G. L. Pease Kensington

Kensington is a Balkan style blend with restraint. Bright and red Virginias are combined with richly flavoured leaf from the Orient and Cyprian Latakia in perfect measure for a wonderfully balanced smoke. Slightly sweeter than Charing Cross, and not quite as full due to a more delicate hand with the Latakia. Spicy, with an occasional suggestion of orange blossom. Complex, but never ponderous. A slightly lighter variant of the classic style.
Notes: Kensington was released in March, 2003.


Brand G. L. Pease
Series Classic Collection
Blended By Gregory Pease
Manufactured By Cornell & Diehl
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 2 ounce tin, 8 ounce tin
Country United States
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.18 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 23 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 17, 2012 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
Update 4/9/14 - My enthusiasm for this blend has not wavered in the last year and a half. In fact, it's deepened. I've smoked a lot of Balkan blends but this one is my absolute favorite. I see no need to chase the long out of production old classics when this one is around. Excellent fresh out of a new tin and gets better as it ages (my oldest tin is 4 years old). Simply a masterwork of Balkan tobacco blending. This Pease fella deserves all the kudos he gets!

Original review

The first thing I noticed was the odd cut of the tobacco. Wide ribbons have never looked so wide, or so...uh... ribbony! But not matter, some slight rubbing out did the trick. Tin nose was of orientals with latakia in the background.

There has been discussions of whether or not the "balkan" designation is actually meaningful. I've engaged in those debates myself. But calling this a "latakia blend" doesn't really describe it well. Balkan is the only term that fits. This is a very spicy concoction, as the orientals are way out front. But there's no shortage of latakia here - for my tastes, anyway. This is indeed a balkan with restraint. I love the taste of Charing Cross but I find it too overwhelming at times. This one fits at any time, and every time. The flavor is spicy with just a hint of sweetness, and some nice latakia smokiness. The nature of this one is balance but it is so different from Meridian, another GLP that sings the balance tune. What I love about this one is what I also love about Picadilly - the two blends make their statement but don't overstay their welcome. They have a sharp attack (the initial flavor burst) and a quick and pleasant decay (the 'finish'). The flavor did show some youthful zeal rather than a mature focus, but that was part of its charm.

If it seems like I'm passe about this one, let me be clear. This is probably the finest balkan blend I've ever smoked, bar none. Greg has captured the essence of old Sobranie without mimicry. He has absolutely nailed the balkan genre, if that name means anything to you. Not too much, not too little, but just spot on. I smoked from 2 tins that were about 3 months old. This stuff improves? I find that intriguing but I can certainly wait, as this blend is perfect as it is. It took me quite awhile to figure this out, but Greg Pease deserves all the hype he has accumulated. This guy is an absolute blending genius.
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 08, 2013 Mild to Medium Very Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
GLP Kensington is my idea of a true Balkan, meaning ample Latakia that is balanced and somewhat shaded by Turkish/Orientals, with stout Virginias sounding the chorus, and plenty of smoke. Kensington strikes this balance from soon after the tin is popped, through smoking it, and it includes some GLP "tricks" that I've learned to appreciate.

A young, popped tin smells Lat forward, like most Balkans. After a few minutes a peat-y smell and the Oriental spices come up, along with what smells to me like some partly fermented VAs. The ribbons are rough and it doesn't hurt to rub them out and dry them. This is how I started with this blend, and it results in a nice, "medium" Balkan, with ample spice, plenty of smoke and a smooth, lingering aftertaste. I've also tried drying the ribbons without rubbing them but simply loading them loosely into the pipe vertically. This results in a stronger, "sharper" and more complex smoke that remains in a Balkan profile. Prepared either way the Latakia (or the topping...) is of the "incense" variety, and this incense lingers through the smoke. A somehow-smooth bitter/sour note contrasts very nicely with the developing VA sweetness. Those sensitive to "Turkish spice" are advised to take it easy to avoid getting too much of it. Likewise, based on feedback over the years, I try to protect others from the secondhand Turkish smoke, even though it smells great to me.

Kensington is for me very close to my favorite (full) Balkan, Compton's of Galashiels (Balkan). The latter is deeper and more "integrated". The former strikes a somewhat "higher" note and - especially dried but un-rubbed - it features GLP's signature interplay and counterpoint amongst the constituent tobaccos. Both are 4 stars IMO.
Pipe Used: various
PurchasedFrom: 4noggins
Age When Smoked: pretty young
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 25, 2008 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I enjoy the complexity of this blend. Well balanced and flavorful. Like the label says- not ponderous. The flavors are easily recognizeable and work together very well. One of those blends where everything complements the other components nicely.

The taste is very much a light balkan after you get it going. The smoke is heavy and thick like a balkan should be however.

I don't really notice the latakia's smokiness a lot until at least half bowl- It is there in a supporting role mostly. The flavor develops nicely and finishes good as well.

This is good for the times abdingdon and caravan are just too much. So I consider this a good daytime smoke or when you want something just a little different.

The presentation and moisture are great also. Almost dry. I have found that it goes well in a savinelli 104 for me. Some of you think thats a small pipe fot this I'm sure. It does run all the bases for me.

I reccomend this to a balkan fan wanting something to get them through the day or for when something that is not overpowering is desired.

Really it is good anytime for me. Definitley will be ordeing more in bigger tins.

Be warned however this tobacco is highly addictive(I mean that in a nice way as I love the devil leaf) and withdrawl can be unpleasent. Seriously, not having this leads to irritability, frustration, longing for more, and finally a call to c&d to get more.

Update: Still 4 stars but I now prefer Charing Cross over this. Kensington has a bit more sweetness than I would prefer but it is a very well done blend.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 04, 2012 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant
Definitely a Balkan (sweet orientals dominate). Kind of like a lat heavy EMP or chelsea morning. Good for any time and i enjoy this after dinner on my walk. As always with GLP, premium tobacco beautifully presented. It took a little while to fully understand this blend but towards the end of the tin i have decided to order a couple of big tins as this is really good stuff.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 26, 2008 Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
While I mourned the demise of Dunhill pipe tobacco, I decided to look at the bright side: the excitement of exploring other tobaccos. I was quite loyal to this brand and rarely ventured into new tobaccos. My basic rotation consisted of Dunhill's EMP, Standard Mixture (med.), #965 and occasionally Nightcap. I also would frequent some nice oriental and virginia blends from McClelland... and still do.

After some disappointing experiences with some of Rattray's blends and other English/Balkan brands, a dear friend recommended G.L. Pease tobaccos. I purchased Piccadilly, Kensington and Charing Cross: in a word, "Wow!" These tobaccos are absolutely fabulous! They have completely replaced my love of Dunhill tobaccos; and are now ensconced in my rotation.

Kensington has taken the place of EMP and Standard Mixture. It can be smoked at any time of the day. With my morning coffee or Earl Grey tea, I often reach for Kensington or Piccadilly. The orientals and virginias are in the foreground and the latakia is subtly in the background. This blend can be smoked in any size pipe with equal satisfaction. The first half of the bowl is tantalizingly good and sets the stage for a fantastic finish. The second half of the bowl is pure wonder! Each time I finish I always look forward to my next pipeful.

This blend has become my pipe tobacco anchor. When I desire the pepperiness of perique I turn to Piccadilly; and when the time calls for more latakia, I reach for Charing Cross. Currently, these three blends meet about 85% of my tobacco needs. The other 15% I'm pleased to say I'm still exploring to fill.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 18, 2008 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Short story - Kensington has become one of my favorite blends. It's a good blend that becomes great with age and one that could be smoked all day long. Four of four.

Longer story - My first tin of this is from the middle of 2003, so it's nearly five years old. That's the basis of this review.

Kensington's label is pretty much accurate - a Balkan blend with restraint. For me, latakia blends tend to fall on a spectrum of sweet to smoky, with something like Maltese Falcon or Odyssey on the sweet end and something like Abingdon or Charing Cross on the smokier end. This tends towards smoky, but not so much as Charing Cross. I kind of view Kensington as Charing Cross Light - good flavor but not quite as big, and maybe a bit more complex.

Anyway, I found a few of the old tall tins of this stuff at Iwan Ries a while ago and bought two of them though I had never smoked it before. I cracked the first one and am just now finishing it. This is an all day sort of Balkan-light blend, comparable to Ashbury but a bit bigger. You could say that this is the result of Ashbury and Charing Cross being mixed together. Shoot, between those three blends, my latakia needs would be mostly covered. Kensington occupies the middle ground without being boring, has enough flavor to matter but not enough to overpower like Charing Cross can, burns well, and has those beautiful small-cut leaves that burn so well.

I've had a few bowls of fresher Kensington, too, and it's quite good. But with a bit of age, it starts to meld together really well. I've been buying old tins of this when I find them and this is one blend that I plan to have a built-up stock of old tins, because it is that good.

If you're looking for a milder Balkan, look no further than Kensington. This is about as good as it gets. Highly, highly recommended.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 20, 2011 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I have tried a number of Greg Pease's blends and while I have great respect for the quality and complexity of flavor he is able to achieve, I did not find any that I really cared for until now. This blend features more contribution from the Orientals than any of the others I have had from Mr. Pease and lately, I have been enjoying orientals more. The balance of strength and complex flavors make this a blend I feel I must pay attention to as there is so much going on.

The tin I have is 18 months old and in perfect condition, with just the right moisture level.

The blend has excellent burning characteristics and provides an ever changing panoply of flavors keeping the smoker's attention constantly throughout the bowl.

I believe this blend is destined to become legendary.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 27, 2007 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
If your a Latakia Drip Lover- Read no further..... This is for you smokers out there who, Like me, like a balanced tasteful, easy on the latakia mix. I went out for my Birthday to Bruce's Pipe shop in Ashville (which by the way is a wonderful place) and found a tin of Kensington from early 04. That in itself should have been enough to inspire me, but I had recently been pointed toward this blend by the Dark One, who knows of my sensitivity toward heavy englishes- as a possible smoke of interest. On popping the tin I immediatly got the smell of fermenting virginias- Like canned fruit....Glorious...I packed a bowl in a KW Shell Poker and away I went. The Charlight was an immediate taste of sweetness....spiced figs sitting around a Cedar fire at night.....The burn quality was perfect right out of the tin....Tamp and more sweetness....This is what its about.....This just hit my rotation like Muhamad Ali in his prime on RedBull.....This is like sipping a fine port....Sweet and rich....To the bottom of the bowl its magnificent. It never got bitter or dirty toward the bottom, and just ash and a dry bowl were the remnants. Just prior to this- I cleaned Smoking pipes out of their 2 oz tins. I can't recommend this enough. The word restraint in the description I think was a poor choice. The only restraint I see is a light hand at the smokey stuff- And thats not a bad thing for some of us.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 07, 2019 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
I'm not a GL Pease fan, really, I seldom smoke a Pease blend and think "Wow, this is art."

This is art.

In a world where a) "Balkan Blend" has no real clear meaning, and b) there are a hundred dozen utterly mediocre, nondescript, "English Light" blends, this is one of a very few that offer something stunning. Now I like me some orientals, and again, there are only a handful of blends that really stand out in this genre - Durbar, Presbyterian, King Charles Mixture. And they stand out by a country mile by being balanced, delicious, never tiring, ... exhilarating if you will.

Kensington joins these in my books, and that's saying something. In a world where flake is king, this is ribbons. In a world of Dunhill clones, this out-Dunhills Dunhill (without being a copy of anything in particular). Forget the usual Haiku-ish nonsense of the tin description - for once it does not go nearly far enough, does not do justice to the sly spice, the perfect sweet counterpoint of the virginias, and the "just barely there" latakia. This is not a heavy-handed blend, there is no attempt here to be the biggest, strongest, filthiest, spiciest. Instead, this is perfectly harmonized sweetness, smoke, and spice. Just delicious.

This is what pipe smoking can be, my friends. This is the pinnacle, where you are lost in a cloud of pure delight. Four stars, and tins ordered. If there is "serious" tobacco, this is of that ilk.
Age When Smoked: fresh
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 01, 2014 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Dried to about 13-14%: All of the surprisingly large cast of characters in this play work together well, there is no leading rôle and all of the players are on stage for the duration. It is not who they are, but what they are doing that holds our attention, the play of light and shadow is captivating as one scene modulates steadily to the next and we find ourselves asking again and again, "What are they doing now?" and shake our heads yet again, "Wow... no kidding..."

It is about mid-bowl that the wonderful floral citrus elements appear. Have they been there all along? Or are we just noticing them now? The smoke becomes softer than at the offset and offers even more as aspect after aspect unfolds. This is more than just plain good. This play is music, articulated softly and released slowly in its own good time, by fire. Don't pump the bellows. The rattle and wheeze will obscure some of the voices. Just listen quietly and let it sing. Like twilight in northerly latitudes on the summer solstice, the glow persists. Long. And then, ever so slowly, unnoticably, extinguishes. Eventually we realize: it is dark. There is no curtain call. Only applause.

And though it didn't have a single tune that you could whistle afterward, or a plot you could retell, you will never forget the show.

'Kensington' by G.L. Pease. Tickets on sale now at a tobacconist near you.

Highly recommended.

For a better description, check out G.L. Pease's in his Briar and Leaf Chronicles: http://glpease.com/BriarAndLeaf/?p=35
Pipe Used: Several, reserved for Latakia/Orientals/Va blends
Age When Smoked: 6 years old, tinned 2008
3 people found this review helpful.
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