A True Navy Blend
Mac Baren Tobacco: Plumcake Navy Blend
Batch Date: OCT 2010
"Bright Virginia tobaccos mixed with Burley, a little
original Mac Baren Cavendish and just a touch of Syrian Latakia. On top of this
masterly made blend original Jamaica Rum has been added to fulfill the
impression." Quoted from back label.
This blend is as old as I am, and is supposed to harkens
back to an oft romanticized time of the tall masted sailing ships. I have to
admit that while not fancy the choice of colors and styling of the label on the
lid does in fact remind one of a time 200 years in the past.
The tin note reminds me of a cool breeze on a clear day with
a hint of rum. Rather esoteric I admit, but the aroma is quite clean and very
pleasant with only a hint of sweetness with none of the smokiness one
associates with Latakia. Any casing is light and may only influence the
distinct lack of tobacco scent. Only upon a second and third concerted
inhalation of the open tin do I detect any Latakia. I am impressed, and truly like the tin note.
I have smoked a few bowls in various pipes in an attempt to
find a size and bowl shape that is most suited to this well established
blend. My review is based on the smokes
I have had in a large bowled Johs Bulldog.
The tobacco is light brown. Overall; it is the color one
would expect from Bright Virginias, Burleys, and some Cavendish style
tobaccos. It is interspersed with very
little dark colored tobaccos associated with Latakia in general. Plumcake is ribbon cut with some clumping possibly
resulting from the Cavendish process. Mac Baren Plumcake requires very little preparation, and owing to its
medium moistness I recommend half an hour drying period as needed.
Upon each char light I taste the very light but distinct smoky,
slightly peppery taste and nose of the Syrian Latakia. With the true; the mildly sweet Cavendish is
apparent but still no rum. It is after a few minutes the Virginias and the
complimentary Jamaican Rum begins to emerge. This is the case with each of the
four bowls that I have smoked in my Bulldog. The flavor is purported to be "full bodied" and I agree to
some degree. While the smoke is rich and the mouth feel substantial the flavors
none-the-less (to me) seem very mild. To prevent my hydration during the smokes
from influencing the flavors, I opted for ice water.
Further on in the large bowls, there developed a consistent
and predictable gurgle. This did occur with each bowl. This required the use of
pipe cleaners during the smokes and indicates that the medium moisture content
you feel during preparation is deceiving. This pipe I have noted rarely gurgles
during normal use.
Toward the end of each bowl the Latakia really comes on
strong as does the Virginia tobacco. I find the nicotine content becomes more
substantial the longer I smoke. Mac Baren Plumcake gets stronger and
stronger. The rum disappears somewhere
near the halfway point, and Latakia takes over.
I have waited until this point to address the room
note. My wife stated that she liked it
when I had just lit my pipe. A little
while later she said "Your smoking Latakia again" with that familiar
disgusted look on her face. That tells
me the room note changes as does the smoke.
My preconceptions of Navy blends have always included Perique as a necessary component Plumcake of course has none. While I love
Perique, I have never really believed it to be a traditional component of Navy
blends. I'm sure it existed "way
back when" but probably wasn't widely available. It seem more likely that
it was just (pardon the pun) a parochial tobacco. In my opinion Plumcake is
probably more representative of what the sailors of old may have actually
smoked. My conceptions of what a Navy blend
should be have been irrevocably changed. The sweetness of the Cavendish and the
taste of Jamaican Rum are wonderful, but the continually growing strength of
the blend provides the rugged taste and strength of nicotine demanded from a sailor's only real luxury on the high seas.
I have developed an appreciation for this remarkable tobacco
blend. It wasn't what I expected. It transcended those expectations and provided a new insight to life aboard
those tall ships that have served as inspiration for Mac Baren Plumcake.