Mac Baren – Modern Virginia


It seems that every time I am speaking to another pipe smoker I get asked the same question, “do you smoke English or Aromatic blends?”

It seems that now you can only enjoy smoking one or the other! English lovers cannot stand the presence of a weaker Aromatic on their palate, while the sweet enjoyers of Aromatics are not distinguished enough to enjoy a strong English blend.  There seems to be so much judgment and unfair criticism towards people who prefer different tobacco’s.

Why must this be the case?

I love nothing more than a strong exquisite English in my bowl; but I can still enjoy a sweet Aromatic, knowing that I am getting exactly what I asked for; and I can enjoy it!

I believe that the Modern Virginia manufactured by Mac Baren tobacco is a perfect mix of Aromatic scents with a hint of English strength.  This blend is a perfect mix of sweetness and flavor that any pipe smoker can fill their bowl with and enjoy a satisfying smoke.

First Impression

I may dare to say that the first impression of this tobacco is the most incredible part of this blend!

Upon popping open the tin, taking the first whiff of the Modern Virginia flake, the pipe smoker could not be any more excited! There is an incredible balance of strong virginia flavor and a fruit tang that really pleases the olfactory system.

This blend is made mostly of 2 different Virginia’s that were grown on 2 different continents, making up about 70% of the flake. The next touch is a modern Cavendish that makes up roughly 20% of the blend, bringing the sweet undertones of the blend to life.  Finally there is a touch of 10% burley that gives the blend a smooth ribbon, while delivering a distinguished taste to add on top of the sweet, fruity flavor.

This is a fairly dark flake, and holds itself together quite well. (The Modern Virginia can also be bought in a loose cute and a flake rubbed out cut.)

There is also a small amount of moisture present, which does not bother me at all.  In fact this little moisture seems to make the flake easier to roll and pack thus giving a smooth consistent smoke with a long burn.



As I just said this flake is a pleasure to pack.  I have had a couple flakes fall apart before the pack, but that is to be expected of most, if not all flakes.  While this one does sometimes crumble, I am overall very satisfied with the pack.

Because of the thick cut flake and moist nature of the Modern Virginia, this blend can at times be difficult to light.  I found myself a couple times having to use 2-3 whole matches in order to get a substantial first light.  But once that light has taken root, this blend will stay lit very well.  I found myself usually having to relight only once per bowl, and not because it went out, but because tobacco on the outskirts of the bowl was not lit as well as I would like.

This blend has almost no bite.  I did tend to experience some bite near the bottom third of the bowl, but at that is was not very intense.

I believe that there were a few English undertones in the draw and on the tongue, tasting quite full. Upon exhale, and more specifically the retro-hale, there is a front of fruit that is incredibly pleasant.  There is the presence of pineapple (and apricots according to others, although I could not pick up on that not), that is delivered with a very small nutty presence.

Overall the flavor of this tobacco is excellent and very straight forward and hard to ignore.

 Room Note

The room note of this blend is better than average, but is nothing to get excited about.

You can detect the presence of the fruit in the room, but mixed with the stronger flavors of the blend, it takes a connoisseur to appreciate.

As I have said before, I usually determine the room note by the way my wife reacts to the smell. With this blend, she was neither appreciative nor upset at the smell. When my wife has nothing bad to say about the smell of a burning tobacco, I consider that a successful room note!


This would be a more powerful blend if it were not for the cavendish and burley added in to tone down the intensity.  I would also add that the fruity flavors do indeed take away  from the strength which many English smokers will not appreciate.

I would say this is a solid mild-medium blend.


I read on Pipes and Tobacco’s Magazine that this blend reminds the smoker of, and should be tried with Fruity Pebbles.

Personally I would recommend some type of fruity rum sorbet. I find that a smooth frozen treat really complements any palate after smoking a pipe, but in this case a fruity sorbet is an exceptional pairing.  I prefer strawberry myself, but am willing to bet a pineapple sorbet would complement the blend more.

Overall Score

I enjoyed this tobacco.  If I did not have a mountain of tobacco that I am rating, I would be buying another tin.

I give this tobacco a 7 out of 10.

This blend truly is fantastic. I recommend this for any moderate smoker who is looking to enjoy a blend of strength and flavor.  This is perfect for the conditioned collector who appreciates all finely made blends, and the millennial who is looking to experiment with different flavors and is searching for a fine premium tobacco.

Tobacco provided by Sutliff Tobacco Company for the purpose of an un-bias review from an outside party.


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