Esoterica Tobacciana Penzance

A wonderful complex secret recipe of the finest Virginia, choice Turkish and Orientals and Cyprian latakia, all hand blended together, hard pressed and broad cut into thick flakes. Long matured and easily crumbled to facilitate pipe filling.


Brand Esoterica Tobacciana
Blended By J.F. Germain & Sons
Manufactured By J.F. Germain & Son
Blend Type Balkan
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 8 ounce bag
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.48 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 464 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 27, 2008 Medium None Detected Full Pleasant
This is as fine a tobacco as I have had the pleasure of putting into one of my pipes. As a pipe smoker of more than 30 years, that is saying a lot. Upon opening the tin and peeling back the oily wax paper, there is a heavenly smell of a clean, rich tobacco. It is a crumble cake (not a flake), and packs as easily as any blend in the world.

Penzance is not cased in any way, just pure tobacco with an all tobacco taste and is more of an Oriental/Turkish blend. While there is a little Latakia leaf in Penzance, the presentation is very delicate, not at all heavy like, say, Frog Morton or Old Ironsides which are predominantly Latakia blends. Penzance, of course, is not.

Upon lighting, your palate will quickly be washed in the full, rich flavor of the mixture. While there is plenty of latakia, it is not overwhelming at all. The blender expertly combined all of the ingredients necessary to please just about anyone.

The smoke is thick, rich and creamy. There are a variety of flavors as you work your way down the bowl, all of them good. Although heavy in flavor, I could and have smoked this stuff all day and night without fatigue. It is best though after dinner. If, like me, you do not normally heed the call of latakia tobacco blends, this will make you whistle a different tune. The oriental leaf is subtle, refined and smooth. Just delightful!

Update (2/5/05) It has been about three years since I posted the above review, and my impressions of this tobacco have, if anything, improved. Because of the decent amount of Virginia leaf in Penzance, it ages especially well for an English style tobacco blend. Sublime stuff!
110 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 11, 2011 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Strong
Well, I've read a whole lot about this blend on tobacco internet forums across the cyberspace. The consensus seemed to be that Penzance was an amazing blend that no one would ever copy and that its so great and "oh i have 5 lbs. cellared and you don't LOL". Although I generally do not give in to this sort of bragging/teasing (I always give in), I became obsessed with getting my gritty little fingernails on a tin/pounch/mound/bowl/lick the residue out of an old estate of penzance.

Every store I visited, and every "online store" I clicked on seemed to be fresh out of stuff. It was no where to be found, but EVERYONE was saying how great it was. "Oh you know this tobacco is good....BUT NOT AS GOOD AS PENZANCE!! SILLY MORTALS AND YOUR NON-PENZANCE TOBACCOS AH HA HA!"

Feeling like Charlie from that willy wonka story, I grew depressed as I yearned for the tobacco, all the while I performed a musical number as i stared into the moon. I wanted to be just as cool as the 60-year old guy sitting in his underwear hiding in his closet from his beast-of-a-wife and posting on the internet bragging about his non-existent scrooge McDuck supply of Penzance.

So I waited for my chance, and nearly forgot about penzance. Until that faithful day.

I was browsing Craigslist for the usual stuff. Free dirt, old furniture being sold at full price, and anonymous sex, when I came across a most interesting Ad. It read "PENZANCE? I GOT YOUR FIX." I became excited and quickly replied to the ad demanding that I be sold/given penzance immediately and that I would do anything for the chance.

He said that what he had was very rare and that it would cost me a ton of money. I said I didn't care, and I knew about the rarity of penzance. We set up a drop point in the city. He would drive by in a orange and yellow VW "NEW" beetle, and he would throw the penzance out the car, I was to wear a red balloon for identification. At the same time, I was to use my smartphone to hand over the cash via paypal to his online account, as he checked for updates. He said that if his account wasn't updated by the time he reached 8th street, he'd hunt my down and drag me out to a forest. So I agreed.

The next day I took an early lunch from work and waited in the "spot" with a red balloon in hand. 5 minutes had passed and I began to sweat in the hot sun. I knew this was a bad idea, no tobacco is worth this effort. But then he came, and I saw his fruity bug vroom on down the street. He threw out what looked like a pretty large package for tobacco and I became as giddy as a little schoolgirl. He held his hand out of his bug and gave me this little wave that really threw me off. Whatever...I knew what I had to do, I didn't want to get dragged off into the woods, I hate camping. So I forked over the $200 on my phone and ran over to the package to open it up. IT was quite large and rather heavy! Take that old creepy coward liar!

This is where the fun stopped however. I opened the package and my heart sank into my lower back. Inside was a copy of the script, music sheets, and autographed picture for the cast of "Pirates of Penzance". It began to rain, and I fell to my knees and cried. That creepy old man on the internet had won, look at what he did to me. Why would I go through all of this for some stupid tobacco? Is my life really that empty that I must give into the hype of some stuff that apparently smells like old bum?

My life changed that day, and I no longer felt the need to have the best, seal away the most, smoke the best or be the "best". I became me.

A couple of months after that, my cousin came over to my house with a tin of penzance. I showed restraint, and did not get overly excited. We smoked it all night long.

It was ok.
71 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 01, 2014 Medium None Detected Full Tolerable
An Oriental smokers' delight with choice Turkish, which is woody, smoky, earthy, with a very minor sour and floral note, along with a fair amount of spice. The Cyprian latakia is smokey, musty, earthy and woody sweet as one would expect, and though it's not the star player, it's rich in taste, and is a major supporting player. The Virginia has a light citrus sweetness with some hay and grass notes, and acts as a base for the other flavors to play off of. There's also a little stoved Virginia that offers some stewed, sugary dark fruit, earth and wood. There's a decent amount of Virginia present, so it ages better than many English blends. I also sense a little black Virginia cavendish in play. Because it breaks apart very easily, there's several ways to fill your pipe with it, and one way is as good as another, though I prefer to pack it a little loose so it burns easier in the last quarter of the bowl. Burns at a little less than moderate pace, clean and cool with a continual spice hit that translates well into the aftertaste, which pleasantly lingers. The flavor is very consistent from start to finish. Creamier than one might expect without being overly sweet. The nic-hit is just shy of being medium, while the strength is medium. The taste level is full. Won't bite or get harsh. Leaves just a little moisture in the bowl, and requires some relights. The room note is pungent, and won't likely suit non-smokers.

59 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 17, 2008 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
I'm brand new to this review site, and it has been very interesting to read other's opinions of tobaccos that I know well. I agree with the general good opinions expressed about Penzance;it is one of my staples and the one tobacco that I would choose if I could only have one. The essential things about it that make me say that are...

It gives me that almost indefinable quality of smoking 'satisfaction' - that fulfillment feeling - right from the start. It is a very well-behaved smoke; never weak or biting. It is very consistent across tins - you can rely on it.

The taste is deep; you know that it's there without it having anything much that strikes you as easily identifiable in the flavour - so there's nothing to get bored with! I would contrast it with many of the other luxury 'English' (as Americans seem to call them - I'm English) blends containing Latakia, in that some of these have very little weight at all - you puff them in and out and there's nothing there but the dry, ashy, smokiness. Penzance adds a full bottom note to that, balancing it and making it complete.

Interesting that some people report soapiness to the taste - I have never noticed that. Also, it seems that bulk lots often receive unfavourable comments - that is why I only ever buy small, airtight tins of anything.

I have noticed that good tobaccos can some times receive bad reviews - can it be that the local, seasonal climate where people live can effect the taste of their tobacco? Humid conditions at certain times of the year here in Queensland (Australia) certainly seem to put me off some tobaccos that I usually like. can anyone tell me more about this aspect of climate & tobacco taste?

PS I notice that several reviewers say that they rub out the flakes fully - I don't do this. Instead (as I was taught years ago) I merely tease them a little as I fold them and load directly into the bowl, and add some crumbs to the top to help lighting. If there are no crumbs around, I just fluff the very top of the flake a little. Does this make it taste better, I wonder.
37 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 08, 2013 Medium Mild Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
My first brush with the ET line was a 7 year old tin of Penzance. Opening that tin, the smell and "greasy" appearance of the tobacco inside immediately put me into a state of nervous excitement and I fairly gulped my first bowlful. Since then I have taken the time to relax and enjoy what is certainly one of the best pipe tobaccos "available". It's a pity it's gotten so hard to come by, but I suppose that is the way it goes when the supply of something so good is limited.

While Penzance is basically an "Oriental-forward English blend", this characterization falls well short of a complete description. Clearly there is some sort of fermentation at work in the "processing" of this tobacco, and clearly the processing is part of the "secret" of the success of the blend. But I am also pretty sure they use some sort of fruit in some way at some point. So "fruity" is the nose that it works its way into the taste, like apricots, figs, and vague pineapple, citrus, etc. Not only this, but there are also plenty of "aromatic resins" of the "incense" variety that interleave with the fruity notes. If all this sounds gimmicky or too much, somehow it is NOT, at all, and I say this as a confirmed hater of "aromatics" and additive-forward blends of all descriptions. For one thing, all the tobaccos claimed for the blend are of TOP quality, and each is present and accounted for - in its "fermented" form. The "thick" flakes are in fact quite thin, and it hardly matters since the tobacco begins to crumble immediately when it is handled. I try to carefully fold and roll a flake and stuff it "vertically". Who knows why, but this blend somehow burns fine when it's "wet", right out of the tin, once it's well lit. The Lat here is perfect for the blend, woody but trailing in intensity, and despite the myriad resins, etc., the "incense" is kept well in check, The Prime, aged Virginias are exceptionally rich and full-bodied without bite, and they rise as the smoke progresses. Meanwhile, the loamy and exotic, dominant Orientals develop a "sour" quality that gradually overtakes the initial non-cloying sweetness. There is lots of smoke, and I always feel satisfied, like all is well with the world, and money well spent.

Perhaps some people hope bad reviews will make Penzance more available. As for myself, to be honest, I can't say anything bad about this tobacco. I will say that, to my perceptions, the bagged version is "not the same" as the tinned version. Also, while it ages very well indeed in a sealed tin, I have no evidence to date that it improves with age in a jar. Lastly, it needs moisture to do its thing.

All in all, a FINE, complex English blend that is different each time I smoke it, but always quite wonderful!

Update, 01-14-2019: Yesterday I smoked some Penzance that had sat in a "sealed" Mason jar for the past 5 years, or so. It was a "nice", medium "English", very good, but not the "Penzance" I craved, and it is not the fabled stuff I wrote about, above. And this is not the first time I have thought what I finally decided to share with TR readers, that the way to get the best from Penzance is to smoke it straight from a well-aged, sealed tin that's just just been popped. Next best is any tin that's just been popped, because it simply goes flat in a jar over time. Perhaps this fact will one day fuel "Penzance parties", where tins are shared rather than hoarded in jars...

Update, 08-14-2022: About 3 weeks ago I remembered I had stashed a couple of sealed tins of Penzance, and I thought to check on them, Both tins seemed to remain sealed, but the older one, from 2009, was lightly corroded, so I popped it. I can't say this particular tin proves anything, except it is possible to wait too long to open a tin of Penzance. The tobacco in this tin was still moist, but not dripping wet, per usual. This is still a great Oriental-forward English blend, but it lacks the magic of tins I've breached that were younger, albeit this could be just a matter of the seal. Whatever, the best tin I've smoked to date was a 7 year old tin, and I've preferred fresh tins to the 13 year old tin I'm now smoking. Just FYI, for collectors and hoarders...
Age When Smoked: new and old; tins, bags and jarred
24 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 04, 2007 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Upon opening my first tin of Penzance some four years ago, I was put off by its composition (described elsewhere). I gave it a good whiff and was put off even more so by its aroma. In short, it was the most awful looking and vile smelling I'd experience in forty years. If it weren't for the fact that I'd paid good money for this weed, I'd have thrown in in the garbage.

I'm normally averse to blends heavily laden with latakia and based on the aroma was even more reluctant to smoke it. Do NOT be put off by ABSSiegel comment, "If you don't love latakia, stay away!" You'll taste the latakia for sure, but the way in which it is tempered by the virginias is amazing. This is a must try for anyone who enjoys English blends. I would recommend it even to those who smoke only Virgina blends.

On lighting up, I discovered what has become one of the top ten blends in my rotation. Penzance has a distinctive flavor unlike any other I had ever smoked. I've since tried Krumble Kake, a similar tobacco that just doesn't measure up to Penzance.

Creamy, nutty, pungent, and smoky are, at best,inadequate descriptions of this truly remarkable tobacco.

Packs and lights easily, and burns to the bottom of the bowl to a light grey ash. Smokes cool all the way down without a trace of bite.

Works well in any size briar or meerschaum.

Works very well with DGT.

If you do like this blend, buy some to age. I'm now smoking some from a four year old tin. It is even more mellow and flavorful than from a fresh tin.

Penzance and Stonehaven are, IMHO, the finest blends made by Esoterica.

Arguably, Penzance is the finest tobacco ever blended.
23 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 05, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
This is one of those blends I have smoked over the years and never reviewed. I have had it aged and fresh from the bag. I am working through 8 oz of it now and decided to add one more review to the body of knowledge.

First, the tobacco has a cult status and is almost impossible to find. It gets a lot of traction on the various pipe smoking fora, and there is a suspicion that it is hyped and maybe only a ho-hum smoke.

I think it deserves the love. It is an oriental forward blend with a distinctive "mouth feel" and pleasant aftertaste. The orientals are spicy and play off the smoky latakia. Sweet, grassy Virgina pokes its head out from time to time. It is a great combination.

I am not claiming this is the greatest latakia blend on the planet, but it is very good. I think everyone should try this just to see what all the buzz is about.
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Feb 27, 2009 Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
This recipe should have been the penultimate English/Balkan blend for me. But as Maxwell Smart would say, it "missed it by that much". I very much enjoyed the tin I bought but I probably won't puchase it again, or at least, not very often. It was a nice tasting smoke, fairly complex and quite a changeling. If I had to put my finger on the "problem" (overstated - it was more the reason it missed the mark for me slightly rather than a problem), I would say that the virginia didn't mesh quite as well as I'd like. It was there and then gone... or so it seemed to me. Then the orientals and latakia took over. It seemed to be two different blends depending on where I was in the bowl rather than a blend cut from a single cloth. That isn't a bad thing at all, and if you love latakia, you definitely need to try this stuff.

So in a sense, my 3 star rating is more for how it suited ME rather than a recommendation to others. I give it a 4 star recommendation for lovers of hearty english/balkan blends.
17 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 11, 2016 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Very Pleasant
Esoterica - Penzance. This is one seriously 'manly' smoke.

I can't comment on the quality of the packaging as I received some VERY generous samples of a few of the Esoterica blends in a trade with Gentleman Zombie; his review's been helpful to me too.

As much as the flavours full, it's also quite unique; the Latakia offers more depth than just smokiness alone, it's woody and earthy as well as smoky. The Oriental makes up a very large portion of the taste, making it sublimely creamy.

I'll end on another few good points: it doesn't bite, burns steady and the smoke's cool!

Thankyou Franck, highly recommended.
Pipe Used: Mastro Cascia
PurchasedFrom: A trade with Gentleman Zombie
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 02, 2014 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
There are no superlatives for this masterpiece. Whatever is said, all the praise can only be pale reflection of its mighty greatness and glory. You can write poetry about it, it's truly the greatest flake ever made. It's beyond the comprehension of human mind. It's awesome, it's great, it's the greatest.
11 people found this review helpful.
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