With the turn of the weather I step back from a pretty steady stream of Virginias to reach for something smoky, so I reach for…Sutliff? For those surprised by my confusion, when you’ve smoked a pipe for awhile you notice that each blending house has a reputation for certain kinds of blends. C&D is known for burley (though maybe I prefer Sutliff these days); MacBaren has a virtuoistic touch with Dark Fired Kentucky; K&K might be the current master of the Virginia Flake; G&H is famous for it’s decorative scented candles; and Sutliff is known for aromatics and increasingly Virginias. It’s not that you won’t find good blends out of the main from any of these blenders, but it’s a bit like getting a chicken sandwich from 5 Guys: you can, but why? Well because it might just be amazing, right?
BULK or TIN: Bulk
ORIGIN: US of A
BLENDING HOUSE/PRODUCER: Sutliff
Majestic English: Burley, Virginia, Oriental, Latakia, Perique
Count Pulaski: Burley, Virginia, Latakia, with a Rum and Anise topping
STRENGTH: Both 2/7
Across the middle of the Midwest
Cold and damp
The derpy squawk of a Bald Eagle in my neighbor’s yard
RELEASE TYPE available
SPECIAL RELEASE N
RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO
- Count Pulaski was named after the American Revolutionary war hero Count Casimir Pulaski
- Majestic English was named for the revolutionary war hero Archibald ‘Swampy’ Majestic
- The above ‘fact’ is fake, there’s no fun backstory to this bulk English
LOOK & FEEL OF THE LEAF
Majestic English is a long stranded ribbon in dark chocolatey brown and chestnut. It’s sticky to the touch and has a wetness to it that never really goes away.
Count Pulaski is a made up of short, irregular width ribbon that seems equal parts black, dark brown, and tan. It’s tacky, and sticks to your fingers. Like Majestic English there is a palpable moisture to the leaf, even when dried for a long time.
Majestic English has that seawater salt smell, with cocoa, smoke, faint raisins and caramel.
Count Pulaski is pretty similar with a lovely smell of caramel, smoke, raisins, cocoa, and earth.
LIGHT & DRAW
Packing Style: With both of these I found a tighter pack necessary to help continue the burn, a full 3 pinch with a heavy hand
SMOKE & ROOM NOTE
Both of these blends have a soft, light smoke.
Majestic English’s room note is predictably smoky
Count Pulaski is gentler, with cocoa and a light woodsmoke
>> No Dry Time, Savinelli 121
Wood smoke, earth, Graham cracker, a wisp of sulphur in the finish. There is a smidge of lavender to the smokiness and some vinegar. This is a classic medium English so far. It’s quite sweet. It stays with that opening set of flavors for awhile. Some fruity sweetness comes through after a bit, plums, raisins. Each puff goes from fruity sweet vinegar salt, fading into earth and smoke. The vinegar pushes forward with fake grape and fresh raspberries jumping into the mix. It’s sweet and salty with some smoke, and a pastry crust base. Pine and lemon oil pushes this from medium English to a classic Balkan profile. It’s quite grapey, perfect for fans of Syrian Latakia. It’s both artificial grape flavoring and red wine. The sodium is through the roof. Pine, lemon oil, peaty, cocoa, sugar cookie, with vinegar and fruit. It sticks with that combination for a bit. About the halfway mark some pepper comes through. The remainder of the bowl is sugary grape, red wine, a gallon of vinegar, with cocoa, earth, oak, and smoke base.
>> No Dry Time, Savinelli 121
Candy corn, earth, woodsmoke, and cocoa. It’s fairly sweet with some vinegar and light salt. Musty, but somehow still bright. Lemon peel, white vinegar, salt, sugar, woodsy lavender, and a hint of smoke underneath. A touch of soap. The anise is just there, but it almost tastes like vanilla. About the halfway point more cocoa and earth with less sweetness and sourness. The must strengthens and the soap ebbs. Cocoa, corn syrup, must, lemon peel, earth, a hint of smoke, vinegar and salt finish. Anise and soap are there tickling at the edges of my senses. The must grows and begins to mask the other flavors. Some pepper breaks through. In the last quarter steady on cocoa, candy corn, vanilla, vinegar, lemon peel, earth, smoke, and lavender. Sweetens more and more as the bowl gives out, quite like sugar cookies.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
Majestic English starts in Medium English territory, smoke, earth, with some fruity sweetness. Halfway through it becomes more of a Balkan, with pine, lemon oil, and intense vinegar.
Count Pulaski doesn’t have a flavor progression so much as a carousel of flavors that come up, recede, and return to the fore.
Both of these blends are sopping wet even after hours of drying time. This translates into rather poor smoking experience. Both of these took numerous charring lights to get going and more relights to get through each bowl. This made for a pretty unpleasant smoking experience. It’s not as bad as say, Best Brown, but it’s shockingly bad for a bulk English.
Majestic English is quite like Sutliff English Oriental, but with too much humectant and without the burley. It’s shift from medium English to Balkan is quite like the discontinued Comoy’s No 11.
Count Pulaski’s edge of lavender soapiness reminds me of the Dunhill blends, now Peterson, particularly the Standard. Which is similar to Hearth and Home’s Blackhouse in turn. The sweet, almost aromatic side reminds me of Peter Stokkebye English Luxury and Sutliff East Farthing.
0.20 / 0.50 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.50 / 0.50 … Tin Aroma
0.00 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
5.00 / 8.00 … Smoking Experience
0.05 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
KING PROPYLENE GLYCOL.
Propylene glycol is an amazing chemical. It’s used to add moisture to foods, produce plastics and polyurethane, as an antifreeze agent, as a skin moisturizer, and of course as a humectant in pipe tobacco. Though it’s rarely listed, popular understanding is that all commercially available pipe tobacco has some PG in it, as it’s often called. Some more than others. Typically you’ll find very little of it in Virginia Flakes and English mixtures, with more of it found in OTC codger blends and bulk aromatics. There’s a functional and commercial reason for this. Classic pouch tobaccos would be smoked, well from a pouch. You’d open up your tobacco and keep it in your pocket, or in your desk, without sealing it, so the PG was helpful keeping it pliable under those conditions. For bulk aromatics manufacturers load those up with the expectation that they’d be kept in a big, loose fitting jar, in a physical store. Patrons would pop the jars open countless times a day to smell them. Again a big dose of PG keep those feeling fresh when you are sold an ounce or two.
And I think it’s obvious that these two blends are not blended to be sold direct to consumer. They were destined for the big jars in brick and mortar stores. But many of in the hobby don’t have access to those stores any longer, so we buy from online sources. And those online sources take good care of their tobacco. As the route to the consumer changes, these blends should change with the times. As it is while these blends are both fine, the needless hampering of the combustion process means I have no real interest returning to the blends again in the future. Which is a shame because Majestic English does a really good job mimicking the flavors of a Syrian Latakia Balkan and the anise of Count Pulaski makes it intriguingly unique. But the struggle to flavor ratio is just not in their favor.