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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

JOHN COTTON: FINE OLD REEK

Sometimes you just don't know where things have gone. You get distracted, and several years later, when you finally remember what you were doing, something you expected to see in a familiar place has completely disappeared.
That especially applies to certain fine old pipe tobacco brands.


Back in the early 1980's John Cotton's was one of the names which suddenly started disappearing. There used to be three types: No. 1, Nos. 1 and 2 Medium, and John Cotton's Smyrna. All were blends of flue-cured leaf with Turkish and Latakia.
[The first listed was mild, the second relatively full, and the third was a full English mixture with a more noticeable Turkish and Latakia portion.]


I have recently been smoking from a nearly forty year old tin of the Nos. 1 and 2 Medium. At this point I have enough left from this batch for maybe six more bowls. I'm keeping the tin once I'm finished - it's a lovely simple enameled commercial tin which lists the manufacturer's address, as if an eternal constant, ever unchangeable, on the side: John Cotton Ltd., 65 Kingsway, London W.C.2



JOHN COTTON'S
Nos. 1 and 2 Medium
TRADITIONAL ENGLISH MIXTURE


The tobacco is a lovely dark purple-black in hue, and looks slightly oily. The various components are no longer recognizable, save for what appears to be a stoved Virginia, which is also suggested by the taste.

It is an extremely enjoyable smoke, but, having aged for a generation plus, it has no peaks or valleys left. Recognizably still a medium English style blend with good Oriental (Turkish or Greek ) tobaccos.
Alas, I cannot guess what the other Virginias are, and the Latakia has faded into a Levantine haze. Smooth, mild and perfumy, it reduces to an exceptionally fine white ash. There is no tongue bite. The tin aroma is like wine and also like early spring.

It does not call any other tobaccos to mind, nor spark any memories of previous smokes; the tobacco is too aged for that to occur. I do wish I had more of the same vintage, though. It is like smoking precious incense. The hundred gramme tin I recall stashed in the box near the door dates from 1981, and it will be a while before I open that - there is no more.



John Cotton's Ltd claimed to have made tobacco since 1770. Gallaher's from Belfast owned the John Cotton trademark for many years. Gallaher's was acquired by Japan Tobacco in April 2007. Primarily for the cigarette brands.


The nearest modern equivalents to the John Cotton's pipe tobaccos are probably G. L. Pease blends.
For the Nos. 1 and 2 Medium and the John Cotton's Smyrna, I think you should try Charing Cross and Abingdon.
I have also heard excellent reports about G. L. Pease's Odyssey, but haven't smoked any yet. It, too, is probably a good equivalent - but like all GLP's, smoke it for its own sake.

Butera's Royal Vintage Latakia No. 2 is apparently a near-duplicate of the John Cotton No. 1. Or so I have been told. I have to wonder, though.




TOBACCO INDEX


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17 Comments:

  • At 5:37 PM, Anonymous jimmy buzzard said…

    Well Brian...I hit the ball first time, and there it was in the back of the net!

     
  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I have broken free of the limpid tentacles of packed Mediterranean defence, yet I refuse to cede midfield dominance this early!

    Like with all fine English, you just have to wait for the free-scoring Turkish.

     
  • At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Baboon of the Yard! said…

    Right! I'm arresting you for impersonating Signor Michelangelo Antonini, who first made use of that tree over there. Er... the one just behind that hillock. The little hillock, NOT the big one on the... you see the three trees over there? Well, the one furthest away on the right... No, it's nothing like a willow!

     
  • At 11:01 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    The Larch.

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The. Larch.


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I... am... a... gorilla!



    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, you probably are.


    Lev

     
  • At 1:07 AM, Anonymous donnie said…

    What's a pederast, Walter?

     
  • At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A pederast is a quadruped that lives in the waters of the Amazon....


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It has a beak for eating honey....


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 12:22 AM, Blogger Spiros said…

    ...and lives in the Crocker-Amazon.

     
  • At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When you see one, you must yell "cuidado, los gringos!"


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What, no Sprostic comback?

    How odd. How absurd!

    Here Greeky Greeky Greeky, heeere Greeky Greeky Greeky.

    Banana!


    ---Grant Patel

     
  • At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    John Cotton Ltd., 65 Kingsway, London W.C.2



    JOHN COTTON'S
    Nos. 1 and 2 Medium
    TRADITIONAL ENGLISH MIXTURE

     
  • At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Pale Bartlett said…

    The nearest modern equivalents to the John Cotton's pipe tobaccos are probably G. L. Pease blends.
    For the Nos. 1 and 2 Medium and the John Cotton's Smyrna, I think you should try Charing Cross and Abingdon.
    I have also heard excellent reports about G. L. Pease's Odyssey, but haven't smoked any yet. It, too, is probably a good equivalent - but like all GLP's, smoke it for its own sake.

    Butera's Royal Vintage Latakia No. 2 is apparently a near-duplicate of the John Cotton No. 1.


    The G. L. Pease blends, excepting Odessey, come reasonably close. Odessey is too much an anomaly.

    I would avoid Butera. Not bad, not bad at all, but not close.
    They rely too much McKetcup & Co. of Kansas City to produce more than make very recognizable McCatsoup products.

     
  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Peter said…

    Wilderness, by Fred Hanna, is a very good replacement. Absolutely delightful. You've mentioned it a number of times in other posts, I'm surprised that you did not immediately note the similarity.

     
  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Peter,

    Now that I think of it, you're right. Wilderness is indeed very close.
    My tongue memory registers both the same.

    Thanks.

     

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