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BrandKen Byron Ventures
Blended ByKen Byron
Manufactured ByKen Byron Ventures
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
ProductionCurrently available
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3004)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

The various red Virginias provide a burst of fermented tart and tangy ripe dark fruit, a little semi-tart citrus, bread and vegetation, plenty of earth and wood, light sugar, lemon, spice, vinegar, floralness, and touch of acidic sourness. I also detect a bare hint of smokiness. Some of the Virginias are aged, which accounts for the matured, fermented sweetness, and variance of colors. The strength and the nic-hit are medium, while the taste is a couple of steps past that mark. It won’t bite or get harsh, but it does sport a mild roughness. I consider this is to be a plug rather than slices. It’s easy to break apart, and the moisture level is not high, so it’s ready to smoke right off the bat. Burns cool, clean, and slow with a well balanced, very consistent, deeply rich tangy sweet and mildly rugged savory flavor that translates to the pleasantly long lingering after taste and room notes. Leaves little dampness in the bowl. The number of relights will depend on how you prepare it, but expect to have a number of them. It can be an all day smoke for the veteran, but probably not for the less experienced. It’s repeatable in any case.


20 people found this review helpful.

Field_Value_Null Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Field_Value_Null (4)
Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Unnoticeable

I wish i could write a review as cheerful and upbeat as the rest of the reviewers here. My review will echo more of the reviewer who couldn't seem to get this blend to smoke properly.

I tried every preparation method I knew of to get this blend to dry out properly. I sliced it thick and rubbed it out fully (SUPER STICKY AND WET), I attempted to cut this very thin and rub it out. I tried cube cut, and everything in-between. I even took other plugs side by side (same thickness and rubbing them both out). After 30-45 minutes other plugs were ready to smoke. This blend I could not get to dry out. I too left this stuff out on a plate sliced and rubbed out for days, 14 days to be accurate. And this stuff WILL NOT dry out. Ive tried different packing methods, I literally tried lighting, taking a puff and letting it go out, lighting it softly taking a few puffs letting it go out again, resting the pipe and repeating. All attempts ended in the same result, a wet mass of tobacco in the heal of my bowl.

I wish I could actually try this blend, but what ever additive is added to this plug made it completely un-smokable by my standards. I gave a second 2 ounce bag to a fellow pipe smoker and got the same report back, it's un-smokeable by any measure.

11 people found this review helpful.

Spartacus Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Spartacus (4)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

This is a straight Virginia that comes in a plug. I cut out a 3 oz plug from a 12 oz slab. I sliced then rubbed out a few bowls. This has a sweet Virginia taste with a mild earthy flavor to it. This is a quality Virginia that smokes really well. It really shines when you take your time and sip this blend slowly. I get a strong bread flavor when I retrohale. I could probably get it to bite if I quickened my cadence. I am not able to pick out all the nuances that Jim gets but I never have been able to do that. This blend has become one of my favorite straight Virginias. Definitely one for the cellar. I am going to imagine this will age beautifully. This is a take your time and enjoy it tobacco blend.

Pipe Used: Joshua Ronish Dragon Briars Custom

Age When Smoked: 1 month

Purchased From: Ken Byron Ventures

9 people found this review helpful.

W.B. Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
W.B. (13)
Medium Medium to Strong Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I love red virginia in all of its forms, ribbon, broken flake, flake and plug. Thus, i was very excited to order 8 oz of this offering from KBV. What a disappointment. Field value's review is completely on target. A sodden lump of virually unsmokeable tobacco. I tried every way to work with this and even considered just throwing into the food processor to try to salvage it in any way. Ended up just chucking it whole into the bin. Lesson learned and money wasted. I will stick with the very enjoyable Sutliff Red Cake, 515 RC and, hope it comes back, Cringle Flake. Finally, while I am hesitant to this, i simply cannot finish the review without mentioning that a previous review of this blend is completely inappropriate, offensive, obscene and creepy. It really deserves no place on this otherwise very enjoyable site. I have brought this up privately to moderators (don't know if they see responses) but i could not submit this review without speaking up.

Pipe Used: Castello

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: KBV

Similar Blends: At this point, i would suppose the other rubbish in the bag.

8 people found this review helpful.

Gripsholm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gripsholm (44)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I just double checked before I wrote this review, Ken Byron Ventures has 8-10 oz slabs of Jupiter Slices available on their website again.

I bought 2 quarter slabs in January, sliced some off, smoked a couple of bowls and told myself "Yep, this is good stuff and should age quite well." I then put the rest in a mason jar and cellared it. On just a whim, I went to the website yesterday and was quite pleased to see Jupiter slices were once again available. Needless to say, I bought a full slab this time and am awaiting my order.

Ever since McClelland went out of business I've been searching for a good replacement. Jupiter Slices are an excellent tasting Red VIrginia plug and with age should get even better. IMHO they may even exceed McClelland because Jupiter Slices does not have that ol" McKetchup aroma which I'm sure will make some pipers very happy. For pipers who miss that McKetchup, Sutliff is definitely out there providing some options.

With all that being said, I'm kinda hoping Ken Byron Ventures will make some Jupiter Slices with Perique for a good VaPer plug, and maybe even make another batch including some stoved Virginia for a good Red and Black plug... I'm hoping.

8 people found this review helpful.

Snappo's Pipe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Snappo's Pipe (23)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

So glad I ordered the large slab of this plug because it is SCRUMPTIOUS! Tried to get it to bite me but just kept purring like a gentle loving kitten... full of sweet Virginia goodness that begs for a follow-up pipeful!

6 people found this review helpful.

gamzultovah Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
gamzultovah (10)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

This blend is good if you can keep it lit. As many others have noted, this tobacco simply will not dry. I had three bowls worth of this tobacco rubbed out and sitting in a ziplock bag for a year and it was still moist. There is a saving grace though, if you use a tall, narrow chambered pipe, by the halfway point, you can keep this tobacco lit. A fair amount of work for what is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing hobby.

On another note, once you do get this blend going, it welcomes you with everything you can hope for in a predominantly Red Virginia blend. The nicotine content to me, is between mild and medium and there is no chance of bite; but, because you have to work at keeping it lit, you will tingle your palate and tongue. I would give this blend 3 Stars if KBV could make it less flame retardant.

Pipe Used: F&T The Clay Shape Pipe, various others

Age When Smoked: Fresh and 1 Year aged

5 people found this review helpful.

Spokanemike Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Spokanemike (1)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

8oz slab Cellared in mason jar 6 mos. Looked like it wanted to be

Smells like raisins. Lands sweet on the tongue slightly earthy/dried fruit... Then fills your mouth with spicy/peppery goodness... Light bread and vinegar on retro.

Medium nic. A little past Medium strength.

Pipe Used: Briarwood Billiard (no name)

Age When Smoked: 6 mos. mason jar

Purchased From: KBV

Similar Blends: C&D Briar fox, but not really?.

4 people found this review helpful.

lamplight Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
lamplight (2)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Ken Byron - Jupiter Slices (2020)

Full slab comes in a neatly folded, heat sealed and labeled mylar bag. Plug isn't as tight as say a Gawith Plug, but isn't nearly as sloppy as an STG press. I'd venture to guess it's one of the two as it is a sourced blend according to the website.

Moisture is perfect straight from the bag, no drying is needed, in fact would degrade the experience. Tin note is very earthy, betraying then impression that red VA need be tart and vinegary. I cleanly slice a 50g block off the slab with a kitchen knife to simplify preparation.

Flavors are deep and complex, at first light bread is a leading followed by a subtle dark fruit. Midway through the bowl the breadiness takes a back seat to a mild but sweet balsamic vinegar flavor with a pleasant finish thats reminiscent of a few Gawith blends. Tea like flavors with a bit of lemon come to mind. Further into the bowl some spicer earth notes come forward, playing against the persistent, but understated sweetness, not overwhelming the senses.

Retrohale is satisfying, doesn't burn the nose but provides with a healthy boost of the flavor and would easily satisfy Va/Per fans that may be on the fence.

My only complaint is that more blenders aren't producing products on the level KBV is consistently putting out.

Preparing this plug could not be easier. No dry time needed, no extravagant cutting methods, no praying to the gods on a full moon. Slice an inch wide block off the plug and cut off some neat little flakes and you're good to go. This doesn't explode in the bowl like many pressed tobacco blends do on the char.

Ken Byron Ventures - Jupiter Slices is a premium red VA blend that has no equivalent on the market.

I hope this becomes a regularly offered product for KBV, but I assume it will remain a limited production as the Virginia tobacco is of a very high quality.

Buy with confidence.

Pipe Used: Clark Layton Volcano

Age When Smoked: Fresh (2020)

Purchased From: KBV

4 people found this review helpful.

HabaneroHardy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
HabaneroHardy (393)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Unnoticeable

I got to try a small sample of this at the pipe club from a friend of mine that I swear I think he has bought just about all of his blends. This was dated 8-20-21 and was a real dense plug. As much as I can remember I really did not have too much trouble keeping this one lit. Hard for me to put in words how it tasted but I recognize the Red Virginia in the blend and it was a really good smooth smoke. Not much more I can add due to my limited sampling.

3 people found this review helpful.

anglocatholicpiper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
anglocatholicpiper (34)
Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

Another great Red Va plug tobacco. It's delicious. It came to me dryer than Byronic Hiro, which was a good thing. The taste is heavier to me than BH. I'm excited to compare it to Tavern Bar, as well. So far, in my book, KBV is making some killer Red Va blends.

Pipe Used: Multiple

Age When Smoked: Fresh

Purchased From: KBV website

Similar Blends: Sutliffe RC-515, McClellands.

2 people found this review helpful.

Mijnnif Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mijnnif (120)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

Plug note is very mild a bit of hay and sweetness. Defiantly a plug. Needs to be shaved into very small pieces. When just broken apart its large pieces of leaf. Not sure how people can smoke this right away. I tried and its just too moist. Needs drying time and quite a bit of preparation in order to smoke it . The first notes are fresh cut grass. Has some tartness and citrus. Smells like toast on the retrohale. Needs more than a few relights. Be patient with this one it takes time to get it going and lite puffing will give the best flavors after 1/4 bowl more flavors start to appear from the different Virginias. No casings or toppings. nic hit is medium. Will bite if puffed hard. 3 stars for preparation difficulty. Update on this review 1/14/23 The tobacco has dried quite a bit now. Preparation is still a bit arduous. I have decided small cube cuts are the best way to smoke this IMO. Its much better after drying and resting, more citrus , stays lit. still burns a bit hot but controlled puffing rewards a really nice smoke 4 stars now.

Pipe Used: many different Brier pipes

Age When Smoked: gift not sure but aged a bit

Purchased From: friend gift

1 person found this review helpful.

riobrew Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
riobrew (80)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I smoked a whole plug and now ready for my review. All aces! What a great straight Virginia. A mixture of Red Virginia and I believe mature red Virginia's. Taste is very one dimensional Virginia but with the blend of different Virginia is what makes it unique. Has lots of sweetness but not over powering. Will smoke hot and get bowl hot causing it to lose taste. But slow it now and it all come rolling back. Strong taste but mild nicotine. I had no problem keeping it lit so long as I paid attention to what I was doing. I sliced and rubbed out, packing is hard to explain. I do it my way and it works for me. You'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Pipe Used: Peterson Apple

Age When Smoked: New

Purchased From: KBV

1 person found this review helpful.

Lawyertodd Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Lawyertodd (32)
Mild to Medium Mild to Medium Medium Pleasant

Had a helluva time lighting and keeping this lit the first time around, but maybe it simply needs some drying time first. Tastes good alone; tastes even better when added to KBV English blends because it seems to perk them up with added tang. Altogether enjoyable.

Pipe Used: Valentino freehand, Wilke

Age When Smoked: Newly arrived in the mail

Purchased From: KBV

1 person found this review helpful.