|I received a generous free sample of this stuff last time I visited my regular B&M. I've had a few bowls and I consider it something of a quandary for me.
Pouch note is unmistakably oriental - latakia is most certainly present and accounted for, but it's tempered somewhat by the intriguing presence of black cavendish, mexican burley and african virginias. It's a loose and moderately dry cut.
Lighting with my sample is easy. I usually do a charring light followed by a true light regardless of whether the tobacco requires it, but with this blend I've usually only bothered with the initial light. Up an running in no time, it burns a bit hot seemingly somewhat ashy (probably a technique issue rather than a blend characteristic) and here's where it gets interesting.
Taste is full and robust English, with the smoky and earthy Cyprus latakia first and foremost. The blend is labeled as a definite non-aromatic, but curiously the room note is unmistakably sweet with obvious caramel and vanilla layers, bolstered by the smoky campfire of the oriental - it's a rich and extremely pleasant note which I can easily detect myself, and which has received rave comments from non-smokers ("What's that amazing stuff you're smoking??"). It's the first thing I've smoked where the taste and the note have a weird inverse ratio: the taste is definitely English with a very slight sweetness on the back end, while the note is very sweet with a slight earthiness to the back end.
If you've enjoyed McC's A.M. Pipe or Boswell's Bear Blend, think of the taste of the former with a stronger oriental presence, and the room note of the latter with a fuller caramel presence - or think of Shortcut to Mushrooms on steroids. Very surprising. It's really the best way I can describe it. Definitely seems to fit the bill for those who want a very robust, semi-complex English blend for personal enjoyment, while also pleasing the crowd with a gorgeous scent.
HOWEVER, there's a kicker, and quite literally - WAY more nicotine than I'm used to. I never smoked cigarettes or cigars, and my decision to start smoking a pipe was more about the aesthetic and relaxing/meditative benefits more than anything, so constantly inhaling the smoke and getting nicotine hits are things I've more or less avoided until now (not necessarily a conscious decision, but it's just how I roll). With English Luxus I've strongly and consistently felt the effects of the nicotine, both as a head buzz and as an upset stomach - and again, I don't inhale (except to enjoy that spectacular note). I do snork, as with any blend I smoke, but that's it. After smoking this blend I always need a big glass of water and short walk to clear my head. Definitely a feeling of the tobacco dropping a bomb on me and leaving me to wander through the aftermath in a daze.
I'll gladly finish the sample but it remains to be seen if I'll return for more. Maybe it can work as a nice holiday treat once in a while, for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The unique balance of English taste and sweet aromatic note really struck a wonderful chord for me (and those in close proximity), but the nicotine content gives me pause. But to those of you who enjoy a good English toby and don't mind the Vitamin N, definitely give it a try!