We started with our excellent American Virginia, added a portion of a rare Oriental, a dollop of real Perique, and finished it with a good measure of a specially selected Syrian Latakia. We adjusted proportions until the distinctive characteristics and flavors of each tobacco merged with the others to form a greater whole. Lighting this tobacco is like going on a journey. It starts on familiar territory, with the earthy sweetness of Virginia and the wine-like Perique. But already the aroma and spice of the Syrian woodlands comes wafting through, followed immediately by the exotic fullness and pleasing astringency of the oriental. In a moment, you are suspended in a rich melange of flavor, which scintillates and transforms in your mouth as the bowl burns slowly down, revealing multiple layers of taste. Too soon, the bowl comes to an end, with nothing but a small pile of white ash, a warm pipe, and a fully satisfied palate to remind you of its passage.
Notes: The usual theory of the English mixture is that it resulted from British purity laws, which forbade the addition of any but the smallest amounts of flavoring or "casing" to natural leaf. Thus to provide the richness of flavor of cased "aromatic" tobaccos, British blenders devised a combination of ingredients from all over the Empire, some of which were sweet, others sour, and yet others naturally aromatic. This may be correct, but we have a slightly different theory. British food is famously bland. Perhaps because of this, the British also have an inordinate fondness for spicy Indian curries. By our reckoning, the English mixture is the equivalent of a curry in comparison to ever-present but relatively one-dimensional Virginia tobaccos. A traditional English mixture is exotic, spicy, complex and has a strong, almost fetid aroma. Lovers of the traditional English blend have watched with deep sadness as one after another, the great English tobacco houses were closed, or sold off. American Virginias were replaced by blander, less expensive African varieties. Moreover, a crucial ingredient, pure Syrian Latakia, became essentially unavailable, as did the oriental varietals so beloved of the traditional blenders. Thus today's English mixtures, good though they may be in their own right, are but a pale shadow of their former selves. We set out to address this situation by returning to the primordial recipe.
Whoo Hoo! My samples of Pine Mountain arrived, and I have been looking forward to sampling this new company's wares for quite some time. To prepare, I came in with a relatively fresh palate (after a full meal, that was decidedly unspicey (most uncharacteristic of me)) First on the slate: Diogenes! "An English with Va/ Perique/ syrian latakia". Let's Rock!
Packaging 1/2 pint mason jars with black and white label. Appearance: mottled brown and black, ragged uneven cut, don't know if this is intentional or not. Damm, I haven't seen so many stems since the dime bags of mexican dirt weed I used to buy in my youth. Tin fragrance: Acetic acid a la McClelland, but more muted, some wine notes, overall rather undistinguished. Moisture: Rather good, and packs well. Flame hit weed releasing a rather harsh, make that dammed harsh, bland smoke with the only distinguishing feature being an exceeding pepperiness from the Perique. Normally, I dig on Perique, but this stuff reminds me of a CS accident that we had in the Army. This blend says in contains latakia, Syrian at that, but I'll be dammed if I can taste it. The room note, as judged by my wife, is harsh as well. I must admit I was looking around to see if an errant spark had caught some paper on fire..... For the first time in my life, I find myself fanning smoke away from me, rather than towards. The only positive I could find in the fragrance, is an element (if you close your eyes and squint real hard) that could remind you of cigar leaf. At half bowl: This has become something of an endurance test. It's me or the tobacco in a steel cage match, and this Bear backs down to NO tobacco... er, though I confess, I keep eyeing the corner of the room, looking for my tag team partner . Conclusion: Ok, I fess up.. couldn't finish. Well, I suppose I could have, but life's too short to try and make a silk purse, from what, evidently was once a Sow's bladder. Harsh, undistinguished, muddled. Highlights: Good moisture all the way down. Suitable time and place for smoke: After an all night Bulimia session..........
I was hesitant to write this review due to the negative impact it might have, but I was reminded of the proverb " faithful are the wounds of a friend and deadly the kisses of an enemy". That said, on to the review. The jar is beautiful and elicited much positive comment from my wife and the ladies in my office, I was very anxious to try this blend out! Upon opening the jar, one is confronted with the rich odors of latakia, perique, and virginia tobacs. The cut is medium and packed so-so. Upon lighting, the perique blasted me and I almost was tempted to dump this out. I forced myself to plod on though. This blend was inconsistent all the way down the bowl, with the the different tobacs fighting for attention rather than working together. I forced myself to try half of the jar before submitting this review and I am afraid that I cannot recommend this blend at this time. I think that the blenders have to let this blend "marry" longer before giving to the public and maybe cut a tad finer as well. Sorry........Look forward to trying in a year to see if my jar marries better. Update 11-14-2003: Well it has been about 9 mo's since I put this blend to age and I am afraid not much has changed. In fact, the Perique seems to have fermented to the point that it colors all the other leaves' flavor. This blend has been consigned to the "T" file and the jar, after a thorough cleaning will, be used to store my various personal attempts at blending....So sorry...
A fellow Asp member sent me a jar of this. To protect the innocent, I will not reveal his name. The best part of this blend is the jar. This blend comes in a very nice canning type glass ball jar. It is easy to peel off the descriptive label and replace it with one of your own. It is filled with some kind of packing material to protect the jar in shipping. If one empties the packing material that looks like tobacco, and cleans the inside, one can reuse the jar. Fill it with some decent tobacco and you are in business. However, I find it much less expensive to buy the ball jars by the dozen and use fresh labels.
I have never before written a "me-too" review, but after reading my friend Bear's comments, there just isn't anything to add. Having read the blurb, and having spoken to the two blenders, Irwin Friedman (Greg Pease's former partner) and Sam Goldberger, I expected something wonderful. BLEEEECCCHHH. The worst crap I ever tasted at this price point. A really major disappointment. Is there a rating lower than "not my cup of tea"?
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