|I picked up a 4oz sample of Old Professor from P&C a short while ago, and it has been on the mantle for bout a week in a closed zip-bag, mostly forgotten, as I managed to slip it behind a cigar box and didn't stow it properly in a Mason jar, as is my habit with all bulk tobaccos and open tins.
I discovered it and decided to give it a whirl in one of my long-stem clays, and was instantly shocked at the texture: wet and sticky. I am quite sure this blend is laced with humidificant, and what I originally thought to be Latakia seems to be black cavendish.
Now, I smoked BCA years ago, once in a while, so while I am not an aromatic smoker, I know well what to expect of an 'American English' or 'Soft English' blend. Surprisingly, this reminds me of one of Lane's old blends--the name nd number now escape me, and somebody deleted all the Lane English blends and blending tobaccos from the database here--that was an English with Syrian leaf and a splash of black cavendish, except that the Lane blend had a stronger body.
Old Professor is very light and delicate: Indeed, it is so mild, with perplexing, sweet background notes of an unidentifiable flavour, touched by what much resembles BCA in a mixture of VA and a bit of burley. I am not even certain that Latakia is in the blend at all, and 'Mild' is its middle name, to be sure.
I would probably be afraid to smoke this much in a briar in which I tended to smoke English mixtures, however it may be safe to smoke in one on rare occasions. If you are an English smoker, and like Latakia, this will not be for you. If you are diverse and want something for a winter night, you may consider having a tiny bit on hand, and an aromatic smoker may find something in this blend to satisfy them.
I would not find it in my regular rotation, for a few reasons, but I won't kick it out of bed either. Being so wet, I find it bitey, and I find myself resting my clay every few minutes to avoid that; I also sense a waxy feeling on my tongue an on my palate that is likely from the casing or additives.
The flavour, on the other hand, is well-balanced, and despite the style not being much to my liking in general, I can't fault the composition. It would likely do better if it was drier, but, although I left the bag open for a day ere I lit the leaf, it was still so gooey that I could clump it into any shape I would desire, hence by belief that it has been laced with humidifying agents of some kind.
Of course, slow-smoking it in my clay does bring me bak in time a bit, and the gentle complexion is probably reminiscent of professors in the states, but when I think of what an Old professor smoked, this doesn't quite spring to mind: I think of musty Englishes, VA plug and Escudo.
I could enjoy this in small doses, but not every day. For an English smoker, I call this a misleading product, giving it two stars. If it was clearly advertised as an English-Aromatic I would give it 3, however until I dry it and give it a run in a briar, I think I will say two-and-a-half on average, as it is more of a transitional type of blend that could have done with a bit more Latakia to give it dimension.
Beginners may find it a good leaf, though, and anyone wanting to make the change from aromatics to natural tobaccos may find it a good stepping stone. I will go over it again, once it is in a better state, but any tobacco that I need to forcefully dry will never earn four stars.