McClelland has been asked to provide this blend several times over the years for the slow smoking contest held by pipe clubs. In every instance, contestants have commented on the good taste, pleasant light-up and easy draw. It's a winning blend, even for those who didn't come in first (or is it last?). Why wait for a contest to enjoy this exceptional pipe tobacco blend of matured and stoved Virginias with a very little touch of latakia. It was developed for the long distance pipe smoker, but is enjoyable even in a sprint.
This is a mix of stoved and red Virginia with a few ribbons of latakia. It is a fairly mild Virginia-forward base with a little sweet and some dark fruit. the latakia is just more than condimental, and it adds some mild smokiness.
It took a match and burned predictably and without event. These are great qualities in a contest blend.
The overall effect is good but unremarkable. I could smoke it all day, but I won't. If I were stranded on a desert island with a pipe and a pallet of Contest Blend, I would smoke a lot of it.
A no frills stoved Va. If I didn't read the tin before I smoked this, I probably wouldn't have guessed there is Latakia in here. Smokes cool and dry, it also packs and lights well. Towards the middle of the bowl, the Latakia peeks it's head out, but only for a moment. The Latakia is more in the room note than on the palate. A nice blend to relax with midday.
This blend is well balanced, Not as monotone as a staight bulk Va offering from McClelland. I'm sure this would age nicely, if you want to do that sort of thing.
I've had this one several times over the years at the Kansas City Pipe Show Slow Smoking contest. It was specially created to be devoid of any bite, so, you can puff as fast or as slow as you like. The taste is mild as is the nicotine content (again, done with purpose), and it is an enjoyable smoke with a delicate flavor.
On the darker side of brown with a choppy ribbon cut, and an aroma that would send anyone in the McClellands Ketchup Brigade into a tizzy. Very powerful in the beginning but dissipated after 4 days in a popped but covered tin. I often enjoy a little fun (but also a little cruel!) game with McClellands haters by giving them something like this to smoke blind but waiting until the aroma goes away. The aroma doesn't give the blender away, and they usually enjoy the taste until I tell them they're smoking a McC blend. Then I listen to them mumble, fume and rationalize. :) Yeah, a bit cruel but blind tasting is the great equalizer and removes biases, so I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to sample several different tobaccos and be completely unbiased.
This blend is blend of stoved and non-stoved Virginias, with the stoved flavor ruling the proceedings. It's a mildly spicy Virginia taste with a mellow tangy red to moderate. Latakia is here but it's easily missed in the flavor except on rare instances. I do smell it in the room note but it's not even enough to become noticeable if smoked in a dedicated Virginia pipe, which is what I ended up doing. Smoked in a latakia-dedicated pipe, this was pretty bland. Actually, it's on the bland side anyway, which is probably what you get with most slow-smoking contests anyway. This also had a tendency to nip a little when smoked moist, but properly dried out it was fine. Nothing special here - just a basic stoved VA with a tiny bit of extra oomph. Really, a 2.5 star blend for my tastes. It does seem like a good choice for contests, though, as it smoked slowly without requiring many relights. A solid, decent blend with not much to make me want to revisit.
The “vinegar” disappears fairly early. The stoved Virginias are stewed fruit semi-sweet with some earth, and is more noticeable than the tangy, earthy red Virginia, which also offers a mild spice hit. The Cyprian latakia is a very minor player, but most of the time, you’ll taste a hint or two of it. It mostly provides a little smoky woody push to the blend. Has a mild nic-hit, and though I experienced no bite, it has the potential to nip at the tongue if puffed fast. Burns well with a consistent flavor though it has a light rough edge to it. Leaves very little moisture in the bowl, and doesn’t require as many relights as some McClelland products do. Not a bad all day smoke, but the lack of depth and dimension in the taste relegates it to two stars.
Towards the end of McClelland’s run, I bought up as much as I could. This probably wouldn’t have been something I normally would have bought, but since the brand was going away, and there was plenty of this available, I bought it and stashed it away.
As for what it was meant to be, a somewhat mild and middle of the road blend, I think they hit that mark.
The moisture was perfect out of the tin. Lit easily, and smoked wonderfully. A couple of relights, mainly because I set the pipe down for a time.
The Virginias were not overly sweet, but flavorful. A nice Latakia flavor in the background. The percentages were blended perfectly. Towards mid bowl I picked up a little more of the Latakia.
This is just a mild yet very flavorful blend that burns well and while not overly complex, is satisfying in its own right. I would compare this to Early Morning Pipe, with this being slightly more flavorful.
This is a very enjoyable tobacco to me. It is like a good friend; dependable and a pleasure to be with. I smoke many different tobaccos, but I find myself reaching for this blend on a regular basis. Easy burning, long lasting, good flavor. McC's description is right on. If you like Virginias with a little unique taste to it, give this a try.
Light Latakia and a sweet Virginia aroma. Packed and light just fine. Broken flakes and pieces.
A mellow Latakia blend. The Latakia is herbal musty woody but not overpowering. Mild sweetness. The Virginias give a nice vegetative grassy sweetness. Not harsh nor did it over stay it’s welcome. A pleasant mild mannered Latakia Virginia blend.
The name says it... Contest Blend. Very suitable for all beginner and expert as the blend was average in everything. Just a very mild Latakia taste can be detected. No bite as I always smoke slow. But will hot if fast puffing.
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