Tweaking your "Meh" blends

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Brunello

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Some pipers are put off by actual blending, but tweaking is an easy an affordable way to salvage some otherwise "meh" blends. Often you can just use what you already have on hand. Now it's true that some blends stubbornly resist efforts to tweak, especially those that are already starting with some noticeable flaws. I suggest leaving alone those blends you outright dislike and see no path to redemption. I'm talking about blends that don't have anything wrong with them except they just need a little redirection to making them a bit stronger or a bit milder or more in line with a flavor profile that you enjoy.

Case in point would be Count Pulaski, which two members recently described as 'meh.' Not to worry, this one, along with Lancer's Slices and Voodoo Queen, is very easily tweaked to take on different flavor profiles. I use a cheap ten dollar digital weight from Amazon, but you can just eyeball it and get pretty close. Here are a few tweaks I've used with Count Pulaski:

For a nutty American-English style I use 7/8 Count Pulaski and 1/8 Edgeworth Ready Rub (I like the Sutliff for it's smooth nutty/molasses, but the Lane version is also good)

For a creamier, fuller texture I use 7/8 Count Pulaski and 1/8 Stokkebye Black Cavendish.

For a sweet and smoky treat I use 7/8 Count Pulaski and 1/8 mix of Stokkebye Latakia and BC.

Obviously the options are endless. You could use Prince Albert, or 1Q if you like a little cocoa undertone, or SWR or any of the codger blends.

My take on Count Pulaski: this is supposedly the bulk version of Sutliff's tinned Kasimir, both of which were rated 4 stars by Jim Inks and other well-known reviewers. For me, Kasimir was a true 4 star blend, one of my all-time favorites. Somehow the bulk version seems less rich, less full on the palate, both the rum and anise less evident, but still worthy of three stars.

Anyhoo, hope this gives you all some helpful ideas. :)
 

WTHall

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Interesting thread. About the only foray into blending for me was when I took some 'blending grade' perique and spiced up some Newminister Superior Rounds... rubbed out.
Gave the already decent blend a little more kick. Like the Superior Rounds, but sometimes it needs 'a little more.'
 

Brunello

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That's what I'm talking about! Sometimes it just takes a pinch of something to kick a bland blend into high gear!

I agree about the Newminster, nothing wrong with it but I just may try your idea and add a pinch of C&D Perique, see if that kicks it up a notch. (y)
 

RSteve

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I think tweaking is what got me started on just working on getting to a blend that always satisfies me. I had sufficient experience in tweaking and chucking, asking myself why I just hadn't left a mediocre blend alone, as I chucked a pound of tobacco into a freezer ziplock with a few packs of Job double-wides to drop off at a local tent city.
 

Ranger107

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Being part Scottish and thrifty to a fault, insert cheapskate here, I hate to toss out tobacco unless, as Brunello said, it's just beyond salvage with no redeeming quality at all. So I got some blending latakia, some straight virginia, and a pound each of smokers pride black cav and vanilla cav. If a tobac is just okay/meh or maybe has a few rough edges, I toss in whatever I think will improve it. Works most of the time, occasionally not, so if I can't salvage it I use it for plant fertilizer.
 

BriarPipeNYC

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To OP, et al:

Yep! The way to do it is to tweak it, and not to freak it. That of that "meh" blend as a work-in-progress. It could be changed very easily to a "much better" mixture ..with a few minor additions of specialized condimental tobaccos, or even by adding some small measure of another professional, well-balanced mixture. Dilute and smooth out the stronger, with additions of the weaker meh mixture, or reverse the starting point, starting with the meh.

To grow a some hair on your saddle horn, add some blending Latakia. Little amounts of L. can add a lot. Ditto...cigar-leaf. Cigar-leaf adds a lot to meh, without altering the flavor of the original, too much, and it also brings some creaminess and nuance to that boring, blah-blend.

One caveat: Mix your "experiments" by use a small volume measure if you haven't got a scale. I use an empty, amber, pill bottle, as my volume measure. For example: 1/2- bottle of this and a 1/3-bottle of that, added to 4-bottles of the meh blend. Use smaller measures to mix smaller amounts. Jot down the proportions so you can duplicate your triumphs, and not repeat your failures.

Rely on your instincts to mix up some customized concoction. But, do start with a blend that you can live with, add to it, and make it your own.

Good luck finding that happy place.
 

Brunello

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Even though I'm very methodical in exploring tobaccos, blends and tweaks, I value the input from others on the forum here because sometimes serendipity strikes from unexpected places. Case in point, I just posted in the WAYS thread about a blend called Benediction by BriarPipeNYC and how great it is. My own approach with a commercial blend that is kind of meh is to try adding singular component like Burley, Perique, dark-fired, or whatever i think will enhance the smoking experience. I rarely think to combine two existing commercial blends, as BriarPipe has done. Sometimes it is just blind luck that we stumble across something and it is good to share those successes here.

BriarPipeNYC's recipe is simple: half PS Luxury Bullseye Flake and half Wilke High Hat. I've had an 8-ounce jar of Bullseye languishing in my cupboard since 2016, so I'm happy to see it put to good use now. based on aroma alone the two blends have very different casing notes. so I wouldn't have thought of putting them together. But the synergy is beyond all expectation. I'm going to mix up a big batch and put it in a jar labelled Benediction for continued enjoyment, and I'm also going to try a small batch in my noodle press and see how it turns out as a crumble cake. In terms of ingredients I wouldn't think of adding anything else, these two work great together! :D
 

ftrplt

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I'm considerably more a "simpleton (i.e., danged uncomplicated!!) when "tweaking" a blend that's just not quite right! Any adjustments are made to my Latweed and/or Ginnyweed-based tobaccos. For this, I add appropriate amounts of Latweed to smooth out the blend, that's all!! I don't mess with my Burleys!! Works for me!! FTRPLT
 

RSteve

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Mix your "experiments" by use a small volume measure if you haven't got a scale. I use an empty, amber, pill bottle, as my volume measure. For example: 1/2- bottle of this and a 1/3-bottle of that, added to 4-bottles of the meh blend. Use smaller measures to mix smaller amounts. .
I have an excellent gram scale, but................I tend to experiment in large quantities, then press and age. I have found that commercial blends are often inconsistently mixed. I need to run my hands through any commercial mixture to be certain that the components are mixed throughout. And now, after over 50 years of screwing around trying to find my go to blend, I have it and probably will sell, trade, gift, or dump anything I won't smoke regularly.
 

ftrplt

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I should add that I have one large 'baccy jar into which I "dump" a blend that I just cannot abide no matter what!! It contains Burleys, Ginnyweeds, Latweeds, pure Latweed, some Perique; but no aromatics!! For instance, I bought 4 oz. of Old Joe Krantz...just could not smoke the stuff!! Into the mixing bowl it goes (like RSteve, I gotta' hand mix all this!!). Then once well-mixed, all goes back into the "big jar!" I let it sit for a week or so to let everything meld together!! Makes for a dang good smoking mixture if I do say so myself!! FTRPLT
 

BriarPipeNYC

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Even though I'm very methodical in exploring tobaccos, blends and tweaks, I value the input from others on the forum here because sometimes serendipity strikes from unexpected places. Case in point, I just posted in the WAYS thread about a blend called Benediction by BriarPipeNYC and how great it is. My own approach with a commercial blend that is kind of meh is to try adding singular component like Burley, Perique, dark-fired, or whatever i think will enhance the smoking experience. I rarely think to combine two existing commercial blends, as BriarPipe has done. Sometimes it is just blind luck that we stumble across something and it is good to share those successes here.

BriarPipeNYC's recipe is simple: half PS Luxury Bullseye Flake and half Wilke High Hat. I've had an 8-ounce jar of Bullseye languishing in my cupboard since 2016, so I'm happy to see it put to good use now. based on aroma alone the two blends have very different casing notes. so I wouldn't have thought of putting them together. But the synergy is beyond all expectation. I'm going to mix up a big batch and put it in a jar labelled Benediction for continued enjoyment, and I'm also going to try a small batch in my noodle press and see how it turns out as a crumble cake. In terms of ingredients I wouldn't think of adding anything else, these two work great together! :D
So thrilled and joyful that you decided to try "Benediction", a hybrid-blend that I mixed, totally on a whim. I'm happy I did...and happier with the results of my experiment by mixing two very different blends. It was pure luck.

Check you PM.
 

Brunello

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Here's another tweak using two "meh" blends to make something that is pretty good. I call this one "Bacchus." Maybe somebody out there like Country Squire already has something like this, but the idea here is that I took two basically undesirable blends and made something I can enjoy:

5/6 Sutliff Bacchanalia
1/6 Aylesbury Latakia Blend
3 drops Chambord liquor.

Once I discovered that the mild Latakia blend made Bacchanalia come to life, I was wondering what to do with a gifted bottle of Chambord, and thought that might give a taste of festive harvest-fresh wine, so I put a drop in the bottom of a small 4 oz. jam jar, another drop midway as I filled the jar, and one final drop on the top. Seal the jar and almost one year to date I opened the jar today, using both thumbs because the seal had really sealed tight. What a transformation! No, not four-star awesome, but a solid 3 stars from two blends and a liquor that I didn't even like!

I will have to remember this come summer time as the character is perhaps more appropriate for a warm summer evening sitting around the patio fire pit drinking Sangrias. Oh . . real men drink Sangria? Okay, maybe a good juicy Zinfandel! Ah, dreaming of it already, if they can have Christmas in July, I'll have some summertime in middle of a snowstorm! :cool:
 
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