I was quite excited when I opened the package from Erin; first I had received a blend that I’d been curious
to try for some time and secondly it was dated 10/18/14, already aged over two years! The tin had traveled quite a distance and was rather cold when I opened the package so I opted to let it sit for a couple of days to acclimate before popping it.
When I did get around to opening it I found a very tightly sealed tin; it actually took quite the effort to get the seal broken, a good thing. The initial tin note was subtle Latakia and a slightly different woodsy, almost incense fragrance. Rubbing out the entire tin I found it was at the perfect moisture level to smoke.
The tobacco lit well both on the false and true lights. On the charring light I tasted mostly the smokey Latakia. Five minutes or so, later on the true light, I was treated to a tingling, peppery sensation with a background of Latakia and slight Virginia sweetness.
One third of the way into the bowl and the black pepper-tanginess has stayed nice and constant. The smokey Latakia wafts in and out in its intensity but never overwhelms. The herbal flavor has dulled a bit but a sweetness from the Virginias steps in to replace it. All the tastes are well balanced and holding my interest, making it hard to take notes as I just want to relax and enjoy the smoke!
Periodically I get hints of cedar, and perhaps sandalwood, throughout the bowl. There is another incense-like flavor I can’t place but it is pleasant, not floral but more herbal or woodsy in nature.
The sweetness intensifies toward the end of bowl, at times almost honey-like. The black pepper has faded into the background, it’s wonderful tingling minimized to barely noticeable. The Latakia has faded well into the background at this point when suddenly the sage-like (Eureka; I figured it out!) herbal notes crescendo as the black pepper returns for its encore!
This blend not once went bland nor lost my interest. Each puff I eagerly anticipated what would I be treated to next!
It smoked cool with only one relight the entire bowl and had absolutely no bite. I was still puffing on the pipe when I realized that there no tobacco left to smoke, always a good sign – except when you suck in a hot ember – but not always what a blend can achieve. The bowl was completely dry and the tobacco 99% burnt to a very light grey, almost whitish, ash.
Since I can’t smell what I’m smoking while I’m smoking it, I elicited some opinions from my wife and son. I’ll leave out her thoughts! LOL His description was room notes of a campfire-like scent, characteristic of Latakia, oak, and maybe leather, that lent to a warm, comforting feel; more than just around a campfire in the fall. My vision of his words would be that it gave an atmosphere of gentleman engaged in deep, philosophical conversation in front of a fireplace, in a study.
As you on doubt know if you’ve read my reviews, I try to always smoke several bowls of a blend in a variety of pipes, sizes, shapes, and materials, using different packing methods,before I write a review; I don’t feel a single bowl can give a true feel for a blend.
I found that this blend tasted the best in a freshly restored medium-sized bowl author shape or Country Gentleman; my “regular” Latakia pipes seemed to mask the subtle nuances of the flavors where these more neutral pipes made them shine. I’m currently unable to access my meerschaum pipe but am certain it would absolutely shine in a ‘meer! I also found that the Frank and “Palm Roll” packing methods worked best for me with this blend in any of the pipes; the three-step became a bit sour, perhaps, toward the end and had more dottle.
Best of all I found this blend to be extremely consistent from bowl to bowl: the quality, flavors, burn, everything stayed right where that first wonderful bowl started (with the exception of two bowls in my “regular” pipe and the three-step method as I mentioned above).
This is a blend I could easily smoke more than once a week if I had the time to devote to just enjoying each sip. To me, the variety of flavors and complexity of the blend lend it to be savored rather than being an all day-type smoke. I did smoke it a few times in a less contemplative way and, while I missed out on some of the complexity, the overall experience was still very good and quite tasty. Of course that’s my opinion, which I’m the leading expert on.
Considering I’m not a fan of Lat-bombs but do appreciate Latakia as a condiment, and that this tin was over two years old when I received it, I’m going to classify this as a “to cellar” blend. I don’t know what it’s like fresh but with some age it is an absolute five-star blend for me.
Put me down for two more tins on my next order garçon!