Review by Cortezattic
F&T Vintage Flake, a good Va. starter
Vintage is a good tasting if somewhat unremarkable straight Virginia flake. It is precisely what I would recommend to a newbie who wanted to sample a benchmark, or representative member of the Va. flake genre. There’s lots of quality here, but nothing distinctive – no pizzazz. However it does have good balance between taste, strength and body (mouth feel). What you get is a rock solid Va. taste that is at least as fruity as it is grassy, and perhaps even a little wine-like. The flavor rides on a good volume of chewy smoke, but there is little in the way of complexity. Sometimes that's a good thing, like when you want to reset your palate.
Lest I seem dismissive or imply that this is a mediocre blend – let me emphasize that this is a high quality smoke. But it resides at the less complex end of the Va. flake spectrum. I get the impression that this is exactly what the folks at F&T had in mind for Vintage because their product line is populated by the likes of Cut Virginia Plug and Blackjack, both of which possess the mosaic of flavors and nuances of which the genre is capable. So if you’re interested in sampling your first Virginia flake, or in exploring the entire F&T product line, then Vintage is a good starting place.
The tin note has sweetness tinged by the sour of fermentation, and the grassy aroma you would expect of a Va. flake, but there’s nothing particularly alluring about it. There are no lighting or burning issues (at least if you rub it out as I do); and it smokes coolly and dryly to the bottom of the bowl without a hint of bite. I experienced delicate hints of citrus tanginess, and a gentle sweetness that becomes increasingly caramel-like as the smoke progresses, but don’t expect it to rise to the level of a confectionary treat. To me, the bottommost portion of the smoke feels a bit ashier than I would like, but at that point it’s “lights-out” anyway, so it shouldn’t dissuade one from trying this blend.
I can recommend Vintage with confidence if for no other reason than “what’s not to like?” But for 20% less money you can get the same “plain Jane” goodness from Mac Baren’s Virginia Flake, which is very similar, albeit a bit brighter in flavor.