Vanilla Blend Title Fight

Intro ArtI’m gonna do something a little different for this review. Typically I would dedicate a lot of time to one tobacco blend and then tell you a bunch of bullshit about it that we both know won’t effect your opinion in any way, shape or form… But I’m feeling a little wily this week so I thought I would shake things up a bit.

A few weeks ago I picked up a giant bag of Smokers Pride Vanilla Cavendish pipe tobacco at Cheap Tobacco. While I was there I also grabbed a bag of Prince Albert’s Soft Vanilla… Apparently I’m going through a vanilla phase or something and wasn’t even aware of it. Anyway, I had seen the massive bags of Smokers Pride before but never picked one up because I just assumed it was tobacco flavored mulch. The Prince Albert I picked up because I actually hadn’t see it there before and thought “what the hell”. On the way home I got the incredibly brilliant idea to compare these two “drugstore brands” and see which one would come out on top. Clearly this was an really awesome idea because I’m actually following through with it.

I’m also giving some serious consideration to hiring Don King to promote this as a pay per view event. It should pull in at least $20 maybe $30 bucks easy… That should cover my cost buying the tobacco anyway.

Stuttgart, GERMANY: US boxing promoter Don King is pictured during a press conference after the WBA heavyweight title bout of Russia's Nikolay Valuev and Uzbek boxer Ruslan Chagaev 14 April 2007 at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, southern Germany. In his fourth defence since beating American John Ruiz in December 2005, the Russian Giant Valuev - formerly known as the Beast From the East - was convincingly beaten over 12 rounds in Stuttgart by the powerful challenger. AFP PHOTO DDP/OLIVER LANG GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images)

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!

In the Blue Corner…
Weighing in at 12 ounces and hailing from Lane Limited…
The Cavendish Commando…
the Ribbon Cut Ripper…
Smokers Pride!

smokerspride01
You would not believe how much I had to pay these guys to put the bags on their heads.

Smokers pride enters the ring looking pretty slick in it’s bright blue bag. It’s a little bulky and has a few ounces on Prince Albert but that could go ether way at this point.

And in the Red Corner…
Weighing in at a slim 9 ounces the pride of John Middleton…
The Vanilla Vandal…
The Aromatic Maniac…
Prince Albert’s Soft Vanilla Cavendish!

prince_albert
I’m probably going to get sued for this… But damn it’s funny.

The Prince enters the ring a little slimmer than his challenger but he is looking fit all the way around. Ounce for ounce it seems like a pretty even match up and both contenders have clearly come to compete.

Shake Hands and come out smoking…
I’m expecting a good clean fight. Both of our contestants know the rules but in the event you don’t I’ll sum up how this is going to work. I’ve divided up equal amounts of both blends and then alternated between them smoking them both until they are gone. The same rules apply to each of them but at the end the blend with the highest score will be our winner!

I’m looking for a few different things here… First being flavor, I want it to a good consistent vanilla flavor but not an artificial one. Next, I’m going to be looking at the tobacco itself and how it performs, is it wet, dry, hot, bitty, ashy etc… Smokablity is next, how does the tobacco change over the course of the bowl? Is there a sweet spot? A dead spot? Does it eventually just turn to crap? Last but not least… Equipment… I have dedicated two identical corn cob pipes to this challenge so the contestants are fighting an even match-up… Lets see how things go!

Round 1 – Ding… Ding…
I’m not going to spend much time on the packaging here because they aren’t anything to write home about and honestly that’s not what is selling these two blends. The idea here is getting a garbage bag of pipe tobacco for a few bucks so the packaging isn’t really a big deal. they are both pretty boring as far as I’m concerned and I don’t think anyone is looking at ether of these blends and thinking “WOW I need to buy that!” because of the bags they are in.

Cracking open the incredibly large bag of Smokers Pride you instantly take a straight punch to the nose. It’s a lot of vanilla but right away I notice a problem with the smell. It just smells off, It doesn’t smell like actual vanilla or even a vanilla extract. It actually smells like French vanilla coffee creamer was dumped into a bag of tobacco and then shook up. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s a “bad” smell but it’s not at all what I was hoping it would be.

Prince Albert on the other hand smells more natural. It’s more inviting with just enough tobacco scent to actually smell like vanilla pipe tobacco. It really reminds me of a “classic” pipe tobacco smell and the first thing I thought was… “This is exactly how pipe tobacco should smell.” It isn’t lying to you because it is a Soft Vanilla smell but side by side that seems like a good thing compared to Smokers Pride.

Both of these brawlers are ribbon cut but I think this is where Prince Albert takes a few good blows from Smokers Pride. The ribbon cut of Smokers Pride is more uniform, the Prince however isn’t so lucky… It’s actually hard for me to say that this is truly ribbon cut at all. It looks more like a cube cut gone wrong. Honestly it’s kind of a flaky chunky mess and there are a number of “twig” like pieces floating around in there. It’s like somebody dumped pipe tobacco in a shredder.

When the bell rings at the end of round one it’s a draw. Prince Albert had some fancy foot work and scored big points with aroma but took his chops when it came to the cut of his tobacco. Just looking at Smokers Pride you can see that the cut is a little better but as soon as you take a whiff of this stuff you probably won’t care what it looks like.

fight01

Round 2…
Lighting up a bowl of Prince Albert is easy enough. The chunky cut of this blend isn’t too hard to work with but you will have to pick out the sticks and twigs you find in there before you pack your bowl. On the plus side the moisture of Prince Albert right out of the bag is pretty good and once it’s cleaned up it packs well enough. Lighting this is just as easy as lighting regular Prince Albert and a simple char/tamp/light should be more than enough to go the distance with this blend. Once lit PA Soft Vanilla has some smooth footwork going on and flows really well. More importantly the flavor is really nice. It has a great mix of tobacco and vanilla that isn’t too strong or sickly sweet. Best of all it doesn’t taste fake.

Smokers Pride comes out of the corner a wet mess… I let this stuff set of at least 10 minutes or more and it still felt just as spongy as the rest of the tobacco in the bag. It packs into the bowl alright but you have to be careful because it doesn’t take much to jam up the airflow in your pipe with this stuff.  Lighting it is also a workout. Charring light and then a tamp with another light only lasts for a few minutes, I had to light this stuff several times to get it going and by the time it was lit it was hot and acidic tasting. Once it did finally stay lit the flavor was about the same as the smell. Fake vanilla like a car air freshener.

At the end of round 2 Smokers Pride has taken a few stiff jabs from Prince Albert. It doesn’t seem to have trained hard enough for this fight and despite the weight difference it doesn’t look like it’s going to go the distance.

Round 3…
Half way into the bowl of Smokers Pride I don’t get vanilla flavor anymore. After the first five minutes or so this stuff seems to be exhausted. The casing seems to be so poorly done that is almost like it burns off the tobacco and leaves you with nothing but ashy smoke and very little flavor after a few minutes. It actually reminds me of gum that has lost it’s flavor and I could almost overlook the fact that the vanilla has vanishes if the tobacco itself tasted good but honestly it’s like smoking shredded paper. To add insult to injury, Smokers Pride is also sweating like crazy and the gurgle is getting pretty bad in my pipe. It’s just staggering around the ring at this point I’m sure of it.

fight2

Prince Albert on the other hand is hitting his stride and looking tough at the mid way point. The flavor is smooth and creamy and you still get a nice consistent vanilla flavor but it’s blending with a mellow tobacco flavor that is as enjoyable as smoking a bowl of regular Prince Albert. Soft Vanilla isn’t throwing hay makers of flavor at you, instead it’s working the jab and keeping a good rhythm. It’s also mixing it up a bit and I even detected a hint of something that reminded me of cinnamon. Smoking Prince Albert at a steady pace doesn’t seem to worked up a sweat at all and it stays completely dry. Hell, It isn’t even breathing heavy.

At the end of the 3rd round Prince Albert is looking strong while Smokers Pride has taken a flurry of good punches that has sent it stumbling back to the corner.

Round 4…
Smokers Pride comes out of the corner looking pretty rough. The flavor is gone at this point. It’s basically just ashy, smoke with an acrid taste that isn’t enjoyable on any level. I had to run a pipe cleaner down the stem more than once to soak up the moisture (in a cob no less) and at this point I think it’s just bleeding out… Unfortunately the combination of moisture and the lack of flavor is just too much for Smokers Pride and it doesn’t make it to the end of the round. The fire goes out long before you get to the bottom and trying to relight this stuff is just god awful. After the ten count you pretty much end up with a glob of nasty dottle laying face down in the ring.

knockedout

Standing over Smokers Pride in triumph is Prince Albert’s Soft Vanilla. Taking your time with this stuff it can really go the distance. You end up with a nice dry, flavorful smoke until the very end. It burns itself down fairly evenly and the dottle is dry and peppery looking when your done. Even more impressive is that the flavor stays consistent round after round. It’s not an over the top Heavy Weight vanilla flavor but it’s still an enjoyable Middleweight smoke.

The Winner By Knockout!!! 
I honestly didn’t think this was going to be as one sided as it was and I though for sure we would be looking at a split decision… man was I wrong.

Both of these tobaccos are bulk blends and both of them are less than $20.00 for a freaking garbage bag of pipe tobacco. Before this I had never smoked ether of these but I can honestly tell you that for my money I would actually buy Prince Albert’s Soft Vanilla again (if I ever run out of what I already have.) I might not spring for the giant bag of it but I did see some pouches so maybe next time I will go down a few weight classes.

Obviously nether of these are “premium” tobaccos so you are getting what you pay for here. Don’t go into this expecting ether of them to be mind blowing smokes but Prince Albert is far more solid than Smokers Pride could ever hope to be. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of that crap, maybe mulch a flower bed or something productive.

In the end of you are looking for a decent vanilla blend at a reasonable price and you just happen to be at the drug store Prince Albert’s Soft Vanilla is probably going to be your best bet. Don’t get suckered into betting on the big blue bag of Smokers Pride thinking you are getting a great deal because Vegas odds are not in your favor.

Champion

5 comments

  1. Super entertaining post, Clint, with two great reviews in there too! Vanilla isn’t really my thing, though I keep a jar around for those rare occasions when I’m sharing air space with delicate noses. A garbage bag of PA might be overkill, but it sounds like it’s a worthy budget blend.

    Like

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