I know you’ve heard the phrase “never judge a book by its cover”, but I’m here to tell you also “never judge a tobacco by its first impression”. If I had done that, this would be a very different review.
When I first opened the tin about two weeks ago, I was immediately impressed by the presentation. The tin is simple but elegant, and the mostly black English blended tobacco is tantalizing, and the tin note, exquisite.
I began to form the opinion that this was going to be a “brilliant blend” but I couldn’t quite form an impression yet, as I hadn’t tasted the tobacco.
But, here’s what the back of the tin has to say.
The Medal of Valor is the highest national award presented to a Public Safety Officer in the United States. This tobacco honors that by using some of the highest quality tobaccos in the world. Although with a heavy presence of carefully selected Latakia, this is it true mixture of both loose cut and cross cut Virginia, Burley, and hints of Oriental and Perique. As the Medal of Valor honors bravery, this is our way of honoring the true English blend.
Well, that does sound promising, so I immediately loaded a pipe, my antique Brigham 354;
You know, I used to think that this pipe was a Brigham Mountaineer that somebody had partially rusticated, but it turned out it’s just older than that; and in really good shape too, have to tip my hat to Val Shannahan for that one.
But, what I got was, a big fat bowl of disappointment. When I lit up, the taste was bland, and lifeless. It tasted like Latakia that had all the life squeezed out of it. I was sorely disappointed.
So I handed it off to my husband, who is an English fan, and immediately put it out of my mind. That is until I saw it sitting on the dash of the car two weeks later. The thought crossed my mind to give it another shot now that it had been opened and dried out a little, so I brought it back in and loaded up the bowl of my wizard churchwarden with it.
What a difference! I am not certain whether the two weeks sitting on a dash of the car sufficiently aged it or the long stem of my white oak churchwarden sufficiently cooled the smoke, but the taste was fantastic! This easily ranks among some of the best English blends that I’ve tried.
So heed what I say about first impressions, and listen to the words of Joe Wood Jr. when he says you can’t know a tobacco until you’ve tried it in different pipes.
Is it worthy of the title Medal of Valor? I don’t know, I am not an American, but I would give it the Order of Canada for English blends.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!