The matured red, bright, orange, and well aged, potent dark Virginias provide a lot of fermented tangy dark fruit, earth, wood, bread, plenty of tart and tangy citrus, floralness, some vegetation, grass, mild sugar and spice along with touches of acidity, smoke and mustiness as the lead components. The very spicy perique offers earth, wood, rich plums, and a few raisins. It is a notch below a full support role. The strength and nic-hit are a couple of steps past the medium mark. The taste is just a little stronger than that. No chance of bite or harshness, though there are a few rough edges. Burns cool and clean at a moderate pace with a very consistent tart and tangy, fruity, floral, spicy, punchy, rugged flavor that extends to the pleasantly lingering after taste. The room note is a slot stronger. Leaves little dampness in the bowl. Requires an average number of relights. Not an all day smoke, but it is repeatable. Four stars.
Well, this is... Different. Don't misunderstand me; this is a very good Va/Per, deserving of the cult status normally associated with Esoterica. Perhaps it is the fact I have never had the opportunity to sample such vintage Virginias that is throwing me for a loop; the expected jammy, tangy flavors are there, but the most notable characteristic is a distinct note of spring dandelion flowers. Beautiful, but not at all what I expected. Very sweet on the palate, and burns remarkably slowly. I am very sensitive to acidic Virginias (generally needing at least 20 percent Perique as a buffer), but I can get away with smoking this in a narrow bowl. Pushed too fast, it could nip. That said, most pipers are either less sensitive, or (more likely) have better technique than I for handling Virginias. I won't knock it for my own ideosyncrasies. The Perique is there, albeit a bit light for my tastes; probably somewhere around 10-15 percent of the total blend. It seems to lean heavily into the musty fruit side of it's personality, and becomes more apparent in the final 1/3 of the bowl. If not for the singularly exceptional Virginias and careful blending, this might be a blend that I would pass by. As it stands, it occupies a similar place as it's namesake manga (Junji Ito's "Remina"); I'm glad that I have it, I can appreciate the artistry that went into making it, and I will certainly revisit it when the right mood strikes. That said, "Uzumaki" is more my speed.
Pipe Used: Meerschaum Calabash, Nording Blowfish
Age When Smoked: Fresh (though already very old)
Purchased From: KBV
Similar Blends: A tin of Bayou Morning Flake that was forgotten about for 20 years. Gotta try that now..
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