|I don?t know if I did wrong, but a couple of hours after smoking a bowl of Crown Achievement I went on to smoke a bowl of Astley?s No 99 Full Latakia Mixture. They both are, after all, full Latakia concoctions. But the over all impression after smoking a bowl of each is that Astley?s is really something special and unique. I think it was ?Bear? who argued that after the house of Pease, Astley?s is currently the most consistent blender. I agree. This blend is premium quality and, IMO, one of the best full English blends I have smoked in years!
It is a strong, rich blend, not unlike the Crown, but perhaps smokier and with a better de-fined tobacco structure, probably because there is no Cavendish leaf in it. Easier to light and pack, it has a subtler and more intriguing taste, covering a wider range of flavor registers; where the Crown is almost overwhelmingly mo-notonous (in that sweet rich bitterness that can become rather cloying), Astley?s remained supple, crisp, and elegant. In any case, definitely livelier. It has a pronounced depth?as if you were actually smoking the lower range of notes produced by a cello?but it never ceases to be melodious, producing a grave and severe friendliness. Should this blend carry some Pèrique it could very well stand up to Dunhill?s Nightcap.
The mixture is visually very attractive. Ribbon cut, and rather moist, the jet black strands mark a striking contrast with the light brown and almost golden leaf. Tin aroma is less pun-gent and aggressive than other tobaccos of similar strength and make. Not as powerful as many Balkan type of blends (it does not have that mineral earthliness of Sobranie, Caravan or even London Mixture), it can nevertheless hold its own within the English mixtures range. I would even go as far as to say this is somewhere in between My Mixture 965 (stronger, even richer) and Nightcap. A great English experience, for the evening or as a mid day smoke in those cold wintry days. Highly recommended.