McClelland Dark Star

Years before tinning, this tobacco begins as bright yellow, sugary top grade Virginia and Carolina leaf. Through careful triple aging, pressing and stoving, it becomes rich, cool and dark. A seductively spicy aroma develops during the extended maturing process to complement the complex flavor of this concentrated, smooth broken flake, which is easily rubbed out to suit any occasion.
Notes: From McClelland: Occasionally we meet someone whose familiarity with a variety of tobaccos, sensitive palate, and desire for "that special tobacco" provide an inspiration for us. In seeking to satisfy a taste other than our own, we pleasantly surprise ourselves with beautiful results. This is what the Personal Reserve Series is all about. We developed this concept early on as a way to enhance our creative spirit. We are proud to offer these fine pipe tobacco blends, and hope you will enjoy them.


Brand McClelland
Series Personal Reserve
Blended By McClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured By McClelland Tobacco Company
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Broken Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 100 grams tin
Country United States
Production No longer in production


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

Average Rating

3.21 / 4





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Displaying 11 - 20 of 229 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 30, 2015 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I really enjoyed this blend. I look at it as a change of pace type smoke and rarely hang four stars on those types of blends, but I think this one does deserve that honor.

I have had some other blends like this meaning a sweet all blackened Virginia and this one does stand above all the rest as I feel the others came off with a bit of a molasses tone; whereas, Dark Star is Virginia sweetness amplified and that sweetness remains from the beginning to the end. And the side stream note is fantastic as well. It smells as good as it tastes. This could easily replace the aromatics in my lineup when the sweet tooth starts to ache. And it won't ghost your briars.

One thing that can be a bugger is getting this one lit. It is no easy task, but once it is achieved it will take you places that only the best pipe tobaccos will. So four stars and this will be restocked in the cellar soon.
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 10, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
A black broken flake. The tin note is dried fruits with a pronounced acetic, or vinegar, character.

The baccy is of a dense rubbery quality that does not rub out fully. Cutting with scissors is a workable option. I usually rub out roughly, stuff and go. For tasting purposes, I additionally microwaved this tobacco for 30 seconds, and allowed the moisture to evaporate off over several minutes before packing. Treatment in this way will improve the burning quality of this otherwise difficult tobacco immensely, with little loss of character.

Stoved Vas burn cooler and have a different sort of sweetness to straight Va, perhaps because they are partially caramelised. Presumably the ph is also adjusted because Dark Star burns cool and mellow with no bite whatever.

Dark Star is the premier sauterne of the pipe tobacco world. It has sweet and sour flavours with raisin and spice notes. Complex in a bold, not subtle, way. The closest thing to a dessert wine in a pipe tobacco I have smoked so far, this is a tobacco I get cravings for. A lovely treat at the end of a big meal.

Edit. I have discovered this blend sings for me in a Legend cob. No need to pre dry at all and burns to the end with no relights. A Eureka moment for me. Upping it to 4 stars as a result of it becoming such an easy, satisfying tobacco.
Pipe Used: Lepeltier/MM Legend
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 06, 2004 Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
McClelland's has had this one on the market for quite a few decades, and I am told it is steadily gaining in popularity, even to this day. It is easy to see why. If you are a Virginia flake fan, this blend may meet your requirements and expectations, especially if you like your Virginia flakes dark, bold and a little bit sweet. Unrelenting flavor that deepens the more it is smoked. I particularly enjoy this one in a V-shaped bowl because the concentration of flavor near the bottom makes my spine tingle with pleasure.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 16, 2013 Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
Update: Try re-hydrating with brandy. It makes this stuff even more wonderful.

This is one of my favorite blends. I'm strickly a VA & VA/Per guy. Yes, it's hard to rub out into ribbons but this is a wonderful smoke. Very rich and smooth taste. Yes, it can come a little wet.

I have a lot of experience smoking black stoved blends so I don't find lighting too hard as others have commented. I break up into chubby ribbons and then rub a little to loosen them up. Put the small pieces on top and then get a very good char light. Let it slow a little and enjoy. I think it may take a little practice lighting the dark stoved blends.

I like to enjoy this in a big bowled meerschaum. It's very nice at night. Very low nicotine and very relaxing. Doesn't interfere much with my sleep if I smoke just before bed.

Doesn't seem to have any topping or added flavors. Just fantastic natural virginia and carolina taste. Sometimes I put a pinch of blending perique in to spice things up. I find that more often than not I need some perique in my smoke.

Don't buy any. I want it all for myself!!

Pipe Used: Meerschaum apple, Lovat
PurchasedFrom: smoking
Age When Smoked: New
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 26, 2018 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
McClelland - Dark Star (Personal Reserve).

I found myself in the mood for a good Virginia and I've mentioned in previous reviews how I think McClelland made the best Virginia tobaccos. So, although it's no longer produced, I cracked open my tin of Dark Star.

When I removed the lid my initial thoughts were ''Dark Star? You're not kidding. If it were called Black Star that wouldn't be too far of the mark!''. The flakes are extremely dark, fairly thick, and only semi broken. I can't complain about the moistness but it's the thickness of them which presents a problem. I can see why some folks suggest the use of a coffee grinder. But, with a pertinacious hand a bowl can be readied!

Does Dark Star live up to the McClelland legacy? Oh yes! The smoke has dark fruit, a piquant tang and ample sweetness. The 'spiciness' mentioned in the description eludes me; I get more of the fruity, tangy, sweetness. It may be easier to prepare with a coffee grinder but using the hand-rub method assures a long smoking duration. As well as giving a long smoke, it also gives a cool, bite-free smoke. The only difficulty with leaving it coarser is the igniting of it: I use a jet flame to begin with and my zippo to maintain a bowl.

Nicotine: above medium. Room-note: quite pleasant.

McClelland Dark Star? Definitely worth four stars:

Highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Neerup Gr 2 Bent Chubby Dublin
Age When Smoked: January 2017
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 18, 2014 Very Mild None Detected Full Pleasant
Dark, heavy, sweet and almost aromatic unlike most Virginia's. Excellent stuff! While it is delicious I wish it was a little stronger. Very moist as everyone says but I opened my first tin of it today, spread it out on coffee filters for a few hours and am smoking it right now with no issues. For those of you who are use to working with thick flakes, you won't have any issues either. Really different and very enjoyable and satisfying in the taste department. If you smoke for a nic kick, this won't give you that. I consider it more like a taste treat after a meal. I'll get more for sure.
Pipe Used: Various
Age When Smoked: Got it today
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 11, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
I'm doing this review just to boost the rating. Hard to rub out? Well, yeah... Hard to light? Well, maybe... Hard to keep going evenly? Maybe sometimes... Worth it all? OH YES you bet Sho' nuff righto ETC... This is TO MY TASTE the very best straight Va on the planet. I will admit I am smoking a 9-year-old tin that I just opened last week. I believe that all Va tins shoulkd age at least 3 years, but I sometimes forget about 'em, like this one. Starts off very sweet, maybe a bit much for some, but settles quickly into a rich, smooth, bite-free melange of flavors like hay, grass, caramel, even cinnamon at times. Leaves little or no dottle & smokes nice & dry when properly shredded & aired first. The best in my book. RIR
Pipe Used: Meer, Dunny Oom Paul.
PurchasedFrom: J&R
Age When Smoked: 9 years
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 30, 2005 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
Dark Star IMO is another very complex tobacco that is probably not attractive to the those that like to load and go. So that my opinion will be weighted properly, I enjoy pipe smoking, pipe cleaning, pipe browsing, rubbing-out pipe tobacco and experimenting with new tastes etc... It's a very personal relaxation and reward time for me, which explains the burn marks on my laptop keyboards.

This tobacco rates an exceptionalyl high recommendation from me for a number of reasons but mostly because it requires a patient rubbing out and a lot of experimenting in different size pipes. I believe it smokes well in any size pipe with some adjustment in approach, rubbing / loading / puffing. There's nothing straight forward about it. It is mysterious.

The taste and note are loaded with nuance of deep sweetish tones contrasted with high tones of spice. Like a finely prepared dish the blend isn't just a list of ingredients ... it seems to me that I notice something new about it each time I light up.

I recommend using a Peterson pipe for this tobacco while one gets acquainted (unless your bird-watching or star gazing of course.) since it has me drooling just thinking about it.


30 Sep 2005 I recently tried a recommendation from another reviewer. I have been taking the flake and cutting it with kitchen shears into small cubes. I then rub the little cubes for a bit, in fact quite a bit in order to distribute the essential oils and moisture. Despite my fear that the morsels were going to be too small and burn hot ... I was astonished at how well DS took to this practice. I had already enjoyed this beyond expectations and its reached a new high in my enjoyment. In a small sized pipe ... this was a very slow, long, and cool smoke. I'm amazed it got better.

Cheers, VC
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 16, 2014 Mild Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Pleasant
It's my second pipe and I just love the relaxing flavor. I usually dig Blackwoods Flake, and it's a great and favorite blend over the years, but when listening to Tom Waits wail this is the cool smoke. Nice and full VA flavor but smooth and mellow. Maybe it's the fine VSOP that I've chasing it with. I really enjoy the fine mellow and slightly smokey flavor. Your mileage may vary. Best to just set back and enjoy the scenic ride.

Highly recommended!

EDIT: I did not dry this mixture prior to smoking. Just pulled it from the tin and lit 'er up. Usually McClelland brands are a tad moist out of the tin. This tobacco smoked full down to the bitter end without a relight. That's a first for me.

P.S. No tongue bite noticed, Enjoy!

1-18-2015, OK, it's a year or so later and and I have a few comments. Dark Star has become a regular in my rotation. I like the way it has a consistent flavor throughout the bowl, nice and even heat and beautiful ash. As I remind myself, this is a heavily flaked VA and one must be careful not to draw too heavily to avoid the dreaded bite. But, Dark Star is forgiving in this respect. I really enjoy this weed, and don't let the dark look fool you - It's a nice VA flake without the expected bark. P.S.S.... I've smoke over a pound now and feel justified in my statements.
Pipe Used: Ardor DR Urano - RTDA special 2003
Age When Smoked: Got 'er today
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 23, 2010 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
One great Virginia! Put out a paper plate and put some flakes in the palm of your hands and rub out. Pick up the larger pieces and fill your pipe. Continue this and near the end you'll have small pieces left that help to start your fire. I've never had trouble lighting it in this manner. It does burn quite slowly and due to it's moisture content will go out more often then what you may be used to. However as you arrive at about the 1/4 mark of the bowl Dark Star will have taken hold. All the work you put in to get it really cooking will be rewarded with a great smoke that just get's better and better. The flavor of those rich Virginia's is fantastic, it is one tobacco you must smoke (as in bucket list) it's that good. Don't pass the opportunity up to get some. It burns to a nice white ash and the flavor just intensifies as you get farther down the bowl. It burns very slow and cool, this is a must try. From the ritual of preparing the tobacco to the final puff this a wonderful smoke!
7 people found this review helpful.
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