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This is a blend unlike any you have had in the past nor possibly in the future. This mixture is an original creation of a tobacco blended by a young master Steven Books! I guess for terms of comparison, like smoking a Balkan Sobranie blend yet not from a can but fresh from the blenders own table yet 50 years old! Aged like fine wine or a favorite cognac, this IS the perfect blend for that favorite scotch, brandy or cognac. A perfect gift for that discriminating palate! This ancient blend is crafted with these unique and obviously limited quantities — 40 yr old Virginia, 38 yr. old Syrian Latakia, 40 yr old Turkish blend, 45 yr old Burley.

BrandHouse of Calabash
Blended BySteven Books
Manufactured ByHouse of Calabash
Blend TypeAmerican
ContentsBurley, Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
CutCoarse Cut
ProductionNo longer in production
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Mild to Medium
None Detected
Medium to Full
Room Note
Pleasant to Tolerable
5 reviews
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Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild to Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This stuff is just really good from the first puff. I'm no stranger to aged blends but this one is different. Without the disadvantages of spending decades in a tin, it's character and flavors have indeed ripened to a sun grown sweetness and rich depth of flavor simply not found in other blends. Smooth and seductive, it makes me wonder where I've been for so long and yet not stumbled across this before. For the price of a good Cigar, a bowl of this is the better choice. Like an easy wind across the bayou, there is no compelling issue to distract your attention from this well orchestrated and earthy presentation of another time and day. For me, the Burley and Virginias are the main components, with supporting complements from the Syrian and Turkish varietals. Dappled tones of brown and darker colors of the visual presentation are complemented nicely by the semi-sweet note from the open jar. Easy to light, clean and long burning, it is self-indulgent and a guilty pleasure that I can see myself repeating. Yes, it does quite nicely in this Baki Meerschaum Bulldog.

3 people found this review helpful.

The Nothing Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
The Nothing (4)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

Exquisite. That was the only word that came to mind the moment I fired up a bowl of Ancient Imperial. This was but a sample that was given to me when I visited Steven Books' shop earlier today.

As one would expect, the years have subdued the Latakia, but it is still present. Rather than die out completely, it has instilled itself in other tobaccos. You had to look for it when I smelled it out of the jar. The main flavor components are coming from the VAs and Burley with the Turkish riding behind in the wake like a water skier. The Latakia was mostly pronounced in the retrohale. The ash was fine and grainy, and the bowl smoked cool all the way to the bottom without any dottle or bittering.

Ancient Imperial runs a hefty pricetag, but it's one that I'm more than willing to splurge on from time to time.

Pipe Used: Stanwell N&D (dedicated to English-style blends)

Age When Smoked: 53 years

Purchased From: House of Calabash

2 people found this review helpful.

SteelCowboy Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
SteelCowboy (685)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

I am fortunate enough to have a cellar full of old tins as I simply love well aged tobaccos. Needless to say, a blend made up of forty year old tobaccos was one I had to have on my “must try” list. Upon opening the pouch there is no doubt that this is one old tobacco. The scent is almost “wine-like.” I was concerned that with such old Burley in the blend that it might produce some bitterness, but none was to be found. As Meerschaum Man pointed out, Ancient Imperial tastes different than any other aged blend I have smoked, and I have smoked a lot of them. I seem to use this description with Books' blends, but again, very smooth tobacco. There is a lot going on with this blend too. There are a lot of complex flavors to be found in AI. It is not my favorite aged blend, but well worth the cost if you have some extra coin. Recommended

2 people found this review helpful.

A. Morley Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
A. Morley (97)
Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable

This is a blend for the ages: comparable to few and not likely to be duplicated in time foreseeable. The work of a true artist.

Like the works of Wagner or of Shakespeare, it may not be readily appreciated upon initial encounter, but it is well worth the money and the effort. Ancient Imperial has nearly all of the components of a fine blend and of a quality and a provenance simply unattainable to many other tobacco concerns.

Such complexity will often confuse or even confound the smoker upon first light. The Virginias are aged to an extent so to take on an incense or spring floral character. This is compounded by the mysterious and balsamic Turkish that adds a thick, almost leathery aspect. The burley, which makes up a great deal of the blend, in among the finest and well aged to be found. Like the best and the truest of dark chocolate, the burley in bitter and almost biting. Almost biting, mind you, but far too well seasoned and well applied to ever actually bite. The Syrian Latakia puts in the most memorable cameo in the history of the blending of tobacco for the pipe. You will not even know that it is there upon first lighting and through the first third of the bowl. It will start to make brief and memorable appearances, though, blooming with a woodsy, tangy, red wine like evanescence that will fade and reappear in its own good, mystical time.

The best fino sherry or true, dry Marsala are the best, quaffable approximations to Ancient Imperial. Like strong fish or cured meat or the best olives, it has little of the basic or the readily approachable, but it can, just as readily, show you that, in the smoking of a pipe, just as in every aspect of life, there can always be another level.

Pipe Used: Various American & English briars

1 person found this review helpful.

Emeritus Account Reviewed By DateRating StrengthFlavoringTasteRoom Note
Emeritus Account (30125)
Mild to Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant

Dark brown to black ribbons with a luscious tobacco scent, but with spiciness intermingled (is spicy a scent???). Heavy on the burley aroma. It resembles the scent of other blends but it's in a class of its own. This review is based on 4 small bowls, as I only have about 50 grams and I'm saving the rest for special occasions. It cost me a pretty penny and it's apparently no longer being made.

This tastes like nothing I've ever smoked, even though it's not worlds different. I've smoked a lot of aged blends and they tend to smooth out as they get older. This one starts off aged, so it's hard to comment on what aging has done. No bitterness to the burley and a nice flavor burst upon lightup that is accomplished by a very short list of blends. But this one is very smooth and refined. The Virginias are just sweet enough as to refrain from drawing too much attention away from the entire concoction. The burley is robust but not strong, and the other components act as the spicers (pinch of salt, a bit of oregano, and so forth). The blend is powered by the Virginia and burley but steered by the latakia and orientals. I think I'm starting to prefer Syrian latakia and have cellared several tins of several different blends. The cool thing about this blend is its complexity. It doesn't beat you about the head with massive changes every few puffs, but takes very gentle excursions from the norm every so often. It's unnoticeable at first but then it hits a groove for awhile. Steve Books must have smoked a lot of this and tweaked it as he went, as it seems just short of perfect in its presentation. There are other aged blends I prefer but this one is special. Naturally it's time on earth is done and there probably isn't much of this lying around in people's cellars, due to the expense. But if a tobacco can ever be worth such lofty coin, this is one of the few. I enjoy sharing tobacco with friends. Even my best friends can pound sand on this one! :)

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