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Produced by the time honored method of hot pressing dark and Golden Virginias until jet-black, resulting in a symphony of delicate aromas and exquisite flavors.

BrandEsoterica Tobacciana
Blended ByJ.F. Germain & Son
Blend TypeStraight Virginia
CutReady Rubbed
Packaging8oz Bag
ProductionCurrently available
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Mild, Mild to Medium
None Detected
Room Note

Favorite Of 2 Users

19 reviews
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (1382)
Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant

A stoved Virginia, black as a moonless night, and sweeter than your average Virginia based blend. I get a bit of licorice, lots of fermented fig, raisin,and date notes with a hint of spice, and an occasional sour note. It may need a slight time to dry, but it's not really a wet smoke. Any hay and grass notes are long gone by the time this is processed. Burns at a slow to moderate pace; cool, clean and smooth, and leaves very little moisture in the bowl. No goop or dottle. Requires a few relights. Has a nice after taste and room note. You'll like this only if you want a highly charged sweet, flavorful smoke with some nicotine. Two and a half stars.

3 people found this review helpful.

moniker Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
moniker (61)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

If you'd asked me after the first time I smoked Kingsbridge, I would have suggested that you avoid it, just as I intended to. Luckily, I put it away instead. After some cellaring, and after playing with it patiently and carefully, I have to upgrade my opinion of it - considerably.

For me, getting the most from this tobacco has been a matter of learning about it, how to prepare it, how to pack, light and smoke it, and how tune myself to its layered qualities. For one thing, the stock ribbons want some roughing up, and also some drying - but not too much drying. For another thing, don't rush it, or you will lose what is best about this blend. And I would not be surprised if you also have to develop and regularly modify your own prep/pack/light/smoke regimen. In other words, it's not a given, in any sense.

The further-aged version from my cellar smells (of course) of aged, pressed, fermented VAs - from mild, to sweet, to pungent - along with dates, cooked raisins or prunes, anise, and walnuts, and all these notions come up, eventually, in the aroma and on the tongue, as the tobacco is lit and smoked. The room note is OK, I think, but probably a little strong for non-smokers. As the bowl is carefully smoked down the taste and smell alike simultaneously develop more pungency and more sweetness, and the rich tastes and smells seem to morph and weave and interleave in ways that interest and satisfy me, both. In fact, it's gotten to where I want to smoke it frequently now, to enjoy the sophisticated richness and also to see "what happens next".

Summing, I can easily remember from my own experience how anyone might miss what Kingsbridge has to offer. But, over time, it has worked its way up my hierarchical ladder to a four star recommendation, which I hereby limit to lovers of the genre only, since there may not be enough in the way of low hanging fruit here to satisfy the merely curious.

Update, June 2015: I've recently enjoyed a stash of Kingsbridge that's been jarred for over 2 years. Succintly, here is an ET blend that benefits from jarring. It is simply delicious now, brown sugar sweet; deep, dark, and soft, and NO problems of any sort. I wish I'd cellared several tins, and I aim to do it soon.

2 people found this review helpful.

Kleophrades Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Kleophrades (39)
Mild None Detected Mild to Medium Tolerable

I purchased 8 oz. of Kingsbridge about a year ago and only just now opened it. The bag was of the foil type which ET used before switching to the current, beige packages, so the stuff inside must have been pretty well aged.

The aroma of Kingsbridge, on opening the pouch, is very much like that of Stonehaven. It differs from the latter chiefly in being ready-rubbed and in omitting the Burley. The result is a somewhat thinner, but cleaner and sweeter, smoke. Kingsbridge is well balanced and light, but arguably more complex than Dark Star (which I find pleasant, but the sweetness and heaviness tends to drown out other flavors). I still prefer Stonehaven, but if it's a pure pressed VA you want then you'll find no better.

Definitely benefits from a bit of drying.

2 people found this review helpful.

fr_tom Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fr_tom (257)
Mild to Medium Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant

This was a sample sent to me by a friend. I have been smoking it in a Grabow pot. It came at a pretty good level of hydration for me.The pouch note is licorice.

Smoked this is good. It is a slightly heavy sweet with fruit notes. The licorice comes out in the flavor, and there is a subtle herbal note I can't quite identify. Smoking qualities were good. It stayed lit and left the bowl dry.

This one is a 2.5 for me. I am unlikely to ever buy a tin, bu this is an enjoyable smoke.

1 person found this review helpful.

Virginia lover Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Virginia lover (154)
Mild Mild Mild Pleasant to Tolerable

The smell from the bag is a fermented licorice herbal tea like aroma. The grey/black ready rubbed tobacco is coated with plume from the excess moisture. After fully drying it and asking around if it's safe to smoke it, I dare to pack a bowl.

The taste and character is slightly tart, treacle like, fermented and mossy, enhanced by the licorice undertones. A mellow and mild smoke that needs no relight to the bottom. The craftsmanship of this straight Virginia is superlative, you see, smell, taste and ultimately feel the homemade characteristic of it.

2 stars overall for this Virginia tobacco that is too light and too topped for me. This could be a good tobacco for a beginner or even an all day smoke for someone who prefers their Virginia on the light and topped side.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

lesliesrussell Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
lesliesrussell (5)
Very Mild Very Mild Mild Very Pleasant

A very mild aromatic. The licorice flavoring is present but not overly so. What is remarkable is the sweetness. Very little bite, excellent room note. A real work of art.

Pipe Used: GBD bulldog

Purchased From: Local tobacconist

Similar Blends: Esoterica Blackpool, Esoterica Ramsgate.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Bonneville Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Bonneville (40)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant

Do I dare add my raving review to this tobacco? My hesitation is that I don't want this to become as rare and sought after as it's venerable cousin Stonehaven, or its wicked stepsister Penzance. But then that would be selfish. So here it is.

It is without a doubt the most underrated Esoterica blend- Pure Virginias pressed and stoved in the same tradition as Stonehaven, then broken up into delightful chunks. It's smoke is sweet and creamy, with a depth that is hard to duplicate. Definite layers of rich sun-dried fruit and tang. If you're a Virginia lover, give this one a shot. I do recommend drying it out some, and packing it more loose than your intuition would suggest. You will be richly rewarded.

Pipe Used: 4th Generation (Erik Stokkebye)

Age When Smoked: Old enough to develop some ploom :)

Purchased From: Beehive Cigars, Salt Lake CIty, UT

Similar Blends: Stonehaven, minus the Burley.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Preacher Pipes Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Preacher Pipes (8)
Mild Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

For me, the topping was off-putting. I didn't like or enjoy it and won't try it again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JohnnyMcPiperson Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JohnnyMcPiperson (100)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Mild Pleasant

I didn't really care for this one too much, I had high hopes having tried various other Esoterica blends and liking them all. This blend struck me as a much lesser version of Blackpool, I felt that the flavors just did not intermingle as well as they did in Blackpool. I had a very small sample of this blend, so my impressions may not be fully developed, but I will probably not come back to it.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

PipeCat Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
PipeCat (13)
Mild Mild Very Mild Unnoticeable

I have had this blend for two years aging in a mason jar. It was very wet when I first purchased it and aging didn't do much for that. I dried it out and packed it easily. It lit up fairly well. The tobac has almost no flavor to speak of. It's very mild. The one noticeable aspect of it is it's very sweet on the tongue. Overall I cannot recommend this.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

loosewatches Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
loosewatches (108)
Very Mild Mild Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable

Our word!

How did the taste people at Esoterica let this one get by?

I was really excited to smoke this stuff. Whilst dashing along my life wrought with virginia smoking excitement, I was beside myself as I sought to imbue me with the (hopefully) un-tredpidatious excitements of Esoterica's newest and hottest double black masterpiece Kingsbridge!

So, there I was, in my chair. As the wondrous package made itsself beknownst too me we had but a twinge of what was to be. (We being me and my pipe. Stick with it, here, the story is just about to get bitchin.)

As I sliced forth with my plugsword and devoured the vacuum about the tender tobacco bits, it occurred to my tenious, quivering virginia sniffing nostrils that not all was but not a far cry from amiss.

And so, Perchasing a brief stay before my eyes, thought I, my what hunk of moldy crap I see. And doth so a smidgen smite me as to its true identity?

It doth not. (I mean it dothn't, sorry)

Twixt briar lips did I a stuff it, and poke it did I too.

T'wos naught bught one's Imagine's, what make us think it through.

Man, that's some flat tasting tobacco. At least I could borrow your mind long enough to find out that this tobacco is not worth one tenth the time you spent reading this.

At least this was fun to read. Kingsbridge Aint.

T'war a flat tasty black crap.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pipeline Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipeline (206)
Mild None Detected Mild Pleasant

I found that this won't burn well for me and leaves my trusted pipes soaking after even half a bowl. The flavor that comes through is high and sweet, but nothing close to Dark Star or Full Virginia Flake.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

arpie55 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
arpie55 (40)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

first of all, i like the packaging and the cut of this. i found that it required very minimal rubbing out before packing and that it lit very easily. the color is dark due to the pressing and it has a bit of spiciness of leaf and processing. the flavor variations are there but to really find and enjoy them i had to smoke this slowly and with intent. the true test of how well you like a tobacco is whether you return to you tobacconist and purchase it again, i did with this one and probably will again.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

tabaco Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tabaco (103)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

Another winner by Esoterica. Next to the acclaimed Penzance, this is my second favourite from these fine folks.

I am huge Latakia enthusiast and even thought this one does not have the smoked leaf, it was surprisingly satisfying. There are not many black/dark Virginias around, and out of the few I have tried I like this one the best.

For my palate most Virginias are a tad too delicate, this however is full and develops handsomely as you combust your way to the bottom of the bowl. It also has a great mouthfeel, not drying at all. It packs beautifully and burns cool, delivering a rich and full bodied smoke. The nicotine/strength is there, mind you my first and highest priority is always flavour. I could really care less about how much "buzz" is in a tobacco.

All in all, this is highly recommended for those who want to take a Latakia respite, yet still want something tasty and satisfying.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

JazzSmoke Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JazzSmoke (37)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

I just smoked my first few pipes of this blend from a two year old 8oz jar. It is just a classic stoved virginia and is similar in flavor and character to StoneHaven or Rattray's Dark Fragrant. Those are both good choices as well. Very cool smoking tobacco with a typical mature stoved virginia taste and room note. It's not a flake tobacco and it dries easily and is a very pleasant and easy tobacco to smoke.

Excellent and highly recommended IF you like black stoved virginias.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Pounder 5000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pounder 5000 (178)
Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium Pleasant

Esoterica wins again! These guys are Pros. This is definitely the best they offer in the Va range. Burns cool and easy, and needs very little drying out. The flavor is just wonderful Va smoke with a bit of casing that tastes like perique minus any spice or hotness. You could easily smoke this blend all day and never tire your palette. A winner for sure!

Nobody has rated this review yet.

NEWMAN Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
NEWMAN (280)
Mild None Detected Medium Tolerable

This was the last of my recent trials of heat processed VAs and also the best. This bulk blend was slightly dryer than I prefer but this might have been a supplier problem. The rubbed out flakes were deep brown to jet black without any predominant pouch aroma. Initially, I had repetitive difficulty in packing that resulted in multiple relights or a hard draw or clogged air hole. Once mastered, an even, cool smoke resulted without the harshness of the others in this category that I've tried. However, I still prefer true VA flakes for their slow and even burn rates. If this was just sweeter in natural taste, I could use it as an all day smoke. If you prefer a matured, natural VA taste, you might enjoy this blend.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Willy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Willy (75)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

I like the dark VA's, and Esoterica has IMHO produced a good one here. The musty sweet aroma in the bag is pleasant enough to just sit and smell for a few minutes. Some may find it a little moist. After breaking up some of the bigger pieces of flake, filling the pipe is fairly easy. Lighting took an extra match, no worries. The tang is there (it's VA), but I also taste the presence of stewed fruit, very subtle. There is no mention of Perique, so I guess it's just the pressing/fermentation. This is a rich flake that has virtually no bite, and rewards the smoker with hints of flavors that remind me of dates, figs, and walnuts. I like the mixing of the tangy/sweet/slightly sour/smoky tastes that I note during the course of a bowl. There is an underlying sense of a campfire that I enjoy. I smoke this in a Ser Jacopo "La Pippacia" #3 (deep, narrow bowl bent pipe) and did notice a bit of moisture, but one pipe cleaner took care of it. It burned good and evenly, and with only a few re-lights (my fault a coupla times) resulted at the bowls bottom with a nice, fluffy white ash as do most Esotericas. I like this tobak, I find I can smoke it most anytime and it satisfies every time. My Mom-in-Law who does not smoke really enjoys the room aroma when I smoke this. "I like the smell of that one" she says. I would think most anyone who likes VA's would enjoy this. It is a little pricey, but worth having maybe a 1/2 lb. bag around to include in your rotation. The foil lined Mylar(?) bag does a great job of keeping it fresh. I just fold the bag down like a lunch bag and put a rubber band around it. Hey, works for me.

Nobody has rated this review yet.

Sceny Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Sceny (66)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This very dark blend is probably my favorite Virginia tobacco from Esoterica that I have yet tried. Dark, full, and complex, it matures nicely during smoking and is mostly bite-free from start to finish. The bag aroma is dark and a bit sweet, with a slight musty odor present as well. The tobacco is nearly totally black, only a few bits of dark brown varying the appearance. The moisture level in the bag is average to slightly dry, and the cut is short with some small bits that have crumbled off of the larger pieces. It packs easily and lights well, burning to a very white, pure ash. I first tried this blend in a deep, narrow Stanwell estate pipe that I like to use for dark Virginia flakes, and I recommend such a bowl for maximum flavor and enjoyment. In the first third of the bowl, the flavor is dark and earthy, a mature Virginia taste with a hint of sweetness. There is no bite at first and the smoke is smooth and tasteful. It isn't a full-flavored blend at this point, but the taste is still good. Moving on to the second third, the flavor has matured quite a bit. The darkness has deepened, and the flavor has become much more full. There is still that hint of sweetness present, but the tobacco taste is the most important part of the mix. The level of complexity has also increased, and bite is still not a problem. Onward with the third 1/3 of the bowl, and the flavor here is rather similar to the second part of the bowl. The dark, mature complexity of the tobacco is pretty much unchanged, or perhaps a tiny bit darker, and the sweetness has decreased somewhat. There is no moisture at all, and tongue bite remains nonexistent. Overall, This is probably the best Virginia tobacco I have yet tried from Esoterica. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, bite-free Virginias based on high-quality leaf. I will likely be buying a tin when my sample runs out.

Nobody has rated this review yet.