Page 1 of 2

Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:51 pm
by Nomad
Anyone into making their own mixtures from the blending tobaccos that can be purchased? I got a selection of 25g bags ages ago, and never did anything with them.

I have: Latakia, Burley, Perique, Turkish and Bright Virginia. The first two were from jars in the local B&M, and the other three are Samuel Gawith (from Smoke King in the UK). I also have some Revor Plug that I'm unlikely to smoke on its own.

I'd be interested in something similar to a house blend that Smoke King used to do, called Steeplechase. This seemed to be an English, but not as lively as Nightcap, which I find can be a bit too tangy when exhaled through the nose. Steeplechase had some Black Cavendish in it, which I don't have, but perhaps the Revor Plug could work as a substitute.

Any suggestions for components and proportions to use as a starting point for this, and for other blends?

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:48 pm
by FightnHampsters
I have been interested in this as well. I assume that the mixing components would be available past the FDA deadlines and figured the only way to get something new would be to blend my own.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:41 pm
by Nomad
I'm in the UK and not very clued up on the FDA thing, but I seem to remember something about blends after a certain date being disallowed. Since these are de-facto not blends, I'm tempted to agree that they would still be available.

My Latakia and Burley were pretty dried out when I had a look at them around the time of my previous post, so I wetted some of those hydrator things and left them in the jars. Just had a look, and the moisture seems about right now, but I found some bits of mould on the Burley. I suspect that this is best avoided, so it'll probably go in the bin. The Latakia looks fine, however.

Anyway, I made up a blend of the following percentages...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Bright Va   50   5
Revor       20   2
Latakia     15   1.5
Turkish     10   1
Perique      5   0.5

10 grams in total, which should be fine for a few bowls.

Probably supposed to let it meld for a while, but I had a bowl anyway. Here are my somewhat uninformed impressions...

The component tobaccos mostly seem to have a rough ribbon cut, aside from the Revor Plug, which was rubbed out quite finely. The tin note surprised me a little in that the Va seemed to dominate, with a hint of the Latakia - nowhere near as strong smelling as Nightcap. Moisture seemed about right with a pinch test. I filled a small-to-medium straight apple (a Parker basket pipe which smokes quite well), and lit it with a match. The charring light went out almost immediately, and it took 2 or 3 more lights with the lighter to get it going. After that, it seemed to settle and only needed a couple more relights for the rest of the bowl.

I would say the flavour was a tad sharp - leaning towards the spicy end of things, and with a lack of mellowness or body that I was hoping the Revor might add. I found some notes made ages ago, where I had tried the Va on its own, and I had written "somewhat uneventful other than a sharpish taste in the mouth between puffs". That sharpish taste was still there, but evident during the puffs as well - not so much at the start, but becoming more noticeable as the bowl progressed. Interestingly, exhaling through the nose was okay - a passable snork compared to Nightcap.

The smoke was quite light but reasonably plentiful. The burn was pretty cool, especially considering I'm a puffer more than a sipper. I got a little bit of gurgle about a third of the way through, which a quick poke with a pipe cleaner sorted out. After that, it puffed away good style until the end of the bowl and left no dottle. Ash was light grey.

Vitamin N was evident. I smoke roll-ups (Golden Virginia), and perhaps don't experience a nic hit from a pipe as much as others might. Even so, there was a definite whack from the velvet hammer.

In conclusion, if this was a sample from a shop, I wouldn't buy a tin. The balance of flavours doesn't suit me - too much spiciness and not enough mellowness. To be fair, it was smoked moments after blending, so maybe things will improve with time. On the plus side, it burned well, and the nic hit was stronger than expected. Given my notes from the Va on its own, perhaps I should try a different Virginia. Similarly, maybe the Revor should be supplanted with Black Cavendish.

Not a bad start. I'll leave it for a while to see what happens with the addition of time.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:00 am
by Geo3rge
A great read and very interesting to see your efforts, results and thoughts about the process. I've tried home blending using original ingredients just once, though I'd like to do more of it. Some blends have been made by throwing remnants of tins and pouches together, but it's not scientific enough I feel! Tasted fine, just didn't know what was in there!
I'm sure that, given more trials and greater time in allowing blends to meld together, you might come up with some fascinating own blends.
I hope that you can continue. It's good to experiment and then reflect. I'm sure that members will be interested in your progress.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:21 am
by KevLa
Great work, Nomad. Sorry it didn't turn out to your liking, but you are doing it right; trial and error is all that's called for :)

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:16 pm
by Nomad
Thanks chaps. It's not too hard to be fairly methodical about it. I think the key things are to know the ingredients and proportions that go into a blend, and to keep notes of that and one's impressions of it. Might be worth describing my accoutrements...

The notes are kept in a spreadsheet, mainly because it can be used to calculate totals and percentages from the gram weights that I put in, and also because it lends itself to presenting the data in a tabulated form, which makes it easy to glance up and down to make comparisons. It's also easy to edit things neatly if I want to add another column later.

For storing the component tobaccos, I use small Kilner 250ml jars - the type with the two-part screw-on lid. The 250ml size easily holds 25g of ribbon cut, and could probably manage 50g if it was pressed down a bit.

The baccy is weighed using a small digital scale bought ages ago in Maplin, and I put it into a little plastic tub on the scale to avoid mess (subtract the weight of the tub with the tare button, then add the baccy). The scale resolves to 0.1g.

The mixture goes into a small plastic clip-lid storage box about the size of a 2oz tobacco tin. I find these pretty good for medium term storage because they seem pretty resistant to letting the baccy dry out. If I hit on a blend that I like and want to make in a larger quantity, it'll go into a Kilner jar.

I have a larger clip-lid box that I use for the actual mixing - one of those slimline ones that's the right size to fit a square sandwich. Might need to use something bigger if the quantity increases, but it's fine for the experiments.

At the moment, I'm aiming to make up samples of 10g, which is enough for a few bowls in the pipe I'm using (the aforementioned Parker 2nd). So far, I've bought the components in 25g pouches. For the condiment baccies, that's probably plenty given that they make up a small proportion. Once I get more settled on a blend, I'll probably buy the foundation baccies in larger quantities, but 25g pouches of those will be fine for now.

Anyway, I went to the B&M today, and got some Black Cavendish, some Scotch Cake (nearest they had to a basic Va), and something called Elizabethan, which apparently is mostly Burley with some Va. The Scotch Cake has the hay notes of Va (mostly flue cured, with some sun cured), more so than the Bright Va I used previously. So, I'm going to try another blend, replacing the Bright Va and Revor with Scotch Cake and Black Cav.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 12:30 am
by Nomad
Okay, blend No2...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake 50   5
Black Cav   20   2
Latakia     15   1.5
Turkish     10   1
Perique      5   0.5

Same proportions as blend No1, with Scotch Cake replacing the Bright Va, and Black Cavendish instead of Revor. No change to the others. That was supposed to add up to 10g, but for some reason, the final weight was 11.8g. This might have been due to how I was using the scales. Each component was weighed into the little plastic tub and then tipped into the blending box, but when I put the tub back on the scale, it didn't return to zero - it tended to read about 0.2g, at which point I hit the tare button and weighed out the next component. I either made a mess of reading one or more of the weights, or I need to change how I use the scales (probably switch off after each part, then tare the plastic tub each time). If it was inconsistency with the weighing, I suspect the later parts have a higher proportion than the table above indicates. (They were weighed out in the same order as shown.)

Anyway, dodgy weighing aside, here are my impressions of a bowl straight after blending...

The tin note leans towards an English. Not especially strong or pungent, but it's there. If anything, it strikes me as quite similar to Germain's SLF in that it's quite a grassy, earthy smell where the spicier components don't jump out at you. Smells like a nice, mellow, proper tobacco.

Roughish ribbon cut again, moisture about right, packed easily into the same pipe, and pretty much proceeded the same as before, perhaps with a couple more relights as I got through the bowl. Cool burn again, no dottle, but ash tending more towards a darker grey this time.

Certainly a more pleasant smoke than blend No1. The spicy components weren't particularly obvious at first, but came to the fore as the bowl went down. Predominantly spicy in the last third, to the extent that I was having thoughts of adjusting the condiments (maybe remove the Perique to see what happens). The smoke was again quite light, but less plentiful. One tiny hint of gurgle (well, a feeling of blocking up a little when drawing) at about a third of the way down, fixed again with a pipe cleaner, and it smoked dry for the rest of the bowl. Snork was similar, or maybe a bit more understated for the most part, apart from occasional moments when it was quite sharp (reminded me of Nightcap at those points).

Nicotine hit was far less noticeable than previously. There's a bit, but it's no velvet hammer. Or, perhaps I wasn't so susceptible to a nic hit this time.

Overall, blend No2 was a more satisfying smoke, if maybe a bit spicy in the latter stages. Unlike blend No1, I keep opening the box to have a sniff, and I'm looking forward to seeing what I think of the next bowl. I think I'd like to try and shift the balance such that it's a bit less spicy in the last third of the bowl. I might try removing the Perique, and maybe shift the foundation tobaccos more towards the Black Cavendish.

I think the most significant thing to be taken from this blend is that I feel that I want to give it another try to see if my first impressions are repeated. I didn't feel like that at all with blend No1 - that blend's only chance for redemption is some sort of magic happening in the meld (which I doubt - I suspect the Bright Va is something that I don't like, and I can't see the other components changing its character enough). By contrast, blend No2 was passable right after mixing. So, an improvement, and going in the right direction.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:26 pm
by Geo3rge
Very interesting reading. You are certainly methodical in your approach. Rob Kimberley of UKPTC (Facebook) does the same and has all his 'recipes' on spreadsheets. Good idea here.
Another thought is to set aside a portion of each blend and let it mature over time then smoke it. Chances are that the ingredients will have settled with one another and the smoke may well be fuller and more mellow? A thought.
Great to read of your adventures here.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:00 pm
by Nomad
Yes, I'll be leaving them to settle and meld for a while, although I should probably leave that until I get to a blend or two that seems promising and make up a larger batch for storing in Kilner jars. The small batches I'm making at the moment mean there's quite a lot of air in the plastic boxes. I think I'm looking for blends that show some promise right away.

I smoked a couple more bowls of blend No2, and they were pretty similar to the first. I think I quite like that one - comes across as a typical English, and it did remind me a bit of the Smoke King Steeplechase that I had ages ago (ie, a bit like Nightcap, but less sharp on the snork).

This evening, I made blend No3, which is as follows...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake 30   3
Black Cav   40   4
Latakia     15   1.5
Turkish     15   1.5

The foundation tobaccos are now biased towards the Cavendish, and the Turkish has been upped a little to replace the Perique. A bit hard to be sure of the tin note at the moment because I had just smoked a bowl of No2, but my impression is that it's quite similar to No2, but with the Latakia not really evident. Maybe a touch more grassy and a bit less earthy than No2.

Burned a bit hotter - I would say the heat build up on the outside of the bowl was normal for me. A few relights, but it generally burned well. A bit easier to keep it going with sips and then have a bigger draw. Smoke was still quite light, but quite plentiful - some nice plumes when exhaling the bigger draws. The snork was quite spicy in general - the Latakia seemed to be the dominant factor. I didn't feel that the flavour developed much as I got through the bowl - a grassiness at the start soon became spicy with the Latakia the more dominant aspect, and it seemed to stay that way. I got a bit of audible gurgle this time, about half way through, but a cleaner sorted that out and it didn't come back. Maybe I was just puffing too enthusiastically with this bowl, given the gurgle and hotter burn. No dottle, and dark grey ash.

The nic hit was quite strong. Not quite as strong as blend No1, although it lingered for quite a while after the bowl was finished (just easing off now). It's notable that the other two bowls of No2 didn't elicit a nic hit like No1 and No3, so maybe my velvet hammer detector is reasonably reliable after all.

Overall, a bit one-dimensional in terms of favour, and perhaps leaning towards the Latakia more than I would like (unless I was in a Lat mood). I'll try a couple more bowls and see if my thoughts on it evolve.

A little addendum to blend No2. After I had smoked the bowl of that this evening, I went off to find another plastic box for No3, and got a nice whiff of the No2 room note when I came back - very pleasant tobacco aroma that hinted a bit at cigars.

Not sure what direction to go in next. I think I'll probably give the pipe a good clean while I smoke something else for a bit, then maybe sample the current blends a bit more. So far, I'd say that No2 is my preference, but it lacks the nic hit.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:37 pm
by Nomad
Just tried a little experiment to establish a baseline.

Blend No4...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake 50   1
Latakia     50   1

I had been mooching around the net to see what I could find out about tobacco presses, and found a YouTube video where the guy was using 50/50 Virginia and Latakia. Also found some articles that mentioned that Latakia can be found in quite high percentages in some blends. So I decided to try the above 50/50 mix for one bowl to see what I thought...

Forgot to consider the tin note. I already had it lit and was about half way through the bowl before I brought up my spreadsheet to add the blend to it. Never mind. It took a couple of charring lights to get it going, and after that there were few relights. I found this an easy blend to keep lit by sipping. Decent plumes of smoke, whitish with moderate body. Flavour was dominated by the Latakia, but it wasn't overpowering or overly spicy. My notes say "mellow Latakia", which seems about right. In other words, there wasn't much in the way of hay or grassiness, except perhaps right at the start - it settled into the Lat-forward balance pretty quickly and seemed to stay that way. So, a bit one-dimensional, but a pleasant enough smoke.

Got no gurgle at all, although there was some moisture in the airway at the bottom of the stummel when I cleaned the pipe after the smoke. Technically, there was also no dottle, but I stopped the smoke just before the end because I was getting the taste of ash more than the baccy (I hadn't tipped any loose ash out during the smoke). Ash was light to medium grey, and the burn was cool throughout.

Nic hit was mild for me. It was there, but I didn't feel the need to stay in my chair or anything.

Very interesting as an experiment. It has shown me that the Perique and Turkish in the other blends are the big contributors to the spiciness. I might try a bowl of the Scotch Cake on its own as a further reference.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:03 pm
by Nomad
Tried the straight Scotch Cake, but didn't really pay much attention or take any notes (had a pal round for a visit and was too busy blethering). It seemed okay, though. A couple of relights, but generally smoked fine. Quite mellow, but no earthiness or the like. Snork was mild, as was the nic hit. I got a bit bored with it and ended up tipping it out with about 1/3rd to go. I think the flavour shifted towards the end to something I wasn't especially enjoying.

I then tried another experiment, blend No5...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake 70   1.4
Revor       30   0.6

This was noticeably different from the straight Scotch Cake. In terms of volume, the Revor (sliced off and well rubbed out) seemed to make up hardly anything, but added a distinct earthy quality. No relights at all after the false and true lights, and I have to say, it smoked like a champ all the way down with no gurgle or dottle. Plenty of smoke as well - decent body and voluminous plumes when I wanted them. Snork was noticeable for the most part and fairly lively at times without getting to be too much. I felt that I'd want to manage the condiments with some care if I want to keep that from becoming too strong. Nic hit was mild to maybe bordering on medium. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the flavour profile (was still blethering), but my recollection is that it settled into the earthy balance fairly quickly and pretty much stayed there. I think the snork became a bit more lively as the bowl progressed. Burn was warm to normal for me, although I note that I was puffing away good style, so maybe a bit cooler than normal. (I didn't feel I needed to manage the puffing rate to keep the bowl temperature under control.)

Overall, a good, satisfying smoke with the emphasis on a solid, straight tobacco flavour. More lively than Revor on its own (or Irish Flake on its own, come to think of it), but still with that earthy, dark quality. If I got this as a sample from a shop, I would almost certainly buy a tin. Even though I wasn't paying much attention to how the flavour developed, the basic balance was very enjoyable. Potentially good enough to put a mark against it and establish it as a blend to make again. If that happens, I'll need to give it a name.

With this, I think I have something to build on. I don't feel that I need to change the proportion of these two components by much, so I'm thinking of what, and how much, to add of the others. I'd like to try some Latakia, but not too prominent - just enough to tweak the flavour a bit. Maybe also some of the Turkish, but I'll need to be mindful of the effect that might have on the snork. I think what I'm aiming for is to keep the general earthy quality of blend No5, but see what I can add that introduces a varying flavour profile as the bowl progresses.

Compared to blends 1 to 3, this is much better, such that I'm not sure that I'm inclined to smoke them again (too much emphasis on the spiciness, and not enough mellowness or earthiness). I'm running low on plastic boxes, so I might just put Nos 1 to 3 into a single box to make a pensioner's mix, and release a couple of boxes for a bigger batch of what comes from the next couple of experiments.

So, thus far, I've learned that Scotch Cake seems to make a good foundation tobacco, Revor is the secret ingredient for an earthy dimension, that Latakia is quite tolerable in much larger proportions than I had thought, and that Turkish and Perique are where the spiciness is at and probably need to be used in more moderation than I had in my earlier blends.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:58 pm
by Nomad
And blend No6...

Code: Select all
Component    %   grams
Scotch Cake 60   6
Revor       25   2.5
Latakia     10   1
Turkish      5   0.5

Still getting weird things going on with my scales - that should have been 10g, but came to 11g. I'm sure the condiments were weighed accurately (within 0.1g), so I don't think the overall balance of components has been unduly affected.

A more satisfying representation of an English than the earlier efforts. The proportions of Scotch Cake and Revor relative to each other are about the same as in blend No5, but the earthiness of that blend was less evident. If anything, the predominant flavour was a spicy or peppery taste in the mouth which was fairly subdued at first and developed to something quite noticeable as I got through the bowl. Interestingly, the snork stayed mild throughout - none of the sharpness in the earlier blends that occasionally made me want to switch to exhaling the rest of a puff through the mouth. The Latakia was pretty subdued - it was vaguely there, but never really came to the fore. If anything, perhaps a combination of this and the earthiness were setting the background flavour to the pepperiness.

Smoked well enough - a relight or two at about half way. I did get some gurgle and needed a couple of pokes with a cleaner to clear it. Burn was normal for me, and I would say my puffing rate was normal as well (it was a little more enthusiastic with No5, and the pipe was a bit hotter this time). Decent plumes of smoke, but not as full as with No5. No dottle, medium grey ash. Nic hit was pretty mild.

It's interesting that the snork stayed mild while the mouth taste was distinctly peppery - that was unexpected. If anything, I think I'd prefer the balance to be a little less of the pepper, and a bit more Latakia, and maybe more of the earthiness (which I suspect means more Revor).

Certainly my best effort at an English so far, but probably not one I'd buy on the strength of this sample. Not so much because it's too peppery (it is peppery, but not over the top), but more because the other flavours were a bit too much in the background. That said, I made a few bowls' worth, so I'll see how subsequent smokes go.

So far, blend No5 has been the best, with No6 next. They're two different blends, of course, so that might say more about my preferences, although I do think No5 was a good example of a solid, flavoursome straight tobacco, while I would say that No6 is an English that still needs to be balanced a bit.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:31 am
by Geo3rge
Good to read your systematic approach, Nomad. I was interested in the pepperiness that you observed. Wondering where that came from?
Your No. 5 sounds to me a good blend! Again, I'm wondering what it will be like after a bit of ageing? Have you tried these mixes on other pipe smokers (i.e. If you know any where you are) - it would be a good exercise in obtaining opinions and reactions and forming a discussion on tobacco blending.
I very much appreciate the effort and care that you show in all of this. Great to read and I hope that as you continue you can learn and experience the nuances of tobacco even more.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:09 am
by Nomad
I suspect the peppery aspect came from the Turkish - it wasn't evident in blends 4 and 5, which were each made of two of the other three components in blend No6. Maybe it's some interaction between the Turkish and the other blends, or perhaps I'm becoming more able to distinguish the various nuances (peppery could have been what I was calling spicy in the early blends with Turkish and/or Perique).

Don't know any other pipe smokers other than a mate who has only tried one a little.

I'll certainly be trying some aging. I'll need to get some more Revor to make up a decent batch of No5. I want to tweak the English a bit more before I make up a bigger batch of that. I'm assuming that it's a good plan to start with something that smokes well right after blending, otherwise, I'd be making up loads of batches with no real basis for thinking that the aged result will be something I like. It may well be the case that something less pleasant will age to something much more enjoyable, but that would mean a lot of tobacco in sizeable batches, which would start to get pricey.

Anyone here is welcome to get some components and try any of the blends. I'm pretty sure the Scotch Cake is a standard in most B&Ms and probably available online as well. Should at least be able to order it from my nearest B&M, which is The Pipe Shop in Edinburgh...

The Plain Scotch Cake is the one to go for. Revor is available almost everywhere, of course. Just need a cheapie digital scale for weighing out (can't do it by volume - the Revor is much more dense).

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:09 am
by KevLa
Your Blend No. 4 sounds good to me. I love a lot of Latakia :D

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:39 pm
by Nomad
KevLa wrote:Your Blend No. 4 sounds good to me. I love a lot of Latakia :D

And an easier one to make than No5 because the bulk of each component for a given weight is pretty similar. You could easily do a scoop of each and get very close (or buy 25g of each and mix the lot). As I said in the post about it, though, it does seem to be primarily Latakia with a mellow character - not much else going on.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:09 pm
by Nomad
Just had another bowl of No5. Changed my method with the scales this time, and got an exact total. This time, I switched off and redid the tare thing when the little tub was added. I had used up the last of the initial bag of Scotch Cake, which was 5.1g, which meant 2.2g of Revor, and the total came to 7.3g. I also measured the Revor slices - about 2mm thick, sliced down through the layers, and then well rubbed out.

This second bowl was pretty much the same as before with the exception of a hint of gurgle at about 1/4 or so, which went away by itself. No relights again, smoked all the way down with no dottle. Same overall balance of an earthy, full flavoured tobacco that's more lively than the likes of Revor or Irish Flake on their own. Snork generally mild apart from going into the last 1/3rd, when it seemed to go into overdrive for a while. I puffed away like a train again, which led to the bowl temperature getting to my normal borderline level. If I could get a grip and slow down, it would probably burn cooler - but it's hard not to puff away. I like this blend. It has more zing than the mellow types, but doesn't get as far as being spicy or peppery.

First hint of a tin note is that it's reminiscent of Irish Flake - a dark tobacco aroma with a mellow fruitiness (plums or prunes is what comes to mind).

Got enough made up for another two bowls. I'll make up a bigger batch if they're also positive, and I think they will be. I'm starting to get an idea of where this blend is at and what to expect, and I'm finding it enjoyable - entertaining, even, with the way it tempts me to puff away.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:19 pm
by Geo3rge
Any problem with tongue bite here? Heavy puffing did for me about five years ago when I went overboard and seriously scorched my tongue for a few days. Haven't repeated that since! If a blend is good, you just want to carry on with it, though.
This last mix sounds a good one, with something emerging that is making the connection somehow.
An associate also presses his mixes in a handmade wooden press, sometimes adding a drop of rum or other flavouring and leaving for a few days.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:59 pm
by Nomad
While I was smoking it, I was wondering if I was getting tongue bite, but the feeling subsided almost right away after the bowl was done. That's why I'm referring to it as being lively, or having some zing to it. The zinginess was also apparent on the roof of the mouth. I think it's more a flavour characteristic, albeit one that's probably the result of the somewhat enthusiastic puffing. I really need to try and slow down with it, and probably accept a few relights on the way, but I'm a sucker for nice plumes of smoke.

I'm interested in trying a press, although without added flavourings. With something like this, I suspect it would result in a crumble cake rather than a plug. Ideally, I'd like to get some whole leaf that's already been cured and try making a proper plug, but I'm not sure if the leaf can be purchased. I've got a few hardwoods (maple, beech, oak) and plenty of clamps, so making something is on the cards.

I'll probably be trying ageing in a jar first, though. I've found that the little 250ml Kilner jars comfortably hold 50g of Scotch Cake (coarse ribbon cut), so the plan is to make a batch big enough to fill one of those, and have some left over to smoke in the meantime. The 15g of Revor I have left is only enough to make 50g of No5, so I need to get more of that, as well as more Scotch Cake.

Re: Home Blends

PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:20 am
by Nomad
Went to the B&M and got more Scotch cake and a pouch of Revor, and made up about 70g of blend No5. 50g went into a dated jar for aging, and the rest into a jar for smoking. Both 250ml Kilners (these are a nice size for smaller amounts of baccy). The shallow square sandwich box I've been using for mixing was probably a bit too small for this amount of baccy. I had to be careful not to spill any when mixing with the fingers, although there was still a reasonable amount of space with the lid on when giving it a shake. Need a bigger container.

The fresh plug of Revor seemed to be the same as the older one I already had, particularly when slicing and rubbing out. I didn't get the impression that there was any difference in moisture content. After 3 or 4 bowls of this new batch, I would say that there's no obvious difference between this and the initial batch made with the older Revor. The Scotch Cake was as fresh as it gets for both batches (probably from the same bulk batch in the jar at the B&M, given the time between buying).

I have managed to slow down the puffing rate. The slight zing in the mouth is still there, but seems to be less evident than it was when I was puffing like a train. As mentioned in a previous post, this doesn't persist after the bowl (other than perhaps a slight aftertaste). The overall character seems to be unchanged - still earthy without being quite as mellow as straight Revor or Irish Flake. I would say the burn is probably slightly cooler with the slower puffing, but not significantly so - the Parker straight apple I've been using for this still got pretty close to normal for me (normal here means what I get with Germain's Special Latakia Flake). I've also tried it in a pipe I made from a hobby kit that has a fluted shape where the walls are quite thin the in middle, and one of those little Stonehaven lovat mini pipes which has quite thin walls. Normal with these as well, which means bordering on a bit too hot.

I really like this blend - the fact that I haven't smoked anything else in the last few pipes is probably testament to that. It came about through luck, really - it was just an experiment to check out Scotch Cake and Revor as a possible base for a mellow English. The 70/30 proportion was arbitrary and seems about right. I still have no particular desire to adjust that.

So, No5 becomes a bona fide blend. Given my perception of it as having an earthy quality, it is hereby named Gravedigger. (I checked, and can't find a tobacco called this.)

I think my next step with the blending is to use No5 (still called that for the purpose of blending) as the base and try adding some of the condiments to see what happens. I'm still after what I've described as a mellow English. Whether the 70/30 proportion in the base will be suitable once condiments are added, I can't say, so that may well change as things progress.

I think what I've learned in the last few days is that, for multi-component blends, it's probably better to approach them additively rather than just arbitrarily throwing components together in the hope of hitting on something. All of my various attempts at an English so far have been less than satisfying and not really what I'm after. They have generally leaned too much towards the spicy or peppery aspects and have lacked what I feel should be a more mellow and fuller-bodied counterbalance. The two experiments (Scotch Cake & Latakia, and Scotch Cake & Revor) were eye-openers in terms of what these components bring to the smoke.

What's also interesting is that the Turkish and Perique can have a strong influence even in relatively small proportions, and that raises a possible issue: components in small proportions are harder to distribute evenly throughout the mix. One bowl could have, say, Perique at the top, and the next could have it at the bottom, and this could make it quite difficult to characterise the flavour profile. I suspect that this might mean that, when freshly mixed, such blends can only be used as a way of getting a general impression, and that ageing or pressing would be where a more consistent profile is established.