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 11 - 20 of 464 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 26, 2013 Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
Everybody and their mother has heard of Penzance and for good reason, this blend is amazing. There is something about it that is just magical. Every tobacco in it works together to create an unbelievable smoking experience. The Latakia and Virginias are the main flavors of note, but don't dismiss the orientals as they meld in like they should. A cool smokey with a slight tang flavor and a hint of sweetness as well. Something in this blend makes ur mouth feel cool kinda like menthol although in no way does the penzance taste like it, it's just the feeling, the way it coats ur mouth, it's just perfect. It truly is a shame that Penzance is hard to get now, how people buy it out and hoard it, and worst of all are those who buy it only to sell on eBay for ridiculously price gouged amounts, this goes against everything the pipe community is about. But besides that, Penzance is awesome and is easily in my top 5 favorite English blends. Do ur self a favor, buy or trade for some, but please don't do the eBay thing or pay their incredibly inflated prices. Boom.
Pipe Used: Any
PurchasedFrom: My cellar
Age When Smoked: Varied
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 08, 2009 Medium to Strong Mild Overwhelming Overwhelming
O.K. here's the deal. This is a fair tobacco, but honestly it is beyond overrated. The room note is by far the most perfumed smell of ANY blend. So much so, that it made me feel slightly nauseous ( and this comes from a smoker that can handle Night Cap all day long ). There are literally far better blends available that actually smells like tobacco instead of the perfume counter at Macy's department store. Honestly, just thinking about it makes me feel dizzy. And the way it crumbles into tiny little bits and pieces ( actually more like dust ) is just plain awful. Why would you subject yourself to this?

I have an idea. If you have a cat, go to the litter box and pull out some doo doo. Let said doo doo dry like the sands of Iwo Jima, then crumble it into your brand new Dunhill pipe. This good sirs is a spot-on analogy to the unique flavor that you will not soon forget.

Gentlemen I introduce you to the FRENCH WHORE of pipe tobacco.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 29, 2009 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
A beautifully sliced crumble cake composed of predominantly dark brown flakes mottled with tan flecks and lighter brown and black streaks. What is assumed to be sugar bloom can be found on older examples.

The tin nose is strong, yet inviting; dominated by a pungent, musty, slightly sweet and smoky aroma which translates largely intact into the bowl.

Although quite moist in the tin, being of a delicate sort the crumble cake presentation requires due diligence in handling. In those cases when the extraction of a slice or two has not already resulted in the production of small chunks which can be dropped into the pipe straight away, a very gentle rubbing does the trick. In most instances a simple gravity feed followed by a light tamp or two is more than enough to prepare a bowl, although one should pay close attention going in as strips and chunks can quickly swell and seize up after lighting should the initial pack be too ambitious. Properly prepared, however, one is sure to be rewarded with a lovely smolder. When possible, this reviewer prefers to load a mix of strips, chunks, and odd bits together into the same bowl. However prepared, topping the bowl with a bit of kindling is strongly recommended for a quick and even light.

In the pipe Penzance presents a savory Oriental-forward smoke. Rich with a marked creaminess, on the high side it offers sweet wood smoke, dried fruit, and camphor, while its lower register harbors notes of aged Assam tea, salted meat, and peat. Clearly the dominant player in the blend, the Oriental components are truly sublime: musty, just a tad sour, with a dark, savory quality reminiscent of morel mushrooms. Not to be outdone, the Virginia(s) are soft and sweet and the Latakia neither heavy nor cloying. There is a depth here which in this reviewer's experience is as apt to inspire as it is to confound, with each bowl revealing yet another layer. Towards the heavy side of medium bodied, the finish is dry, musty, and deliciously pungent. As one might expect, tongue bite is never an issue. While it can leave behind a rather tenacious ghost, and while it will do reasonably well just about anywhere, for those who wish to really explore its depths it is well worth the time and effort to audition a number of pipes until just the right one is found. When this happens, all cannot but be right with the world.

As savory an English/Balkan cake as one is likely to get, there is nothing quite like Penzance, and there is good reason that it has attracted so much attention over the years. Although it is probably not an everyday smoke for most (I like it best late at night, particularly when there is a full moon), barring glitches in availability there is little reason that at least a few tins should not be found in the cellar of every serious piper. While quite moist in the tin, in this reviewer's experience Penzance has a tendency to dry rather quickly when left alone, so unless one favors crumbs and dust, the foil pack version should be tightly sealed or jarred soon after opening and the contents of the rectangular 2oz. tin consumed within a reasonable amount of time after popping, even when insulated with a baggy or such like.
10 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 06, 2008 Medium Medium Mild to Medium Very Pleasant
So much has been said by clearly discerning pipe smokers about the marvelous qualities of Penzance that I must resist redundancy. The only thing I can add is to emphasize the subtlety of this magical blend. When, after reading so many glowing reviews of it, I tried my first bowl in an old Barling that could make straw taste good I was a little disappointed. I had been used to more robust English blends and Penzance seemed altogether too mild, even a bit flat. But, by the time I was smoking my fourth bowl, I was hooked by this blend's sophisticated, delicate and subtly changing taste and exquisite smoothness. I still smoke other blends, including some Virginias for a change of pace, but Penzance is my first and best choice. Surely, this is the king of tobacco blends! An added note to this review is that, since I posted it, I have continued to search for an English blend that might surpass Penzance, but have failed, even though I have come across some very fine near-equivalents, like Krumble Kake.
9 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 14, 2016 Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable
I just don't get the hype. I found Penzance to lack flavor, depth, complexity, strength... just about everything I look for in a tobacco. It was so bland that I gave the second half of the tin away to my tobacconist. I really enjoy other Esoterica blends. Margate is fantastic! If you like full, flavorful blends, stay away from this one! If you prefer milder blends or are just experimenting with Latakia blends, then you might like this.
Pipe Used: Stanwell Flame Grain 212, Comoy's Tradition pot.
PurchasedFrom: Tinder Box
Age When Smoked: Fresh / New to 2 months
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 23, 2019 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant
This blend has forever ruined everything I've ever loved in my top 5 tobacco blends. 1oz arrived in a ziplock bag from a B&M store, (kingsmoking...). How much aging do they put this poor thing through before sending it out to vendors? This thing had sugar crystals already. No wonder there isn't enough of it to go around. I'll skip the details. Let's just say I was left speechless from the start. Freak'n ay. It's the most sublime smoke to ever enter my mouth. It made my other long time favorite English tobacco taste like used socks. It's like drinking gas station gin all year with joy and happiness and contentment and suddenly someone hands you a glass of blue label Johnny Walker. This poor peasant had no business taking that glass. The problem is, I only got 1 ounce. I also got an ounce of Margate. Now, margate quickly claimed #2 spot on my list. It is very different from penzance yet both display age like no other. Do you like your humble, simple easy to obtain english? do you? Do yourself a big favor, stay in your humble ignorance and steer clear from this home wrecker. I warn you.
Age When Smoked: it must be aged. I didn't age it
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 21, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant
I bought 2 or 3 parcels of this tobacco from a friend, all of them over 5 years old. Due to the hype, maybe my expectations were higher than it would've been upon opening any other tobacco. But I can safely say - Penzance didn't disappoint. Too bad its so scarce.

In the tin, a wonderful full Latakia smokiness, reminiscent of sitting next to a camp fire with a spicy undertone somewhere between those nostalgia. Also some earthiness coming through. A while ago I even got a whiff of menthol.

Taste: On first lite, that same wonderful Latakia / camp fire smokiness was clear. As you progress through the bowl, a sweetness just shows itself every know and then, which reminds you of some roasted cocoa beans or dark chocolate. Right down to the bare ashes at the end, it was a constant interplay of a well-balanced tobacco, with that chocolaty after taste.

Good tobacco!
Pipe Used: Bari, Savinelli
Age When Smoked: 5 years
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 23, 2009 Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable to Strong
Preface: I have been smoking Dunhill Standard Mixture Medium for near-on 30 years, believing that it has no equal anywhere on earth. But it is gone now, and so I begin a quest for my Holy Grail: A substitute to replace the standard on which all English tobaccos are based:

Penzance & Nightcap are the number 1 and number 2 most-reviewed tobaccos on this board. Not the highest rated, mind you (that would be #1 Full Virginia Flake, #2 Westminster, & Hal O The Wind at #3), but the most reviewed.


What do these two Tobaccos have in common that could account for this? Well, I know what youre thinking,: Latakia right? Incorrect.

It can't be the Latakia, because as we see above, of the top 3 rated tobaccos two haven't any Latakia at all, and the other hasn't enough to write home about. In fact not until #7 do we encounter a tobacco with a notable Latakia presence. So if Latakia isn't that popular why are so many smokers purchasing and reviewing Penzance & Nightcap?


These tobaccos (the hype tells us) are the biggest, badest, most overwhelming tobaccos of all time. Opening a tin will cause your dog to howl, your wife to leave you, and in the end it might likely kill you. And knowing all this, like a car wreck, we've got to go out and see for our selves. Several reviewers wrote that these are the most overrated tobaccos in history. I dont know about that, but I'll bet they take the award for the highest ratio of tobacco sold to tobacco left unsmoked!

Given all this, we've first got to cut through the hype in order to give a proper review. It seems to me that all kinds of people pick up a can of one of these two tobaccos that wouldn't otherwise get near a good English or Balkan if it flew into their cellar. And (surprise?) these folks find these two blends overwhelmingly strong! But, compared to your average medium - full English or Balkan, are they?


Filled with Latakia, they are very much medium-bodied tobaccos. To put a finer point on it they are almost delicate, and would be, were it not for the touches of Perique. I am reminded of the Dunhill brand Aperitif. Not for the similarity, but for the slogan that Aperitif was perfect for a before-dinner smoke. Well, Penzanze could well utilize the same motto. It's subtleties are lost on the after-dinner pallet, and this I fear has been its downfall. For it cannot stand up to its own hype. Try it instead as an Apertif, or in the middle of the morning, where its gentle intricacies may be appreciated.

But never after dark. Never after a meal, and never with Scotch.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 19, 2005 Extremely Mild Medium Medium to Full Very Strong
It was inevitable that I would need to try Penzance after seeing the long list of reviews here. I was not disappointed; it is a terrifically satisfying smoke. The only surprise in this department was the lack of nicotine. This is a very mild smoke.

I had heard about the flavor fading if the tobacco dried, so I took my 8 oz tray of flakes and put them all in a Mason jar when I first opened it. The flakes are very fragile, and crumble away to nothing if you are not very careful with them. It remains in good condition, but it is disappearing quickly because I like it.

The burning characteristics of this blend make me suspect that it has been treated with something. First, the flavor disappears if the tobacco is dried before smoking. This is not normal. Second, the flakes are quite damp in their normal state, but do not require any extraordinary measures to ignite and burn cleanly to a dry, white ash. It's a very dry smoke for me, and this makes me suspicious that there is more than just tobacco in here.

One more characteristic I did not see in other reviews is that this blend burns for a long time. Pipes that normally give me a 45 min smoke with other blends last for well over an hour with Penzance.

Everyone should try this. Suspicions aside, this has become a regular smoke for me.

2013 Update

I am finishing a half-pound of this and have changed my mind. Several factors have caused this change.

The texture of the damp crumbly flakes is unsatisfying. I like smoking flakes, and these fall apart before they can be pushed into the pipe.

The dampness is disturbing. The stuff lights easily and never goes out. And, the flavor fades if the tobacco is allowed to dry. This all suggests to me that this stuff is chemically enhanced to an unacceptable degree. Some smokers like this (a la Frog Morton?) but I do not.

The almost total lack of Vitamin N makes this an unsatisfying smoke for me. After I smoke a pipe for 45 min, I would like to have a little buzz. There is none here.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 16, 2002 Medium to Strong None Detected Full Tolerable to Strong
Aroma: Seems to be predominantly Cyprian Latakia, with a small percentage of Turkish. The background is Virginias, but I could not differentiate any particular vaieties.

Packing: Since it crumbles so well, it packs by gravity into any size pipe.

Lighting: Takes to burning easily, but does need a tamp or two before it settles down.

Initial flavor: The Latakia jumps right up and grabs me, a slightly sweet but very smokey flavor. There is a spicy, musty Turkish flavor in the background, and way down there is the Virginia. It mosly serves to hold the blend together, rather than to add much flavor. Could I be that there is some Burley in the blend? Craig Tarler?s Pirate Kake uses Burley, but I haven?t tried it yet.

Mid-bowl: Burns cool, yet stays lit well. I guess this is the result of the cut. The flavor is still heavy Latakia, lighter Turkish and not a not much else. No significant layering, but tasty enough not to be boring.

Finish: Does not get harsher at the bottom, smokes quite dry, and leaves a nice white ash.

Summary: A nice enough English blend, but lacking the complexities and subtleties I enjoy. There are many other blends I prefer to this one, but that?s just my tase. It is certainly of the highest quality, and is worth try if you like lots of Latakia
7 people found this review helpful.
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