Besides smoking pipes, another one of my beloved hobbies is smoking meat. I don’t think there is anything more relaxing than sitting on my patio, smoking a large spice rubbed brisket in the smoker, and having a few bowls of my favorite blend.
What I always look for in a tobacco blend is what feeling that blend takes me to.
When smoking the HH Old Dark Fired Flake (ODF) blended by Mac Baren, I feel as though I am at the grill and smoking a wonderful piece of meat. With the deep flavor you get from smoked/steamed pressed tobacco, you are automatically transported to memories of a campfire, an intense sauna, or, like me, a grill.
Because of this sensation, the ODF is the perfect tobacco for the smoker who loves the outdoors (which I am betting most pipe smokers do). But even for those who aren’t all about camping and grilling, the deep rooted flavors of ODF are exquisite and forefront enough for all pipe smokers to enjoy.
In order to understand the flavor profile of a fired tobacco, a little must be said about the process in which it is made.
ODF is made mostly of a light burley tobacco, the rest being red virginia. As the tobacco is hung to dry age, there is a fire lit underneath allowing the smoke to be absorbed and chemically alter the tobacco. The tobacco is then pressed and subjected to steam, which continues and intensifies the chemical change started in the tobacco by the smoke. This unique aging process darkens the tobacco quickly, keeps the flavor intense, and adds a powerful robust flavor to the tobacco.
While the robust and earthy flavor of the tobacco is quite strong, starting with burley and virginia tobacco keeps this blend from being overpowering; hence a strong tobacco that is light on the palate.
An aspect of this blend that I truly admire is the moisture level. ODF has the perfect moisture content for a flake tobacco. It lights easily, while not being obnoxiously hot on the tongue.
The first flavor that explodes from this blend is the incredible smokey goodness of a fire. It is mystical how with merely a single draw, the flavor of smoke is so prevalent.
Besides the obvious earthy smoke, there are strong hints of dark chocolate finished with hints of spice.
For me, this blend smoked much better when rubbed out, meaning broken apart. It just took less matches to light this way, and the bowl continuity was much more consistent with ODF rubbed out.
This blend has a tremendous smoke content. I was able to blow ring after ring with a single puff (which isn’t necessarily important, but it does make the smoke more fun). In my experience, people like to get a lot of smoke out of a single puff, and the ODF delivers!
The room note of ODF is just average.
While able to taste chocolate and a hint of spice, these are not detectable from scent alone.
The whole of the note smells of tobacco smoke, nothing more, nothing less. I will not say that the note is unpleasant, because it is not unpleasant, just average.
Often I choose to pair my smoke not only based on the flavor profile of the tobacco, but on the “when” and “where” of the smoke.
I see ODF an outdoor blend. It also has the tendency to be more enjoyable in colder weather.
Dark black coffee is the perfect pairing to complement ODF.
The smokey mouth you will achieve from the blend is not to be disregarded. The bitter, hot coffee complements the smokey tone of flavor, cutting through perfectly. But after the sip, the full flavor of the tobacco is even more prevalent. And when is a better time to drink a strong cup of coffee than in the great outdoors around a campfire?
ODF is a medium/slightly full blend.
While the flavor profile of the chocolate is quite mild, thanks to the burley, the robust flavor gained through the smoke and steaming process is very noticeable. So while the smoker is guaranteed to have a smokey experience, the potency of ODF is kept under control.
There is no doubt that I loved the HH Old Dark Fired Flake.
I would rate this blend a solid 7 out of 10.
I found no smoking issues with this blend, and was incredibly happy with my decision to smoke.
I must say, while there are no issues with the tobacco, I did experience a small problem with the packaging. It seems that my tin, once popped, had a weak seal. After having first opened, two weeks later, my tobacco was beginning to severely dry out. As a warning to smokers: smoke quickly, so you will not run into the same problem I did.
Tobacco provided by Sutliff Tobacco Company for the purpose of a non-bias review.