At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

FURTHER NOTES REGARDING THE KEY LARGO SMOKING MIXTURE BY G. L. PEASE: CONSTITUENT TOBACCOS AND CONTEXT

This post is about pipe tobacco.
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.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: The comment string on the previous posting about Key Largo got hijacked by wombats. Such things happen occasionally. It is a hazard of this blog.




TOBACCO INDEX


==========================================================================
NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
LETTER BOX.
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.
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24 Comments:

  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger Lipman said…

    I was curious about this, though I'm not entirely convinced of cigar leaves in pipe tobacco.

     
  • At 5:53 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I've tried blending with cigar leaf several times.

    There are two factors that need to be considered:
    1. What other tobaccos will be in the blend;
    2. What type of cigar leaf.

    Usually cigar leaf resembles a harsher equivalent of Maryland, though, because the drying temperature is higher, there will be more residual natural sugar.

    A good cigar leaf will add its own sweetness to the blend, but will need to be posed against a tobacco that will ameliorate the somewhat acrid taste that cigar tobacco has when smoked in a pipe. It is best if one thinks in terms of no more than ten percent - and even five percent can be much. Choosing a cigar leaf that can be smoked in a pipe is an almost impossible task.

    That said, I am glad that Greg examined the issue. And pressing the blend was probably a touch of brilliance. It both mellowed the total, and made what is a probably a minor amount of cigar leaf stand out more, taste-wise, without the smoke becoming too 'earthy'. The proportion of Virginia, Turkish, and Latakia make it a mild English, and the whole seems well balanced. I do think your eyshes chayil will like the aroma.

    Savage Kitten did not squawk or kretch when I smoked it in the television room last night. And I know she was awake enough to realize what was going on.

     
  • At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Blend with wombat pelt. Ten percent.


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooops. Sorry. Invaded the wombat-free string. My bahd.

    Muafdena, janab.


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I will not buy this wombat, it is scratched.


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 3:35 PM, Blogger Lipman said…

    Sounds certainly worth a try. For some strange reason, my wife doesn't mind Latakia. I should check our kesubbe, because the scientific definition of "wife" includes "#388. Claims latakia stinks."

     
  • At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If the scientific definition of wife includes "Latakia stinks", then logically she is not a wife.

    Are you SURE that she signed the contract? Sounds like she is merely your beloved roommate.

    At very least, she is not a natural San Franciscan - all of us claim absulotely everything smells bad and is probably politically incorrect besides. Latakia is an exploitation of the poor downtroddable Syrian felaheenim, and must be outlawed. And we want an ecologically green version in any case.

    Again, not a wife. Check contract.



    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    India also produces tobacco. Various air dried leaves, and some cured over heat - though not Latakia. Ah, the precious smell of burning cow dung in the morning, it smells like... victory!


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 12:04 PM, Blogger Lipman said…

    One tobacco with a generous dose of Latakia was or is called Elephant Dung.

     
  • At 4:12 PM, Anonymous amphibious feline said…

    One despot of China is or was called Mousie Dung.

     
  • At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Quite the geography lesson here. Glad I cruised in. The world stinks.

     
  • At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Eric the literal tobacconist said…

    From Tobacco Reviews dot com:
    Elephant Dung

    ----------------------
    Brand: Synjeco
    Tin Description: With this blend you not only have to like Latakia - you have to positively 'crave' the taste, as this blend contains 50%, while the remain 50% are heavily steamed Virginia!! We are sure, that this blend will fulfill the desire of the most pretentious smokers.
    Country of Origin: CH
    Curing Group: Air Cured
    Contents: Virginia
    Latakia

    [Source: http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend_detail.cfm?ALPHA=E&TID=2374 ]

    Then further: "This tobacco may be considered as the Swiss' answer to the S.Gawith Commonwealth: same components, same percentages. If you like latakia this is a good tobacco --- A very in-your-face experience --- not a very subtle or complex blend --- It will surely appeal to latakia junkies, but its taste can soon become a bit flat."

    The Italic text from the reviews. Only two so far: Sasha and Beer respectively.

    We have not been able to find this Mousie Dung of which you speak. Please cite references.

     
  • At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Eric the persevering tobacco maven said…

    It appears to be a Schweizerische variant on Samuel Gawith's Commonwealth mixture. And Gawith's are known for their heavily cooked Virginias.

    Remains the Question, is the Latakia from Syria or from the Crusader island?

    Commonwealth: 50% heavily steamed Virginia & 50% Cyprus Latakia, gives honor to the Tobacco Lords of Glasgow & the Commonwealth of Virginia. Made in England.

    It has afficionadoes by the score. Fifty two reviews, and three stars. Very highly regarded indeed.

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    We have not been able to find this Mousie Dung of which you speak.

    You probably won't. I'm fairly certain he meant it snarkily.

     
  • At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Elephant Dung - suited for very big Hindus, I bet.


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dammit, I want my dung!

     
  • At 6:42 PM, Anonymous I smell a herring said…

    And here's what the most recent entry on tobacco reviews dot com says:
    "I am not normally a Latakia smoker but I thought I would try peases blend because i enjoy what they do with virginas! The tobacco stays lit with no bite. I am normally a aromatic smoker or i smoke Virginias and wanted to give a english type smoke a try! I didn't like the flavor much when I lit it because it was smokey(tasted like firewood) So I added some Rumcake from pipeworks in it to add a rum sweet flavor and now this tobacco is great! So if you are a aromatic smoker add some of your favorite aromatics to it and smoke it you might like it! The smokey flavor is good now!
    *as i continue smoking this blend I see I like it alot! The spiciness kicks in and the sweetness of the Virgina! I did not mix the blend with the Rumcake I only put it on top! My wife said it smelled like smores. After the rumcake burnt off i got the blend pure again and found that it only has a touch of Latakia, not bad at all!
    "

    Now please excuse me while I go vomit.

     
  • At 6:26 AM, Blogger Lipman said…

    Oy.

     
  • At 11:04 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Herring, that's the most something review of a new pipe tobacco I have as yet read. Clueless barely describes it. I should probably be glad I do not know that smoker.

    I thought I would try peases blend because i enjoy what they do with virginas!

    Pease is particularly known for English mixtures. What he does with Virginias is not his oldest or main claim to fame.

    I am normally a aromatic smoker or i smoke Virginias and wanted to give a english type smoke a try!

    He already knew a priori that it was not a Virginia. He read the label blurb to find out that this was a modified English - but he also must have had a choice of other English mixtures, so why did he pick one with cigar leaf for a first attempt?

    I didn't like the flavor much when I lit it because it was smokey(tasted like firewood)

    That probably is the Latakia - which is known for a smokiness, almost sooty and woody. I find it hard to believe that this was the smoker's very first experience with Latakia. And again, why did he choose this blend for his first English?

    I added some Rumcake from pipeworks in it (cut) and now this tobacco is great! So if you are a aromatic smoker add some of your favorite aromatics to it and smoke it you might like it!

    This is the kind of advice that makes one gag. Great is not the term I would have chosen. And 'like' is not a verb that belongs anywhere near such a cocktail.

    I did not mix the blend with the Rumcake I only put it on top! -- After the rumcake burnt off i got the blend pure again and found that it only has a touch of Latakia, not bad at all!

    After bollocksing it up with his candy crap he judges it not bad. One need not question his sanity (doubtful), but certainly one must question his taste (appalling) - adding a pudding flavour to a dry English does not do justice to the English, and by putting it on top, whatever real taste the English mixture had has been sugarified to a fare thee well. The only thing he tasted cleanly was the rumcake.

    People like this should not smoke publicly. They set a bad example for the innocent.

     
  • At 12:01 PM, Blogger Lipman said…

    I should probably be glad I do not know that smoker.

    He should.

     
  • At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

  • At 9:39 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    The above is spam. But it is informative spam, rather than Levitra, Cialis, or Viagra spam.

    While I normally abjure pressed pork in the comments, in this case I will permit it.

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    For the curious, please note: the articles which most prominently mention Drucquer & Sons in Berkeley are these:

    DRUCQUER & SONS LTD - PIPE TOBACCO BLENDS REMEMBERED, AND A DISCUSSION OF TOBACCOS AND TIPS
    http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2006/10/drucquer-sons-ltd-pipe-tobacco-blends.html

    ASTLEYS NO. 99 - FULL LATAKIA MIXTURE
    http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2008/11/astleys-no-99-full-latakia-mixture.html

    TOBACCO COMPANIES, TOBACCO BLENDS
    http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2010/02/tobacco-companies-tobacco-blends.html

    DRUCQUER & SONS LTD - A BERKELEY INSTITUTION
    http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2011/06/drucquer-sons-ltd-berkeley-institution.html

    Feel free to leave a comment under any one of them, or questions.
    I'll respond after the system notifies me that you have written something (if you require a response, of course).

     
  • At 6:54 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Readers may contact me directly:
    LETTER BOX
    Correspondence will be kept in confidence.

     

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