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A beautifully aged red Virginia like no other. Brimming with rich, mellow flavor as only nature can provide. A special allotment of prime 1996 crop North Carolina leaf has been secured for our discriminating pipe smokers. The softest, most enjoyable straight Virginia we've ever smoked. With a light vacuum seal, the tobacco will continue to mellow with age.

Blended ByMcClelland Tobacco Company
Manufactured ByMcClelland Tobacco Company
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
Packaging50 grams tin
ProductionNo longer in production
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9 reviews
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (3004)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

The deep rich red Virginia offers a lot of tangy dark fruit (slightly fermented), earth, wood, some sugar, light bread and a touch of spice. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is just past the center of mild to medium. The strength and taste levels are medium, and both are a little more potent than the ribbon version. No chance of bite or harshness, and has no rough edges. May need a light dry time. Burns cool and clean at a slow pace with a moderately smooth and soft, very consistent flavor from start to finish. Leaves little moisture in the bowl, and requires some relights as flakes will need. Has a pleasantly lingering after taste and room note. Can be an all day smoke.


5 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1829)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

Finding a tobacco to actually top the original '83 McCranie's Red Ribbon and Red Flake was an impossible task, but, this special '96 crop of North Carolina Red sure came close! In fact, the last tin I smoked was from the year 2006 tinning and it was delicious. The red leaf had turned very dark with sugar crystals galore. This edition is a lot sweeter than the original and not quite as strong as the original. Both are exceptional and the best straight Red that I've ever smoked.

5 people found this review helpful.

Denevei Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Denevei (58)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

There are two versions of McCranie's 1996 Virginia available, a flake and a ribbon. The tobaconists at McCranie's tell me that the flake is a better melding of the flavors. I buy the flake, though, because I enjoy rubbing out my tobacco, and I think it stays fresh longer in an opened tin. The story I've been told about Red Flake/Ribbon is that there was a really good crop of red Virginias in 1983, and the McCranies essentially bought it all up. They then took it to the McClelland company for processing. The 1983 crop finally was exhausted about some years ago, and at that time McCranie's had already been hard at work finding a replacement. The 2000 crop which is now used seems excellent.

The tobacco is slightly moist and requires a short drying period before smoking. The tobacco rubs out nicely. The flakes are relatively thick but they break down easily. Once rubbed out, the tobacco packs extremely easily into any bowl. I personally like to fully rub out a flake, but the blend smokes quite well as a broken flake, too.

This is a soft, smooth smoke from the very first light. The initial flavor is slightly bland, but by about an eighth of the way into the bowl the complexities really begin to develop. The tobacco takes on a nice, almost creamy and vanilla-like flavor, and that's what I look for in a light or red Virginia. The smoke is relatively cool and dry, though like any Virginia it's not going to tolerate aggression on the part of the smoker – it'll bite back. I think that Red Flake bites less than a lot of Virginias on the market, though.

This is an excellent smoke. If you are a Virginia lover, you'll appreciate this fine tobacco.

5 people found this review helpful.

alfredo_buscatti Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
alfredo_buscatti (9)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

This review will discuss McClelland's Christmas Cheer 2003, McCranie's Red Flake and Wessex Classic Virginia.

Christmas Cheer 2003 (CC) is a red Virginia made from a 1998 Old Belt crop while McCranie?s Red Flake (RF) was made from a 1996 North Carolina crop. CC and RF are both medium-to-full-bodied.

CC fails to deliver the consistently deeper red Virginia flavor that RF offers. While CC has bursts of RF?s consistently dusky red Virginia flavor-a flavor that in comparison is both darker and deeper than a signature brown Virginia, Rattrays Brown Clunee-such bursts are more atypical than constant. This is not to say that CC is not an enjoyable tobacco but simply that in the realm of red Virginia, RF is the winner.

RF?s tin notes state that softness is this tobacco?s chief characteristic. While I don?t disagree with this statement, I would add that RF?s deeper, richer flavor outdoes the competition. One wonders how the considerable tobacco wisdom of McClelland, whose most notable entry in the Virginia arena, its Christmas Cheer series, allowed itself to be content with anything less than a product just shy of perfection. Yet perhaps this has something to due with the time constraints of finding fine leaf in time to process it and still meet Christmas Cheer?s traditional release at the RTDA show.

We then come to Wessex Classic Virginia (CV), medium-to-full bodied, blended by Kohlhase, Kopp und Co. It has more in common with RF than CC and is comprised solely of mature Red Virginia. It has less flavor than RF but I tend to believe this a choice of the blender, not a flaw. It throbs with the rich, basal note of a curing process designed to produce a no-nonsense, straightforward, aged tobacco. Little complexity in comparison to CC, the most complex of these three tobaccos-if any Virginia can be called complex-just a delicious, singular, deep, red Virginia flavor. In comparison to CC, it has little of that tobacco?s grassy, reedy flavor components.

Ranking, in descending order: RF, CV, CC.

2 people found this review helpful.

Eric Cioe Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Eric Cioe (37)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Strong

I received 4 tins of this in trade. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not because my experience with Virginias is all pretty recent and not as wide as my experience with latakia blends.

The tin had only a few mostly-intact flakes, the rest being jumbled, I'm sure due to being shipped more than once. The pungency when I opened it was off-putting. I don't care for the full force of the McClelland tin note, so I left the tin open to the air for a few days before smoking it. Once it starts to mellow, it smells more of fermented fruit rather than the McClelland tin note that I won't call ketchup or vinegar or bbq sauce, but something approximating some of those flavors.

The first third of this in the pipe is a little bland to me. I find that in most Virginias with a condiment tobacco or a topping, that at light up, that extra note shines for a minute before retreating and then gradually building over the course of the bowl. No such condiment here. But after the first third or so, this starts building up woody and deep fruit notes. It occupies a surprisingly broad frequency spectrum for such a seemingly simple blend.

Burn qualities are excellent. I toast with two matches, then set real flame with a third. I mostly rubbed this out all the way, mostly because my flakes were very inconsistently broken already. I found more moisture at the bottom of the bowl than I do with the GL Pease blends I mostly smoke, which makes me wonder what exactly McClelland does to their VAs. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of propylene glycol-esque agent in here in small quantities.

Nicotine is pretty low to me. My wife commented, even outside, that this stuff stank quite a bit. The only other times she has complained is when I'm smoking something with cigar leaf. I was surprised by that, as I thought this would be a crowd-pleaser compared to my standard fare.

Overall, I'd rate this at 3.5 stars if I could, but I'll give it the extra half point because it's a cool concept for a blend and because it was really, really satisfying for me over May 2014. I look forward to smoking the other tins I've got of this, and will be buying subsequent vintages from McCranie's.

Pipe Used: Lots of them, but especially a group 4 Comoy apple

Age When Smoked: 8 years

Purchased From: Trade

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant

1996 Crop, tinned 1-2006. 5100 on Performance Enhancers.

Sweet, great depth and develops nicely down the bowl. Rich.

Ron Carter/Piccolo Bass. Perfect blending of highs, lows and mid-range.

If this bites you, you must deserve it. A brief drying, fully rubbed with a few chunks left intact. Tsuge half bent billiard.

Two-three more years of age and it will probably be four stars.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

This is the flake version of the Red Ribbon, which is outstanding. The main difference, other than the obvious, is that the flake is a little more flavorful and complex than the ribbon.

The Red Flake I have is from the 1996 crop, same as my Red Ribbon.

I suggest letting the tin air out for a bit, or at least air out the portion you are planning to smoke, as it is a bit moist in the tin for my taste.

Like Red Ribbon with the flavor wheel turned up a bit, Red Flake posseses a bit more complexity than its brother. A tad bit fuller in flavor too. As a flake, if you don't rub it out vigorously, it will last a lot longer in the bowl. That's a good thing... I never wanted it to end.

A full, rich, and satisfying Virginia experience. Get some while you can. It will only get better with time.

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

It is true, folks - this stuff is fantastic. I have some of the 96 crop here and so far it is one of the nicest straight VA tobaccos I have tried. Sweet, tangy, smooth and just a tiny bit bitey so go slow. Just as wonderful as, and not quite as processed tasting as the better aged McClelland blends I've tried. While VA flakes are a summer blend for most people - I like pipes like this on cold winter days. And the snow cover out there certainly qualifies. Fruity and warm like mulled cider.

1 person found this review helpful.

Young Piper Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Young Piper (304)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant

Sweet, leathery, chock full of flavor flakes. I got the 1996 crop and the date on the tin is 12/20/03. A year and a half of aging and this is ready to go right from the time the ups guys arrives. Now i like my King Eider and 2015 which have just the right amount of perique but this is a wonderful smoke for the summer months when i dont want any tabasco in my pipe and its 95* here in good old New Jersey.

Nobody has rated this review yet.