2025: a light change of pace for diehard Va. flake smokers.
McClelland’s bulk 2025: English Cavendish is a slightly misleading name because there isn’t any Latakia in it, and it isn’t “Cavendish cut” (between a long ribbon and a fine cut). It’s a broken flake that crumbles into manageable chunks when rubbed out. There may be some arcane reason for calling it English Cavendish, but the best I could determine by handling and smoking it is that it is “Cavendish processed” by the method customary in the U.K. Unlike Cavendish produced in the U.S. (cased, bulked, and perhaps pressed), or the Netherlands and Denmark (steamed, cased and pressed), 2025 is probably produced in the manner described in Milton M. Sherman’s book, “All About Tobacco”:
“The English manufacture their Cavendish only with a heavier grade of flue-cured Virginia tobacco. The tobacco is placed in molds and subjected to heavy pressure for three to four days. The pressure exerted on the tobacco causes the natural oils to rise, and because of the heavy natural sugar content of the Virginia leaf, the tobacco develops a sweet taste. Most of the Cavendish produced in Great Britain is then cut and incorporated into a blend.”
Consistent with this description, I could not detect any artificial flavoring in 2025, yet it has a delightfully lemon sweet flavor with a prominent, if delicate, Oriental herbal mustiness. Nearly all the sharpness and piquancy for which Va. flakes are notorious is removed, and we’re left with a wonderful change of pace smoke that none-the-less fits the Va. flake profile quite well.
The charring light produces a somewhat distracting astringency on the tongue, inner lips and roof of the mouth. The best way to deal with this is to let the charring light go out for a few minutes. Then it's good to go on the relight. The astringency will remain throughout the entire smoke – but much reduced, and in a complementary way.
Slow sipping brings out the Oriental’s intriguing musty taste – at once delicate and weighty – reminding me somehow of the gamey taste of stewed mutton. It goes quite well with the overall lemony character of the Virginias.
2025 produces a fairly thin smoke with a soft, but acceptable mouth feel and a weak nicotine hit. It lights and burns nicely, and smokes dryly to the bottom of the bowl. The product description is really pretty accurate: pleasant and rather light. There is enough good Va. flake flavor here to hold your interest through the whole bowl, and you can smoke this blend all day – but I prefer to smoke this only occasionally because I like a denser, more voluminous smoke with greater body.