The Blackwoods Flake is a lighter, fruitier, mottled flake. DS is black as coal, baked, charred, each leaf resilient and satiny. It's hard to get this one going after you've figured how to properly rub it out. I just folded mine in a large bent Peterson Shamrock and hoped for the best. Once it gathers momentum, though, look out! If you're not a fan of McC and sweetened matured Virginias, I'm preaching to the wrong choir. But if you are, you're in for one heck of a treat. The aromas are deep and autumnal with hints of bark and chestnut. It left my car smelling wonderful. Surprisingly, unlike the brighter mottled Virginias of McC, it did not razor my tongue. Then again, I only rubbed out one large slice. This is one I would like to have in my collection. Why do companies like McC insist on making so many great tobaccos? It makes our choices too varied. So many tobaccos, so little time!

Four of five stars

-------update march 2006

Got a 50g tin a year later. Still very good stuff, but here's the problem: I've tried too many other magnificent things since then, which I guess has lowered my estimation of this flake. It's still smokes cool and dry and leaves a heavenly aroma in the room, but it's too damned hard to rub out and pack and then you have to work like a fiend to light it and keep it lit. I'm trying to make my life easier, not harder. Pipe smoking is joy and relaxation, not a struggle. Still a great stoved Virginia flake, but this is for once in awhile when I'm not feeling badly about fighting with my tobacco.

Three of five stars

1 person found this review helpful.

Ian Weeks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Ian Weeks (36)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Mild Full Tolerable

There is a tin note of all of the McClelland blends that many pipe smokers either love or hate- it smells of Catsup to me. I cannot say that I go either way; I could certainly do without it, but will keep smoking their blends because I enjoy them.

And Darkstar has a sister- 2035, and in fact I think that they are twins.

This dark stoved VA Flake has the appearance of railroad ties, or small pieces of a car tire. In the literal sense of the description it is in no small part I'm sure due to the method of the stoving and stoving and stoving process. But they got it right; this blend is a lovely example of what happens to VA tobacco when it is put to the oven.

I bought several 5 year old tins from the local tobacconist a while back and have been smoking it off and on ever since in many different sized bowls.

For my tastes I rub it out as much as possible, as I was soon to find that otherwise it would take a blowtorch to light. The first half of the bowl has the sweet deep richness of a stoved flake, and as the bowl burns deeper so does the stoved flavor and body. To me it?s not comparable to other flakes, indeed this flake is in a world of its own, without the fermented aroma of Stonehaven and not the fig and raisin tin notes of Marlin Flake.

This Flake is the best that I have enjoyed by McClelland?s as far as this pipe smoker is concerned, and I will continue to do so- Darkstar is a part of my vast regular rotation.

1 person found this review helpful.

SnakeFarm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SnakeFarm (1)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I just got a 100g tin of McClelland?s ?Dark Star?($17.45) a couple of days ago and I?m still in shock from opening it. I don?t know what I expected to see in there, but it certainly wasn?t THAT! Not knowing what the hell to do with the stuff, I just made a small stack of three or four ?slices? and folded them in half lengthwise, then kind of pinched that into a cylinder shape and pressed it into the bowl. At first I didn?t think it was going to light but after the third charring it lit and stayed lit all the way down with nary a tamp or re-light. Besides smoking great it seemed to have a woodsy room-note but the flavor was otherworldly.

Now, I don?t want to cast aspersions (until the lab results are back) but I suspect Dark Star is laced with some mood altering agent. I got goose bumps and then broke out in a mild sweat just before a flood of most pleasant memories took me away to a walk in the woods with my daughters.

My bliss was only interrupted sometime later by the vague notion I might be late for an appointment or something. Glancing at my watch, I noticed that nearly two full hours had passed. I realized that the pipe was out and I had been just ?breath? puffing it for some time since it had gone out. I turned over my fat apple Savinelli and prepared to give it a whump to dislodge the dottle but a small clump of pure white ash just fell into my palm and when I looked into the bowl it appeared to have just been cleaned. Even the ash clump was interesting in that it appeared to have inherited some sort of lattice structure from the flake fibers. ?Weird stuff indeed. As a matter of fact, Queue, my obese tabby Manx cat is extremely interested in this stuff in spite of the fact it smells nothing like catfood.

This does not replace Peter Stokkerbye?s ?Luxury Navy Flake? in my library but it will most defiantly occupy a permanent place at its side on the top shelf.

If McClelland ever needs a subtitle for this one, I have one. ?Blackness so dark it twinkles?

1 person found this review helpful.

Mr. Dottle Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Dottle (162)
★☆☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

A previous reviewer noted that when rubbed out DS resembles little coals. I think it resembles mouse droppings. Regardless, I had to ?fight? this tobacco, i.e., I found it very difficult to light and to keep lit, moist out of the tin or after having let it dry out for one, two and three days, gravity fed or packed. In short, DS has the poorest burning qualities of any tobacco I have smoked. This is certainly a good smoke but what pleasure I found with this tobacco was not worth the effort?..and matches. This tobacco demands your undivided attention. I like to effortlessly enjoy my tobaccos, not fight them.

I rate this tobacco 6.5 out of 10

1 person found this review helpful.

Beer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Beer (300)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

If you have never tried such a stoved flake, you will definitely be impressed: it's black, it almost looks and feels like dried leather. The tin aroma is great: some ketchup, some dried fruit, some deep and dark caramel notes. Compared to other flakes, it's not too moist... but it clearly shows it will take some effort to light up (also because it does not rub out easily). The stoving has a positive effect on burning qualities, as this tobacco doesn't bite at all even if rushed. The taste is dark but not heavy, amost licoricey: not sweet and sour like other McClelland offerings. Once lit, it goes regularly with little relights. Room note is not very pleasant, a bit rank especially after you have finished the bowl. It's a nice tobacco, easy to smoke, soft and light in nicotine: in its genre it's one of the best, although I admit I tend to prefer red virginia flakes.

1 person found this review helpful.

The Keeper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Keeper (112)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

An high maintenance lover whose texture and taste is velvety, irresistible.

Smoked in MacQueen's Wizard Churchwarden which I normally reserve for pressed VA and the occasional burley, VA/P combo. My sample of Dark Star is just over 4 years old. I anticipated a wine-like sharpness ala Stonehaven. Completely different. Just a tiny bit of VA acidity to notate the sweetness. Perfect for late night atmospheres, it is like smoking caramel, brown sugar, burnt cinnamon with just a tiny bit of pepper.

I have concluded that even a luxurious blend like Dark Star may not make me a confirmed "VA Man". But it surely goes a long way to convince me that straight VA smoke is not without amazing subtlety, variation, texture, and complexity.

Almost like Shisha in its sweetness and smoothness. Only a bit of harshness when moisture crept into the stem. Many relights, but perfect when just smoldering out.

Dark Star may not be something I smoke with any frequency, but it provides an opiate like experience. It is worth trying if you like naturally sweet, fruity and spicy smoke. For some, this will be their holy grail.

1 person found this review helpful.

Nojoqui Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Nojoqui (28)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dark Star is a tricky tobacco. I've messed with this stuff for a while, and think I recently found out what I can do to get the most enjoyment out of it. The first can that I opened actually freaked me out. Greasy, wet, and barbeque sauce. I rubbed some out and had the most miserable (but at times tasty) experience I've ever had with a Virginia or Maryland flake. "Hmmm!", I thought. "I've got to get around this...it's supposed to be good!". Well, I tried cutting it up cross grain with scissors, breaking it into little twigs, and finally pulling about half of the twigs apart with my fingers. The latter seemed to work good, but still smoked a little wet. Finally, for some reason, I pulled some out of the can, broke it up with my fingertips, and let it sit for a few days. Then I came back and did a little more, and mixed the two together. I let them sit for about four days. The stuff smelled strongly of licorice. Great smell! I loaded an old Comoy's Dublin shape with the stuff, and found it to light quite easily. The first impressions I had were of licorice and raisins. This went back to a more fruity floral taste, and continued back and forth toward the bottom of the bowl. I've had to work to burn all of the tobacco at the bottom, and find myself using a lot of pipe cleaners in the process. But, the taste and room aroma have been great (so says my girlfiend). For a tobacco that I thought about throwing away the can to one I smoke regularly, I've got to say I'm impressed with this stuff. Just took me a lot of pipes full in a number of shapes to get it. Works best for me in a Dublin or a Canadian. Not one I really enjoyed in a Prince or an Apple. Use the right pipe, and it's a "10" out of "10". Use the other shapes, and it slips down to about a "7" to "8".

1 person found this review helpful.

SmokeDawg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SmokeDawg (56)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

This blend is tricky, because the treatment of this blend by McClelland makes for more pre-smoke prep work. The broken flakes are very dark dense and moist, and not easily manageable right out of the tin or even with some drying time. I finally put some in my magic bullet and gave it a spin reducing the flakes to the perfect ready to smoke texture. (Highly Recommend!)

The flavors really don't start to kick in until the middle of the bowl when this dense moist tobacco gets heated up. You get a great va sweet flavor but there is a twist due to their process, there is a slightly more sweet/fruity/sugary taste that pops up every now and then, that this blend calls it's own. Also, the taste is a bit warmer and richer than McClellands straight Va's like Christmas blend. My wife complained about the smell when I came in from outside. That doesn't happen unless the blend was on the musky strong side.

This is a good quality tobacco but I didn't detect anything super special that would really distinguish itself from the pack of Straight VA McClelland Special Reserve offerings, other than it takes more work. Keep that in mind if you plan on spending an average of $16.00 on a 3.5oz. I like and recommend Dark Star, but it has me wishing I had tried something else like Bombay or British woods. Med Nic Kick.

Additonal review/update: July 28th 2014: I put this tin away for 4 months. I finally had a day where I could invest in the prep time. I put Dark Star in my processor chopping it into smaller pieces. (This helps with the lighting as well as the burn. ) I then let it sit for an hour while I made coffee and breakfast. I then loaded my best pipe and took to the porch taking my time with the pre-lights. WOW. This is really awesome and worth the investment of prep time if you have the time. I'm a VA smoker and this is hard to beat.

Pipe Used: Comoy straight grain.

Age When Smoked: From fresh tin. Ground in blender.

Purchased From: JR Cigars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Fofo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Fofo (81)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

I am going to have to agree with other reviewers, this stuff is very good. While I'm not a huge fan of McClelland blends I think this one hits the mark as a good, tasty, cool burning smoke.

The tin note is vinegary, the usual McClelland, but that's where it stops. The smoke is flavorful, earthy, with a sweetness that's present but not very pronounced. The aroma is of baked bread, kind of reminds me of waffles.

What I'm not crazy about is the cut. The flakes, dry or moist, don't rub out into strands of tobacco but into chunks. Basically, the flakes crumble but not like your traditional crumble cake, more like smaller pieces of the flake. This makes packing somewhat challenging, but not terrible. Lighting is another issue, but no big deal if you use a lighter. Once lit it stays lit and burns cool.

I am not likely to buy this again in favor of other tobaccos that suit my tastes better, but I do recommend it as a good, quality smoke.

As a side note, if you like really sweet Va. flakes, this might not be for you.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Meerschaum Man Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Meerschaum Man (85)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

This McClelland blend is one of the lesser heralded choices of many pipe smokers, as it is ranked No. 382 in SmokingPipes tin sales, and I rarely see it mentioned in any of the popular what's in your bowl threads around here. Pity. The blend description tells the story. This tobacco begins as Bright Yellow, sugary top grade Virginia and Carolina leaf. Through careful triple aging, pressing and stoving, it becomes rich, cool and dark. A spicy aroma. It shows just how far stoving can take a blend, although it distinguishes itself from other heavily stoved McClelland blends, such as No. 2035: Dark Navy Flake, not just from the inclusion of Carolina leaf, but with the grade of Bright Virginias as well. It is notorious for being difficult to keep lit, as it presents as wet as can be from the freshly opened tin. After emptying the contents of the tin on the counter top in the morning, I return to it in the evening, when it has become a bit leathery and less wet. It is more to my liking that it dries more, but after waiting all day, I cannot hold out any longer, so I load the bowl of my pipe with some of the shake, while I collect the flakes and flake remnants into the tin, which I leave open until the morning of the next day. The shake of bits & dust that I load my first pipe with burns slowly, while I enjoy the sweet essence of the Bright Virginias, without having to contend with the bite that is so frequently part of the bargain, tempered further by the mellow character of the Carolina leaf, while the flavors continue to develop into a story of sunny fields of Virginia leaf in the heartland of American tobacco growers of Rolled Gold, written of and spoken about for many years. Even when allowed to become as dry as a cornflake, it burns for a long time, rewarding the smoker with a sweet song of summer that one never tires of, with a bit of spicy tang that doesn't bite.

Pipe Used: Meerschaums only

Age When Smoked: 7 years

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CTS Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CTS (126)
★★★☆
Medium Mild Medium Tolerable

Flavor of rich, spicy Virginia tobacco, with a ketchup-y zing in the background. Flavor intensifies a bit through the bowl, and can get a bit edgy/harsh, even when not pushed. Temperamental to get going, but burns well, once tamed by the flame. Last third is smooth.

Pipe Used: Nording Freehand, Grabow Grand Duke

Age When Smoked: Unknown; at least 3 months.

Purchased From: Corona Smoke Shop, Jackson, MI

Similar Blends: Similar to SG FVF, but with transitions.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

talkingbyinstal Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
talkingbyinstal (1)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I sometimes love this, sometimes hate it. Been through 3 tins. When it's good, it's full flavored, like Gawith leaf without the intense nicotine. And that's pretty great. But it always, I mean always, bites. Even when almost too dry. Controversial.

Could this be the Miley Cyrus twerking of pipe tobacco???

Pipe Used: Brigham Presidential, vintage Chap St. Claude

Age When Smoked: Unsure. One of the tins was a few years old.

Purchased From: Diebel's Sportsman's Gallery, Uptown's Smoke Shop, Pipes and Cigars online

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Flyerdog Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Flyerdog (9)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Mild Unnoticeable

I have smoke this in several different pipes. Sometime I love it, other times - blah. At times it has seemed complex and full of flavor other times one dimensional and forgettable. I don't dislike it but I don't think I'd purchase it again.

As far as the tin flavor which has been described as ketchup - I don't understand that description. To me it smells like aged Virginia. It was a bit moist out of the tin so I dried it quite a bit. Once properly dried the problems with frequent relights disappears.

Pipe Used: Savinelli freehand

Purchased From: 4Noggins

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Clive Moses Apikouris Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Clive Moses Apikouris (30)
★★★☆
Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Not my usual cup of tea or bowl of tabak, this stuff is unique and nice for am occasional smoke. Yes, when you pop the tin there's "ketchup", however it's not ketchup you are sniffing, instead you are inhaling the aroma of the fermentation process McClelland uses in developing the signature flavor of their stoved Virginia tobaccos. I originally opened this tin close to a year ago and it is stored with other blends in a sealed plastic container. The black semi-shredded flakes were as sticky and moist as when I first opened the tin (that's a plus to me; as tobacco dries it loses flavor). I shredded the stuff the best I could. Rubbing it out would just mash it into a sticky ball. While Dark Star is quite moist and sticky with a nice initial charring light it will light up nicely and burn pretty well but will need a bit of help staying lit as you properly sip it. Sip it, that's the technique that must be employed as with just about all tobaccos. Here it it is a necessity as the sweet stoved Virginia will certainly scald your tongue if you chug away at it. The flavor is very pleasant but one dimensional. It a a sweet, but not cloying taste with a nice smooth and surprisingly cool almost metallic, in a nice way mouth feel. In the second half of the bowl the flavors intensity increases a bit incrementally as you go on and it becomes slightly spicy and the Virginia tongue tingle makes a at first subtle appearance and then continues to stick around for the completion of the ride. I would only smoke this in a 9mm filter pipe like the Vauen Classic I'm enjoying it in as I write this. Otherwise my estimate of tongue danger could be somewhat underestimated. While I wouldn't smoke this on a daily basis it is a very nice change of pace and I won't wait as long before enjoying it again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mateo Torgy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mateo Torgy (7)
★★☆☆
Mild Extremely Mild Very Full Strong

A1 steak sauce in smell and taste -- raisins and vinegar. A very unique Virginia flake that requires its own protocol for smoking. In substance and style, a one-of- a-kind, incomparable smoke. Blackstrap molasses with hints of sweet and sour sauce. Careful as she goes. If smoked carelessly, you could have a numb tongue the next day. Don't fight it. It will go out often. In this regard it's similar to McClelland's Matured VA #24. I find myself huffing and puffing to keep it lit until the bowl is burning hot, and the tobacco bitey, bitter, and ashy -- not good.

This is a once a month smoke that may require its own devoted pipe given the distinctive taste and smell -- again, A1 steak sauce. I realize you're probably tempted to buy this infamous smoke just to see what all the fuss is about. But, you could save your money and refrain from buying this novelty tobacco. Just eat a spoonful of A1 and lick an ashtray. Then smoke a real VA flake like Dunhill's venerable offering.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

beardedhermit Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
beardedhermit (30)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

Jeepers! y'all folk's inta somethin else here. oowee this here some sour tobaccer! Now I'll admit though (just fer y'all fancy fellers out there) that theirs an eency weency touch of sweetness that kinda likes ta flick ya in the ear ever now and then, but I'm a tinkerin this gonna be the last tin fer o'l Rusty Fender.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

II Stormy II Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
II Stormy II (14)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Unnoticeable

Great smoke! Dark and creamy. Wonderful sinus flavor with French inhale. I use cube cut gravity packed or vertical flakes. Mainstay in the rotation for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tony M Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tony M (6)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This was one of the first tins I picked up when I finally took the plunge and moved beyond bulk tobacco. The tin description really captivated me and, I must say, the tobacco really lived up to it.

As has been noted, this tobacco is incredibly moist. I broke most of my current tin down into cubes when I opened it six months ago and it's still perfectly smokeable out of the tin (not even a glass jar). Cube cut, gravity packed, and lightly tamped makes this tobacco fairly manageable, but relights are still common. For my most recent bowl I took some of the larger flakes that remained, a bit of cubes, and gave it all a quick spin in a small blade coffee grinder. I stuck with a gravity pack, light tamp, and I think it smoked absolutely beautifully.

I definitely got "ketchup" from the tin when I first opened it, and there's still a hint of that even today. Thankfully I don't get that in the flavor at all. It's as deep, rich, and sweet as I could possibly want it to be with a bit of nuance that I can't quite characterize. I tried Dark Navy Flake in the hope that it would be an acceptable bulk substitute, but there is a subtlety that the DNF just doesn't have. I don't reach for this smoke too terribly often, so it's a blend where I allow myself to splurge on the real deal.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Wellpipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Wellpipe (48)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I've not tasted a Virginia that presents more depth and flavor range than this blend. I am a fan of Stonehaven and FVF and the first time I smoked Dark Star I could have sworn that it was cross between those two. It is a bit of work to rub out and air before lighting, but properly prepared Dark Star is worth the effort. Smoke it gently either indoors or else outdoors only on a dead calm day - otherwise your tongue will get nipped. Patience will be rewarded with rich sweet flavors from citrus to butterscotch and everything in between.

I enjoyed briarroot's assessment below and agree with the sentiment: "...this is a great achievement in blending, fermenting, aging and stoving." It is heavenly.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

samcoffeeman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
samcoffeeman (29)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Of the 3 Mc personal reserves I tried so far, this is the best. Reviewer before made a good comparison aND was right about the atomic fireball/cinnamon spicyness. Having read about the difficulty keeping lit, I rubbed it and basically did a gravity pack, maybe a light tamp. That helped, mine stayed lit pretty well. I did a full four charring lights. This tobacco is very compacted, and expands greatly when lit. This probably causes the lighting issues, as it will expand too much and keep oxygen from getting to the embers. I didn't get any bite from this. If you like spice, you will like this. Rating: enjoyable. Not sure if it is going to be in my rotation, got to try it a few more times and deserves some more chances.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Juna Gu Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Juna Gu (31)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

On my travels and having run out of Lakeland tins, I'd put down my pipe as there just didn't seem to be anything worth buying (tried Tinderbox blends but didn't feel like carrying on with that). Then one day stuck in Thousand Oaks and, hey ho, a cigar shop with a small selection of tobacco tins, mostly by McClelland. Somehow Dark Star was on my map, can't recall why, so I bought a tin. Lovely tin.

Ketchup. Hmm. Oh my god, this is like that Soap thing isn't it. To my nose this smelt like fruit; plums, raisins. Or actually just really nice tobacco. Very nice smell.

Dark, thin slices that don't break apart too easily.

Difficult to keep lit, yes. Rubbing it out helps. Reasonable strength, little bite.

Quite flavorsome and certainly dark and rich.

If it was readily available would buy some more.

I second briarroot's assessment.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

meerkat Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
meerkat (64)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable

OK, maybe it's gentically determined. When it comes to McClellands some people pick up the acetic smell some don't. Some smell it but don't taste it others experience both. I can smell it and taste it. But that's fine because I enjoy it.

There also seems to be some argument about wether it is a ketchup smell or dill pickle or this, that or the other. Well I think it depends on the specific blend. Christmas Cheer 2011 tasted and smelled like a particular brand of ketchup, to me. Dark Star, however, smells and tastes like worchestershire sauce. I like worchestershire sauce and I like Dark Star.

Whilst I was expecting more strength from a tobacco like this, I was not disapointed. It might not be as full and robust as I wanted but it is very, very good.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pip Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pip (36)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Like others say. Good quality but hard to keep lit. Better have a lot of matches or a full lighter. Too much work for me. Not worth the effort.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Deleted Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Deleted Account (574)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

The flavors I get from dark star are fairly similar to what I get from escudo but with less strength, nicotine, and perique-ness. That is, more prune-ish flavor than brighter virginia blends like old gowrie which give me brighter dried fruit flavor. It has a 'mature' taste and sensation that is distantly reminiscent of lakeland district tobacco. This stuff is fantastic, the only downside that I experienced was it being fairly fire resistant out of the tin. After some drying and breaking down it was a much better burner.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

palm springs piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
palm springs piper (12)
★☆☆☆
Medium Strong Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

My first McClelland, and if all of them are like this, my last. I was prepared for the ketchup odor, rubbed out the tin, and aired it out for a week. Still there. Lit it up and no ketchup, but sweet chow chow instead! Each time, over several weeks, the first half of the bowl tasted like green tomato relish. I can tell that there is a good, caramel-rich Virginia in there somewhere, but not enough to overcome the aftertaste of the piccalilly. Threw out half the tin. Kept the tin, though. Nice artwork.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Northern Pipes Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Northern Pipes (22)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

Yes, the tins ketchup smell does exist. No, it doesn't taste like ketchup. This is a fantastic tobacco for those like me venturing away from my beloved aromatics. I find the room note quite pleasant with a thick sweetness that I remember as a child. I like this tobacco fully rubbed out and into my pipe as soon as it can get it there. I didn't find any problems with lighting this, maybe one or two false lights. The smoke totally mellows after a good 15 minutes of smoking and settles into a warm rich smoke. The one drawback is that upon opening the tin,I was taken aback at how little 50 grams of this looks like. A bowl of this and a glass of Woodfords Reserve Bourbon and I'm nice and relaxed for the night. Now only if I could get my wife to let me smoke indoors.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

TK Pipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TK Pipe (101)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dark Star … A McC blend that I always wanted to try, and finally got around to doing just that. My 100g tin contained dense almost black flakes, irregular in shape, with the typical McC tin aroma. I tried many of my normal flake preparations, but found this almost clay like flake, was at its best (IMO) when dried to the point where it rubbed out similar to a crumble cake, then loaded in the bowl using a gravity feed and soft tamp. Dried and fully rubbed out, this somewhat fire retardant flake now had an acceptable burn and to my delight became noticeably richer in flavor. I could have saved some time and tobacco, if I would have read this web-site before trying DS, and simply took the advice of others, but I was never much for reading directions. Anyway, I'm pleased to say, this stuff is a bite free, truly delicious and a very satisfying tobacco. IMO this extra preparation is no big deal, really not so different from many other flakes, simply dry, rub and smoke… 4 Stars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Henry Mars Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Henry Mars (20)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Pleasant

This weed is not suitable for the novice because it requires a lot of preparation and attention in order to smoke it. The flakes are so pressed that folding them and stuffing them in your pipe will simply not work if you ever plan to actually light the stuff. I cut the flakes length wise with kitchen scissors then across so that I end up with little squares then rub some of them out completely. I load the pipe with the little squares then pack to top of the bowl with stuff I rubbed out. It also needs to be dried out for a while before you smoke it. Do not pack this stuff tightly. Like most flakes it needs to breath a lot. After all of that it will light well and stay with a few re-lights. For a Virginia tobacco this stuff has a fairly potent dose of "Vitamin N". It will benefit by the DGT.

The tin that I am smoking was in my cellar since May 2008

The bowl stats out with a sweet citrus taste which then moves to the background as the smoke progresses. After the first quarter bowl it begins to develop a taste that reminds me of semi sweet chocolate over graham crackers. This intensifies as the smoke progresses. It doesn't get more complex just more intense ..every once in a while I kind of get the taste of toasted marshmallows.

All in all a very enjoyable smoke but a lot of work to enjoy. DS will not make my normal rotation but I will keep a tin of this around for a change of pace.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Puffingstuff Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Puffingstuff (81)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Opening this tobacco one would would wonder if it's really tobacco at all. It's so black and the flakes are thin. After the ketchup smell left, (leaving it open for a day). I took a few flakes and rubed them out completely. Ahhhh,so fine a smoke. A very excellent blend!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

BurghBelly Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BurghBelly (5)
★★☆☆
Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

As mentioned, this is the strongest of the ketchup blends. It comes in large broken flakes, and despite other people's success (which I would imagine involves a flame thrower) I found this form no more amenable to steady smoking then I would tree bark. If you can fold stuff and smoke this stuff, all the more power to you; I can't. Not that it's a bad tobacco, but I found that it needed to be ground and dried in order to be smoked. Once it's processed, however I found it to be a good stout Virgina with a great nose.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tom Servo Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tom Servo (58)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

The tin aroma is interesting. Most McClelland Virginia blends have that strange barbeque sauce tin aroma, but this nearly black sliced flake has the aroma of marinara sauce over hot whole wheat pasta. I know - sounds crazy to me too. I love a dense flake like this, although this one can be a pain to pack and light if you're in a hurry. (Rub! Rub! Rub!)

Beautiful aged Virginia - warm flavors of roasted grains, boiling oatmeal, pancake batter, fresh yeast rolls. Behind all this a mild, soft-spoken, almost shortbread-like sweetness. Smooth and cool. The room note is pleasant enough.

Dark Star is a very nice Virginia flake, definitely worth a try. In my opinion, Dark Star isn't as good as McClelland's Blackwood Flake but it is still great. Try some for yourself, there's a reason Virginia is “The King of Tobacco”, and any Virginia from McClelland‘s blending room is going to be more than interesting.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

yinyang Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
yinyang (45)
★★★☆
Extremely Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

You ever hear that old chestnut about it being better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt? Yeah, I don't ascribe to it either. Now onto my review!

I picked up DS out of curiosity, pure and simple. It's obvious aggravating qualities, as evidenced in reviews here, piqued my interest. Who doesn't enjoy the occasional challenge? That said, I still thought it best to ask others in the know the best way to prepare it...no need to fumble around with that aspect of it, I believed. I needn't have worried. I found the complaints of preparation and difficulty in lighting groundless. Sloppy wet and fresh from the open tin, it was no more annoying than your average flake. If I used matches, I suppose one extra would be required, but eh...so what? Even fold and stuffed was a breeze.

So endeth (most) the good news.

DS is the most vinegary McClelland I've ever messed with. Peel the lid back and hold your nose vinegary. Sheeew! My wife makes Carolina BBQ sauce(cider vinegar with brown sugar and red pepper) that smells tame in comparison. I know that smell usually doesn't translate in the smoke...usually. Unfortunately for me, this one did. I actually had a reaction to it...kind of a slow motion prelude to puking...my tongue withdrew into the recess of my mouth, and I was salivating profusely. WTH? Yeah...not cool. But being the trooper I am (read: cheapskate), I persevered with the tin. I'm fairly glad I did, too.

Not that it was smooth sailing, however. I learned the hard way to let this one air out and let the scent subside, yes, but I also found out that some tin time drying also helped it smoke like, well, smoke. Almost the first half of the tin didn't even feel like there was smoke in my mouth...it was like, uh...you ever get a shot of perfume in your mouth? Or possibly a citrusy furniture polish? Weird, I know, but true. (This is not an endorsement to experiment with these chemicals, BTW...besides, they are only partially effective on halitosis). :)

Somewhere in time, though, things settled down nicely. Suddenly I had a well behaved, non biting pleasant VA to look forward to. DS is a very much like its tin description, the spiciness intriguing, the sweetness beguiling. I only wish I had understood all the quirks before essentially wasting much of the tin.

I will get this again, I'm sure. While the continuing learning curve seems steep, the rewards look pretty promising. Either that, or I need to learn to keep my fat mouth shut.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Papercutpostman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Papercutpostman (7)
★★★★
Very Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant

A tin just arrived today [thank you smokingpipes!] and I just couldn't wait to pop the lid open and hear the hiss of air from the vacuum seal. After having read all the reviews, I just had to try it for myself.

The flakes (well, 4-5 of em cause most of them are broken) came out to be black in color and I caught a whiff of the signature ketchup smell. I love it! It was definitely more acidic than Blackwoods Flake or Virginia No.24. Very moist in the tin and I knew that it would need at least a good 20 minutes to rest.

I pulled out the large pieces and shook out the fragments onto a clean wooden table to air out. I then took them in my fingers and gently rubbed them in a circular motion to further open up the flakes. Gravity fed my bowl and tamped every so lightly so that the pieces could expand and air themselves out during initial charring. Took a couple of lights to start seeing white ashes on the top. Burns okay. Needed a few relights but what's the fun in pipe smoking if you don't take the time to prep?

The flavor is smooth and slightly creamy. It's just like other VA's but very sweet in aroma. The flavor is deep, leathery, tangy and woody. It is very clean in aftertaste and the room note is pretty darn good!

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a genuine VA experience. However, for beginners, I would recommend Blackwoods Flake first as it is more forgiving in terms of burning qualities and is less likely to give ya bite!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Palermo09 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Palermo09 (20)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

One of my long time favorites. Although it seems to have changed a lot in the past few years. It used to come in long thin slices of flake and now comes in thick chunks of flake. Stil black as night. Pure Virginia. Highest quality tobacco. A must try.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Dark Star is a stoved and pressed Virginia tobacco. The tin aroma is promising; though it initially has the typical McClelland acetic acid aroma, that quickly fades, being replaced by an aroma that promises spice and richness. Dark Star is a flake tobacco, and is quite moist right out of the can. I enjoy the process of hand-rubbing tobaccos, but find tat this one is easier to handle and to smoke if I take a few flakes out of the can, let them air dry for a short while, and then proceed.

The initial lighting of Dark Star produces a sweet, heady smoke that fulfills the promise of spice. Each subsequent puff continues that promise. Somehow, as I get deeper into a bowl of this stuff, I am reminded of raisins. Though not a huge fan of raisins, it works. It's delicious. Enticing. The further you get into a bowl of this stuff the richer and more complex the flavor and sweetness. A wonderful, almost vanilla-like creaminess develops in Dark Star that never fails to amaze and delight me.

Dark Star is a slow-burning tobacco. In a bowl that normally lasts me an hour and a half, DS seems to burn for at least a couple of hours. The finishing notes are every bit as interesting and pleasurable as the start. It DGT's well, too. Puff slowly when you smoke it. I suspect that this tobacco could do a typical Virginia burn on your tongue if smoked heavily, but heavily smoking it would so detract from the subtleties of flavor that it would make the experience far less anyway. To me, McClelland's Dark Star is the tobacco that all other stoved Virginias aspire to become.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Alguhan Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Alguhan (140)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

The flakes come very moisty and hard to rub out. After trying to dry them in different grades of humidity at last I've catched the best. Almost totally dried and chopped a bit in a food processor like Pipestud's method the tobacco packed very well and burned easily. The very dark virginias offered a mild taste of sweetness and spicy touches of a fine blend. Nicotine dosage seems to be light at the beginning but usually satisfies my needs when smoked in a medium capacity bowl. I strongly do not recommend this tobacco to beginners. It is very hard to pack and light so a beginner would leave his pipes away because of it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CaptainEnormous Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CaptainEnormous (17)
★★★☆
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Reviewing this one mostly to note that, for me, this blend absolutely has to be aired out before it can be smoked. It has the strongest McClelland Ketchup smell of any blend I find, and it's not just in the tin aroma. I pack a bowl of this stuff, and if I don't wait at least an hour (4 hours is better) before I light up, I'm getting nothing but vinegar for the first half of the bowl.

That's unacceptable.

But I've done more to accommodate lesser tobaccos.

So why the 3 star rating? Because if you let it dry a bit, 95% of the vinegar flavor disappears. What's left is one of the purest, smoothest, most naturally sweet VA experiences out there. The "pressing and stoving" of the Virginia leaves has kept the bright, sweet VA character while introducing a fuller dimension to the smoke. It's getting towards winter here, and the best way I can describe Dark Star is to think about the way fresh cut maple (normal McClelland VA) smells, then think about the way your house smells when you burn aged maple in a wood stove (Dark Star). The presence of the constituent VAs is very much a part of Dark Star, but there's more going on. Something mellow and dark and, well, comforting.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Orion T Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Orion T (1)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I tried this blend off of reading the reviews from this website. I opened it and was surprised both by the strong smell of ketchup and/or barbeque and the toughness of the flake. I tried the usual rubbing method for a minute giving up and basically tearing it apart with my fingers. Lighting seemed to be another challenge going through several matches in the process. Once I got it lit though it was a different story. The taste was amazing. The spiciness was a refreshing change from the tin of sweet Cavendish that I had worked on before. I have since smoked the whole tin and plan on buying it again.

Also as the tobacco dried out (over about four months) it seemed to lose its entire flavor. Definitely don't let it dry out.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sir Walter Smiley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sir Walter Smiley (24)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

This pitch of a flake is excellent. I prefer the pure aged Virginia flavor it has over my favorite virginia flake,Blackwoods Flake. The tanginess it has can bring a tear to my eye if I leave the smoke lingering in my sinuses for too long. It smokes relitively cool for a virginia flake. The one drawback,and it is a big one, is the flake is hard and is not easy to crumble and impossible to fold. This makes it hard to handle, yet worth the effort.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pipe aficionado Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pipe aficionado (4)
★★★☆
Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

I tried this blend after reading that it resembled Ratray's Dark Fragrant, which no longer tastes as rich to me as when I first smoked it several decades ago. I see no resemblance at all, none, beween Dark Star and Dark Fragrant--apart from the adjective, that is. These days I find Dark Fragrant, like most cavendish blends, boring, almost flavorless, though undeniably sweet smeilling. The room note of Dark Star is equally pleasant but with a much more complex taste. When I smoked Dark Star right after opening the tin I too found it "spicy," as others have described it, but a little too rich for my taste, rather brassy in fact. And I couldn't get it burn evenly. So I put it aside for about four months. When I returned to Dark Star recently I found it had definitely improved with aging. It is still rich and complex, but it now makes for a somewhat more subtle smoke. My only complaint: even after I rub this tobacco out, it remains very coarse, even stiff, almost like little shreds of dessicated shoe leather. And I have trouble keeping it lit. I prefer a tobacco that packs, and draws, more evenly.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

scorpio2billion Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
scorpio2billion (9)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable

From looks, feel, and smell, this would seem to be a serious, testy tobacco. One that requires patience and dedication. This, however, isn't really the case. Tear it up, grind it up, or just squish and stuff it in your bowl- it's actually pretty forgiving. The famous McClelland Virginiagar scent is strong with this one, but doesn't translate too heavily to the tongue. It's actually a pretty tasty offering, albeit one that takes all of your notions of what a Virginia is and stabs them in the lung, Sure, it's sweet, but it's also spicy and smokey. It has a zing! I like it best in a small billiard, since it can leave my taste buds feeling claustrophobic after a bit. It's a treat that I break out once in a while for a change of pace. Definitely not an all-day smoke for me, and I'll smoke Five Brothers for breakfast! Makes a great dry-rub, too.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mikecronis Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mikecronis (1)
★★★☆
Mild Extremely Mild Very Mild Pleasant

The McClelland representative made not not to rub out this flake but to FOLD it 3 times and then stuff, which is an odd way to pack but it works. Followed his suggestion and stayed lit fresh and wet out of the tin. DO NOT DRY OUT as it ruins it.

Scent is McKetchup and Worchestershire. Taste is mild but nice and mellow like a diet-Planta San Succi. Good starter tobacco as it requires minimal effort to fold and pack. No bite.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sweetbriar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sweetbriar (14)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Full Tolerable

ok.. i revisted this baccy last nite and today and admit i was wrong. I actually like this baccy. I kept thinking about Unsal and his recommend. I took a flake, seperated a little and let sit about 15 min. smoked and tasted like a dream. i just dont know what i was thinking or did the first time around. and thanks unsal for piping, i mean popping into my head. a good baccy indeed. sorry all and sorry McClelland..thanks

didnt like this alone. hard to keep lit moist and found it harsh dried. I'll take pieces of it to blend with others. i know, i know..need to give it another chance, but dont think i'll change my mind on this one.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Chatsworth Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Chatsworth (52)
★★★★
Mild Mild Full Tolerable

Sort of a spicy smoke. And 'smoky' too ! Some virginia sweetness, but not nearly as much as say McClelland #25.

Yes, this need a good long airing out, drying out, rubbing out. Don't bother with the fold and stuff method unless you really let this dry out in the sun for a couple of days. Get it dry, dry and crispy.

My personal preference is for sweeter virginia's than this, so I'll let it sit in the opened tin and try it from time to time. Might even blend it with some #25.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

happy jack Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
happy jack (25)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I just love this. I think the tin opening is intoxicating. The preperation is as wonderfull as the smoke. I feel like a kid in a candy shop with this stuff. I open the can and let it breath for a few days, the pour it out on a large sheet of wax paper, and rub this stuff, over and over and over,... Ahaa so cool man, I just drop this in a dedicated meerchum," I would not use any thing else. lightly tamp with my finger and light, take smooth sips and don't be concerned with relights, this is a smoke that has so much character, not to complex, keeps in your pouch very well and long, keeps getting better, pipe after pipe. 5 stars

Nobody has rated this review yet.

theresyourtrouble Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
theresyourtrouble (1)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium Pleasant

first off, im new to pipe smoking, so dont expect anything fancy... based on the descriptions and reviews, i ordered a tin of this and am very gld i did. although it is slightly wet (my tin is from 06, if im reading the date right), i had no problem getting it to stay lit after simply rubbing it between my palms and packing a very small bowl to take my first taste. despite the horrible smell when you open the can (and horrible is a massive understatement) it stayed lit on the second try after a slight tamping, and stayed lit to the bottom of the bowl. first impressions, smooth and deep, second impression, wow! im in love. did i mention smooth? even for me, someone whos never even smoked a cigarette, i didnt so much as hiccup! even with no flavouring the taste is incredible. smoky, dark, like being lost in the woods after a heavy rain. that smell of wet earth, where you can almost taste the air. amazing. it did burn very hot, even the tiny amount i packed, my cheapo corn cob job was blazing, but still managable to hold, although i wonder if that would be the case with a full bowl. highly recomended. im definately gonna buy a few 100g tins to age.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mike__P Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mike__P (87)
★★☆☆
Medium to Strong Very Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

These are the darkest flakes that I've ever seen. Dark Star should have been named "Black Star," as the rustic, pressed strips resemble the color of freshly-laid asphault. The tin note is typical McClelland, although its barbeque-sauce blast is much more pronounced than other blends in the lineup, and the familair essence carries over to the bowl. The flakes are also damp and somewhat sticky, but they burn down to a fairly dry ash.

I have had problems keeping it lit, and the best way to handle it (besides obviously drying it out) is to be more aggressive than usual with your charring lights and relights -- counterintuitive for a Virginia. DS requires some patience and determination along the way. I personally have no problems with the latter; it's the former that I lack. But once you get it going, it will reward you, and the last third is sublime. This stuff is vinegary, rich, satisfying and doesn't bite. It pairs extremely well with a good California Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Rodney Strong.

So why two stars? It's too high maintenance for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Captain bob Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Captain bob (38)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Mild Tolerable

This is fine tobacco but in a much different league than mild aromatics. My tin is dated Marh 2007. Plenty of moisture. That is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Big slices... unbelievable and excitingly interesting. Black as the Ace of Spades, too!

This is an aged Virginia that has been pressed and stoved. Now, we are into "real" tobacco! Tobacco that stands completely on its own without any added flavoring. I have a place in my heart for this stuff even though I generally smoke mild aromatics. I can really appreciate this as a treat but not an all day blend by any means. I'll rotate this with my heavy Latakia Blends because I do love non-aromatic leaf, especially matured Virginia. This is exceptional. A little goes a long way in a big bowl. You will need some re-lights and some tamping. I simply folded the slices and jammed them into the bowl. All in all, an exceptional treat.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

vinnie799 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
vinnie799 (33)
★★★☆
Medium Medium Medium to Full Tolerable

In the past yeasr or twohave discovered VA Flake tobaccos.I've lcome to like several differnt ones. Along my journey I discovered Dark Star. A very deep rich, in my opiinion, smoky tobacco remieniscient of McLelland's Cajun Black. Dark Star to me has a full taste and feeling in the mouth and a pleasant aroma even just french inhaling it. It is a bit difficult to keep lit if it is not rubbed out a bit. I wouldn't recommend a fold and stuff process though as it is rather dense and doesn't take a light real well this way. I find that if I rub it out between my palms it breaks up just nice enoughto fill my bowl easily. However rub it too much and it has broken into too little peices for my liking but it does light easier. It reminds me of a cube cut when I rub it out thoroughly. the wife says it smells a bit strong to her but them it seems our other halves are wired different sometimes. A smooth ,pleasant rich and medium to lightly full feeling and flavor. I would recommend it to any VA or VAper smoker. And it'also named after one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kapnismologist Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kapnismologist (30)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Moist, partially broken flakes which are black to very dark brown in color with occasional chocolate-hued veining. The tin nose is sharp yet deep, with a marked acetic acid note covering a pungent, woody sweetness and the aroma of fresh, wet clay. Measuring approximately 1” x 2” and 1/16th” in thickness when whole, the dark rubbery flakes are not particularly amenable to easy preparation and can be, to put it mildly, something of a pain to pack and keep lit. Experimentation with a variety of preparation techniques was necessary to find what works. For this reviewer, the flakes seemed to do best when allowed to reach a substantial level of dryness and then placed in smaller pipes with narrow gauge chambers, partially ‘rubbed' (meaning, in this case, broken into chunks by hand or cubed with scissors).

In the bowl, Dark Star offers a pleasant combination of rich, syrupy spice and semi-sweet chocolate with notes reminding of wood smoke, old cinnamon sticks, molasses, and the caramelized sugar crust of crème brûlée fresh from under the broiler. For this reviewer, allowing the flakes to smolder (accompanied by measured sipping) produced the best results. DGT is delightful as is the second half of a fresh bowl, where the flavor nuances begin to emerge. Dark Star goes particularly well with a cup or two of freshly ground, dark roast coffee, preferably after dinner. On the full side of medium bodied, the finish is long with a savory, woody tang.

Not for the impatient, Dark Star is much quicker to punish inattention than it is to reward persistence. At the same time, however, this reviewer is left with a sneaking suspicion that there is more going on in these odd black flakes than just one tin can reveal. Based on a tin dating to 2004, it is highly unlikely that Dark Star could ever become an ‘everyday Virginia' around these parts, but it does beckon for more attention and further consideration down the road. Given the constituent tobaccos of the blend, its suitability for cellaring and long-term aging seems obvious.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Capt. Cavendish Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Capt. Cavendish (21)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

You know, I probably shouldn't review when I'm in a bad mood, but it's hard to imagine this being much better if I was in a good mood. So here goes. What a let down. I had hoped for so much more from this blend, but was sorely disappointed. For one, it set me back eleven bucks that I could have happily spent on one of the McClelland premium aromatics that I oh so enjoy. This tobacco was so wet I had to lay some out on a paper plate and let it dry for 36 hours before lighting. And what's with the name? I couldn't stop thinking about Darth Vader when I smoked this, wondering if all the heavy syrups were aging my skin to the point that I was going to look like Vader with his helmet off by the time I finished the tin. Maybe I'm not Jedi enough to appreciate this one, but I think I'll look elsewhere in the McClelland line.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe (18)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

As stated, this stuff is different. Upon opening I didn't know whether to eat it or smoke it. Most likely Beef Jerky, Its very wet. I took 2 large slabs and laid it out on the dashboard of my truck to let it sun-dry for 2 hours. Then I broke it all apart and packed it loosely and used the fine crumbs/dust for the topping. It toasted just right on the first light, Then 1 more light lasted till the end, Not really strong, mild nicotine, Flavors are favorable. Pleasant experience, No bad side effects. I'd buy it again. I recommend a trial, You might just like it. Takes a bit longer to prepare for smoking, but Its good.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

corncobbob Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
corncobbob (1)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

The first time I tried this blend, I experienced many of the same problems that my fellow reviewers have noted. First, it is very finicky to rub out. The tobacco looks like beef jerky and has a very similar grain structure. Secondly, it is very moist and hard to keep lit. Rubbed out, it reminds me more of chewing tobacco than pipe tobacco.

I bought my first tin of this stuff more than a year ago and had no real intention of ever buying it again. But time went on, and like many have also said, there is nothing else like Dark Star on the market.

The second time I bought this tobacco, i decided that there was a simple way of resolving most of the issues involved with it. I took the entire tin of tobacco, and methodically rubbed it out into an old cigar box, spreading it evenly along the bottom. I then let the box sit on the shelf for about two days before transferring the tobacco back to its original tin.

The next day i simply opened up the tin, loaded a bowl of my nice, dry, loose flake, and very much enjoyed the depth and flavors of the stoved Va. Only recommended because it burns much too hot, if i puff constantly for twenty seconds, the bowl becomes too hot to hold and i am forced to set the pipe down.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kilmarnock Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kilmarnock Piper (233)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

For me, not entirely my style, not as much as other McClellands such as Virginia #24 and #27 or Blackwoods Flake. The flake is very dark and compact. I gave my brother, who rolls his own cigarettes and smokes the occasional pipe a tin of this, and it is about his favorite. The flake is mellow and stoved-tasting, too much so for me, but there is no arguing with the quality. I smoke it for a change of pace. There is also a pleasant spice aroma, kind of nutmeggy? Ginger? Hard to say, and probably just a product of the curing. I get a note of dried fruit like figs or dates, but I often get that impression fron this style of tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Demetri Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Demetri (100)
★★☆☆
Medium Medium Medium to Full Pleasant

I picked up a tin of this last week on a lark...something for my sweet tooth (rather than 1Q). This is candy! I've tried three bowls thus far (finally deciding that my tobacconist's recommendation of just rolling the stuff up and jamming it into the pipe is the best way to go). Impressions: 1) This is tobacco hashish. 2) After three smokes I finally identified the heavy cinnamon flavor - so much so that it recalls Atomic Fireball candy or even those little Red Hot Devils we used to get. 3) Spicy.

All said, not steady fare but some fun stuff. This tin should last me years.

Updated: After a couple of months of fooling with this as a rolled plug in the bowl I fully rubbed out the remaining 3/4 of my tin. The result was startling. The candy-like cinnamon / Atomic Fireball flavor simply disappeared, replaced with an entirely different experience. Smoked with this preparation it is more like MacBaren Plumcake (but better). Still a novelty smoke for me, however.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipemanuk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipemanuk (76)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

Love this stuff.

I fill a pipe or two with folded flakes and then leave them overnight and smoke them the following evening and thsu I never have problems with the burn at all.

Many have accurately described the rich sweetness of the blend; I do not think there's anything else that approaches it by a mile. And I love the tin scent too...wonderful!

I have one quibble and it's this that drops it a star...I have a tin of DS from 2007 open and a jar of 2035 that I stored away also in 2007. I cannot tell any difference, in the look, the smell or the smoke. So while I hold onto my precious tins of Barry Levin DS from the 1990's and the few more recent tins, what I buy now to store is 2035.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Xeneize Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Xeneize (275)
★★☆☆
Medium Very Mild Very Mild Tolerable

I usually enjoy the famous vinegar/ketchup casing on McClelland's Virginias. Blackwoods Flake, 2015 and a few Christmas Cheers are among my favorite tobaccos. That doesn't apply to Dark Star, mostly because its mild taste is overcome by the vinegar casing. You can appreciate the quality of this tobacco a few months after cracking a tin open, once the flavoring is partly washed away, but packing it and keeping it lit is annoying enough to bother with a long wait.

I still have a couple of tins that I'll age for a couple of years to see if it gets any better, but the heavy stoving doesn't make me think so.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dubinthedam Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dubinthedam (133)
★☆☆☆
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

There are very few blends I will not recommend. Why? Well even if it's not to my own taste I ask myself, "Is it a good blend?". Many McClee's VA's are similar in taste, CCheer disappoints, Navy Cav is a fav...but this stuff is super high maintenance, as reviews state, almost impossible to actually smoke. My tin is from 1999...the crystals are minimal! Maybe a blend from 1974 might crystalize! The best you could do with this is mix it with a very bright and dry VA blend. The flavors are nice and dark, musty even...but still not remarkable in any way. I only hope my tin of Blackwoods Flake is better?

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tatonka Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tatonka (3)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

When I opened the tin, my first reaction was that someone had removed the tobacco and replaced it with chips of creosote or whale jerky. I had to contemplate how to get it into a pipe and get it lit. What seemed to work best is to break the flakes lengthwise into approximately 3/8 inch wide strips a little shorter than the bowl depth and stand these up in the bowl, sliding them in one or two at a time until there wasn't any more room. Doing this leaves the pipe with almost no resistance to draw but a good long first light will allow the bowl to be tamped down until the draw is right and it is ready for the true light. This leads to a lot of smoke and an extra long light will yield a smoke that can be kept going pretty much like normal. This smoke has a wonderful sweet taste with noticeable bite. Setting this aside until the bowl is cool, then resuming later with a third light gives a wonderful slow, long smoke that is really hard to beat. The room note got compliments too and that was surprising. All in all a wonderful smoke that takes a lot of work, a complete cool down set aside before resuming, and then a slow and patient draw.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

frankluke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
frankluke (17)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Mild Medium to Full Tolerable

this stuff tastes great, i mean maybe the best tasting VA blend i've tried, it's sweet and tangy and has a full finish like a cigar would. it tastes like buttered raisins if that makes sense. thats about all the good i can say about darkstar, maybe thats enough. this tobacco is such a pain in the ass in all the other catagories.. let me say it like this, ever notice when you read a review on any tobacco blend for the most part somebody will write "it broke up well" or it " burned well" that stuff, i call them throw away lines used in a review cause it seems every review has them, really what tobacco doesn't burn well or break easily? dark star... i've never been more frustrated with a blend in my life, this stuff will not dry, i've left it opend for weeks at a time and it's like i just opened it 5 minutes ago. i even tried dry boxing it like a cigar, lol. ok, time to break it up, your 10x a better man if you can smoke this in flake form, this is the worst at breaking up, do to the tobacco being so wet you can't just rub the tobacco out like you normally would with a typical flake, you have to use a knife or lately i've used my coffee grinder but you have to be carfull doing that cause you might get powdered baccie. now that you have dried the tobacco for hours, days, months and broken up the tobacco using whatever method you thought necessary it's time to fill you pipe and smoke. now my favorite part, it won't stay lit, after half a dozen charring light's you get to smoke for five minutes at a time, if your lucky. but, it tastes great.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Society of the Briar Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Society of the Briar (13)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I suppose you could fault McClelland for making tobaccos that differ mostly in subtle degrees. But, in this smoker's opinion, they're all so top notch, I can't complain.

Dark Star is precisely as the tin says,rich, cool, dark and spicy. Traditional McClelland "tang" in the tin note emanates from handsome, dark and leathery flakes. Hearty is a good way to put it. It does take some serious rubbing out to get these thick tobacco shingles in decent smoking form, or at least, that is my take on the process.

Tasty, mildly, mildly sweet and pleasantly complicated without forcing your tongue to work tobacco trigonometry. This isn't likely to be unlike anything you've ever tasted, but it's undoubtedly among the best. Cheers.

Update 5/11/09: I haven't at all had the various degrees of trouble smoking this that others have been reporting. I'm not doing anything particularly remarkable to the tobacco, but just for the record... I'll take a large-ish flake and pinch/crumble it into the palm of my other hand, much like wadding up a small peice of paper. The more force you use here, the better, grinding it between your thumb and forefinger. If there are any large pieces left, keep wadding, crumbling. Repeat until you've enough to fill your bowl, empty any extra into your tin. The flakes are simply too large and thick to simply fold in half and stuff into the bowl. You'd have to puff until you passed out to keep it lit. Sure, after all that work, this still may not be your thing, but if done right you should be able to smoke it properly and enjoy what is in my very humble estimation, the vest VA I've ever smoked... er, dark VA at least.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jonawbr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jonawbr (1)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This has fast become one of my favorite blends out there. I will say this is one of biggest pains to prep but this blend rewards the patient in a wonderful way. My presmoke involves breaking it up a bit about a hour or so before I want to smoke it. Once the proper moisture is achieved I pack it softly and take frequent test draws till it has that right draw. Once lit I smoke it slowly and just savor the amazing bouquet of flavors from the top of the bowl to the bottom. The room note has varied from person to person that I have smoked this around but I have not had anyone that has been offended by the aroma. This blend can bite hard if care is not taken in your smoking technique. Although this blend does tend to favor some pipes more than others. Experiment and when you have that eureka moment it makes this blend worth every penny.

I am curious to see how additional aging will affect this blend. I have a few 50 gram tins aging, I am gonna open one after a year and another one after a few more years. I will update my review when that time comes. Until then enjoy life and keep on puffin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

BobB Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
BobB (19)
★★★★
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Three and a half stars.

Sure you've got to work it and dry it. I like using my hands and I don't mind one bit.

No one around me has said anything about the aroma and I haven't bothered to ask. I just enjoy it.

Dark Star is one of the most complex tobaccos I had ever smoked. Once dried, it needed little attention. I wish it were a little stronger, but every time I light up it gets better. A very nice tobacco to be enjoyed. Dark Star tastes like good tobacco.

If you've got a problem working your DS, bring it over. I'll be happy to do it after I've ordered and done couple of pounds to cellar.

Thank you McClelland.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

cut-shot Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
cut-shot (10)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Dark Star is a very nice stoved VA flake. The tin that I am sampling is from 1998 and age has done it's wonderful work! The flakes are very dark with light sugar crystals and have a nice pungeant aroma (once the vinegar smell wears off). In my experience it is good to allow the flake to dry out a bit after opening the tin.

The best results for me were to rub the flake out and pack the bowl lightly as this seems to not only increase the flavor of the tobacco but also aids in keeping it lit(didn't have any trouble keeping it lit). Dark Star produces volumes of thick luscious clouds of smoke, very enjoyable right down to the bottom of the bowl. Wonderful pure and sweet Virginia tobacco taste and recommended!

Updated 4/12/09 I must say that after allowing this blend to "air out" a bit it is quite exceptional! I am going to upgrade to 4 stars because I am finding myself reaching for this blend more and more and at the end of a bowl feel quit satisfied to say the least. This tobacco produces such a wonderful dark, full, rich and cool smoke it is my new "go to" blend, highly recommend!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Auld Eire Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Auld Eire (12)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This has become my favorite stoved VA flake. Sweet and deep, with billows of smoke that, while not the wife's favorite, I find second to none. I had similar prep issues until I started using an old Krups coffee grinder. 1 to 2 seconds transforms this from a prep nightmare into ready-to-smoke ambrosia. I had sworn off the dark, moist flakes. Now I can't wait to try the grinder on Odyssey. Trust me guys, it's worth it! jm

Nobody has rated this review yet.

arpie55 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
arpie55 (30)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

this has got to be one of my favorites! i have tried many different methods for the separating and packing but i find that i like it best just partially rubbed out and more or less simply folded over and stuffed into the pipe. this allows for a long slow smoke with many different facets of flavor throughout the bowl. a single bowl does require several pipe cleaners and relights, but the overall affect of the smoke makes it well worth it. i also find this to be a very good tobacco for the golf course or while working in the yard, for some reason being outdoors with it just seems to add to the enjoyment.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

smokinitnatural Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
smokinitnatural (7)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant

This is not a bad tobacco, its just not for me. It seems to smoke well and rubs out ok after some drying. The flavoring seems to mask alot of the natural flavor. My wife seems to love it. Definatly a high quality aromatic so if you like them I would give this one a try. It does tend to get a little harsh toward the bottom of the bowl which seems to be normal for flavored tobacco. Like I said its a good tobacco its just not for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

IHT Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
IHT (15)
★☆☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

as a fan of VA flakes, I was highly let down by this blend. I've gone through two 100g tins of it, giving each away about halfway through. as "Slow Triathlete" already mentioned, it's impossible to work with. the flakes are too thin and don't "rub out", they turn into shards of tobacco. then, it takes about 6 months for this blend to dry enough to burn for more than 2 puffs at a time before re-lighting. once it is dried enough, the flakes are so hard you can't rub them out, you only get splinters. if you do like I do with McC flakes, rubbing out the entire tin upon opening before they dry and you can't work with them, then the "shards" of tobacco don't bend or pack well at all. there is NO happy medium with this blend.

the hints of flavor i've been able to acquire while fighting with it have been decent, not good enough for me to put up with the hassle. I can't recommend this pain in the a$$ blend to anyone.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipe4ever Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipe4ever (198)
★★★☆
Strong Strong Medium to Full Tolerable

This is a quality dark flake Virginia tobacco with the same ketchup aroma as Blackwood Flake and St James Wood, deep ,dark or even black stoved Virginia, tasty with too much added (natural) top flavoring of cinnamon and licorice, full and powerful on the palate, require many relight and much attention, nice room note.

Dark Star is a decent Virginia blend, a classic from McClelland

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SlowToke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SlowToke (5)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I bought my first tin of Dark Star a few months ago. It's the first tin of tobacco that I smoked all of in just a few weeks time. This has become my favorite Virginia flake as far as taste goes. I find it very sweet. It produces a nice thick, creamy smoke. I'm not experienced enough to distinguish the nuances of tobacco yet but I can say that this one never gets boring to me. I may not yet really know what quality tobacco is but this one seems to fit the bill for me. As many have attested to, it is pretty moist straight out of the tin and has the trademark McClelland tin aroma that most either love or hate. I'm not overly fond of the aroma in the tin but who really cares? I'm not eating it or using it for pot pourri! I rub mine out fairly well and let it dry out for about 20 - 30 minutes to aid the burn. I do think some flavor is lost in doing so but the one down side to Dark Star is that it's a bear to light and keep lit. Some may not care to fidget so much when there are other fine tobaccos out there which don't necessitate it but I find it well worth the effort. There is definitely an art to smoking this one and I plan to gain the experience to master this one. This is one I'm cellaring and can't wait to get some age on. As for tongue bite, I don't get much with this blend overall with the exceptions of relights on occasion if I get overzealous. Even so, it's mild to me. If you're one who doesn't care for prepping tobacco, this one's not for you. If you're looking for a great, complex tobacco that repays what you put into it, then I say give it a go.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Slow Triathlete Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Slow Triathlete (48)
★☆☆☆
Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Too wet........broken flake too hard to pack.............to hard to keep lit.

Too much trouble all around. I don't want to have to "prep" my tobacco just so I can sit down and smoke it.

Save your money on this blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DRijkers Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DRijkers (14)
★★★★
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Tolerable

Ah, the amazing Dark Star. What can I add here? Black, thick flakes appearing disturbingly close to roofing shingles, that noticeable odor of catsup that McClelland is famous for.

I've tried smoking this both rubbed out and dried, and with fresh folded flake. The folded flake has much more going on, that catsup odor comes through very prominently, but is quite difficult to keep lit as others here have noted. For some this constant struggle of lighting and re-lighting gets tiresome, and I have to agree. But please note, that when you dry this out you are losing some of those resins. My advice is to experiment and see what works out best for you and your tastes.

Rubbed out and dried, for me this tobacco really starts of wonderfully. I noticed some vanilla and other complex flavors that my meager palate couldn't quite identify right away. Maybe figs? I've never eaten a fig, but their smell seems to fit here. When I've dried it out the most time I've gotten to is about an hour or so. I think it would be in my best interest to try to dry it out a bit more, since Dark Star gets harsh for me toward the bottom of the bowl. But, please realize that it usually takes me about 2 to 3 hours to make my way through a large pipe of this stuff. By that time my taste buds seem tired out, and Dark Star has finished my smoking for the day.

Overall, I do like this blend, but it's been challenging for me to make my way through a whole bowl. I'm hoping that having the tin opened for a few weeks will assist.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Michigander Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Michigander (19)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant

The tin note is more towards figs than the usual Ketsup note that McClelland's aged Virginians are known for. Deeper and sweeter.

The flavor has the depth of a top notch Maduro cigar with a touch of sweetness and pepper top note. A full, rich, complex flavor. I found Dark Star to be sweeter and less peppery than McClellands St. James Woods.

The room note is sweeter and lighter than one would expect from the full taste. It is quite pleasant and does not smell at all like a cigar. This is a prime rib of a tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

rramstad Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rramstad (115)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

In short, too hard to light, too hard to keep burning. I don't like having to work too much when I smoke my pipe. Reading other reviews, maybe I should have tried grinding it or something like that, but the very hard very dense chips just won't burn, even with lots of drying and with plenty of "dust" as kindling on the top. Nothing like FVF or other VA flakes I've tried, we're talking SERIOUSLY hard to get lit and stay lit.

When I did get it to burn, I found the flavor interesting, which is why I'm giving it two stars. I'd rather smoke 5100 or 2015, for sure, if I'm reaching for McClelland.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

endubito Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
endubito (13)
★★☆☆
Mild Mild Medium Tolerable

I knew this would be an experimental smoke as soon as I opened the tin. My first thought was, "That's 50 grams of tobacco?" They could have saved money on packaging and used a breath mint can.

The flakes are almost black and oh so wet. After 24 hours with the lid cracked it was finally (barely) dry enough to take a flame. It is the very devil to rub out and simply will not light folded.

First smoke: I found it almost bland. I say almost because this tobacco whispers to you that is has a lot to say.

Second smoke: Bland again, more whispers of shadowy secrets.

Third and fourth: There was something sour, light and pleasant in the background.

Fifth smoke: This lady bit me and I cried no joy.

I give this one two stars only because I will finish the tin. I started mixing it with PS Bullseye Flake and they dance well together, so I have no doubt there is someone somewhere that knows how to get this blend to open up a full oratory... but it ain't me babe.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SirLoirn Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SirLoirn (126)
★★☆☆
Medium Extremely Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Tin: Very strong sweet bread and fruit aroma. Shiny black, stoved appearance. The pressed flake is supple, 1&1/2x2x1/6". Date stamped on bottom: 311305, the last two digits meaning tinned in 2005.

Packing & Lighting: Rubs out easily into small splinters. It is lightly packed. It takes two strong efforts to keep it lit, then DS smokes all the way to the bottom, with one relight.

Taste & Aroma: Mild, dark, oily taste and aroma--roasting chestnuts? Not much readily discernable flavor, which is not matched by the tin aroma. No unusual moisture problems; if necessary, just take the stem off once, mid-bowl,and blow it out. Not particularly sweet. If you want sweet, try Christmas Cheer.

Nicotine: medium

Room Note: mild to medium, like the aroma

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Rusty Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Rusty (38)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

The review is based on a tin packed in 2004.

Very definitely a tobacco that requires preparation. But, you get to personalize it to your taste. Upon cracking the tin, I found the dark flakes to be quite moist and pliable, too moist to smoke immediately IMO. And of course, there was the ketchup smell. So began a treatment that extended over three days of periodic rubbing, cutting, and drying out until I had what I felt to be the right moisture and texture for smoking. The tin aroma was now tantalizing: dried fruit, figs, raisin. The tobacco lit fairly easily, and burned cool and steady, delivering one of the tastiest virginia smokes I've ever had. It's delicious. After smoking about half of the tin, I've vowed to order more. This will be one of my go-to virginias.

If you're willing to put some effort into it, Dark Star definitely delivers the goods.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

zulujerk Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
zulujerk (134)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Some time ago I ordered a sample of McClelland's Bulk 2035. It was just a single ounce of rock hard, jet black tobacco that wouldn't rub out, pack, or light. I cursed the gods for my misfortune and swore never again.

There seems to be a consensus that Dark Star is really just a better aged 2035, and from what I remember of the look and feel, I'd say that's about right. Dark Star is beautiful in the tin. The flakes are thicker than firewood and the tangy signature smell of McClelland Virginias is so pungent, I wanted to take a flake and eat it, just to see what it might taste like.

Dark Star will inevitably frustrate those of an impetuous nature. I've tried numerous technical exercises in breaking down the flakes, from chopping them with a Santoku knife to the oft suggested coffee grinder spin. You'll really have to experiment with what works best, but don't give up. The taste is worth the trouble.

Dark Star is sweet, slow burning, thick and buttery. I challenge anyone to name a Virginia that can do what Dark Star can. There is simply nothing like it.

I am puzzled why I hated 2035 and love Dark Star. Maybe I have grown a bit more patient and willing to see things out. Ok, that's an exaggeration, though I won't deny that opinions change.

Four "Dark" Stars.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Kleophrades Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kleophrades (39)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Don't buy Dark Star if you can't enjoy the ritual of preparing it. I can't imagine trying to rub this stuff out as one would an ordinary flake; it'd be like trying to rub out wood chips. Some have recommended electric coffee grinders, others tobacco grinders. I find that a grater works very well: I use the kind with a little metal drum and a crank, as for grating Parmesan. Works like a charm and you can wash it afterwards to use with other tobaccos (or, if you dare, to slip back into the kitchen drawer without telling anyone).

Dark Star's claim to fame, in my opinion, is its distinctive dark, heavy sweetness. I've had sugary smokes, and molasses-y smokes, and aromatic smokes (both good and bad), but never a smoke quite like this. I like it very much. Behind the sweetness the taste is subtle, even light, and requires gentle smoking to emerge; most of the flavor is in the finish. Because Dark Star is a big smoke, this point is not obvious at first. It's not so wild and complex as Stonehaven, but there's stuff going on there; it's got character. Good for evenings in the warmer months.

"Dark Star crashes, pouring its light into ashes," say the Grateful Dead in the song which, I imagine, gave the blend its name. I think I see what they had in mind. And unlike what the Dead were smoking, this stuff is legal.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Not bad smoke if you let it air out for a hour or so after rubbing some out.

It is what I consider good for a tired pallate or a transition blend- my term for one I smoke in between my daytime and late evening smokes. Or when something out of the ordinary is desired. A good tobacco to enjoy in the house in the evening when you have the needed time to deal with this stuff. Can seem a little flat or go unnoticed at the wrong time.

Kind of hard to rub out. A grinder helps a lot. Not too bad to light but do light it gently. I think if I could not use a lighter on this I would get mad about the number of matches I had to use though. Good results using a low flame- Do not blast this with flame or you will regret it.

A sipping blend for sure. Solid and reliable. I don't smoke it by itself too much but something about knowing it is there for the moment the urge to smoke strikes I like.

It is a VERY good tobacco to add a touch of to other blends. I like a touch in my #27 mc va, sometimes. Can smooth out the edges on about anything that is va based. Tones down brightness and adds richness.

Not an all day or everyday smoke for me but very unique and good. Will keep a tin or two around.

You might just like it if you are not easily frustrated and have a little time to mess with it.

Update: 8/04/08 I have been smoking this more and really enjoy it. I find it to be so good out of my small peterson calabash. I grind it up in my tobac grinder and air it out about an hour prior to smoking. I just think it goes well in the small pipe. Will definitley keep some around. I love this blend's sweet raisin like taste. So naturally sweet.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

CPT/VSG Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
CPT/VSG (70)
★★★☆
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Tolerable

As a regular English/Balkan blend smoker, Dark Star is not in my rotation but I like it for a change of pace. There is no bite even though it takes some work to keep lit (fill up your Old Boy before a bowl). The room note is somewhat odd but basically pleasant--a kind of a charred scent with some sweetness. In all, recommended for Virginia lovers.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mbmc82 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mbmc82 (7)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Dark Star is a tobacco that requires some prep. Rub it out and let it dry at least an hour. I finally opened the can and left it for 24 hrs. This helped greatly. Taste was good...straight forward tobacco with enough character to keep up interest. Not recommened for the small bowl...go large and allow time.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pipinNfishin Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pipinNfishin (21)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Dark Star

In the tin are black shingles of stoved virginia flake tobacco. At first opening, I smell the McClelland acidic scent. It bit my nose, but after a few hours the bite of the tin aroma was gone. A little remained.

The flakes are moist like moist beef jerky. I had no problems rubbing the flakes. I place the rubbed out flake aside to dry a little, but no too dry. When they form a leathery crust, the rubbed tobacco is ready to smoke.

This is a heavy smoke, there is some body to this. There is a definite tang in the taste. The flavor is not a forever changing shades of subtle nuance. It is bold and straight forward. Some may find it bitter, but I find it deep and bittersweet. It similar to comparing a lager beer to an irish stout.

Yes, it does not burn readily; it will go out. But I had balkans blends burn just as poorly.

As for bite, it is not bitey; it is always better to smoke lightly and slowly. For me that means wait for the flavors of the last puff to completely fade, before taking another light puff.

I always have a tin open, I often get an appetite to something dark and stout.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Fly ticky Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Fly ticky (26)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Mild Very Full Very Pleasant

What can be said dry it out some and you got a#1 smoke.Yeah Dady likes

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Flavorful, cool and oh so pure, Dark Star is wonderful on all accounts, except that it is just too much trouble preparing it for smoking so that it can be and stay lit. I think it has to do with the cut of the flake, being a bit too thick for the density. Marlin Flake is just too hot, and SG's Full Virginia Flake just all around has the goods.

I have three old tins of Dark Star and think they'll make some ebay collector very happy someday because I am not going to open them.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Country Gentleman Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Country Gentleman (28)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dense and dark moist flakes. Nice tin aroma. Sweet. I'm not the kind of person that stockpiles tobacco and ages it. I buy a few tins here, a couple of ounces there and smoke 'em up. If they're sitting around for a long time it's usually because I don't particularly care for them. So, I will probably never know what this blend is like after it has been aged and dried out. I would call Dark Star a high maintenance tobacco. The flakes require rubbing out and attention has to be paid to packing correctly. Also, the moisture will require you to relight often. I think it's worth the extra effort if you have the time.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Hermit 78 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Hermit 78 (33)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

As other reviewers have noted, this is a very dark pressed flake similar in flavour and appearance to McClelland's 2035. A reprobate friend of mine calls it "McClelland hashish," but I wouldn't know much about that. I prefer to air out McClelland tins a little bit and dry the tobacco a little more before smoking--this may indeed "lose the resins," but it also loses the hard biting wet mess in my pipe, so I'll keep doing it.

I don't grind or rub out Dark Star, I just fold and stuff the flakes into my pipe. Like most virginia flakes, it's tempermental and hard to keep lit (and we love them anyway), but it doesn't bite as much as other McClelland offerings. It's mellow, sweet but not sugary (there's no molten caramel on the tongue like with BWF or the No. 22+ blends), and quite pleasant, with notes of must and peat.

DS is tasty, and its presentation is lovely. It is a fair amount of work to smoke and it costs considerably more than its bulk cousin 2035. The latter, however, arrives in need of at least a year or two of aging, so people who like to smoke their tobacco rather than simply watch it sit in jars while the days go by might want to pick up a tin or 2 of DS. A fine blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

augiegus Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
augiegus (48)
★★★☆
Medium Medium Mild to Medium Tolerable

I like this but with the bevy of other types of virginias it seems like just another good flake. I suppose I am just preferring the lakeland type flakes these days and have found this and other simular flakes as just ok. There are few marks against it though maybe just too mild. I seem to remember that it tasted better years ago and I do not get the same flavor as back when I tried it 5 or 6 years ago. I suppose I need to try another one of their heavy hitting (as in status) tin virginias and see if I find that as lacking as well.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Old Pinoy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Old Pinoy (3)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

I'm a fan of Mc Clelland's virginias and balkan style mixtures. I tend to maintain the humidity of the tobacco so it doesn't smoke hot but I don't puff on my pipes too hard to avoid the bite. I would have rated the Dark Star higher, maybe I'm just a glut, but I wish there would have been more tobacco in the tin! Once rubbed out, the mixture smokes cool and dry. The inherent sweetness of the virginias come out easily. In addition, the spiciness and hints of cooked raisins comes shining through. Recommended for those looking for a twist on virginia flavor profiles.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

MikeA Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
MikeA (9)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Before smokeing this tobacco one should dry it out completely, otherwise it will byte you severly and it will seem that it has very little taste and very little smoke. Once dried out it will smoke very cool and smooth. Also, there seems to be plenty of smoke and has much natural virgina sweetness. Once dried it will rub out very easily. Just to repeat myself please dry this out before smokeing! You won't regret the results. This is in my top 5 virgina tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JEM Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JEM (12)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This tobacco is interesting in that it is complex. It is DARK and oily and I would not recommend letting it dry, because you would probably lose the flavors in the oil. I recommend relighting as necessary, and it will be necessary. This tobacco is not overpowering, it is just a dark, rich, deep, complex tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

RMBittner Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
RMBittner (66)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm coming late to the party, but I just realized I've been smoking this for several years and have never written a review. Not that I have anything startlingly new to add to the 80+ comments already posted. . . (g)

A near-black stoved and aged Virginia flake that offers rich smoke and equally rich Virginia flavor. It's a real challenge to rub out, but -- other than that minor quibble -- Dark Star is a true pleasure that has earned a permanent place in my cellar. If you like Virginias -- and especially if you enjoy matured flakes -- you owe it to yourself to at least try this one.

Note: I've read some reviews that suggested Dark Star has a tendency to burn hot. I've never experienced that.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

rhapsodyofmetal Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
rhapsodyofmetal (42)
★★★☆
Medium Very Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

Another very nice blend from McClelland. It,upon the first few lights, was very sweet and the room note was like burning brown sugar.I loved it.After maybe the 3rd relight I was hit with a hard dose of Virginia that made it awesome,however,by mid bowl it became kinda bland. I would smoke more but cannot see it in my main rotation. It can only get better with age.

I would recommend it to Virginia lovers who like a little sweetness.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SMOKETSES Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SMOKETSES (208)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Full Tolerable

Initially, the beautiful and tense brown chocolate and dark black flakes, need a very good cutting, in cubes with a simple kitchen scissor. After that, the process of airing or drying up follows, for at least 10-12 hours. Then it starts the filling up of the bowl in small doses, which you try to rub for a while with 3 fingers. In spite of the hard effort, I must admit that the first time, it lights difficult. After you spread the ash, then it lights easily.

And at this point of time, the process of enjoy starts, a very good smoking full of sweet natural Virginia flavors and smells, that delight your nose and palate. You should smoke it slowly and it gets burned easily. Some other critics, report that the flavor is deep and sweet with intense and tasteful signs of black raisins, must of grapes and baked chestnuts. I don?t know whether they are right or wrong, but I really liked it.

Congratulations, Mr. Mc Clelland. You confused me even more about which is the first tobacco in my preferences.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

The tin aroma of Dark Star is headily sweet and spicy, with notes of dark fermented fruits and burnt sugars. The beautiful chocolate-brown to pitch- black flakes are dense and tarry. Due to the density, it seems much moister than it actually is.

The flavor is deep and sweet with notes of black currant, grape must, and, (as another reviewer noted) roasted chestnuts. It smokes very cool.

This is one of my all-time favorites. A blend for the experienced flake smoker, this is a classic and worked best in narrow gauge chambers.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tobacco Saves Lives Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tobacco Saves Lives (31)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

Tangy, mouthwatering, dark and oily, like the backsides of roofing shingles. A fine example of aged virginia. Is hard to light and keep lit, I really like Rattrays Dark Fragrant better, taste are similar, but lighter-but it lights fast and easy.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JustPlainChris Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JustPlainChris (11)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

When you open the tin, the flakes look like creosote shavings from an old railroad line. They smell like a cross between your high-school chemistry class and ketchup. They feel...well...strange in your hand and are tough to rub out that way.

HOWEVER...

Once you get past all that and figure out how to smoke it, this stuff is tasty, cool, spicy, and delicious.

I bought a tin of this ten years ago when I just started smoking a pipe. I had horrible experiences with it because I just couldn't figure out how to make it a good smoke! Now, however, with the help of the vets here, I have learned how to enjoy it! It is really easy!

1. Grind it up! Either in an old fashioned tobacco grinder (available on numerous online pipe stores) or in your wife's electronic coffee bean grinder (make sure you buy her a new one after using hers on tobacco!), grind it up and let it air out for as long as you feel necessary.

2. Put it in your pipe and enjoy!

It really is that easy. If you enjoy the sweet, tangy natural flavor of fine Virginia tobacco, you owe it to yourself to at least TRY Darkstar.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tonyg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tonyg (103)
★☆☆☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

My first experiences with this tobacco were dreadful. In addition with the negative criticisms cited above, I found the tobacco lacked flavor. As is my routine, I smoke Virginia's in smaller pipes and did so with DS. This tobacco just does not work well in a small pipe. Packed properly in a good sized bowl provides me with one of my most enjoyable smokes.

The negative criticisms from some of the reviewers of this blend are three: too much moisture, difficulty lighting/keeping lit, and tongue bite.

Regarding moisture, McClelland blends, on the whole, have much more moisture than most. Should the tobacco be dried out? Not IMHO. If you do, you will lose the resins, and change the flavor dramatically.

As for lighting/keeping lit, a good rubbing between the palms, at least for the bottom and top of the bowl, will reduce the problem somewhat but not entirely. Using a few extra matches is a small price to pay for a fine smoke. From time to time, I top off and bottom fill bowl of DS with Esoterica Stonehaven. Doing so assurres a quick light and good clean burning to the bottom of the bowl. Notwithstanding, the experiences of many, this is one tobacco with which I have not experienced bite.

Update: 12/29/05. I compared 18 month aged Dark Star with 18 month aged 2035. While similar, it is my considered opinion that 2035 is a superior blend. It lights better, burns better and tastes more flavorful. While I won't toss out what I have left of Dark Star, I won't be purchasing any more.

Update: 6/10/07 Evaluating Dark star three years after my first review, convinces me even more that 2035 is far superior to Dark Star. Given the superiority of the former, and considering the price difference, I can no longer recommend Dark Star.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Magus Noctem Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Magus Noctem (6)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

I bought a tin of Dark Star completely on a whim. I had heard and read nothing about it previously, but I knew I enjoyed other blends from McClelland. My gamble paid off in a big way. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found the dark flakes attractive to look at for some reason, and just slightly oily. The tin aroma had a somewhat bitter-sour smell that was not unpleasant at all, kind of like steak sauce or worcestershire sauce.

Rubbing it out takes some effort, but no more than to be expected. Once loaded, lighting took patience, but relights were infrequent.

The flavor was sublime. It was a mixture of virginia sweetness with a touch of tartness from the stoving and pressing process. Smoke volume was minimal, but flavor was not! This blend was consistent in that it tasted the same for me each time I smoked it. I don't like nuances or evolving flavors in my tobaccos. Slow and steady wins the race, so this was a great choice for me. It is my favorite flake tobacco to date.

==/==

Nobody has rated this review yet.

t-rexxx Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
t-rexxx (5)
★★★★
Medium Medium Medium to Full Tolerable

Great smoke! Just grind it up in an herd grinder, let it dry for 1 hour, pack it loose. The beginning is light,but grows into a very tasty treat.only second to Mcranies red ribbon and flake for me.The larger the pipe,the better it burns.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

flaminbill' Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
flaminbill' (57)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

Two things that I would like to comment on this blend: tin aroma and the oft mentioned difficulty in preparation. The smell of ketchup (or some derivative) that I hear so many complaints about never bothers me because I can't taste it. In this blend I can taste it; however, once I got used to it I enjoyed it. As for the preparation, I use a 3 1/2" hand operated wooden tobacco grinder. It sparates the flakes quite nicely so that they can be easily rubbed out further by hand. After letting the tobacco sit for 15 minutes or so it is ready to go. I have no problem with keeping it lit whatsoever.

It has found a home in my Rosslare 999 Peterson. The sweetness and spice of this blend is excellent. I have experienced no problems with tongue bite. Dark Star DGTs well and maintains its flavor to the bottom of the bowl.

The tin I sampled was from 2004. It is a slow-burning smoke that I can enjoy anytime of the day. At this point, I enjoy it much more than Christmas Cheer 2006.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Mystic Rune Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mystic Rune (35)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Darkstar is a very distinguished and refined offering. It's a thick dark flake and reminiscent of most McClelland tinned Virginias; it is accompanied by the trademark ketchup/vinaigrette smell in the tin. I prefer to let the flakes dry out, then employ the fold, bend and stuff method. I do rub a little bit completely out for kindling for the top of the bowl. With this preparation method, lighting is a charring light, a gentle tamp and re-light process.

The first third of the bowl is a smooth and sweet combination. The smoke is cool and plentiful. Around mid bowl, a depth begins to develop and a mélange of flavors ranging from natural Virginia sweetness, carob and cocoa, plums and a marshmallow like creaminess ebb and flow into the final third of the bowl where they deepen further. The bowl finishes sweet, toasty, creamy and cool. I've never experience any bite. Overall, Darkstar is a rich and smooth smoke with an aroma reminiscent to the smells of autumn.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

AL Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
AL (22)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

For me, this is an above average Virginia. I usually have a tin of this open and have a Saturday smoke of Dark Star each week. For me this tobacco seems best in a large, thick walled pipe that is dedicated to Virginias. It does require some air out due to being fairly moist on opening the tin. If I get any bite from this tobacco it is on lightup. Once a good ember is going this tobacco settles down to an excellent Virginia smoke. I will frequently let this go out for a few minutes to enjoy the aroma of the charred tobacco. Burns down to a fine medium grey ash.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ChicagoPipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ChicagoPipe (45)
★★☆☆
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

As other reviewers have noted, this tobacco is a lot of work to smoke. It is the hardest VA flake I ever smoked, and is very difficult to rub out. It feels like beek jerky! I like the natural sweetness of the stoved VA once I get my pipe going. Make sure you have a box of matches if you try this blend.

This would be a fine VA if it were not for the difficult smoking charateristics of this tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

speckchaser Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
speckchaser (22)
★★★★
Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Full Tolerable to Strong

The very first virgina that I ever lit up.Made me try some other virginias,but they fell short of this wonderful leaf.

Smokes well in a churchwarden or a Savinelli Long John,I was a heavy cigarette smoker for 20 years.So a longer pipe,for all the new pipe enthusiats would be on the mark burning this blend.

Drying out slitely helps rub it out a little more and establish a better burn pattern.The room odor my wife claims is not as pleasent as she likes but if Im HAPPY go outside.

A true must for pipe smokers

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ckr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ckr (1)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Well, guess I'll take a stab at a review and let me start by sayin' that I was swayed by all the glowing reviews on this board for most of my recent selections. This one seemed right up my ally, cuz I love those flakes.

So I popped open this tin this AM, yep this stuff is darn wet. So, I stuck a fresh balsa in a full bent 'Savineli Dry' system and this stuff had it gurgling like a gorilla on listerine in minutes flat. What a waste, but not to be one to give up easily I gave it a second shot in the evening. This time I rubbed it out and let it sit for an hour and a half before selecting the next victim which was an excellent smoker. Same sound, gurgle - gurgle in minutes, three cleaners, four tamps and several relights later and finally some clean flavorful puffs on the bottom third, but soon the pipe is so hot and the tobacco is still so damn wet that it sounds like a steak sizzling on a hot platter.

Guess I'll try a three hour dry and a cob before every single pipe I have is not on speaking terms with me, then possible make a flake pipe with a small chamber, but so far this tobacco is too much work, but I have not yet given up.

Revision: Once you got the routine down (dry time) it is an excellant smoke, so I am bumping it

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

**Update: After having this opened nearly a month the worchestershire sauce smell is gone, but tobacco is still moist and pliable. It now smokes very, very well; sweet and spicy, a joy to smoke with relatively little goop left in the bottom of the bowl.

I've been trying to smoke about two bowls a day of this stuff for the last few days, and I think it's really growing on me as an evening smoke. The only fault I can find at this point is that it is so, so moist on opening the tin. You have to pull out a few pieces and let them dry on a tissue for about an hour before it's really smokable at the point of opening the tin. But it is an effort well rewarded.

The aroma is not as ketchupy as other McClelland tobaccos I've tried, but still a little pungent in a fermented kind of way. If you are accustomed to fermented virginias, it won't bother you at all. The flakes are very dark, and very dense. After letting them dry a little, they are much easier to break up or rub out. Personally, I prefer to just break it up into smaller pieces rather than rubbing it out. The high moisture content until it's dried can lead to overpuffing, and a resulting burned tongue if not careful. So drying out a little is really a good idea. Plus it will take a lot of pipe cleaners to get through a bowl if not dried.

I found the flavor very dark, very spicey; almost like dark molasses and ginger. It wasn't particularly sweet, just a mild tangy sweetness that worked with the spiciness quite nicely. This is a tobacco that can be enjoyed with a strong cup of coffee, and not harm its flavor or character. Like Dark Kentucky Flake, it has a real standout flavor that can accompany a good strong beverage and hold its own. I am glad I gave this one a try, and I am quite pleased with the outcome. I cannot say that it will be a regular smoke for me, but it will definitely be in the cabinet for those cool fall evenings.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Maimonides Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Maimonides (70)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

SPICE, TOBACCO, STEAK SAUCE

A great stoved, aged Virginia. Rich and spicy. Deserves a spot on the rotation. I have had this aged, but not tinned from a boutique and it has a sharper tangyness- both versions are flawless. Some say Ketchupy?? I say rich, steak sauce meatyness!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

geocritter Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
geocritter (20)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

All I can say is WOW. On opening the tin, it's a little moister than I would like, and I found that letting it air out a little and dry a bit makes a big difference. As many others have noted, it's a little bit difficult to get it going, and must be packed rather loosely; but once it's going, it's a fabulously rich, cool, and sweet smoke. Definitely made it into my rotation. Resident room note expert indicates that the room "aroma" is "pretty good". Which coming from her is a very excellent recommendation for this tobacco. I really like this one.

[EDIT 9/19/06: I finished off the can, and as much as I like this tobacco, I'm pulling it down a notch. Although the flavor is wonderful, as it dried out slightly it became a bit harsh on the tongue. I had expected dark star to mellow out like No. 27, but it didn't. So 3 stars. Still an excellent tobo, just not perfect.]

Nobody has rated this review yet.

blowing smoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
blowing smoke (6)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Overwhelming Pleasant to Tolerable

I bought a tin of the Death Star.... I mean Dark Star. I guess Darth Vader isn't a blender of tobacco, but if he was... This stuff fried by tongue like a light saber which surprised me because I like virginias (Hal o' the Wynd by Rattrays kicks ass by the way) and most McClelland offerings like the fine VaPer 2015 as well as Mc's #25. Maybe I got a batch that had given in to its hatred and gone over to the dark side or something. On opening the tin I noticed the smell of barbecue. No surprise there. The flake was the consistency of barbecued beef jerky but a bit on the moist side. Not neccessarily a bad thing. Right tasty. Tempted to take a bite! Rubbed it out and installed it into my test pipe. The force was not with me. Lit up ok. Took about three lights; one to char, one to burn, and one more after a bit of a tamping. Then it began to talk to me in a voice suspiciously like James Earl Jones' from deep down in the bowl and it only got worse as i smoked it down. "Do you feel the burn and the steam? That is power! It makes you angry young pipe smoker? Taste the sweetness of the aged Virginias, let it sting! The exessive moisture is designed to bring out your pain and hatred. Give in to the Dark Side! It will make you strong! Yesss young pipe smoker!!! Accept the Dark Side of the Force!!! Never mind your taste buds my apprentice!!!" Needless to say I didn't give in though I did laboriously finish the bowl. Or did I give in? I finished the bowl. I will try this again after some serious drying out which is now going on. Maybe it needs some aging which I must admit I have never tried out yet on any tobacco. I think it is just too chock- full of the H20. I saw some good reviews on this baccy so I am willing to try again after a bit of manipulation. I think this could possibly be a good one but not right out of the tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

loosewatches Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
loosewatches (108)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

Neurons, huh? I don't know how reliable mine are anymore, but they seem to be doing a fine job enjoying Dark Star. My tin reads, 'rich, cool and dark with a seductively spicey aroma and complex flavor' Pretty much what is stated above for tin description. And pretty accurate, too boot. This is very good stuff. I love stoved Virginias, but I agree with many reviewers that McC's bulk Dark Navy Flake is a better stoved flake than this. Dark Star could be a little sweeter, but, other than that, it has no faults.

This would be a 4 star review if there wasn't a cheaper, tastier version of the same thing made by the same company. The spice in Dark Star is great, but I must save the extra star for 2035, seems better melded and flavorful.

As usual, I have a mixing suggestion for this tobacco. Although it's great straight, it's really great mixed with 75% Gawith Full Virginia Flake, my all day smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

cell biologist Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
cell biologist (21)
★★★★
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

I love this in a small, tall and narrow bowl. From the first light there is a depth of flavor that is extraordinary, which builds and mellows to the bottom of the bowl. Studies of the olfactory system indicate that humans possess at least 500 different odorant receptors, each of which reacts with one or more compounds. Remarkably, specific neurons in the brain region called the olfactory cortex respond to only a combination of two different odorant molecules, not either one by itself (Science 10 March 2006 311: 1477-1481). This means that the brain responds in a way that integrates signals from different molecules: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This is definitely true with fine tobacco. Puffing on Dark Star, I get very pleasing combinations of neurons activated, which, given the numbers of receptors and combinations of possible responses (500^8?), it is not surprising that we have difficulty describing such flavors and use analogies: malty notes mixed with old cabernet sauvignon, dried fruit, and ripe woods. This is one of my favorites. It is also very good when blended with other tobaccos if you like to attempt on your own to excite a symphony of olfactory sensations through mixing.

There is a learning curve to get it to burn well. I have had good luck with the slow in- out airflow cycle and employ frequent re-lights. The rewards are great!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

D'Jullius Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
D'Jullius (19)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

To burn this aged leaf, just stick it in with lots of air pockets then really rub out the uppermost portion of the bowl. The heat from that will light the rest. This is a really nice aged sort VA. Sweet, Tangy, Rich.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Talonr1701 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Talonr1701 (119)
★☆☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

Could'nt dry this stuff out short of a microwave. Tried rubbing it out, smoking as a flake- Snake bit everytime. Everyone said how good this was- I'm blaming my chemistry.... Wish I could have liked it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Smipipr Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Smipipr (2)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I tried this blend based on many of the reviews I have read. I think that this is really a very tasty tobacco, but for me the taste in and of itself was just not worth the effort I had to make trying to keep this tobacco lit. Even after following many of the reccomendations from other reviewers, it was still pretty darned hard to get a good light going without scorching the inside of my mouth. I ended up concentrating more on technique than just enjoying the tobacco. If you are into patience, then this just might be the blend for you.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

calavera Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
calavera (26)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

This was the first tin of any McClelland tobacco that I ever opened. Dark, leathery looking flakes. A somewhat different tin smell. So this is the infamous McClellands "ketchup" smell. This one is tough to rub out when the flakes are moist. Once dry, they crumble readily into little chunks. I always smoked it fairly well rubbed out.

This stuff takes forever to burn. Has a nice combo of sweet and spice. A good virginia flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Noorrmm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Noorrmm (193)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Appearance: Small somewhat thick flakes, uniform dark brown in color. Somewhat leathery, hard to break up.

Aroma: Some of the McC vinegar upon first opening, which goes away after a few days. Then you have the smokey/sweet smell of the heavily stoved Va.

Packing: Usually needed to be somewhat broken up for easy packing, but NOT fully rubbed out. When rubbed out, it loses flavor in the pipe

Lighting: Slowly, needs two matches for a good charring light. Initial flavor: A tad sharp at first light, then tones down into a mélange of tastes. There is a wide range of high and low notes, characteristic of a stoved lemon Virginia.

Mid-bowl: Lovely complexity of flavors when enjoyed slowly. When puffed too quickly, only the high notes come through, and the pipe will smoke wetter. Somewhat temperamental in burning properties, one bowl will be fine, another just won?t stay lit.

Finish: Just a little stronger at the end of the bowl. When enjoyed slowly, there will be nothing but ash in a dry pipe.

Summary: Absolutely perfect for an evening companion, too fussy for morning or afternoon when you can?t give it 100% of your attention.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Philo Beddoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Philo Beddoe (140)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong

I sacraficed eleven matches to this tobacco trying to light it, I eventually used my pipe zippo, which I normally only use when smoking outdoors. Once lit it was a pain to keep lit, I agree with other reviewers, in that this tobacco is work. I smoke a pipe to relax, Dark Star is an ordeal. I did enjoy the flavor when I could keep it lit. Very tangy, as others have mentioned. The smell in the tin was unlike any tobacco I have ever tried, Heinz 57. This would be a four star tobacco if McClelland could solve the ignition problems.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Buster Bluth Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Buster Bluth (51)
★★☆☆
Mild Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant

Like most working stiffs, I have limited time to smoke. I don't need to do gymnastics with my tobacco. I'm not gonna debate the virtues of McClelland's ketchup aroma. I like this aroma, and I like Virginia flakes. I've smoked fresh and aged versions of their stuff. My expectations of Dark star were high. Several issues here raised by others.

1.) It doesn't burn well. To hard to get lit and keep lit. This isn't me. My #24 and Blackwoods Flake burn just fine.

2.) The flakes are as strong as bark and don't rub out well.

So what you're left with is a tobacco that has bad burning qualities, and bad packing qualities. We're 0 for 2 here. As far as flavor goes, it's good but not worth the extra trouble to experience it. There are other dark stoved VA flakes out there.

After I finish the 2 cans that's it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

jpberg Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
jpberg (2)
★★★☆
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

My two year old, obviously georgeous, baby girl does not allow me a lot of personal, introspective (i.e. pipesmoking) time. So, the qualities that make a blend great to me will not necessarily mesh with more experienced, refined, opinions.

My taste buds love this on quick strike up- few puffs basis. My shirt pocket (where my partially smoked bowl sits) smells wonderful, and makes me impatient for my next sneak-away, have a puff moment. My second strike up is invariably better than the first, as I am burning away the excess moisture. By the time I get to the bottom of the bowl, I am craving the moment I get to pack another bowl.

Such are the guidelines for a great smoke for a busy dad. Now, how to talk mom into letting me smoke in the living room?

Nobody has rated this review yet.

GeoLogger Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
GeoLogger (16)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

As many may know, my cat can talk. I mean speak, mind you, right out loud. Oh does that ever startle a fellow the first time. He's pretty careful to make sure we're alone due to a very understandable shyness over the whole thing. He has to be in just the right mood, too. Well, anyway I was reading him this series of reviews ( he loves tobacco reviews) and he jumped right up in my lap in a highly agitated state after a certain negative review.

"Why, that dude says right in the review that he doesn't like virginia tobacco and the other fellow that he doesn't ever like McClellands, so why did they even buy the stuff and why did they bother us with reviews?"

Well, how do you explain that to a cat? I told him because we are intelligent and like to learn from each other's experiences so as to not have to repeat, each of us separately, every mistake in the whole world; and that we call this wisdom.

"I always wondered what wisdom meant to humans" he said. "I mean, who'd have thought it meant to go willy-nilly and rely on strangers for analysis of personal and subjective matters of taste? Wisdom to a cat is precisely to never do that. Which tobacco is it?"

I told him it was the very tobacco I was smoking right then, which had been what prompted me to look it up in the first place. "Do you like it?" he asked. I told him that I liked it very much, but that I didn't smoke it much because I'm lazy and it is such a chore to rub out. "But why do you like it?" he persisted. Well, I didn't know what to tell him really, except that I was perfectly satisfied with the flavour and that I just liked it. Cats can be so annoying.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dougster Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dougster (31)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I've been holding back on my review of DS until I have sorted it out in my own mind. Its a good 'baccy for sure.

However, for whatever reason, I just seem to like 2035 better.

I know people have said that DS is just 2035 with some aging, and it could be true. They might pick the best looking flakes and select them for DS and sweep the rest of the leavings over and make them into 2035.

Maybe its an acquired taste, but I just really like 2035 and DS was a lot more expensive and was just slightly more mellow. I have put up some 2035 for aging, so in a couple years I will know if the word on the street is true.

In any case, this is a superb stoved virginia flake. If you like this, try 2035 also. I'd snap up DS anytime, its a great smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Collezionista Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Collezionista (59)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This tobacco comes in dark, thick and meaty flakes that are accompanied by the trademark McClelland vinegar/fermentation odor. Dark Star provides an intriguing smoke of surprising richness that is almost as meaty as the flakes themselves. It's very stoved - not a lot of the typical VA punch here. It's an interesting change of pace from my Rattrays and Gawiths however, and I'll keep some around for that reason. Unlike some of McClelland's lighter Virginas, the "ketchup" aspect seems to haunt Dark Star primarily in the aroma, which is appreciated. Definitely a unique, flavorful and therefore recommended flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JulioJustice Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JulioJustice (12)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

I neither over powering, nor flat. Dark Star is a gooe middle of te road tobacco. It didnt knock my socks off, but I did enjoy it though. Smoked a little wetter then I prefer, so let it sit open for a day.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

monkeybong Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
monkeybong (7)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

First off, I really prefer English blends, and I have not found many non english blends that I get very excited about. However, I do like the flake cut, and it has a great aroma. Out of the tin it looks great; the color is very rich. It is too mild for me to rate it higher, but I can see why many people think it is a great smoke.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

sasha Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
sasha (228)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

This alone can stand as McClelland's legacy to the world of tobacco, in the sense that it says it all. From every side you look at it, it just says "McClelland"! The smell when you open the tin, the shape of the flakes, the wetness...everything. It looks a little like asphalt as far as the colour and it ain't easy to rub out, but it has a good burning, no need to relight very often. If you're a fan of the McClelland's VA flakes try this one because it doesn't get any better.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

The Cellarmaster Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Cellarmaster (13)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Open this tin and get ready to experince one of the most delightful smokes around. The aroma of ketchup could better be discribed as tumeric a strong Indian spice (the seceret of Heinze 57) break up the beef jerkey like flakes to your desired consistancy and fill your bowl loosely. Lighting can be a bit of a chore but once lit get ready for a rich full flavored smoke that will knock your socks off. As you smoke this bowl the flavor will devlope and enrapture you. Do have some respect for this gal, if you treat her rough she will bite you hard. Treat her with kindness and you will be rewarded. A full flavored Virgina blend that I would recomend to any new smoker. Madaswell start with one of the the best matured Virginia's you can find.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

spandex Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
spandex (4)
★★★★
Mild to Medium Medium Mild Very Pleasant

I once called the McClelland factory and asked the person who picked up the phone, "exactly how long is triple aged?" to which she cheerfully replied, "just long enough". I like tobaccos that are dark and subtle, so this tobacco was right up my alley. When I opened the first tin, the aroma (to my senses at least), smelled just like a fine bottle of chardinay. The tobacco was dark, and a little difficult to rub out. But it was easy to pack(this tobacco must be packed correctly in order to get the full flavor). At the match it tastes dark and forbodeing, which I happened to like. but as one proceeds down the bowl the flavor turns dark and fruity. The flavor is subtle and deeply rooted, so if you like candy, this tobacco is not for you. I like it best when I am out by the water at my lake house at 4:00 in the morning. I recommend this blend to any pipe smoker that likes dark and subtle flavor that is definately off of the beaten path. which I think is why it is aptly dubbed "DARK STAR".

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Tiger Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Tiger (53)
★☆☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

Mr. Dottle, a couple reviews up above, said it with eloquence. Why bother? For me, Dark Star gets no star.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Ivanhoe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Ivanhoe (35)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

This is already an enormous list of reviews, so mine will be short. The tobacco's appearance and texture is as described above. Of the earlier reviewers, I agree most with JClark, who found the tobacco to be an inconsistent experience. It is inconsistent for me as well, but it has never hit the high end for me as it apparently did for JClark. I tried it straight from the can: too wet, bitey and hard to light. I tried it dried out: it burned more easily and didn't bite, but the taste was sometimes OK and sometimes completely unmemorable. I won't be buying more of this stuff anytime soon.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Spike Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Spike (296)
★★★☆
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable

My first encounter with D.S. was a rather moist sample from a freshly opened tin. I smoked a bowl not long after leaving the tobac shop and did not enjoy it. Three or so months later, I pulled this out and had another bowl of D.S. that was almost too dry and it was as good as any Virginnia Flake I have had. I'll not say the best at this point, but a future update might raise this one to top dog.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Esoxhunter Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Esoxhunter (60)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

September 2004

I should preface this review by saying that I am not a big fan of straight Virginias, but rather tend toward English and V/P blends. That said, I must agree with mainspring's earlier review. I found this tobacco to have a nice sweetish flavor, but not enough flavor or fullness to hold my attention. And although I did not experience the tongue bite that many others have observed, I did have the same problems in rubbing it out and keeping it lit. Also, I found this blend to be rather one-dimensional, although that could be a function of my cigarette-trashed palate. Nonetheless, I have found many V/P blends that are far interesting than this, so I believe I will stick with them.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

mainspring Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
mainspring (27)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable

Dark Star is what I would call a "soft" smoke with that Virginia tingle. It smokes cool and is a very dry smoke. It delivers a sugary taste on the tongue but is not overly sweet. I have a bit of trouble keeping it lit. Perhaps some drying time would help. I like more complexity in a smoke than this has so I will say goodbye to Dark Star.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Stubert Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stubert (4)
★★★☆
Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

A triple-aged Virginia flake has the appearance of old tire rubber or beef jerky! It?s pliable, breaks up and packs easily. The burn rate depends on how much one breaks it up-- since Virginias tend to burn hot, I prefer to break it up only moderately, then sprinkle some 'shake' on the top to facilitate easy lighting. Stays lit fairly well after a couple of charring lights.

Despite the 'beef jerky' appearance, the taste is of course purely vegetarian! But then again you might say it's a 'beefy' tobacco purely for its robustness. It has a very full, earthy, mildly sweet quality. Fairly stout nicotine content, so puff gently, or have a big meal first.

Along with Bjarne?s Flake Deluxe and Rattray?s Marlin Flake, one of my faves in the Virginia flake category.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

DUPE.629 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DUPE.629 (133)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dark Star: April-2004.

'Delicious' Dark Star,Marlin Flake and S Gawiths Full Virginia Flake run an extremely close race. Has strength,character,sweetness and no bite. Takes two or three lights to fire up and leaves a clean grey-white ash at the bottom of the bowl. The flavour is superb and I did not detect any sourness or goop at the end. Fresh or aged I love it. This is definitely one for the cellar. If you love or even like virginias then trying this is a must. 10 out of 10.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1005)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

After reading Gae's review of this blend on 4/6/04, I decided to update my review of Dark Star because my impressions have changed somewhat - mainly because I recently was sent some 5-year old DS and it was pretty doggone good. My first go-round with this straight Virginia was not as pleasant as the weed arrived way too moist in the tin and was bitey.

McClelland's has had this one on the market for quite a few years now, and I am told it is steadily gaining in popularity. After giving it another try, I can see why.

If you are a Virginia flake fan, this blend may meet your requirements and expectations.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

smokinokie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
smokinokie (1)
★★★★
Medium Very Mild Full Tolerable

Having only sampled one bowl of this wonderful stuff, I can't really say I smoke it regularly but I can say I intend to! I found it to be a bit temperamental as to moisture and staying lit, but OH! the flavor! I'll not reiterate the physical description as that's been well covered. I'm likely wrong, but I'd swear I could smell Perique in it. My sample was fresh out of the tin with no drying time. It did require four or five pipe cleaner applications for the gurgles but I experienced no bite and I was smoking fairly aggressively. This stuff has a very rich, smokey tobacco taste. I found myself chasing the smoke arising from the bowl with my nose just to get more of it. I may change my opinion after going through a tin or two but I was very pleasantly surprised by my first bowl. I expect it will find a place beside my Escudo, MacBaren Navy Flake and Dunhill Light Flake. Incidentally, I happen to be an inhaler and the smoke is fairly smooth with very little if any throat tickle.

As an aside I'd like to thank all the wonderful reviewers here. For an old pipe smoker just getting into quality tobaccos you've been invaluable in helping me make choices as to which baccy to try next. A special thanks to Pounder 5000 who has so generously given me samples from his extensive cellar. Thank you all!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

This is a good virginia flake . While I dont like this as much as the blackwoods flake in the mcclelland line, I still enjoy this. This is sweet and tangy and unusualy dark in color. The flavor to me though hints to some brighter areas at times. Like most virginia blends this gets better with age. Recomended to the virginia flake lovers.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

ArtGuy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
ArtGuy (8)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

I find this to be a very elegant, rich tobacco with just enough tang. You cannot go wrong with it. It takes a bit of work to light but well worth it. Smoke it slow and it is one of the best blends ever.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

Dark Star is my first foray into McClelland's other Virginias after trying their wonderful Blackwoods Flake. This tobacco is very different from Blackwoods Flake in both look and taste, however. It comes in the tin as mostly whole leathery blackish flakes, looking almost like beef jerky, and it has a somewhat vinegary smell that is mixed with an aroma that gives you a taste of the richness before you even light it up. There is no real "ketchup" smell with this one.

I don't even attempt to rub this out - I simply fold the flakes and stuff them in the pipe. This has been my preferred method with flakes - it burns longer and slower this way, and I find I get more flavor - and it does not disappoint with Dark Star. Upon lighting, I find that it has a rich flavor that is slightly sweet, with the sweetness really kicking in after a minute or so. At this point it reminded me of a good semi-sweet dark chocolate in character. As the bowl was smoked down, it took on more of a dark coffee with Sambuca quality.

Overall, I prefer Blackwoods Flake to Dark Star and as such that will show up in my VA rotation more often, but you would be shortchanging yourself if you enjoy other McClelland's Virginias and didn't give this one a whirl.

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Checkmate Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Checkmate (23)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium Pleasant

As I've already tried Dark Navy Flake I wasn't surprised by the appearance of this tobacco. The stuff looks like beef jerky that's been left out in the sun too long and has the texture to match. Happily this tobacco has many redeeming features that become apparent once the stuff is rubbed out - this is no mean feat. I use a mortise and pestle to beat the tobacco into submission and wrestle it into my pipe. Once it's been beaten it raises the white flag and turns into a wonderful smoke, dark, sweet, rich, and tasty. This tobacco is great for tramping around outside as it smokes quite cooly even when it's been rubbed out finely. I've dedicated a pipe to this blend alone and keep it on hand for all occasions. I would recommend this tobacco to any pipe smoker who even occasionally likes to smoke Virginias.

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WxGuy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
WxGuy (95)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Dark Star is in that class of very stoved virginia flakes. The stuff has a unique consistency , like rubber (too moist as it comes in the tin) to beef jerky (after it has dried to a smokable level). And it is very dense. The actual leaves in the flakes are indistinguishable, though it does shred, again like jerky. And it is as dark a flake as I have encountered. My current (2-year-old) sample has little crystals on the edges, indicating a very high sugar content.

Some compare DS to Marlin Flake, but MF is not nearly as dark in color or body. Maybe the closest thing to Dark Star that I can think of is Rattray's Black Virginia, which is, of course, not a flake, but is as heavily stoved. OK, so maybe it is not a good comparison. Now, either you like heavily stoved and pressed virginias or you do not. If not, why bother?

For a flake, Dark Star sure does have a tendency to bite. I prefer to dry it out to the point that the flakes break on folding. I then construct a pile of broken flakes about the size of the diameter of the pipe and stuff them in (laying flat) then crumble a little on top for ignition purposes. Puffed SLOWLY to avoid tongue damage, the bowl will burn smoothly and coolly to the bottom. ("Coolly" is a relative thing here, since the incredibly high sugar content of DS makes the burn hot by nature.) Note that this approach only works once the flake has dried sufficiently

I find the flavor of DS very complex if smoked slowly enough. The flavor gets darker and sweeter as the bowl progresses. There is a little virginia sharpness initially, but this is quickly subsumed by the sweetness. Reviewers that have commented on the fact that the _virginia has been completely stoved out of Dark Star_ do not care for this flavor development. And they have a point. It works for me, though.

I find that DS is one of the sweetest "natural" tobacco experiences around. Adn the adjective "rich" is appropriate as well. I will go through stages where I smoke DS on almost a daily basis as my virginia-of-the-day, but then move on to other offerings. After each hiatus, I wonder why I did not return sooner. The reason is probably the existence of Marlin Flake, and the myriad Va/P blends out there.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Joe Patterson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Joe Patterson (48)
★★☆☆
Mild None Detected Very Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

This starts as an interesting change from the straight VA blends, and ends up as a hot burning, mouth scorchng poor quality half empty tin that sits in the tobacco closet. I thought from the other reviewers and others I had spoken to that this would be a nice change of pace from the Va's and VA/P blends I smoke most often. What I can to realize is that this is too much work and waaaaay to much heat to bother with, even on the coolest of days.

If I want this kind of heat, I'll go jump in the shower.

But if I want some good tasting baccy, I'll go elsewhere. Maybe I just got a can that was green, but age and the normal amount of drying may not help this blend.

Let me add in a final note that most other blends from MCC are to my liking and I have little to no trouble with heat given proper age and a few days to a week to let the can dry out, so feel free to try it for yourself, but for the little amount of taste for the volume of heat, it's just not worth it to me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

LoisKelly Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LoisKelly (55)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

If a person doesn't like heavily stoved Virginia flakes, fine. Taste is an acquired and subjective characteristic. Everyone who loves a pipe owes it to himself to try this blend at least once, if for no other reason than to make up one's own mind. The suggestion that this is not a blend worthy to be sampled is ludicrous. Furthemore, the previously given suggestion that this is one of the least successful tinned blends in McClelland's vast portfolio is belied by the numerous reviews it has received, bettered only by two of the Frog Morton offerings.

At first glance, the thin, rubbery strips appear jet black, but are rather a very dark brown, and flecked with white, particularly in the case of older tins. These specks of sugar crystals portend the sweet, rich flavor to come. Ketchup? You bet. McClelland's signature bouquet is appalling to some, endearing to others, and front and center in Dark Star. Take your pick. Rubbing out the flakes is on the hard side, as these things go. Some particularly stubborn bits resemble pencil erasers. Establishing and maintaining a light is difficult, as well.

It smokes cool, and certainly is on the wet side of neutral. A slow, easy pace is recommended to maximize the flavor, although that alone may not be enough to tame the tongue nipping. It has bitten me many a time. Still, I put up with the above to savor the lush body and sweet and tangy flavors.

Despite my overall favorable opinion of Dark Star, I find myself reaching for it less and less. Marlin Flake is more interesting, and makes a better choice for all day use. When I absolutely must have a dark, heavily stoved flake, Stonehaven gets the nod, as DS can't match its aristocratic deportment. Still, I have tons of DS squirreled away for future tasting, and I'm sure I'll derive at least some pleasure from each tin.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

SlowDraw Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SlowDraw (23)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

A tobacco I would have liked to find earlier in my puffin' career, I find this to be quite outstanding. Tin aroma is rich & sweet, slightly spicey with a strong presence of fermentation. THis also is pretty much how it tastes for the better 2/thirds of the bowl. I probably would not recommend this to new VA-flake smokers or to anyone who puffs more voluminously, this blend requires definite 'sipping' to reveal its rich taste (And to avoid it's lingering potential to burn your tongue) .ANYway this is one of the best i,ve smoked.

Update: though one of my fave's, Dark Star is a tobacco I only smoke about once a week - in the evening , as a pre-dinner smoke & a few beers situation. This way it shines & reveals all it's subtle yet present BBQ-spice charms. I Liken it to a good vintage wine that you savour on occasion, yet you'll still want more than one bottle aging in the cellar.

I don't recommend airing this, or any McC VA at that,in my opinion airing is a quick way to lose it's properties which are in the resins you are evaporating. Secondly the McClelland Boys know what they are doing. Dark Star rubs straight from the tin into crumbs ( which become coals) which pack nicely & burn well.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JClark Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JClark (26)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm going against my better judgement and adding to this already endless list of reviews. I have a big problem with this tobacco. This is the most inconsistent tobacco I have ever come accross. However, I must say, when everything is perfect (bowl size/pipe, moisture, pack, smolder temp. etc.) this is some of the tastiest virginia out there. I am typically an english fancier and enjoy rich robust flavors. Dark star gives some of the richest and most robust flavors that any pipeman could ask for. So you must be asking; whats the problem? The problem is that Dark Star only smokes this way about one out of five bowl fulls. The rest of the time its a slightly below average smoke at best. And I must say that when it's bad it's really bad. Take all of the horrors that can possibly go wrong with a bowl full of virginia, add them up and multiply by 10 and you'll have some idea of just how bad we're talking about. So why do I continue to smoke Dark Star? The fact of the matter, is that one bowl out of five, is like a revelation in pipe smoking. I can fight through the terrible smokes because I know that eventually everything will be perfect once again, and I will be able to enjoy all that Dark Star has to offer. If you don't mind a terribly inconsistent tobacco then pick some of this stuff up. When everything is finally perfect you'll be rewarded handsomely.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pounder 5000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pounder 5000 (178)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I believe this may be one of the least understood tobaccos out there. The problem is the typical McClelland problem they have with all of their blends: moisture. When you open the can you immediately smell the "ketchup" smell that you should have expected. This is where you should stop what you are doing and set the can back down with the lid off for a few days, if not a week. I truly believe that the drier this blend is the better it is. I even had some out for too long and it got completely dried out- it smoked better than ever. Drying out also helps rubbing out and packing. If you smoke it right away, get ready for some major tongue bite. The smoke is extermely tangy as well. The dried out stuff however is a dream. It has a fullness and richness only found with well stoved virginias. This stuff reminds me of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, sweet and rich. It doesn't need any DGT but does well if you happen to by necessity.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Nimrod Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Nimrod (29)
★☆☆☆
Medium None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

This is a very interesting tobacco, and the first of its kind that I've ever seen. In the tin it smells very strongly of vinegar and the black flakes look almost exactly like little slices of beef jerky! They look so much like beef jerky in fact that it's almost hard to stop myself from taking a bite out of one of them.

The flakes are extremely moist and difficult to crumble. They're so hard to crumble up that it almost doesn't seem like they're made of pressed leaves. The tobacco has been pressed and stoved to the point where its almost not recognizable as tobacco anymore. After trying to rub this stuff out for the first time I found myself wondering if this stuff would even burn at all.

Well, it does burn but not that well. My first impression of smoking this stuff was that of smoking vinegar. I tried letting the tobacco dry out a little bit before smoking to see if it would reduce this any but it seems to just be part of the tobacco. It seems like aging has converted almost all of the sugar in this into, well, whatever sugar in tobacco gets converted to. This stuff is almost all spice and no sweetness.

After letting the tobacco dry out for a few days I managed to get rid of enough of the vinegar to make out some sweetness. This unfortunately results in a very dry powdery tobacco that I find annoying to deal with. It still doesn't burn well and no matter how slowly I smoke it I can't get any desirable flavor out of it.

Maybe I've got a bad tin but I just can't understand why anyone thinks this stuff is so good. For a nice dark spicy sweet virginia I would much rather have some Patroit Flake than this overstoved gimmick of a tobacco.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

pmonroeb Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pmonroeb (92)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

This is the blend that changed my mind about virginias. I had always liked the taste of virginias, but always had a tonguebite problem. The virginias I had previously tried were all on the lighter side. As its name implies, Dark Star is dark, nearly black. It comes in slices that are almost like shoe leather. It comes so damp that I have to let it dry before I can break it out. Having read so many reviews referring to McClelland's ketchup smell, I did not know what they meant until I smelled this freshly opened. I noticed that the flavor and burning qualities change quite a bit with the degree of humidification, so it might pay to experiment a little.

Dark Star is outstanding, one of my favorites. No tonguebite, cool burning, flavorful and naturally sweet, it is a revelation for a smoker who is a confirmed latakia lover. I find that the taste can sour quickly if I don't regularly run a fresh pipe cleaner through. The pipe cleaners quickly become rancid and must be disposed of quickly. It leaves a very pleasant sweet woodsy aroma that is not offensive, but get rid of the used pipe cleaners quickly as they can be foul.

ADDENDUM

It's now about 2 months after my first review of this blend. I still have problems getting the humidity right and breaking it out can still be troublesome. I have noticed that Dark Star works particularly well with some DGT (Delayed Gratification Technique). I typically load this up in my largest pipes so I can set it down and come back to it later. It leaves a very pleasant room aroma and will continue to be one of my favorites.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

This definately is a love it or hate it blend. For myself I completely agree with Pipestud this baby is overstoved. It's a beautiful and unique looking tobacco this one just didn't do it for me. Extremely moist in the tin it screams tongue bite. I dried it out and still didn't give me the flavor I was expecting. Although I am getting better with flakes maybe I'll try this again and update my review. But for now there other virginia flakes that I find deliver a better flavor without having to over puff.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Skilling Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Skilling (80)
★★☆☆
Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Tin aroma: Yes, ketchup smelling.

Tobacco appearance: ...At first glance it reminded me of beef jerky.

Taste: ...Beginning 1/3rd, I tasted a "Deep Sweet" rich VA. Very nice.

Approaching mid depth, the sweetness fades. And a rich "Smokey" taste appears.... ala, smoked salmon. ....not baked...not fried... but smoked. Still nice and definitly different.

Approaching/At bottom, pure stoved. The "smokey" essance disappears.

Comments: This one is unique! ... I probably smoke this blend to fast; trying to obtain the "VA" taste that I'm accustomed to. In fact, I know I do..... My loss.

Give me the top 2/3rds. The "Deep Sweet" and the "Smoked Salmon".

....Not baked...Not fried.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Stogie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Stogie (26)
★★★☆
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

As a self professed lover of VA & VA/Perique flakes, I was primed to try this much revered tobacco. Having purchased it at the same time as McClelland Va No. 22, Va No. 24 and St. James Woods, I was able weigh it against a number of other front runners in it's class.

Tin Aroma: Ahhh that wonderful McClelland smell! No kidding, I really do like it. It's probably just a Pavlonian response.

Visual: If I were to shave some thin slices off of my Goodyears, this would likely match perfect. I did not have to much dust or pre-rub in my tin. Just a dis-orderly stack of oily black flakes.

Texture: Typically McClelland, just a bit on the moist side out of the tin, and that's just fine with me. Did not ever need to rehydrate even though it took me a while to get through the tin.

Pack/Pipe: Smoked this Fully rubbed (which yielded a very fine and grainy tobacco), rough rubbed, cut into pieces and stuffed whole into pipe. My preference usually fell to fully rubbed or cut into peices. I smoked this in my full rotation of VA flake pipes which consists of lots of xx & xxx Ashtons, a Dunhill Redbark, two Nording freehands (large), and others. Gravity fed with a medium tamp twice or three times.

Lighting/Burn: Usually one long match to char and another long match to light. (sometimes two.) This would usually suffice for the majority of the slow burning bowl. Often burning to bottom with no relights.

1st 3rd: Immediately notice that wonderful VA tang, but not to the extent that I expected. A citrusy sweetness, and a bit of a mouth filling low note that I can't quite place. Burns slow from the get-go so I just settle in for the duration. Tamping lightly and often.

2nd 3rd: It took a while to get here, but the flavor remains very consistent, maybe even getting a little more robust as the pipe warms up. Still not offering the amount of flavor I was expecting. (Milder than Va. No 24 or St. James).

Final 3rd: Most of the tanginess has been replaced with a slightly sharp fruitiness and good smokiness. Takes a long time to finish to bottom of bowl, but one is rewarded with a fine white ash that does cling to the side fairly well.

Notes: Of the 4 VA flakes I mentioned at the intro, this one was my 3rd favorite. I just did not get the knockout flavor punch I was hoping for. I will need to come back to this in a few years. (So many flakes, so little time!)

Stogie rating of: 8 Pristine Punch

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Dwise Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Dwise (25)
★★★★
Mild to Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

This is one of McClelland's least popular brands? If true, it's unbelievable. Hopefully these reviews will help change that! There is no other flake in the world like Dark Star. I mean that literally. Nothing looks like DS and nothing tastes like DS. It's unique and, like jazz and the blues, it's uniquely American. (Its only competition is McClelland's bulk Navy Flake.)

I can only second the praises that have been sung above. It's delicious but it will bite unless yout puff slowly. It gets smoother with age. In my book you can't really call yourself a pipeman (or woman) until you've at least tried this stuff.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

NEWMAN Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NEWMAN (263)
★★★★
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Another winner from McClelland. It's in the dark brown/black family with Blackwoods Flake but with longer aging, I find it slightly stronger and more complex. As with that one and Bulk 2035, Navy Flake, the moisture content and flake consistency make the initial charring light difficult. However, Dark Star is much softer than #2035 and can be molded like a putty into your bowl. Your patience in lighting is rewarded and results in a slow burning, cool smoke with no bite. Although the taste is initially light and sweet, overall, I find it too full and rich for an all day smoke. But after a meal or with a brew, what a tobacco. The flavor intensifies and develops thru the bowl but never gets bitter. All blends mentioned here are good but if you enjoy VA flakes, you must give this one a try.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

alumshubby Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
alumshubby (2)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant

Dark Star is interesting. The only other stoved and pressed Va. I'd tried was XX Rope, which was too strong and a definite turn-off. But DS was lovely! I especially enjoyed the way it starts off with that first-charring-light sweet note, but it gets darker, richer and more complex toward the bottom of the bowl. Maybe it's me, but I kept thinking of the warm savory sweetness of raisins and currants as I enjoyed the smoke. My little boy said it smelled yummy too.

The heavy cut of the tobacco forces it to burn pretty slowly, which is good because it obliged me to slow down and not rush the smoke so I didn't burn my tongue.

I think on the whole I prefer the complexity of St. James Woods to Dark Star, but I expect that the next time I order some tobacco, I'll probably get a can of DS to keep around for some variety.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

fortezero Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fortezero (11)
★★★★
Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Alright, I just had to throw my hat in on this one, as it is one of my very favorite tobaccos. I absolutely -love- the look of the McClellands tobacco tins, with the thick, dark paper wrapper and the tall, healthily filled tin. In fact, after I finished my first can, I use it as an ashtray! Upon removing the plastic lid and popping the seal, you are greeted with quite the bizarre fragrance. Be it ketchup, vinegar, or as I smell it, Prunes, it isn't wholly delicious to take big whiffs of. However, do not let this sway you! The big, broken up flakes are a bit difficult to rubout if you don't allow the tobacco to dry a bit, but its managable either way. The packing can be very easy, or tough.. depending upon your preference, you can rub it or not.. I rub mine out and find it packs very easily. The lighting.. well, it IS a McClelland blend, and so the moisture level is a bit tough to overcome but if you persist, or allow it to dry out a little bit, the light isn't too horrible to get through. Once you manage to get it lit, however, it smolders nicely with a minimum of attention. The flavor at first is very very light, with only a hint of the sugary taste of the virginia. As the bowl continues, the flavor of the smoke becomes more rounded, savory and full, coming to a point near the end of the bowl where you can almost feel a liquid quality to the smoke because of its richness. As stated, this is not a tobac to be taken lightly.. if you puff hard, it will bite you back equally hard. However, if you're careful with it, you'll be greatly rewarded!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

farndog Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
farndog (22)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Very Full Tolerable to Strong

Dark Star is a treat that is part of McClelland's Reserve Series. This tobacco comes in almost raven colored mottled flakes. I always cut the flakes with scissors into fairly large chunks. Packs pretty well into the pipe. OK, here is the one drawback to Dark Star, it takes tree or four matches to light the stuff. It burns great once lit. It is easy to be patient with this tobacco, and it makes the flavour soar. The Virginia tobaccos have an almost chocolate flavour to them. This what a good aged and stoved Virginia can be. Dark Star seems to be a love it or hate it tobacco, but it certainly is worth a try to see which camp you fall into.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

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

When i first opened a tin of MCClelland Virginia tobacco (I forget which it was) I was distraught at the ketchup/vinegar smell (err, or whatever it is). As a result I was rather hesitant to smoke any of their virginias. What a schmuck I was. Listen, if you are letting the tin aroma stop you from trying Dark Star or any other McClelland VA blend. Don't.. take the chance -trust me, you'll be glad you did (if not, you can send me what's left). Dark Star is perhaps one of my all time favorite tobaccos, and I don't say that lightly. Once I waded through that 'smell' I found a whole world of wonder in the form of very dense dark flakes. Mmmmmm, and aged? It's incredible...little white sugar crystals. Yum. I digress, the dense dark flakes are a bit tough to rub out so I usually keep a very rough rub and pack the pipe (I prefer a tall thin bowl for this) and top it off with some well rubbed out flake to ease the lighting. If you prefer a well rubbed flake, try a coffee grinder (but be very concervative). Once you get it lit it burns nice and slow...it is best to smoke slowly as quick puffing may lose much of the flavor. Also, many people get bit from this so be warned (but fortunately I rarely do. Thank you lord). Anyhow, this is a sweet and somewhat tangy smoke which has only few rough edges until the mid bowl point; I think the triple processng it goes through helps to meld the two tastes into a perfectly combined mix -neither being overbearing. Once it begins to mellow arounds the edges, the marriage of the opposing sweet & sour/tangy flavors is simply delectable. Again, the slower one puffs the more flavor one gets and the more enjoyment it will offer. The finish is wonderful as well, and it burns to a beautiful ash; and creates a wonderful, hard cake to boot. I have a dozen tins of this aging in my cellar - I HIGHLY recommend this to any Virginia smoker. In the words of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in DARK STAR -"Shall we go, you and I, while we can, through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?" This is indeed a diamond. Thank you McClelland!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sceny Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sceny (66)
★★★☆
Medium Mild Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Now here we have a very interesting tobacco; I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Dark brown to black in color, this tobacco comes in medium-sized, dense flakes that give the impression of a very long, slow aging process. The tobacco is totally homogenous and soft, for the most part crumbling rather then rubbing out. The normal vinegar odor is certainly there, however; the instant you open a can of McClelland Virginia tobacco, the smell shouts out in warning: Slow down, tongue bite ahead! I crumbled/rubbed out a couple flakes into an older GBD billiard for the first test. It lit fairly easily, for a McClelland blend, but required frequent relights. This may have been because I was smoking as slowly as possible to avoid the feared tongue bite. And believe me, it'll be there if you aren't careful! The first third of the bowl was nice, with the sweetness of Virginia tobacco combining with the richness of a fully aged blend. Some hints of bite at first, making me slow down somewhat. The second third of the bowl was richer, while the sweetness stayed about the same; this is a very dark-flavored Virginia blend. The last third of the bowl is where I ran into some problems. The tongue bite, until now lurking mostly in the background, defiantly presented itself as I got toward the bottom. In addition, there was some moisture, making it necessary to push a pipe cleaner into the stem a couple times. The dampness, combined with the required slower smoking, meant a large number of relights were necessary at this stage. That's not to say the end of the bowl was bad! The dark, rich flavor remained present even as the sweetness faded, leaving a very satisfying finish. The excellent flavor is what caused me to bother with the relights; otherwise, I would have just dumped the very end of the bowl. Overall, an excellent smoke, and probably my favorite McClelland Virginia tobacco. I imagine leaving the tin open for a couple weeks may help to solve the only real problem, moisture, and this is what I plan to do.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Colonel Panic Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Colonel Panic (42)
★★★★
Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable

Wow. Thin flakes, jet black and leathery, with a wonderfully sharp, tangy aroma in the can. This stuff is nearly impossible to rub out by hand without exercising quite a bit of patience, but if you take a scissors and cut across the flakes to make it a granular cut (rather like Rattray's Black Virginia) it's a simple matter to gravity-feed a bowl and rub out the top layer for tinder.

Initially, the flavor is on the sweet, thin and sharp side but within a minute (for me) it mellows some and becomes simultaneously tangy, salty (yes, I said salty) and sweet. The best part of Dark Star, though, is the last 2/3 bowl; the sharpness fades and is replaced by a rich, warm sustaining flavor with an undertone of sweetness. It, like Blackwoods Flake, reminds me somewhat of food in its richness and savory character.

The finish is always clean with little sourness, leaving nothing in my pipe but white ash and a clean tobacco smell. This does need to be smoked slowly, especially at the end of the bowl, as it WILL bite if provoked. Go easy, however, and you will be rewarded if you're the sort who gets along with McClelland's Virginia tobaccos!

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

After the brief trip to the Grey Havens, we're now re-entering the land of tomato sauce. Opening the tin gives me that immediate eyebrow-raising blast of "Tongue-bite in a Can" and I was tempted not to even try the stuff out of fear, but the rave reviews of others got the best of me. After many smokes and forcing myself through half a tin, my reactions are mixed - like Grey Havens, it has a rich and complex flavor that's great by itself but ruined by the smoking experience. Just getting through a bowl of this tobacco required 110% of my concentration to avoid too-fast puffing, and it wanted to bite like a deranged badger. Weirdly, even on the nights when I'd go through a bowl smoothly and feel fine, the next morning my tongue felt like I'd been licking a wire brush all night. I've often wondered if it's simply some component of McClelland tobaccos to which I and many others are allergic, since this seems to be a polarizing common experience - either folks love and revere the blend or they can't smoke it at all. Sadly I fall into the latter camp despite enjoying the flavor.

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