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Jim's Three Nuns Reviews.

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JimInks

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Occasionally, I am asked about Three Nuns, so I decided to rewrite my review, which is fairly long. I detail the three versions I have smoked, and compare them in this review. The Yellow and Green Three Nuns blends, which are later manufactures, and are using the Three Nuns name on the label are not part of this discussion. They are separate productions.

This first paragraph contains my review of the VaPer Three Nuns, which was in continuous production until the end of 2003. I smoked around a 130-150 pounds of the several versions (WW2, the 1980s through 2003) of this particular mixture, and while the 1990s and later manufactures had a tad less perique, this review is meant to describe the experiences I was most familiar with: The fermented Virginias provided a lot of rather tart and very tangy citrus, some tangy ripe dark fruit, wood and earth, a little grass and bread with a few light sour, floral, acidic, sugar notes. They took a small lead in the proceedings. The tingly perique was very spicy, earthy, with an abundance of stewed raisins, plums, figs and dates as a strong supporting player. The perique was about 18% of the mix, and played a little above that percentage in terms of effect. The woody, earthy, sweet, floral, herbal, vegetative, slightly nutty, mildly spicy Brazilian lights were just above being condiments. The very mild prune, rum and anise toppings lightly sublimated the tobaccos. The strength and taste levels were a step past the medium level. The nic-hit was medium. Wouldn’t bite, but sported a few small rough edges. The coin cut was loose enough that you could easily rub it out or stack them without getting a tight draw. Had just a little loose cut in the tin, too. Well balanced and very complex, it burned cool, clean and slightly slow with a very consistent, deeply rich sweet and spicy, lightly savory flavor that translated to the pleasantly lingering after taste and stronger room note. Despite its strength, it could almost be an all day smoke for the very experienced smoker. Four stars for this version.

This second paragraph is my review of the Orlik Va/Kentucky version (2004-2013), of which I smoked a couple of pounds: The Virginias offered semi-sweet tart and tangy citrus with slight sour, floral, acidic, and bread notes, a little grass and tangy ripe dark fruit, some earth, wood and few grains of sugar as the lead components. The woody, earthy, floral, mildly spicy, slightly nutty, slightly sweet Kentucky was a supporting player. The amount of Kentucky in the coins varied at times, but it usually ended up being around 18% of the blend. The woody, earthy, sweet, floral, herbal, vegetative, slightly nutty, mildly spicy Brazilian lights were condiments. The very mild prune, rum and anise toppings didn’t sublimate the tobaccos much, and seemed to be a tad less obvious than in the VaPer version. The strength and taste levels were medium. The nic-hit was a couple of steps past the center of mild to medium. Wouldn’t bite, but had a hint of a rough edge. The coin cut was loose enough that you could easily rub it out or stack them without getting a tight draw. Had just a little loose cut in the tin, too. Well balanced and mildly complex, it burned cool, clean and slightly slow with a very consistent, moderately rich sweet and spicy, slightly savory and sour flavor that translated the pleasantly lingering after taste and lightly stronger room note. It could be an all day smoke for the experienced smoker. Three stars for this version.

Mac Baren licensed the rights to manufacture Three Nuns in 2013. They used the Orlik VaKy formulation instead of the VaPer due to legal reasons. This review is for the current Mac Baren version:

The light and dark Virginias provide a burst of tart and tangy, acidic citrus and grass, some wood and earth, a little tangy dark fruit and honey with hints of bread and floralness, and light sugar. They are more team players than they are the lead components. Giving them stiff competition and occasionally taking the lead is the very spicy, earthy, woody, rather floral, herbal, lightly nutty sweet, vegetative, dry and mildly sour dark fired Kentucky. The woody, earthy, sweet, floral, herbal, vegetative, nutty, mildly spicy Brazilian lights are barely condiments. The strength is medium, while the taste is a step past the mark. The nic-hit is a step short of the medium mark. Won’t bite or get harsh, but it does sport a few rough edges. The coins are inconsistent in size and shape, and the amounts of the varietals varies a bit in each one. Between that and the loose cut tobacco, the aforementioned aspects leads to some inconsistency in the overall sweet and spicy, acidic, mildly sour, lightly savory flavor. Burns clean, moderately cool, and a tad slow. Leaves little dampness in the bowl and requires a few more than an average number of relights. The after taste reflects the overall taste as it and the lightly stronger room notes pleasantly linger. Not an all day smoke but it is repeatable. Three stars.

Comparisons: the VaPer versions was tangier and more fermented than all other productions, and much spicier than the Orlik VaKy, which sported a very small amount of it. The spice in Mac Baren’s TN is almost as potent as the VaPer TN, but it’s a different spice. The perique had much more fruit than the other non-perique, which made the VaPer much sweeter than Orlik’s TN and a step sweeter than what Mac Baren makes. There’s more acidity in both VaKy blends than there was the VaPer TN. The Brazilian Lights are less prominent in Mac Baren’s than the others, which essentially equal each other in that respect. This is primarily because the dark fired Kentucky Mac Baren uses over powers them. In fact, the DFK has a stronger presence than the perique does in the older TN as well, which wrecks the flavor balance in the Mac Baren TN, and in comparison to the other better balanced productions. The VaPer was deeper and richer in flavor than what has followed. Mac Baren’s TN has the same strength and taste level as the VaPer, and both had more of each than the Orlik TN. The VaPer and Orlik’s were a little less sour than Mac Baren’s, and the VaPer was a little less so than what Orlik made.

The coin cut and amount of loose cut in the VaPer and Orlik VaKy were the same, except the VaPer tended to be more consistent in the distribution of tobaccos in each coin. The Mac Baren coins are bigger and more loosely held together with more loose cut tobacco in the tin. The Kentucky is generally more spread out in the coin rather than centered as in previous manufactures. Also, the toppings are much less obvious in the Mac Baren TN, and it has more honey than the others ever did. Essentially, Three Nuns has gone from the original Bell's blend to being a full fledged Mac Baren product that uses the VaKy Orlik recipe with their own tobaccos.
 

ftrplt

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Jim, what a super review!!! I smoked the original VaPer TNs way back when! I'll confess I didn't know it had Perique in it!!! I just knew it was a fine Ginnyweed!! Your analysis of the current MacB version caused me to dig thru ye olde 'baccy cellar. Lo and behold I did have one tin of the MacB version from Mar 2013! Just may have to pop it open later this spring and check it out!! Thank you again for such a thorough, well-written analysis!! :cheers: FTRPLT
 

JimInks

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ftrplt":ovkc3ipr said:
Jim, what a super review!!! I smoked the original VaPer TNs way back when! I'll confess I didn't know it had Perique in it!!! I just knew it was a fine Ginnyweed!! Your analysis of the current MacB version caused me to dig thru ye olde 'baccy cellar.  Lo and behold I did have one tin of the MacB version from Mar 2013! Just may have to pop it open later this spring and check it out!! Thank you again for such a thorough, well-written analysis!! :cheers: FTRPLT
Thanks. It was a lot of work, but I felt it needed to be done as I've been asked about it quite a lot over the last few years. I didn't like the review I had for it, so I dumped it and started over to reflect my current standard of reviewing, and to note the history of the blend from my experience.
 

eggman

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Great job. It's an excellent review. I smoked a couple of tins back in the early 2000s. I'm not 100% sure version it was, but from what I remember, it was great. I have picked up a couple of tins in the last year or so. I'm sitting on them now, just letting the flavors mingle.

Jim, I always enjoy your reviews.
 

JimInks

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eggman":bm0x9vyx said:
Great job. It's an excellent review. I smoked a couple of tins back in the early 2000s. I'm not 100% sure version it was, but from what I remember, it was great. I have picked up a couple of tins in the last year or so. I'm sitting on them now, just letting the flavors mingle.

Jim, I always enjoy your reviews.
Thank you for the compliment.
 
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