C&D Old College 11Aug2006 3stars
This is a funny tobacco. I'm not quite certain what I expected from the sample that I had, but I think that I was hoping for a singular latakia moment, for the latakia to overwhelm me. The pouch presence was unremarkable, shades of blacks and browns. I could not detect that characteristic twinge of the nose, like from a John Cotton. "Old college" spoke to me of undergraduate days when my professors preferred BSWHite or Constantinople, and the air in the classroom resembled a Turkish train station. Here, latakia didn't push the limits. The sensation was more of a well-balanced medium strength blend, perhaps suggesting even an all-day smoke. The latakia and virginias were present and obvious, while the burleys provided a smooth under-base and the cavendish offset any bitterness. All-in-all, a very serviceable American latakia blend, w/o bite and a clean burn to the bottom of the pipe.
Middleton Prince Albert 28Jan2007 4stars
Prince Albert is another one of the classic American burley-based blends, largely unchanged since its original formulation. The crimp-cut was intended for either cigarettes or pipe smoking. There's nothing in this blend but burleys; that's it. Today, since the Middleton Company took over the blending and sales, there has been some variations with flavoring, including a vanilla overcase and a brief attempt at menthol, but if you get the red can or the red pouch, then it's pretty close to what I smoked in the mid-1960s. This is a hard tobacco to objectively review: you either like it or hate it. I like it, because the flavor is the flavor of real tobacco, w/o casing and condimental tobaccos. I'm sure there's propylene glycol as a humictant, but PG burns off quickly WITH NO AFTERTASTE. PA: Best when fresh. Better in a pocket tin than in the pouch. PA can grow on you, in a mid size billiard on a cold morning sipping coffee before fishing or hunting, there's little better to smoke. It packs easily, lights quickly and after the initial bitterness, can settle into a pleasant smoke. It always seems to burn to a fine gray ash for me, w/o a lot of moisture. The room aroma can be bitter if you were expecting something other than tobacco. I have dedicated pipes for PA and H&H only, to preserve the quality of the smoking. But, I wouldn't recommend it to relatively new smokers.
Update: Since my first review of this blend, I hope that getting older has made me wiser. I have had the opportunity to smoke more PA than any other "Over-The-Counter" (OTC) blend. The term, "OTC" is so much more evocative of the tobacco's true nature of its ready availability than calling it a "drug-store" blend. In any case, despite sometimes being a little too moist in the plastic tub, and I only buy the tub since the pop-top pocket tin seems no longer to be available, PA is a genuinely fine all-day smoke. I no longer smoke Half and Half, because I cannot abide the industrial chemical taste. So many of my other OTC favorites are either disappearing or have become transmuted by their current marketers (to call them blenders insults every real blender). PA has risen to the top of the list as a steady, dependable burley based blend, cool and fragrant, easy on the tongue and respectful when smoked through the day. This blend is not great art, nor was it intended to be. But, PA lends a constancy to pipesmoking, w/o pretension or posturing. PA may be the best OTC blend on the market today. I alter my review to four stars.
Uhle Perfection Plug Burley 1Feb2007 4stars
Funny thing, this burley. I've been on a burley odyssey for over 40 years, like in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, wandering w/ purpose, but w/o specific direction. I thought that I had tried every burley and burley-based blend around. Discount the offerings of the legendary Tinder Box, which usually are Lane renames and, IMHO, mundane. But, occasionally the Uhle's name would crop up positively on the 'Net. So, I scanned the site and order the Perfection cut plug; I'm also a sucker for real cut plugs, and rough cuts. The two large poly-bags arrived and the testing pipes were lined up, lightly reamed and cleaned, ready for filling. About 10 bowls into the testing, and I was impressed. This was a really tasty burley, w/ oatmeal and coffee aromas, and light on the tongue. This blend smells like real tobacco. Fortunately, Uhle's also sent a few generous samples of their #300, #255, and the crushed white burley for comparison. And, I was hooked. The best of these very fine tobaccos was the Perfection cut plug. While I would have preferred a little more cigar note, there is no complaint. The chunky blend smokes quietly and effortlessly in my Custombilts and Petes, although the cut of the tobacco seems to favor the larger bowls. Burns to a clean gray/white ash, no wet dottle and light on the tongue. Uhle's has been placed on the shelf by my chair w/ the few other burley favorites. Reaching for any of them is effortless and very pleasant.
Pinkerton Half and Half 1May2007 4stars
A few points to add to the excellent review by "Hink" of a true American tobacco. Pinkerton has done a great job in maintaining one of the classic American tobaccos, some of the others being Prince Albert, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Edgeworth RRd. When H&H was an American Tobacco product, the burley was a little thicker cut, but basically, the aroma and the burn are the same. Nothing here but Kentucky and Tennessee burleys and virginia bright flake. Funny but I always found that this tobacco favored a larger billiard bowl, and would always smoke clean to the bottom, with a fragrant white-gray ash and very little moisture. It also has one of the most distinctive room fragrances that I ever encountered. It is still my "go to" tobacco if I'm traveling and run out of my normal smoke. The only complaint that I ever had was that if H&H was dry, it wouldn't rehydrate and that it would only re-blend with Paladin Black Cherry (3 parts H&H to 1 part PBC, evens out the PBC). I do prefer the can to the pouch, because the first cut from the can gives out some of the best fragrances of tobacco, especially like that of baking bread and autumn leaves. It may not be the best smoke to start a pipesmoking career, because it can be a little stout for a new smoker. Highly recommended as a change of pace smoke for the aromatically inclined, to taste what tobacco is really like.
I'm recanting my earlier heresy; this is a 4star tobacco. After finishing my second full can of H&H, I'm convinced that H&H may be, w/ PA, the best "go-to" tobaccos on the market. Acrid smoke, unique taste, never bites...Pinkerton, I'm sorry that I doubted your abilities. I will not mock the nay-sayers. I will only say that these blends bring it home for me, w/o pretension or guile.
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