Review by Cortezattic
Altadis Virginia Slices 507c: an economy class, but satisfying Danish flake
Virginia Slices 507c is another member in the family of sweet grassy Danish style flakes that I would put in the economy class. It is supplied in somewhat fragile honey colored flakes about 7” long. If, like me, you cut long flakes down so they fit in Mason jars (scissors or the wife’s rotary fabric cutter work well), you will find that the laminations of the flake separate, and things can get a little messy. You will still be able to use the fold-and-stuff packing method (I don’t), but the flakes lose their pristine appearance. I can’t see that as being a deal breaker, but if the aesthetics of presentation are important to you then be careful not to handle them too roughly. And by all means find an alternate storage method because the flakes come a bit on the dry side – perfect for immediate use – but necessitating that one wastes no time getting the stuff into sealed containers.
The sweetness for which Va. flakes are renowned is present, but turned down a bit in this blend, and the citrus notes are similarly reduced to a soupçon of lemony tang. This makes for a Va. flake that is a bit less resplendent than its boutique cousins, but it does shine with a grassy goodness that makes it acceptable and satisfying – if not overly complex and intriguing. What it delivers, predominantly, is natural tobacco flavor, remarkable smoothness, and little of the sharpness for which Va. flakes are notorious. This leads me to conclude that, despite omissions in the tin description to the contrary, there must be some Perique in the blend. I admit that I can’t taste any of Perique’s characteristic stewed fruit and fig-like flavor, nor is there any peppery tingle beyond what one would expect from the Va.’s natural piquancy; but it’s hard to imagine that a blender could mitigate a grassy Va.’s zesty temperament without resorting to just a touch of Perique.
507c is a mild flavored blend with medium nicotine strength and good whole mouth feel. There may be a bit of top flavor – something dark, maybe licorice – I dunno; but frankly, it’s below the threshold of identification and more in the realm of imagination. So if it has a top flavor of some kind, I deem that they’ve done it right.
This blend is open to a little criticism because it starts to get ashy-tasting near the bottom of the bowl, and with its reduced sweetness and vague citrus presence, it becomes a little more cigarette-like than I’d like. The only thing that keeps the flavor on track is the grassiness of the tobacco. I don’t find a lot of nuanced flavor in this blend, and that tosses it into the utility smoke category for me; but it is smooth and satisfying, and I think it has a place in my deep rotation – even if it is near the bottom relative to the pricier gourmet blends. I’m confident that most Va. flake lovers won’t be terribly disappointed by this blend’s lack of complexity and depth; but I wouldn’t go into this expecting to get my socks knocked off either.