|Our hogshead is a blend of very old Virginias cultivated in Africa, Brazil, and the United States. Pressed into an easy to use plug, Hogshead harkens back to the heritage of the greatest Virginia tobaccos. This epic blend just might be the perfect Virginia.|
A long anticipated inclusion to the Seattle Pipe Club offerings—a Straight Virginia from the blending expertise of Joe Lankford. The Seattle Pipe Club lineup, while featuring a diverse range of excellent blends, is distinguished for English and Balkan favorites—namely, Plum Pudding, Mississippi River, and their variations. Nonetheless, Lankford has proven to be no slouch when departing from this forte. Still, the recent arrival of Hogshead marks a milestone event, a venture into Straight Virginias.
I don’t get a remarkably strong tin note, but it's a very nice one—mellow, toasted, malty.
Comes as a big ol’ plug, easy to break apart.
It’s got some moisture so I let it sit for a bit. To be quite honest, it could have used a bit more when I inevitably packed it in my J Mouton Poker, but no harm. This is why I have two weeks to get acquainted, approaching from many angles.
First notes are bready, grassy, tangy. In the middle range, I suppose that’s what is the characteristic Orange Virginia. Not especially bright or dark. There’s that citrus, grassy tartness. The deeper tang and dark fruit as well, but mellow.
Kind of reminds me of the skin of a fruit, in that it has that fruitiness but more tart than sweet. When I really slow it down that mid range, Orange Virginia toasty bready-ness comes through.
A bit of an earth-y body to it with some spice to boot. Not a peppery spice, but has that presence in the sinus.
This is certainly a unique Virginia, at least for what I've experienced. Its parts are very recognizably Virginia, but expressed in a way foreign to me. It’s deep and interesting though straightforward.
A narrower bowl seems to focus on the citrusy, higher notes—plays more on the acidic side.
Packed in something larger, more of that earthy side comes out, more rounded than sharp. In my Tsuge Bent Brandy for instance, I get more of this woody, incense, maybe cedar-like taste that I really enjoy.
Though the pipe certainly affects the way this blend presents, when the variable of chamber size is controlled for, it’s a very consistent blend, throughout the smoke and from one smoke to the next. Basically, you might get something different in a different pipe, but you’ll know exactly what to expect in that pipe next time.
For my taste, I enjoy it in a wider bowl. The high end certainly isn’t lost, but comes through more in balance to my taste. And the depth of the bready, tangy, dark Virginia is just so pleasing.
Not much else to say, so I won’t try to force it. I enjoy Hogshead very much, it’s just one of those consistent blends that seems to show just what it is. Being so of its own class of Virginia to my palate, I will be very curious to see what some age brings out.
|An ambrosial mixture of bright Virginias, Orientals, and Perique, fascinatingly nuanced and exotic.|
This is my first Savinelli blend. Savinelli, of course most recognizable for their long history of Italian pipe making, is another tobacco brand manufactured by the good folks at Cornell & Diehl.
A vegetative and tangy tin note with a little spice. Maybe a hint of molasses. Very much a Virginia tin note with a personality of its own.
Though Janus is labeled as a flake, I feel you could get away with calling this one a broken flake, it's just about ready to go. I toss it a bit to get some smaller pieces but it's pretty much broken up. A little moist but I'll pack it and see what happens.
The leaf runs the spectrum of shades of brown from the yellowish bright leaf to the reds and a bit of dark Perique.
Janus is somewhat fussy on the charring light, but that’s probably on me, I could have given a little drying time. Once there’s a nice even char I let it sit a couple minutes. The wisps from the charring light offer a lovely toasty, bready aroma.
No protests to the light this time.
The initial notes are grassy, lemony Virginias and earthy, herbal, vegetive Oriental. A noticeable tanginess quickly comes into resolution along with the spice from the Perique, which the Orientals are likely accomplices to. The spice is subtle, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of Perique but its presence is felt.
Janus seems to settle more into the earthy, plummy, spice side with a muted sweetness. Kind of reminiscent of the earthy quality of a strong tea, with little sweetener—a pinch of sugar. The grassy sweetness isn’t eclipsed but subtly wades beneath.
That said, I’m smoking my Rattray’s Butcher's Boy, one of my wider chambered pipes, so I’ll be interested to see how this plays in a narrower bowl. I’ve been noticing a relationship between narrower chambers and showcasing the high end of a profile lately.
In a smaller bowl I do seem to get a bit more of the bright end of the profile coming through; grassy, citrus—slightly acidic. There seems to be a little more of an arc through the smoke as well. An earthier mid-bowl sees the reappearance of delightful tart and grassy notes that never totally went away, but make a victory lap. I’m cheering them on.
Trying this in a few other pipes, I think I enjoy it best in a good average sized bowl. I guess that means something different to different folks, but right now I’m enjoying it in my Kaywoodie White Briar and it perfectly balances the two faces of Janus; the earthy, figgy, spice and the bright, citrusy, grassy tartness. Very apt considering the god for which it’s named.
Even still, puffed in a good moderate cadence, these two sides are beautifully bridged by that toasty, bready flavor.
I should say that so far, I have noticed Janus to be a touch bite-y. No issue at all when you keep that cadence in check, but I get a little mindless sometimes.
Poking through some reviews of Janus, one stood out as describing it to have an “inner-sweetness.” I was struggling defining that sweetness in this blend as it seems fundamental to the character of the earthy profile. And that descriptor stood out, I think it’s right on. Janus has an inner-sweetness. Something I’d like to think Janus and I have in common. But I guess a self-review ain't worth much.
Until next time...
As always; feedback, advice, requests, corrections, friendly hellos—firstname.lastname@example.org. Once in a while I may be throwing a premium cigar or something in this mix too! If you are new to smoking pipes, we have a lot of great resources to get you started.