G. L. Pease Union Square

A blended, sliced cake of high grade flue cured leaf, from beautiful, sweet brights to deep, earthy reds, without the added sugars and flavorings common to many Virginia flakes. It's rich on the palate, evolving in layers with the clean, natural sweetness of pure tobaccos. It offers a pleasant room note, and a delightful finish. For those seeking the pure Virginia experience, try Union Square.
Notes: Union Square was released in May, 2009.


Brand G. L. Pease
Series Fog City Selection
Blended By Gregory Pease
Manufactured By Cornell & Diehl
Blend Type Straight Virginia
Contents Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 2 ounce tin, 8 ounce tin
Country United States
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.40 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 152 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 13, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
Union Square is simply a remarkable tobacco with the potential (IMO), to be one of the all-time great "cellar" tobacco blends. Nothing here but pure sweet and strong Virginia leaf in broken flake form. This one knocks the socks off Gawith's Full Virginia Flake in that there is less tang, more strength and less chance of getting bit.

Arriving a bit moist in the tin I chose to let some fully rubbed out leaf sit in the open air for an hour before loading up. The grassy smell dissapated quickly and the tobacco, likewise, dried quickly. It was easy to load, light and keep lit. I was smothered by unrelenting waves of deep and rich Virginia flavor variances that never overwhelmed. I got the blast of nicotine punch (slapped with kid gloves really), with every puff.

Although not a "sweet" Virginia per se, this one has enough sugar content to make for a natural sweetness. I suspect it'll cellar like nobody's business (an accomplishment Pease strives for in his blends... with great past success I might add).

Union Square will soon rise to Superstar status (IMO, of course).
87 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 21, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
A variety of Virginias that are rich, creamy, fairly woody, bready and earthy with a touch of grass, sugar and floralness. The natural sweetness of the components are a mild tart and tangy citrus, some dried fruit, and a fair amount of red Virginia tangy dark fruit with a hint of spice. I don't know the proportions of the various Virginias in this flake, but I get nearly all of their intrinsic qualities with none crowding out the other in most every puff, though I would say the red Va. is the most obvious. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is just past the center of mild to medium. Burns slowly, cool, clean and fairly dry with a very consistent, mildly sweet taste from top to bottom. No bite no matter how fast you can puff, though I recommend not over doing it or you risk a slight harsh note. It does require some relights. It does have a light rough edge. Leaves little moisture in the bowl. Has a lightly lingering, pleasant after taste. The room note is a tad stronger. It's not quite an all day smoke due to its strength, but it is repeatable.

71 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 18, 2011 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
In my review of Union Square, I had wanted to compare the blend with Full Virginia Flake. Well, you know how that goes. The ridiculous hoarding of Samuel Gawith tobaccos is one of the easiest things to hate about pipe smoking. It says something about the selfishness of some pipe smokers, those who will buy out every outlet in the US, and then take pictures of their stash, posting them on forums to brag of their booty. It makes me angry and indignant. Thankfully, Union Square cures my animosity for these people, if with a bit of irony, as Pease is in large part responsible for the modern practice of cellaring giant catalogs of tobacco.

The blend is flawless, in my opinion. Deep, rich Virginias in sturdy flake form, sugary and natural, emanating that familiar smell of hay out of the tin, the flakes themselves velvety to the touch, whether beat up or in perfect form (I've seen both, from the samples I've purchased). The presentation is immaculate, the experience, exceptional from the pop of the tin, through charing light, to the last embers as they fade from glowing red to dusty white. If Union Square isn't the king of Virginias, it's certainly next in line to the throne.

Now, aside from my earlier intention, a comparison to FVF isn't particularly fair, as Union Square's intrinsic characteristics demonstrate that it is certainly no clone of any variety, particularly one that should be forced to fall in the shadow of a crowd favorite. In truth, Union Square is a different beast than FVF, its austere simplicity, counterintuitively possesses a complexity which rivals that of FVF. Whereas FVF is dark and creamy, unfolding in layers that modulate throughout the smoke, Union Square possesses a lightness of flavor with tremendous clarity, and ever present grassy undertones that shape and shift with subtlety to define the character of flavor.

Union Square is a sugary smoke, with Bright Virginias in front. The taste is so uncharacteristically sweet, that it's hard to believe there is no casing. I suppose the defining element of FVF is the hot press, which really caramelizes the sugars and brings a more molasses note to the smoke. Union Square sports a narrower flavor profile with a similar strength, sugar cane opposed to molasses. Both avoid the sharp corners of inferior leaf, entirely absent of any bite.

The blend is more than a tobacco, it's a kind of ethos. I would really like to see a trend toward natural tobaccos, an appreciation for the baser qualities of the leaf. Maybe a movement toward pure, unadulterated leaf could put forth a breed of higher quality blends, pure of unnecessary additives. I would think that advances in agriculture would propel the movement, and we have seen limited trials--C&D themselves experimented with a Virginia blend that incorporated Agave as a natural additive, utilized, I think, to impede upon the growth of mold. I know that Union Square does not approach that extent of commitment, but one can be hopeful of future developments.

The noble properties of Union Square demonstrate a higher appreciation for blenders like GL Pease, who strive to innovate in the face of those who cling to established ideals. In their clouded thinking, hoarders rush to past touchstones and fail to recognize emergent trends and product. They are intent only in stocking shelves and cheering each other on in their mindless quest for more and more of the same product. I find them similar to art snobs, intent on the masters and established schools, incapable of acquiring new references, which they deem unrefined and unfamiliar. They seek defined models, and fear exploration as it may devalue the stockpiles of loot they have amassed. As consumers, they care little for the product they collect, and only the prestige in displaying their wares, hence the ridiculous photos on the internet.

This is an exaggeration, I know.

I've likely angered a few people here, and my intent is not to create a conflict, but to demonstrate the changing tides. Union Square raises the bar for microblenders, and the larger houses that predominate. The more recent imperfect batches of FVF and the supreme quality of Union Square exposes the artificiality of demand, as it demonstrates a commitment to scarcity and a rejection of standards and novelty on the part of pipe smokers. Do we really understand our practice, or are we no better than those in the field of fashion, who take to the popular trends? But I suppose the more blatant, practical question remains--how much are other apparently natural tobaccos masked by additives? As all industries are guarded by trade secrets, the answer shall remain elusive.
44 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 25, 2009 Mild to Medium None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Pleasant
The jury is still out on whether GLP blends age to become the classics they are purported to be, but the same jury (my jury!) has decided that, so far, GLP blends don't start off so well. This is my 10th attempt at finding a newly tinned batch of GLP that comes anywhere near a reference blend.

At first blush, the claim of "no added sugars or flavors" reads as a rash of codswallop and Nth-degree marketing hype, but I'm certainly in no position to dispute that claim. However, if true, this blend seems to indicate (when its at a young age, as my tin was) that straight virginias need such added sugars and flavors to taste and smoke to their potential. Not everything we ingest performs best in its pure, natural state. With all due respect to other reviewers and Mr Pease himself, I have to take the minority stance with this one. I find no depth or complexity in this blend, and no real mature virginia tobacco flavor. Instead this comes off as an extremely bland, "cigarette-ish" concoction that fails to excite. Comparing this to straight VA's from McClellands, Samuel Gawith and other blenders (that add sugars and flavors???), further and painfully illustrates Union Square's lack of character. It looks and smells in the tin like a winner but doesn't deliver where it counts - the taste.

As I have with the other GLP blends I've tried, I'm going to cellar my 2nd tin of this (dated 9/09) for a year or so in the hope that further aging will drive it up a notch or two. I'm happy that many others find Union Square so excellent and I certainly have questioned my own senses with this one since my experiences differ so. But I smoke and enjoy many classic straight virginias, and IMHO, this ain't one... at least not yet.

UPDATE 12/6/10

Still no love for this blend. If anything, it's become flatter and more anemic tasting. Two stars is more than enough. Back to the cellar and let's try this again next Christmas!

UPDATE 2/3/12

Age has been a wee bit kind to this one. I'd say it's elevated itself to mediocre. Still mostly characterless but there is a hint of cereal showing through that is rather nice. It's just too fleeting. Most of the time this fizzles into oblivion... smoke with no real flavor. Still a weak 2 stars. But it's a tiny bit better than it was. Perhaps this one will develop further. Worth a shot!
28 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 06, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I only have a handful of straight Virginia’s in my rotation at the moment & Union Square is one of them. As far as flavor depth is concerned, it’s on par with a couple of my other favorites, FVF & Blackwoods Flake. However, I find Union Square to be a bit more complex and somewhat easier to work with. Comparatively, it has more of that wholesome, earthy Old Belt character with just a hair of natural sweetness found mostly in the side-stream and it does not rely at all on dark stoved tobacco for richness or sweetening agents as flavor enhancers.

I’ll admit, I do prefer sweeter & spicier Virginia mixtures which is what I love about Blackwoods Flake and FVF. I don’t find too much of these two attributes in Union Square but it does have a rich burley-like bottom end flavor that creates a different kind of equally enjoyable experience. Also, the taste of Union Square gets livelier and a hair sweeter as the bowl progresses and the sugars caramelize. This of course balances nicely with that aforementioned lower-end bravado.

Despite its relatively rich flavor profile, Union Square still deals in subtleties. Flavors change their direction in the tiniest of ways, yet it’s enough to continually peak my interest. It’s a wonderful combination of subtle toasted bread notes, with a hint of spice and a heaping dollop of rich earth for good measure. Bonus points added for performance as Union Square stays nicely lit at a slow cool smolder.

For honest to goodness unadulterated tobacco flavor, I’d say this blend knocks it out of the park. IMHO, it smokes best in a clean and preferably dedicated pipe. Also, it ages superbly.
Age When Smoked: 4
25 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 20, 2009 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Pleasant
This is unlike any Virgina blend I have ever tried, and I have been very happily puffing upon Virginias for a number of years. Yet, the fact that that this blend is so different from many others I love does not make it any less appealing. Who would have thought that a blend made exclusively of Virginia tobaccos could be so outrageously unique, especially when the pipe tobacco market is flooded with Virginia blends. This blend is rich, though so are many others. It is also spicy, but so again are many others (especially those featuring orientals). What stands out here is an exceptional earthiness that must be experienced to be understood. This earthiness comes together with the above mentioned spice and richness to produce a truly distinctive smoking experience. This is a blend to luxuriate in. You want complexity and depth? Here it is. Fans of the earthiness of dark-fired burleys may find this a welcome change of pace. And it goes without saying that any smoker who claims to love Virginias should give this blend a try. Those, like me, who fall into both categories may find an experience they had long been seeking. Union Square will, without a doubt, become a part of my regular rotation. I'm breaking in two brand new and highly prized pipes with Union Square as I type these words. The way I see it, these fine examples of the work of Lindner and Shalosky could not be treated with greater respect.
25 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
I smoke a lot of Virginia/Perique blends and love them, but I don’t have many straight Virginias that I enjoy on a regular basis. Union Square is one of the few. I tend to judge, fairly or unfairly, VaPer’s and straight Virginia’s buy how well they age. Union Square is decent after just a few months, but really shines for me after the five year mark and I am now opening tins squirrelled away from 2009. The tin note at this point is more sour and tangy than sweet or “hay-like.” The combination of thicker flakes (or sliced cake if you prefer) and broken flakes I prefer to leave as is and just stuff them into the pipe with a little shake to get the bowl going. The flavor is sweet and a bit complex for a straight Virginia. I really enjoy Sam Gawith’s Best Brown and as a reference point, I find Union Square to be more complex. And I prefer this much more than Gawith’s FVF in just about all areas. It burns cool and while Lady N is present, I wouldn’t call it strong. I prefer it most slowly sipped in a reverse calabash. Union Square, without any flavoring, smokes sweet and clean right to the end of the bowl. My only wish is that I had put away more tins each year than I did!
Pipe Used: Mainly in a Liskey or Negoita reverse calabash
Age When Smoked: 5 years
22 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 21, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant
If it were up to me, I would have named this tobacco "Jazz Interlude." The tin note is fruity, mellow, sweet, and it sort of reminds me to Playdough, but I cannot detect any casing. These flakes look properly aged, have a fair amount of gold leaf, and I am loving GL Pease's no-nonsense easy-to-crumble approach to it. Even though the moist content might feel somewhat high, you can smoke them straight out of the tin. This tobacco is definitely for those seeking a straight unhindered Virginia experience. The leaf is easy on the palate and very slow burning, but rich, somewhat spicy and full of flavour at the same time. I particularly like how it evolves in different layers unlocking different undertones and flavours the more you progress with your smoke. Here I'd say this is a complex tobacco that it is easy to approach and very forgiving at the same time. I believe this tobacco should be appreciated for what is missing in its moments of silence and interlude, for the real music is being played as a dotted white line underlining the score or music sheet, as a prolonged pause in between high and low notes. And as I retro inhale, I find the room-note simply gorgeous. I really don't see how you could go wrong with this tobacco, so it is going to get 4 stars.

Edit1: Something that is important to note is the fact that this is not your ordinary straight Virginia tobacco. Because of the fact it comprises flue cured Virginias, it tends to be stronger and more full-bodied than your regular Virginia leaf. This is to say this is not your ordinary off-the-peg product. Rather, it has been technically produced, purposely made to cater for the few and not for the many.
PurchasedFrom: 4Noggins
16 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 14, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
This is my first journey into GLP teritory and what a pleasant one it has been.

I am a bit bemused by the description as "sliced cake," but then again I'm English, so it may just be a matter of vernacular. What I do see is a very attractive long ribbon cut with shreds of real leaf pressed within it, a nice reminder that this did start life as a tobacco plant.

Sweet hay with a hint of honey on the nose, yep, this is a proper Virginia alright.

Once rubbed out a bit, packing, lighting and smoking are a doddle. And the gentle essence of the fine leaf wafts around your senses, at once fruity with a bit of tang, then just a touch of yeastiness and an almost creamy aftertone.

I suspect what may leave some reviewers underwhelmed - and forgive my impertinence - is that this is quite an un-American blend, the subtle nuances strike me as more characteristic of the type we find over on our side of the pond. If Mr Pease has Anglophile tendencies in his blending style, then that is absolutely fine by me!

Highly recommended.
15 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 24, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Very Pleasant
This is the ticket. Benchmark stuff. Simply outstanding! Greg says on his website that he never intended to do a straight VA blend, and and then he goes and pulls off a gem like this.

Carefully select some quality VA leafs, press them, slice them and treat gently - place in a tin. Bingo.

I love my VA's and I love my flakes, if they have some perq, oriental or cavendish added that's fine too. I also love my Navy Flakes like Capstan or Marlin Flake because of that solid VA taste you get with hints of flavor and sweetness from a wee drop of Rum. But with U.S. you get so much sweetness and flavor without anything added...How did he do it?

This blend is what I expected FVF to be, although good - somewhat disappointed me. This is a flake every bit as good as Reiner's Long Golden Flake but it doesn't have any Burley or Perq added!

This blend is a wake-up call for McCleeland VA blenders, Greg's stolen their secrets and pushed it to another level. (A hint of Ketchup aroma from the tin).

This blend makes you wonder what other blenders are doing wrong. This blend is why I love pipe smoking. This blend is why I always say, "America leads the way in blending today".

A must try, must cellar blend. Put simply, dry or just try direct from tin, quality VA leaf with rich earthy hay, figs and citrus flavors, perfect in the tin, perfect half broken slices, plumes of smoke and the least bitey VA I've ever smoked. There is only one problem with this blend...it's too dam tasty to be able to leave in it a cellar for a few years....I'm off for another bowl...see ya.
15 people found this review helpful.
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