[Samarra contains Cyprian, Turkish, various Virginia tobaccos, and a touch of Perique. A remarkable smoking mixture.]
I was mistaken. It is reminds me of Royal Ransom, a full Latakia pipe-tobacco mixture by Drucquer and Sons in which some of the flavour was a particularly nice black Virginia. If one aged the mixture, the traces at the extremes of the flavour-spectrum faded, and a fruity depth came forward. The tin of Samarra I'm currently smoking was compounded nearly three years ago, in 2004 leminyonem. A distinct fruity agedness has indeed come forward, helped no doubt by the Perique (lacking in Royal Ransom), and maturing has given it a familiar perfume. Noticeably different, yet same.
Other pipe-tobaccos I have at my desk:
Yenidje Highlander, by McClelland. McClelland has finally gotten it right. This is very nice, despite the wisp of that ketchuppy odour all their Virginias end up with. The Yenidje and Latakia are in fine balance. Goes well with Scotch. And would probably also be very nice with cognac.
Manhattan Afternoon, by Cornell & Diehl. I do not know what is so particularly Manhattan-afternoonish about 'naturally sweet golden Virginia leaf with a drop of honey sliced into flakes'. The tin-aroma is more aged English flake than Manhattanish. But it is a soft and very pleasant smoke, with the faintest hint of bee bottom.
Durbar Mixture, by Dunhill. Turkish, Turkish, Turkish, Turkish, Turkish, Turkish, Virginia and Latakia. Turkish delight. A narrow-ribbon cut. The Virginias add a subtle fruitiness, augmenting the faint sweetness of the Oriental. There must be some Smyrna in this.
This displeases the delicate nose of the significant other.
Dunhill Light Flake. Which is light only in relation to flakes which are not. Similar to other 'light' flakes, pressed reds, and pure Virginias, but with a touch of that Lakeland perfume which augments the fragrance of the leaves. Smooth. Refined. And therefore decadent.
Frog Morton's Across the Pond. Why do some blenders insist on cutesypoo names? Could they not simply have called this an English exotic? Not a bad blend by any means, but I do not understand why some people swear by it. Degustibus non disputandem est.
Kensington, by G. L. Pease. Tinned in early 2004, leminyonem. A restrained Balkan.
[In addition to Samarra and Kensington, Greg Pease makes other fine blends. See here: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/03/pipe-tobacco-some-g-l-pease-blends.html]
Note: Drucquer and Sons on University Avenue in Berkeley went out of business in the early nineties, when the then owner miscalculated the impact of higher taxes and tighter smoking restrictions. By that time it was a shell of what it had once been. It had reached its apogee during the Robert Rex years. Robert sold the store in the early eighties, and is now living somewhere in the foothills.
[More about Drucquers here: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/10/drucquer-sons-ltd-pipe-tobacco-blends.html ]
There is no decent tobacconist in Berkeley anymore - the only "tobacconist" in town is near Sather Gate, and sells shisha and perfumed dreck, plus clove cigarettes and cheap stogies. A head shop, more or less. Lighting up near the campus will get you screamed at by the smoking-nazis. Or smacked across the chops with a sweaty Birkenstock - probably by a communist vegan.
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