Sunday, October 28, 2007

Review of Mac Baren's Virginia No. 1

I smoke virginia flake tobaccos almost exclusively. Since I can only buy the good stuff in Halifax, which is 7 hours away from Northern New Brunswick, I am occasionally forced to choose between doing without (never!) and dabbling in the locally available brands of tobak. I was initially pleased that there was a VA blend to be found in Edmunston. However, after getting the stuff home and smoking it, I was less than thrilled.

Virginia tobaccos are naturally sweet. More sugar makes tobacco burn hotter, and thus virginias are more apt to bite the tongue than any other blend. Also, they burn cooler when pressed into flakes (strips of tobacco that look like beef jerky), which is what most manufacturers do with their VA blends. Mac Baren should know this--they've been making pipe tobacco for decades now. But, for whatever reason, they have seen fit to soak Virginia No. 1 in a cloying, hot-burning, honey-flavoured casing, utterly ruining what at first glance looks to be high quality, tasty leaf. Fucking Danes and their candy-weed. They also chop it up into itty-bitty pieces, so it burns even hotter.

Needless to say, one bowl of this stuff will blister you so badly you'll think you smoked a cigarette with the lit end in your mouth. The molten sugar in the smoke sticks to your tongue like napalm, too. I've never been burned like this by a 'backy before.

UPDATE: Cooking this stuff in the stove for a while (20-30 minutes or so at 150 degrees) and then rehydrating it seems to take some of the sting out of it, but it's a pain in the ass for a smoking experience that's at the low end of mediocre.

I wish I had four hands, so I could give Mac Baren's Virginia No. 1 four thumbs down.


Glenn said...

I like reading your pipe tobacco reviews even though I don't know anything about pipe tobacco and also I don't plan on smoking it ever. Well, at least that says something about your skill as a reviewer.

Lucky 13 said...

I think every man should try smoking a pipe. It's the ultimate combination of meditation and indulgence, using one of humanity's classical tools and a most venerable, gentle plant.

The difference between smoking a pipe and a cigarette is sort of like the difference between burning opium in a dish after a meal for conversational ambience and sitting in a bathroom stall shooting smack into your arm.

Lucky 13 said...

And thank you for the compliment.