At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, August 04, 2008


If you liked aged pressed Virginias like Rattray's Old Gowrie or Marlin Flake, you may also like McClelland's Blackwoods Flake. But it needs to be smoked on it's own merit, or not at all.

The tin aroma is strongly sour, as of acetic acid. In part this is due to the manufacturers' habit of using what I believe to be malt vinegar as a mold retardant, in part due to a strong fermentation. The streaky flakes need to be aired before use, and it helps if one dries them to the point of crumble, rehumidifying the tin with a drop or two of whiskey if necessary.

[UPDATE OCTOBER 27, 2015: McClelland does not use vinegar in any way -- won't mention which competitor furthered that rumour -- however the aging conditions are such that that exact odour gets created. Warmth, moisture, minor pressure, and the naturally occurring microflora & fauna of Kansas City combine. I have duplicated it in San Francisco.]

It tastes better than it initially smells, though, and has a good sweetness.
This is a very pleasant Virginia, especially compared to the tongue-burn memories of some of the cheap flakes that once were so common. While not particularly strong in taste, there are hints and suggestions in the smoke that are very nice, and there is a spiciness that comes into its own about halfway into the bowl. Like all flakes it must be smoked very slowly; not doing so will leave the tongue feeling raw and swollen.

The reason it does not give a very strong taste despite the evident care and judgment expended upon the production is that it not only contains dark Virginia, which because of stoving has a narrow flavour spectrum, but it has been pressed and aged further after blending, thus mellowing out the flavours - and given that it is composed of only two tobaccos (red and black Virginias), what one gets is a splendid example of its type, but not any extraordinary complexity.

The room note reminds people of something cake-like, or sometimes a plum-pudding. A few others might smell incense.

I have some tins of this tobacco set aside - not for daily smoking, but as a pleasant change of pace from the tarty blondes with which I normally flirt when I wish a break from Orientals. It has charm as a last smoke at night, when a certain person is deep in the arms of Morpheus, and the building is dark and quiet. Perfect during rainstorms.

Fully rubbed this is also a good blending base when compounding an old-fashioned Scotch Balkan; one can overload the Turkish, more so than with pale ribbons. There is a passage in Boswell's account of a trip to the highlands with Doctor Johnson, in which the energetic sexuality of Celts is mentioned with a mixture of admiration and distaste. That, precisely, is the appeal of aged flake in Scotch blends.


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  • At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How you keep getting sexuality into tobacco is beyond me.

    Do you rub yourself with the stuff when we're not looking?

  • At 10:56 AM, Anonymous chastly amphibious said…

    I certainly wouldn't want to be looking.

  • At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Cult of the sacred WOMBAT! said…

    What?!? You rub yourself with wombat? Disgusting!

  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do you rub yourself with the stuff when we're not looking?

    No no, you misunderstand - he rubs little Japanese schoolgirls with the stuff. Rub rub rub. It is potent sympathetic magic.

    And fun to do.

    ---Grant Patel

  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey!!! Cult of the wombat, no fair using his own dammed link as your home page!

    You religious types are all alike - stealing other people's ideas and copying each other's best ideological bits.


    ---Grant Patel

  • At 11:55 AM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Is there a tobacco with a whiff redolent of beaver?

  • At 12:03 PM, Anonymous the naked gun said…

    Lt. Frank Drebin: Nice beaver!
    Jane, Dr. Papshmir's secretary: Thank you. I just had it stuffed.

  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Spiros, please ellucidiate - what do beavers redolently whiff like to you?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    As does Osaka-san.

  • At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Who is Osaka san? And why is she not part of the inquiring minds group?

    Or is there a ven diagram I do not know of?


  • At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    will leave the tongue feeling raw and swollen

    This excited me no end.


  • At 6:37 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…

    Sounds god, tho I'm not a big virginia fan. Get me some Cavendih.
    I think I need one more tin.

  • At 11:02 PM, Anonymous the dude said…

    Ah, nice marmot.

  • At 11:05 PM, Anonymous walter sobchak said…

    Also, let's not forget, let's not forget: keeping an amphibious rodent for purposes of...that ain't legal, either.

  • At 12:17 AM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Sounds God to me, too.
    We are talking about the sound of tobacco, aren't we?

  • At 10:19 AM, Anonymous amphibious rodent said…

    I also like beavers.

  • At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Kastor Dioskouros said…

    Beavers are great, beavers are grand. Beavers are, as everyone acknowledges, the founders of all civilizations.

    Troy? Beavers.

    Atlantis? They should have paid the beavers.

    America? Beavers by the score. Beavers by the crore. More beavers, more and more.

    And, for the truly inquiring, beavers should not be eaten, but gently petted, stroked, and even oiled. If you fondle your beaver, it will fondle you. Imagine your beaver smoothly glistening with lotion; it will positively smile at you.
    Beavers don't bite. And some are incredibly hungry. Stuff your beaver today!

    Beaver, beaver, beaver, hey!
    Beaver, beaver, beaver, hey!
    Beaver, beaver, beaver, hey!
    Beaver, beaver, beaver, hey!

  • At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Dioskorides said…

    Most beavers, as is well known, prefer springy young woods.

    Just thought you should know this.

  • At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Regarding the last two comments, one might suspect that beavers are Jesus, one might.

    Praise the load they aren't wombats.

    ---Grant Patel

  • At 12:06 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Why Jesus?

  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh wombat your Jesus! You sound like a redneck!

    Now, if you were talking about schoolgirls....

    ---Grant Patel

  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Or penguins showing pantsu....

    ---Grant Patel

  • At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Do any schoolgirls smoke pipes? Or are they strictly cigar afficionadoes?

    ---Grant Patel

  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Far too few schoolgirls smoke pipes. They'd be more interesting if they did.


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