McClelland No. 5100 Red Cake

This blend is a style of English Virginia that has seldom been seen in the United States. A sweet, exceptionally soft, fully rubbed matured cake.


Brand McClelland
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Ready Rubbed
Packaging Bulk
Country United States
Production No longer in production


Mild to Medium
Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Mild to Medium
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.38 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 193 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 19, 2013 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
The "ketchup" smell of the tobacco mildly translates to the taste, though it disappears after a short time. It has a deep, very ripe rich explosion of tangy dark fruit, earthy, woody, bready, sugary red Virginia with light spice and vinegar notes along with a touch of tart and tangy citrus and grass. I would not classify this as a complex smoke by any means, and it's not designed to be that either. The taste level almost reaches medium. The strength is a little closer to medium than it is to mild. The nic-hit is near the center of mild to medium. Works well as a mixer or as a straight smoke, and can be an all day companion. A fairly moist product in the tin or in bulk, some people prefer to dry it some, which won't hurt much. Some dry it out completely, which I do not recommend that as it will lose some of its inherent richness, although you would lose less than you would if you did that to other blends. Burns slow, cool, clean and smooth with a very consistent flavor that never weakens. Won't bite or get harsh no matter how fast you puff. It does have a few small rough edges. It will leave a little moisture in the bowl, but no dottle unless you are a wet smoker. Requires some relights as it does burn a little wet. Has a very pleasantly lingering after taste. The room note is sweet.

44 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 07, 2009 Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
This is quite a tasty if monodimensional smoke. As someone who normally smokes flakes and broken flakes, this is a great tobacco to burn in a new pipe. Loads easily and burns very well, if not quite as well as a flake (once you get 'em going!). This also dries out nicely and I found one reviewer's claim of problems there and that this included humectants to be in direct opposition to my own experiences. But I've read enough of his other reviews to believe that he arrives at his conclusions honestly, so I guess it's simply a matter of a difference in opinion. No problem there!

I suspected this might make a good blending tobacco when I first smoked it and I'm tickled to see so many reviewers doing just that. I really like one reviewers idea of this Red Cake, the McClelland Stoved VA and some Perique - sounds like something I oughtta try! By itself this blend is very nice and very smokable, but it's not (for me) one of McClellands best blends. But getting to the top of that mountain would be quite a feat, as McClellands has at least a dozen blends that I find 4 star. Try this if you like straight virginia or if you're an aromatic smoker wondering what all the straight VA hubbub is about. This will start you on your journey.
31 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 08, 2006 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
With McClelland's wide range of superior Virginia ribbon and flake blends, I find my needs for quality and taste satisfied. 5100 is no exception to McClelland's well-earned reputation. It is a nice, middle weight and moderately sweet red Virginia pipe filler. I used 5100 to break in a new pipe as a neutral tobacco with plenty of natural sugar to help build a delicious cake. While I appreciate the subtly of single varietals, I prefer blends of Virginia leaf. I find them more interesting overall.

On another note, I wondered, when reading the reviewers of this tobacco that found some artificial flavoring (which is what you are saying if you indicate anything but 'none detected' on the Flavoring field), if there is not a misunderstanding. The overall rating has the flavoring of 5100 as "extremely mild." This indicates that enough reviewers think this is cased or topped with flavors beyond those fixed naturally in the leaf processing. It would be helpful if those reviewers stated how and with what they perceive this or any blend is so manipulated, for I find nothing but tobacco flavor.

Also, the "Curing Group" is not fire-cured (candela cigar leaf and some Burley tobaccos are cured with open flame; Latakia over smoke) as indicated on this site for this blend. 5100 is flue-cured (meaning controlled, radiated heat providing the temperature to cure/fix the leaf color and prevent decomposition, not open air or flame). If you want to taste fire-cured pipe tobacco, try Orlik's Dark Strong Kentucky, Gawith, Hogarth & Co.'s Brown Flake and Dark Flake, as well as a touch of it in Montgomery by GLPease (which erroneously is categorized on this site in the Air-Cured group!). I am sure there are other examples of blends with fire-cured pipe leaf.
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 30, 2014 Mild Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I only smoke English blends and Lakeland scented flakes so when I decided I wanted to expand my horizons, my husband suggested starting with 5100 Red Cake. The tobacco has the ketchup smell that everyone talks about but it didn’t put me off. I dried it for a while before packing it. After lighting it, I didn’t get any of the ketchup smell in the taste. I just get a sweet, slightly spicy taste with a very, very slight grassy note. As I got further through each bowl, the sweetness from the Virginia grows and leaves a nice sweet, stickiness on my lips! It never burns hot and there is no bite. I was very pleasantly surprised by this mild to medium blend and I found it very pleasant to smoke! Even though this is not a typical smoke for me, it has made me want to try other straight Virginia blends.
Age When Smoked: 5 years old
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 26, 2014 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The reason why McClelland IMO has created the gold standard with Red Cake is because of its duel usage potential. 5100 Red Cake is a mild, red Virginia that smokes well enough on its own, but really rings the bell as a great component tobacco for other blends. My stash is from 2009 and at five years old, it is quite sweet, very mild in strength and offers a little bit of tang. It is also forgiving for “puffers” as it doesn’t bite. I generally don’t gravitate toward the McClelland Virginias I have tried because I prefer a little more strength than the McClellands I have smoked. Red Cake is no exception to this for me as it is mild and not very complex. But, boy it is a tasty tobacco all the same and it ages wonderfully. Personally, for the reasons mentioned, it’s a three star tobacco for me, but I can easily see this being a favorite for many looking for a mild straight red Virginia.
Age When Smoked: 5 years
16 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 14, 2006 Mild None Detected Mild Very Pleasant
I find McClelland's 5100 to be very similar to McCranie's Red Ribbon. (Both are tinned by McClelland). This tobacco smelled delightfully Virginia sweet in the pouch. And the flavor is wonderful and naturally sweet, just a really remarkable very delicate Virginia flavor. I can see where this straight Virginia would be a wonderful end of the day smoke if your palate has been overloaded. It could be a good first pipe of the day smoke too due to its lightness. And finally, it is a great blending tobacco and marries well with blends that you like but think may need more sweet Virginia to settle the other components. As for me, I love mixing 5100 with straight Burley blends to give me the sweetness I so much enjoy while still getting the strength from each puff that Burley tobacco can so often provide. No matter how you smoke 5100, it will be palate pleasing, I assure you!
13 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 10, 2005 Medium Very Mild Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
I wouldn?t be content if I didn?t have a few Bell jars of McClelland 5100 Red Cake snugly aging down in the dark, cool pipeweed corner of the basement. As an inexpensive bulk, with a little aging on it, 5100 compares favorably to Rattray?s Hal O? the Wynd.

The aroma of 5100 out of the Bell jar and in the room is delightful. Smoked properly, it delivers a hearty mouthful of taste with no bite. The first third or so of the bowl is mild and sweet. Later the smoke becomes heavier, retains sweetness and becomes a tad harsher, but not at all unpleasant. 5100 leaves a sweet taste in the pipe bowl, allowing the piper the option of a taste treat by following with an occasional bowl of a Latakia mixture.

That said, 5100 has a few idiosyncracies of which new and seasoned puffers should be mindful.

As a rubbed out flake, 5100 visually appears as an attractive heap of small bits of high quality leaf, ranging from gold to dark brown. It also has a humectant that retains moisture even after several years of aging. To me, this is fair warning of a tobacco that requires a light hand in packing, several matches to get burning properly and vigilance to keep burning. I can?t recall ever smoking a bowl of 5100 through to the bottom without relight.

For me, getting optimum taste from 5100 requires 15 minute smokes, allowing the smolder to expire, light tamping, putting the pipe aside to cool for 10 minutes, and then repeating. A small price to pay, I?d say, for a great and, in comparison, inexpensive pipeweed.

Using the uneducated thumb method to cram as much 5100 into the bowl as possible, lighting up with one of those awful pipe torches, then stubbornly huffing when the smolder begins to expire, will inevitably lead to gurgles and wrong-headed exclamations about Virginia?s tendency to nip or worse.

But with a skillful touch and a little patience, such unpleasantness is easily avoided and the smoker will count himself fortunate and wise to have put away an ample store of this excellent and affordable Virginia.
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 02, 2014 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
I give Bulk No. 5100 a four star rating because it is the bulk tobacco that I smoke most, McClelland is justly famed for their Virginias, and I am fond of a number of their tinned blends, in particular No. 22, No. 24, No. 25, and No. 27 from the Matured Virginia series. I like 5100 even better, and even though I meander through many offerings in the bulk department of McClelland and many other brands, I smoke 5100 more than any other bulk offering.

This is a fully rubbed out small ribbon. Identified as a cake, at some point in its preparation, probably in the fermentation process, it was pressed into a block and then later put into its rubbed out form. It has some of the acetic "ketchup" smell that all McClelland Virginias manifest, although this is lighter than most of its siblings. The "ketchup" odor does not bother me, although it is apparent in the pouch.

As a red Virginia, this tobacco has considerable natural sweetness. I do not detect an additional sweetening element.

The tobacco lights well, not as easily as some which share its smallish cut, but nevertheless without difficulty. I have to trouble in keeping it lit.

The room note is of a pleasant natural tobacco variety. It will not elecit the compliments of non smokers that a sweet aromatic may, but neither will it engender complaints.

The nicotine level is on the low side. Virginias have the reputation for being bite prone, but I find no need for extraordinary care in the puffing technique to protect my tongue when smoking 5100.

I personally do not jar bulk tobaccos for long time storage. Many of those who do laud 5100 as a good candidate for long term aging. McClelland bulks use tobaccos with less maturity than those in the tinned blends, and thus it seems reasonable that aging will improve this offering.

Yes, 5100 is monochromatic. But its taste, on the light side of medium, wears very well. My own habit of varying my tobacco from smoke to smoke may be partially the cause, but when I return to it from whatever is in my current rotation (I normally have five tins, pouches, or baggies open) I find it to be a treasured friend. Likewise, when smoking large bowled pipe, I do not find this a smoke which grows dull before the end. In the case of 5100, the end is a dry light grey powder.

My current pipe collection numbers 51, including two Dunhills. The brace of Dunhills are not what I consider my best two, but they handle Virginias better than any others in my rotation.

10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 11, 2013 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The smoke was mellow, medium/mild with a good tobacco flavor. It struck me as a Anniversary Kake without the perique, and it was a very good smoke. There was a mild sweetness that transitioned to a slightly more sour/tart taste as the bowl progressed. This blend grew on me, and I found I liked more and more, as I smoked my way through the 4 oz. I suspect the blend benefits from a dedicated pipe, and this may have explained the liking it more and more. I did not get a lot of complexity or top notes, but this is a solid smoke that is not exotic.

This is my first taste of a McC tobacco and so my first review of one. Just for the record, I did not mention the "K" word.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 18, 2008 Medium None Detected Full Tolerable
5100 Red Cake has been in my daily line up for about three years; I have about a pound of it cellared; I'm working through some that's about two and a half years old now.

So, yeah, I like it.

5100 isn't monochromatic -- there's a compact group of flavors here: nutty, woodsy, summer-barbeque-y -- but it's straightforward in the way you want for an all-day standard. The flavor is very full and satisfying, and there's little to no bite.

All that being said, it's not a four-star blend for me. There's a certain roughness -- even coarseness -- to the flavor, especially in the first few minutes of a bowl, that holds it back from that level. And, perhaps because of this, I find that it's hard to fully enjoy other blends for a while after a bowl of 5100.

Yes, it does have that trademark McClelland Heinz/vinegar/ketchup tin aroma in full (you decide if that's a problem; it's not for me).

And, while it does respond well to aging (most tobaccos do, I think), you shouldn't expect the miraculous transformation that some of these reviews suggest. It gets notably smoother, but it's the same basic animal after two weeks or two years.

I've gone on at some length about the negatives, though, which may give a skewed impression. 5100 Red Cake is a fine tobacco that fills a certain (important) niche very well: it's a straightforward, satisfying, value-priced blend that you'll reach for often... when you're wanting something to smoke while you're out cleaning up the garage, or driving around, or wanting a full, satisfying, but undemanding smoke at the end of the day.

Oh... and 5100 is *terrific* for breaking in new pipes and rehabilitating musty and/or funky estate pipes.
9 people found this review helpful.
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