Notes: Blended by Robert McConnell for A. Garfinkel, Inc. of Washington D.C, a tobacco shop that went out of business sometime around 1990. Marlowe is a blend heavy in pungent and spicy Orientals, a moderate dose of Latakia and Virginias.
While it may seem silly to some to review a tobacco that's been out of production for 30 years, this stuff hits Ebay from time to time, so it might be useful down the road. Depending on who you talk to, Garfinkel's of Washington DC (not to be confused with Garfinckels, also of DC, but they were a clothier I think) went out of business somewhere between 1985-90, after starting up in 1968. Their blends were made by Sobranie House (the coveted Orient Express #11, which I would have smoked religiously if I could score any more) or Robert McConnell's, who blended this one. Time has turned this one very dark in color, although I don't know what it looked like fresh. Most of the blend's moisture was now soaked into the hugely discolored inner paper sleeve. This one was very dry but not crumbly. And it smoked just fine indeed. I prefer dry tobacco, as it focuses the flavors. If you prefer your tobacco moist, you might want to avoid older flat tins. Most of my tin losses have come from flat tins. Stick with the tall tins used by McClellands, GLP, etc., if possible. This tin didn't completely fail but clearly the tobacco didn't come at normal tin moisture.
Again, I never smoked this fresh, but I do get the impression there was more of a latakia presence in a fresh tin. 30 years of age softened the latakia to the point where it was barely noticeable in the flavor, yet it retained a smoky characteristic that provided a slight boost. The main flavor here was some of the juiciest orientals I've ever tasted, coupled with a rich but barely sweet Virginia flavor. More of a heavy-bodied sourish tang with a spice trailer. And deeeeeeeep... very deep. Highly complex, with the whisps of latakia helped that along. Flavors ranged from nutty to fruity to a strange kind of almost-butter sweetness but not quite. I didn't find much sweetness here but what was there was just right. I think any more would have toned down the complexity. I smoked about half the tin (1 oz) and am saving the rest for special occasions. If you are on the fence about aging tobacco, push yourself off and store as much as you can. I'm guessing that some of the current crop of tobacco blends will age as marvelously as this one has. And if you can find a tin of this that doesn't break the bank (I found mine for $45... not too bad!), buy it and enjoy!
The Orientals provide a wealth of earth, wood, spice, plenty of vegetation, herbs, floralness, mild creamy buttery sweetness, and a moderate amount of sourness. They are the lead components. The mildly wine-like Syrian Latakia offers plenty of smoke, earth, wood, some floralness, and a few leather notes as a supporting player. The Virginias produce some tart and tangy citrus, grass, bread, mild darker fruit, earth, wood, and sugar. They play a secondary support role. The strength, nic-hit and taste levels are medium. There’s no chance of bite or harshness. The rough edges are very minor. Deeply rich, it burns cool and clean at a reasonable rate with a very consistent sweet and mildly sour, spicy, floral campfire flavor that extends to the pleasantly lingering after taste. The room note is a tad stronger. Barely leaves any dampness in the bowl, and requires an average number of relights. Can be all day smoke for the veteran, and repeatable for the less experienced.
I have smoked a lot of the Garfinkel line of tobaccos made for them by McConnell's and Marlowe is one of the best of the best. I don't find an old tin very often, but when I do I break the bank to get it. The Oriental component has really mellowed in these old tins and talk about smooth! The Virginia, typical of McConnell's leaf of that variety, is top shelf all the way. The years of fermentation and melding with the Orientals has done magic for Marlowe. As fine a blend as I've ever smoked, for sure.
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