The smoky, woody, earthy, lightly musty, moderately sweet Cyprian latakia is the main component. The latakia comprises 41% of the blend, and due to creator Joe Lankford’s expertise, this isn’t a lat-bomb as all the varietals have their say in every puff. The blended Turkish/Orientals are woody, earthy, mildly floral, somewhat dry with some buttery sweetness and a couple pinches of spice in an important support role. The nutty, earthy, mildly molasses sweet Tennessee burley and other burleys also have a sugar note as a strong secondary player. The percentage of the plumy, raisiny, figgy, lightly spicy Acadian perique is less than the burleys, and by consequence, is a little less obvious. The citrusy, grassy, lightly tangy Virginia is a condiment that lurks in the background. The strength falls short of the medium level, while the deep, rich taste is a step past that, narrowly missing the medium threshold. The nic-hit is a hair past the center of mild to medium. No chance of bite or harshness exists here. Being an easily broken apart crumble kake, it will burn a tad slow with a cool, clean, well balanced, fairly complex, consistent flavor from start to finish. Leaves little dampness in the bowl, and requires some relights. Has a very pleasant, lightly lingering after taste. The room note is not very pungent. Can be an all day smoke for the veteran, and is certainly repeatable for those less experienced. Three and a half stars out of four.
This is an amazing smoke. Think of it as plum pudding 2.0. It is much lighter and has a creamy flavor with a hint of spice that will keep you wanting more. Yes, yes, it is a bit of a lat bomb but with character all its own.
With tobacco reviewing it's important to remember their subjective nature. Eg., person A could adore Scorpion Chilis yet person B might find the heat repulsive! For what it's worth, here's my view on Hood Canal:
The tin contains a well-mottled, broken, kake. Although it includes some big slices, a good proportion of it's smaller 'slithers'. The moisture of my blend looked ready to go straight away.
The first thing to point out, for a better smoke, is avoid fully breaking and rubbing the kake. This can cause it to burn too warm and quite fast. I, sort of, just stuff some of the smaller pieces into my bowl; this eradicates the issue with heat or speed. The leading flavour, to my palate, is a sour Oriental one, supported by smoky Latakia. After these to comes the Burley, which adds a 'rough' edge. The Perique is extremely light, and I find any Virginia nuances non-existent. I get no tongue bite.
Nicotine: medium. Room-note: not nice.
Hood Canal? A good smoke, but not a 'remarkable' smoke. Recommended:
The tin note is reminiscent of a horse stable, but with an added sweetness and a hint of vinegar. I found it pleasant, but I can see others maybe not liking the musty scent.
The crumble cakes are a bit moist, but can certainly be smoked right away if you don’t mind relights, and take it slow. Letting it dry some will reduce the number of relights, but expect more than average. At least this has been my experience. As it ages in a jar, it will get to the perfect humidity. The chunks of cake can be a little harder to tamp properly, but I prefer to not crumble the cakes too much. It smokes cooler and longer if you don’t.
The taste of this smoke doesn’t change a whole lot through the bowl for me, it’s pretty consistent. I perhaps taste the Virginia more towards the second half of the bowl, but it’s a very subtle shift. Definitely a Latakia-forward blend with a nice nutty burley base, tamed a bit by the other condiments, but the perique and Virginia tobaccos never really take center stage. The Virginias and orientals do add a bit of brightness to the blend. The Latakia has a nice resinous quality to it, like cedar burning. There is no bitterness, no harshness, even near the bottom of the bowl. If it gets bitter, you’re definitely smoking too fast.
I can’t decide if I should rank the nicotine level as “medium” or “mild to medium.” A hair more than Plum Pudding. The taste is medium, maybe just past medium.
This is becoming one of my favorite Lat-forward blends. I find myself alternating this and Plum Pudding often, so a comparison was inevitable: they are very different, but there’s lots of overlap. Ive heard some people refer to this as “Plum Pudding Lite,” but best I could say is that where Plum Pudding is heavy and smooth, this is bright and crisp, with a stronger Oriental presence. If Plum Pudding is a stout or porter, I think this would be a Pilsner or Hefeweizen.
This is a great smoke and could be an all-day choice if you’re mostly a Balkan or other Lat-blend smoker, and aren’t super-sensitive to a medium level of nicotine. I find it to be a perfect midday pick-me-up when I’m forging knives in my shop.
The fragrance upon first opening the tin was amazing (I had to resist the urge to eat it!), but I was a bit disappointed with this blend when smoked. The Turkish orientals were by far the dominant flavor for me. I occasionally got a touch of burley--which left me wanting a bit more of its nuttiness throughout. The latakia was there, but definitely took second place to the Turkish. This is a very mild and smooth smoke, and I found little moisture, very little need for relighting, and a clean burn to ash even when smoked fresh out of the can. A fine smoke, to be sure, but I was hoping for a deeper flavor profile.
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