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 94 Reviews
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
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
Jan 28, 2016 Mild None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
I was gifted some of this from a forum member. I wanted to try it, but not badly enough to wait around my phone or inbox to spend $40+ per bag. With the waiting lists that some of these retailers have these days, I figured I would save myself a lot of time and trouble by just laying low.

So this is the "holy grail" of English blends. I opened the Ziplock bag that my sample came in and trembled with humility. Was I worthy enough to partake of this holy mixture? Was my heart pure enough? This is what the gods and goddesses smoked the day the world was conceived? I was overcome with emotion and cried uncontrollably at the honor that I had bestowed before me.

With that being said, I packed it into a 1947 Parker billiard. It smelled nice and smokey in the bag, and I was beginning to think I had a Lat bomb on my hands. After lighting (which it readily took and held for the remainder of the smoke), I realized that this was indeed a damn good smoke. I was afraid it would be musty or spicy with the oriental content, but these orientals are of the sweeter variety. They add an exotic spice to the amazing tobacco flavor. I was able to pick out several flavor profiles as the bowl burned: wood, earth (albeit not bitter in any sense), leather, spiced cream (think eggnog). The flavor never once got bitter or overly smokey. It burned to a fine white ash and left no burnt aftertaste in my mouth. I was impressed.

I can see how this would be a hyped tobacco to many. However, I personally don't see how this blend commands the prices or popularity that it does. I would like to keep some on hand, but I didn't find it miraculous enough to scour the deepest ends of the Earth just to pay $50 for an 8 oz. bag. My 3 Oaks is readily available and scratches the same itch that this blend would satiate. I recommend that anyone who likes English mixtures should try this at some point in their lives. Maybe I WASN'T worthy after all...
Pipe Used: Parker
PurchasedFrom: Gift
Age When Smoked: Unknown
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2015 Medium to Strong None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
My first bowl has proved to be quite an extraordinary journey.

Fully rubbed out; dried for 5-10 minutes (per my tobacconist's advice), it lit quite easily. At first, the taste reminiscent of corn flakes, I was put off. That opened up a bit. I find the pleasant sour tang that appears now, a welcome development. The strength remains light-mild for the first quarter-bowl. The Latakia builds to fill it out to a stern medium. Just so. Then come the Orientals; a bit of mustiness; some earthiness. This blends into the Virginias. A bit grassy, but not too sweet. The smokiness never disappears, but does pop in enough to remind you of It's presence. All of the aforementioned components are still here; a swirling melange of the symphony that, I am now seeing, is Penzance. The deftness of this blend really shows halfway into the bowl. The balance, currently showing, is where I usually prefer to start, in a bowl. Earthy, musty, nutty, leather; they're all suitable adjectives, but underwhelmingly so.

It smokes wonderfully. I only had to relight due to the extremely restricted sipping which I attempted. Even then, a minimum effort was required to produce a clean, even burn to termination.

I can see what the hype is about. Not an all day smoke; maybe not an every day indulgence. Definitely one to keep in the cellar. I'll buy what's available, but not necessarily at the premium I've seen it go for... Neophytes, wait on this one. Better yet, buy it if available, and then wait. Get a variety under your belt before attempting to tame this one. A bit of age will reward your patience. -SR
Pipe Used: Meerschaum
PurchasedFrom: The Tinder Box, Costa Mesa
Age When Smoked: Fresh, bulk
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 17, 2011 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
There is reason why this is the 322nd review of this classic blend. I do not find it to be a “Latakia Bomb” as it has been described by a few. (In a world filled with so many Straight Virginia's how come they are never called “Virginia Bombs?”) There are many more dominate Latakia blends out there, think Ten Russians, a true heavy Latakia blend. Penzance is not a “beginners” blend either. While not my favorite Krumble Kake, there is a nice interplay between the Orientals and the Latakia. It arrives too moist to smoke out of the tin and I find it smokes best fully rubbed out and dried. Like many Krumble Kakes one has to be careful not to “over-rub” it or it can turn to dust when dried. I do agree with some other reviews that while this is a very good blend, it is IMHO not worth paying the internet auction price. Recommended.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 21, 2020 Medium to Strong Mild to Medium Medium to Full Tolerable
Smoked this wonderful Balkan on and off again for some years now but had a kind of prejudice in that we had two guys in our pipe club who never ceased gushing on and on how great a Balkan it was. These two also only smoked Bangs and Jess pipes..... This is a VERY well done tobacco to be sure, but I don’t get all the hype (and HIGH price) this one gets. There are many other Balkans of this caliber that come to mind, Durbar and Bill Bailey‘s as an example. A great smoke to be sure, but dents the credit card pretty hard........
Pipe Used: Georg Jensen Billiard
PurchasedFrom: Internet
Age When Smoked: Fresh at the time.
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 18, 2016 Strong None Detected Full Tolerable
This tobacco is good. It's smoky with the Latakia being present, but not overwhelming. It's strong for my tastebuds, but I do enjoy it. Like others have said, the tobacco itself is superb quality and is in a crumble flake that easily fills your pipe.

The one thing you will find is that it's difficult to find. I've stocked up on a bunch to cellar or sell/trade at a later date, but will most likely keep it. Buy some if you can find it.
Pipe Used: Moonshine Signature Devil Anse
Age When Smoked: 1 year
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 04, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable to Strong
This is a blend for those who really love Latakia. The quality of this Latakia is second to none, but I've evolved as a pipe smoker and I find myself seeking English blends that apply Lat with a slightly lighter touch than I used to. A couple of years ago I would have easily given this four stars. Now though, it seems a bit heavy handed. I much prefer Margate and ASTB to this flake. The Virginias here are nearly hidden and well.....I like to taste the Virginias. Just can't get enough vitamin V from this to suit my taste. In fact, I have to add some to truly enjoy Penzance. Having said all that, it is top quality tobacco and I have no trouble giving it my full recommendation. It's just a matter of personal preference. Oh yeah....the Oriental component is very evident and top notch.....but I want some damn Virginia flavor in here. Same results in briar, cob, and clay.

Medium in body. Medium to full in Latakia smokiness. Burns perfectly. Smokes cool and smooth.
Pipe Used: Tsuge tankard, MM Country Gentleman, MF #9
Age When Smoked: 4 months
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 28, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
This brand has been reviewed to death here, so I am going to keep this short.

The tin note is heavenly....just gorgeous...but the crumble cake style is a bit challenging to handle, so extra care must be taken in packing the pipe, as many before me have noted.

Overall, there is a pleasing mocha / coffee taste throughout the bowl, with high notes of spice and sweetness here and there (especially in the middle third of the bowl) but many of the subtleties which I was expecting, based on the uber-hype, were simply not present.

This is because the smoking taste is, IMHO, fundamentally a bit too heavy on Latakia...arguably to the point of being unbalanced versus the orientals. Likewise, I feel that, even though there are doubtlessly some superb Virginias in this blend, they somehow are not allowed to shine forth with their full potential.

To put it another way: I was hoping for flavors of sandalwood, dark tea and exotic fruits bathed in smoky sweetness, but what I got (mostly) was fresh peat and coffee grounds punched-up with fleeting bursts of sugar & spice. Not a bad thing when judged in a vacuum...and probably great with an Islay malt...but not the finely layered and sophisticated flavor palette which I was led to expect.

Note: I am a Latakia fan, BTW, but I prefer it to be in some sort of harmony (or perhaps a counterpoint) with the other elements of a given blend.

I simply cannot call this one of the top 10% of tobaccos which I have ever smoked....which is what it takes to get 4 stars in my book It's good stuff, even memorable in some ways, but it is not, IMO, one of THE all-time greats. Buy it to see what all the hype is it because you like a peat-forward blend...but don't get sucked in by the "buzz" or the artificial scarcity. That's my 2 cents.

Three stars.

Pipe Used: Chacom Billiard (Military Mount)
PurchasedFrom: The Briar Shoppe
Age When Smoked: 1 year in the tin
4 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Aug 18, 2015 Very Strong None Detected Medium Unnoticeable
Equal to plum pudding. If you've had pp, you've had this. The only thing different about penzance to pp is that penzance's orientals are more obvious at times. Other than that, same taste. More balkan than oriental. Orientals dance on lat and va base.

It's an earthy balkan/English and in no way are the orientals nor the VAs at the forefront. It'a not fruity, not sour, no citrusy, not hay-like. It is a mouth full of dirt kind of tobacco. I personally enjoy that type, though it's not an everyday smoke for me.

Not eye opening like mississippi river

I've now had both aged penzance and new penzance and the aged one is just more mellow. Not more sweet, not tastier - just more mellow. Though plume was visible, It did not improve with age. Latakia is the main ingredient in this and it has faded a lot over time. The orientals have also become less sharp and intriguing.
Age When Smoked: Fresh
4 people found this review helpful.
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