This is the rubbed out ribbon version of Cornell & Diehl - 517F: Virginia Flake. It is mostly rubbed out and has a few small hunks of flake. Mine was shipped very dry. I smoked a couple of bowls that way, but started breathing through the bowl to hydrate it a little before smoking, and it is better that way for me. I will probably hydrate it in the bag before the pound is gone.
The smoking experience similar to the flake parent as you might expect. I pick up a slight citrus in the ribbon and less of the heavy/tart. It is slightly sweet. It is interesting (to me anyway) how a change in preparation can influence the flavor. Like the flake, I found the flavor consistent but with some added strength at the bottom of the bowl.
This was an easy and tasty smoke. It is not especially complex, but it is pleasantly satisfying. Virginias are reported to burn "hot" and this one did not for me.
This is a tremendous value for a smoke of this quality. It is a very good Virginia. I may try some blending experiments with this, but it is a great smoke as is.
The Virginias are fairly sweet: a bit of sugar, some tart citrus, and a little tart tanginess from the lemon Va. That tanginess borders on having a spice note every so often. The Virginias offer some grass/hay, light earth, bread and wood along with a few dried dark fruit, floral and acidic notes. Not complex, but has a very consistent flavor to the finish, and leaves almost no moisture in the bowl. Requires few relights. The strength and nic-hit are a couple of steps past the mild mark, while the taste is on the border of the center of mild to medium. Burns fairly cool at a moderate pace, and won't bite or get harsh. It does have a few small rough edges. Has a lightly lingering, pleasant after taste and room note. A comfortable all day smoke that would also make a very good mixer. Three and a half stars.
From the C&D website: "High grade Old Belt golden Virginias. Sweet, with just a hint of citrus, because a naturally high sugar content and relatively low presence of oil, this bright leaf makes a both fine companion to a Burley, and makes for a dandy smoke on its own. "
I got a supply of this at the same time I got some Burley Ribbon Cut for the same purpose - curiosity mostly. What is probably considered blender is indeed a blend well suited to smoking alone. I do enjoy a matured VA flake now and then, but I mostly avoid them as I do not like the lingering aftertaste they leave (at least for me). This however is Virginia naturally sweet, tasty fruitiness (not citrus to me, more pineapple) with a pleasant grapenuts cereal flavor for after effects and no bite.
As a blender I have used this 50/50 with the C&D Bulk Burley Ribbon for a decent smoke and I used it 40/60 with C&D's discontinued Orient Express to sweeten it up and make a fine homemade mixture.
I am considering getting some of their blending perique because this VA reminds me of McClelland's Blackney's Best Arcadian Ribbon (without the perique, of course) in taste profile and see what some more home experimenting can come up with. Can't beat the price.
Tin: This is a C&D blending tobacco. It is Lemon VA, only available in bulk. Sweet, buttery pancake scent. The tobacco is at the correct moisture level. A uniform tan to light auburn color.
Packing & Lighting: #517 is also available in flake form. The ribbon is derived from rubbing out the flake. This results in a ribbon product that is stiff and long, with some unrubbed flake mixed in; packing a bowl is not simple. The tobacco lights, and stays lit, with one match.
Taste & Aroma: Lightly sweet; tangy pancake taste and aroma. The taste gets richer and better towards the bottom of the bowl. Easily burns to ash.
Nicotine: A surprisingly strong nicotine jolt
Room Note: Similar to the aroma
Overall: Recommended. Initially mildly tangy, a rich, classic VA buttery oats taste and aroma develops only towards the bottom of the bowl. Compare to Samuel Gawith's FVF.
I recently picked up some blending tobaccos to experiment a little and see what sort of blend I could come up with for myself. Among these is a pound of this Virginia ribbon, and of course I had to smoke a bowl by itself to understand what it might bring to a blend.
The aroma in the bag isn't grassy and hay-like as you'd expect from a pure VA, but when smoked you get a teensy bit of that. It has a very full flavor, maybe a bit oaty, but despite my expectations, didn't bite unless I really smoked fast. A nice enough smoke on it's own, but nothing I'd bother keeping around on it's own merits. A bit more boring than I really expected, considering how popular straight virgina tobaccos are and I can understand why it's much more popular when mixed with perique.
[EDIT] After smoking this plain VA ribbon for a week, I guess it grew on me and I fell in love with it, and will keep this to smoke by itself from now on.
This is without doubt VA Flake before it is pressed into flake form mine was all ribbon so I doubt that it has been rubbed out. I do wish C&D would clearly state when they do this as there is really very little differences. What there is I will point out below. The jar note after 6 months is hay but not much else that stands out. The smoke itself is a little earthy, with notes of hay out front and some citrus behind it. There is a dark fruit notes that soon follows with a little tang. These flavors will remain fairly consistent throughout the bowl but will deepen during the last 1/3. At about the 1/2 point I also get a woodsy note that reminds me a little of oak. There are times when the tangy note becomes a little sharp but this goes away quickly and only occasionally comes forward. The overall flavor profile stays at the upper end of mild to med. and is not quite as full as the flake version. The nic is just at the top end of mild to med, and this is a little less then I noticed in the flake form but it could be just my imagination. It does not get ashy or cigarette like at all but the room note does have that cigarette smell to it. The finish is fairly short and does not linger long. It does not bite but will nip if pushed hard. There is enough sugar here that it might age well. Worth a try if you are into VA's but for me there are better blends available. 2 stars personally as while the differences between the flake version and this one are minor I do prefer the flake version to this one.
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