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.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BLAKENEY'S BEST

Back in 2005 or 2006 McClelland Tobacco of Kansas City brought out a line that they claimed did not bite because it was toasted. Which, in tobacco terms, means that heat was applied to create a specific profile rather than to just unify the flavours. Usually this is done to mixtures with a heavy burley component, especially straight air-cured leaf. But it also works well with flue-cured tobacco ('Virginias'), though a finer touch is required.

McClelland, as a company that has been producing high-quality Virginia leaf cocktails for decades, is more likely to know what they're doing in this regard than some others.

They produced four blends under the 'Blakeney's Best' label.

I have NO idea who Blakeney is, or may have been. Probably a totally fictional individual, like Mrs. Butterworth or the Michelin guy. Don't care.
I am suspicious of blatant attempts at branding, or creating secondary lines to capitalize on the same clientele as is already slavishly hooked by everything else one sells.
It strikes me as unnecessarily frogmortonish.


BLAKENEY'S BEST

Not as good as it should be. That said, the line isn’t bad by any means, and I’m quite sure that there are some sour old fruits out there that swear that this stuff is better than their mother’s titty.
Verily, the second coming of the tobacco messiah.
Freaks.


Blakeney's Best Acadian Ribbon
McClelland Tobacco Company

"The best sweet, tangy matured Virginias melded with subtle, cool Perique in an easy-to-pack, rich ribbon blend smoothed by the Blakeney exclusive toasting process."

Okay then. What is so exclusive about the toasting process? If you like Perique (and I do), this could very well be a daily smoke, especially if you're charmed by old-fashioned products. Too moist and needs drying, and if you give it a day or two the ketchup funque will indeed dissipate. It isn't particularly strong, and it doesn't bite unless overheated. Puffs well, and comes across as a sweet little girl - unperfumed, but with a latent talent for harlotry.

It's good. But it will be a while before I buy another tin.


Blakeney's Best Bayou Slice
McClelland Tobacco Company

"Sophisticated small slices of the smoothest Louisiana Perique aged in cakes to mellow with sweet, zesty matured Virginia - rich and satisfying, with Perique's uniquely mysterious and compelling aroma. The best little Perique Virginia slices, rich in flavor and deeply aromatic, smoothed by Blakeney's exclusive toasting process."

Good lord, what the holy handgrenades does all that mean? And why does it say the same thing twice? The tobacco in this tin is far better than the description on the label, and not nearly so pretentious. As flakes go, this is pretty darn good. Depth, presence, and well-balanced.

I think I will indeed purchase another tin, thank you very much.


Blakeney's Best Latakia Flake
McClelland Tobacco Company

"A distinctive full English mixture in the grand tradition, rich with smoky Cyprian Latakia, fragrant with exotic Xanthi Yaka. Toasted for smoothness, then pressed in cakes to age and marry the flavors. Exceptionally smooth, cool-smoking, full-flavored little Levantine flakes ready to rub out."

For those smokers who have obsessed over the late Bengal Slices, this is another worthwhile stop on the way to pressed English heaven.

I stopped obsessing over Bengal Slices years ago.

My problem with pressed Virginia & Latakia mixtures is that they're just too damned mellow, verging on boringly bland. This one is no different. But it is a high quality product, and if I had ONLY pressed Englishmen to jam in my pipe, I would probably pick this over some other pressed twats.
If you like Balkan Flakes, you will probably like this. You might really want to smoke it a lot more.

Pressing does actually mellow the Latakia very nicely, and makes it go further in a blend. But much more as a character actor in a well-trained ensemble, than as the prima donna some of us love.

The room note, however, is delightful.


Blakeney's Best Tawny Flake
McClelland Tobacco Company

"Little elegant flue-cured Virginia flakes, redolent with sun-dappled sweetness, and pleasantly tangy."

The term caramel comes to mind. This is a perfect product for an all-day Virginia smoker, being possessed of that typical straight Virginia prunescent tanginess. Thick medium brown mottled slices. Could be darker in both taste and appearance, but I suspect that this hits the target for a number of people. Smoked slowly, it's very good. And it has a pleasantly old-fashioned fragrance.
I find it boring late at night. Which is when I'm most likely to smoke a flake.

When Spring comes I'll buy another tin, to enjoy on sunny days.


AFTERWORD

All in all, the Blakeney's Best line is a worthwhile venture. It differs enough from McClelland's other lines that the marketing genius cynicism behind the name is un-objectionable, and in fact justified. Creating a different image to set it apart in the consumer's mind, and to present all four as a suite, makes plenty of sense.
In some ways I find myself quite charmed by these four tobaccos.




TOBACCO INDEX


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