Wessex Brigade Original Fragrant Virginia

This one’s a bit of an enigma.

Wessex Brigade Series Original Fragrant Virginia. It has cider in it. It’s also made in Germany and carries an English name.

I looked up whether the serialization refers specifically to the “Wessex Brigade” or, more generally, to brigades within the British Army. Apparently the Wessex Brigade was an administrative arm of the British Army, but only from 1948 to 1968, when it was conglomerated with two other brigades.

If true, the little man on the tin appears rather overdressed for this time period.

I then investigated the slogan printed on the tin, in omnia paratus (prepared in all things), but couldn’t find a match to any of the world’s military mottoes, much less to any wing of the British Army. I don’t even know if the Brigade Series is a specific commemoration, or if the military image serves purely commercial purposes.

So I know nothing, basically.

This is what happens when the only relevant results a search engine can uncover are dubiously curated Wikipedia entries.

Or maybe this is what I get for neglecting any and all English history electives in college.

In any case, all this fruitless research has me fancying a smoke. Did you hear there’s cider in this?


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That is one sharp looking tin-and-pipe combo. Classy.

THE BASICS:

Wessex Brigade Original Fragrant Virginia is an aromatic blend of black cavendish, cavendish, and Virginia tobaccos. [1] The tin claims:

“Natural Aromatic Virginia blend flavored with traditional West Country Cider.”

For those, like me, who were ignorant as to what exactly comprises a “West Country Cider,” one author describes it as:

“Uncarbonated, unfiltered, heavy in tannin, and high in alcohol—at least six percent, sometimes seven or higher—it’s differentiated from other styles of cider by its distinctively cloudy appearance and tannic mouthfeel.”[2]

Sounds delicious. Read more about West Country Cider here.

I purchased this 50g tin from SmokingPipes.com for $10.13 USD. I have read, but cannot confirm, that this may be a discontinued brand. However, one can still find it at several different online retailers, along with other entries in the Brigade Series.


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The paper liner on this tin was well-stained by the aromatic mixture within.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Breaking the vacuum seal and turning the lid reveals a heavily stained paper liner. Sweet fig and citrus notes ascend and bring with them a smoky, almost latakia-esque undertone. Peel back the paper and you receive tangy, fermented cider and a sweet fresh-apple aroma. There’s a certain sort of creaminess here, like apple butter. Tart cherries peek out during deep inhales.

The ribbon cut is quite dry out of the tin. Perfect for immediate smoking, if not a little crisp for some.

I begin to wonder how old this tin is. The seal sounded perfect though.

The leaf within is deeply tanned throughout, with well-blended flecks of black cavendish further darkening the overall hue. Owing to its somewhat dehydrated condition, the ribbons feel firm and loose and very easy to pinch away from the tin.


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If you favor a less crispy experience, some hydration will be required.

THE SMOKE:

The first light provides bright Virginia sweetness on the tongue. A sweetness that quickly fills the surrounding room. There’s a pleasant spiciness available to retrohalers and the earliest hint of cider reaches the back of the mouth. Body is medium here. A faint smokiness enhances the sweet and savory aromas.

Apple butter and citrus become more pronounced as the smoke continues, a fine complement to your favorite clear-or-yellow citrus flavored soda. Effervescence on the retrohale reminds me of carbonation and celebrations.


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Cider tobacco stuffed in a brandy pipe.

The second half of the bowl delivers even more apple and cider flavors. They are creamier now, light and airy, almost whipped. No hint of bite, not even a warning nibble. Retrohales sweeten up significantly at this end of the bowl, while spicy lovers are free to French inhale to get their fix. There’s this pleasant and mild sourness that clings to every puff.

Definitely a low nicotine affair. A good candidate for an all day smoker, and certainly for a morning blend. Many will find it too tame, but this is a must-try for cider lovers.

Need pipes, tobacco, and supplies? You might be surprised what Amazon has to offer:

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