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Help Deciphering Tobacco Tastes

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JJPHOTO

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As I'm trying new blends, I'm having trouble distinguishing the different tobaccos. I read reviews that talk about the qualities of certain tobaccos such as VA, orientals, etc. I can't really pick up on these differences yet. I can tell that there are some very, very, very slight differences in them, but wouldn't be able to tell you why.

For instance, I just had some Star of the East. The reviews talk about how heavy in Latakia it is and how it puts some people off because of how much Latakia was in it. I honestly didn't notice much difference than the non-Latakia blends I've had.

Now a burley blend on the other hand can get my attention quickly and I can tell within the first puff that there's definitely burley in there. But that seems to be the only tobacco that I can easily pinpoint.

Does everyone start out like that or am I just not that sensitive to the different tastes? My family has always eaten food spicier than anyone we know can handle, and back when I smoked cigarettes the only one I felt had any flavor was unfiltered Pall Mall, so maybe I just won't be able to pick up on these differences?
 

decaf

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Hear Hear. You're definitely not the only one. I've suspected my love of spicy food might be to blame too, but I think it's more likely inexperience. I can tell Latakia now, and Cavendish, not so Burley. Perique I'm not too sure about either.
 

jhuggett

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Flavors stick out to everyone different. Someone not being able to tell whether or not a blend contains Latakia seems ridiculous to me. It tastes like inhaling an evergreen camp fire to me. Perique is more of a feel than a taste, although it adds to the figgy taste that an aged Virginia may have. Nothing is more distinct than a fire cured tobacco though. That camp fire smell kills me. LL will tell you that it's because my testicles haven't dropped yet but it still tastes like ass to me. :lol:
 

Hermit

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jhuggett":q5hdmh9i said:
Flavors stick out to everyone different. Someone not being able to tell whether or not a blend contains Latakia seems ridiculous to me. It tastes like inhaling an evergreen camp fire to me. Perique is more of a feel than a taste, although it adds to the figgy taste that an aged Virginia may have. Nothing is more distinct than a fire cured tobacco though. That camp fire smell kills me. LL will tell you that it's because my testicles haven't dropped yet but it still tastes like ass to me. :lol:

Well, that certainly ain't the way I wouldda put it,
but I agree that Latakia definitely has a distinctive flavor.
 

Carlos

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SOTE is like a medicine taste on my tongue. Yet I smoke Pirate Kake with no trouble at all. Different blends are different for us all it seems.
 

Justpipes

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JJPHOTO":bw2y6v14 said:
My family has always eaten food spicier than anyone we know can handle, and back when I smoked cigarettes the only one I felt had any flavor was unfiltered Pall Mall, so maybe I just won't be able to pick up on these differences?
Interesting, as it sounds like we have very similar taste.

My only endeavor into smoking cigarettes was about a 6 month stint back in the early 80's and the only one that appealed to me was Pall Mall Red. I hate cigarettes but back them Pall Mall Reds were very flavorful. I too love very spicy foods of all sorts. My wife claims that I have a dead tongue! :lol:

I think that is why I have developed a liking to the old burley mainstays. I use to smoke a lot of SOTE but it became very monochrome to me as are most heavy Latakia blends and they just don't appeal to me much anymore. Just a little is not bad and I can distinguish it but that is about it. I got on a VA kick about 8-10 years ago and lost interest in it as a regular smoke. I do like them from time to time as a change of pace. Of tobaccos billed in that genre I have taken a liking to Cumberland and recently Exhausted Rooster but probably becuase they have a fair amount of the Kentucky leaf in them.
 
A

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Justpipes":lba0xv4m said:
Interesting, as it sounds like we have very similar taste.
My wife claims that I have a dead tongue! :lol:
I think I've a dead tongue too. I can't seem to pick out alot of differences in the various tobaccos either. We'll just have to keep experimenting.
 

JJPHOTO

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Okay good... I was beginning to think I was the only one. I'm trying to keep a log of the blends I try with my thoughts on them so that hopefully one day I can accumulate enough of them to go back and start to be able to put words to the subtleties.

There are a few blends that I've been able to pick out as big favorites - Haunted Bookshop, Habana Daydream, and McClelland Arcadia.

From what my inexperienced palate can tell me, the HB and HD are heavy on the burley and are nice and spicy, big bold flavors. The Arcadia is a much smoother and mellow smoke and has a slightly different taste to it, doesn't have the spice. I'm buying a bunch of Arcadia to stick in the cellar my next order.
 

adauria

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You might try smoking very different blends that are good representative of component tobaccos back to back. In other words, try some C&D Pirate Kake (very high latakia) followed by a bowl of McClelland 5100 (straight VA). Or try a straight VA followed by a VAPer to get the sense of the Perique. Or a burley followed by a English with a burley base and strong latakia component. Back to back bowls are the way to go.

I could never understand the difference in cigar wrapper flavors until I started smoking different types of cigars back to back. Then you really see the contrast in sweet and spicy, e.g.

-Andrew
 

wharfrathoss

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don't know how long you've been piping for, but i couldn't taste much when i 1st started. because of that, i stayed w/mostly english blends. smoking cigars & cigs also seems like it confuses your taste buds. now that i've smoked a pipe for a little while, i can taste a lot more. VA's for example, used to taste bland & boring. now i find them tangy, sweet & full of flavor.

if you want to learn what the different types of tobac taste like, i'd suggest buying some blending tobacco. McC's & C&D have 'em tinned, your local B&M may have 'em too. get some latakia, perique, turkish, VA (McC's 5100, SG best brown flake or FVF), & burley (MacB's golden xtra, 5 Bros). tasting them by themselves may help you pick them out in blends. word of warning on the perique, just try a little bit!)

if over time (a year or so) you still have problems tasting flavors, you might just have to stick w/heavier tobacs. only way to know for sure is to experiment, hell, that's 12 the fun anyhow!
 

JJPHOTO

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Okay, someone help me pick Arcadia apart for me since I just finished an outstanding bowl of it.

The very first couple of puffs my impression was that it was sweet (which went away soon). What's showing up to the party here to do that? VA?

Midway it gets wonderfully spicy and almost has a sour tang to it. Is that oriental or latakia?

Also about 2/3 of the way through I get a couple of puffs that have the slightest bourbon aftertaste to it. Outstanding! But why?

If you can't seem to find Arcadia anywhere it's because I'm buying it all and stashing it away! :twisted:
 

Stefanos

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JJPHOTO":bfbkv3fp said:
Okay, someone help me pick Arcadia apart for me since I just finished an outstanding bowl of it.

The very first couple of puffs my impression was that it was sweet (which went away soon). What's showing up to the party here to do that? VA?

Midway it gets wonderfully spicy and almost has a sour tang to it. Is that oriental or latakia?
I haven't had Arcadia but the sour taste on the back of the tongue is Oriental. I love a bit of it mixed with VA.
 

JJPHOTO

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Thank you Stefanos - I really, really enjoyed that part of the smoke, so I guess I love orientals.
 

Sasquatch

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Well, here's a quick amateur breakdown on Arcadia, followed by a couple of suggestions for you, JJ.

Initial sweetness you detect is Virginia, possibly coupled with a very light topping of some kind. It does fade out or give way to other flavors later on, or possibly develop into a more formidable flavor later on. Mac Baren Va #1 is like this for me. The start of a bowl is very honey sweet, and as I keep puffing, it builds in character into a more robust kind of tobacco flavor.

That funny sour tang is the oriental component, and I think it's more noticeable in Arcadia than in some other blends because I find McClelland virginias ALMOST offer that same kind of tang some times. It certainly isn't the latakia because latakia is neither spicey nor tangy. It's very smooth, silky, and smokey.

I haven't noticed a bourbon'y aftertaste in Arcadia, but it certainly has a sweet/spicey note that I can see heading in that direction, particularly if there's a bit of latakia in it (and I don't know if there is).

I reviewed Arcadia on tobaccoreviews and gave it a decent rating, but in all honesty, I think that both Presbyterian Mixture and Rattray's Red Rapparee are better smoking experiences in that oriental/virginia(maybe latakia maybe not) category. Presbyterian is the benchmark for me, and instead of drifting into that sharp/tangy place, it drifts into a plummy, plush, leathery place, and I like that better. Your mileage may vary.

FWIW, we all taste tobacco differently, which is why certain blends persist (and are purchased) even though some of us cannot stand them. I think Mac Baren Club is the best tobacco in the whole world, and nobody else seems to like it overmuch.

C'est la vie.

Happy puffing.
 

JJPHOTO

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Many thanks Sasquatch... Presbyterian is on my wish list so I'll have it soon I hope!
 

SailorJack

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I've never been one to over-analyze tobacco blends. I obviously know that I inherently like certain tobaccos mainly Virginias for me but I just reduce it down to how much enjoyment I get from the blend. I've had blends with Perique that I enjoy and many that I don't like at all. It all comes down to the master blenders expertise and their application and processing of the tobacco.

Don't think too much, just sit back and enjoy!!
 

alfredo_buscatti

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A lot of good observations and suggestions in the above replies.

If I remember correctly, you've only been smoking the pipe for a short while. That triggers memories of Yarnie, a senior member who has been inactive for quite some time, urging me to write reviews after I'd only been smoking for six mos. I told him in your dreams. But at the 2 or 3 year mark I did start reviewing, What I'm saying is that in the beginning your palate needs repeated exposure to different tobaccos. Only in this way will it develop and give your taster the acuity you seek.

In short, at the beginning, I think what you're tasting-chaos-is normal.
 
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