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The original piper's choice blend of premium matured and stoved Virginias liberally seasoned with the finest Louisiana Perique, was created by pipe collector Steve Stein. He describes it well: "Its wonderful after meals and as an evening aperitif for the seasoned Virginia-Perique pipe smoker. A complex, bold blend for the sophisticated palate"

Notes: Released at the 2014 IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas, NV

BrandMcClelland
Blended BySteve Stein
Manufactured ByMcClelland
Blend TypeVirginia/Perique
ContentsPerique, Virginia
FlavoringNone
CutRibbon
Packaging50g Tin
CountryUS
ProductionNo longer in production
Where to Buy SmokingPipes.com
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Strength
Medium
Flavoring
None Detected
Taste
Medium
Room Note
Pleasant

Favorite Of 2 Users

3.0
7 reviews
Reviews
4 star:
1
3 star:
5
2 star:
1
1 star:
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2813)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

The red and stoved Virginias are very tangy and ripe dark fruity with the barest hint of grass, some earth and sugar, and a little fermented sweetness from the stoved Va. The perique is a noticeable background player, offering more raisins and figs than spice, though that spice is an important nuance that seems a little more obvious as you go along. The familiar McClelland vinegar note mostly disappears after a few puffs. There’s a slight woodiness present, too. It’s not as bold as the description claims, but it has enough strength to please with a mild nic-hit. The sweetness mitigates the strength enough that it could almost be an all day smoke for the experienced smoker who likes sweet VaPers. It may be a good place for a new VaPer smoker who has a sweet tooth to start. No chance of bite or harshness. Produces lots of smoke, burns cool, clean, and even at a reasonable pace with a mostly consistent flavor. Needs few relights, and leaves very little moisture in the bowl. Has a very pleasant after taste. Three and a half stars.

-JimInks

14 people found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30047)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Kind of a choppy cut of walnut brown to black, with a moderate nose of McClellands rich Virginia aroma and a healthy amount of perique. I found the perique much fruitier in the nose and more spicy in the taste, which is interesting. I actually had to rub this out a bit or I got pieces stuck in my pipe's draft hole. Drying it out helps the flavor develop, as per usual.

The creator states that this is for the seasoned VaPer smoker, and he's telling it straight. A rich, bordering on heavily spiced perique flavor (which is weird because my tastebuds are sometimes slow to pick up perique) coupled with the mildly sweet and wonderfully tangy Virginias, this is probably not the best choice for a morning smoke, nor for the perique newbie. Not as bold and rich as my reference VaPer, GL Pease's Telegraph Hill, this also misses a bit from my lighter reference, said Pease's Stratford. There's something keeping this one from greatness in my book, and I haven't quite figured out what it is yet. Again, I don't think I have this one's full measure, even though I did not find it terribly complex. I think perhaps (for my taste, anyway) a bit more weight from those benchmark McClelland Virginias and a bit less perique would have done the job. But there are other blends to suit that purpose. Try this one if you enjoy your VaPer tilted decidedly toward the Per side.

10 people found this review helpful.

SteveS Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteveS (2)
★★★★
Very Strong None Detected Very Full Pleasant

Very rich full bodied VaPer. One of my favorite evening/after dinner smokes. Also, one of a handful of tobaccos I turn to for breaking in a new pipe due to the high natural sugar content of the Virginia tobaccos that help in building a remarkably good cake in a relatively short time. This blend rewards with great complex flavor that builds throughout the smoke!

Pipe Used: Italians and American carvers

Age When Smoked: Two years and recently tinned

Purchased From: Cigar and Tabac

Similar Blends: Bayou Morning Flake, Bayou Morning, Escudo and Solani 633..

7 people found this review helpful.

Bbrown626 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bbrown626 (143)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Normally I smoke aromatics and cigars - depending on my mood. Top Hat was my first adventure into VaPer's. This fits nicely in the middle for a smoking experience. It has a pleasant enough room note to smoke inside. Great natural tobacco flavor, lights and burns well. Definitely will be trying more VaPer's based on this experience

Purchased From: Pipes and Cigars.com

5 people found this review helpful.

leacha Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
leacha (15)
★★★☆
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Wonderful rich, plumy, fruity, sweet tin aroma. Perfect moisture out of the tin. Lights easily with a sweet taste. The sweetness diminishes and the perique makes an appearance and stays there as a peppery spice vs. a plummy fruity taste. No bite but it did get a little harsh if pushed too fast or hot.

A nice change of pace from the Red Virginia based VaPers.

3 people found this review helpful.

½ bowl Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
½ bowl (103)
★★★☆
Mild None Detected Medium Unnoticeable

Soft, naturally sweet Virginias pump out loads of zesty citrus tang while a fruity Perique carries the bottom end very nicely. Good body. Can be boring if smoked in a deep bowled pipe because the flavor doesn't ever change -- but is that bad?

Pipe Used: no-name meerschaum

Age When Smoked: 1 year

Purchased From: SmokingPipes.com

Similar Blends: 4noggins' Prairie Wind (which I actually prefer), or McClelland Beacon.

3 people found this review helpful.

TallPuffO'Burley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TallPuffO'Burley (605)
★★☆☆
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

This is a very monotone vaper that lacks excitement to the smoker IMO. The one positive I can give this is that by stoving the virginias and including a moderate amount of Perique, this blend might be the most forgiving to technique that I have ever smoked. I had this tin in my truck as my truck blend.

My truck blend is always the best for testing how a blend will bite. If I am driving in traffic and running late, I will chug hard on my pipe as relaxation is out of mind; however, when I am just cruising along the highway at stretches, I will fall into a very slow cadence. With Top Hat, the difference on my tongue and palate was very little when exposed to both extremes. So this is the point in the review where I would say this is a great introduction to the beginning smoker who wants to try a VaPer blend.

Unfortunately due to this being discontinued like all the other McClelland blends, this advice is no longer sound as a beginner is not going to pony up any big bucks to buy this blend, nor may they even know what McClelland is at this point in their journey.

So obsolescence weighs heavy in my rating of this blend. It would have been three stars when it was widely available, but I am holding it at two stars for this point in time. The stoving of the Virginia makes it too mild IMO and that process really sucked much of the sweetness out leaving the perique to do too much of the work. The perique is well applied as it does not clobber the smoker with spice yet still provides a bit of body to a blend that would otherwise severely lack it.

This blend was an outlier when it was widely available and there is a reason for that. It just wasn't that great. So my two stars is to say if you are trying to choose between this and a tin of Beacon at a store for the same price, buy the Beacon.

Age When Smoked: 5 yrs 10 mths

1 person found this review helpful.