|Another worthwhile McClelland bulk, but just not something I would pick over 2010, 2015, 2020, 2035 or 5115. Quite kind to the tongue for a McClelland Virginia. To me, this is closest to 5115 or 2010 without the zesty high notes and lacking the toasted marshmallow/caramel mid-range. What remains is still a good tobacco, just not good enough in a world of really good to great tobaccos.
One unique characteristic here: After an overnight DGT, this blend picked up some considerable strength (in flavor). Perhaps the Xanthi leaf is the source, but it actually tasted like there might be some fire-cured (or at least dark-cured) leaf in here. I doubt there is, but I've never had that experience with any other McClelland Virginia.
NOTE: This was extremely well-received by ASP's Blind Pipe Tobacco Tasting group, in June of 2000. As the reviewers are all seasoned smokers, I paste their reviews here now, and defer to their conclusions by giving this blend four stars:
McClelland #2025 (BPTT, June 2000)
Terry Freeman's Review:
Blend Name: BPTT2 Sample "A"
Pouch Aroma: If this isn't a McClelland's 2000 series, I'll eat a meerschaum. It's got that lovely fermented, acidic smell (some folks describe it as 'smelling like ketchup') and it makes my mouth water. It seems to be a Virginia flake with little or no perique judging from the smell.
Appearance: Thick broken flakes made up of tobaccos that vary from yellow to dark brown. It looks like #2015 but is just a tad lighter in color.
Packing and Lighting: I rubbed this up just a little and put it into a Savinelli Punto Oro, shape 803 which smokes great with flake tobaccos. The pre-lighting taste is a little more subtle than #2015 - sweet and musty, but not in a sugary way. This is classic matured virginia sweetness...
The first puff tastes quite sweet and sharp, but again lacking in that signature perique 'bite' when blown out of my nose. Tasty and mellow, and each following puff gets more mellow and flavorful and is developing the usual McC's taste.
Exposition: I have gotten in the habit of letting flake tobacco go out and rest after I get a good burn going. This seems to accent the fuller flavors and tone down some of the sweetness. The re-light is heavy and spicy, as expected, and the smoke feels cool on my tongue. The smoke itself is on the thin side, but is a lovely blue-grey. There is quite a bit of sharpness here; I'm assuming it's from the lighter virginias. Overall, a very savory smoke which I'm enjoying immensely.
The Story: Once I got going fully the sweetness is subdued to the point where it's a subtle counterpoint to the sharp woodsy taste of the heavier virginias. The room aroma is leathery and spicy, and I'm tasting something suspiciously oriental that I can't quite place.
Denoument:These last few puffs are quite dark and creamy-tasting, with the sweetness is coming back nicely. A great finish indeed!
Pros: This is rich and creamy-tasting, with wonderful earthy undertones. The Virginia sweetness never faded, but the way it presented itself changed in unpredictable ways throughout the bowl. There is a spicy-sweet aroma left in the room and a definate 'tobacco' taste lingers on my tongue. This would be a great reading tobacco, or one to smoke unrubbed in a large pipe while taking a walk.
Cons: Some folks may find this to be a biting tobacco, as it must be puffed very patiently to allow the flavors to outweigh the sharpness. The flavor also intensifies quite a lot toward the bottom which may put some folks off if they're used to a milder smoke.
Here is Dave Haig's review:
Blend Name: BPTT2, Sample 'A'
Pouch Aroma: Very strong pickled or vinegar aroma from this sample. I equate this to heavily stoved virgina blends. The woodsy aroma of virginia leaf does make its presence known. A slight sweetness also makes itself readily apparent.
Appearance: Majority of dark flakes. Some light, but they maybe account for 5% of the blend. The cut reminds me of a McClelland blend.
Packing and Lighting: A LOT of rubbing needed for this sample. I tried more patience with it this round to see if it would make a difference. I spent a good 10-15 minutes rubbing out the blend prior to packing. Packing was still a bit more difficult than a looser blend as the tobacco tended to 'stick' a bit. The second smoke was rubbed out even more and packed a bit easier. Both bowls lit with a tad of difficulty. 3 matches had each going well. The charring light took two matches I believe due to the thickness of the blend. Both bowls were smoke in Tinsky freehands (two separate pipes).
The charring light revealed the thick woodsy smoke of a virginia. Heavy, spicy and slightly sweet. Definitely some perique present. As I dislike relights I smoked both bowls strait through. The woodsy flavor lasted a good 30 minutes, segueing into a sharp nuttiness. This is a very complex blend with very spicy undertones. The odor was heavy and woodsy. The second bowl held the same complexity. The spicy flavor seemed more evident with the second bowl. I had to puff slowly (rather difficult for me!) as the pipe would become overly warm if puffed to quickly.
Likes: I have to bet this is a McClelland blend. 2015 or something similiar...does't have the harshness of Christmas Blend (though it could be a well aged sample). Regardless it is a great smoke with excellent flavor and pleasant aroma. High recommendation!
Dislikes: This blends begs to be throughly rubbed out before smoking.
Here is a word from Lars Eriksson:
This looks like a mix of flake and broken flake. Might be due to the transatlantic flight... The color is an even mix of everything (tobaccovise) except black. Well, maybe some very small bits.
The smell is fresh and clean apart from some vinegar if you realy dip your nose into a fistful of the tobacco. Reminds me of the very few McClelland mixtures I've had the honor to try. This will be fun.
It was a bit moist when I received the package so I let it rest for a few days before trying it further. It was easily rubbed out. Lights easy. The initial taste from first lightning reminded me somewhat of toasted bread. That was gone by second lightning a minute later. It gave me a peculiar tickling in the back of my throat almost to the effect of a chilipepper. This was a full bodied tobacco. I guess it is perique that makes it so peppery. I had just finnished a tin of Escudo when I tried this and I must say that this one is in the same general family of tastes. There's plenty of nicotine and I could sense some cloves - as I did in that 1794 (?) we tried before. Same manufacturer perhaps?
This is a mixture that m u s t be smoked slow and easy. It's definitely not sweet. It rather dries my mouth severely. After 1/4 of the bowl I felt I must lie down for a short rest. It's very full bodied and strong...
It was no problem at all to relight the pipe one hour later and half way through a nutty flavor breaks through. Bitter almond even. Most of the peppery feeling is gone and replaced by a not too welcome sourness. The nicotine definately got to me and I had to rest again.
While resting I had the opportunity to explore the residual taste that lingered in my mouth. And by the complexity of it i recon this can be an exclusive (read: expensive) mixture. Somewhat nutty on the sour side but still very basic tobacco taste. By some unknown reason I associated this to dark and cold winter nights when this tobacco would be absolutely perfect. If I found a tobacco in my own collection that I had stored for a long time tasting like this I would be very proud.
Back to the pipe and the peppery taste is back. Weird. It burns very hot in the pipe and I can only manage a few puffs at the time before the nicotine kicks in. This is a demanding tobacco and it was hard to get the last bits in the bottom to burn.
I am a bit confused over this one. On one hand it burns hot and is too strong for me. On the other hand it has got a wonderful after taste. Probably the best I've ever had. Sooo... for smoking it gets 5 and for not smoking it gets 10 out of 10. (Is that a valid scoring? ;-)
And last, but not least, Greg Hampton's review!
Appearance: Broken Flake. It may have been whole before it went through the mail. Consists of approx. 80% dark brown tobacco with the remainder being tan flecks.
Baggie Aroma: Sweet ketchupy, vinegary aroma-makes me drool. Also a peppery odor as well. SWMBO says it reminds her of meatloaf. I'll venture a guess and say this is a McClelland tobacco.
Smoking Details: 1st in a Tinsky custom (rusticated bent ball). Tobacco is fairly moist so I rubbed it out to a fairly chunky consistency and let it dry for about 30 minutes. Packed it in the pipe and lit it up. Had a little trouble getting it lit and I think I should've let it dry out a little longer. Through the first quarter of the bowl the ketchup aroma is noticeable, but not so much in taste. What is evident is a slight sweetness and tanginess. At 1/2 bowl, the sweetness has picked up a bit and the tanginess has faded some. Through 3/4 bowl, more of the same with a slightly spicy note added, like pepper in the back of the throat. To the end of the smoke, the tobacco became moderately sweet and a bit spicy with a solid medium body. I had to relight a couple of times to finish the bowl. It burned down to a coarse gray ash with a few black specks. 2nd in a Savinelli Rhodesian. This pipe is finally breaking in! After only about 15 bowls, I can say that this is smoking well. Anyway. This time around I rubbed the tobac out to a finer consistency and let it dry out about 15 minutes longer than before. It lit much easier this time. Through the first half of the bowl it smoked very similarly to the first time around. The flavors are a little more muted, which I attribute to the newness of the pipe. There is a mild sweetness and tanginess, but no ketchup/vinegar taste. The tobacco burned much better due to the longer drying time and finer consistency. The second half of the bowl was actually much better in this pipe. The peppery taste was more apparent and the sweetness seemed to pick up some. A solid tobacco taste was dominant. Towards the end of the bowl, I did have to relight once and the tobacco burned down to a finer grey ash with no dottle.
Overall impression: 8 out of 10. This was a solid Virginia tobacco. Actually, I'll be surprised if it is anything other than a straight Va. This is what I would consider to be a very good example of what a Virginia flake should be. The aroma had me salivating from the beginning. Though, I didn't experience any real tongue bite, I did have a few minutes where I started puffing a bit too hard and realized that one could get bit by this. Also, I used no cleaners while smoking this. I would also like to taste this with a few years of aging on it. Guess I'll have to buy some and put it away.
McClelland Description: Sample "A" - McClelland's #2025, "This is a pleasant, rather light, broken, small-flake tobacco composed of Lemon Brazilian and orange Middle Belt leaf seasoned with enough (Turkish)Xanthi to be satisfying throughout the day."