Just recently I received a couple of similar emails from younger pipe smokers who have made purchases from my website, but who wanted to know what I think are really good still in production blends that they might purchase at retail prices in other places that wouldn’t sap their wallets. That’s certainly a fair request and I am again happy to oblige. As most of you know, still in production blends do not command the same kind of dollars as out of production blends simply because they are readily available (usually), and don’t have a lot of age on the leaf to enhance the flavor presentation as well as the price! A year ago I wrote a blog detailing some of my favorite still in production blends that I think are mighty tasty even fresh. So, I went back into my files to find that blog and here it is again.
I personally think that Gregory Pease has been and is continuing to make some of the finest blends the world has ever seen. When he retires (and I certainly hope that is a long time off), his tobaccos, like McClelland’s, will be more appreciated for what they are, superb! Without question, my favorite still in production Pease blend is Montgomery. Greg found some superlative Virginia leaf for that one, and the way he had the blender (Cornell & Diehl), process the leaf was nothing short of spectacular! It is a little light in the nicotine department for me, but I feel like I’m in heaven when I sip it slowly and enjoy every nuance of the tobacco. It has been around since 2005, so there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy it with age – and by the way, Pease makes all of his tobacco blends with the best aging potential in mind. Here’s what pipetobaccoreviews.com has to say about that superlative blend: “Virginias, Virginias, Virginias! Several grades of wonderful flue-cured leaf, from soft yellow to deep red, are combined with just a touch of dark-fired Kentucky for a little added richness. A special process, recovered from ancient archives, provides the finishing touch to this wonderful blend. Naturally sweet, and possessing subtle complexity, Montgomery presents delightful new dimensions for the lover of sophisticated Virginia blends.”
Number two on my list of current production tobaccos that I smoke often is another Pease offering. It is the superior Maltese Falcon. While Latakia is not a go to leaf for me on most occasions, when I have “a hankerin’ for it” as they say here in Texas, a ripe old tin of Maltese Falcon hits the spot. It was actually made by Greg Pease as a replacement for Raven’s Wing after the year 2004 warehouse fire destroyed his cache of Syrian Latakia, but he actually thinks it morphed into something more wonderful than even he had envisioned. Here’s what Pease has to say about Maltese Falcon, which hit the market in 2008: “Originally conceived as a replacement for the old Raven’s Wing, Maltese Falcon quickly evolved into something bigger. It’s a rich, bold blend, with excellent body, a beguiling sweetness, and solid structure, ideal for those who enjoy a sophisticated, yet comfortable and refined English-style mixture.”
Moving on to number three on my personal all-time hit parade of still in production tobaccos is one that may surprise you. As many of you know, I have an affinity for flavored Virginia and/or Virginia with some Burley tobaccos. And to even my own surprise, I find my cellar loaded up with Mac Baren’s Capstan Blue. It is so similar to the original that I really can’t tell the difference other than how the aging process enhances the overall presentation. Capstan Medium (Blue), has, a pleasant enough smell in the tin, but certainly nothing unusual. My nostrils detect a slight essence of hay and fermented fruit. The strips are moist but not overly so. I do rub out fully for an easy pack job. The flavor is bold, but my Virginia Bite-O-Meter barely registers, and the weed always stays at a wonderfully even burn throughout each smoke. Is this one of those “I’ve gotta cellar some tins” type of blend? You bet it is, at least for me!
Because it is hard to find and has an impressive price point, I smoke Stonehaven sparingly. I absolutely love this Germain blockbuster. Stonehaven always provides me with one heck of a unique smoking experience. The silky smooth, long dark strips (which look just like beef jerkey), always make my mouth water by just by looking at them. They are moist, so rubbing to suit my taste is difficult (I like my flakes rubbed out to the hilt). Once rubbed out I let the tobacco sit in the open air for a couple of hours (minimum), because the flavor and strength is more pronounced when smoked dry. This is also one of the coolest smoking blends I’ve ever put in a pipe. The flavor comes on strong, and is almost like dark chocolate in its richness. I have never smoked anything quite like this. Yummy stuff!
Number five was a toss up between a lot of different blends, so to make a decision I pretended to think that if I had just one tobacco to smoke for the rest of my life, pick the one that most suited that criteria. I chose Gawith’s sensational Best Brown Flake. I love strong Flue-cured Zimbabwe leaf that dominates several favorite blends of mine, but none are so deliciously deep, strong, dark and yet sweet as this beautiful tobacco. And best of all, this rich dark brown flake turns near black and super smooth with aging. Because of the high sucrose level in the Virginia leaf within, you will usually find older tins boasting flakes loaded up on sugar crystals. And this tobacco ages better than Raquel Welch (well, almost).