G. L. Pease Samarra

Samarra is a rich and complex mixture, without being heavy. Matured red Virginia provides the basic structure and a delicate sweetness. A generous portion of Cyprian Latakia is added for its smoky richness, and exotic, fragrant Oriental leaf provides fullness to the flavor. Finally, just a hint of lemon Virginia adds bit of brightness to the smoke, and a touch of perique adds its own unique piquancy.
Notes: From GL Pease: Samarra, along with Cairo, Mephisto and Renaissance, was one of the first blends to be offered under the G. L. Pease brand. In a sense, it is a refinement of Sublime Porte, a blend I produced years ago for Drucquer & Sons while working there, so it reflects a much longer history than the other blends in the line. Despite a significant percentage of Cyprus Latakia, Samarra is not a Latakia powerhouse. It is rich and complex, relying as much upon the delicate sweetness and structure of matured red Virginias, and the exotic, fragrant nature of fine Oriental leaf as it does on the smoky opulence of the Cyprian “King of Flavor.” The blend is finished with a hint of zesty lemon Virginia, adding a hint of brightness to the smoke, and a touch of perique, providing its own unique spice. Samarra was introduced March, 2000


Brand G. L. Pease
Series Original Mixtures
Blended By Gregory Pease
Manufactured By Cornell & Diehl
Blend Type English
Contents Latakia, Oriental/Turkish, Perique, Virginia
Cut Ribbon
Packaging 2 ounce tin, 8 ounce tin
Country United States
Production Currently available


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

Average Rating

3.40 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 97 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 03, 2009 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
This tobacco is highly, HIGHLY underrated; some people crave a latakia fix but this ain't one of them. There is a lot of interplay here. Like a William Faulkner novel, there are a lot of moving pieces to this blend. I put Samarra in the CLASSIC realm and there are few, true classics.

Background: Greg Pease knows how much I love this blend so he decided to give me a full background on the history of Samarra. 

Per Greg:

"Since you enjoy Samarra so much, here's the whole history of the blend. When I was working part time at Druquers, I wanted to create a blend just for me. I worked on it for weeks, finally coming up with something I really liked. I blended up a batch, and put it in a jar on the counter, offering samples to any who was willing. The reception to it was excellent, and I received some great feedback. I spent a little time adjusting it slightly, and created the final blend, Sublime Porte. It was very well received, and became a good seller for the shop.

When I was doing the first blends for F&P, I revived my old recipe. Some of the components weren't available any more, so I had to almost start over with the formulation. But, I really wanted to revive my old blend, so I went to work on it. Given quite a few years of experience behind me, the result, Silk Road, was actually better, in my taste, than Sublime Porte had been.

Eighteen months later, after starting over as GLPease, I was again at ground zero. In order to simplify the process of dissolving the partnership, I agreed not to use the old blend names or recipes. So, I re-created my favourite from the line, again, and introduced it as Samarra. Once again, I actually like the new one better than the old.

So, you can see, the blend actually has quite a long history - over 20 years. It's the only one of the Drucquer blends that I carried forward with me, as it was the only one that was 100% my creation from the outset. It remains one of my faves, and holds a very special place in my collection, and my heart." ~GL Pease

What always amazes me about Samarra is that it has the rich, round and full creamy smoke of a Balkan but it's just not quite that latakia-heavy. This isn't a latakia bomb. Layers of flavor is what you get here.

The Virginias are the first tobaccos that I notice upon lighting the bowl; sweet, rich and a little bit tart - but never hot. As I progress down the bowl the latakia comes into play and every once in a while the perique reminds me that it's there.

Towards the middle of the bowl all of the ingredients meld into one good flavor, none dominating and all contributing...smoking clean and true down to the bottom of the bowl. The different components still dance but it seems that the components have agreed that the sum of the whole are superior.

Wonderful! Greg's blends are very good but this is the most sublime and elegant of all. Rich, full but not heavy - Samarra is a class of it's own. This kind of blending is masterful, all the pieces contributing to the whole.

For those who crave latakia, try Charing Cross. For those who want to experience complexity, Samarra is a classic. Smoke a big bowl of Samarra. And please, don't smoke it in a pipe that you've smoked Cherry Jubilee in. Smoke slowly. SLOWLY. Examine the dottle. Good stuff, eh? Samarra is a classic's classic. 1,000 stars.
60 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 07, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Tolerable
The red Virginia is tangy dark fruit sweet, earthy, bready and woody, and is a star component as well as being a team player. There’s a moderate amount of smoky, woody, earthy, musty, incense-like sweet Cyprian Latakia that you’ll notice throughout the smoke, though it never takes the lead or undercuts the other tobaccos. You will probably notice it more at the start. The Oriental/Turkish is woody, earthy, vegetative, floral, spicy, a little herbal, lightly buttery sweet with some dry sourness, as it competes with and compliments the red Va. The lemon Virginia provides tart and tangy citrus, grass/hay, and a light floral note in a supporting role. The perique offers raisins, plums, figs, and a little pepper in a minor role, and the pepper isn’t evident in every single puff, but you'll sense its presence. The Orientals seem to gain more prominence after the half day point, and to a small extent, that is also true of the red Va. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is a step below that level. Won't bite or get harsh, but it does sport a few minute rough edges. Well balanced and complex, it’s fairly smooth and slightly creamy, though you lose just a little of that at the last four or five puffs. Burns cool and clean at a moderate rate with a mostly consistent, deeply rich, mildly sweet and more savory, campfire flavor to the finish. Leaves almost no moisture in the bowl. Requires an average number of relights. Has a pleasantly lingering after taste, and stronger room note. Not an all day smoke, but not a power house either. You’ll be left standing when you’re done.

42 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 25, 2012 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Based on 6 month and 18 month old tins. Long, wide ribbons of a mottled color, mostly on the darker side. Tin notes differ between the two tins, with the younger tin having more of a heavy latakia aroma and the elder tin producing more of an oriental, strong cheese aroma. This translates to the taste as well. Quite frankly, a year of additional aging does quite a lot to this blend. The basic character is the same but the flavors meld tighter as it ages.

There seems to be a high amount of latakia here but it in no way overwhelms. The orientals really steal the show and they fold themselves into the latakia and red VA base rather than layer. Hard to explain but the tobaccos seem to be all of a piece rather than layered, as if there was some new strain of tobacco that was latakia/oriental/red va, all in one. I don't have any idea how this was accomplished but it's rather unique. As if that wasn't enough, there is a hint of perique exuberance and a lightly applied lemon VA for some light at the end of the maze. Complex indeed, but not wearing on the smoker due to this linearity and "one-ness". In the music world, this would be called a symphony.

I smoke a lot of tobaccos and write a lot of "reviews" but I still consider myself an amateur, and I have no greater insight into tobacco blends than any other amateur. Yet, this one strikes me as a stroke of genius. If I wanted to show someone the highest elevation of the blenders art (using nothing beyond my own opinion, of course), I would use GLP's Abingdon, Chelsea Morning and this one. However, taste being the final arbiter for my personal consumption, I'll smoke less of the first two than I will of this one. This is a genius blend that also suits my palate nicely, if not quite as completely as some other GLP blends. So it goes.
29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 05, 2014 Medium None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
This is an outstanding blend. The Latakia and Orientals combine to create a smoky, salty, buttery flavor that is enhanced by a gentle spice from the Perique. The Virginias provide a most welcome sweetness on the finish. The body is on the heavier side of medium and the flavors are very rich. This has replaced Charing Cross as my favorite Pease blend. I just can't get enough of this one. Well done, Mr. Pease.
Pipe Used: MM General
PurchasedFrom: smokingpipes.com
Age When Smoked: 2 months
20 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 17, 2009 Mild None Detected Mild Tolerable
Samarra is typical of most Pease Latakia laced blends. It is of top quality leaf, but the strength just isn't getting the job done for me. The perique was far off in the background which was appreciated.

I believe this will be a 4-star blend for those who enjoy the lighter Latakia fare. Just make sure you cellar it for a year or two before smoking for maximum enjoyment as the Pease Virginia leaf ages beautifully(IMO, of course.)
16 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Nov 24, 2010 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Pease Pilgrimage Reviews (a tasting journey through every GLPease blend) Tin date: 20 May 2010

Appearance: This blend appears quite dark in the tin, a testament to the Latakia and Perique. The Virginias and Orientals appear as golden and olive-colored leaf but in much smaller quantities (at least visually) than I would expect from the description. The very occasional bright yellow fragments of lemon are scattered throughout.

Aroma: The olfactory fiends among us will really appreciate Samarra as it has an absolutely delicious tin aroma upon opening. My wife says she smells berries but could not quite identify which berries. It's got a little barbeque smokiness, a bit of sourness from the Perique and Orientals, and an herbal quality that is very nice. Not flowery herbs but the "warmer" herbs like fennel and chives. I guess those would be spices not herbs. Well, you get the point.

Pipe 1: Peterson dublin Pipe 2: Nording Signature freehand Pipe 3: Meer bent billiard (In case you're wondering why most of my English blends are tasted in these same pipes, it's because these are my star English smokers.)

Flavor: Let's get it out of the way right up front: this is an excellent blend. Certainly not a Latakia bomb, so if you're looking for an English/Balkan but don't like huge Lat, this is for you. But it's not really an Oriental "bomb" either, a quality that intrigues me. The blending skill in Samarra is readily evident, as all the ingredients truly display the very definition of symbiosis: "any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc" (courtesy of Random House).

At first match the Latakia makes its best albeit short-lived appearance. It never fades completely, but it is never the star of the show and after two minutes all the flavors begin to meld. After the first third has turned to smoke, the bowl settles into a delicious experience that becomes...well, yes, "rich and complex." I like toasty as some of you may know, and I prefer the almost-burnt cookies and well-done toast. Samarra is for like-minded folks. I taste spice cake (if you can, imagine carrot cake but without the sweetness. Or maybe raisin bread, toasted of course!).

I'm trying to decide where to give the credit for that and it must be the Orientals and the blending magic for which Mr. Pease is famous. The sweet richness of the Virginias melded with the touch of Perique and the Orientals provide what is for me a really unique smoke. Although Pease says it has a "significant percentage" of Latakia, the flavor really does not corroborate that. I've not had anything else quite like it even though for me it falls squarely in the "Balkan" category. It is never uninteresting, and by varying the puffing cadence and therefore the temperature, one can experience a variety of flavors and intensity levels, all of which are pleasing. But I always return to sipping.

I sip virtually every tobacco I smoke nowadays, sometimes heating it up, then backing off to experience the whole spectrum of flavors. This is certainly a sipping tobacco as the subtleties and complexities can be lost amid big clouds of hot smoke. Hotter temps bring out that Oriental tang that tends to get me in the back of my throat but it's not at all disagreeable. It's more like "Come on baby make it hurt so good." Not that it hurts. It's just a metaphor for all you literary and metaphorical types out there.

Four stars of course. And a bit of regret that I didn't include a bunch of Samarra in my last TAD.
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
May 18, 2004 Mild to Medium Extremely Mild Mild to Medium Pleasant
I tried this blend because it was suggested to me that it resembled Fox' DORISCO, a great favourite of mine.

Although there is a pleasant Oriental background to the taste, and the Virginia is well used (it serves as a cushion to the entire composition, so that this is really a mix for Virginia fanciers) I found the basic taste muted, only very faintly reminiscent of DORISCO, with neither the exciting edge of that blend, nor its enlivening périque briskness.

This tastes like baby NIGHTCAP, if you can conceive of such a thing. It is smoother and sweeter, and smokes remarkably cool.

One can hardly notice the latakia: there is not enough of it to give depth, so it only contributes a wooden oaky mass that somewhat weighs the taste down. I find latakia rather boring these days: this might be the effect of the uninteresting Cyprus product that seems to have taken over for good, lately??especially in America.

The smell of SAMARRA in the tin is indeed delicious, although something suggested a very slight topping.

For those who are looking for the lightest of latakia blends.
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 21, 2020 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Sweet/Sour tin note from the Orientals with smokey Latakia right behind it. I never know how to describe blends based on the tin description. This one suggests a significant amount of Latakia, but I do not pick it up as a majority leaf in the tin note or the taste. It is definitely there and provides structure to the flavor profile but it is not even what I would call a heavy English, nevermind a Lat bomb. I would call this an Oriental forward, classy English. I love Oriental tobacco's and the more I smoke the more I appreciate them. The mastery of a blender, to me is defined by how well they can make an straight VA or VA/per and how they can develop an Oriental forward English. Mr. Pease seems to be a sculptor with the latter and a painter with the former akin to Michaelangelo ( I will let that sink in for those of you that appreciate Renaissance art). The flavor profile is woody, sandalwood and cedar; slightly spicy, think cloves and nutmeg; all from the Orientals. There is a tang and sweetness from the Red Virginia and smokey creaminess from the Latakia. I don't detect the Perique with the exception of a tingle in the nose on retrohale. A remarkable complex smoke. I have smoked half a tin and left this jarred for a few years, I am really happy I grabbed from my cabinet! I can see this going well with a cup of coffee in the morning but for now it is going nicely with a neat 4 Roses bourbon.
Pipe Used: Briar’s and cob’s
6 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jun 04, 2016 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
I deem G.L. Pease's Samarra (one of the Original Mixtures) to be a vastly underrated brand. GLP has written that Samarra is a slightly tweaked version of a mixture he developed when he was but a pup working for the now long closed and lamented Drucquer's shop in San Francisco.

Samarra is a latakia, oriental, Virginia and perique mixture that is outstanding for its layered and nuanced complexity. Open the tin and you will smell a fermented tobacco that obviously contains latakia. The cut is a wide medium ribbon of a mottled but mostly dark hue, with a few spots of yellow.

The moisture level is about right. Fire it up and you will discover that the latakia strength is a little short of medium. The herbal oriental makes its presence known. The red Virginia seems to be the dominant note, providing a slightly sweet taste. There is also a bit of lemon Virginia, the yellow specks you note. The percentage of perique is just a dollap, not so noticeable in taste, but enough to give a tingle when exhaled from the nose. The overall taste is medium, but a bit low for a blend containing latakia and oriental.

The complexity of the mixture provides its greatest asset. When smoked contemplatively with full attention to the pipe it provides a pleasing variety in the nuances of the taste. The nicotine level is about medium. The room note is less offensive to non smokers than most blends with significant latakia.

I smoke this in pipes reserved for latakia/oriental blends, mostly low to medium priced offerings such as Peterson, Savenilli, and Sasieni.

I do not give four stars, highly recommended, when I think there is a significant number of pipesters whose personal preferences rule out blends that I personally find outstanding. But I believe that those who normally do not care for latakia will find the complexity of this blend pleasing if they take the time to smoke it carefully and enjoy its unique nuances. Likewise, the majority of those who do not care for perique will probably not find the amount in Samarra enough to nix their ability to enjoy this offering.
5 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 13, 2016 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
Samarra took me a little while to get a handle on. My two tins have some age on them and the note is somewhat sweet and a little bit smoky. I often wonder, with the number of English blends in the Pease lineup how well one can distinguish one from another in a way that makes it a worthwhile experience. Samarra does that well. In the pipe, for me, the star of this show is the Oriental component which I find savory, almost buttery. The Virginias add a small amount of sweetness and the ever present Latakia is medium at most. I don’t taste very much Perique so it has either been added lightly or I am simply misjudging it. Samarra reminds me a little bit of Russ Ouelette’s Cherberus (minus the dark fired) and I wonder if the same Oriental is found in each blend? Samarra is cool burning and occupies a unique niche in the crowed world of medium English blends.
5 people found this review helpful.
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