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John Cotton's Smyrna is a Turkish forward blend with plenty of rich latakia. Virginias add a touch of sweetness to a robust, smoky and earthy experience.

Notes: John Cotton's Smyrna was a favorite among connoisseurs. This was a rich, spicy and smoky classic that was a go-to for pipe lovers around the world...and then it was gone. The new owners of this classic brand approached Russ Ouellette to recreate their blends. Through diligent research and sampling vintage tins to help jog Russ' memories of the flavors, Standard Tobacco Company of Pennsylvania is now ready to bring this classic back.

A combination of carefully matured Virginias, fragrant and zesty small-leaf Turkish tobaccos and plenty of Cyprian latakia, John Cotton's Smyrna is deep and bold, and a perfect meditative repast.

BrandStandard Tobacco Company of Pennsylvania
Blended ByRuss Ouellette
Manufactured ByLane, Ltd.
Blend TypeBalkan
ContentsLatakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Packaging1.75 ounce tin
ProductionCurrently available
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JimInks Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
JimInks (2185)
Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable

The Cyprian latakia is smoky, woody sweet. The Orientals and Turkish are fairly sweet with a touch of sour, and are very woody and spicy with a deep smoky earthiness. Obviously, you can credit the Smyrna for much of that. Playing back-up is a citrusy sweet, lightly grassy, slightly earthy brown Virginia. You can taste all of the inherent tobaccos flavors in every puff. Burns clean with some complexity, and has a refined creamy, spicy sweet smoothness that makes you think there might be a little less latakia than there is. One might think all the spice would nip at your tongue if you puff fast, but that doesn’t happen, nor will it bite, though I do suggest smoking it at a moderate pace. This is the spiciest blend in this company’s line up, and it pleasantly lingers in the after taste. Medium to full in strength, and full in taste, the nic-hit is between moderate and full as it seems to get a little stronger in the last quarter of the smoke. Burns well with few relights, and a very consistent taste with no dull or harsh moments. Leaves no moisture in your bowl, and produces volumes of smoke as you go along to that fine white ash. The room note is stronger than a camp fire; very pungent. Not an all day smoke.


22 people found this review helpful.

fr_tom Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
fr_tom (328)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

The pouch note is smoky latakia and some sweet/sour. The tobacco itself looks like roughly equal parts of light yellow, brown and black chopped narrow ribbon. It came at a good moisture level for me and the short ribbon is easy to load. I smoked it mostly in a Cayuga pot or a a GBD Prehistoric pot. They smoked it about the same.

Smoking it brings out all the flavors in the pouch note. It has sweet and sour. The campfire smokiness is there and gains and loses strength. The Virginia is a little grassy and has a fruit note now and then. The spiciness is always in the background. The description here sounds complex, and it is. The tastes play nicely together and make for a great combo. It might take some practice to smoke this absent-mindedly while doing something else, but it might be worth setting some time aside too.

It was an easy smoke, and it burned cool, stayed lit, etc. It did not leave any moisture in the pipe. While it did not smoke to a fine gray ash since there were some black cinders in the bottom of the bowl, it was pretty close to achieving this legendary state o' combustion.

I am claiming strength is medium and taste is medium to full. This blend was very good, and it is in a crowded category with a lot of competition for the tobacco dollar. This is a solid 3+.

13 people found this review helpful.

DK Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
DK (846)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

At first view and whiff of the sample baggie, this appears to be a more latakia-heavy version of #1/#2. A little more black in the blend with a heavier latakia aroma. Lighting it up takes it to another level. That level happened to me a lower one for me but it was different.

First of all, this one had one of the best room notes of any tobacco, and it beats out the venerable Dunhill EMP for me in that regard (a tobacco I do not smoke). An aroma so delectable I wanted to eat it! In the smoke, this is a spicier, heavier taste than #1/2. It tasted latakia-heavy but not a "lat bomb", those blends which leave me cold with their dusty, monodimensional flavor. This has a nice shot of Smyrna which both spices up the proceedings and makes the blend kind of creamy as it melds with the latakia. This one is well rounded but with latakia at the forefront and might be a nice change of pace for those who are used to tasting nothing but latakia. The perfect balance of #1/2 was missing but I don't think balance is quite the point here, as this leans towards the smoky leaf. As a result, I found this one less complex than it's lighter stablemate. This blend, while not a rotation-maker for me, is just too well done to merit anything less than a three. I never got a chance to smoke the original but if it was this good, it earned its reputation.

11 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

The prior version of John Cotton’s Smyrna was the only in the line I never had the opportunity to enjoy. The new version, blended by Russ Ouellette offers a tin scent that is a little musty, smoky and a bit sour in a good way. Like a lot of Russ’s blends, I find the moisture level less than many other blends which is something that I appreciate. I was somewhat surprised, based on the scent that more Latakia comes through the smoke than I had anticipated. With that said, there is plenty of Oriental/Turkish flavor to satisfy. Smyrna starts out spicier than I prefer, but it quickly settles down as the flavors come together offering a fair amount of complex flavors. There is body, depth and what I would describe a richness to Smyrna too. There is no bite, but being a bit of a “puffer” it does burn warm for me when pushed. There is a nice interplay between the musty/earthiness of the Orientals and the sweetness of the Virginia. Smyrna nicely fills a unique space in a crowded field.

Age When Smoked: New

10 people found this review helpful.

tabaco Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
tabaco (111)
Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant

An excellent blend, complex rich and not too heavy with some mild Virginia sweetness, Nicotine not overly noticeable, thankfully. A slight cigarette note albeit 'good European cigarette' thanks to the Smyrna (lzmir), a very nice room-note as well. The quality is right up there with JF Germain and a very similar cut too. I don't collect empty tins; however, the classic logo is great.

My tin was a tad dry, added a few drops of water, let leaves balance themselves out for 4 or 5 days. There's no casing apart from water not even Propylene glycol; nice to see, akin to JF Germain's King Charles.

I adored this one cellar worthy without question, with extra thanks to Russ, Larry and the rest of the gang for their attention to detail, virtually a dead-ringer.

5 people found this review helpful.

afiddler Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
afiddler (1)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

John Cotton's Smyrna is an oriental blend comprised of mostly longer thin ribbon cut tobacco. The components are visually some light tan, mostly brown and some short black ribbon. The moisture level is perfect out of the tin and ready to smoke. This blend is medium in flavor and is smooth and fairly creamy. The dominant flavor is toasty like a heavily roasted nut with a moderate musty pungence. There is a constant interplay between a sour note and the sweetness of the virginias. The sour note is usually present with the sweetness sometimes coming forward and replacing it. There is a sustained constant level of sweetness to the smoke. There is often a spicy and floral flavor that punches forward, but usually stays in the background. There is a slight smokiness that fills out the foundation of the flavor profile and comes with a slightly woody taste. Towards the end of the bowl the flavor mellows out and becomes a bit more smokey. Overall I found this to be a pretty complex blend and very enjoyable. I would highly recommend this blend since it is flavorful and interesting without any harshness or overbearance.

Pipe Used: Briar Clay Cob

Age When Smoked: Fresh

5 people found this review helpful.

Phonomet Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Phonomet (44)
Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I'm a bit biased as I am typing my review while smoking the heavenly bottom half of the bowl where the sweet latakia and sour Smyrna leaves are working their magic. To risk unfair comparisons, JC Smyrna is not as floral as Whiteknight, nor as leathery as Black House, nor as zingy as Magnum Opus, but woodsy with a cedar-y tang. Highly recommended.

5 people found this review helpful.

TallPuffO'Burley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
TallPuffO'Burley (499)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

My third of the five review samples I received. I must say I had low expectations for this one as most blends that call out Smyrna, or iszmir as it is also known, usually don't do a lot for me. Well this one shattered those expectations. It is fantastic. Smooth, cool, spicy and sweet with a fantastic side stream to boot.

This is one of the better Balkan type blends I have tasted and I will certainly be putting up a few tins of this when they become available to the public. This one seems to let the Smyrna shine while keeping a respectable balance between the earth sweet Virginias and the smokiness from the Latakia, which is lightly applied.

This one is fantastic, so much so, that I have even started bidding on old tins of this on ebay in hopes of scoring one at a not to obscene price.

5 people found this review helpful.

Gentleman Zombie Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Gentleman Zombie (729)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

A pretty nice smoke. The Turkish leads with some sour wood, a touch of butter and a hint of florals. The Lat isn't far behind with a nice smoky note. The Virginias add a little sweetness and only a smidge of flavor. Has a bit of spice, mostly from the Turkish. It's smooth, but can burn quick with a little heat. Tends to dry out the mouth so a drink to go with it is a good idea.

Medium in body and taste. No added flavoring. Burns a little too well.

Pipe Used: MM Little Devil Cutty, Little Devil Acorn, Marcus

Age When Smoked: fresh

Purchased From:

3 people found this review helpful.

Pipestud Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pipestud (1825)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

I actually think STC's rendition of Cotton's Smyrna is stronger (in the nicotine department) than the original. The Smyrna is of good quality, but of course, totally different in flavor and presentation than the original, which had some of the finest small center cut Smyrna leaf that the world had to offer (and back in the "good" old days, there was a lot more variety and grades to choose from). The way Russ O. put together the various tobaccos was masterfully done and this is a quality smoke that I believe will be really good with some real age to it.

3 people found this review helpful.

LannarkGent Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
LannarkGent (121)
Medium Mild to Medium Medium Strong

To me, this is a latakia blend of this first order . I Enjoyed it greatly and will soon buy more of it. The smoothness of the latakia surprised me as I do not remember such maturity in a Cyrpian based latakia.

3 people found this review helpful.

King Weed Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
King Weed (122)
Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

I enjoyed this blend more than it's two stable mates, #1 and #1&2, and here's why: it is more like its namesake from the past than they are. This current iteration of Smyrna is, to my memory, fairly accurate. In the old days (60's and 70's) I smoked this tobacco every now and then, as I preferred #1&2 because of a perceived greater latakia content. That's why I feel that the current #1&2 is too light. The current Smyrna is stronger than the current #1&2 and I don't remember that being the case in the past. None the less, I found this blend to be satisfying with a somewhat exotic smoking aroma and I agree (once again) with reviewer tobacco 2016-02-02 that it is a bit like smoking a richer European style cigarette. This is a blend I can strongly recommend with four stars; with this proviso - don't smoke it too fast as it flattens out and becomes more Euro cigarette like. Also, I didn't find it as enjoyable toward the end of the tin as it also flattened out with the normal loss of moisture and essential oils. So, smoke it up and share it with other pipe smokers!

Pipe Used: Ashton ELX Quarter Bent Yatch

Age When Smoked: new

Purchased From: pipes and cigars

Similar Blends: I've only smoked a rare number of Smyrna forward blends and can't recall specific names.

3 people found this review helpful.

dixcreek Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
dixcreek (105)
Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant

Have waited for this one for a while. The wait was well worth it! This tobacco has a lot going on in the bowl and they are all good things. Slightly sweet with sour, smoky fire side aroma and taste. No bark, no bite just pure smoking pleasure. Arrived in perfect smoking condition, packed well, lit well and smoked like a dream. Grey ash with little to no excess moisture. Not a great deal of nicotine detected. This tobacco is a must try for those who like an oriental type tobacco. Good Job Russ!

Age When Smoked: new tin

Purchased From: pipes and cigars

3 people found this review helpful.

pinko Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
pinko (52)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is the good stuff right here - smoky Latakia, perfumed Turkish, and deep, sweet Virginia all balanced together to play to their strengths. This is what I think of when I think of an English blend, so maybe “full” is the tag I should be looking for.

Smyrna starts good and stays there. I wouldn’t call it complex, it’s kind of the same throughout. Not all blends need to be a wild ride full of changing flavors, this one makes the most out of a classic combination of tastes.

I appreciate the quality of the cut and the apparent moderate use of humectant - it will burn clean straight out of the tin, and if you want to dry it to crispy it will get there quickly. No fighting an overwhelming dose of propylene glycol here, whatever they’ve done to maintain moisture is just perfect in my book.

Smyrna is this new blender's crown jewel.

Age When Smoked: fresh

2 people found this review helpful.

Mr. Big Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mr. Big (320)
Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

Revised 6/24/16- This same tin has greatly improved, as I sadly, get to the last of the tin. The two months of breathing and drying has made this a 4 star blend, any harshness is gone.

Original review- John Cotton Smyrna- Remake- comes ready to smoke and has that "Dunhill Like" ribbon cut that's easy to work with. The Smyrna Oriental shouts out loud on the initial light and then moves quickly to the background as a good quality Virginia takes over. I don't get much Latakia, it's definitely not in the real smoky category. A no bite, but spicy tobacco that tends to burn hot ,with some harshness that I attribute to needing some aging..

I basically agree with "Steel Cowboy 2016-03-03 "in his assessment of the heat and potential harshness. I wonder if some of the more favorable reviews had some age on their tins?

I don't find this a complex blend but rather a sweet Virginia with some Oriental interest , nothing more , 2 1/2 stars, never smoked the original and this is better than JC #1 remake.

Pipe Used: cob and maple

Age When Smoked: fresh tin one week open/ rev. 2 months

2 people found this review helpful.

Trout Whisperer Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Trout Whisperer (3)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant

This is Russ Oulette's recreation of the old John Cotton's blend. I have no experience with previous iterations of Smyrna. I purchased a tin at a local tobacconist, though it is widely available in the United States. As the name suggests, this is an oriental-forward blend with a touch of Latakia.

Wood is the dominant flavor in my experience, followed by spice and a slight sourness. The smoke is astringent, which adds to the spice flavor. Smokiness from the Latakia is evident in the background, and occasionally asserts itself, but only slightly.

It burns at a cool temperature, and I rarely had to relight it.

I smoked this while hiking a few weeks ago. A moment after passing a pair of women hiking in the opposite direction, one of them interjected, "That smells great!"

So, there you have it...Trout Whisperer tested, random-hiker-woman approved.

Pipe Used: Amphora X-Tra, Missouri Meerschaum Legend

Age When Smoked: new

Purchased From: B&M tobacconist

1 person found this review helpful.

ELROD Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Unnoticeable

I agree with PIPESTUD completely in his review of this blend. I also was fortunate enough to have smoked the original made by John Cotton. It was my favorite blend so I smoked plenty of it. When it was gone I was left aimlessly looking for a worthy substitute which to this date I have not found. I have even purchased blending Smyrna and tried to make my own substitute from scratch but to no avail. The unmistakable and mesmerizing aroma of the original has proven to be elusive and PIPESTUD'S review has provided me with an answer that I will accept based on the fact that he knows a lot more about pipe tobacco than me. I had also been suspecting for some time that the grade of leaf used in the original is just no longer available and that is why Russ Oulette's Smyrna is totally different in flavor and presentation than the original, as PIPESTUD puts it. Is it a very good blend? Absolutely. But I did not find in it what I was looking for. I do recommend it as a good blend in its own right but not as a worthy substitute of my all-time favorite blend, the original John Cotton Smyrna. I might add that I never found the original to have a latakia character or even presence but rather a refined oriental character with that mesmerizing aroma that I miss so much.

Pipe Used: Various bent

Age When Smoked: Less than six months

Purchased From:

1 person found this review helpful.

Pryhosm Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Pryhosm (129)
Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable

tin note is woody/sour and rich, smokey latakia. The first 1/4 of the bowl is spicy and woody with the sweet smokey Latakia in support. As the bowl progresses the sweetness of the VA comes through and a buttery sweerness plays nicely with the still spicy and woody Turkish leaf.I get a buttered popcorn note around mid bowl...every time in every pipe. Interesting. Nicotine is medium and aftertaste is pleasant. Smokes best on the dry side.

Pipe Used: Briar, meerschaum and cobs

Purchased From: P&C

1 person found this review helpful.

krg1000 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
krg1000 (182)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable

Yet another fine addition to this line that has been reintroduced by Russ Ouellette's great blending skills. All the components come together to work quite well together. The nicotine level is a bit less than I would like but really can't complain too much. A freshly opened tin has the right amount of moisture to not need any drying time before lighting up. The tin note and room note are great. Overall highly recommended.

1 person found this review helpful.

canvas Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
canvas (147)
Strong None Detected Very Full Tolerable

I try to capture, in a word or two, the initial smell of tinned tobacco when freshly opened. Putting my finger on it can be a challenge at times, but with Smyrna, I can safely say it smells of freshly cured leather.

The cut is fairly crumbly, and I was often packing the bowl with pinches of "seasoning" rather than wound together ribbons. This may or may not of added to what is already a strong (nicotine) tobacco. Lights up easily to a very dry charcoal tinged smoke. With even a puff or two, the taste will stick to your mouth for the rest of the day.

My smoking habits are often once a day, but with 2-3 successive bowls and Smyrna takes a lot out of me after the first, so it doesn't fit style.

Purchased From:

1 person found this review helpful.

Taste Buds Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Taste Buds (65)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This was a very dry tobacco right out of the tin; perfect for smoking immediately. The latakia and turkish play off each other, with the virginia tying it all together. A very creamy taste, with a little spice from the Smyrna. Not being a latakia nut, I would have liked a little less in this blend. Never smoked the original on which this is based, but found this incarnation to be very appealing. It's not an all day blend for me, but certainly a late evening repast. Very cool smoking and somewhat delicious. I still prefer Cotton's No. 1& 2 which has less latakia and is smoother to my taste buds.

1 person found this review helpful.

Mesh Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Mesh (50)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

This is a delicious blend of Smyrna (aka Izmir), a moderate amount of Latakia, and a base of hearty Virginias. Mine came at perfect smoking moisture in the tin, so you might want to jar it up upon opening to prevent it from getting any drier.

Russ Ouellette is the blender behind the re-creation, and although I haven't tried the original version of the blend, I can see why it had its fans if it was anything like Ouellette's. It's a rich blend of tobaccos that won't be a frequent smoke for an old VA head like me, but you don't get much better than this as far as Englishes go. Fully recommended as a great example of its genre.

1 person found this review helpful.

crazy owl Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
crazy owl (72)
Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable

Yes,I love this blend.Yes,Mr.Russ Ouellette is by far the best blender of this century with Fred Hanna close up.But,honestly,brothers in briar,do you feel really any serious difference with,for instance,Dunhill London Mixture by Orlik?Not me.I´ll happily smoke this tin,maybe some more,but IMHO the increasing of price is not justifyed.In short,splendid tobacco,worth to try but some expensive and non so special.If were sold at the same price would be a little preferable to Danhills.

Pipe Used: dunhill 5

Age When Smoked: current production

Purchased From: smokingpipes

Similar Blends: dunhill london mixture.

1 person found this review helpful.

Darth 69 Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Darth 69 (109)
Mild Very Mild Mild to Medium Tolerable

Despite how the blend is billed it's a disappointingly rather weak English in character. It may have a hefty component of turkish but the leaf is very mild with no outstanding character. The latakia isn't particularly hefty, maybe 30%. I couldn't notice the virginias against the rest of the blend. The most detracting issue was the mild casing which adds a bit of sweetness that adversely effects the latakia that is hard to describe but reminds me of a burnt marshmallow with a bitter herbal tone. One gets this sort of thing from Kohlhase & Kopp(i.g. Rattrays.) and I hate it. English blends were not like this 25yrs ago. This blend is best summed up as a weak and diluted smoking experience; There are just far better English style products to smoke, namely from Dan Tobacco, Samuel Gawith and C&D.

Age When Smoked: new

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