|I hate to trample on all these great reviews here. It seems many who have tried it simply like it and thats perfectly fine in the world of pipe tobacco. Everyone enjoys something very well while some others do not.
Buit because theres not one review for this blend that is somthing on the negative side I feel compelled to add my distinctive observations and add to the balance for a more accurate average.
I chose to sample this blend actually based on the positive reviews posted here. I wanted to try my first English blend and this blend seemed to be an reasonable representation of one.
When I first open the tin the note was surprizingly strong. The volume of toby was very compressed in a cupcake style baking cup to preserve its freshness in the tin. It did its job quite well indeed. This tin smells very much like a campfire of burning oak. It is a strong tin note BTW.
My first few puffs were met with the difficulty of keeping it lit. Just a bit damp but not enough to discourage me. Once it was properly lit in burned slowly and very cool. Although it needs to be mentioned that if you're a power puffer chances are you can get tongue bite.
I lite this right out of the tin and after successfully liting it my first sensation was attracted to the room note. This stuff smells like ann oak campfire with wee bit of muck (as in a muck fire) on the side. So its not something I would encourage to be smoked in the house unless perhaps you are blessed to have a fireplace in the house. If not I highly reccomend trying it on the back porch.
Then after wafting the room note and agreeing that is was tolerable to most bystanders I was hit with the flavor. Woah nelly this is different. Campfire tongue. I could taste the Oak alright but there was something else there that reminded me of a rubbish fire in a toxic way. Latakia is smoke cured with Oak and (I'll never understand this next one) Pine. Out of the tin it's a bit overwhelming on the tongue so I set it aside for 3 days in a container that I could open once a day and let it breath for 15 min. I fluffed up the material and close it up once a day.
This evening I smoked another bowl. It definately calmed down to the medium level of flavor. Much easier on the tongue and room note is the same but less intense.
The Oak flavor is interestiingly curious in a tobacco. Its not offensive and its not mouth watering either. I can get oak flavor from my firepit in the yard anytime I want. But it never occured to me to cure toby with it thus getting it flavored as well which makes it for me... curious. The rubbish Toxic flavor is pretty much gone. barely discernable if at all. The burely seems to round it off pretty much blending it in to a decent nutty background.
Virginia? I waited and waited for the flavor to come through. I had to look for it and it was there in a very subtle way.
The tin boasts a ratio of Latakia at 30% and yet no other notes are there about the Virginia or Burley which would have been intersting to know.
Do I like this blend? NO... do I hate this blend? No not at all. Would I buy it again? Too soon to tell honestly. Its going back into stasis for a few more months and see what it has to offer then. I won't give it away to an English fan. I think after its sits for a spell it will have the potential (for my taste buds) to be a pleasant change of pace in my current rotation. Albeit a rare one though.
I reccomend trying it for sure if you're curious about english blends and to see if it may be something you might like. Its not a waste of money compared to a few other tobys I've tried.
4-24-11 Updated NOTE:.... Yep its rubbish flavor dominates over time. Whatever it is simply destroys the true characteristics and flavor of latakia. I'm taking this down to 1 star as I cannot even recommend buy this just to sample it and waste your money. If you want to sample some get onto a pipe smoking forum and ask around. I'm sure you'll find someone willing to share a few bowls with you.