Drucquer & Sons - First Amendment 100g
An Enhanced Virginia Blend
An English blend in the sense that it follows the English purity standards. It does not contain anywhere near a substantial quantity of Latakia and there are no other Orientals--but that's not to say that they're necessary, only missing. First Amendment is a blend driven from the Virginia and Burley mix and they are pretty well-melded (Sometimes C&D sourced Virginias act more like Burleys and their Burleys act more like Virginias.) But In its all-together this blend is pretty rich and a little earthy. I think that the other tobaccos perform more as flavor enhancers. The Perique appears more in the latter half of the bowl adding a bit of pepper, the Latakia adds just a wisp of aroma in the side-stream smoke and only a hint of taste. The presentation is a flake broken lengthwise and it has in all likelihood been steamed and pressed--the color is mostly a very dark brown. This is a worthwhile blend that I smoke whenever I want a heavier taste, so it's only occasional smoke for me. Slow-burning, cool, and dry. Not all blends benefit from a little extra aging, but this one does. My tin has about an extra year on it. It's smokable right out of the tin (after some air exposure and about a week of just sitting), but the extra time improves the blend.
Drucquer & Sons - Trafalgar 100g
Fairly Traditional English
A traditional approach to a classic English with the exception of the addition of a bit of Perique--not much, but rather uncommon in a blend that is not a Scottish. I would put the Virginias in the first position with the Orientals (non-Latakia) just behind. The Latakia is what I would consider to be enough, but somewhat restrained. The Perique is barely there. Trafalgar is about an overall medium in all respects--perhaps a tad less. It's a solid and predictable blend that should have a broad appeal because of its moderate approach. I do enjoy it from time-to-time--it's interesting, but not fascinating. I think this might be considered a day-to-day standard smoke.
Drucquer & Sons - Inns of Court 100g
Great Tasting Blend
If it was good enough for Byrd to carry to the Antarctic I think it's certainly good enough to carry off to a desert island. This is a blend that will please lots of folks and offend no one. It's primarily all about the Burley/Virginia mix--exceedingly well-proportioned with the nutty Burleys a little in the lead position for my tastes. There's plenty of flavor and I find it to be very pleasing and satisfying at any time and on multiple occasions during the day. In my opinion this hardly qualifies as an "English" blend because the Latakia is far from substantial--not much more than a pinch or two. And the Perique is also equally reserved. Straight-forward tobacco taste and aroma--tastes like tobacco and smells like tobacco. Deserves closer to 3 circles for strength rather than just 2 circles--this is not a mellow blend, but it is quite smooth and flavorful. Absolutely no detractors and extremely worthwhile!
Drucquer & Sons - The Merry Monk 100g
A very rich, complex, and tasty flake where the individual components display their individuality--at least while young--you can taste everything. My tin had only about a month on it and I'm just not sure that aging will prove beneficial. Not all blends improve from aging and I believe this may be one of them. (Haddo's Delight is another example that I believe must be smoked young before the blend becomes too integrated and the tobaccos and toppings lose their personality.) I would reverse a couple of the circle ratings--I think it deserves 3 circles for strength, but 4+ for taste, but my views are subjective. I especially enjoy the flake format because I can prepare it the way I want. For me smoking is all about flavor and of all of the D&S blends I find that this one delivers a bit more. Get it when you can.
Drucquer & Sons - Red Lion 100g
Even-Bodied & Slightly Sweet
This is a relatively smooth, even-bodied, slightly sweet and tasty English with a restrained measure of Latakia. The Latakia is enough to notice in the taste and the aroma, but not enough to intrude. The Virginias are in the lead with pretty much everything else in support. I believe that the Black Cavendish is the source of the little bit of extra sweetness and I'm relatively certain that it acts as a binder for the other components in the blend. Aside from the Virginias I don't find that any other tobacco really stands out. It's a pleasant blend that leans a little toward the mellow side of medium in all respects. It's worthy of your attention.
Cornell & Diehl - Sea Dog 2oz
Very Pleasant Americanized English
An Americanized-English blend with Dark Burley in the lead position. There is a enough Latakia to provide some charred wood to the overall flavor throughout the smoke, but it's not a dominant feature. Virginia Flake (that has been fully fubbed out and cut into ribbons) undoubtedly acts as a mitigating force on the power of the Dark Burley while contributing some additional richness and perhaps a little extra sweetness. The Black Cavendish undoubtedly provides a bit more sweetness and works as a binder bringing the other components together. The Turkish Oriental is obvious and provides some sour herbal notes and is mixed at a level that strikes me as more than a condiment--it is noticeable on every puff. Sea Dog approaches medium in both power and flavor. There is a noticeable sweet/sour and earthy interplay between the various tobaccos and there is plenty of body and flavor. I find that the smoke aroma is not nearly so offensive as so many other Burley and Latakia combinations. This is not a love at first pipe kind of blend—it requires a few acquaintances. I would suggest that if you enjoy Epiphany then I think you might also enjoy Sea Dog for a change-up. Sea Dog is a bit more complex, a tad sweeter, and displays more charred wood while Epiphany with its 3-Burley combination is richer, darker, and more earthy with a distinct nutty taste and less charred wood.
Cornell & Diehl - Epiphany
An Everyday Good Smoke
I smoke this blend at least once a day and everyday. I can't explain precisely why, but it just works for me. It might not be the greatest and most fantastic concoction ever conceived, but it's easy to smoke anytime and anywhere and it's unpretentious.--as they say, it is what it is. The overall flavor is driven from the combination of Burleys--white, dark and cubed. But the dominant Burley taste is tempered with a bit of Virginia flake that undoubtedly contributes some richness and helps to eliminate some of the inherent bitterness in the Burleys. There is just a small measure Perique that I think imparts some extra sweetness, but it's subtle. And Epiphany is only slightly spiced with a bit of smoky Latakia. The last bulk batch that I received about a month ago had more scattered Virginia flakes (as large as 1/2 inch wide X 3/4 inch long) than I've seen before and they were scattered throughout the blend--I believe that this is a relatively recent modification. These flakes do require some manipulation before smoking since I thought that they were a little too large to simply stuff in the bowl. This blend is allegedly based on the original Revelation (Phillip Morris version) which goes back a century. And its smoking qualities have stood the test of time. Call it a codger blend, an old-timer's blend, even a geezer blend or whatever, it's just a really good, solid, straight-forward, full-flavored blend that always seems to satisfy. It certainly manages to push all the right notes on the keyboard.
Cornell & Diehl - Rajah's Court 2oz
This blend has been around since the 90s and I believe that it is one of the better textured blends in the Balkan style—it displays a sort of "creamy" quality. Virginias and Orientals dominate and are complimented by the proper amount of Latakia—not too much. The Virginias are well balanced with the Orientals to the extent that they’re pretty evenly matched. There is enough Latakia to make its presence known throughout the smoke though it's not a strong presence. While the label describes this as a full, rich blend I believe that it is actually about a “medium” in all respects. You can smoke this anytime and anywhere, multiple times a day and it never seems to get tiring. It even does very well in the oppressive heat of the Florida summers. This is one of those “Just Right” blends—not necessarily great and wonderful, but quite pleasing and satisfying.