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 307 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!
109 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
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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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
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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