|I had high hopes for this one at first. A rare find, and the first bowl of this and the aromatic version (at this point, they taste about the same) were not bad. I started to get some major tongue bite from subsequent bowls, however, though the taste of the tobacco itself is not that bad.
I have never had bite problems from well-aged Mac Baren 2 and 3.5 ounce tins, yet had such a rabid bite from the 7 ounce tinned Symphony, that I gave that blend up as all but unsmokable for me, until I tried it from a 3.5 ounce tin which is almost certainly from the late 70s or early 80s, even though dates on MB can be difficult to pin down exactly. From the smaller tin, I find it to be quite a pleasant mixture with no bite whatsoever!
I think I've finally discovered the reason for this, though the research was not all my own: it seems that MB used some kind of humectant in those 7 ouncers not present in the smaller tins, because the 7 ounce tins were not sealed, but had a loosely-fitting twist-off cap. They must have felt they needed a humectant/preservative for these tins, and I have come to believe that this is what gives me the bite when it comes to aged Mac Baren: only the 7 ounce cans are a problem.
I get some bite difficulties from certain modern-tinned MBs if I don't take care to sip them slowly, but if I smoke something like, say, 30 year old sealed tins of the roll cake type or even mixtures such as Golden Extra, Symphony, or Mixture Scottish, I get no problems even at a fast smoking rate, unless I am smoking the 7 ounce tin!
The only exception I have found to this is a recent sample from a 7 ounce tin of Virginia #1, which I would estimate the date of to be in the late 80s to early 90s range, because the tin bears the "new style" brand name of "Mac Baren" as opposed to "Mac Baren's" (note the apostrophe!) which officially changed in 1985, but is not completely reliable as a pin-down date, since MB is a big company, and probably used tins from stock bearing the old name for at least a couple years after the "official" name change.
Since the aromatic version is at least to my palate indistinguishable from the non-aromatic, I'll just repeat what I said here for that blend. Though I didn't end up liking it all that much, due mainly to the bite it gave me rather than the taste (which is not all that bad), it is an interesting historical artifact, and who knows; maybe a couple years in a Mason jar will help. I could even douse it in some rum or something...
not such a bad idea, really. I do have a nice Haitian rum right now, Barbancourt 8 YO, which is really a great rum for the $20 price tag, aged in oak, slightly dark, and made from 100% cane sugar. Highly recommended as a mixer and even straight. I'll douse my jar of the "aromatic" version of this Fireside in a couple ounces of Barbancourt, then, when I finish this review, and see what a couple months soaking up this fine spirit does for my tongue bite problems with these blends! I think I'll even add a tablespoon of honey as well.
I'll give it a couple months to meld, and update with any notable change in my smoking results.