Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tobacco Review: McCranie's Red Flake

This is my first foray into any of the McCranie's tobacco although I have always heard great things both about the tobacco and the shoppe. As I understand it, McClelland processes and tins all the house blends of McCranie's Tobacco after McCranie's acquired a quanity of the 1983 Red Virginia crop which was a particularly good year. This 1983 crop was processed into McCranie's Red Ribbon and McCranie's Red Flake. The 1983 crop is all gone and currently this tobacco consists of a 1996 North Carolina crop.

Manufacturer's Description:

A beautifully aged Red Virginia like no other. Brimming with rich, mellow flavor as only nature can provide. A special allotment of prime 1996 crop North Carolina leaf has been secured for our discriminating pipe smokers. The softest, most enjoyable straight red Virginia we've ever smoked. With a light vacuum seal, the tobacco will continue to mellow with age. MSR: $7.95 50 gm tin.

This tobacco is a beautiful reddish brown with lighter mottling and cut into a moist broken flake. I was afraid of the McClelland 'ketchup' but I can smell no trace of it. Instead, I get a rich sour with a hint of vinegar. The Red Flake packs easily and burns well (one match for the whole bowl) into a light gray ash. The smoke is medium-bodied and smooth with no trace of spice or sweetness - in fact it is almost bland. The room note is light and pleasant and is a good all-day smoke.

Perhaps this is completely psychological, but this blend reminds me of red velvet cake - not in flavor but in texture. The smoke is smooth and creamy but simple and lacking complexity. Still, this is a great everyday flake that is perfect for enjoying around others where contemplation is not possible. If you enjoy McClelland 5100 then you will love this as it is much softer, drier, and cleaner. However, if you enjoy a lively or complex smoking experience then you will probably find Red Flake boring.

Rating: 3 Puffs out of 5

-Safari Bob

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