MCCLELLAND BLACKWOODS FLAKE
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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