C&D Black Frigate - A Review

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Charter member
Dec 10, 2007
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Cornell & Diehl's Black Frigate is an old favorite. The description on the 1-pound package that contained my current stash (from 2001) reads as follows:
  • Latakia and Turkish are added to Navy cavendish, pressed and sliced. A Royal Navy blend, not for the faint of heart.
Apparently, C&D has revised that description slightly. The description on their web site currently reads:
  • Latakia and Turkish are added to the Navy Cavendish for a Royal Navy blend. The blend is pressed and cut to form a crumble cake. A blend hardy enough for any pirate!
Either way, Black Frigate is a solid Latweed blend. While not as heavily Latakiafied as, say, Penzance, and somewhat sweeter due to the Navy Cavendish base, it's in that league in terms of intensity of flavor. The jar nose is that of a good, stout Imperial English blend. The tobacco comes firmly pressed into relatively thick slices (~3/8"), a treat for those of us who like to keep their weed a bit on the chunky side for a slow, cool burn. However, for this burn, I'm using a pack consisting of fully rubbed-out tobacco. I've got a hankering for a rich smoke of maximum intensity after a grilled steak dinner, and rubbed-out Black Frigate is just the ticket.

The pipe for this burn is a Mastro de Paja Ruber "scoop"—one of those voluptuously rounded shapes with a 1/8 bend that MdP was making about 6 to 8 years ago, which have mostly disappeared. It's an all-purpose Cyprian Latweed blend pipe, a large Group 5-ish size, not dedicated to any single tobacco, but one in which I smoke only Imperial English blends of constitution similar to Black Frigate.

Moisture content is classic C&D style—relatively dry compared to many other blenders. In my opinion, it's perfect. One light is all it takes for the bowl to spring to life. The sweetness of the dark-stoved Virginias is immediately apparent, with a powerful dose of complementary Cyprian Latweed spice. The Turkish is present in ample quantity—enough to give the blend a healthy ZING, but not enough to overwhelm the other tobaccos. It's a great balance.

In fact, think of Black Frigate as C&D's classic Blockade Runner crumble cake on Latakia & Turkweed steroids—a blend that beefs up the already intense flavor of C&D's classic Navy Cavendish with a hefty slice of added spice. It's not an especially strong, knock-your-socks-off weedage, nicotinally speaking—another reason why it's such a favorite of mine. My constitution just can't handle high-octane weedages in a pipe this size without having to set it down for a spell partway through the burn. Not so with Black Frigate; I can burn a bowl all the way down in one sitting.

Where Black Frigate shines is in its ability to consistently pour on the rich tobacco flavor, sip after sip, without dulling the tasticles. While there's no remarkable complexity in the first 1/2 bowl, there's plenty to hold my interest. The flavor is intense. Perhaps that's why C&D modified the earlier description, which implied a high octane blend one should approach with caution. It's not that at all; rather, it's a flat-out, meaty blend of remarkably consistent strength and smoothness—one that provides a gloriously rich after dinner smoke.

The most interesting thing about Black Frigate is the way its flavors develop by the time you burn your way down to mid-bowl. The potency of the Navy Cavendish is the charming culprit here. There's a sublime natural sweetness—not one that sits on top of the tobacco, but rather is integrated with it. It must be the 7-day rum soak that C&D avers is the hallmark of a true Navy Cavendish. Considering its makeup—hand-stoved red and Golden Virginias, soaked in rum for 7 days, and then stoved again—there's no mystery about the origin of that underlying dark, sweet, mellow flavor. Yet there's no stickiness or unnatural sweetness in the blend, nor is there any hint of "aromatic" quality—either in the jar or in the bowl. It's solid, natural tobacco flavor, enhanced with a gentle hint of rum, me hearties.

By the time I hit the bottom 3rd of the bowl, the Navy Cavendish is singing, and the Latweed and Turkish respectfully move to the background—still with sufficient presence to spice the smoke, but letting the Virginias do the yeoman work. As I finish the bowl, I immediately do a refill and relight, and I'm in for another beautiful smoke. Hah!

With so many other fine weedages from which to choose, it's no wonder that an old stalwart like Black Frigate tends to fade from view, or even be taken for granted. More's the pity; it's a true classic—one that fills the bill for lovers of true Navy Cavendish, and it's sure to satisfy the devoted Latakiaholic into the bargain.



Broken Pipe
Dec 14, 2007
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Thanx, Don Vito, Ken. :D
Pacem en Puffing! :tongue: From The Northeast Kingdom! :tongue: