FURTHER NOTES REGARDING THE KEY LARGO SMOKING MIXTURE BY G. L. PEASE: CONSTITUENT TOBACCOS AND CONTEXT
Specifically, it is further comment on Greg Pease's latest blend (KEY LARGO), which the label notes describe as:
"Deep, earthy and creamy. A distinguished broken flake of red Virginia tobaccos, small leaf orientals, and a measure of Cyprus Latakia, spiced with velvety cigar wrapper leaf. Key Largo develops throughout the bowl, offering a satisfying and sturdy smoking experience, with beautifully balanced, richly textured layers of cocoa, dark roasted coffee, leather, and a lively, lingering finish."
[I have reviewed KEY LARGO in the previous post (immediately underneath), and also elsewhere.]
The small Oriental leaves mentioned are almost certainly Smyrna (Izmir), the velvety cigar wrapper leaf is probably (?) what in Dutch we would call 'zandblad' (sand-leaf): the bottom-most leaves, large and somewhat velvety to the touch, which are pale yellow when cured.
Latakia tobacco, named after the Syrian port of اللاذقية (Al-Ladhiqiyah, Laodikeia), was a medium oriental leaf, mostly Shek El Bint, which was cured over smoke. Nowadays it comes from Cyprus, as the Syrians have little forest left. The curing fires are made of different woods, the leaf grown in Cyprus is very similar to Smyrna. It is good, though not nearly as delightfully pongy and tarry as the old stuff.
[Sometimes a limited amount of Syrian leaf reaches the market. But it is not the same. They fume it far less now, because of the aforementioned paucity of forest.]
A DISTANT RELATIVE: BALKAN SOBRANIE No. 10
A long time ago, if you wanted a pipe-tobacco with cigar leaf as one of the components of the blend, you would probably have bought Balkan Sobranie Number 10 Virginia (round yellow-lidded tin, dark brown image and lettering), which had cigar leaf in it - allegedly Cuban, though that seems somewhat unlikely, as we sold it at Drucquer & Sons in Berkeley. That would not have been possible had it contained Cuban tobacco.
[Balkan Sobranie made a Balkan Mixture (white tin, black lettering), a heavy Latakia mixture (black tin, gold lettering - Mixture No. 759), a cigar leaf Virginia mixture (described above), and a flake, which I utterly cannot remember at all. They also made cigarettes - the Imperial Russians, which were papyrossi with excellent Black Sea tobacco at the end of extra long tubes, Yenidje non-filters that came ten to a tin (in the same league as the Khedive Cigarettes from Germany, both very good - the difference was the resinous quality of Yenidje versus the sweetness and spice of either Samsoun or Smyrna), and Black Russians - blended filter ciggies with black paper, which appealed particularly to people with pretension. But Balkan Sobranie were best known for their pipe-tobacco. The Redstone family owned the company for three generations before finally bowing out. ]
I do not remember much about the No. 10, and will sometime have to open the last tin that I have left. It has probably changed enormously in a quarter of a century (due to the aging process: fermentation, mellowing, and melding of flavours) - the blend has been unavailable since the early eighties. Greg's new blend does not strike me as similar. He has a more delicate hand with the cigar leaf than I recall the Balkan Sobranie No. 10 evincing, and the No. 10 did not have any Oriental (Turkish) tobacco or Latakia.
[I have not tried the McClelland cigar leaf blend, nor any of the very few similar mixtures other manufacturers have produced. Usually they are compounded with cigar smokers in mind rather than pipe smokers. And that cannot be a good idea. ]
Greg Pease's Key Largo is very good indeed, and has an excellent nose.
I could grow quite fond of this.
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