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 42 Reviews
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
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
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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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 21, 2019 Extremely Mild None Detected Extremely Mild (Flat) Tolerable
First off... what a foul concoction! Sampled from a 2008 vintage tin. The aroma is of a smoky Latakia presence combined with Oriental essence. I didn't detect any flavoring from the sniff or while smoking. I don't know but the majority of reviewers say it contains an extremely mild flavoring. I'll just go along with the majority on that one. The flakes are packed upright & sideways & occupy the full length of the tin. They are tender flakes that crumble more than seperate but the end result provides easy packing and a fantastic burn rate.

The main differences I found between this and quality English/ Balkan mixtures is: Penzance isn't as sweet or as flavorful & packs very minimal Vitamin N. However, I can see why so many pipers are attracted to this particular blend... because most pipers seem to prefer the mild, wimpy blends. It smokes cool & mild without any harshness or bite. Very comfortable on the palate but is almost like stoking your pipe with plain air... what happened to the nicotine? It seemed to have lost its flavor & became rather bland after about 1/3 of the bowl is smoked down. To my way of thinking, it's like drinking decaffeinated coffee. What's the use? Since I don't inhale, I prefer a stronger blend & Penzance was simply too wimpy to suit me... hence the lower rating.

I am perplexed by the varied opinions & differences in defining the quality, or lack thereof about Penzance & after reading most all of the reviews, I've reached a conclusion... there's simply a lack of "Quality Control" as each batch gets totally opposing reviews on taste, flavoring & strength declarations. Lately, I've been sampling Latakia and Orientals, or a combination of such. I thought my tin of Penzance was a real dud & trashed it & this... one of the most reviewed blends on this site. However, I prefer a blend of this genre that provides more flavor & strength... not one that offers a bland taste & a Latakia dominance. It would seem that purchasing Penzance is, "Like eating a box of chocolates." You never know what you might get. Some may be very good & some must be spit out!

I won't be trying Penzance, ever again... from a fresh or aged tin or pouch! IMHO, Penzance is very much overrated. Mississippi Mud &/or HH Balkan Blend, Stokkebye's Balkan Supreme, Crystal Palace, Arango Balkan Supreme, Plum Pudding Special Reserve, HH Syrian, D & S Levant, Trafalgar, Blairgowrie & many others are smokier, stronger & tasted so much better to me right from a new tin & better than that, I could buy more than a pound of each for less than one wee tin of wimpy Penzance. What's wrong with these people?... I can't imagine! I'm not trying to be funny here but I believe one might catch a better buzz by going outside & just breathing some of our good, old polluted air.

I think the name should be changed to Nonzance or maybe Flatulzance. Road Apple or Pomagranite Vine would be a better choice. I sorely disliked this "blend." It's really a foul concoction & barely rates one star. Kudos to those who like this & have $$ to waste on denicotined tobacco. After all, nicotine is what it's all about, right? Strange how pipers taste preferences differ, is it not?

Pipe Used: Peterson 11S Deluxe, Peterson 9S Deluxe
PurchasedFrom: eBay
Age When Smoked: 4 Years Old in 2011
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 19, 2015 Medium to Strong None Detected Very Full Very Strong
How many piper-poets have quipped about the heavenly qualities of this ever in-demand pipe blend? Far too many. This is not a tobacco that merits such poetic prose. It's good, not great. If this were as readily available as other blends, it would not be receiving the praise it gets.

It's heavy on the Latakia and Orientals. There are some fine Virginia tobaccos in this blend. Unfortunately, they do not shine through as I think they should. This tobacco tastes of incense with a slight Indian soap flavor. Not a fan boy. If it's a good Latakia blend you're looking for, opt for the Frog Morton series by McClelland.

Pipe Used: Rattray's, Peterson
PurchasedFrom: Beehive Cigars
Age When Smoked: 6 months from purchase
6 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 Pleasant to Tolerable
The tin aroma is unforgettable, but not the smoke. Clean, subtle, latakia predominant flavor does not compensate the relatively weak body in the taste. Not saying it lacks strength, but somewhat monotone to me. I definitely expect more due to the hype. It is one of the most overrated blends on the market in my opinion.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 08, 2013 Mild to Medium None Detected Mild to Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Well, I have to tell it like it is read so much about this tobacco I had to have it so I went to the sharks on ebay and bought 5 bags of 8 ounces each at 100.00 per bag have been working on a bag now for 2 months nice tobacco just not for me I prefer Dunhill navy rolls and S.G. Full virginia flake if anyone wants them I would just like to get my money back if not they are going to age for a long time.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 31, 2004 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
A nice latakia-dark pressed and sliced typical English tobacco. Anyway, let me disagree with the raving reviews here. It IS a very good and pleasant tobacco: it has a nice, clean, licorice-like taste. It crumbles great, burns cool and even, and leaves an incredibly white and pure ash. Nothing really to complain about: my rating of "Might try it again but won't keep it on hand" comes just from a simple reason... There are not many alternatives if you want a Latakia-laden pressed blend, the main ones being Old Ironsides and Pirate Kake. Well, I think that these two are vastly superior. Not because Penzance tastes badly (no real bad notes in it!), but because in comparison it is a bit empty, not as mouth-filling. Old Ironsides is a monster of strength and taste, and Pirate Kake is very thick and full thanks to the burley. So, if you want a lighter pressed Latakia blend, Penzance is great: to me, it is good, but won't fall in my "best of" category.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 21, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Update - 11 Nov 2015: Meh. A disappointing sequel after a few weeks. The good stuff takes too long to kick in, it's almost insipid. I am not impressed with this tobacco and deem it's not worth chasing it, or paying stupid prices for it. I will stick with Gaslight, the Dunhills and my other classics and will not bother with Penzance no more. Not worth it, chaps. Original review - 21 Oct 2015: Because of its limited availibility, I have chased Penzance for almost 5 years. In the meanwhile, I had chased around for some Wessex's Dark Flake, Hamborger Veermaster and Germain's Balkan Sobranie. Having been disappointed by these, I had decided to stop chasing Penzance, out of concern of ending up also disapointed by it. It's when I stopped chasing it that I was offered an opportunity - ironic, isn't it?- and decided to seize it. Penzance is a very dark Mottled Flake - I suppose it's the British equivalent to Crumble Kake- that is all about the Latakia. From what I can appreciate in the tin, Latakia rules. I cannot say I perceive the Virginias or Oriental because all I can smell is Latakia. The tobacco breaks easily for packing: a finger stirring it suffices in order to gather a pipeful. Very easy and practical, I must say. As the tobacco is very dark, it requires some effort to light properly and des burn slowly. At first, not much happens, as latakia is not a multi-flavour leaf. But progressively, the Latakia starts affirming itself, in a creamy, smoky and just a bit sweet way. I can barely make out, on my tastebuds, the Virginias an Orientals. There are some hay and spicy notes, by very attenuated, just to bring a little extra to the Latakia. As the pipeful progresses, the Latakia makes itself richer and richer while keeping its creaminess, smokiness and slight sweetness; and the Virginias and Oriental affirm themselves a bit more. At mid-point and until the end, Penzance is a very smooth but still stout smoke that is medium in strength in the nicotine department. Germain's latakia, like their Oriental (I'm thinking about their Special Latakia Flake) has a personnality and taste like no other. It is, simply put, sublime, and is what makes Penzance unique. I am extremely glad, for a change, to have been able to get one of the most seeked after tobaccos on the market. I will not start chasing after it again, but, if given the opportunity to get more, I shall not hesitate and will purchase more. Penzance is a great Latakia, distinctive and comparable to no other. It's akin to Special Latakia Flake, but with a greater latakia presence.
3 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 27, 2021 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable to Strong
I tried this over hyped baccy back in early 2020 before covid hit at my local pipe club meeting. With so many widely available better tasting English blends available i just dont get the hype. Also yall should ashamed for driving the price of this blend into the 300 plus range. Old Ironsides is better and 12 bucks. Seriously.
Pipe Used: briar
PurchasedFrom: didnt
Age When Smoked: unknown
2 people found this review helpful.
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