The woody, earthy, floral, very mildly spicy, lightly sweet, mildly sour Orientals take a little of the lead here. They also sport a touch of bitterness. The toasted Virginias offer a little dark fruit and earth, some citrus and grass, a small amount of wood, and a couple drops of honey in a support role. The strength and nic-hit are mild, while the taste is just past the center of mild to medium. Won’t bite, but it isn’t overly smooth either. Burns a tad warm, and very clean at a moderate pace with a mostly consistent mildly sweet and toasty, savory flavor from top to bottom. Leaves little moisture in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. The after taste has a hint of bitter, and lightly lingers. Could be an all day smoke. Two and a half stars.
In the realm of English Oriental blends, Ferndown's Black & Tan is all that is clean and pure and right. Its heady yet amiable flavor of Latakia with toasted Virginia never varies throughout the bowl; the Oriental leaf, though unremarkable, adds a bracing bitterness that relaxes rather than invigorates. What I found most appealing is just how remarkably cool smoking this mixture was. It was the very first blend of its kind that absolutely would not bite under any conditions.
The cut is broad and wonderful, the color varied and beautiful. Should this stuff ever cease to be sold, I will, doubtless become like one of those old codgers who bemoan how tobacco is just not as it once was. A modern classic, to be sure.
I find the Ferndown tobaccos to be some of the best on the Market today. They always have a older feel to them, from the pre McClelland/C&D days, when Rattray and Bell's were Scottish, and the Germans didn't make everything, and the Halcyon birds flew. In any event this blend is a hodgepodge of sweet, musty aromas that blossom at the match, to a fine pipe experience. Not the type to weigh you down, with excess sweetness or smokiness this is a fine Oriental blend.
Really light as far as an Oriental blend goes, Black and Tan might just appeal to those who enjoy the "English" style Oriental mixtures. I have been working my way through the Ferndown lineup and this is a nice one!
The water content is very high. Might I suggest you let it dry out for a few hours before lighting up. It presents a taste that I would consider to greatly resemble Presbyterian Mixture but less strength and lighter flavor. I loved the presentation of the almost crimped, toasted Virginia
And be prepared to smoke this one out in the garage with the dogs. Pew!
Tin Aroma: the orientals are almost impossible to detect in the tin aroma, owing to the pungent, sickly-sweet smell of the Virginias. However, if I work at it, I can smell them in there, behind the Virginias, a dusky collection of leaf and grass smells, hinting that this blend may not be the riot of tongue bite that the aroma promises it to be.
Physical Characteristics: A narrow ribbon cut, with the usual variation between brown and black strands found in Virginia/Oriental blends, but tending to be a bit heavier on the darker colors, probably as a result of the Virginias being stoved, or "toasted" as the tin calls it.
Notes: The taste of this blend is totally disconnected from it's tin aroma, I can tell you that. Once lit, this ceases to be the odd off-putting thing that it was when only you were smelling it, and announces it's true character. A slightly reserved Oriental blend in the "english" style, this is a nice all-day smoker. The Virginias provide some body and lift to the bass notes from the Orientals, but never do they become too spicy. However, after smoking a bowl of this, with no hints of the odd tin aroma, it makes a reappearance in the aftertaste.
Verdict: This is an ideal tobacco, taste-wise for someone new to english style blends to "cut their teeth on", and holds enough variation to interest a more sophisticated palate as well. I can't quite get over the aroma, but if that sort of thing doesn't bother you, I say go for it!
I was excited about trying this one. I won the tin off ebay auction about 4 years ago. As to the actual date of it, I have no clue. I do figure it had some good age on it, however, due to how saturated the coffee filter like rap was and the traces of plume on the darker leaf. It was almost completely a dark brown color. The leaf did not lack for moisture either.
The smell coming off the tin was pretty nice, but not as nice as I was expecting. The slight sign of plume on the leaf made me believe I was in for a real treat. Ultimately, I was a little let down, but I think it was more a case of too high of expectations rather than the blend being that bad. It was not bad at all. I have just come to expect more sweetness from aged Virginia and it was just overall too mild for my tastes.
This is not a complicated blend. It is Virginia and Oriental/Turkish. Normally I would attribute the lack of sweetness to the oriental overpowering the Virginia, but I found even the oriental presence to be a bit on the weak side. On the bright side, it did have a nice sidestream aroma and was pretty easy to smoke. It did not bite, and at times, it delivered a really nice smoke. I took this one out to the golf course with me and remember it delivering some great flavor as I waited to tee off. I think this could easily be an all day English blend as it is just easy on the palate and the nicotine is light.
For a rating, I was between 2 and 3 stars and decided to settle for the latter, however, as this is not in production anymore, I would not recommend paying a premium to try it. It just is not that special IMHO.
This is my first Ferndown, and it is exceptional! So far, for me, it's the ideal Virginia/Oriental blend: Super rich, without Latakia; full-bodied, without Burley; straight up VA sweet, with zero Cav; and tastee, with no discernable casing. The orientals really float my boat...and are perfectly proportioned with the 'toasted' Virginia. I go to this when I want pure yet exotic tobacco flavor. If anyone can tell me exactly which 'orientals' are in Black & Tan, I will be forever in your debt (and I'll be buying the next boatload!) : j
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