|I apologize in advance for the long review, but it was very difficult for me to come to a decision on this blend.
Two of my all time favorites are Compton's Balkan and Compton's Macedonian. Those are two fabulous and classic blends. I am a Balkan/English freak, but I also very much enjoy good quality aged VA flakes and VAPERS. But I'm always trying something new, so I recently broke into a package of Compton's Scottish that's been aging in my cellar for 14 months. I've had it in different pipes and feel like I can now provide an accurate opinion.
Let it be known that I am admittedly not a fan of mixtures where the Orientals are in your face. For instance, I very much enjoy Three Oaks Original (Cyprian Latakia in the foreground) but I'm not a big fan of Three Oaks Syrian (in which, because of the mild Latakia component, the Orientals are very forward in the flavor). I appreciate the condimental value of Oriental tobaccos but I don't like it when it's the main attraction. Compton's Scottish is a very Oriental-forward blend that I am struggling to review.
For me, it's quite pipe-dependent. In my most trustworthy English/Balkan pipe it's a great blend, but it also seems a bit two-faced to me. The label describes it like this: "It is 50% Virginia's and Cavendish Virginia and a high proportion of Turkish with the Latakia providing a background note." That high proportion of Turkish is what makes this a tough blend for me to rate.
On the one hand, it's excellent for its genre. I don't necessarily want the fact that I am not a fan of big Orientals to influence my opinion about the quality and aesthetic appeal of this blend. From a pragmatic standpoint, this is an easy four stars, as it delivers exactly what it promises, and with high quality leaf and adequate complexity. It's a very harmonious blend where the various leaves all meld beautifully into a rich but clean-tasting and interesting smoke. If you are a big fan of big Oriental blends then this one is very highly recommended.
Considering only my personal tastes, it's three stars due to it's strong Oriental presence which I would like to see counterbalanced by a bit more smokiness, maybe some Cyprian Latakia or less Turkish (or perhaps a higher shot of dark Virginias). But once again, Mr. Engel is shooting for a "Scottish" blend (which according to my knowledge is a blend with a lot of Virginias and a noticeable Oriental component) and he succeeded quite well.
On the practical side, I have found that sipping is a necessity to keep the flavors rolling smoothly. There are times when it's a fabulous smoky complex blend but two minutes later it seems that the VA and LAT disappear to the detriment of the overall balance. A very smooth cadence is required to even out the highs and lows and keep it more consistent. The light and burn were very good, and clouds of white smoke were common.
In all fairness I'm giving this four stars because even though it's not my favorite style, it's excellent for what it's trying to accomplish. I have no doubt that Oriental fans will probably like this at least as well as Three Oaks Syrian, probably better. I like it better, but I will concentrate on cellaring Engel's Macedonian, Balkan and Full mixtures, since those are among the best I've ever had.