Paul's Pipe Shop Darwin Asa

English Tobacco - an Oriental English blend containing exotic latakia, premium perique, and flavorful Oriental tobaccos.
Notes: There is a small amount of burley in the blend, and Cyprian latakia has replaced the Syrian, as per Dan Spaniola.


Brand Paul's Pipe Shop
Blended By Dan Spaniola
Manufactured By Paul's Pipe Shop
Blend Type American
Contents Burley, Latakia, Perique, Virginia
Cut Mixture
Packaging Bulk
Country United States
Production Currently available


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.78 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 12, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
The grassy, citrusy Virginias also have a touch of earth and darker fruit, and are a team player while being the base of the blend. The very spicy, woody, dry and mildly buttery sweet, earthy, floral Orientals are the star components. The spice content is such that it is hard to gage how much comes from the Orientals, and how much comes from the perique, which adds a little plum and raisins in the background. The smoky, woody, earthy wine-like Syrian latakia is mostly a condiment. The earthy, woody, nutty, mildly molasses sweet and fairly savory aged burley is also a condiment, though its presence is often disguised by the Orientals, peeking through here and there during the experience. The strength and taste levels are medium, while the nic-hit is a step or so behind them. The spice content is high enough that it can nip at the tongue if puffed beyond the moderate threshold. Has no harshness. Burns clean at a reasonable rate with a mildly inconsistent flavor that has a little depth. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. Has a pleasantly spicy sweet after taste. Not an all day smoke due to the spice.

Update 11-26-2018: Having smoked the Cyprian latakia version, the only difference I note is the aspects of what Syrian (smoky, woody, earthy wine-like) and Cyprian (smoky, woody, earthy, mildly musty sweet) offer to the smoker's palate. The proportions of varietals seem the same to me with the same effects.

10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 02, 2017 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
This one is a staple at Paul's and blended up by his son Dan, according to the descriptive. An American English style tobacco with Burley and a dash of Perique mixed in with the Orientals, Latakia and Virginia. A nice smoke! And for whatever it is worth, I purchased several of the Spaniola house blends back in the late 1990s while purchasing one of their Cayuga pipes, which, by the way, came with a casing, too. The inner bowl was pre-carbed with honey, I think.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 02, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
Very good oriental English blend. One of the first English blends I tried. I love the smoky, nutty, natural tobacco flavors. It has a strong taste that I find very delicious.

I will say, to me personally it doesn't smell appetizing at all in the pouch, smelling rather repugnant in my own opinion.

The room note is rather strong, and around other pipe smokers they don't seem to mind or even enjoy it, although some non-smokers have told me that it stinks. I personally don't mind the smell of it smoked, and think it compliments the flavor.

Would recommend for for fans of English and Oriental blends.
Pipe Used: B.B.K. Bent Billiard
PurchasedFrom: Paul's Pipe Shop and Pipe Hospital
Age When Smoked: New
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 04, 2020 Mild to Medium Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Smooth and flavorful. The perique adds the slight spiciness needed to liven up the blend. Not a lat bomb, but a lat pleasure. The VA (red? lemon?) and Orientals (Yenidge? Others?) moderate the latakia content appropriately.
Pipe Used: Barling
PurchasedFrom: Paul's Pipe Shop
Age When Smoked: Newly arrived in the mail
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 26, 2018 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
This is a great tobacco. Right up there with the London Mixture from Dunhill IMO. An English blend with the usual components plus a little extra on the oriental spiciness. Great flavor, great nic hit, just a great experience. I will caution on the possibility of tongue bite. Although not in the usual experience, a fast puffer may get bite from this.
Pipe Used: cayuga
PurchasedFrom: Pauls pipe shop
Age When Smoked: Only Dan knows for sure
2 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 02, 2022 Mild Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
A lot of folk traditions have stories that contain a magical sack or bag that contains whatever its owner is looking for: you want gold, the sack contains gold; you want food, it contains food, etc. For an example, see the Brothers Grimm tale about Brother Lustig.

Well, Darwin Asa may just be that magical tobacco pouch for me. I've smoked it in the morning with coffee when I wanted some mildly sour orientals, and there they were. I've smoked it when cross-country skiing with snow falling when I really wanted a rich Latakia, and there it was. I've smoked it in the afternoon when I wanted an old codger blend, and there was the burley. Although I never seem to long for Virginia or Perique, I'm sure if I wished to get those sensations I could get them too. Maybe this spring when camping in the Utah desert I'll wish for a bit of Virginia from this blend!

This an incredibly mild, gentle, yet tasty American-English blend. One could consider it a cross-over blend if one was making one's first foray into English blends from aromatics, or an all-day English, or a light English. It definitely isn't the heavy Latakia-bomb I turn to after a really rich meal (Bengal Slices White for that!), but it is a REALLY solid blend. For the genre, definitely 4 stars.

I really enjoy the diversity of flavors that emerge when smoking this. I have a hard time detecting the Virginias and Perique as noted above, but the orientals, burley, and Latakia nicely present, with none being too overwhelming. Definitely an all-day smoke if one wishes. In fact, this would be high in the running for my "desert island blend." It may not do anything perfectly, but it does everything well. I'm blown away by how much flavor this has for being so mild. And it packs and lights wonderfully, burns to a fine ash, and leaves just a touch of moisture in the bowl.

The fact that this blend is the creation of the renowned Paul Spaniola of Paul's Pipe Shop in Flint, Michigan just adds to the magic for me. In the Michigan north woods during deer seasons of yore, my Uncle Bernie (who lived near Flint) would often regale our hunting camp with stories of Paul's Pipe Shop and "guys who could smoke a pipe for hours given just two matches." I sadly never realized what an institution Paul's Pipe Shop was until after I moved away from my home state--but I'm trying to rectify that now. Paul's Pipe Shop will henceforth be a must-stop destination driving from the DTW airport to my ancestral home in Arenac County.

I'd encourage any pipe smokers in the Wolverine State to take a field trip to Flint to pick up this blend. While you're at it, pick up one of their "Cayuga" pipes. I'm very happy with the $40 beauty I picked up there!

This is a stellar blend. Seek it out!

1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 05, 2021 Medium None Detected Full Tolerable
I once read somewhere, as a culture, we humans thrive on black and white simplicity. In direct opposition to that principle, therefore, matters of complexity often serve to exhaust our capacity to effectively sort and process meaningful order. Okay interesting thoughts but why is this bit of intellectual banter relevant to a simple review of a subject pipe tobacco? Well truthfully, as I reflect on this most intriguing blend at hand, the experiential trial plight that unfolded stands as a testament to this very concept. Although I do enjoy a challenge, I soon discovered that decoding Darwin Asa’s core marrow was much like a quest in tasting cryptography, (pronounced as “ace-a”).

Clearly the mixture is a brilliant example of pure wealth achieved through deliberate blending craftmanship. Challenged by the multiplicity of its unique soul, I found myself in state of diligent contemplation and intense focus to in order accurately gauge what experiences were transpiring with its smoking. This is no ordinary English concoction mirroring a simple commonalty of genre. Paul’s Pipe Shop’s entry delivers a distinctive feel of something more colorfully artistic and exceptional in nature. Postmortem, having smoked numerous bowls of the same, I feel that I can now put a finger on those alluring subtleties.

On a fore note, and arguably so, Paul’s Pipe Shop is a virtual institution of any and all facets relating to the passion of pipe smoking. Operating since 1928, this family-owned establishment is one of the country's most impressive commercial operations in existence today. Largely known for an elaborate menu of quality aromatics, the shop actually houses over 200 diverse recipes within its originals collection. Darwin Asa, a custom blend developed specifically for and named after one of their most dedicated customers, is one of a few openly marketed non-aromatics selections available to enthusiasts.

With its intricate and well-balanced recipe, Darwin Asa poses a lively venture in American English style tobacco. Superbly configured by the skillful metering of vibrant Turkish/Orientals, select Latakia, cultured Perique, scant Virginia, and earthen Burley, Darwin Asa is truly a singular smoking experience. In profiling its base character, the experience manifests as a wonderful diversion of exotically spiced and aromatic woodiness, sensitively supported by a murmur of sweetness, finishing with a remarkable tinge of curry-like vitality.

Lending an eye of discernment to the pouched tobacco, observation reveals an unwieldy yet attractive hodgepodge toothy and bran-like in demeanor. A richly blackened cascade of ruffled coarse cut fragments, twisted flecks, and shreds comprised by the Turkish, Latakia, Perique and Burley constitute the lion’s share of the total mass @ 80%. What appears to be of Red varietal, the Virginia bares itself as finer slivers of delicate burnt orange-gold ribbon. Comfortably dry to the touch, Darwin Asa uncommonly presents itself as a curiously heterogeneous commixture.

With uncontrolled intention, Darwin Asa’s nose registration thwacks the immediate senses as I found myself wincing in response. Taking an initial read, a potent blast of extremely sharp tartness and energized pungent spices sprung from the pouch as the first bellow of Turkish/Oriental. Recoiling from the imposition, I then fell upon the tamer scent of deep campy Latakia towering over the non-distinct musty essence of soured wood perhaps signaling the dance of Burley and Perique. Distantly hiding under this immodest dark blanket, a withdrawn hint of Virginia sweet grass struggled to surface at best. Clearly the Turkish/Orientals and Latakia cavort to overpower accompanying elements. Based upon the resonance of this bold aroma, I surmised that the blend’s flavor would enter as a multicolored and highly seasoned.

The immediate presentation of Darwin Asa’s pouched state naturally lends for simplicity in preparation of the resulting bowl. Achieving a faultless level of moisture, that being a tad bit drier for the optimum English experience, the assortment of dissimilar tobaccos handsomely packs with ease, settling into an interwoven and elegant pillow remarkably dense and proud in conformance. As I gazed at my loaded Savinelli Tre 802, the pipe seemed to express a degree of contented gratitude given the teeming girth housed within its obliging chamber.

As I alluded, the determination of Darwin Asa’s base character proved to be a fascinating contest, the blend is a veritable chameleon. The first series of bowls presented me with an unparalleled volume of perplexing twists much like the adventure of feeling the pulse of Mac Baren’s Mixture Scottish Blend. With the consumption of a half dozen bowls, finally the semblance of order started to drop for me.

Condensing the overall findings, I would charter Darwin Asa as a lively compote dominated by a celebration of Turkish/Oriental variety. Essentially defining the forward flavor, the Turkish/Oriental spice bridges a spectrum of everchanging nuances, mapping one of the most unique qualities of the leaf itself. All other complementing varietals engage in passive support as they functionally frame the Turkish/Oriental content while at the same time highlighting the niceties of their own native features. Although distinguishable, the architecture of this frame is fluid in itself, thereby providing enhanced flavor context as the bowl progresses. Ultimately these converging yet contrasted registrations bounce about in random fashion. Coming together with exquisite mutual interplay and dependency, the achievement is one of pizzazz and sheer convolution in taste.

Regarding the specifics of varietal flavor, the leading Turkish/Oriental offers a seasoned paste of coarse vibrant earthy spice, buttery mushroom, vegetal/evergreen/cilantro-like zest, smoky peat, and lovely nuttiness reminiscent of savory cashew. A soured Burley provides complement with raw nuts and pithy aged wood accented by soft molasses with very docile sugariness.

Additionally, and of lessor magnitude, the comprising Latakia tenders with a very light smoky incense but seems to manifest more prominently in leathery/dark wood tones. The character of the accompanying Perique brings a dash of dark fruity earthen mustiness coupled with a distant peppery zest. Lying very subdued on the bottom, sweet, grassy, citrus/woody Virginia endows the base foundation. Finally, I experienced captivating accents of mint or menthol-like tails on the high notes, a tannic affluence much like red wine, and a gentle underlying sweetness with a finishing pop of curry.

With deep character, Darwin Asa’s fragrance fills the room with a plentiful mesh of colorful and swirling spice interlaced by the thick essence of spent diverse soured woods. Heavy in mass and resilient in duration, the odor leaves very little uncertainty as to the bold richness of constitution. The smoke itself takes on a creamy mellow temperament making the smoking session an eventful pleasure. By sipping the mix graciously, Darwin Asa’s true complexion is revealed, completing the offering as a very satiating and fulfilling blend.

In relation to the essential mechanicals, the mixture burns at an even cool pace leaving a lovely plush white ash with the eventual consumption. The nicotine content is minor at best, yet the blend itself is categorically satisfying in smoking necessity. Not an all-day blend by my estimation but truly a noteworthy pursuit that was obviously designed to be experienced in a more cultured, relaxed venue.

Distinctly raising the bar of complexity and appreciable savor, Darwin Asa exemplifies the coveted standard for blend crafting excellence. Through my trial smoking, I find center once again leaning on the truism that often the apparent complication in items of complexity ultimately expose their underlying simplicity once understood and venerated. As American English mixtures go, this one happens to be one of the finest that I have yet encountered thus earning a respectful position in my standard favored rotation.
1 person found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 03, 2020 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium Tolerable
Could feel licorice wood and dark toffee aroma. The aroma is also woody and smoky but non overwhelming. Global taste is creamy and nutty with fruity and sweet spots. A little bit of BBQ savory also. Best with a light packing.
Pipe Used: Briar, meerschaum, corncob
PurchasedFrom: Paul's pipe
Age When Smoked:
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 01, 2015 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is a great English-style blend. It has a good amount of Latakia and is smooth and a little spicy. I could smoke this every day and not be bored with it.
Pipe Used: Old Dunhill Pot
PurchasedFrom: Paul's Pipe Shop in Flint, Michigan
Age When Smoked: fresh
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