DRUNKEN EXCESS IN KENDAL
It is the intensity of living among the teenage crowd of that time to which I particularly wish your attention drawn. Fresh air, cold weather, hot hot tea, strong beer, and profoundly stinky smoking products. Couple these with long rainy months and a general funkiness (aromas of vehicle oil, tar, printer's ink, and turpentine, plus severely unwashed sweaters and jeans), and the nose avidly recalls the time while the present mind cringes. But it was strong then, and life sparkled, despite the overwhelming smell of much spilled ale.
The best cure for a hangover is a pot of thick coffee, and lots of tobacco, early in the morning - the closer to dawn the better.
The combined fragrances will waken the others, asleep on the couch or still slumped on the beer crates in the corner. They too will come to cups, and light up. Before you know it the room is blue with haze swirling in the slanted brightness of morning, and everything is good again.
Made in England by Gawith Hoggarth & Co Ltd
[Gawith Hoggarth is located in Kendal, Cumbria. Which is also where Samuel Gawith is established. Both companies are extremely well known for snuffs and fine old-fashioned flake tobaccos.]
Tin blurb: "The finest Virginia tobaccos expertly blended with Latakia to give the smoker a unique taste and aroma."
What the tin blurb does not mention is that the blending is by means of steam and pressure, which melded and unified the flavours. Consequently this product smells heavenly if someone else lights up - assuming that you like sooty Levantines, of course.
Taste-wise, it is a fine product, rich in the Latakia department, with good Virginias to balance it out. It is not at all complex, but it is quite satisfying. And the Latakia reek is guaranteed to offend.
In the mouths of the Kendal tobacconists, Balkan is an imprecise term; there is no sweaty Turk in their version of a Balkan Mixture. Aficionados of Balkan Sobranie and the Dunhill products will probably be disappointed.
But their teenage sons will just love it, and gladly steal the tin from the desk drawer, smoking it all within the week. It is spicy and woodsy enough for their affections, and they will not mind the hinted soapiness of Lakeland funk in the Virginias. The stringy cut makes it pack well, and it burns smoothly.
This is the flirtation with the saucy sister of a friend, a zesty girl with sparkling eyes. You are thrilled by how she has blossomed - vivacious, charming, witty. An innocent but very intense dalliance, followed by a secret and delicious feeling of guilt - despite no breach of etiquette or ungentlemanly behaviour.
But still. Naughty!
Though it is not a Latakia dump, it cannot be called restrained either. This is a tobacco for the vigour of youth, and long glowing evenings of bar-hopping cheer.
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