|This is the first blend that I have smoked from Affordable Pipes. It is a pleasant and simple blend, suitable as a background for other activities rather than one that would be smoked in contemplation. I have smoked this in small and large bowled briars, a cob, and a meer.
Appearance: Fairly thin ribbon cut tobacco ranging in color from light-medium brown to blackish brown. My sample was darker in overall color than is shown in the website picture. This is not a long stranded ribbon, but shorter cut, ranging from ¼? to approximately an inch in length. There are some stems in the mix as well. This arrived in a machine sealed plastic bag. The moisture level upon arrival was a bit wetter than I care for: the leaves stick together initially but spring apart almost immediately after being pinched together. Leaving a sample open for a week still resulted in the blend being on the moist side.
Pouch Aroma: This smells sweet, like a burley/cav/virginia blend rather than an English.
Packing characteristics: I find that this blend is easy to over pack, as would be expected from a thinner cut tobacco that is relatively moist.
Initial light brings an immediate fragrence of vanilla, which I was not expecting from the description. The vanilla flavor is more pronounced in cobs, and less so in a meer. The burning characteristics for the top of the bowl is good; this easily stays lit. The early part of the bowl is slightly sour, but this disipates quickly. Described as containing a small amount of latakia, I do not notice any latakia in the flavor at all. However, this could be one of those ephemeral things, where the small amount present would be missed if absent in a less obvious way.
The bowl smokes in a somewhat non-intrusive manner. It is pleasant and relatively simple and straightforward in flavor, without substantial complexity. It is a relatively comfortable smoke and reasonably balanced. After about the first third or so, the flavor resolves to somewhat savory flavor. There is no tendency toward bitterness or tarriness.
I do not think that this is a blend that would be sought out by pipers who favor English style blends. Rather, this might be interesting to those who like American style tobaccos (burley oriented rather than virginia oriented) and are looking to try something with a light latakia component. In that vein, this might substitute in the role often recommended for a blend such as EMP or Piccadilly. This is not meant to compare this blend to either of those, other than to comment on the light latakia component. Likewise the vanilla sense, whether an added topping to one of the components or a natural flavor that arises from the melange, may lend this blend to be seen as an English/Aromatic crossover.
Overall: I rate this 60/100 for flavor in accordance with a general sense of be pleasant, but without much complexity. 85/100 for burning characteristics, smoking dry and consistent through the entire bowl, with no relights required, and little bite. This would rate stronger in this category if the moisture level could be controlled better so as to avoid a tendency toward over packing. 70/100 overall, but I expect that this would be more favorable to a smoker who was looking for this light and non-complex style.