|Thanks to 4Noggins for the generous sample, I love it when shops surprise me!
This is the third Deer Tongue mixture I've tried, including "Special" from Ed's Pipe Shop, aka Tinderbox No. 1, and the other, C&D's Crooner. Crooner was a simple cube cut Burley and deer tongue mix, which tended to fatigue the palate after extended smoking, while Special was quite good, with a level of deer tongue that was largely imperceptible--you'd be lucky to pick the stuff out of the bag without looking deep.
Mojo stacks up favorably to both...with an impressive ratio of the leaf and a diverse bunch of components. I've read that deer tongue supposedly imparts a vanilla like flavor, and given my experience with earlier blends, I couldn't quite place the note--Special used the leaf too sparingly, and Crooner didn't quite mesh together--the small deer tongue bits dropping to the bottom of the sample, leading me to disregard their inclusion entirely when filling the pipe.
But Mojo has enough of the stuff to make the deer tongue, and its unusual flavor, overwhelmingly evident. For lack of a better descriptive vocabulary, I'll go ahead with the vanilla characterization, though the flavor is slightly off, much in the same manner as 1792, whose tonquin additive really confounded my senses upon initial smoking. But you adapt, and begin to appreciate its qualities, which one will likely do with deer tongue after some experience with the leaf.
My sample was exceedingly dry, requiring me to really jam the contents into the bowl, listening to the mix crunch together with a few solid tamps (I'd have preferred a slightly higher level of moisture). The strength is quite pronounced with the inclusion of Perique, and it certainly falls in the upper medium category, while the spice finds a place as well, perhaps a product of the Burley, which can at times emulate Oriental leaf and bring my senses to a tingle. Pack a smaller bowl to begin, as the oddity and strength may startle you.
Now, if you really want to try deer tongue, I think this is the best showcase blend out there. Special is certainly good, but it's impossible to find outside of that Santa Monica Tinderbox, and while Crooner has a hefty portion of the leaf, it's just that and cubed Burley (though very high quality Burley), which exhibits too much monotony. Admittedly, the blend is a bit of a novelty, and though I ran through the sample quickly, two ounces of the stuff would likely last a very long time. I have a little less than a bowl left, maybe I'll try adding Latakia to top it off...actually, that sounds tasty!